I felt a bolt of excitement thinking we were going to be able to leave the hospital much sooner than we thought and that we weren’t going to be at risk of getting stuck for even longer in more dangerous circumstances if the next wave did hit. He grinned at me, and we kissed, hugging each other tightly.
“That’s great,” I said. “I’m so thankful they would go out of their way to get to us. I’m going to have to make them some brownies or something.”
“Well, hold off on preheating the oven. With the way things are out there, you might just end up seeing one or two of them in the emergency room. You can just thank them then,” Ian said.
We laughed as we pulled apart, but as our eyes met, both of us went quiet. I could feel my expression change at the same time I watched his face drop. The worry hit me hard in that moment. This was it. Getting out of the hospital was just ahead of us, and it was obvious we were both thinking about what that might mean for us. Our relationship was sudden and unexpected, but now it could be over already.
“When all this is over, I’d really like to see you again,” he said, his tone serious.
I knew I felt the same way, but the further implications of what he’d said weren’t lost on me. My time here might have been a bit of a reprieve, but as soon as the hospital was up and running again, I would be needed. Many other people in the town would have experienced power outages and damage to their properties, maybe even their homes. There would be injuries and illnesses, and the team would need everyone available to get that under control, not to mention transferring the patients back from the other facilities.
“I’d really like to see you again too,” I said. “But I’m worried my work schedule might make it difficult.”
Ian had started to smile when I said I wanted to see him again, but the look on his face turned dark when I mentioned my work. He pulled away from me slightly and nodded.
“Yeah, I’m sure it will. I completely get it. When Dr. Sutton’s floor is finished, I’ll probably be sent back to Virginia too.”
He offered the information almost too forcefully, like he needed to meet my statement with his own, like he didn’t want to be left hanging. It had an unexpected sting and pulled heavily on me that this really might be it. This might have been nothing more than a whirlwind romance that had already found its end.
So much for that, I guess.
It felt like Mina brushed off the idea of us being together after this, and rather easily too. I had tried not to let my emotions get too involved, but I couldn’t deny that it was a bit hurtful the way she dismissed the idea of it being something to pursue once we were safely out of the hospital and going back to our regular lives.
Then again, she was right. It would be hard. She was busy all the time, and I was probably going back to central Virginia. It was too far to see each other regularly, and yet tantalizingly close enough being just one state away. If we kept things going and it didn’t work, it would likely drag on and make things a million times worse. She was just protecting herself, and me, from what was likely a lot of fuss and ruining the memory of what we had.
While I understood all that, it didn’t make it any easier. Nor did it make the pain of her dismissal any less.
I decided to just shove it away and enjoy the last little bit of time I got with her. If I let myself be melancholy about it, I would just regret that too, so the least I could do was enjoy myself and her as much as possible and try to get through the day.
Instead, I enjoyed thinking about our snowball fight and our multiple sessions of lovemaking and tried to just feel good that I made that connection with her. In another time, another place, it would have probably been something. But even if it was just for these couple of days, it was incredible.
We curled up on the couch and looked out of the window in Dr. Sutton’s office for a while. Way off in the distance, we could see a snowplow inching its way along the twisting mountain path that led to the hospital. It would be a couple of hours, but they were clearly on the way.
I kissed the top of her head at one point, and she made a cooing sound that clenched my heart. It was such a contented sound. The kind of sound a person makes when they’re in the arms of the person they want to be with. I sighed and held her tightly.