"Yes, well, 'practically' and 'actually' being back to normal are two separate things," she said, smoothing out my blanket.
Sensing an argument, Rick left the room, claiming he was going to check on Mason.
By the end of my second week in the hospital, I was done with their excuses. I asked to see Mason every opportunity I got, but Mom kept telling me it could be detrimental to my recovery.
"I want to see him now," I told her as she tried to derail my request once again.
"Kim, you heard the doctor. Your lungs need a chance to recover without risking another infection," she said, sighing heavily at my repeated request.
"I also heard him say I'd be ready for release tomorrow, so there's no reason I can't see Mason. Why are you keeping him from me?" I said, finally seeing through her ploy.
She looked at me critically for a minute before answering. "Do you know you wouldn't leave until you knew they were on their way to rescue Mason? You woke long enough to tell Rick they had to save Mason because you loved him."
I shook my head no. "That day was such a blur, I don't remember much of anything," I admitted. "But what does that have to do with anything?" I added, puzzled.
"I felt you needed a few days to sort out your feelings," she said, fluffing out the pillow behind my head.
"What do you mean, sort out my feelings?" I asked, dragging out my words.
"It just seems a little wishy-washy to be spouting out words of love with someone you hardly know."
"Well, that seems rich coming from you," I said quietly, looking her in the eye.
"What is that supposed to mean?" she asked, avoiding my eyes as she sat on the edge of the chair.
"I think you know exactly what I mean. Not all of us feel the need to hold everything in. Not all of us feel it's right to deny others the truth. Is that why you didn't tell dad about me?" I asked.
She sighed and sat back in the chair. "I'm not sure how I felt about your dad. When I found out I was pregnant with you, we were both still bound and determined to keep our relationship casual. We were both in college and didn't want anything to encroach on our studies. We had fun hanging out together, and he definitely was the funniest person I had ever dated, but I didn’t know if it was love. When I found out I was pregnant with you, I was scared to tell him. He was starting his senior year and had big plans. I was terrified he'd turn his back on me, but I was more terrified he wouldn't. From the moment I found out you were in my belly, I felt you were mine. I know it sounds selfish, and if I could go back in time, I'd tell him, even if it meant I had to share you," she said, swiping at a stray tear.
"Would it have been so bad sharing me?" I asked.
"At the time, it seemed impossible, especially once I held you. You were so tiny and perfect that I couldn't imagine entrusting your safety with someone else. I wanted to protect you."
"And you wanted me to yourself," I said, feeling slightly nauseous.
"Yes, I wanted you to myself. Now, after all that, I'm afraid I finally have lost you to Rick," she said, choking back a sob.
I wanted to argue with her, but her words rang true. Somewhere in my subconscious, I had already decided that I wasn't ready to leave my new life. College was due to start in less than a month, but my dream school no longer held my heart. My heart was somewhere in this hospital.
"I want to go see Mason," I finally said.
She stood up without arguing and retrieved the wheelchair that sat in the corner of my room. She was silent as she rolled me from my room and down the hall. I knew she was in pain at the decisions she somehow sensed I was making, but I knew that to fix it would be denying my own heart.
"I can take it from here," I told her when she paused outside his door.
Pushing the door open with my good foot, I wheeled into the room. My eyes never left Mason's as I wheeled to the far side of his bed.
"Hi," I said, finally coming to a stop.
"Hi yourself, beach bunny," he said, smiling at me through the light beard that covered his face.
"This is new," I said, running my hand down his jaw line.
He captured my hand with his and placed a kiss on the palm.
"Yeah, I haven't had a chance to shave," he tried to joke.