"Well, I was thinking about it," I said defensively.
"What about art school?"
"I'm sure community college has art classes, but I'm thinking of doing a dual major anyway. I was hoping you two would be a little more excited about my news."
"Believe me, I'm excited about the idea of seeing you more, but I better go check on your mom. I'm sure this has her quite upset," Rick said, heading out the door.
"Well, that was a disaster," I muttered. "I thought you guys would be happier."
"I'm excited, beach bunny, but I just don't want you to change your dreams for me," Mason said, sliding an arm around me.
"I'm not changing them, I'm just adapting them to include you," I said, snuggling into his arms.
He kissed the top of my head, but remained silent. We continued to watch TV and eat, but neither held the same appeal they had just a few minutes prior.
The next few days were busy as the doctors released me to the capable hands of my mom and Rick. They shuttled me back to the hotel they had checked into weeks ago. My mom wanted to take me home to California, but I balked at the idea. I wasn't going anywhere until Mason started physical therapy and was well on the road to recovery.
I expected her to fly home, but she remained in Colorado with me.
On Monday of his third week in the hospital, Mason was due to start physical therapy. The doctors thought it would be best if we let Mason do the first few sessions without an audience, so Rick and I waited until after lunch to visit.
I was anxious to see him. Over the last few days, I noticed a subtle change in him as he started to distance himself from me. I tried to chalk it up as anxiety over physical therapy, but I was worried it was something else.
Mason was already back in his room when we arrived.
"How'd it go, son?" Rick asked, trying to ignore the sour look on Mason's face.
"It was crap," Mason said, sounding bitter.
"What happened?" I asked concerned.
He remained silent, fixated on the TV above our heads.
"It's going to take awhile to build up the appropriate muscles…" Rick replied until Mason cut him off.
"I'm not doing it anymore," Mason bit out angrily.
"What?" Rick and I both said at the same time.
"I'm a cripple now. Going to stupid-ass physical therapy isn't going to change that," he said, looking at his injured leg with disgust.
"Mason, it'll get easier. You're not a cripple," I said, fighting tears as I reached for his hand.
He jerked it away. "Why are you even here? I'm not worth throwing your life away," he said harshly.
"Mason?" I said, shocked at his words.
"I'm going to step out a minute and give you guys a chance to talk," Rick said, already heading for the door.
"I'm not throwing my life away for you," I said, stepping to the side of his bed "But that doesn't mean I can't be here for you when you need me," I added, reaching for his hand.
He reared back like I had slapped him. "I don't need you," he said sternly, not meeting my eyes. "I don't need you to keep saving me," he growled.
My heart dropped to my knees. "I know what you're doing," I said in a shaky voice.
"I'm not doing anything. We sought each other's comfort in a time of need, but we both know we have nothing in common."
"I thought we were falling in like with each other," I said, forcing a smile through a veil of tears.