“But look at all the bandages,” I said, as Roland led me down the hall to a comfortable, warmly lit sitting room.
“You need to rest,” he said, pushing me a little so I sat heavily on a couch.
“I need to rest?” I repeated. “You need to rest. You’re the one who’s had surgery. I’ve just been asleep for God knows how long.”
“Nearly three days,” Roland said, allowing me to pull him down to sit on the couch next to me. “Your hand was pretty bad, and the doctors said you’d just been through too much. Beauty—I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have anything to be sorry for,” I said, frowning at him. “We had no way of knowing what Dan was going to do.”
“I should’ve been more cautious when he vanished from the penthouse,” Roland said. “I should’ve been on my guard, or at least been aware that he might try to do something stupid—or permanent.”
“Well, maybe I should’ve remembered to lock the door after I let you in to my apartment,” I said, shrugging. “If you’re looking to blame someone, start spreading the wealth.”
“There’s no one to blame but Dan,” Roland said, shaking his head. “I wish we could just forget about it. I can’t believe you grabbed that knife, Beauty. Why were you acting like such a dumbass?”
I laughed at him. “Don’t call me a dumbass. It would’ve been your dumbass skewered on the end of the knife if I hadn’t. I wanted to protect you. Don’t you understand? He’d already sliced your face clean off.”
Roland sighed and kissed my good hand. “He didn’t slice my face off, Beauty.”
“Then why so many bandages?” I asked, peering at him. “If it wasn’t that serious, why do you look like a mummy?”
“I was going under the knife anyway to deal with Dan’s idiocy, so I went ahead and asked for some reconstructive surgery,” he said, shrugging like it was no big deal.
“What does that mean?” I asked, going cold.
“It means that the scar’s going to be less noticeable now.”
“Why did you do that?” I demanded. “I didn’t mind the scar. You know that. If you did this because you were afraid for me to look at it, Roland, so help me God…”
“Enough,” he said, laughing at me before seizing my face and kissing me. “I just felt like it was time. I did it for me—but only because you showed me that life was still worth living. I didn’t want to lock myself away anymore, not when you showed me life was possible again.”
My breath caught in my throat, and Roland took my chin in his hand gently.
“If you start crying, I promise you that I will fuck you right here on this couch, injuries or not,” he warned.
I burst into laughter, a tear trailing down my face in spite of the threat.
“You said something a while back—I’m not sure if you remember,” he said, stroking my hair. “You said that maybe you were supposed to end up here.”
“That’s the thing. Maybe you were. Who can tell? I’m glad you’re here with me. And I’m ready to move on to the next part of my life. Aren’t you?”
I grinned. “Hell, yes.”
“Hell, yes,” he answered and kissed me again, the promise of more always in the next breath.
~ End ~