She heard the crash, the hoarse shout of pain and her heart clenched. Panic flooded through her veins as she heaved herself out of the warmth of her bed and staggered across the room to the nursery door. Yanking it open, Abby looked on in shock as Michael pulled his hand from a massive dent in the wall.
She stepped up beside him, taking the broken appendage into her hands and cradling it gently. Years spent as a nurse had given her the softest touch imaginable, and he closed his eyes against the unexpected wash of tears at the thought of ever having to go through life without her.
“Michael? Honey, what happened??”
Dark green eyes opened, shining with the tears he’d been fighting for far too long. “I can’t lose you,” he whispered, his voice cracking with emotion.
Her heart contracted painfully at the sound of his voice. It was filled with pain and fear and so unlike the deep, steady voice she was so accustomed to. The rock that he’d been for her as her own desolation had consumed her. Forgetting about him. Her husband. The who had courted her like a Victorian-era gentleman when they were high school, and who had waited until their wedding night to take her to bed. Who woke her up each morning with her favorite tea, and rubbed her feet until long after she’d fallen asleep at the end of each day. The man who had done nothing but love her since the day he’d found her crying under the bleachers in her freshman year, just after her boyfriend of six months had dumped her because she wouldn’t ‘put out,’ as he’d said.
Michael had walked her home that afternoon, carrying her book-bag the whole way before handing her over to her parents with a warning that said ex-boyfriend had broken her heart and that she needed someone to make her smile. And his words had done just that. Then the next afternoon, he’d appeared outside her last class, ready to walk her home once more.
He’d walked her home every day for the rest of that year, quickly becoming her best friend and confidant, and at the start of sophomore year, his senior year, he’d driven her to and from school. He’d dined with her parents in their home, had taken her out to movies and dinner at fancy restaurants, always careful to have her home ten minutes before curfew. And she’d fallen madly in love with him.
Worried that he didn’t share her feelings, she’d balked at telling him. Then the end of the year was upon them, and with it, the realization that he would be leaving for college in the fall. Desperate, she’d begged him to make love to her, horrified in the next second that he would tell her he didn’t like her that way. But he’d proven once again to be the man of her dreams.
He’d taken her out to a restaurant in the city where he’d danced with her long into the night. At the end of the evening, as they sat together on her parents’ porch swing, he’d told her that there was no distance great enough to truly separate them, and that what they had could wait for them to be ready. It wasn’t time yet, he’d whispered against her lips before kissing her, for them consummate their relationship. That would wait until they were properly married. Four years later, she’d become Mrs. Abigail Warrington.
She blinked back into awareness, her eyes going back to the mangled hand with the bits of plaster and wood sticking out of it. “Let me was this off, darling, and then we’ll get you to the hospital. It needs to be stitched and possibly set. What were you thinking?”
“That I would die without you.” He sounded shattered, broken, and Abby realized right then just how selfish she’d been. Andrew was gone from them, in a place where he no longer needed their protection, or even comfort. But Michael needed her, for time and time again, he’d told her that he’d be lost without her. How could I even consider leaving him behind?
Tiny Blair chose that moment to kick, and her hand went to her belly reflexively. Momma’s so sorry, baby. She never meant it. She would never leave you. I would never leave you. Either of you. And as she led him into the bathroom to wash away the physical evidence of his pain, she promised herself that she would let her son go properly. She would see him again, one day, but that day could wait until they were ready.