Come Alive

Page 41

He sucked in his breath and looked to the window, his eyes becoming glossy. Oh shit. Don’t tell me I was making the ginger fucker cry now?

I watched him, wide-eyed and uncomfortable, unsure of what to do or what else to say.

Finally he said, “Thanks, buddy,” in a choked voice and got to his feet. He looked to me and smiled. “I needed to hear that.”

“Am I interrupting something?” a quiet voice said from the door. My heart skipped in leaps and bounds. I swiveled my head so fast that the room spun but I did not fucking care.

Perry was standing in the doorway, rubbing her hands up and down her arms. Her hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail that she’d obviously slept in. She was wearing jeans, chucks and a Faith No More shirt she’d cut into a tank top. Her face didn’t have a lick of makeup on it and I knew she hadn’t slept in days. But she was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. And, no matter what, I was still the luckiest son-of-a-bitch in the world.

“No,” Maximus said quickly, looking between the two of us. “I was just on my way out.”

He squeezed past Perry and left the room, closing the door behind him.

She stood there for a moment, watching me, the distance between us seeming far too large and heavy. I smiled. That’s all it took.

She came rushing over, big blue eyes welling up, and threw her arms around me, burying her face in my neck. I didn’t even feel any pain. I closed my eyes, my grin taking over my face, and wrapped my arms around her, not caring that it was pulling on my IV drip. I held her as tight as I could, with what strength I had.

Perry sobbed away, trying to speak but not being able to.

“Shhhh, it’s okay,” I soothed her, stroking the back of her head, her silken hair feeling like heaven under my worn fingers.

I held her like that for as long as I could, just relishing the weight of her in my arms, her heart beating against mine. I decided I was lucky enough to be given a second chance with her, I wasn’t going to screw it up. It didn’t matter if us being together opened more doors to other worlds, I didn’t care if her pregnancy could ruin us. I wasn’t going to let her go on the advice of others. What Rose said to me was true, I just hurting too much to listen to it. It hurt to know that I had just given up when the going got rough, that I didn’t have enough hope in me to forge through. To risk it all.

There was always another way. I didn’t know what Perry was feeling but I knew how I was feeling. I knew her heart was worth all the ugliness we’d have to endure. I wasn’t going to give her up on chance. It threw a wrench into what I really wanted—a baby with her, a lifetime together, but there was always another way.

“I’m so sorry, Dex,” she cried, pulling away so she could look at me. I gently ran my thumbs under her eyes, wiping away her tears. “I’m so sorry.”

“Baby, I’m sorry,” I told her, holding her face in my hands now. “I said things I shouldn’t have because I got scared.”

“I know it was Ambrosia.”

“I know. It doesn’t matter. I’m sorry I doubted you to begin with. I should have believed you.”

“I said some horrible things.”

“I said some horrible things. Baby, I wish I could take them back.”

She sniffed and looked away. “Me too. But I’m glad you said them. Because I am young, Dex. You’re like nine years older than me and it scares me, you know? You have all this experience with the world, with sex, with relationships—everything. I feel like I’ve barely lived. This ain’t easy to say but…I worry about us. I worry that I’m going to screw it all up because I don’t know what I’m doing. This is so new to me.”

“Perry, it’s okay.” Her honesty was breaking my heart.

She shook her head. “It’s not okay. Dex, I am so goddamn afraid, you have no idea.”

I kissed her forehead softly and whispered, “I have some idea.”

“No,” she said. She leaned in closer, our noses touching, her eyes searching mine. Oh god, I was so close to just ripping the IV out of my arm and taking her right there on the hospital bed, severed ear and all.

She went on, her voice warbling, “No, I’ve been holding back, Dex. I’ve been too scared to even let myself feel anything deeper than my skin. Do you know how I knew I was close to losing you last night?”

“The Mambo called up Maximus.”

“No.” She licked her lips. I wanted to lick them too, but I felt she was about to tell me something important. “I mean, she did. But I was in my room. I was pacing back and forth, so fucking worried about you. I sat down on my bed and just tried to think, to calm myself down. I had one of your cigarettes you know, so I lit it up—I didn’t care, they let you smoke everywhere here. And then I saw Pippa.”

I frowned. “Really?”

“Yeah. Really. It was her, just as always. Standing at the end of the bed. Gave me a fucking heart attack but…you know, it was good to see her. It was nice. I…I feel like she’s the only one in my family who really cares…and who really understands.” She rubbed her lips together and sniffed. My baby kept breaking me. “She didn’t say much. She just said…that I shouldn’t worry. That there is only good from love. That our hearts are magnets. That we couldn’t stay apart for long.”

Our hearts are magnets. I’d heard Perry’s thoughts say that before. I’d always liked the sound of that.

“And as corny as that all sounds, I think she’s right,” she added.

I nodded and pulled her to me again. Pippa may have been a mortal like us but, like us, she knew a thing or two about love and loss. I’d take her advice any day.

“Dex,” Perry said into my neck, her wet lips brushing my skin, sending shockwaves through the rest of my body. She pulled her head back and kissed me, hard and soft and deep all at the same time. I couldn’t have been floating higher.

She brushed back my hair, careful to avoid the damaged part of my head. There were so many things in her eyes, so much fear and so much hope.

Perry took a deep breath and put her hands on either side of my face. She kissed me again, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Dex Foray. I love you.”

Her words took a while to sink in, like the finest drugs, like the start of that trip you never want to end.

She smiled despite herself, despite the look of shock that I knew was on my face and continued, “I love you, I’ve loved you from the very start. And…sometimes I think I can’t possibly love you more. And then I do. You fill me up and break my own heart open, you know? It just creates more room. There is no limit. I love you, I love you, I love you and I’ll die saying it because I was born to feel it. I am in love with you, you wonderful, funny, handsome man.”

I might have been floating on air earlier, but this…this was grounding me. This was pulling me down, dark and deep and oh so fucking good. This was holding me in place, letting her words wash over me, the sincerity—the love—in her eyes, the passion in her touch. This was something real. This was what I wanted to be buried in, this truth.

I thought my smile would split my head in two. I felt breathless, my heart racing triumphantly. I felt grounded, weightless, alive and otherworldly. I felt her skin, electric between my hands. I pulled her to me and kissed her, kissed her so damn hard even as I started to laugh with joy.

“Baby,” I managed to say when I held it together long enough, “Baby, I love you, more than ever, more than anything in the fucking world. You are my world. And all I’ve ever wanted is for me to be yours.”

She kissed me. I kissed her. She traced my skin, I traced hers. Every single nerve in my body was alive. And to say I was hard as concrete would have been an understatement.

I pressed my fingers into her face. “Baby, the first chance I get, I’m going to fuck the shit out of you,” I growled.

She smiled coyly, her eyes twinkling. “I think it’s called making love now.”

“Then I’m fucking making love the shit out of you.” I kissed her hard again, pulling her closer against my body, knowing the hospital gown I was in was tissue thin and did nothing to hide my arousal. I’d never wanted her so bad. I wanted more than anything to seal this, to make this real, make it physical.

There was a knock at the door.

Of fucking course.

A chubby-faced nurse poked her head in. She frowned at the sight of Perry practically lying on top of me and gave us a forced smile.

“I’m sorry, the doctor will have to see him soon,” she said, then shut the door with a grunt of disgust.

Perry grinned, bright as sunshine, and straightened up. “I can take the hint.”

“She looks a bit like the nurse on Fawlty Towers,” I noted, remembering an episode we’d watched recently.

She climbed off of me and looked up and down my body. “Except you have more than an ingrown toenail. Dex, you know what happened to your ear right?”

I gulped. “I vaguely recall Ambrosia slicing it off.”

“The doctors tried to reattach it. They discovered it on Ambrosia when they found her body. But it was too late. Actually your body heals extremely fast, Dex. Almost all your cuts are healed. They can’t really explain it.”

No, but we could. I grimaced. “So I’m real ugly now, is that what you’re saying?”

“Well they said your ear should be more or less like normal when it fully heals. You’ll just be missing a little tip.”

“But the tip is the best part,” I groaned.

“Be glad she didn’t go after your dick then.”

“You should be glad she didn’t,” I said, then relaxed back, feeling suddenly exhausted. “Oh well, I guess it was about time I had a flaw.”

Her mouth twitched up. “Right.”

I looked at her in earnest, remembering Ambrosia, what I had done. “Am I in any trouble? For, you know?”

“No. I explained everything to the police. Self-defense through and through. She’s dead and they’re pretty happy about it. The attacks had been getting out of hand lately and contrary to what Ambrosia thought, they were trying to do something about it. I feel like it still might be swept under the rug and explained as bath salts…whatever keeps the public happy.”

“Miss Palomino,” the nurse said from the door. “I’m sorry.”

Perry looked at me, cheeks beaming, and kissed me quickly on the lips before she trotted out of the room.

The doctor came in soon after, pretty much telling me the same thing Perry had told me. Amazing immune system, ear will almost be normal, surprised I was still alive, blah blah blah.

But I wasn’t the only one who’d come alive. Perry did when told me she loved me.

She loved me.

She loved me.


I was in the hospital for another night for observation. The nurse started limiting visitor contact for fear of overexertion, so I didn’t see Perry or Maximus much until I was ready to leave.

I slipped on my clothes, careful not to hurt my rib or tear all my stiches. I was almost fully healed, the cut underneath my tattoo just a ruddy, faded line, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

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