I hear a beeping sound in the distance, scratching my brain as it seems to come closer when I woke up from my sleep. Everything around me looks hazy and bright, blinding my vision from being held in the dark for so many days in a row. I’d forgotten how bright it could get during the day and how warm the sun could feel on my skin. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be alive and not bruised and burned by those who sought to harm me.
I was alone in what appeared to be a hospital room and I got the chance to look at myself before anyone could walk in on me and see what I looked like covered in stitches and bandages everywhere. I didn’t want to think about what my face or the rest of my body were like since everything in me felt numb to the touch from whatever they were pumping in me. I tried to move but everything in me hurt. I only managed to turn my head around enough to see some flowers on the nightstand next to my bed, beautifully arranged in a vase that had a card next to it.
I stretched my IV-free arm to reach out for the card and eagerly opened it to read its contents. The flowers were from Nora, who swore she’d be here if Hunter allowed her to visit but either way she sent me all her love and prayers. Hunter…he’d probably seen me in this hospital bed by now and decided not to shock his grandmother with the looks of me and I couldn’t blame him. From all the punches I’d endured I knew marks were imminent. Still, I wished he’d let her come. Seeing a friendly face right now would have made me feel much better, but my wish came true as soon as the door to my room opened, and I saw Hunter for the first time in what felt like years, flowers in hand and shock in his eyes.
‘Hi…’ he greets me, but remains still, probably making sure I wasn’t about to kick him out of the room. In my state, I wanted nothing more than to hide, so he couldn’t see me like this. But as I took him in, his face -which I’d missed looking at, his arms -which had held me for so many nights, I decided I wanted nothing more than to be near him. Watching his eyes watering on the sides a bit like mine, I replied ‘Hey…’, trying to look strong, like seeing him after everything that happened didn’t make my heart want to jump out of my chest. ‘You kept your promise…’ I uttered, as he slowly walked towards my bed somewhat perplexed that I was really there. ‘You found me.’ I continued as he set aside the flowers and came to sit on my bed, moving his shaky hand to touch mine.
Electricity ran down my spine despite all the pain-relief medication I was given. His gentle touch was something I never thought I’d feel again. ‘I thought I’d never find you, princess.’ he finally spoke, wiping tears coming down his cheeks like droplets of rain. I had thought the same, especially after we’d said goodbye on the phone and I lost all hope.
Attempting to comfort him, I signaled for him to come and give me a hug, ‘But be careful, everything hurts.’ I joke and yet, he didn’t smile. That was the first time I knew I couldn’t hide myself from him behind a broken sense of humour because it was clear that they’d broken me, my spirit, and some bones along the way. He caressed my face instead of holding me close to him, taking extra caution to not scare me away. I flinched as he put his hand on my chin, not because it hurt, but because my body had created that reflex once Martin had started showing an interest in me.
‘God, what did they do to you, baby?’ he asked, clearly in pain from what he was seeing. I hadn’t seen myself in weeks and couldn’t perfectly picture the gravity of these people’s actions but he looked at me as if I might crumble in front of him and I knew it was bad. ‘I’m sorry I let them take me.’ I cried, feeling like my carelessness had been to blame for this outcome. ‘God, never say that again. It was not your fault!’ he says, shaking his head in disapproval. ‘If anything, it’s my fault I left you that day when something in me told me I should stay.’
‘I’m glad you did. I don’t know what she would’ve done to you had you been there.’ I shuddered at the thought of her shooting him or worse, killing him for standing in her way. ‘I would’ve died before letting anyone take you away.’ I knew that, that’s why ‘I love you, Hunter.’ A sob escaped him as if he couldn’t believe that’s what I felt. He came closer to me, touching my lips slightly and placed light kisses on my lips. ‘I love you too, baby. God…never leave me again.’ he asked of me and I quickly nodded in approval. As tears streamed down both our faces, I realised I was finally home. He’d found me and brought me home, where I would stay forever if he let me because no one would ever separate me from him again. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.