Song- Are You Really Okay? Sleep Token.
I lie still, my eyes fixed on the ceiling while Frankie peacefully slumbers beside me. We were supposed to go back to the safe house with everyone after I was discharged from the hospital. I couldn’t face it.
Not with Sienna being pregnant and babies around.
It’s too much.
I didn’t want to be at the hospital either. Frankie called in a private doctor for the next few days.
I’ve barely spoken a word today. I thought when I woke up, it would hurt less. It doesn’t.
Except now, my sadness is joined by hatred for the people who did this to us.
They took Kai’s life and left Keller fighting for his.
It’s hard seeing a man, as big and powerful as him, attached to monitors to keep him alive. It broke my heart that little bit more, I had to see him. To say thank you. He saved my life.
Now, I just want to be locked away from the world with Frankie.
I’ve cried so much, I’ve run out of tears.
The wound on my stomach might hurt, the cuts on my arms, the pounding headache I have. None of that compares to my broken heart. Painkillers can’t fix that.
Frankie has barely left my side, trying to get me to eat something and take my pain meds. He’s hurting, too. But, he puts on a brave face for me.
I sit up and lightly stroke his cheek. How he’s been through this twice and is still standing, I don’t know.
He never falters. He stays strong when I need him to. He has the strength for both of us. I’m spiraling down a path I don’t see a way out of.
My every thought is, what could I have done differently?
“You okay, baby?” he whispers in his husky, sleepy voice.
“No. Not really.” I fight the next onslaught of tears away.
“Come here.” He opens his arms and I fall onto his chest, tracing my finger over the bullet wound on his shoulder.
“Who shot you?” I ask, needing a distraction from my own head.
“Maria. Well, the bullet was meant for Grayson.”
“You’re crazy, you know that? Not many people take a bullet for someone, let alone if that person hates them,” I say.
“I’d do the same for you. It might make me crazy, but we’re all a little mad.”
“Hey! I’m not!” I laugh and immediately feel guilty for being anything other than sad.
He rumbles with laughter, sending vibrations through my body.
“You stalked a mafia boss, kicked him in the balls, stuck a knife into his throat, and killed two men.”
When I press my palm over his mouth, his eyes pierce into mine.
“Okay, okay, no need to continue–”
He licks his lips as I remove my hand,
“I love your crazy. I’m damn proud of every single one of those things. It’s what makes you so perfect. Mine.”
Sitting up, I press my lips against his, and the sensation of his fingers tangling in my hair heightens the intensity. It isn’t our usual hungry and ferocious kiss. This is us, showing each other how much we truly love one another.
I squeeze my legs together. The urge to go to use the toilet is starting to make my lower belly ache. I’ve held off for as long as I can.
In the hospital, the nurse changed the pads for me. I don’t know why, it made everything more real.
Seeing the blood as the loss we’ve had.
“I need to pee.” My voice trails off in a silent plea for his help.
After a few seconds, he rolls out of bed and pulls on his boxers before making his way to my side.
He scoops me up with ease, his strong arms effortlessly carrying me into the bathroom.
“Sit. Keep your eyes on me. Don’t look anywhere else.”
The weight of his actions brings tears to my eyes, their meaning overwhelming. He knew my fear without me even saying a word.
As he pulls down my shorts and panties, his gaze remains fixed on me. I take in a trembling breath and settle onto the cold seat.
I close my eyes and try to relax, ignoring the pain in my stomach as I do.
“You’re okay, angel.”
As he opens the packet of pads, the crinkle of plastic echoes in the room.
My tears free fall down my cheeks. Wiping them with the back of my hand, I sneak a glimpse of him.
This moment is completely raw.
Bending to his knees, I stare into his loving eyes as he swiftly changes me. He hands me one of my cooling wipes, holding onto my fingers before I can take it.
“You are incredible, Zara. Truly.”
I can’t control my sobs, bowing my head to bury my face in my hands.
I don’t feel incredible. I feel useless. I’m a failure.
“Come on, baby.” He rubs small circles on my bare knees.
“I failed, Frankie. I couldn’t do the one job I have as a mother: protect our baby.”
Frankie helps me to my feet and pulls up my shorts for me. I wrap my arms around his waist and press my face into his naked chest, letting his steady heartbeat soothe me.
“Don’t ever say that again. You are perfect. This was not your fault; you didn’t fail them. Please don’t think you did. No one except Romano and your father are to blame.”
“Thank you, Frankie.”
He gently rubs my back, soothing the tension in my muscles. “Anything, I mean every word. Now, just tell me what you need.”
I pull back. His face is stoic, his jaw tight. I cup his face in my hands, and he leans into my touch, closing his eyes.
“Are you okay, Frankie?”
He simply nods. He’s so good at burying his emotions, he could believe he truly is fine.
“You aren’t sad?”
A darkness swiftly flashes over his eyes as they open. “Sad? No.”
“Oh.” I didn’t expect that.
“Completely and utterly fucking devastated? Yes.” With a gentle gesture, he covers my hand with his own.
“How do you stay so strong? I want to be like that.” I’d give anything to not hurt like this.
He half laughs and shakes his head. “Trust me, you don’t.”
“You are just as strong as me, Zara. If not fucking stronger. Remember that,” he whispers, nuzzling his head into my neck and kissing me softly there.
This is the first time I’ve felt anything other than numb in twenty-four hours. He brings me strength, and he brings me to life.
With him by my side, I can conquer anything.