And then Mia turns to me, hanging up the phone and her face is grave and scary.
“Reece,” she starts out hesitantly and takes a step toward me.
My heart stops.
Something bad has happened.
I don’t know how I know, but I just know.
“What?” I whisper.
She’s scaring me.
But she’s scared, too. I can see it on her face.
“There was an accident,” she whispers. “Dante.”
And then she can’t speak anymore. Because we are both moving.
We usher out the tourists, we flip the closed sign and we jump into the golf cart, flying toward the house.
“What kind of accident?” I demand from her as we speed as fast as the little cart will go. I almost feel like I could jump out and run faster than it is going.
“He brought his father’s car back here this morning. Apparently, he wasn’t used to it and it went out of control on a curve. It rolled.”
I can’t breathe.
I can only stare at her.
“He’s okay,” she tells me quietly. “He’s in the hospital. We’ll go there right now. It will be okay, Reece. And he’s asking for you. That’s why they called.”
I’m hearing words in fragments and spurts and my thoughts are coming in blurs.
Dante’s car rolled. Rolled where? Down one of those jagged hills? OhMyGosh. I can’t think straight. My heart, which was broken and shattered and stomped on this morning, is now numb.
Dante has to be alright.
He has to be.
The world isn’t alright if he’s not.
I whisper a prayer as we jump from the cart and then into Mia’s little red convertible. I don’t know what kind it is and I don’t care. I roll up the window and lean my head against it, staring sightlessly at the blurring landscape as we speed past.
Let Dante be alright.
I’ll give you anything you want.
Just let him be alright.
I don’t know how long it takes us to get to Valese Community Hospital. Time runs together and I don’t care about it. All I know is that we’ve arrived now and I know that because the sign is blue and lit and huge and I am jumping out before Mia’s car has even stopped all the way.
“Reece, wait!” Mia calls from behind me.
But I don’t.
I run as hard as I can, until I get to what looks like a reception area with a receptionist sitting behind a computer and people milling about in the halls.
“Dante. Giliberti.” I breathe raggedly.
“You can’t just visit Mr. Giliberti,” she tells me pleasantly, with her pleasant Caberran accent and her pleasant receptionist face. “Your name?”
She picks up the phone and waits for me to give her my name so that she can call whomever she needs to call for permission to let me pass.
“Reece Ellis.” I’m still panting.
Her eyes light up with recognition and she sets the phone back into the receiver without calling anyone. She’s already been given my name.
“Suite 815,” she tells me. Her tone has changed now. “Take the elevator on the right to the fourth floor. It will be on your left.”
She’s no longer simply polite. Now she’s respectful and wondering who the heck I am, but she can’t ask. She thinks I’m important.
“Thank you,” I tell her and I take off running again. I decide the elevator takes too long and I find the stairs and I take them two at a time for four flights.
I beg God. I don’t even have to tell him what I’m begging for. I simply pray that he knows. I don’t have enough breath to explain because these stairs are killing me and I can’t breathe.
I round the corner of the last landing and burst onto the fourth floor.
The nurses at the nurse’s station look at me in alarm but I don’t stop, even when they call for me to. I find Suite 815. I burst into Suite 815.
I stop dead inside the door of Suite 815.
Dante is staring at me from a hospital bed.
There are tubes and needles and machines with black screens and green lines.
And he is lying in a sea of white sheets and he’s so very pale.
But Dante is staring at me. And his eyes are electric blue against that vast sea of white sheets. And the most important thing is that he is staring at me because that means his eyes are open.
Thank you, God.
“Hi,” I pant, leaning slightly over with my hands on my knees. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe because I am relieved and I just ran up four flights of stairs.
“Hi,” he says quietly. “You came.”
I stare at him in shock and surprise.
“Did you think I wouldn’t?”
I had to. It wouldn’t have mattered if the earth was on fire and flooded with flaming lava and brimstone. I would be here if it killed me. I could be nowhere else.
He shrugs and then winces. And then I notice that his face, his beautiful, amazing face is so scraped. His left eye is black already and swollen. There is a white bandage on his right temple and I can see blood soaking through the bandage.
His hand has an IV in it.
But he is alive.
“You know how I told you that your driving doesn’t scare me?” I ask.
He nods, and I think I can see a slight twinkle in his eyes. God, I love it when his eyes twinkle.
“Well, I’ve changed my mind.”
He laughs, then winces and I cross the room and grab his hand as gently as I can.
“You scared me,” I tell him softly, and my voice catches in my throat and my eyes fill up with tears. I can’t help it. I know I’m strong, but I can’t help it. “Are you okay?”
He nods. “I’m fine. Just bumps and bruises. Thank God for airbags and seatbelts.”
“Were you going too fast?” I ask, and as I do, I remember speeding along the curves with him the other day and of course he was going too fast.
“Probably,” he says. “I wasn’t really paying attention. I was thinking about you. And then I was out of control. The brakes weren’t working and the tires were skidding. It happened so fast that I couldn’t even think.”