Except for about me.
He was thinking about me and then he wrecked.
He wrecked because he was thinking about me.
“I’m sorry,” I say and the words start spilling out. “I’m sorry. I should have just talked to you and then you wouldn’t have felt guilty and then you wouldn’t have gotten into this accident. It’s my fault. I’m so sorry.”
I’m still holding his hand and he’s looking at me with his beautiful blue eyes.
“You’re sorry?” he asks in confusion. “You’re sorry? For what? It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault.”
“I was being a baby,” I tell him. “I didn’t know what to say to you and I was trying to be strong but I was so upset that you were kissing Elena.”
“Elena kissed me,” he answers. “I just want to clarify that. And she kissed me because I had just told her that I can’t see her anymore. Because I want to be with someone else.”
“Someone else?” My voice is small in the large hospital suite and all of a sudden my heart is numb again. This time, it is numb because it is waiting hopefully for words that I am desperately wanting to hear.
“Yes,” he nods. “Someone else.”
My heart is still waiting.
There is a pause.
Then another pause.
He doesn’t say anything so I do.
“Is it anyone I know?”
I look down and he looks up and our eyes lock.
“I should hope so since it is you,” he says.
My heart stops.
And then starts again.
And then I bend down and kiss Dante Gili-bear-ti as softly and gently as I can.
“You want to be with me?” I ask this as I pull away and look at him. He smells like iodine and rubbing alcohol and bleached hospital sheets. It’s a foreign, unfamiliar smell. And I don’t like it. But his hand is strong and he squeezes mine.
He nods. “Ever since you ran into me in the airport.”
“You ran into me,” I answer.
He rolls his eyes and I kiss him again.
That’s how many times I’ve visited Dante over the five days that he’s been in the hospital. I go in the morning, I sit until lunch. Then I go back to the groves and work until the gift shop closes at 5:00pm. Then I go back to the hospital and sit until 9:00 pm. Then I go home, text Dante when I arrive safely, then do it all again the next day.
Dante tells me that I don’t have to.
But I know that he wants me to.
And there’s no place I’d rather be.
So many people come to visit. Mia, Gavin, Nate, Nate’s dad, Marionette, Darius, Mia’s parents, kids I don’t know, other members of Dimitri’s cabinet, Elena’s parents. Even Elena herself comes at one point.
A hundred times.
That’s how many times Miss Perfect glared at me while she was here, but she was sugary sweet to Dante and brought him candy. I know she thinks that he and I are just a passing thing, a phase. But I’m the one he wants to be with.
Dante wants to be with me.
We’re as different as we can be.
But Dante wants to be with me. With me. With me. With me.
And that’s all that matters.
Dimitri comes to visit often, obviously. And if he is curious or concerned that I am here so often, he doesn’t say anything. He is his usual pleasant, charming self. He’s not angry that Dante wrecked his fancy Jaguar. He’s just happy that Dante is alright. And that’s how a father should be, I decide.
“Why were you driving your father’s car, anyway?” I ask Dante as I’m helping him put his things in a bag. He gets to come home today and my heart sings at the thought. And then I smile because I just thought of Giliberti House as home.
“My car was being serviced,” he explains as he carefully pulls a soft t-shirt over his head. His chest and ribs and shoulders are still mottled with bruises, marring what is otherwise perfection. His body could truly be a marble sculpture. It’s just that perfect. Except now the perfection is bruised. I gulp and look away. His near-miss still terrifies me.
“You’ve got to be more careful,” I announce. “You drive too fast on those curves.”
“I thought you weren’t afraid?” Dante asks, with his blue eyes sparkling again. “You grew up on farm trucks sliding around dirt corners.”
I glare at him. “Don’t turn my words around on me. That’s true. I did. And I wasn’t scared. But that was back when I thought you were a better driver. Now I know the truth, so now I’m scared.”
He rolls his eyes.
“Have you heard from Becca?”
He’s very good at changing the subject. That’s something that I have learned this past week. And we’ve learned a lot about each other over these last few days. We’ve had nothing to do but talk in this hospital room. I told him all about Becca and Quinn and Connor and home.
He told me all about Elena, his father, Caberra, and growing up as a Giliberti.
It’s been fascinating.
And now I feel like I truly understand him.
He’s a really good person who just happens to have been born in a gilded cage.
“Yes,” I answer. “I spoke with her again this morning. She wishes you the best and can’t wait to meet you.”
Dante suggested yesterday that Becca fly here for a week or two at the end of the summer. I thought it was a brilliant idea and so did Becca. She’s currently working on hounding her mom until she agrees to let her make the trip. I briefly wonder if Dimitri would call to help our cause, but then I am distracted when Dante wobbles just slightly as he picks his suitcase up and puts it on the bed.
“Are you alright?” I ask in concern as I rush to steady his elbow.
“I’m not an invalid,” he tells me. “I just haven’t gotten out of bed for a week. Ooh- now there’s a thought.” And then he waggles his eyebrows suggestively and with huge exaggeration and I laugh. His pain meds are loosening his normally gentlemanly tongue.
“Normally, that would be an interesting thought, but right now, not so much,” I tell him. “Hospital tubes and a drugged up guy don’t really do it for me.”