I reached up and pushed Kate’s hair out of her face. It was pulled to one side, but it had long fallen out of the updo it was in when the sight of her first took my breath away tonight. I lightly traced my fingers over the bandage covering the right side of her forehead and I hovered over the outline of some of the bruises and scratches. I watched my fingers, and I felt her watching me—waiting for me to tell her something. I wanted so badly to trace her lips on my exploration of her face—to feel her breath on my fingertips. But, I forced myself to pull back. “Don’t look at me like that,” I finally whispered.
“Like what?” she frowned.
“Don’t look at me like I saved you. I’m the reason this happened to you. You’re looking at me like you’re so happy that I’m here. Those guys shouldn’t have slipped something in your drink, or whatever they did. If I were paying attention, they wouldn’t have almost made off with you. I did this to you, and don’t you fucking forget it.” I stopped to take a deep, shuddering breath and buried my face in my hands.
“Funny,” Kate said coldly as she leaned forward. “I didn’t peg you as the victim type.”
I reared back. “What?”
“You heard me,” she snapped. “I was the one who had something slipped in my drink. And apparently, I was the one who was almost kidnapped. But I wasn’t. Because you stopped them from taking me. You brought me here. I’m safe. So, quit the pity party on yourself.”
My hands had fallen from my face during her tirade to meet her now angry glare. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be madat what she was saying or not, but I didn’t have the time to figure it out because she wasn’t done yet. “Do you know how Aimee knew to go get you from the waiting room? I begged her to go get you because, somehow, I knew you would be there. I knew you were the one who saved me from whatever caused me to end up in the freaking hospital. So, none of this is your fault. Yes, we shouldn’t have separated, but that’s on both of us. But, it’s not my fault or your fault that some asshole roofied me, capisce?”
She was breathing heavily by the end of her rant. She slowly fell back against the pillows, closing her eyes. I watched her as she got her breathing under control, knowing I had to choose my next words carefully. I didn’t want to upset her more, and I knew that everything she said was true. “Hey. Kate.” I threaded my fingers through hers and waited until she slowly opened her eyes to peek at me. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you more; it’s just… You were so gorgeous tonight. I wanted you to stay by me, but I couldn’t ask you for that. And all of a sudden, I couldn’t find you, and then you were almost kidnapped, and I couldn’t get you to open your eyes. I couldn’t see your beautiful brown eyes,” I was so quiet; I knew she had to be straining to hear me. I didn’t want her to know how helpless I had felt. How I felt like I had failed and lost all over again. And how my feelings for her were getting too intense and they were scaring me.
She tightened her grip on my hand. “I heard you, you know. Through the haze, you said ‘Katelyn, please’. And that’s how I knew something was wrong. So, I fought to wake up. You brought me back.”
I closed my eyes, fighting off the onslaught of emotion threatening to take over me. If only I had been able to save Mel like I was able to save Kate. I didn’t know what else to say. I was exhausted and I knew she had to be in even worse shape than I was. “You should get some rest, Kate. We can talk in the morning. I’ll be here. I’m not going to leave you.”