Thirteen days. Thirteen long-ass days of never being alone. Not once.
I know Vincent is just being protective, acting as though someone might come and try to finish the job that Randal started. But he’s officially gone off the deep end. And I’m about to lose my mind.
If Vincent absolutely had to be somewhere other than the hospital, he’d make sure that John was in my room. Even after nearly two weeks of seeing them together, it’s still strange to see my brother interact with Vincent. John is holding fast to the claim that he hates Vincent, but I can see their friendship forming. Even when Vincent’s being annoying as hell, he’s an easy man to love.
On the very few occasions that both Vincent and John were unavailable, I had Marie and Annie in my room. I think Eric must have a sleeping bag out in the hall somewhere, because he’s never more than 30 seconds away. Any time I’ve called for him, he’s been there. And more than once, I’ve woken up to find the hulking form of Angelo sitting in the corner of my room. I only screamed the first time that happened.
As if all that isn’t bad enough, Vincent has held meetings, as in plural, in my actual freaking hospital room. The first time I found Vincent, Brent, Angelo, Eric, two other guys from security, and a random manager I couldn’t make eye contact with, all crowded around my bed, I threw an absolute fit. I thought I was convincing. I know I was inventive with my cursing. But when I finished, Vincent just smiled, kissed my head, and told me that he loved me. I wanted to kill him.
There was even that time when I thought I could escape Vincent’s ever-watchful eyes by hiding in my bathroom. I don’t know what sort of money Vincent shelled out, but my recovery room looks like it belongs in a five-star hotel, not a hospital. Usually I’d fight against getting special treatment, but the bathroom alone is worth whatever cost Vincent paid. It’s still clinical, but it’s large and boasts a real door.
When I was free from all my wires and tubes, and able to shuffle across the room on my own, I started to take advantage of the privacy. Seeing the opportunity one afternoon, I brought a book into the bathroom with me and just sat on the shower chair. I was only in there for ten minutes before Vincent opened the door and walked right in. No knock. And no need to pick a lock since there isn’t a lock to begin with.
Once again outraged, I asked what he would have done if I had been on the toilet. He just rolled his eyes and told me everyone poops as if that were enough of an explanation for invading my privacy. More cursing took place, but it had no effect on his behavior.
Needless to say, I am absolutely fucking thrilled to be getting out of here today.
“Alright, Miss Clark you’re all set to head home.” A nurse tells me with a nod. “I’ll have a wheelchair brought to your room in a few minutes, then you can leave.”
I open my mouth to protest that I can walk, but Vincent cuts me off.
“Thank you.” He says, nodding to the nurse.
The nurse gives us a warm smile before stepping out of the room.
“Vincent.” I start.
“Don’t argue. As I’m sure you know, it’s hospital policy to be wheeled out. And even if it weren’t, do you have any idea how long of a walk it is from here to the parking lot? I could carry you, but I’m sure that’d be uncomfortable for you.” He looks pointedly at my stomach.
He’s right. About everything. And I can’t even be angry with him about his outlandish behavior over the last two weeks. I came way, way too close to dying. Vincent’s the reason I’m still here at all. It was his quick response, and knowing to keep pressure on my gunshot wound, that kept me alive until the ambulance came. After that, a team of nurses and doctors worked medical miracles by performing immediate surgery, fishing out the bullet, and repairing the litany of internal damage it had caused. I prefer to not think about the details. That stupid little piece of metal wreaked havoc in my abdomen. I should make a full recovery, but I’m not there yet.
“Fine. I’ll let you push my wheelchair.” I cross my arms and slump back into the chair.
Annie snickers from her perch in the chair next to mine.
She’s spent a lot of time here with me, and her company is one of the only things that’s kept me sane.
“You’re supposed to be on my side.” I jokingly glare at her.
“I am.” She grins.
“We have a moment before we leave, and I’d like to talk to you about something.” Vincent’s tone is serious, and has me frowning.
“What is it? You’re not in trouble, are you?” I ask, sitting forward.
He had assured me that the police ruled the shooting a self-defense killing.
“No, sweetheart. It’s not about that.”
Relief deflates my posture. “Okay. Good. What is it then?”
Vincent crouches in front of me. “I know I’ve been driving you a little crazy.”
I cock an eyebrow at him. “A little?”
He ignores my comment, reaching out to place his hand on mine. “I’m not going to apologize. I need to be with you. I need you with me. I know that Randal is gone,’ he growls the name. “But that doesn’t stop me from worrying about you. And after seeing you like this. In here. I can’t stand the thought of having you anywhere but with me.”
I roll my hand over, so our palms are touching. “I’m okay, Vincent. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“You’re exactly right. I won’t have to worry. Because you’ll be with me.” He uses his free hand to reach out and squeeze Annie’s knee, who’s beaming at me. “You’ll be with us.”
I’m on pretty mild pain killers now, but my brain can’t make sense of what he’s saying. “What are you… Are you asking me to move in with you?”
Vincent’s lips tug up into a cocky smile. “I’m not really asking. I’ve already had your clothes and personal items moved into my apartment. If there’s any furniture or kitchen stuff that you want to keep, we can arrange that. And don’t forget about my house in the country. I know you haven’t seen it yet, but you’ll love it. We can bring stuff there, too.”
My mouth literally pops open. “You…” I don’t know if I should be outraged, flattered, or have this man committed. My mind rolls through so many questions but only one comes out. “What about Captain? Can you even have pets in your place?”
That’s certainly not the most important issue here, but it’s a place to start.
Annie is the one who replies. “Captain has actually been living with us since the morning after…” She trails off, but quickly picks back up. “He really likes it. Dad got one of those big cat climbing things. He put it up in front of the windows in the living room and Captain loves it.” She hunches her shoulders a little. “He’s been sleeping in my bed at night.”
My eyes dart back and forth between father and daughter, finally narrowing on Vincent. This sneaky asshole knew what he was doing having Annie here for this conversation. I can’t say no to her, and I can’t yell at him in front of her.
“Vincent.” I squeeze his hand. “This is a big step. I know a lot has happened…”
I use my eyes to plead with him. He can be rash, and I don’t want this to be something he regrets later.
Adjusting his crouch so he has one knee on the ground, he leans into me. “I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m not serious. You think that I might change my mind. That I don’t have enough experience with relationships. But sweetheart, I don’t need experience, I just need you. And I don’t need a single minute more to know that you’re the one I want. The one I love. The one I fucking need.”
Emotion squeezes my throat.
Vincent holds out an open palm to Annie. She glides the zipper of her backpack open and slips her hand inside. My breath catches when she pulls out something small, handing it to her dad.
“Sweetheart.” Vincent whispers, kneeling in front of me. “You’re the only girlfriend I’ve ever had. And you’ll be the only wife I ever have.” He opens his palm to reveal a sparkling ring. “Sasha Clark, will you be my Mrs. Sin?”