I woke up the next morning in a daze. It took me awhile to remember exactly where I was. Rielynn was curled up next to me and I lowered my face to her head, inhaling the sweet baby scent.
Nick and I hadn't had a chance to talk about what had happened, or more accurately, what hadn't happened but almost did. His face had haunted my dreams in ways I didn't want to replay.
The knot in my stomach was what caused me to retrieve my arm from under Rie and pick up my cellphone. I called the house first, but as I expected there was no answer. I hung up and dialed the hospital. After going through no less than five receptionists, I sat on hold for eternity
I almost didn't recognize Charlie's voice. It was higher than I remembered.
"Hi, honey. It's Macie. I just wanted to say we got here fine and I miss you."
"How long was the flight?"
"An eternity. We had two layovers and---"
"I'm being paged. Can I call you later?"
I frowned. "Do you want to say hi to Rielynn? I can wake her and--"
"Don't wake her. Have fun and I'll see you soon."
I hung up feeling even more upset than before I had called. I sank down onto a large chaise and watched my little bed bundle sleep. It seemed like I would have to become a patient on the brink of death before he'd acknowledge me. Was it just the demands of the job? Or was it me?
I felt alone. I longed to pick up the phone and call my mom, but there wasn't a phone on earth that could reach heaven. My mom had died of cancer five years ago, a year before a massive heart attack took my dad. They never got to see Rielynn.
I couldn't call a friend either. I had lost contact with most of my friends, either from the move or because of the lifestyle change from being single to being a married mom.
Truth be told, no one would understand.
I was alone.
A large tear trickled off my chin onto my chest. I closed my eyes to stem the flow, but they just kept coming. I curled up and hugged myself. I willed myself to calm down. The last thing I wanted was for Rie to wake up and see me crying.
The sound of someone knocking propelled me off the chaise. I grabbed a robe and wrapped it around myself. I felt underdressed in a tank top and sleep shorts. I made up my mind that if it was Brian I would ignore the knocking. I wasn't up to a lame attempt at flirting. And if it was Nick...
I wasn't sure what I'd do if it was Nick.
A look through the peephole gave me a view of a gorgeous blue eyeball. I suddenly caught the scent of eggs and my stomach growled.
"Room service," the bellhop said, his voice incredibly deep. I undid the chain.
I unlocked the door and pushed it open. Parker was trying in vain to reach the McDonald's bag in Nick's hand. He grinned sheepishly.
"He hasn't learned the art of surprise yet. Breakfast?"
I couldn't help but smile.
"Come on in."
"You've been rying-cay."
Rielynn and Parker were each eating a hashbrown on small paper plates on the floor. Rielynn kept rubbing her fingers together, obviously enjoying the texture of the grease on her hand. Parker was like an assembly line, double-fisting the pieces. Nick nodded in their direction.
"For the ids-kay."
I just shook my head. I hadn't put my hair up and it fell in front of my face like a curtain. I cut a piece of pancake with my spork and dipped it in the small container of syrup.
"Macie, it's okay to talk. Please don't be like me and wait to pay someone money to do what a friend could do."
I looked up slowly. He was staring at me, his Egg McMuffin held tightly, the wrapper pulled back. He gave me a knowing smile. "I want to be your friend. And I'm sorry about last night. I'm seriously not a creep. I'll let Brian have that title. He's so rusty in the game he squeaks."
I laughed. "He comes on strong."
"Consider him harmless," Nick assured me. "I know I warned you, but he'd seriously not do anything with a married woman. I think he's just looking for practice."
I looked back down and nodded. The piece of pancake I had eaten dropped down into my stomach like a lead weight.
I was torn. I wanted to talk to someone, but...
"I called him," I whispered.
I nodded. "I told him I missed him."
Nick didn't prompt and I almost didn't continue. His sandwich and my pancakes grew colder. I could feel the tears forming.
"He didn't seem to care."
Nick's hand pressed against my robed knee. "Oh, Midge," he said gently. "He doesn't deserve you."
"He doesn't deserve you at all."
"He's just busy," I babbled. I looked up, knowing I looked like a desperate begger. "He's so busy with work."
"But your little girl needs her daddy. You need a husband. It's not fair just to live that life with titles but no action."
I shook my head even though any psychologist would have probably told me the same thing. In fact, it sounded like something that came direction from a textbook. "What school did you go to?" I asked curiously.
He looked amused, but the look was accompanied by a sad smile.
"The school of life, baby."