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Breathing easier, I stepped off the elevator and rushed to Ollie’s room. I swear I just wanted to gather both of them in my arms and never let them go, maybe run off even. We could find a new hospital, new doctors, and I’d stay off the internet this time.
That thought was immediately crushed when I met Charlie’s scowling face at the door. “Outside,” she growled as she backed me out of the room.
“So, we gave blood. Damien says he’ll be back later, but you never really know with that guy, do you?” I shrugged. “Anyway, I’m here, and I thought I’d work with Ollie for a while before her lunch and nap. You know, the usual, from a guy you can count on.” I started to give her a kiss on the cheek, but she pushed me back. Undeterred, I started to open the door.
“We’re not finished yet,” Charlie snapped.
“We aren’t?” I feigned confusion and scratched at my head as if I couldn’t possibly imagine what we had left to say to one another on the subject.
“Listen, you need to pull it together. I can understand why you’d be upset…” She threw her hands in the air.
“Good. I’m glad you get it. I’m glad you understand.” I huffed for a moment, but the last thing I wanted was to push her further away. Rubbing the back of my neck, I bit my cheek for a moment as I struggled to calm down. “Please, can we get back to where we were, before he came, back when you liked me?” I gave her a pleading look.
Charlie softened some. “I’d like that, but I think there’s something you need to know first.” She limped closer and wrapped her arms around my waist. I could feel my fury beginning to dissipate. “Damien wants to spend time with us, wants to get to know Ollie.”
I stiffened and peeled her off me so I could look her in the eyes. “Do you think this is a good idea? She’s so fragile right now. I mean, the way you explained it, the guy abandoned you. I don’t want Ollie exposed to someone who could hurt her like that.” I meant it too. It was all about what was right for Ollie. It just so happened that having him gone for good was better for Charlie and me as well.
She took a step back and crossed her arms over her chest. “Then it’s a good thing this isn’t up to you. Who do you think you are anyway?” Charlie frowned.
“I thought I was the guy who loved you, the guy who was always there for both of you. I guess I thought maybe that gave me the right to an opinion, being taken into consideration.” My heart sank. “I forgot there’s only room for two in your world. My mistake.” Slowly, I turned to walk away. I needed to clear my head and get these raging emotions under control before I spent any time with Ollie. The kid didn’t miss a thing and she didn’t need to be part of our fight.
“That’s right. Run away. Run just like every other guy I’ve ever known,” she hissed.
Whipping around, I flexed my hands a few times before speaking. “I’m not running. I need a cool down period. I think I deserve at least that. I’ll be back.” I sighed. “I always come back.”
Charlie crumbled against the wall. I wanted to go to her, to hold her and tell her everything would be all right, that I would help her handle whatever came our way. Only this time, I didn’t know if it was true. I didn’t know where I stood now that Damien had returned. There was an ache in my chest like I hadn’t felt since my mother died. Oh, but I recognized it, the feeling of loss, despair. Although this time, no one had died, but our relationship seemed to be in cardiac arrest.