The door clicked open so softly that it didn’t wake her. Dr. Jones stood there with a nurse at his side.
It’d been six hours since Elizabeth had fallen asleep and she hadn’t woken up yet–Jason surmised that this past week had caught up to her.
Dr. Jones cleared his throat. “The medicine is here. We just need you to sign papers giving us clearance to administer it.”
Jason pinched the bridge of his nose. The medicine was a shot that was supposed to counteract the damage done to Olivia’s system. It was mostly experimental but it was one of the few options the doctor had been able to offer them. But if it didn’t work, he was afraid of what it would do to Elizabeth.
“How soon will we know?” He asked, careful to keep his voice from jarring Elizabeth from sleep.
“Ten minutes,” Dr. Jones replied. “At the most.”
“Give me a minute or two alone to wake my wife and let her know that?” he asked.
Dr. Jones nodded and motioned to the nurse to follow him back into the hallway
Jason stroked the back of his hand down her face. “Baby…wake up…”
She stirred, her eyes opening briefly before closing again and snuggling more into his embrace. He smiled a little but tried again. “The medicine is here.”
That got her attention and Elizabeth sat up a little, lowering her legs to the floor. She flushed at finding herself in his lap. “Jason, I–”
“I asked the doctor to give a minute alone,” he told him, keeping his arms around her waist so she couldn’t stand. “I wanted to know how soon we would know after it’s administered.”
She searched his eyes. “What did he say?”
“Ten minutes. At the most.”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “And if this doesn’t work, we’re pretty much just crossing our fingers from this point on?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
She opened her eyes. “Okay. Then let’s do it.” She moved to stand up again but he didn’t let go. “Jason–”
“Stay,” he said quietly. “Please.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Okay.”
He raised his voice then. “Dr. Jones?”
The doctor entered again, this time by himself. He had the needle in his hand and he hid a quiet smile at the divorced couple holding onto each tightly. He said silent prayer that he’d be able to bring their daughter back to them.
Dr. Jones moved to Olivia’s IV and injected the medicine. He stepped back.
Time clicked by slowly. Jason felt Elizabeth’s body begin to tremble and then shake. He gripped her tightly, his fingers laced through his. Their eyes trained on their daughter’s elfin face, each expecting the worse but desperate for the best.
Seven minutes had passed and Elizabeth let out a tiny whimper. He tightened his grip on her waist in reflex. It wasn’t going to work. She wasn’t going to wake up.
And then Olivia opened her eyes.
Elizabeth let out a sob and buried her face in Jason’s neck. He pressed his face into her hair and rocked her as she sobbed her tears of joy.
Dr. Jones smiled. “Hello, princess.”
Olivia blinked a little before looking at her parents. “Mommy?” she asked softly. “Why are you crying?”
“She’s happy, baby,” Jason told her. He smiled. “Very happy.”
Shortly after she woke up, Olivia went in for some tests to discern the damage done. She had seemed alert and aware of her surroundings and Dr. Jones was extremely optimistic.
Elizabeth wiped her eyes. “I can’t stop smiling,” she told him. “She woke up. And she…she knew who we were!” She laughed and threw her arms around him.
“I know. It’s incredible,” he agreed. “I just–I wanted to believe it would work, but–”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t let myself really hope for it either,” Elizabeth replied. She stepped away from him. “It…thank you for today. I just–it felt good for someone to hold me again.” She hesitated and smiled at him shyly. “It felt good for you to hold me again.”
“It felt good to hold you,” he admitted. He tucked a piece of her hair behind her ears. “Thank you for letting me do it.”
She flushed and looked away. “I just–it’d be so easy to get caught up in this moment and think everything is great but…it’s not. You know?”
“I know.” He took her hands in his. “I want you back, Elizabeth. I want to give you the family I should have given you in the first place–the kind of family and love you deserve.”
Elizabeth bit her lips and looked down. “Oh, God, Jason, I want that too but I’m so scared. We…we screwed it up so badly the first time and there’s so much at stake now. Olivia–if we were to attempt reconciliation and for whatever reason, it didn’t work…she’d be crushed.”
“I understand and the last thing I want to do is hurt her. But I think that means we should just be more careful.” He stepped closer to her and tilted her face up so he could see her eyes. “Take it slowly. There’s so much hurt and anger between us still. What happened this morning shows that much. But I want…I want to work it out. To earn your trust back.”
“Do you really think we could make this work?” she asked, her eyes lighting up with hope.
“I’m willing to find out,” he replied. He brought one of her hands to his lips and kissed it softly. “We’ll take the long way this time. We took it too fast the last time–we were married before we knew each other a year and that kind of love–the intense and passionate love we had then…it’s a good kind. But it doesn’t always last and it burns out.”
“It didn’t for me,” Elizabeth confessed. “I–I still love you as much as I did the first time I met you.”
“I love you, too.” He smiled tenderly. “More. You gave me a life I never could have dreamed of. I never thought I’d love anyone like I love you–I thought I’d end up in a marriage like my parents or the one I had with Elise. One of respect and tolerance. You gave me so much more than that, Elizabeth. I would spend hours thinking about you when we were separated by an ocean. I literally counted down to the seconds how soon I’d see you again. I wanted to be around you every second–I was terrified you’d become bored with me and go away and I don’t know if I could have survived that.”
“You never had to worry about that,” she told him intently. “The day at the airport in Spain–when you flew home and I went to England…you smiled at me and I decided right then and there that I had to have you smile at me every day for the rest of my life.” She smiled tremulously. “I knew then that I’d never love anyone else the way I love you. And I know what you mean about not expecting it. It came out of nowhere. I was nineteen–the last thing I was thinking about that night was getting married or finding the person to spend my life with.”
She took a deep breath. “But it hit fast and it hit hard and loving you has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” She laced their fingers together and it felt like every part of her was smiling–glowing even. She couldn’t imagine a more perfect moment. There was still hurt–still anger, disappointment and problems to work out. But just to be able to tell him she loved him and to see that smile again–the only thing that possibly compared was Olivia opening her eyes fifteen minutes ago.
“So…will you do this with me?” he asked. “Work this out? Give each other another the chance to create the family and home we both want?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth agreed. She nodded firmly. “Most definitely yes.”
It was another hour before Olivia was returned to the room. She was sleeping and Dr. Jones said she’d sleep through the night and advised them to go home. He’d have the test results for them in the morning.
Reluctantly, they left and through no prior decision, they went back to the house together. She locked all of the doors and then they walked up the stairs together.
She stopped walking at the guest room and he knew that this was how it was going to work. She was letting him back into her home, into her heart–but not her bed. And he didn’t think either of them was ready for that. The first time around, they’d waited four months–until vows of love had been exchanged. He didn’t mind waiting.
He’d waited four years to get back into her heart, after all.
“Tomorrow,” Elizabeth began softly. “If you want…we can move your things here from the penthouse.” She bit her lip. “I think Olivia would want you around.”
“Wouldn’t she ask why I’m not in my own place if we’re not getting back together?” Jason asked her pointedly.
“She might,” Elizabeth allowed. She smiled then. “But then you can tell her that in order for her to keep her room where it is, someone has to be able to carry her up and down the stairs for a while. She adores her room.” She hesitated. “But if you’d rather be at the penthouse–”
“No,” he cut in. “Tomorrow, we’ll bring my things here.” He smiled then–the same rakish grin he’d exhibited the moment before he’d kissed her for the first time. He slid his hand over the nape of her neck and tugged her close.
And this kiss was every bit as intoxicating as their first.
“Oh my God…you should have called me!”
Elizabeth sighed and leaned back against her headboard. “Jess…it’s okay now. And…if I’d been thinking clearly, I would have. But I just…I was numb and I think I slept all day in my ex-husband’s lap.”
Jessica was silent for a moment. “Um…what was that?”
“I told him that if she woke up and something…if there was damage, I wasn’t going to hire someone to take care of her. And he pulled me into his lap and told me we’d take care of her together.”
“Oh. Wow. If you hadn’t filled me with stories about him being a jerk, I’d fall in love.” Elizabeth heard Jessica’s husband Lucky Spencer’s voice in the background. “Oh, be quiet, Lucky, I’m speaking figuratively.”
“He’s not a jerk, he’s the most wonderful man I’ve ever known.”
“Oh, no.” Jessica sighed. “Please just tell me you didn’t already elope to Vegas.”
Elizabeth laughed then. “You’re so dramatic. Look…this whole week I knew something was happening between us. We were talking–finally talking about what went wrong and even how we fell in love in the first place.”
“Sounds great. Are you sure this isn’t just…because of Olivia? Bonding because of tragedy?”
Elizabeth frowned. “Tragedies are famous for bringing people together. It’s legendary even. You know…take something bad to realize how much we all need one another and all that?”
“Yeah, I get that, but, ah, you don’t feel a little pressure from your beloved daughter here?” Jessica pressed.
“There is an added bonus of Olivia getting her parents back together and yes, I realize that we both want to give her that desperately but I promise you it’s more than that.”
“Are you sure? Because he is going through a divorce of his own–“
“To a woman who had the papers drawn up because he was telling his daughter how to make her mommy smile. He wasn’t happy with Elise.”
“Is that something you know for sure?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth sighed. “He said that it was a marriage he’d expected to have–his parents were the same way. Respect and tolerance. He didn’t love her. He loves me.”
“And you just believe that after all this time, after everything you’ve gone through?” her friend asked skeptically.
“If you could have been in the room when we were talking about trying this again–when he told me how much he loved me…” Elizabeth sighed. “Jess, it was just…it was what I needed. I believe that he loves me and I know he believes I love him.”
“I know that it doesn’t solve jack shit between us but after four years of wondering if he loves me, it’s gonna help me sleep at night.”
“Well…” Jessica paused. “As long as you know that, I think you’ll be fine. Sweetie, it’s not that I’m not thrilled for you…I just…I worry about you.”
“I mean…I know Emily knew first but I live right next door. Our girls are practically sisters. And I remember the late night calls–when she was crying and you couldn’t sleep but you didn’t want to take a pill. I remember that it was because of your marriage and you protecting him–and I just…I want you be absolutely sure you’re ready to put yourself back in that position.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “It’s going to be different this time, Jess.”
“Yeah, I believe you believe that. And I even think he believes that. But it can be so easy to fall into routines. He could get comfortable. Take one a trip a year. It could turn into two, three, four…you could get back into that routine of taking care of him–making sure his clothes are washed and he’s fed. And it might eventually end up that you don’t tell him when Olivia gets into a fight at school because you don’t want him to worry about things he can’t change. You might start trying to protect him again and well…that really didn’t work the first time did it?”
“It won’t be like that.”
“Because I know it didn’t work the first time. I know what went wrong. I know where it started. I’m not sure everything that went wrong and how to fix it all but…we want to fix it. We want to work this out. And I think…I think that’s the first step.”
“Okay. Well, then as soon as you know Olivia’s test results and things settle down, you’re bringing him over to meet Lucky.”
“No arguments. Now, have you called Nikolas yet?”
Elizabeth sighed. “No. We didn’t…we haven’t discussed it yet. I don’t know if Jason would even be comfortable if we used my divorce lawyer.”
“Look, Nikolas is a friend. He knows Olivia, he knows you. And he knows Jason a little. There’s no one better to handle this. You are going to sue?”
“I don’t really know what the point would be. It’s not like we need the money to pay the bills and they fired the intern.”
“Honey, at least promise me that you’ll discuss it with Jason and think about it. For the emotional trauma at least.”
“Yeah. Okay. Listen, it’s been a long day–”
“Yeah, yeah. Sure. Call me when you hear about Livvie, k? Love ya.”
“Love you, too.”
The next morning, Elizabeth was up at dawn and the sound of the shower woke him as well. He went downstairs and started a rudimentary breakfast–he wasn’t a great cook but he could handle eggs, toast, some coffee and of course–her tea.
He was just setting things down on the table when she entered the kitchen in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. She’d towel-dried her hair but it was still damp and was curling around her shoulders.
“You didn’t have to make breakfast,” she said, clearly surprised. “I didn’t even know you knew how.”
Jason smiled ruefully. “I had to learn. Sometimes Olivia wasn’t really in the mood to wait for room service.” He handed her the cup of tea. “Dr. Jones called. He wants a meeting at noon.”
“Noon?” Elizabeth frowned. “I thought…?”
“He had a trauma emergency early this morning and he had to put a few things off,” Jason explained. “He asked about a lawsuit and I told him that we hadn’t discussed it.”
“I talked to Jess last night,” Elizabeth remarked. She sat down and sipped her tea. “She thinks we should at least call Nikolas and think about it.” She hesitated. “I know you might be comfortable with my divorce lawyer but–”
“If you trust him, it’s not enough for me,” Jason interrupted. “He’s a good lawyer–he took care of you in the hearings. And I think your friend is right. We should at least talk to someone.”
“I’m not sure what suing would accomplish. The hospital didn’t try to hide anything–they fired the intern before we even got the hospital. And it’s not like we need to worry about hospital bills.”
“Yeah, I know. But it still happened. There was a security lapse at the hospital. Interns shouldn’t be able to administer that kind of pain meds to a small child without a nurse present. Elizabeth, we almost lost our daughter.”
She closed her eyes. “I know. We should definitely talk to Nikolas about our options.”
“I think we should talk about broaching the subject with Olivia,” Jason said. He broke apart his toast and took a bite. “I mean…about me living here and whether we want to tell her about the reconciliation.”
“I don’t think we should tell her anything about us trying to work this out. She’s still recovering and I don’t want to get her hopes and I’m just trying to be realistic Jason–this might not work.”
“No, it might not,” Jason allowed. “I’m not even sure where to start, to be honest.”
“I know. I was thinking…” Elizabeth chewed her lip. “Maybe we should try a marital therapist or something. You know?”
“If that’s what you want.”
“I want to know what you think,” Elizabeth pressed.
“I think we might be rushing it by going to see someone,” Jason admitted. “We just decided last night we wanted to get back together. We should at least try to see if we can work this out for ourselves.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth finished her tea and stood up to take her half-empty plate and cup to the sink where she put the leftovers into the garbage disposal. “Visiting hours aren’t until ten but since she’s a minor we could get in earlier so maybe we should head over to the penthouse now.”
He finished up his coffee and nodded. “Yeah.” Jason stood. “Have you been to the penthouse since we moved out?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “No. I think the nursery is still set up. I never…I couldn’t go back afterwards, you know?”
“Yeah. I…I slept on the couch the night I was there. I didn’t want to go upstairs,” Jason admitted. He took a deep breath. “This just feels…awkward.”
She laughed a little. “Yeah. I guess we’re trying too hard now. I don’t want to fight with you Jason but I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to tip toe around you.”
“I guess we just have to find a new rhythm,” Jason agreed. “So you want to get out of here and get my stuff so we can get to the hospital?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah. Definitely.”