Waking Up Cuffed, page 17part #1 of Highland County Heroes Series
“Here.” Warren brought the cup back for her to take another sip, then put it back on the table. She started to speak again to tell him how she felt but he stopped her. “You’ve been through a lot. Your body is trying to heal and that takes a lot of energy. Rest. I’ll be here when you wake up again.”
With his words she realized he was right. She was tired, so tired. A nap sounded heavenly.
“Thank you,” she whispered as her eyes drifted closed. The warm weight of his hand settled on her leg and the last thing she remembered was being grateful he was there and would be when she woke.
She clenched her teeth as she made her way into the house, Warren on her right side and her sister behind her carrying some of her things. She’d been ready to be home, and had opted for her place over Warren’s simply because she wanted her own bed and her own tub, but she’d not been prepared for how badly the trip would hurt.
She’d ridden in her sister’s car because it was easier to get in and out of but they hadn’t been half way home before she’d wished she’d ridden in Warren’s truck because the ride would have been smoother. In the car, she felt like she’d felt every little bump and pothole in the road and every one sent lightning bolts of pain through her shoulder and the rest of her.
Now she wanted to sit down and close her eyes, maybe take a nap, despite that it was almost six at night. Without having to ask where she wanted to go, Warren took her to her recliner, helped her sit and made sure she was comfortable.
“Where’s my stuff?” she asked wondering why it hadn’t occurred to her before.
“I’ve got what’s left of your uniform, but they cut it off in the ER, so most of it is going to need to be replaced,” Denni said as she came in with an arm load of things. “Where do you want me to put it?”
Hayley took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she closed her eyes thought about it. Her clothes were either in shreds or covered in blood. She’d have to go through it and see what was salvageable.
“In the laundry room.” It would be out of the way until she could get to it and see what could be saved. But there was something else.
“Where’s my gun?”
“I have it. I took it in the ambulance when you had me get your phone. I didn’t want the ER staff to have to worry about it,” Warren said from the next room.
She let out a relieved breath. It was covered and he would take care of it for her.
In the mean time she pushed everything out of her mind and let the ache and throb of her shoulder wash over her. She focused on relaxing her jaw, then moved on to other muscles in her body. Slowly forcing each to relax and stop fighting the pain. There was nothing she could do to stop it and fighting only made it worse.
“Babe,” Warren’s voice was right beside her and she opened her eyes to find him standing beside her with a glass of water and a pill in his palm, “It’s time for another pill.” He handed her the glass. “Open up.”
Hayley opened her mouth and he popped the pill inside and she took a long drink, washing it down.
“It looks like you were ready for it,” he said, still standing beside her.
She didn’t speak, just nodded.
“I’ll keep an eye on the clock, but don’t let it get too bad before you say something.”
She opened her eyes and found him scowling down at her.
“I don’t like seeing you hurting and when you let the pain get too bad, it takes longer for the meds to knock it back down.”
She blinked up at him as it took a moment for her brain to process his words. “I didn’t realize I could have more meds. I’ll try not to let it get so bad.” She handed him the glass back and watched him set it down on the table next to her.
“Let’s give that a little while to kick in, then we’ll see what you feel up to. You need something to eat. What sounds good?”
She blinked a couple times, nothing sounded good. Her stomach rumbled, but right then the only thing she could think of was the throbbing and pain.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“If I ordered from Asian house, do you think you could eat something?”
“Yeah, I’d eat that.”
“All right.” He stood and walked away, she heard his voice in the other room as he talked to Denni. She didn’t even try to hear what they were saying, instead letting her head fall back against the back of the chair as she closed her eyes again and waited for the pill to start taking effect.
Warren fought the urge to sit on the sofa in Hayley’s living room and watch her. It would only make her cranky and drive him insane. Instead he was making himself busy. He’d asked Denni what she wanted and what Hayley would eat, then called in their dinner order and paid for it then went into the laundry room and emptied the bag from the hospital. Her uniform shirt was trashed, sliced open and covered in blood. He took everything off it, her badge, name bar, rank and everything out of the pockets before dropping it in the trash next to the dryer before picking up her uniform pants. They weren’t in much better shape. The ER staff had cut up both legs and through the waistband to get them off, but they’d left the belt intact, so he slid that from the belt loops, emptied her pockets and let those join the shirt as he tried not to think about what could have happened as he looked at the blood covering both items.
Taking her badge, name tag and other things, he took them in the bedroom and put them on the dresser, except for the badge. That he took into the attached bathroom and washed it. He couldn’t stand to see it covered in blood. Finished with that, he put Hayley’s side arm on the night stand where he’d noticed her keeping it when she wasn’t carrying it so she would have it when she needed it, not that that would be soon, but he knew having it there would make her feel better, he knew it would have if it were him.
The doorbell rang. Glancing at his watch, he realized that was probably dinner and went to answer the door. He met Denni on the way, she already had the food in hand as she headed for the kitchen. He turned and joined her, served a plate for Hayley and took it to her. She looked a little better, like she was hurting less and as he started to give her the plate, he realized she wouldn’t be able to hold the plate and eat too. He went back into the kitchen grabbed a chair and took it back with him.
“Baby, dinner’s here.” He sat in the chair beside hers and held a bite on the fork for her. She opened her eyes, blinked. “Open up.”
“I can feed myself.”
“I’m sure you could if we took you to the table or if we had somewhere to set your plate here, but you can’t hold it and feed yourself too. So open up and let me feed you.” She scowled at him a moment, letting him know she wasn’t thrilled with it, but opened up and let him feed her. She’d eaten about half what he’d put on her plate before she shook her head.
“No more. I’m full.”
It was more than he thought she’d eat so he didn’t argue, just finished the food himself. He watched as she turned on the TV and put it on a network sitcom, one he wasn’t real familiar with, and then closed her eyes. Warren couldn’t tell if she was paying attention to it or just letting the sound fill the empty room, or maybe she was doing what he’d done the few times he’d been hurt and let the noise of the TV distract him from thinking about how badly he hurt. He said good night to Denni and locked the door behind her as she left, then waited until the tension eased from her face, letting him know the pain pill he’d given her earlier had kicked in and he was betting she was on the edge of falling asleep. He didn’t give her an option, or bother to ask, he scooped her up out of the recliner, taking special care not to jar or jostle her injured shoulder and carried her into the bedroom.
“What?” Hayley looked startled. “Where are we going?”
“To bed. You need to rest and I need to hold you a while.” He laid her in the bed he’d turned back earlier and stripped her out of her clothes before tucking her in. He dropped a kiss on her forehead, stepped back and stripped down to his underwear before c
Hayley woke to sun shining on her face. She didn’t remember leaving the bedroom blinds open so she frowned a second before opening her eyes. Once they were open, she found a pair of intense blue eyes watching her. She blinked, a little unnerved, then remembered the night before, coming home from the hospital, dinner, then Warren carrying her to bed. She vaguely remembered being woken a couple times in the night, being handed pills and being told to swallow. She had done as instructed then gone right back to sleep. Now that her brain was at least mostly up to speed, she smiled.
“It’s a little creepy to watch someone sleep.”
“Nah, I’ve been watching you sleep off and on for a day and a half. It’s only creepy when you plant cameras or do it through windows.”
“Oh, really?” She lifted one brow as she continued to watch him. “Who decided that?”
“Someone who’s sat beside a hospital bed and watched a loved one sleep while wondering if they would ever wake up, I’m sure.”
She frowned and wondered if that was how he’d felt. Was she a loved one to him? Had he done as he’d said and sat, watching her sleep as he wondered if she would ever wake? She’d not been through anything similar. Yes, she’d watched her father die, but that had been different. He’d been drinking himself to death for years before finally one morning he was found dead in his car outside the bar. He’d passed out and never woken up. Her mother had died in a car accident, she’d been declared DOA and she and Denni had never had to sit at either parent’s bedside and wonder.
Well, Denni had sat by hers now and Hayley hoped she’d never have to do the same for her sister. Thinking of Denni, she didn’t remember her sister leaving the night before.
“She went home last night. Said she needed to get some sleep and since you were home and I was here to take care of you, she was going to go sleep in her own bed.” He ran the back of one finger along the side of her cheek. “She said she’d be back today.”
“Hm… Sounds good.” She blinked, and her stomach rumbled. “What time is it?”
“You let me sleep too long.” She frowned.
“I’m going to let you sleep as much as you can or need to for the foreseeable future. Your body heals best when you sleep, and you’ve got some healing to do.”
She frowned at him, not happy with his answer.
“But I’ll cook for you, do what I can to make things easier for you and take care of you.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“Have to, no. I want to. I want to take care of you.” He wrapped his arm around her waist and moved close burying his face against her good shoulder. “You scared the crap out of me, baby. I don’t ever want to have to go through that again.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’ve seen that life is over too quickly. Nancy losing Thomas was my first lesson in seize happiness while you have it. This was my second and I’m not going to forget it again.” He paused and she wondered what he was about to say. “I don’t know if I can keep this secret anymore. I know Howard suspects, as does the captain because of the time I took off, but other than your sister and mine, I’ve not actually told anyone yet.”
She took a deep breath and fought to keep from reaching over and push her hand, the one he wasn’t laying on, through his hair, but she couldn’t move that arm.
“I know it was me who wanted to keep things quiet. I’d still like to, but not in the same way. You can tell people. We can go out here in town, go where ever you want together. But we need to keep it professional at work. That’s all I ask.”
He lifted up and gave her a gentle kiss.
“Thank you for that. I’ll take that. For now.” He pulled away and rolled out of bed. “It’s getting late. What do you want for breakfast?”
“Hmm. How are you at waffles?”
“I do okay.”
“Good. I want waffles. And bacon.” The bacon was almost an afterthought, but it sounded so good her stomach rumbled again.
“Your wish is my command.” He pulled on his jeans and disappeared into the bathroom for a minute before heading to the kitchen. Hayley lay in bed for several more minutes, then flung the blanket back and got out of bed. It took her several times longer than normal to do even the simplest tasks and she was frustrated beyond words by the time Warren appeared in the bedroom doorway to see if she needed anything.
“Two functioning arms would be nice,” she snapped as she tried once more to at least get a shirt on and failed.
“Here, let me help.” He stepped closer and took the t-shirt she was struggling with. “This is the wrong kind of shirt, what you need is a button-up.” He pulled a different top from the closet and eased one sleeve up her injured arm then helped her get her other arm into it, before buttoning it for her. “I know it’s not easy to admit you need help. Especially for someone as strong and independent as you are.” He pressed a soft kiss against her forehead and turned for the kitchen. “Call if you need more help.” He disappeared through the door, leaving Hayley to follow.
As much as she hated to admit it, the shirt he’d chosen worked better than the t-shirt she’d been trying to put on. She grabbed a pair of sweats she’d long ago cut off into shorts and pulled them on one-handed before going to see how Warren was coming with breakfast.
“There you are. I was wondering if I’d need to go looking for you again.” Warren lifted a waffle out of her waffle iron and put it on a plate. He poured more batter in the machine and closed the lid before sliding the plate across the bar to where she’d sat to watch him. “Here, get started.” He’d already gotten out the butter and syrup. Hayley frowned when she noticed the jam was sitting there next to the syrup.
“Jam?” She frowned and spread softened butter over her waffle then added syrup before looking up at him. He pulled another plate from the microwave and set it between them. It was full of bacon.
“I wasn’t sure how you like it so I did half soft half crispy. What you don’t eat, I will. I like both.” She took a slice of the crispy and took a bite. It was perfect and heavenly. Going back to her waffles she took her first bite and knew he’d lied. His waffles weren’t passable, they were amazing. Or maybe she was just really glad not to be eating hospital food anymore.
The front door opened, surprising Hayley and she twisted around to see who it was, making her shoulder ache and throb. She grimaced and turned back to face the bar as Denni’s voice called out.
“Hey, where is everyone?”
“In the kitchen,” Warren called back.
A moment later, her sister stepped into the room. “How is everyone here this morning?”
She looked far better than she had the day before. A night’s rest had done her a world of good. Denni wasn’t the only one who looked like she felt better after a good night’s sleep. Warren looked younger and less stressed than he had the night before, despite the time he’d spent watching her sleep.
“Good,” Hayley said in between bites.
“Oh. Something smells good.”
“It tastes even better than it smells.”
“Have a seat, there’s plenty,” Warren said as he lifted out another waffle and pushed it across to Denni.
“Oooh, don’t mind if I do.” Denni helped herself to a slice of bacon, but paused as she reached for the syrup. “Jam?”
“That’s what I said.”
Hayley shot Warren a frown as he still didn’t answer, just continued to move around the kitchen as if he hadn’t heard them. He fixed a couple more waffles, making sure both women were stuffed before he took o
“It’s time for your meds again.” He set the water in front of her then turned to get the pills.
“I’m tired of the pills, all they do is make me sleepy.” Hayley had spent more time sleeping in the last two and a half days than she normally did in a week.
“Sleep is good for you. Besides, trust me you’ll like the pain even less than the pills.”
She scowled at him but took the pill he gave her. “I want a bath.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
Hayley pinned him with the same look she’d used when an officer was giving her lip. “The doctor said I can bathe, as long as I’m careful not to get the incision wet. A bath is the best way to do that. I feel grimy. I feel like there’s years of dirt and sweat caked on my skin and I’m going to take a bath. You can be okay with that and maybe help me, or you cannot be okay with it and stay the hell out here. Either way I’m having a bath.” She spun on the bar stool, climbed down and stalked away.
Back in the bedroom she took her terrycloth robe from the hook on the back of the door and put it in the bathroom for afterward. It wasn’t the most attractive thing she owned, but it was soft, comfortable and would be relatively easy to get on. After setting the plug in the drain she started water, adjusting the temperature before gathering up the rest of what she wanted for while in the tub, then started to strip.
Managing the buttons on her shirt was more difficult than she’d planned, but she’d eventually gotten it done, then slipped off her shorts and stepped into the steaming water capped with bubbles slowly climbing the edge of the tub. She’d thought Warren would be in by now, maybe he was more against her bath than she’d thought.