KC and Evey hurried down the long hallway of the ICU wing, eerily quiet for an otherwise busy hospital, their footsteps echoing off the walls, when after another corner they saw the man, hunched over on a chair towards the end of it.
“Heath!” Evey called out, KC released her hand but she only looked up to him when he urged
“Well, go to him!”
No need to tell her twice, she ran into Heath’s arms, who had now noticed them and was standing.
He caught Evey, his eyes on KC, who had reached them as well.
“Don’t look at me like I was a prison warden. As long as you refrain from smooching all over her you can hug her, I don’t have a problem with that.”
“Thanks.” Heath voice was quiet.
“You look like hammered dogshit. How is she?” KC asked.
“They won’t give me a straight answer. I’d invite you go see her later, but it’s family only and one at a time. She isn’t even awake. One doctor did say something about her prognosis not being stellar.”
“Crap! Sorry man. Uh – and sorry about that eye.” KC told him.
“No worries. I truly deserved it.” Heath admitted.
“So what are they saying? Surgery?” Evey asked.
“They already did that. They sent me away for it to go get sleep. Sleep, as if. Got the kids ready for school, Abby is looking in on Sam’s shop.”
“Jacob can have some days off if he wants to. We tried to take him with, but he insisted on staying at the shop.”
“Yeah, I haven’t managed to get him to come here yet either. Look, what preceded her leaving me wasn’t pretty and while I got the brunt of it, the kids witnessed a lot. They are all very shaken up. I wasn’t going to make the younger ones go to school, but honestly, I think routine may be best for them. I don’t know what to do.”
“Look Heath, we can help. We can take the kids after school, we have our two already, we can feed them, help with homework, we have toys and a swing.”
“What if she doesn’t come back?”
“Don’t think that.”
“The kids will blame me – eventually.”
“Oh, I doubt that. I tried to talk Jacob into coming with and he did not have nice things to say about his mother.” KC told him truthfully.
A doctor came towards them now.
“Mr. Grainger?” he asked.
“Your wife woke up and asked for you, would you like to see her?”
Heath looked at KC and Evey.
“GO!” they say in near unison.
When he came back they had coffee waiting for him, which he gratefully took. He looked better, even smiled.
“She’s lucid. Remembered me. Told me she was sorry for what she said, asked about the kids. Cried, which broke my heart, so I started sobbing too. Told her I loved her, she said she loves me too…” Heath fell to pieces after that.
Samantha would remain in the hospital for 2 months making a near full recovery, save for some slightly limited mobility in one shoulder and a partial hysterectomy due to puncture. She would be cleared to go back to perform light work at her shop after some weeks of rehab after her release.
When she was finally released, still weak, the reunion at home was grand. Sam could not get over Abby’s now noticeable baby bump.
Heath had managed to explain to the younger children that their mother had been sick for a while, which made her hurt, which was why she said a lot of things she didn’t mean, something they could relate to. A little white lie was the easiest way out of a bad situation in this case. Abby and Jacob knew a watered down truth, since they were too old to be paid off with a lie.
Two days after her return home, KC stopped by to drop off some food made by Evey and Emmi to help the Graingers, when Sam asked him to stay.
“I have been hoping to catch you alone at some point. Sit with me for a moment, please.” she requested softly.
“Uh oh, that usually means a reaming for something I did – or didn’t do but should have.”
KC chuckled while taking a seat next to Sam on the couch in their living room.
“Ha ha, no, relax. I want advise from you.” Sam told him.
“Lay it on me, girl, I’ll do my best. But I warn you, better not be about makeup.”
“No worries. It’s about Evey and Heath.”
KC’s smile vanished.
“Can it be about make up instead?”
“Oh come on, KC. Look, I know some about your background, you know shitty parents and all. I don’t know if you know this or not, but I grew up in the system. Lost my parents when I was a baby, no other relatives, and turned 18 in the orphanage, nobody wanted to adopt me, no foster homes. All that being said, all I ever wanted was a family of my own. I have all this, after a detour, you know Jacob’s dad and my first time around with Heath, which I mucked up. Well, now I have all that, a beautiful home, beautiful children, a wonderful husband and father to my kids, I am about to be a grandmother …”
“So far so good, but I have a feeling I know where this is going …”
“Yeah, I am sure you know what happened just before my accident. Ever since I woke up I have been wondering, how you deal with it. I hope you do not mind me being so forward about something like this, but you had to live with this for even longer than I have been and me trying to suck it up and ignore it just about broke me. Literally. You seem fine, so either – no offense – you really are all muscle and no brain – sorry, little joke here – and just don’t see it, or you have a secret and I hope you will share it with me.”
KC snorted a laugh.
“All muscle and no brain is hard for me to argue with. Nah, I knew and I saw. I have been reminded of their odd – quote unquote – friendship often enough. Look Sam, I wish there were some recipe for some magic potion I could give you, but there ain’t. Truth is, Evey and I almost broke up a few times over Heath in the beginning. I used to hate the man’s guts. But then I realized something. They can’t help it. I remember Heath in the beginning. He was a lot odder – no offense – than he is now, you could have never let him loose into society. He didn’t even know the basic stuff. Total mess. It was Evey who carefully and patiently socialized him, somehow she had a way to help him understand stuff. Almost like an overgrown toddler, just a pretty dangerous one back then. He wanted nothing more than to not be that vampire’s son and to fit in with the rest of us. Evey managed to give him that, and he will never forget that. Considering that, it is not so hard to understand why he still comes to her for every little booboo. Has nothing to do with not trusting you, Sam, or me. He has come to me before, but I am not as good as Evey to explain it in a way that he can process.”
“You must be a saint. You do know he loves her, right? If you and I were gone, KC, you realize they would be together in a heartbeat.”
“Sam, you were almost gone and I will attest that he was miserable. He loves you. But you had to realize when you met him that he was not your average guy. This is not your first time with him, you even lived together once before. You KNEW. The Evey situation was the same, even then. Blaming him now for it now is like blaming the rain for being wet.”
“Maybe I am that woman who thought her man would change. That I could change him. You know he didn’t even tell me he and Abby were going to get un-turned. Told me a lie and suddenly came back home changed.”
“Evey told me nothing either. It’s his life, Sam. He shares it with you, but if you suddenly hated your hair, would you ask his permission to cut it, color it?”
“EXCEPT – nobody could die from a haircut, KC. The un-turning was dangerous, especially for him being a hybrid.”
“Sam, way I see it, it was his choice to make. He knew it would stress you out so he did not want to worry you. I bet you 100 bucks that was his logic, not anything else. Like I said, he is not like you or me and probably never will be, try as he might.”
“Have you never worried that he would one day just take Evey from you?”
“In the beginning that was ALL I thought about, but not anymore. He is a smart guy, who overthinks things. So all he had to do was not jump and take the bullet my father intended for me and he would have been rid of me for good. But he did save me. Tells me everything I need to know. Heath is not one to make the same mistake twice, few recent examples excluded, so him marrying you after you stood him up at the altar the day before the wedding once before should tell YOU everything YOU need to know. All you need to figure out now is if YOU love HIM enough to come to terms with the fact that he will never fully be a regular man.”
“I do. More than ever. After all I said to him, you know, during that fight I felt terribly guilty, in the hospital I tried to apologize and even now I still try but he won’t let me. Kisses me every time to shut me up. Gawd, he can be so sweet.”
“Yeah, sooo dreamy – and those beautiful purple eyes … oooh swoon…” KC quipped grinning, fluttering his eyelids making Sam laugh.
“Thank you KC for laying all that wisdom on me. This really helped. A lot. I wish I could make it all up to him, to you, Evey… oh I said bad things about Evey…”
“You can. Get better fast, love that guy, love your kids and just be you again. When you feel up to it, call Evey over for coffee and she’ll be all over that. Forget about all that happened, we’re all human, shit happens, we’re all over it, time for you to get over it too. Pick up where we all left off, learn from your mistakes but don’t dwell on them.”
“Would it be okay if I hugged you?”
“Be offended if you didn’t…”
She put her arms around him, cried softly, KC let her, when she calmed down, he told her
“I better get back to the shop now, or I’ll get a spanking. Heath should be back soon anyway, right?”
That night, after all the kids were tucked in, even Abby and Jacob, who were both not really too thrilled with having parents in the room they now shared a bed in while having their foreheads kissed, wishing them a good night laying in bed together, but played along.
Back downstairs Sam looked up at Heath when he shut the door to their bedroom behind himself. He felt iffy, out of respect he had slept on the couch since she returned from the hospital a few days ago. Before her accident she had been the one evading physical contact with him, sometimes by sleeping on the couch.
“I love you.” she said to him, then kissed his cheek.
“I love you too, Sam.” he felt nervous as if this were their first time alone together.
“I know. And that is the best thing. I KNOW.”
“Well, good. About time.” Heath smiled.
“You know what else I know?”
She whispered it into his ear.
“Are you sure you are healthy enough for that yet?”
“Are you sure you rather stand here debating it or take me to the bed and try to find out?”
No need to tell Heath twice.
He scooped her up and carried her to the bed, where they reminded each other that they were not just parents, but also still lovers.
Knock on the door the next day, Sam opened and hugged Evey, crying.
“I am so so so sorry girl!”
“Sam, stop! None of that. Nothing to be sorry for. We’re all glad you are okay. Now where is that coffee I was promised? Two hormonal pre-teens are about to make me turn grey and suicidal without an immediate infusion of caffeine! Man, am I glad I get to bounce all that stuff off you again! Do you know what Ethan asked me the other day?”
“Hold that thought, I’ll make a fresh pot!” Sam said and walked off.
After returning with coffee, she sat next to Evey and told her
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but that husband of yours … he is pretty awesome. I had no idea how smart that man is. And when I hugged him … hmmm-hmmm … gotta say, you are one lucky girl!”
At the same time Heath, who had been kicked out of the house by Sam for the girl time strolled through Brindleton Bay and inevitably ended up by KC’s shop. Standing outside the front door, debating whether or not to enter, as the door opened and KC called out to him
“Come on in, costs the same and I won’t have to yell at you for loitering.”
Heath smiled as he followed him inside, into the backroom to sit at the table in the kitchenette.
“Hey dad!” Jacob came in for coffee, then just sat down until he realized KC was looking at him.
“I don’t pay you for sitting on your ass drinking coffee, son.”
“You both are sitting here, so I thought …”
“You thought wrong. Last I checked I own this shack and the only reason I would pay your daddy-in-law is so he stays away. So … back to work!”
Heath smiled at the ease which KC handled a complicated kid like Jacob.
KC waited until the door had fallen shut behind Jacob, before addressing Heath, his face serious now.
“I am actually glad you are here, with Evey out of pocket. I have been meaning to sit you down for a serious straight guy talk, man to man, just wanted to be sensible about timing it with everything you have going on. But … all that touchy feely stuff involving Evey, yeah, we cannot do that anymore, man. That’s gotta stop here and now.”
“You don’t want me to see Evey again?” Heath looked lost.
“No Spongebob. You know I would never ask that of either of you two, nor do I have the right to determine who my wife associates with. But I do have a right to request that you do not do things to her that you wouldn’t be comfortable with if I did them to your wife, or your daughter.”
“I never slept with Evey!”
“No, but you keep kissing around on her. That is a no-no. Should go without saying, but I’ll be your Evey for the day pureeing facts of life for ya, you overgrown toddler. No more kissing. No exceptions.”
“KC, look, I never meant anything by it, it just … happened … it feels good and she is … safe …” Heath stuttered out.
“I know it feels good, but that doesn’t mean I want to share that with you. You do not see other men smooching around on her either. If one tried, trust me, I would not be as forgiving as I have been with you. They’d be a distant memory in seconds. I am not famous for endless patience …”
“Her father .. and brother… They kiss her.” Heath argued.
“OK, you tadpole, the day Everett or Josh start kissing my Evey the way you have kissed her, I’ll be having this talk with them too. They kiss her on the cheek! And what the hell did you mean by ‘Evey is safe’?!”
“Well, she is …. safe …. if I mess up with her, she still …. likes me. Everybody else may leave me. Hate me. Despise me. Turn from me. Like Heather did. And Sam did, twice now. And even Abby did. I know Evey never will. It makes me …. braver. Maybe careless to a degree. When I feel very desperate, overwhelmed, like when Sam said all that and left me, Evey was there, she felt safe and good and it made me … better. Much better. Made me feel safe, too.”
“OK, man, I got nothing here. Imma gonna leave that un-commented, but even though, no more healing kisses from my wife. You can hug her and she will always bail your ass out, and I will help her like I have, but NO MORE INTIMACY. No kissing, fondling, touching, licking, sucking, sniffing, nookie, none of that. Hugs only. Maybe a kiss on the cheek. A quick one. Occasionally. Next time you feel so desperate, text or call or come by and ring the fucking doorbell, even in the dead of night. My ass will be grumpy as hell, but I won’t feel like wanting to use you for a punching bag. I can be reasoned with. She’ll help you, always, and by extension, so will I as long as you do not do it behind my back. Can you remember that?”
“Sure. Thanks.” Heath was visibly uncomfortable being called out like that, but KC had a feeling his words hit fruitful ground.
“How are things with Sam?” he asked to change the topic.
“She is healing well…”
“I wasn’t asking about that. Man to man talk, remember? So, how are things with Sam?”
“I am not sure what you are asking me …” Heath said carefully.
“Are ya’lls fucking again or not?! Wasn’t that what you complained about a while ago?”
“Oh Lord… ummm…. yes. I mean, is that really what guys talk about? About their own wives?”
“Why? You getting some booty on the side? We can talk about your side-chick. Or side-dude if you swing both ways. I do draw the line at bestiality though.” KC just about keeled over watching Heath’s face.
“I have no idea what you just asked me.” Heath looked completely confused.
“OK, so do you like sports? How ’bout them Cowboys, huh?” KC calmed down a little.
“I cannot claim to ever have seen a rodeo, but I will, maybe you and I can watch it together…”
“Look buddy, I tried, and I have no idea how Evey does it, but I cannot do this without a drink in each fist.” KC laughed hard, enjoying his covert torture payback.
“Oh, we can do that, too. I hear about that on TV all the time. Guys’ night out. I have done that before with Liam. Wasn’t that much fun then, but I am more integrated now.”
“If we do this, we’d make it a guys’ night in. No offense man, but you have a long way to go before I would get drunk in public with you. I think if we did that now, I’d end up curled up on Evey’s lap in the fetal position sucking my thumb.”
“I am not THAT bad, you ninny.” Heath told him smiling now, finally catching on to the fact he was being had by KC, which only made KC laugh harder.
“Except – you ARE that bad!” he got out.
“You should have seen me before.”
“I HAVE seen you before!”
“Fine. How about drinks at my home some night.”
“Sounds good man. I gotta get back to work now.” KC was still chuckling.
“I need to get home too, so I can kiss Evey some more.” Heath smirked, trying to pay back KC for his torture.
“You are lucky I’d get in trouble with her if I killed ya right now.” he laughed.
“You still owe me for saving your life.” Heath smirked.
“Ah no, you wore that one out long ago and then some. We need about a hundred fathers wanting to shoot me before we are even.”
“From what I hear about your past before Evey rescued you, those shouldn’t be hard to find.”
“Get the fuck outta my shop, you imitation human!” KC was laughing hard.
KC was still laughing when he returned to the workshop.
“What’s so funny?” Jacob asked.
“Really? He has no sense of humor at all.”
“That’s because you never tried to talk guy talk with him.”
“Guy talk? With Heath?”