Chapter-42: Relief

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The whole of my back was numb and the skin felt stretched. I cried out when I felt the sharp pain, it felt like someone was dripping hot wax on my back. I jerked, flailed my arms but someone was holding me in place. I increased my struggle but that was of no use that was only zapping me off my energy. I finally sagged in my place.

Was that a dream?

Did Natalie not come to take me?

Weren't those Antonio's arms who held when I couldn't walk anymore?

Oh no-no it can't be a dream.

Or was it?

My breath got caught in my throat at that thought.

I felt another sting and my body jerked as reflex. Second by second I was becoming more and more conscious of what was happening around me. I inhaled deeply and a familiar scent entered my nose.

Antonio's cologne.

That gave me some encouragement, I wanted to look at him with my own eyes, I wanted to believe that it was not a dream, I willed my eyes to open, finally after much effort I was able to open my eyes. I was groggy and my body was aching. I couldn't even move my hands or legs, everything seemed so heavy.

When I opened my eyes, relief filled me like a wave of cold water on burnt skin. I slumped into my seat.

"Maria? Cara ?" He said softly.

Another sting.

I moaned.

"Hey-hey it's okay. You're okay." He said and kissed the crown of my head.

I was in his lap with my front to his chest, my head was in the crook of his neck and shoulder. If I wasn't this injured, I would have enjoyed this position.

"Antonio?" I rasped.

"Yeah cara?" He whispered softly in my ear.

"You are here... You are actually here. Ohmigod Antonio." My last word came with a sob. I was mumbling incoherently.

"Shh...shh.. It's okay. I am here." He said soothing words in my ear.

Eventually I stopped crying but remained in that position only. Someone was cleaning my wounds. Whenever the cotton ball would touch my back to clean them I would jerk or cry out. But Antonio held me tightly and let the person clean my wounds.

Then the person covered my back with a soft shawl. I slowly pulled away from my position and winced. I looked at him. He was looking at me, he seemed exhausted and had bags under his eyes. He hadn't even shaved, his jaw was covered with 5 o'clock stubble. But all the exhaustion was not affecting his handsomeness. He still looked amazing.

"Here, drink this." His voice snapped my attention from his face.

He had a bottle of water in his hand. I didn't know I was that thirsty until he put the bottle on my lips and I was gulping it hungrily.

"Drink slowly or you'll choke." He scolded softly. When I was finished he put the bottle away.

Then he cupped my cheeks and brought my forehead to his.

"I am so sorry for not coming sooner." He said, his eyes filled with pain. He rubbed my cheeks with his thumb, brushing off the tears that were leaking from my eyes. He swallowed, his eyes had this strange gleam.

"It's okay. I knew you would come." I whispered.

"We'll have to get you checked out by the doctor." He said.

I nodded and leaned my head against his shoulder. He soothed a hand over my head.

"Try to sleep. I'll be here." He said.

"Antonio?" I whispered.

He hummed.

"I love you." I rasped.

"I love you more, cara." He said and kissed my head.

And that was what I needed.

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