The Morning After

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Lily felt consciousness returning, bit by bit. The foggy remains of her dream retreated, leaving her with a dull brain and the reluctant knowledge that sooner or later she'd have to open up her eyes.

Something seemed different, although she couldn't put her finger on what, exactly. She could hear the gentle swish of waves outside her window, and the slap of the cord against her blinds. The smell of salt wafted through the air, but her pillow smelled...different. Spicy. Musky. Male.

It smelled like, well, like Dan.

She felt a slow smile spread over her face. He'd acted like such a hero last night—dropping everything to get her to the hospital. It had been the hospital, hadn't it?

No, that didn't feel right. She was pretty sure he'd taken her to the vet. But that made no sense. Why would he do that? And for that matter, where was she now?

Her eyes popped open, confirming what she already suspected. The sea gray walls that surrounded her did not belong to her bedroom in the Lily Pad. And the big four poster bed she was currently ensconced in was far too elegant for her grandparents' place.

She shifted her gaze to the left and was startled to see a big tanned arm hanging loosely off the side of a faded blue recliner. She followed the muscled line of the bicep up to where it met an undeniably masculine shoulder, on which rested an achingly familiar shadowed jaw. Dan. Had he slept there all night? And if so, did that mean she was in his room?

The decor seemed far too sophisticated to belong to the rough fisherman she remembered.

She shifted on the bed, and the pain that stabbed into her thigh drove all other thoughts from her head. The heat of it made her back arch, and without meaning to, she let out a long whimper.

There was a sudden thump as Dan's feet hit the floor. "Lily. You're up. Are you alright? How can I help?"

Lily couldn't stop a moan. "Can you cut my leg off? I think I'd be better off."

"Sorry. Can't do that. All the necessary equipment is at your place. But I can get you some pain meds. Hold on."

Lily closed her eyes and waited, trying to think of anything but the burning sensation in her leg. An eternity later, Dan returned, the bed crunching under his weight as he sat beside her.

"Can you sit up? I brought you some water. And an ice pack."

Groaning, she scooched herself up in bed, opening her eyes when she was in a seated position. And then blinked. In his hands were a glass of water...and what looks like a lump of cream cheese.

"Wha-what is that?"

"Well, since I took you to the vet, I thought maybe I should give you your pills doggy style."

Lily blinked again. "You really did take me to the vet?"

"Yeah, because he was closer. You don't remember?"

"I thought I was remembering things wrong."

"Nope, I really did. But don't worry, he's been to people medical school too. But... oh, never mind, I was just trying to make you laugh."

She scrunched her nose up at him. "You failed."

He grimaced and waved a bottle of pills at her. "Yeah. Obviously. Here's what you're actually looking for."

She shifted and tried to snatch the bottle of pills from him, but the second she moved her leg, pain blindsided her and she dropped back on the pillow, squeezing her eyes shut to keep the tears in. In an instant, Dan was beside her, picking up the fallen bottle.

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