pt.3

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Lauren has never seen someone so beautiful.

That's her first thought when the woman enters the room. Her breath catches in her throat, and she's sure her mouth is hanging open. The next few moments pass by in a blur. She knows she's seen her before, but it feels like the first time.

The woman rushes to put the files in her arms down, coming up beside Lauren. She says something, but all Lauren can focus on is the hand under her chin, tilting her head back. She stares directly into the woman's chocolate brown eyes, glancing between them. She knows the woman is checking for symptoms or oddities in her pupils, but regardless, she uses the opportunity to become acquainted with her features.

Her nose is soft and curves up, with hints of freckles scattered along the bridges. Her tanned complexion does an annoyingly good job of concealing said freckles, making it near impossible to separate them. But still, Lauren follows them along the woman's cheekbones, tracing the edges of her face carefully. She's in the middle of staring down the woman's jaw line when she pulls away unexpectedly, moving around the side of the bed to check the machines.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Dinah's presence registers. Her eyes flick over to her concerned friend, who has taken a step back to provide Lauren with a little space. The thrumming in Lauren's brain lessens slightly at the sight, her subconscious pushing for her to be brought back to reality. She reaches a hand out, signaling to Dinah that it's okay to get closer. Dinah jumps forward almost immediately, clasping onto Lauren's hand and kneeling down beside her.

"Hey, girl," Dinah brushes Lauren's hair out of her face, cupping her cheek affectionately, "Listen to me."

Lauren pauses, taking a moment to process Dinah's words before nodding. Behind her, all movement stills, and she knows the woman is watching.

"You need to lay back down. I know you're confused. I know your brain is all over the place. But we'll explain when you calm down, okay? I need you to breathe, and let this nice woman take your vitals, or whatever nurse-y things she has to do. Okay?" Dinah says slowly and clearly, Lauren sucking in a deep breath and allowing Dinah to help her back down. She closes her eyes when a sharp pain shoots through her body, trying to conceal her true pain.

"That's it," Lauren's breath hitches at the sound of the woman's voice, so smooth and warm. She rests a hand on Lauren's back, guiding Lauren into the most comfortable position possible, "You're okay..."

Lauren looks into her eyes, then... so full of concern. A sense of safety and comfort settles over her, and she feels like there's an unspoken promise that they'll get to know each other as soon as Lauren is out of this condition.

As the nurse finishes up her tasks, Lauren's mind wanders. She knows pain is crawling all along her body, but she's not sure where it came from. The last thing she remembers is stepping outside for a cigarette at work early in the day... is it even the same day? How long had she been out?

What happened?

"Will you be okay if I step out for a minute?" Dinah steals her attention, "Mani is in the waiting room. I'll give you a minute to get caught up before bringing her in here. Or would you like me to stay? Whatever you want."

Lauren nods, opening her mouth to speak. She clears her throat, which aches and rasps with her first fully spoken words, "Go ahead, Dinah. Thank you." Dinah gives her a tight-lipped smile before stepping out, leaving Lauren alone in the room with her soulmate.

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