Jon held her tighter. The fact that there wasn’t an ounce of reaction out of her scared him more than if she’d screamed. He’d welcome the screaming. This silence was louder than a scream. It seemed to fill the room with an unbearable sadness.
He wiped the tears he’d been unaware of shedding off of his jawline and cheek. Watching her heartbreak, the way she just seemed so lost in the too white, too sterile bed broke him apart. Pulling back a little, he looked down at her, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes. She just stared at the wall next to him. He moved until he could force the contact, but she didn’t seem to see him at all.
Dr. Esser sighed. “I’ll be back in a little while so we can talk a bit further. I have a few names of councilors that I trust.”
“When can I leave?” Tessa asked.
“We’ll need to do some additional tests to make sure everything went well—“
The doctor folded her arms against her chest again. “In a couple of days if all goes well.”
“Couple? Does that mean two?” Tessa pulled away from him. Her fingers stayed slack in his hand. He curled them tighter, still not getting a response. She couldn’t pull away from him. Not now.
“We’ll see after the next set of tests come back. I’ll be back in a bit to check on you. There are people waiting outside that would like to see you.”
“I don’t want to see anyone.”
Frowning, Jon cupped her cheek and turned her until she looked at him. Her beautiful green eyes were flat, emotionless. The warmth and the fire were gone. Lacing his fingers with hers, he wanted to scream at her. “Tessa, it’s Nic. She needs to know you’re all right.”
She slipped away from him, curling into herself, not into him. He heard the gasp, stepping closer to her, about to round the bed he stilled as she hissed out a slow breath. They had her so wrapped up, he knew there had to be stitches pulling. “Tell her I’m okay. Tell her that I need rest.”
He stopped, cupped his hand around her shoulder, pressing his nose into her hair. “Tessa, please. We can get through this together. I promise.”
“I just need a little time,” she said. “If you could just let me be alone for a little bit, that’d be great.”
Her voice held no inflection, no life. He sat back in the chair. He didn’t want to leave her alone. This was one of those times where they needed each other the most. “Tess—“
“Really, Jon.” She turned her cheek toward him, but still wouldn’t look at him. “I’ll be okay.”
Not them, not they would be okay. She would be okay. Stuffing down the paranoia and the hurt, he stood. “I’ll be back.”
“Just go home, Jon. I’ll be asleep.”
“I’m not leaving you alone, Tessa. Not ever again.” When she didn’t reply, he clenched his fists at his sides. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Still she stayed silent, just curled into that little ball. She looked so small and broken, so not his Tessa.
Scrubbing tired hands over his face he fisted his fingers into his hair. This couldn’t be happening. He left the room, leaning back on her door as he took a steadying breath. Dragging fingers across his wet eyes, he sniffed.
Dr. Esser was waiting for him. “Mr. Bon Jovi?”
Jon pushed his hair back, clearing his throat. She motioned him over to the nurses station. “That was a typical response, really. You just have to be patient. It’s going to take some time, but I’ll do everything I can to help her get through this.” She handed him a card. “This is my personal recommendation for a councilor. She’s one of the best that I know.”
“Is there more news? More than you told her?”
The doctor’s face carefully shuttered. Her brown eyes took on the professional detached look he was used to seeing with doctors. “Now that Tessa is out of trouble, I can’t discuss her treatment. The privacy act protects her.”
Frustration unfurled. Yet another thing holding him away from her, another thing to close him off. “You don’t have to tell me what it is, just if there’s more.”
She nodded. “There are some things she’s going to have to deal with, yes.” She smiled gently. “Beyond the loss, there’s a bit more.”
Jon felt the fist that had just began loosening around his heart tighten again. He stared down at his hands, clenching and unclenching uselessly. God, could there really be more? How much more was she supposed to take? How much was they supposed to endure? Wasn’t the loss enough?
Dr. Esser put a comforting hand on his arm. “I’ll be back to see her a little later on today. Let her get some rest. It’s the best place to heal.”
Looking up he saw Nic’s expectant face across the hallway. Adam stood behind her, crowding in close to show support, to let her lean on him. Adam’s hand on her shoulder, her fingers covering his. Connected. He closed his eyes for a moment. That was the connection he was used to. What he relied on. What he wanted to give. “Dammit, Tessa!” he whispered fiercely.
Raising his chin, he said his goodbyes to the doctor and walked toward two people that meant the most to Tessa. Who were beginning to mean just as much to him. He never found it easy to let someone into his inner circle, but Tessa had wormed her way in without much of a fight, dragging her little world in with her. “Hey, Nichole,” he said gently. Taking a step back as she threw herself into his arms, he caught her. “Hey, it’s okay, shhh.” He said and hugged her in close. “She didn’t stay awake long,” he lied smoothly.
Adam frowned, but Jon just shook his head. The silent communication was complete with just that one look. Adam’s face smoothed as he slid an arm back around Nic’s shoulders when she let him go.
“Does she know? Did you tell her?”
“The doctor came in and explained things to her.”
“But you didn’t tell her?” Nic asked expectantly.
“I didn’t have time…” Jon began, but stopped. He did have time, he’d had a few minutes with her alone, but he hadn’t been able to do it. Hadn’t wanted to watch her shatter at his words. “I couldn’t,” he said hoarsely.
“I see,” she said softly. “Can I see her?”
“She’s asleep again, and the doctors need to run more tests. They want us to go home and leave her alone for now.”
“Are you leaving?”
Jon shook his head. “No. I’m going to stay with her.” He tugged on the t-shirt he’d been wearing for days now. “I’ll have Richie grab me some clothes and take a shower in her room.”
“Jon, why don’t you go home and get a little sleep. Talk to your family.” Nichole’s dark eyes were wet with tears. “They need you too.”
“She needs me more,” Jon said firmly.
The pain flickered, then eased in Nic’s gaze. “All right.” She stepped in closer, wrapping her arms around his middle, hugging him tight.
He wanted to break, wanted to just go away and sleep it all away like the nightmare it should be. Pressing a soothing touch across her back because she needed it, he sighed. “She’s going to be okay, Nic. I promise I won’t let her down again.”
She pulled back. “You didn’t.”
He met her stricken brown eyes and knew in his heart it was true. “I did. I won’t make the same mistake again.”
Adam stepped forward and rested a hand on Nichole’s neck. “We’ll be here when she needs us.”
She turned around, frowning at her husband, “But it’s not his—“
“It is my fault. She was there alone because I was too wrapped up in the record,” Jon said firmly.
“No!” Nic pulled away from Adam, whirling on Jon. “You couldn’t know.”
“I should have.”
“But that’s not the same. Don’t you think I blame myself? I should have stayed with her. Not let her close up without me. Don’t you think I feel like it’s my fault too?” She clasped his hand between hers. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault.”
“I knew she wasn’t feeling well, but I forgot to check on her. I forgot to pay attention.”
“Jon, that’s crazy. She didn’t even tell me she wasn’t feeling well.” Confusion swelled with her tears.
Nic looked up and over Jon’s shoulder. He watched relief smooth out her features. “Oh thank God. Richie please talk some sense into him.”
“We need to talk, Jonny,” Richie said solemnly.