Twice The Charm Ch. 09bycassandraharper©
Sorry for the late submission. My computer was broken for a couple of weeks and then it took some time for it to be approved by the website. I wasn't holding it back, on purpose, for suspense reasons. Enjoy
Manni rushed through the doors of the hospital as her feet hurried to the emergency room. Her parents had called and informed her that Scott had left their daughter with them and was now in the hospital all alone. His mother was in critical condition and the likelihood of her surviving was slim.
"Scott," Manni called out of breath as she finally stopped in front of him. He looked even more ghastly pale and famished since the last time she had seen him two days ago. His pale green eyes were translucent with defeat as they slowly ascended, from their position plastered on the hospital floor, to look at her.
He was confused and somewhat lost, but somehow, despite his cluttered thoughts, he was able to stand, forcing himself to rise up against the fear that was weighing him down. "Manni? What are you doing here?"
She hugged him tightly, wrapping her arms about his abdomen as her head rested against his stuttering heart. "My parents called. Why didn't you tell me things were this bad?"
"Weren't you worried about the long distance charges?" he mocked instead, not wanting to think about his mother's dire situation.
"Why did you come?"
She looked up at him with her mouth open in awkward explanation, "Wasn't I supposed to? Did you expect me to just leave you like this when you needed someone?"
Scott gently pushed her away from him, forcing his legs to put some distance between them, no matter how small it was. "You're supposed to be in the Virgin Islands."
"That's work, Scott, that can always wait. You can't," Manni told him truthfully, watching as he ran a hand roughly through his already unkempt red hair.
"You don't have to do me any favors, Manni. I think I'm quite capable of handling this on my own."
"Stop it," she told him, grabbing his arm to put an end to his pacing. "Don't do that. Don't push me away." His face crumbled and he sat back down with his head buried in his hands. "I'm right here, Scott."
He gave her a cynical laugh as he looked back up at her, "for how long?"
"Mr. Carver." They both turned in the direction of the doctor who had entered the waiting room. "I'd like to have a word with you."
"Do you need me to come?" Manni asked, holding on tightly to his hands as he slowly rose from his seat. For someone so young, he now resembled a tired old man.
"No, I'll be fine," he told her, following the doctor. They stopped closer to the emergency room doors to talk. From the doctor's body language, Manni already knew what the news would be. He tried to hold his head high, but the air of remorse surrounding the two men weighed down his shoulders as he shook his head at Scott then rested a big hand on his shaking shoulders as he watched the man before him cry with a hand covering his mouth. His mother was gone. He knew that it was inevitable yet that notion didn't and wouldn't stop the pain.
"I'm sorry for your loss. We'll give you some time alone with her then we'll have her transferred to the hospital mortuary," Manni heard the doctor say as she went to Scott. Her hand laid softly against his back and he grabbed her so suddenly that she thought he was going to push her away from him. Instead, he held her close, releasing his flood gates triggering her own tears and they cried together while the doctor slowly backed away to give them their privacy.
His pain radiated through her, suffocating the very life out of her. But Manni continued to cry with Scott while soothingly caressing his broad back to calm him. Their eyes were big, puffy, red balls when they finally stopped to look at each other. "I'm sorry," she shuddered from her dry, tear soaked lips.
Scott nodded his head, backing away from her to straighten his appearance. "I really appreciate that Manni, thank you."
She could hear it in his voice that he was fighting back the tears, attempting to remain somewhat composed. "What do you need me to do?"
"Go home," he whispered, nodding his head as he reached for the door to the room that housed his mother's dead body. "Just go home." He went inside, closing it behind him with Manni looking after him in the hall. She didn't listen to him. Instead, she took his seat outside of the room patiently waiting for him to exit. Doctors came and went and finally the table with his mother's body was wheeled out covered by a white blanket.
"Wait," she called to one of the nurses who were preparing to push the bed away. "May I say goodbye?" she asked, blinking back her tears. They gave her permission, watching as her hesitant footsteps brought her closer to the bed. She pulled away the blanket to look down at Scott's mother and stroked her gray hair. "Mrs. Carver, I'm going to miss you so much," she told her, kissing her cold, blue forehead as tears dripped from her eyes. "May God keep you in peace." She recovered the body giving the nurses the go ahead to take it away as she turned away to cry. Her heart was aching and she knew that if she felt this way, Scott was definitely a lot worse.
She sat back down waiting outside of the room, once occupied by Scott's mother, for his exit, but he didn't leave. An hour passed and another until finally it was two in the morning when the door eventually opened to reveal a haggard looking Scott. Their eyes met then broke apart both not speaking to each other. He walked away with her following slowly behind, waiting on him to talk to her. Even if he was angry and yelled at her, she would listen just as long as he said something.
He went to the mortuary to sign his mother's death certificate and order her body to be cremated then hurriedly left the hospital after saying one last final goodbye. He didn't know where he wanted to go, but Scott knew that he had to get away. He jumped into his car, driving away his pain and becoming angry when he noticed that Manni was following behind. What did she want? Why wouldn't she leave him alone to grieve in peace? He pulled up in front of a bar, slamming his door shut then walking away before she could get out of her car.
Manni continued to follow Scott even sitting a few seats behind him inside the grimy bar. "Whiskey. Dry," she heard him order then another after taking the first glass straight without pausing for a breath. By his fourth glass she had to rush to stop the bartender from serving him another.
"Hey, can't you see that he's drunk? Why would you keep serving him another?"
"Lady," the bulky bartender told her, a bit annoyed that she had stopped him from pouring the drink. "I'm only doing my job."
Manni grabbed her purse slamming some money on the counter then grabbed Scott before he toppled over from his stool. "Next time learn to read body language," she told him, dragging Scott to his feet and swaying with him when his legs nearly buckled. "Even a blind man can see that he's drinking to forget."
"You know what, lady, just get out of her."
Manni snapped her head back in his direction so quickly that he was startled. "Don't get it twisted, Hulk Hogan, cause I'm not the one." For all of his muscles the bartender immediately felt a tingle of fear shiver down his spine as he watched the small woman before him help her complaining, inebriated friend stand correctly.
"Leave me alone, Manni!"
"Shut up, I'm taking you home."
"Fine. I can do it by myself," Scott slurred.
It was obvious that she knew how to hold her own and proved so by tripping the man she was moments ago trying to help. He fell to the floor, landing painfully on his knee then crying out in pain. Manni leaned over him, slapping his cheeks to get his attention. He looked up at her, head still dizzy, eyes semi-closed, breath and pores reeking of alcohol. "Do you see how defenseless you are if I was able to trip you? Will you let me help you now?"
Scott smiled unable to keep his head steady as it bobbed from side to side, "Manni."
"Yes?" she answered, reaching to help him to his feet.
"I love you," he told her, pulling her down for a whiskey flavored kiss. She felt more intoxicated by his lips than the strong after taste of the alcohol, but she didn't fight it. She allowed him to have his way with her, knowing that Scott rarely, if ever touched a bottle of alcohol in his life thus deeming him a lightweight drinker. Most likely, he would forget everything in the morning. Besides, after the loss that he had suffered, he deserved to have his own way for a while. He pulled away gazing up at her as tears misted his green eyes. "I really love you."
"Ok," she replied, helping him to his feet with shaking hands as her heart stuttered inside of her chest. It's only the alcohol, she told herself and kept repeating so as she led him to her car.
"I can drive."
"Over my dead body," she stated, pushing him into the car and driving towards his house. Surprisingly, he didn't throw up in her car saving that just in time for when they pulled up in his driveway. He would have a nice present to clean up in the morning, she surmised digging into his pocket to retrieve his keys. He stumbled away from her heading to the moonlit beach right behind his house with her worriedly following behind.
"Scott, you can come back tomorrow once you've sobered up," she told him, but he was determined to go, dragging her along with him since she refused to let go of his waist. Manni released him, rubbing her fatigued arms before trying another strategy. This time she ran in front of him and pushed, however her efforts were nonetheless futile proven by him forging forward, making her feet dig into the sand and leave two lines in their wake. He trudded to the ocean not caring that he was soaking his new pair of leather shoes only needing to feel the waves crash against him.
Manni fell, twisting her ankle and glared up at Scott who was too drunk and mesmorized by the water to come to his senses. She hobbled after him not wanting to put too much pressure on her aching ankle then wrestled with him to get him out of the water. "Scott," she pleaded as they fell and rolled into the violently crashing waves. Water slammed into them, threatening to take them out farther into the ocean away from the safety of the shoreline. Manni was afraid. What was he trying to do?
"Scott!" she yelled, holding on so tightly to his shirt that the fabric screamed as it ripped apart from their struggle. He pushed her aside still heading forward as she forgot about her injured ankle and trudged after him, fighting the deepening waters to get to him. She tackled him then swung her arm back to land a hard slap to his face. His trance was broken though he still remained drunk, looking down at her in confusion as she cried from relief.
"What the hell is wrong with you!" she screamed unable to control her fear as she held on to him tightly. He heaved a sigh only looking down at the top of her head as she continued to cry, finally leading them out of the water when they both shook from the cold wind.
"I'm sorry," Manni told him once she had composed herself. "I shouldn't have slapped you, but you left me no choice," she justified while he dropped down to the sand and stretched out on top of it. She searched her pockets becoming frantic when his keys were nowhere in sight then checked his own.
"Scott, I think your keys are in the ocean," she told him, nudging him when it looked as if he was sleeping. He moaned, turning his sand covered back to her. "Scott, get up. I think your keys are gone. I need to take you to my place." He turned back towards her wrapping his arm around her waist to pull her down next to him then held her closely despite her efforts to get out of his grasp.
"For a drunk guy you're really strong," she muttered too tired to fight him any longer. They fell asleep with the slow coming of the dawn, holding on tightly to each other while the sound of the ocean lulled them into slumber.
Scott awoke to find himself on the beach, wearing a torn shirt, with Manni clinging to him. She was shivering too much in her sleep in spite of the hot sun that was now directing it's UV rays into their skin. He already knew that he was sunburnt before he attempted to move which was curbed by the pounding in his head. His throat was dry and sore and he found that every inch of him was covered in sand. Nevertheless, he couldn't keep his eyes away from Manni. She would have a fit about the sand in her hair, but she was beautiful. Her arms tightened about him giving him one last hug before she awoke like she used to do when they were dating.
"My body feels cramped," she croaked then slapped a sand covered hand over her throat, embarrassed that she sounded so hoarse.
"Can I ask you what the hell are we doing sleeping on a beach like...beach bums?"
"You're awake?" Manni asked sitting up then jumping to attention at how, horrendously covered in sand she was. Scott smiled, shielding his eyes from the blinding sunlight. "This is all your fault!"
"What? What did I do?"
"You got drunk and then you wouldn't let me take you inside and you tried to drown yourself making me twist my ankle and lose your keys in the ocean," she told him, feeling tears come to her eyes. "I was so scared because of you."
"I'm sorry," he told her, sitting up to hug her in spite of the pounding in his head. "I put you through hell. I'm so sorry."
"Damn right you should be," Manni replied, standing to her feet, being mindful of her slightly swollen ankle while attempting to brush off some of the sand from her clothing. Her efforts were futile making her realize that the only way to get rid of all of it would be to hop back in the ocean or take a shower. She had no intentions of sitting down in her car to drive home to do so. Not when she would be leaving a mini beach behind. "What are we going to do now?"
"I'm going to make my head stop spinning then find the spare keys I have somewhere out here."
"Aren't you the least bit worried that your car keys were among those of the lost?"
"That's why I have two extra spares in the house. I had them made when I thought that I had lost the first set. They were under my mattress." He stood to his feet, grabbing his spinning head.
Manni rushed to his side as best she could with a small limp, holding him up against her. "Just tell me where you put them and I'll get it for you."
He shook his head as they took the long walk back to the front of his house, made longer by his hangover and her sprained ankle. "You're too short," he said, proving it by reaching up to open the light fixture above the front door to retrieve the house key. He opened the door, giving her access inside, then closed it back welcoming the cool blast from the air conditioner.
"Why would you hide it there? What if something came up and you were trapped inside and we need to get to you? Who in their right mind would think to check your porch light?"
Scott smiled, heading to the coffee maker to brew some strong Folgers. He grabbed two aspirins from the medicine cabinet in his bathroom and threw them back then drank the scalding cup of coffee. "Would you like some?" he asked, remembering his manners.
"No, thank you. I'll drink some ginger tea when I get back. I would, however, like to use your shower. Thanks to you, I look like a walking sand monster. And don't even get me started on my hair. I can only imagine how it is looking now. It will take me forever to get all of this sand out of it."
He winced after scratching his sunburned shoulder, rolling his sleeve up to take a better look at it. It was red and would definitely start to peel immediately.
"You should put some cream on that."
"I will once I've taken my shower. Go ahead and use the master bathroom upstairs. I'll use the one down here."
"Why? Wouldn't it be more convenient for you to use your own bathroom?"
"The laundry room is close by. I'll be able to throw our clothes in the wash without you seeing me walking around naked to do it," Scott replied, helping her upstairs to give her a towel and a robe for when she would finish her shower.
"Thank you," Manni muttered, becoming silent after his comment about being naked. She hadn't forgotten how his body had look even after all those years they had spent apart.
He waited until she handed him her clothes while hidden behind the bathroom door before going to take his own shower. "I'll be downstairs if you need me," he told her, walking away while already taking off his shirt. He winced once more at the tautness of his sun burnt flesh ignoring the stinging as he undressed and threw everything, except his torn shirt, in the washing machine. Showering was torture to him and excrutiatingly slow being that he was trying everything in his power to not aggrevate the sunburn.
Victoriously happy that he had finished without crying like a baby, Scott tiptoed upstairs to get the medicine kit right next to his bed. Manni was still in the shower, no doubt complaining to herself about her hair while scrubbing the life out of it. He quickly opened the kit unintentionally knocking it over in his haste to rush back downstairs before she exited the shower. "Crap," he whispered wincing as he bent down to gather its contents.
"What are you doing?" Manni asked, turning the light off in the bathroom behind her. He spun around unable to keep his eyes off of the sight of her covered in his bathrobe. Unlike him, the sun had given her a beautiful bronzed tan that made her skin glow brightly against the stainless white of the robe.
He held up the tube of cream as evidence that he had no intentions of being a pervert by waiting for her exit.
"Do you need me to help you with that?" she asked, failing time and again to keep her eyes off of his bare upper body. She didn't wait for his response already taking the cream from his hands and climbing into his bed. Scott sat down obediently slightly jumping as she applied the sunburn cream to his aching shoulders and upper back. How he had managed to become sunburned through his shirt, he would never know. "Don't touch this alright?"
"Yes ma'am," he said, still sitting patiently before her. "What are you doing?" he asked when her arms wrapped around him.
"I'm consoling you. You can pretend all you want that you're not thinking about yesterday, but I was there with you. I know." His hand rose to gently caress her forearms as she laid her towel covered head against his own. "You can always talk about it if you need to. I won't judge you."
"What's there to talk about? My mom was old and it was her time. I'm just being too selfish by not wanting to let her go." He went to stand except her hand on his arm stopped him. Their eyes met losing her in a sea of pale aqua green as she forgot all inkling of what she had wanted to say. "Don't do this, Manni. Don't console me," he whispered although their lips were mere inches from each other.