Robin’s Nest - Melissa Stevens - ebook
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After a car accident puts her in a coma, Samantha awakens to find her best friend, Robin, never left her side. While she recovers, Sam realizes there’s more between them than just friendship. However, she’s afraid that if it doesn’t work out between them, it will ruin their friendship. Sam’s brush with death gives her a renewed understanding of how short life really is.  Deciding the possible benefits are worth the risk, she faces the challenges from her over-protective family head on and leaps into life with both feet, but when more challenges come their way, can Sam and Robin handle them together?

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Robin’s Nest

Melissa Stevens

Contents

Also by Melissa Stevens

Special Thanks

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Epilogue

Also by Melissa Stevens

Jade’s Peace

About the Author

This book is a work of fiction. Names, character, places and incidents ether are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 Melissa Stevens

All rights reserved.

Created with Vellum

Also by Melissa Stevens

Books and series from Melissa Stevens

Kitsune Series:

Change

Fight

Hunt

Live

The Kitsune Collection

(with Change, Fight, Hunt and Live in one volume)

WMC Series:

Escape

Jade's Peace

Risking Alex

Demented Souls:

Ruger

City of Sin:

Released by Desire

Redeemed by Desire

Revealed by Desire

The Dragon Chronicles

(with Released by Desire, Redeemed by Desire and Revealed by Desire)

Diamond Bridal Agency:

Justin

Sean

Alex

Pelican Lake:

Steamy Days

Smoldering Sunsets

Sultry Nights

Novels:

Robin’s Nest

Choosing Happiness

For my family, both immediate and more distant. I’m thankful for all the support you’ve given me. For telling me I could be anything I wanted, and giving me the courage to chase my dreams.

Special Thanks

Special Thanks

To Write on the Edge. I’ve learned so much since I found you.

To the woman who, when I said I like to write, asked if I’d published anything. I hated saying no more than anything. That alone was motivation to do more.

Chapter 1

I was curled up on the couch, a good book in my hand, and a glass of tea nearby, when my cell rang. The Bellamy Brother's classic "Redneck Girl" wasn't a ring tone I'd set, so I checked the screen to see who it was. I rolled my eyes when I saw the words "Robin Calling" flash across the screen. Apparently, he'd found my phone unattended and changed the ring tone, again. It was something he did with regularity.

I ran my thumb across the scene to answer the call. "Hey, Rob, what's up?"

"What are you up to tonight?" His deep voice rumbled from the small device.

"Not much, just laying here, spending some quality time with Anne." He knew I was referring to Anne McCaffrey, the author of the book. I loved her work and I read it over and over.

I heard him sigh on the other end of the line. "I hate to interrupt what I'm sure is an exciting evening, but could I bum a ride off you? My truck broke down again and I'm a foot."

He was being flippant about my reading, but I knew Robin liked to read almost as much as I do. We share a lot of the same interests, and sometimes, even books.

"Of course. I have to get dressed, but I'll be there as soon as I can. Where are you?" I got up and headed for the bedroom to change. "Is it something you can take care of easily? Can I bring you a part or a few tools? Or will we have to haul it back to the house to fix it?" I asked, ready to toss whatever he needed into my jeep and take it out to him.

He sighed again. "I'm out on 70, towards Lordsburg. You know where the windmill is on the north side of the road? I'm about a mile past that. It'll be a pretty quick repair but I don't have the part. I was just going to leave the truck here tonight. I'll go to Safford and get the part in the morning, then come out and fix it, if I can bum another ride that is."

"No problem, I'll even take you to Safford tomorrow, if you don't have any plans. I have a couple of things I need to pick up over there."

"I'd appreciate it."

"No problem, give me about thirty minutes and I'll ride to your rescue."

"No rush. It's not like I'm going anywhere."

"Later." I hung up, stripped out of my lounging clothes and pulled on one of my usual summer outfits of a tank top and shorts. I grabbed my keys, tucked my phone into my purse, and headed out the door.

It didn't take long to steer my little red Jeep Wrangler through town and onto the highway that heads towards Lordsburg. About twenty minutes after leaving my house, I spotted the silhouette of a pickup sitting on the side of the road, a man leaning up against the side of it. I knew it had to be Robin. Who else would be out here on the side of the highway? Right where he'd said he was? I grinned at the sight of him. It was a familiar pose, one I'd seen at least a thousand times over the years.

Robin and I had been best friends since I was four, when I'd moved in with my aunt and uncle, long before anyone told us that the opposite sex was supposed to be icky.

As I drew closer, I saw Robin push himself off the side of the truck and stand to his full height of 6'1". He opened his pickup door and reached for something inside. I pulled the Jeep off the highway, and watched as he locked and closed the door then crossed the highway and rounded the Jeep to the passenger side. Robin isn't a particularly large guy. Yeah, he's tall, but he's lean, like the basketball player he'd been in high school. I leaned across the seat and lifted the lock on the door to let him in.

"So, what's the problem this time?" I asked as he climbed inside and closed the door.

"Damned rotor again," he replied, tossing his baseball cap with his keys inside onto the dash. He ran his hand through his shaggy blond hair. It stayed back for maybe three seconds before falling on either side of his face again, framing his deep green eyes.

I waited while he buckled his seatbelt, then checked for cars before pulling back onto the highway. Only going far enough to make a U-turn without hitting his truck, before heading back into town.

"I thought you kept an extra one in the glove box for when this happens?" I asked.

"I do, but I used my last one a couple of months ago and I forgot to get more on my next trip to Safford, then I just spaced it." He ran his hand through his hair again, only to have it fall right back where it started. "Of course, it was about time for Murphy's Law to smack me upside the head again, so here we are."

I couldn't help but laugh. "Are you about ready to give up on that antique or are you gonna buy another case of rotors for it?" Ribbing Robin about his stubbornly keeping the old pickup, despite its oddities, was an old habit between the two of us. Though we dig at each other and bicker once in a while, I don't think we've had more than two or three real fights in our entire friendship.

"So it eats rotors. So what? They're cheap. The frame, body, and motor are all in good condition. Why junk a good machine for one small, and relatively inexpensive, inconvenience?" He easily fell right back into the old game.

"It's broken down, and left you stranded along the side of the road, how many times now?"

"A few," he admitted, "but I can usually repair the problem in less than fifteen minutes and be back on my way. It's my own fault I ended up stranded tonight. Besides, if you'd been busy I would have found someone else, or eventually, someone would have come along and given me a ride into town."

He's right, someone would have come along. It was barely eight o'clock, and not quite dark yet. However, this wasn't the most used road out of town and he might have had to wait a couple of hours before someone came along.

"What were you doing out here?" I glanced at him before looking back at the road.

"I was on my way back from a meeting in Lordsburg."

"That sounds fun." My tone was dry. I didn't know what the meeting was for, but if had been something he had enjoyed, he would have shared more about it.

"Any leads on a new job?"

"Not yet." I shrugged. "I'll find something, I'm sure. The question is, how long until I do?"

"If you need something to make ends meet, I can put you to work. It's long hours and muddy as hell, but it's work."

"I'll keep that in mind, thanks. I've got a while before I have to worry, though. I have a good chunk in savings and since I don't have a house payment or rent, it will go a lot farther."

"That's true."

I reminded him that I'd pick him up at eight the next morning as I dropped him off in his driveway. I waited until he made it to the door before turning around and heading home.

Pulling out onto the highway my mind raced ahead. My thoughts were already back at the house. It was only eight thirty, I still had plenty of the evening left. I could settle back onto the sofa, but the thought of a hot bath was even more enticing.

Suddenly, I was drawn back to what I was doing by bright lights directed at my face. I shook my head and barely had time to register the vehicle that was supposed to be in the left lane, it was in mine instead. I had nowhere to go. I couldn't avoid it. The last thought that went through my mind was "How badly is this gonna hurt?" then everything went black.

Chapter 2

Something was wrong. I felt like I was trying to swim through jelly. I could barely think, moving was out of the question. I didn't know why. My body went hot, then cold as terror washed over me. It seemed like hours passed before the darkness took me over again.

I started to surface again. Things weren't quite so murky. I could think a little easier, but I still couldn't open my eyes. My heart raced as I panicked. Then something changed, I realized I could hear the sound of my own heart, and that wasn't all. I wasn't as trapped inside my brain as I had been. There were voices. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but I could hear people talking nearby as I sank back into darkness.

The world swam and forth from existence to blackness several times before I was able to focus enough think clearly. I was in a hospital. My first clue was the quiet beeping of machines around me. The second was that I was laying, but not flat. Some unknown sense told me I wasn't alone in the room, even though there were no voices. I focused on my body, trying to figure out why I was here.

Someone was holding my hand. I could feel the warmth and pressure of fingers clutching mine. Something about the way they held on drew me further from whatever was holding me captive. I tried to squeeze the hand, but I don't think my hand moved. How long had I been out?

"Sammie?" A man's voice. He was talking to me. "Are you there?"

I knew that voice, but my brain was so sluggish I couldn't put a name to it. I tried to open my eyes, but they felt as if they'd been super-glued shut. I tried to squeeze the hand again, I thought I'd made a little bit of movement this time, but I really couldn't tell.

"Sammie, wake up," the voice seemed to beg, "open your eyes and see me. Please?"

My whole body ached, but I couldn't find anything that hurt more than my head, I had a massive headache. The longer I fought with my body, the more my head hurt. I needed more rest but I needed to know who was there with me, too. Before I could put a name to the voice, the blackness rose up and surrounded me again.

The next time I was aware, I barely had to fight to open my eyes. It took effort, but I could do it. I found my cousin, Quinn, sitting in a chair close to my bed. He had one hand resting on the blankets covering me. I felt the weight and warmth of it on my right calf.

He wasn't looking at me, instead his head was down. I couldn't tell if he was looking at something on the floor or praying.

I said his name, but my mouth was dry and nothing came out. I tried to lift my hand to get his attention, but my hand felt like it was made of lead and weighed about six tons. I settled for scratching at the sheets, anything to make noise.

Quinn looked up, appearing startled. His eyes were filled with fear and worry. How long had I been lying in this bed for him to be that scared? Relief flooded his face at seeing me awake.

"Thank God, Sam. You're awake!" A huge smile spread across his face.

I tried to speak again, but my mouth was still so dry that it was little more than a whisper, "Water."

"Oh! Let me go get you some then I'll let the nurse know you're awake too." He stood and headed for the door.

I looked around while I waited for him to return. It seemed to be a standard hospital room, though it looked larger than the last one I'd seen. There were several chairs, most pulled close to the bed. It looked like I had been at the center of a vigil. One chair caught my eye, it wasn't empty. I couldn't get my eyes to focus right, but it looked like Robin was slumped in the chair, asleep.

I squinted and wondered where my glasses were as I tried to get a better look at him. Up close, my vision wasn't too bad, but more than about four feet away and things got blurry. From what I could see, it looked like he hadn't shaved in days and his clothes were rumpled and slept in, more than just right now. Looking at him sleeping, I realized that the voice I'd heard calling me before had been his. How long had he been here? How long had I been here?"

Quinn came back carrying cup with a straw in one hand and a nurse not far behind.

"Small sips, you haven't had anything in days and we don't want you to get sick." He held the cup close so I could wrap my lips around the straw.

"What happened?" I asked as soon as I'd wet my mouth and throat enough to speak again.

The nurse bustled around my bed, taking readings from the machines and checking my blood pressure.

"You were a car accident. A head-on collision with a drunk driver. From what we can tell he crossed the center line and hit you." Quinn paused, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "As far as they've been able to tell you have no major injuries. Some bumps, bruises, a few cuts and scratches, but that's it. However, you've been in a coma for a week and the doctors don't know why. Your seat belt saved your life."

I thought about that for a moment. I had no memory of an accident, the last thing I could remember was pulling out of Robin's driveway and trying to decide between the sofa and a hot bath. "The other driver?" I had to know, though I dreaded the answer.

"Killed on impact," Quinn shook his head. "His blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit."

"Was it anyone we knew?" I cringed inside waiting to hear.

"Nah, some out-of-towner. I don't recall the name off-hand."

"How long has Robin been here?" I turned to look at where he still slept beside my bed. I needed something else to think about.

"The whole time. The wreck was less than a mile from his place. Bruce was the first officer on the scene. When he recognized your Jeep, he called Robin. Robin rode in the ambulance with you and hasn't left your side, unless forced to, since."

Bruce was Robin's older brother and a Greenlee County Sherriff's Deputy. I looked from Robin to Quinn and frowned.

"The only way to get him to eat has been to bring food here." Quinn continued. "This is the longest I've seen him sleep in a week." Quinn looked away from Robin to meet my look. "The rest of us take turns. We've been sitting with you in shifts, never leaving you alone, but no matter who else is here, he is."

"I heard him talking to me." I looked at my cousin, he and his brothers had been like brothers to me since I was very young, and I knew he wouldn't lie about something like this. "I was aware, I felt a hand on mine, but I couldn't get my eyes to open."

"Want me to wake him?" Quinn was ready to shake the other man awake, should I want it.

"No, let him rest. I'm not gonna be able to stay awake much longer anyway."

A ghost of a smile lifted the corner of my cousin's mouth. "He's gonna kick my ass for not waking him, but he'll be glad to know you're finally awake." He laid a hand on my leg, over the blanket. “Get some rest, we aren't going anywhere."

I couldn't believe how tired I was from only a few minutes of talking, but before I could have second thoughts about waking Robin, sleep consumed me.

I don't know if I slept for an hour or a day, but the next time I woke Nathan was sitting next to my bed. Nathan was Quinn's brother and another of my cousins, there were three of them and they'd made my childhood…interesting. Nathan looked comfortable, leaning back in his chair, flipping through a copy of News Week with a cover I hadn't seen before. He looked up as I started trying to shift.

"Alas, yonder sleeping beauty wakes!" He said with a smile. "Do you need something to drink?"

I nodded, my mouth felt like it had been filled with cotton while I slept.

Nathan helped me find the button to tilt the bed higher, stopping when I was almost sitting upright. He offered me a drink from the cup sitting on the table beside the bed. The water was stale but at least it was wet.

"Thank you," I leaned back. "What day is it?"

"Thursday, April 16."

Eight days. I had lost more than a week. "Where am I?" I needed to know.

"Tucson, University Medical Center to be exact." He took my hand in his as he answered my questions. "When the doctors in Safford couldn't figure out why you weren't waking up we insisted they send you here. They have the best Neuros around and the only trauma center in the southern part of the state. They weren't able to tell us much more, but knowing they were the best helped Mom some. Hell, it helped us all some."

I blinked a few times and looked around as I tried to gather my thoughts. My head still ached, though not as badly as before. I frowned, realizing Robin wasn't in room anymore. "Where did Robin go?"

"We finally talked him into going to the motel and taking a shower. He wouldn't go until after Quinn repeated word you said, twice, and the doctors assured him that you wouldn't slip back into a coma. They said you were just sleeping normally. Still," Nathan shook his head, "knowing him, he won't stay away long. He'll probably walk through the door anytime now." He glanced at the door as if he expected it to open, when it didn't he turned back to me. "How are you feeling?"

"Not bad. I have a bit of a headache, but otherwise I feel fine, if a bit weak."

"Sleeping for a week straight will make you a little weak, especially the whole not eating thing." Nathan said with a little wave of his hand as he tried for a lighthearted tone.

"Any word on why I was out? Or how long until I can get out of here?"

"You took a blow to the head in the accident, that could have caused the coma, but since there was no swelling or physical reason that the doctors could see or tell us about, we're not sure. They refused to give us any prognosis until they could speak to you and run a few more tests, so no idea when they'll spring you."

"Speaking of the accident," I cringed, dreading the answer, "my Jeep?" I was fond of my little Jeep, but I knew if the other driver had been killed on impact, that didn't bode well for my truck. Did wondering about the state of my vehicle before I even knew the name of the dead man bother me? A little, but I still wanted to know.

"Totaled, I'm sure." He shrugged. "Insurance company hasn't looked at it yet, but you were lucky, damned lucky."

"Ugh. Now I have to find something else." I let my head fall back against the pillow and closed my eyes for a moment. "I loved that thing, it was perfect." I took a deep breath and let it out in a rush. "At least I've got full coverage and I don't have to worry about the money to replace it."

"You had us scared, girlie." He reached up and ruffled the top of my head, something he hadn't done in years. "I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little too old for your kamikaze ways. Especially when none of us has dared you to do it." Nathan's serious tone battled with the grin on his face.

Before I could say anything, there was soft knock as the door swung open, revealing Robin. From what I could see, he looked better than he had the day before. His face was freshly shaven and his hair still damp. He was carrying a cup of Circle K coffee in one hand and his Arizona Diamondbacks cap in the other.

I smiled at him before turning back to Nathan. "Is there any chance I can get something to eat? I'm starving."

"Let me go ask the nurse about food and when we can expect one of your doctors to come by. I'm sure you'll want to hear what's up for yourself."

"That would be great." I smiled at him as he stood and headed from the room.

As Nathan left, I turned my attention to Robin. I watched as he approached the side of the bed. He dropped his hat into a nearby chair, then peeled his sunglasses off and tossed them into the cap. When he got close enough, he laid one hand on my calf where it lay under the blankets, it reminded me of the way Quinn's had been the day before.

"How are you feeling?" His voice was filled with concern. He looked as though he had aged several years since I'd dropped him off at home, only a week earlier.

"Better, not as tired as yesterday. I still have a little bit of a headache, but not bad." I sighed. "I just want to find out what's going on and how long I'm stuck here."

"How much do you remember?"

"I haven't really tried, but when Quinn told me about it yesterday the last thing I could recall was pulling out of your place thinking about what to do when I got home." I looked down at my lap.

"But you don't remember the accident itself?"

"Nope, nothing," I shook my head, "not that I've really tried to, at least not yet. I think I've spent, what? Ten, maybe fifteen minutes awake since? Most of that has been assuring people that I feel okay and finding out what happened."

"When Quinn told me last night you had woken up, I was so relieved. I was afraid you would never wake. I still can't believe I slept through it."

"That wasn't the first time I woke." I looked up at his face. "I remember waking once but not being able to open my eyes. I felt a hand holding on to mine, gripping it tight, as if afraid I would disappear. I tried to squeeze back but I don't think I managed much. Then I heard a voice, at the time I couldn't put a name to it, but I was sure of was that I knew the voice. When I woke last night and saw you sleeping in that chair, I knew it was you. I knew that it had been you calling me." I looked down again, looking up at him was making my neck hurt. "Quinn said you stayed at my side the whole time, after you got to the crash scene."

"Until you woke yesterday and the doctors came by this morning and assured me that you weren't comatose again, you were sleeping normally, I have been no farther away from you than I had to. I was either right beside you or just outside the room when the doctors made me leave.

"This morning I went to the motel and I shaved for the first time in a week." He ran one hand along his jaw. "The nurses let me use the shower here, so I wasn't too rank, but it felt good to clean up some. Your family has been here, taking turns sitting here with you. I was almost never here alone." He slid the hand resting on my leg higher as he sat in the chair beside the bed. His chair was close and angled so he could sit with one hand resting on my leg or holding my hand while he faced me.

Casual touch was nothing new to us, partly because we've been friends for so long. In some ways, Robin and I are closer than a lot of siblings. Sure, we fight sometimes, who doesn't? Either way we've always been each other's best friend, confidant, shoulder to cry on, and listening ear. The one we always knew we could rely on, no matter what.

The weight and warmth of his hand on my leg was comforting. It reassured me that he was there. I laid my hand on top of his, holding it in place. "I'm glad you're here. I know it had to be a hard call for Bruce to make, but I'm really glad you're here."

Chapter 3

Nathan came back, leaving the door open for a nurse carrying a food tray.

"This is all we have available for now, but lunch will be served in a couple of hours or you can get something from the cafe." She set the tray down and maneuvered the table until it rested across my lap. "My name is Nancy and I'll be your nurse for most of the day. Doctor Montez is eager to see and speak to you, he'll probably be in around noon. How are you feeling?"

"I have a little bit of a headache. Any chance I can get a couple of Tylenol?" I asked.

"I'll check your chart and bring that to you shortly. If you feel like you can, we'd like you to try to get up and move around, with help of course. Let me know when you're ready to try and I'll come help you. Please don't try it on your own. We need to monitor you when you get up and about. You've been asleep for a week and we don't want you falling down and getting hurt again." She smiled. "Is there anything else I can get for you?"

"Other than the headache and being hungry, I feel all right. Thank you, Nancy." I blinked a couple of times. "Oh, can we do something about the beeping?" I lifted one hand and flipped my thumb at the machines behind me. "It's driving me batty."

"Sure." She moved to touch each of the machines, hitting buttons. One by one she made them fall silent. "They're all connected to the nurses’ station and will alert us there so there's no reason to have the sound on in here."

"Are there any restrictions on what she can eat?" Robin asked. "In case she wants something more before lunchtime, we need to know what not to get."

"Not medically, but it's a good idea to avoid anything with a lot of grease right for a while, just to keep her from getting sick, otherwise, if she wants it, go for it."

"Thank you," Robin said before turning back to me. "Do you want me to open that for you?" He nodded to the tray in front of me, "or go get you something else? What do you want to eat?"

I looked down at the tray, noticing what was on it for the first time. It wasn't much only two small bowls covered with plastic wrap, a pitcher with condensation on the sides, an empty cup and a set of flatware. One bowl held what looked like chocolate pudding and the other chunks of different kinds of melon.

"I'll eat the fruit and let you know. You can unwrap it for me, I don't feel like fighting with the plastic."

I didn't have to say what we both knew, I wouldn't touch the pudding. Pudding has always been one thing I had no desire to eat, especially chocolate, even as a kid. In fact, even now, most chocolates hold no draw for me. The only chocolate I actually like is dark chocolate, the darker the better. White chocolate? That's what you give to uninvited and unwelcome guests.

While I ate, Nathan told us he was going to go back to the hotel. He needed to make some calls and let everyone know I was awake. People outside the family, that is. The family had been told after I woke the night before. He said he would also tell people not to rush down to see me, as I hoped to be out and home soon.

I finished the melon and set the bowl back on the table, then leaned back against the still upraised bed.

"Do you want anything else?" Robin asked. "I'll go get anything you want."

"No, I'm good for now, but I think it's time to try to get up. I need to use the bathroom." I hit the button to call the nurse.

"May I help you?" A voice came from the speaker on the bed.

"Yes, I was told to call for help before getting out of bed. I need to use the restroom."

"Someone will be right there."

While we waited for the nurse, Robin piped up. "I'll help, if you need to go." He knew how I felt about strangers touching me. I could handle it if I had to, doctor visits and such, but I've never been comfortable with random people touching me. With those I was close to, like Aunt Sophia, her boys, and a few others including Robin, touch was acceptable. With some, I almost craved it, but not with people, I didn't know well.

"I'll let you, but I think we'll be in trouble if we don't wait for the nurse to at least oversee us and make sure I don't fall on the way." The warmth from his hand, once more resting on my leg spread through my body. The touch reassured me that he was there. I was glad he was willing to do anything I might need, it helped to sooth my nerves.

Nancy came back, pushing a wheeled IV tree and carrying a small, paper cup. Seeing her, I tried to sit up. I pushed the tray table toward the foot of the bed, out of my way so I could get out of bed.

She approached the side of the bed and handed me the cup. "Here's your Tylenol, as requested. I had to clear it with the doctor first, that's why it took so long."

I took the cup and while she moved tubes around the bed and transferred the IV bag to the tree, I tossed the two Tylenol back and took a sip of water to wash them down.

"What's in the IV?" I asked.

"Right now, I believe it's just saline, but over the last week we've used it to keep you nourished and make sure you didn't develop an infection."

"Do I still need it or can we get rid of it?"

"Let's wait until the doctor comes in and check with him. He may want to order something that would require an injection. Why stick you again if you already have an IV?"

"That makes sense." I looked to Robin. "Are we ready for me to get up?"

He stood and moved his chair back out of the way. "We are, but let's take it slowly."

"Start by sitting up and swinging your legs over the side. Just let them hang a moment, don't try to stand right way." Nancy said.

I did as she instructed and sat on the edge of the bed with my legs dangling over the edge, palms planted firmly on the mattress on either side of my hips.

"Any dizziness?" She asked. "Feeling light headed?" I shook my head and she continued, "Now, slowly, slowly slide off the edge of the bed and land on your feet. If you start to fall, I'll catch you."

"No." I stopped her. "Let Robin, I trust him. No offense, I just know him."

She smiled. "That's okay, I understand. If you trust him to catch you and help you to the bathroom, that's good. He's barely left this room since you got here, I can understand."

"On three," I looked up at Robin. "One, two, three." When I reached three, I slid off the edge of the bed and landed on my feet. My legs were a bit rubbery but they held. I reached out and took a hold of Robin's arm, not for support but for reassurance and guidance. I stood still a moment, double-checking my balance before I started shuffling toward the bathroom. Carefully, I slid one foot in front of the other, not really walking but making progress nonetheless. "I think I can make it, but stay close, just in case."

He walked me all the way into the bathroom, stopping only when I stood right in front of the toilet and in easy reach of several of the safety bars mounted on the walls.

"Are you okay here?" He watched my face.

I nodded.

"Don't try to leave by yourself, or even go wash up. When you're done, call out. I'll be right outside the door and I'll help you to the sink. I don't want you falling and hitting your head again." He waited until I promised to call for help then bent and gently kissed the top of my head before leaving me alone.