Dare(93)By: Allie Juliette Mousseau
“Nurse! She’s opening her eyes!”
I swallow. “Josh.” It barely comes out.
“Oh God, Sophie! I’m right here.” His warm hand squeezes mine gently.
“She’s fine. She’s safe at home with my mom,” he says quickly.
Josh continues. “The doctor kept her here for 24 hour surveillance. Once the ketamine was expelled from her body, she was fine.”
“She’s okay,” I say. Emotion overtakes me; weakly, I begin to cry.
“You’re my scrapper.” Josh leans over, buries his face in the crook of my neck and holds me. His tears fall, warm and wet, down my neck. “The doctors weren’t so sure about you, though. You’ve been out three days.” He sits up to look at me again and swipes the tears away from his face before he whispers huskily, “You fought real good, scrapper.”
A nurse comes rushing to the bed. “The doctor is on his way,” she tells Josh, then holds a small pen light up to my eyes. “Hello, Sophie. Can you follow the light with your eyes?” She checks my eye movement, then shoots a barrage of questions at me, like what my name is, when and where was I born, what year we’re in and my profession.
The doctor comes in next with more nurses and machines.
After talking to me and giving me some physical tests—they check my reflexes, and test whether or not I can feel my feet, toes, fingers and hands—he seems satisfied and smiles at me and Josh, “I think Sophie is going to be just fine.”
Josh moves his face close to mine. “Do you remember that you love me?”
A strained laugh wheezes through my lungs. “That I remember the best.”
Dalloway taps out.
The referee comes over and hands the coveted golden belt to Josh “The Jackhammer” North, who then lifts his arms victoriously into the air.
I’m so proud of him!
The audience goes insane and the Jumbotron shows a close-up as the ref saunters over with the microphone and asks Josh about his motivation for the fight.
“One word,” he says. “Sophie.”
The crowd cheers and Josh shouts into the mic over them, “Sophie, I need you to come up here for a minute. I have a question to ask you.”
Phillip Phillips’ song “Unpack Your Heart” plays through the sound system. Caruso, who’s standing on the side of the cage, reaches down for my hand. He wears a big, knowing smile as he, Silva and McGee pull me up and into the octagon.
I’m more than a little disoriented as I walk tentatively to the middle of the mat. Josh’s beautiful, albeit bruised, smile puts me completely at ease in front of the thousands of people yelling in the stands and the millions watching on the television. I walk right into his chest, and he closes me in with his perfect, muscled arms, where I feel so safe and secure.
The music is turned down and plays softly in the background as Josh speaks through the microphone.
“Sophie Garner …
I’m going to make you forget every man you ever knew
I’m going to heal your heart from every broken I love you
I’m going to take on your old demons, chase the shadows until day;
I’ll cherish you forever and never go away.
I’m going to love you, like you’ve never seen
Darlin’ I’m the only man that you’re ever going to need.”
The words sink in. I pull back and our eyes meet. He moves his finger and, from the title belt, drops a string with a gorgeous platinum and diamond ring hanging at the end of it.
“You’re everything to me … let me be everything to you.”
“You already are,” I say, crying as if it’s just the two of us.
“Say yes, Mommy,” Charlie’s sweet little voice tells me. I look beside me and there she is, tugging on my long blouse.
I turn my head as if I need to see how she got here.
The entire North family clan, along with the Ink and Steel clan, are now standing ringside next to Silva, McGee and Caruso. They’re all smiling—guess they were all in on the big secret.
I lift Charlie onto my hip—we are a package deal after all.
“What do you say, scrapper?” Josh touches his forehead to mine affectionately.
I tumble into the depths of his warm, brown eyes. Lifting a soft palm I rest it over his jaw, which clenches sexily with the action.