The words rang in my head as I stumbled down the hall. His WIFE! How did I not see that? How did I not know? I could hear Malt's voice raised again in anger but I couldn't focus on the words.
I don't know how long I had been wandering the halls and when I was able to take in my surrounding I realised I was lost. The hall looked familiar but then again all halls looked the same. Well the good thing about hospitals is there is sign posting everywhere. It may not make much sense but I figured as long as I kept following the Exit signs I'd get there eventually.
"Mint? You ok?" The sound of my name made me pause and reach out for the wall to steady myself. "Oh ya....no....sure." He looked at me quizzically. "Oh absolutely I can see that. I mean look at the great job you're doing holding up that wall." With a half smile I did my best to come back with a witty response, "Well someone has to do it, can't have it falling down on us now can we?" It got a chuckle out of him and having bought myself a minute I felt I was less at risk of collapsing and making a fool out of myself. With a confident flourish I took my hand away and did my best saunter over to him. I made it all of two steps before the words echoed in my head again making me falter.
"Woah there. This floors not entirely stable either it seems. Better let me help you out. You know just in case that horrible earthquake hits again." I clung to him grateful for both the support and the jokes as he skilfully negotiated the labyrinth. The strength of his arms seeped into me and slowly I regained my composure. By the time we reached the hospital doors the shock had worn off and although I was giving myself a good kicking I was stable.
"Wait right here. I'm going to get my car and pull it around." "I'm fine Maize honestly." "Sure you are," he said eyebrow still arched in that curious, and now that I was more aware of my surroundings and able to notice it, cute expression. "I'm not at all concerned you just owe me a coffee and I'm not letting you run off without paying up." I laughed and although it felt slightly forced even to my own ears it was good to do. "Alright then. I'll be a good girl and wait here." He dashed off then turning around only once to check I was still there.
"Don't you move. I'll be right back with the car." "Silly I can walk to the car. I'm pregnant not an invalid." "Yes but you two are the most precious things in the world to me and I am not having you strain yourself one little bit."
The pure love in their voices made me turn to watch them and I was more than a little surprised to see yet another blast from my past. I hadn't seen Tranquil since we were teenagers and she had truly blossomed. I watched for a moment as she stood there blissfully stroking her very pregnant belly in the summer sun. She positively glowed and for a fleeting of instants my stomach flip-flopped seeing her so. What was it like to be so in love? So incredibly happy that you loose track of the world around you?
I shook off the thought. I had what I wanted in life right now. I was doing exactly what I wanted, right? The pull in my stomach as my gaze drifted back to the hospital doors gave lie to my thoughts but I pushed it away and moved to stand and greet my old friend.
Flashing lights and screaming sirens made me pause. Before I could move and inch what seemed like a horde or paramedics were flooding the forecourt. Alarmed by the echoing sounds I watched Tranquil turn this way and that seeking the source, seeking safety. Carelessly, perhaps unaware she could not see them, they rushed past her jostling her in their rush to get inside. Crying out she grabbed her stomach protectively as she was knocked to the ground. Heedless of her distress they continued in the swinging doors with their patient.
I gasped as I saw her fall but my feet were not quick enough, someone else beat me to her.
"Are you alright?" There was a softness in Ice's voice that tugged at the back of my mind yet refused to show itself. Clutching herself she stood stock still for a moment as if frozen in terror. Suddenly a smile broke her face and she sighed with relief. "Yes, I think we are." "Are you sure? Do you need to go back and get checked out? Or maybe be taken home?" He fussed over her like a mother hen and I watched scratching my head trying to understand this side of the man I knew to be cold and distant.
"You ready?" I started at Maize's voice so close behind me. "Ya I guess so," I responded still distracted as I watched the uncharacteristic actions of a person I was convinced I had figured out. "Well let's get going then before this place turns you upside down."
I let him lead me away distracted by how true his words really were. My good guy, Malt, betraying me, and the self-confessed as cool as his name Ice was warm and tender to a stranger. My world was upside down already. I didn't notice the car had stopped until Maize was at my door helping me out.
"Where are we? I thought we were going for coffee?" "Well you looked like you needed sone time to deal with whatever is going on in that pretty head of yours. Besides I figured if I brought you here today then you would have to take me for coffee some other time and I would get to see you again." He peeked up at me shyly. In any other circumstance I would have thought he was flirting with me but after hearing of Malt's wife my radar was completely off.
We sat for a moment near the banks of the water dangling our feet in the cool waters. "Alright you don't have to tell me but something got me pretty spooked and I'm right here if you need me." I smiled at him and although I didn't want to some how the words flowed out of me. He listened quietly and I couldn't help my tears. He held me as I bared my soul.
"I just, I thought he really liked me. I didn't know he was married." "You didn't? But it's been all over the tabloids!" "What has?" "Malt, his wife....and Flax." "Flax? What does Flax have to do with this?"
"You really don't know?" He looked at me with an expression of complete incredulity, but all I could do was stare blankly back.
"Um, no." I did my best to infuse my voice with my best well d'uh tone. What kind of person did he think I was to sleep with a married man?
He looked uncomfortable at that, as if he didn't want to be the barer of bad news. With a deep breath he started off, "Well Malt's been married for about 5 years now, but it's an 'open' marriage. At least it's open in the way that Malt is quite happy to sleep with any groupie that comes along." He looked at me sheepishly at that remark. I narrowed my eyes but let him go on, morbid curiosity winning over anger. "About a year ago it was splashed all over the tabloids that Flax was having an affair with Malt's wife, Milk Chocolate. Malt went absolutely ballistic. He told Flax that if Flax ever touched Milk again Malt would kill him. Flax must have believed it because the affair stopped right then and there."
I got up swiftly turning so he couldn't see the range of emotions that played across my face. Married and a dirty cheat at that! How could I not have seen that. I was usually so good at reading people and I thought I knew Malt better than anyone. One thing kept echoing in my head as I ran through every look, every word that had past between us over the last week. Without turning to face him I spoke over my shoulder at Maize, "Do you think Malt meant it? That he would kill Flax?"
He sighed and I glanced at him now that I felt I could without meeting his gaze. "I honestly don't know. At the time I thought it was just rage, but with everything that's going on….." He trailed off leaving the words unspoken as he stared across the water.
"Well if he is responsible we will find out, together." He reached out and grabbed my hand looking up at me from behind his eye lashes. I was drawn into those eyes then, so full of emotion that I could not read. Slowly, so slowly I didn't notice it until it was too late, he moved closer. When his lips hovered mere inches away I jumped realising what he was doing.
"What on earth do you think you're doing?"
He cough cheeks flushing bright read. "Well I thought it was kind of obvious." He dropped his eyes and shuffled a little way away.
"But….But. I didn't even know you liked me." I was grasping at anything as my mind was sent back to reeling.
Half smile on his face he cleared his throat and when he spoke it was in his best, worst, cockney accent. "You havin' a laugh? I fancy the pants off you."
I burst out laughing then and when he put his arm back around me I didn't object. He didn't try to kiss me again but just held me while the fit of giggles passed.
As the sun moved across the sky and the stars woke up from their day time slumber he produced a blanket and we lay there in silence watching the dance of the constellations. As I drifted off I knew that there was something there. I may have stopped him from kissing me this time but if he moved to do it again there was no way my heart could refuse him.
Author's Note: Thank you all for your patience in the time it is taking me to update. There have been way to many things to keep track of in my life that are keeping me away from the computer. I truly appreciate the support and understanding you have shown me.