A week has passed, and still there hasn't been a flicker or sign of Dani coming back to us. I sigh as I stretch in my chair, rubbing a hand over the back of my neck. I scrub my hands over my face when the door opens revealing Dani's mother Cassidy smiling at me, Carly-Ann standing next to her, her right arm in a cast that conceals her small arm well past her elbow.
" Mikey," Carly-Ann says, smiling when she runs towards me hugging me closely.
" Hello pretty girl," I say, lifting her up to sit on my lap. Her green eyes flicker to her mother, a sad smile on her face as she holds up a small white flower.
" I picked Momma another flower," she murmurs, her soft voice pulling at my heart as she leans forward, laying the flower next to Dani's hand. I run my hand over her hair hugging her to my chest, my heart aching slowly in my chest.
" She'll love it sweetheart," I say, smiling when she wiggles off of my lap turning to look at me.
" I'm going to color with Uncly Kyle, he says Momma needs lots of pretty pictures to make her smile when she wakes up," she says, hugging me tightly beofre she raises from the room, her shoes slapping against the linoleum floor.
" She loves you," Cassidy says, and I smile slowly nodding my head.
" The feeling is mutual," I say, watching as she cautiously takes a seat in the chair next to me.
" I've been meaning to talk to you, alone," she says, her eyes clouding over. " I love my daughter, with all of my heart. And I was hard on her, maybe too hard, but all I wanted was the best for her. I didn't want her to take the job, I was so angry with her when she did at first. Then, I saw a familiar light in her eyes, the same light that shone in her eyes every time she slipped on a pair of ballet shoes. I don't know if she ever told you, about her past, her dancing." I shake my head, leaning forward curiously. " Let me tell you, that girl put on her first pair of ballet flats when she was four, and it was love. Ballet was her entire life, until she had Carly-Ann. I told her that she had to choose, dancing or her daughter. I was wrong, so wrong. She is a strong woman, but she doubts herself. She beats herself up every single day. She thinks I don't know, about the promise she made to her Daddy, but that isn't my story to tell you. That will be up to her to tell you. Sorry, I keep rambling, and I don't mean too," she says, running shaking hands over her hair. "She sounded so happy when she would talk about you, I haven't heard her sound that happy in a long time. If I could go back and change things I would. I would tell her everything I should have told her. I just, I need to know something Michael. I need to know that you'll never hurt her. If she wakes up," she falters clearing her throat quickly, " When she wakes up, she's going to need you, more than she realizes, and before I can let her go, give her to you, I need to know you'll never hurt her." I stare at her, not noticing the tears that have gathered in my eyes. I blink furiously as I nod my head.
" Cassidy, I swear to you, I will never hurt Daniella, or Carly-Ann. I will spend the rest of my life proving that to you, and her," I say, turning to watch Daniella. My heart longing to see her open her eyes.
I lower the rail on the hospital bed, the room laying in darkness, everyone long gone for the night. My hands shake slightly as I take Dani's hand in mine, I take a deep breath, pressing a soft kiss to the pulse that beats weakly in her wrist.
" I don't know if you can hear me Daniella, but if you can, I just want you to know, you can wake up now. I'm going to take better care of you, I promise," I murmur, laying my head on the open space next to her hands closing my eyes on a silent prayer.
I open my eyes slowly, noticing the stars that dance above my head, shining brightly against the black sky.
" It's time for you to go back now Daniella," Dad says, helping me to my feet. I wrap my arms around him slowly hugging him tightly.
" I don't want to go, I don't want to have to say good bye again," I cry, hot tears sliding down my cheeks. He takes my face in my his hands, his eyes searching my face slowly before he presses a soft kiss to my forehead.
" It isn't good bye Daniella, I promise. They need you, and it isn't your time," he says, taking my hand in his as he begins walking.
' I don't know if you can hear me Daniella, but if you can, I just want you to know, you can wake up now. I'm going to take better care of you, I promise,' a soft voice echoes across the open field as a soft breeze blows around us, and I smile recognizing Michael's voice.
" You can trust him Dani, your going to have to, there's more trouble up ahead, but I promise you, you'll be okay," Dad murmurs in my ear pressing a fleeting kiss to my cheek before he pushes me into a shaft of light.
" Wait what do you mean?" I call out, my voice echoing back at me. I look around, terrified when the field dissolves around me rapidly.
I open my eyes slowly, sensing that I'm not alone. I feel my eyes start drifting again, so I shake my head noting the stiffness of the muscles in my neck. My entire body tingles, as I move my fingers slowly. I look down seeing a familiar cap of black curls barely brushing my skin.
" Dani," I look up when Michael's voice rings in my ears, " You have to come back, I have to make this up to you, and I cant do that if you stay away forever," his voice is thick with emotion and slightly mumbled by his hands pressed to his face. My entire body shakes as I fight to lift my hand, my heart aching to just console him, show him I'm okay. I open my mouth trying to form his name but nothing comes out. I roll my eyes in frustration, aggravated that I have to resort back to trying to get my hand to move. I lift my hand triumphantly laying it softly against the back of Michael's bowed head. I flex my hand, my fingers sinking into his hair and if I could I would smile when his face lifts slowly to look at me.
" Daniella?" he says, his voice caught somewhere between awe and disbelief, " Oh my God Dani, your awake. Do you know where you are?" I stare at him for a full minute, wondering why he is talking to me like I'm dumb, then again I don't know how long I've been 'gone.' I nod my head slowly, unable to take my eyes off of him as he reaches a hand over me pressing a button on the wall. " Okay, good. Just stay awake, the doctor's coming okay," he says, trying to let go of my hand. I tighten my grasp on him my heart slamming against my ribs, my eyes wide with fear. " Okay, okay, I'll stay, I'm not going anywhere." I close my eyes his words raining over me.
The next day, I find myself sitting up for the first time in a week, sucking on some ice chips, soothing my burning throat.
" Knock, knock," someone calls from the doorway and I smile broadly when I see Carly-Ann standing next to Brandon and Kyle.
" Hi baby," I murmur, wincing only slightly when my throat screams at me. My eyes work over her carefully and slowly, noting the small bandage on her forehead, and the purple cast reaching just past her elbow. I sigh with relief when I realize that other than those things my daughter is the picture of health. Carly-Ann walks slowly across the room, climbing gracefully onto my bed. She stares at me seriously, her green eyes boring into me before filling with tears. " Oh honey, what's wrong?" I pull her close to me, barely noticing the way my ribs scream at me from her weight.
" I was scared Mommy. Scared you would sleep forever," Carly-Ann wails, her hot tears soaking into my hospital gown. I grimace at the thought of her being so scared. I take her face in my hands, brushing her soft hair from her face.
" I'm here baby, I am wide awake now," I murmur, and she smiles shakily at me.
" Promise you wont leave," she demands her small hands rubbing at her eyes.
" I promise," I say, scooting over so that she can curl up next to me. I rest my hand on her head, my eyes drifting closed, the sound of our even breathing serving as the sweetest lullaby I have ever heard.
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