“You did everything you could son.” Doc put a hand on Eddie’s shoulder. “It’s time you get some rest.”
“I can’t leave her,” Eddie whispered. “I need to be here.”
“All right,” Doc replied, giving Eddie’s shoulder a squeeze. “We’re going to stop by the cafeteria. You be sure to let us know as soon as she wakes up.”
Eddie nodded but couldn’t tear his gaze away from Snow. He heard the rustle behind him as the rest of the men eased out of their chairs. He listened to the sound of their retreat until he couldn’t hear them anymore; all he could hear was the steady beep of the monitor in the next room, telling him that Snow was still alive.
Eddie finally did turn when he heard a man’s voice, scared and urgent firing questions at Snow’s nurse.
“We pumped her stomach and found traces of poison. It’s all out, and she’s receiving IV fluids, but she bumped her head pretty hard. We can’t say for sure when she’ll wake up.”
The man ran a hand through his wavy black hair, then turned to look at Snow’s room.
“Who’s he?” the man asked the nurse.
“His name’s Edward,” the nurse replied. “He was the one that called the police and ambulance. He saved her life.”
Eddie watched the man watch him. He straightened out his shirt and then took a step forward and extended his hand.
“Edward is it?” the man asked as he reached out and took Eddie’s hand. “I’m Isabella’s father.”
“Isabella?” Eddie asked glancing back over his shoulder. “You mean Snow?”
“That’s her middle name, yes,” her father replied. “Is that how she introduced herself?”
“That’s what her mother called her,” her father said softly. He realized he was still gripping Eddie’s hand, let go, and then ran the hand through his hair again. “Thank you, for being there, for, saving her.”
Eddie simply nodded.
“I need to see her,” Isabella’s father turned and addressed the nurse. “Can I go in?”
The nurse nodded and waved for them to follow her.
“May I come too?” Eddie asked.
The nurse paused, hand on the doorknob, and looked at Isabella’s father. After a moment he nodded.
The two men entered slowly and without a word they positioned themselves on either side of the bed. Each took one of Isabella’s hands in his own.
“Isabella, I’m so sorry,” her father whispered.
The stood in silence for several minutes, just watching Isabella breathe. The creak of the door made them both look up.
“Mr. White, I’m sorry to interrupt but the police are here. They need to speak with you.”
Isabella’s father squeezed her hand, then nodded to the nurse as he placed her fingers carefully on the sheet. He glanced at Eddie before turning to follow the nurse from the room.
Eddie watched them go until they were out of sight, then he looked down at Snow. Her black hair spread across the pillow like spilled ink. Her lips were parted slightly as she breathed. She looked so peaceful, so beautiful.
He lightly brushed the bruise on her temple with the fingertips of his free hand, letting them drift down her cheek, all the way to her lips.
His heart pounded as he leaned forward. He could not stop himself from touching those perfect lips with his own. He closed his eyes as he felt their breath mingle, warm, soft-
He heard her gasp and pulled his head back, shocked.
Isabella’s free hand covered her lips as she coughed twice, then inhaled deeply.
“Eddie,” she said once she’d regained her breath.
“Snow, you’re o.k.” He laughed and squeezed her hand, feeling tears well in his eyes. “You’re o.k.”
Isabella smiled, then looked around. A frown creased her forehead.
“Where am I?” she asked.
“You’re at the hospital-”
Eddie was cut off by the sound of the door creaking again. Both heads turned to see Isabella’s father enter the room.
“Father? What are you doing here?” Isabella looked from her father back to Eddie. “What happened?”
“Your stepmother tried to poison you,” Eddie replied.
“Thanks to Eddie, she didn’t succeed.” Her father nodded at Eddie, then continued to Isabella. “I just spoke to the police. Your stepmother is in jail. She tried to run but Hunter stopped her while Eddie tried to get you to the hospital. I’ve decided to press charges, and get a divorce.”
Isabella’s eyes widened in shock.
Her father reached out and took her hand again.
“Isabella, I’m so sorry. I was blind, and stupid. I promise it won’t ever happen again. You can come home now.”
Tears formed in Isabella’s eyes, but before she could respond the door opened again and seven old men spilled through the doorway, led by Doc.
“Snow, you’re awake! Thank the heavens you’re all right,” Doc said as he began to walk toward the bed.
“Hold on a minute,” Isabella’s father spoke in stern voice. “Who are all of you?”
“Father, it’s o.k., these are my friends.”
“Your friends?” One eyebrow cocked as her father scanned the group.
“Yes,” she replied firmly and as she looked as those seven smiling faces a grin spread across her own face. She turned to Eddie, who gently pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. She gripped his fingers more tightly and turned back to her father.
“I am home,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”