“Our little fighter,” I say, repeating the words I just thought.
He nods, and I swallow the lump in my throat.
“I thought I lost you,” he says after studying my face for the longest time.
“Never, baby. Never.”
“I thought I lost you, and that was one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever felt. I won’t spend another second without you being mine. I mean it, Dani. When we get you and our boy home, I’ll drag you right to the courthouse, but you will be mine.”
I reach out, wrap my hand around the back of his neck, and pull him towards me. “When you learn how to ask me, then we’ll talk.”
His eyes flash, and his leans down to give me a deep kiss. I hear a growl from my side and smile against his lips.
I feel Cohen laughing softly against my mouth, and I join him only seconds after.
Four Weeks Later
“Cohen!” I yell up the stairs. “We don’t need the diaper bag. Come on please. I need to get him home.”
I smile when he comes bounding down the stairs and scoops me up in his arms, twirling me in a circle before placing me back on my feet.
“Our boy is coming home today!” he bellows through the room, the sound bouncing off each wall and echoing through our house.
“Stop acting crazy and take me to our son,” I beg with a smile on my face.
For four long weeks—a solid month of going back and forth—we’ve been spending every second we had between the house and the hospital. With the help of our mothers, his sisters, and Megan, our house was fully decorated and the baby’s nursery fully stocked before I even left the hospital. They kept me for four days to monitor my injuries as well as my recovery from my C-section, and since my emotions were so crazy when I got home, I cried for hours as I walked from room to room before finally settling in the nursery glider.
It was hard to come home without our baby, and I suffered from a bit of postpartum depression, so things amplified after that. I needed my son home and there just wasn’t anything that would make that feeling better.
Cohen was my rock through it all. He held me when I needed to cry and then again when I needed to scream. He talked me through every second of pain I felt over the events that had happened and taught me that it wasn’t right to feel guilt over a second of it.
Easier said than done. Because some crazy man had fixated on me, and I’d entertained that by thinking he was a friend. We’d almost lost our son—and Cohen had almost lost us both.
I know it’s irrational, that guilt, but it’s part of the healing process. Or so I’m told by my therapist. But it’s a feeling I’m not alone in carrying. Nate had a hard time coping after the attack. He felt guilt worse than mine because he hadn’t been in the room. Lee was dealing with similar issues, but he was able to rationalize his pain and focus on the positive—that he was able to save me. They have both joined me for more than a few of my therapy sessions, and I know they’ve been helping us all heal. Cohen is there for everyone. We’ve talked about how he felt and how he’s coping with it all. I wasn’t surprised in the least that he was still feeling a deep fear about losing me.
He’s been working on his issues with letting me out of his sight. It took my father’s sitting him down for him to finally come to terms with the fact that what had happened was a horrible, traumatic experience, and that, if we can’t focus on moving forward and healing, then it will just drag us down until we’re smothered in memories.
In the end, we were helpless and in a situation beyond our control. Had it not been for their swift response, I have no doubt that both the baby and I would have died in that apartment.
Chance is another part of the reason I’ve been struggling with so much pain. It kills me that he blamed himself—likely still does. But until he’s ready to cope with that and work on healing, I’m afraid there isn’t anything I can do.
It’s been easier. He comes around, but I notice that his eyes never leave mine. Like he’s afraid to look away for fear that someone might attack. He threw himself into the investigation of Mark Seymour like a man possessed.
We found out about two weeks after I was released from the hospital that Mark had been staying in the apartment directly under Cohen’s. Not only had he been watching me for over a year, but he had also had a sick collection of photos of him and me that were horribly Photoshopped. He had created a whole fantasy life—albums after albums of us.
If that weren’t bad enough, he had set up the apartment with items of mine that he had stolen throughout the year. Things I hadn’t even known were missing. He had a whole life made up for us, and the only thing that was missing was . . . me.