CHAPTER 23: The Words

By the time I awoke from my stupor, it was dark outside. I was on the
couch in the apartment and it was pitch black all around me. I didn't
know how I got there, but I sure as hell knew that my head was killing
me. The last thing I remembered clearly was falling, falling -- and being
dropped by Dr. Pederson. I cracked my head on Elmer's station. I had
visions of the rickety elevator and I think I dreamt about Kelly and chart
mix-ups.

I moaned pitifully and tried to sit up. No such luck. My head spun and
I felt my forehead. Sure enough, there was a lump there the size of a
robin's egg and as hard as a marble.

"Chayse?" a sleepy voice said from somewhere in the dark. I had fallen
back on the pillow and my eyes searched frantically for movement. "Chayse,
are you awake?"

Was it Kelly's voice I was hearing? No, it couldn't be. He was still stuck
in that jail, right? But it sounded like his voice; so concerned, so. . .
wonderful.

"Yes, I'm awake."

"I was so worried about you. You've been crying out in your sleep. I
thought you might have a concussion." A lamp was flipped on and suddenly,
miraculously, Kelly's amazing face was within my line of vision. He looked
tired, concerned. My eyes flickered briefly to the armchair in which he must
have been sitting. There was a pillow there and a blanket, even though the
chair didn't recline and he must have been awfully uncomfortable.

"Kelly? I --" I paused, my thoughts all jumbled. "How'd you get out
of jail?"

"Oh, I used a crowbar and a metric ton of dynamite and busted my way
out." At my horrified expression, Kelly burst out laughing. It was so
nice to hear him laugh again. "I'm just kidding Chayse. But, seriously
now, I think you know how I got out."

I scrunched up my face, trying to concentrate on what he was saying
when all I wanted to do was jump his bones. Well, that is, after taking
several painkillers for my splitting headache. As if reading my mind --
which I dearly hope he wasn't, since my thoughts weren't entirely virtuous --
he went to the bathroom and got me a glass of water and some aspirin, then
an ice pack from the kitchen.

"Here you go," he said soothingly. I took the pills gratefully as he
pressed the ice to my forehead in such a tender way that I sighed. "Feel
good?" he asked, misinterpreting my sigh.

"Uh-huh," I said, getting more and more confused the longer I was
awake.

After a long moment of silence, Kelly smiled and set the ice down.

"Thanks, Chayse. Thanks for getting me out of there." He took my hands
in his and laced our fingers together, making me think of our tender moment
in his bedroom. "If you hadn't figured out that Bianca was just trying to
cover herself for possession of cocaine, I'd probably be going to a court
hearing in a few days."

I smiled then, too, finally remembering all that had happened. Then my
smile faltered a bit as I asked, "Did Dr. Pederson tell you about the
mix-up?"

Kelly nodded, his hazel eyes kind of sad. "Yeah. Now I've got some
antibiotics to take, but Doc said it'll all go away soon."

"Thank God," I said.

"Yeah. Thank God."

Kelly moved up on the couch with me and I pulled up my legs to make
room.

"You have quite a bump there, love," he said softly, unlacing our fingers
and running the pad of his thumb across the giant nugget on my forehead.

"Love?" I said, raising my eyebrows in questioning amusement.

He met my eyes and his expression was somber. "Yes. Love." He leaned
down and kissed me, a kiss so sweet and tender that I my eyes teared up.
When he looked at me, he seemed bewildered. "Why are you crying? Did I
hit your head or something?"

"No," I said, laughing through my tears, "I just. . .Oh, damn, I don't
know." I paused, then threw my arms around his neck, kissing his chin,
his eyelids, his cheeks, his neck, finally his mouth. "I love you, Kelly.
So much!"

He chuckled and reciprocated the kiss, letting his strong hands roam
freely on my body.

"When did you realize it?" he asked deeply, next to my ear. "When did
you realize that you're in love with me?"

I pulled back a bit to look him in the eye as I replied, "When I thought
they were going to take you away from me."

"You know when I knew?"

"Knew what?" I asked innocently, since he hadn't said The Words.

"That I love you," he replied, nuzzling my ear with his nose. I giggled
and enjoyed the feel of his construction worker muscles through his t-shirt.

"When?"

"When you showed me those crushed biscotti and scones. That's when I
knew."

"That soon?"

He took a minute to answer as he trailed kisses across my cheekbone, but
finally murmured, "Mmm-hmm. That soon. I was just waiting for you to get
over Danny."

"I think I was over Danny a long time ago, Kelly, but I was just too dense
to notice it," I said, chuckling at my foolishness, "I think my intention
from the minute I walked through that door was to get to know you, but I was --
whoa, Kelly, not here, okay? -- I was. . .distracted. I think from the first
time I saw you, I had -- ," I paused to gasp in delight before finishing,
" -- designs on you."


And so ends the story of Kelly and Chayse. . .but I am open to the idea
of a sequel. I really love the characters of Kelly and Chayse, and I would
love to elaborate on Max, as well. Let me know what you think about a
sequel. Would you like to hear more from these characters, or do you
think a sequel would bleed the characters dry of all life?

Thank you all, once again, for being such faithful friends and readers.
If you had only half as much fun reading it as I did writing it, then I've
accomplished something as a writer. Thank you for being so supportive and
inspiring me to finish writing "Designs On You"!!!!