A single tear flowed down my right cheek. “At the time, Marcella, I didn’t think I had one reason to live.”She held my hand tightly. “In fact, I’m still not sure I have one.”

“You have plenty of reasons to live. A lot has happened we need to talk about.”

“Tyson told Jason about us, and now he hates me!”

“No, Jason doesn’t hate you. He loves you very much. He and I have talked quite a bit this past week, and I can see why you adore him so. He’s a very special man.”

“Yes, he is.” It suddenly hit me that Jason was nowhere in sight. I wondered why he wasn’t by my side if he really loved me. “Where’s Jason?”

“He’s been here the entire time, Zoe. Your mother has been watching the kids most of the time, but Jason also hired a live-in sitter so she can come spend time with you at the hospital as well. I met your mother. She’s a sweetheart.”

I was so ashamed. “Does my mother know? About everything?”

“Yes, she does, and she loves you more now than ever.” Marcella continued to grasp my hand and used her other hand to rub my arm. “Don’t worry about a thing, Zoe. Everything is going to be fine. Jason wants to work out your marriage problems.”

“He does? Are you serious?” Could it be my prayers had been answered?

“Yes, he does. I convinced him to go home for a little while and spend some time with the kids, since you were comatose anyway. I told him I would stay overnight with you. The hospital allows me visiting rights around the clock since I’m a doctor.”

“I see. Thanks so much for everything, Marcella.”

“No need for thanks, Zoe. You’ve become much more than a patient to me. I would like to think of us as friends.”

I managed a weak smile. “I would like for us to become friends. I would like that very much.”

“We’re already friends, and friends we shall remain. Now get some sleep, and I’ll be right here if you need anything. Jason will be back early in the morning. I’m sure seeing you with your eyes open will be a blessing to him.”

I drifted back off to sleep, and for the first time in a long, long time, I fell asleep not dreading what would happen when the sun came up. Marcella said Jason still loved me and wanted to save our marriage. Thank goodness my accident wasn’t fatal. Thank goodness I had a second chance with the love of my life.I slept like a baby for the remainder of the night. Just like Marcella promised, Jason was there when I opened my eyes the next morning. I was so relieved to see him. I was on my side, and he was behind me on the bed, also asleep, with his arm draped over my waist.

I wanted to let him sleep, but I was anxious to talk to him. Having his arm around me was extremely comforting. At least I knew he didn’t find the thought of touching me repulsive. “Jason.”

I tried to turn over to face him but had a hard time maneuvering with the IV in my arm. My movements jolted him awake. He opened his eyes. I had made it as far as getting on my back so I could look at him. “Hey, Jason,” I whispered.

“Hey, Boo.” I took a survey of my hospital room and noticed the drastic yet pleasant change from the night before. There were helium balloons, cards, and flowers everywhere, and a huge red balloon with the wordsI LOVE YOU ALWAYSwas tied to one of the safety handles of the bed.

I started blushing. “Jason, did you do all of this since I went to sleep last night?”

He brushed his hand across my cheek. “Yes— Marcella called me to tell me you came out of your coma, and I rushed over here. She told me to wait until this morning, but I couldn’t, so while you were sleeping, I raided the allnight drugstore down the street. It was after hours for the gift shop here in the hospital.”

“You’re so sweet! Thanks!”

“No, thank you for being alive and coming back to me. I was so afraid you were going to die when I saw that van hit you. I didn’t get there in time to stop it. It was all my fault you were out there in the middle of the traffic in the first place.”

“Jason, none of this is your fault. I’m the one who fucked up, just like you said. I can’t believe you’re even here with me after all the things I did. I deserve to lose everything, and I’ll understand if you want to end the marriage. I don’t want you to stay just because of the kids.”

He took my hand, spread my fingers open, and kissed them one at a time. “Zoe, I want you to listen to me very carefully, okay, and don’t interrupt, because I might lose my nerve and never get all the words out.”

I turned a little bit more toward him so I could

rest my hand on his thigh. “Okay, I’m listening.”

“Before there were any kids, before there was any house or any business, there was me and you. As much as we hated each other the first time we met—and by the way, I still swear up and down you are exaggerating about kicking my ass.” We both giggled. “Anyway, as much as we despised each other at first, what eventually grew out of that was love,real love, and it’s the kind of love that never dies.”

I bit my bottom lip to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I knew that if I felt the pain, then I wasn’t imagining Jason’s words. My lipdidbegin to ache, and I was grateful for the pain. “I love you, Zoe. That’s why it hurt so bad when Tyson came storming into my office telling me not only things about you that I never knew, but also things I could never imagine you doing.”

Tears starting running down my cheeks, and I wanted to tell him I never meant to hurt him. I wanted to tell him so many things, but he had asked me not to say a word, so I just listened. “Looking back on it now, all the signs were there. You did try to talk to me on countless occasions, and I always snapped at you. I can see that now. Dr. Spencer told me how you related everything to her about how we met, how we fell in love, and how things got complicated. She even told me you thought I looked sexy riding my dad’s old lawn mower with no shirt on. I never knew that.”

He made me laugh again, and hearing the old version of Jason again was heartwarming, to say the least. “You see, the only side of this whole story I’ve ever been able to relate to is my own. I never knew your side of the story. I never knew the things that went on in your mind. Not until now.

“Somewhere along the way, we lost something, and I think that something is communication. I promise you that you’ll never have to look for love and attention from anywhere else. Not ever again. You can talk to me about anything, and I won’t snap at you. I won’t say it’s immoral or disgusting. I promise!”

He took his hand and gently started caressing my stomach. “As far as the affairs you had, I was very upset and disappointed. I have to be honest and tell you it may take a while for me to truly get over it, but I will. We can get past this because I realize you didn’t do it to hurt me,you didn’t do it because you didn’t love me, and Iknowyou never loved any of them. When you told me you were sick that night, I didn’t believe you. Now, after talking to the doctor, I do think you did all of those things for reasons beyond your control.”

Jason kissed me gently on my lips. “We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to save our marriage—no matter what it takes, no matter how long it takes. Dr. Spencer’s going to help us, and she has a friend down in Florida who’s willing to come up here and help us overcome our sexual issues. I love you, Zoe, and this is forever.”

He got quiet so I added, “Always has been! Always will be!”

We lay there, holding each other in silence, and something Jason had mentioned began to worry me. “Jason?”

“Yes, baby?”

“What did you mean when you said Dr. Spencer and her friend are going to help us deal with our sexual issues?”

“Huh?” He had a perplexed look on his face.

“You said our sexual issues, not just mine.”

He stared at me, and his eyes got watery. “Yes, I did say that.”

“What did you mean by that?” My heart started thumping loudly in my chest.

“There are some things I need to tell you also, Zoe. There are reasons why it’s always been difficult for me to make love to you completely. Just know that it was never anything about you. It was never anything about your appearance, like you apparently thought. You’ve always been and will always be the most beautiful and amazing woman in the entire world to me.”

I tried to prop myself up on a pillow using my elbows, but I was too weak. “Are you saying you cheated on me too, Jason?”

“No, I told you I never cheated on you, and I haven’t. I’ve never even thought about it. I promise you that.”

“Then what is it, Jason?” I wanted him to explain what he meant, because he was scaring the hell out of me.

“Zoe, let’s just get some rest. I’m so tired. Running back and forth from the hospital and trying to keep up with everything else has drained me this past week. I’m just glad you didn’t fool around and die on me. After we get some rest and the doctors get here, we’ll get this all cleared up for once and for all.”

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