As I exited onto I-90 after crossing the Massachusetts border, my eyes bulged out of my head at the sight of the long traffic line that looked as if it extended for miles. After all, it was rush hour.
Shit, I cursed under my breath, realizing that at this rate, it'd probably take me at least two more hours to get to Boston.
Anxiety and panic consumed me as I sat in my car, driving forward at an unbelievably slow speed. I kept praying that Tyler would still be alive by the time I arrived at the hospital.
I didn't know for a fact how bad he had gotten injured, but based on the damage from his car, I assumed that he was in for the worst.
And what if Tyler lost his memory? I'd seen several movies where that ended up happening to victims of car crashes. Oh god, I couldn't even imagine what it'd be like if I found out that he had forgotten me.
It took every fiber of my being to remain calm as beads of sweat began to form on my hands and forehead.
I adjusted the AC to a lower temperature and inhaled deeply, trying to relax. The last thing I needed was to get into an accident myself, although I highly doubted it since everyone else was barely even moving.
It felt like an eternity until the traffic began to clear out, and before I knew it, the other cars went back to driving at their normal speed. I slammed on the gas pedal and accelerated down the freeway, constantly glancing at the clock to check what time it was.
Eventually, the outline of downtown Boston's tall buildings came into view. Shortly after entering Cambridge, I located Massachusetts General Hospital, which happened to be within walking distance of the Government Center.
Luckily, there were several open spaces in the parking garage. I ran inside the hospital the moment I got out of my car. Seconds felt like hours as I rode the elevator down to the first floor where the Emergency Department was.
"Good evening, ma'am, how may I help you?", the female receptionist asked when I finally arrived at the front desk.
"I'm here to visit one of your patients," I replied urgently.
"Oh, the one hockey player that got into a car accident, right?"
"And you're his...?", she questioned with a raised eyebrow. I lost every ounce of my patience and snapped at her.
"Do you have any idea what I've been through to get here? I was stuck in traffic for hours! So the least you can do is let me see him."
The receptionist looked shocked from my sudden outburst then instantly began to dig through the hospital files.
"I'll send a nurse to escort you to his room. I just need to know who you are first. After all, Tyler is-",
"I'm Christine Miller...his ex-girlfriend," I interrupted her. "Please, I just want to make sure he's ok." By then, tears were beginning to fall down my face, both from distress and regret. I never should've left him this morning.
"Oh. I'm sorry," she said with a sympathetic look.
After I signed in, a young nurse came over with a clipboard. She must've had a long and tiring day, judging from the lack of sleep in her eyes and exhausted expression.
"Are you Christine?", she asked me. I nodded my head.
"Right this way," she said, leading me down the hall as my heart pounded in my chest. We stopped in front of the very last room on the right, which I assumed was Tyler's.
"Is he ok?", I asked her worriedly.
"Well, he's in a critical condition. Luckily, we were able to control most of the bleeding earlier. His ribs are cracked in some areas and he's got a broken leg.
"The doctor gave him several stitches, but the concussion on his head is what we're most concerned about."
The nurse opened the door for me and immediately, I spotted both of Tyler's parents talking to the doctor. All three of them glanced in my direction and then Jackie headed over, wrapping me into a huge hug as she cried.
I admit, I was a bit surprised as I hugged her back. I expected her to be cold and hostile since I had broken up with her son. But instead, she was the complete opposite.
"Oh, Christine. Paul and I are so thankful you came. Tyler keeps insisting that he needs to see you. Are you ok, dear?", she spoke.
"I'm fine," I reassured her. Relief washed over me at the fact that Tyler hadn't lost his memory.
The nurse left and then I walked over to where he lay. I collapsed onto a chair and sobbed hysterically as I took in the severity of his injuries.
Deep gashes and bruises covered his torso along with several attached wires and oxygen tubes, and his left leg was wrapped up in a cast.
I gently ran my hand along Tyler's scarred, pale, and lifeless face, shivering at how cold he was. His eyes were closed shut and I looked over at the monitor to observe his heartbeat. It was the only thing keeping me sane right now, knowing that he was alive.
A mental image of Tyler getting body slammed a few years ago during his game against the Avs suddenly flashed into my mind. I remembered how terrified I had been for him that night, but this time, his injuries were much worse.
Tyler's friends and teammates must've paid him a visit earlier since there were tons of flowers and gifts all over the floor. I'd definitely have to get him something tomorrow.
The sudden quietness of the room caused me to glance behind my shoulder, and I realized that everyone had left. It was just me and Tyler.
"This is all my fault. I shouldn't have told you that I never wanted to see your face again," I said quietly, bending down so that I was face-level with him. I held one his hands in mine, stroking it with my thumb.
Silence filled the air as I awaited any response from Tyler.
"I can't believe you actually came," he spoke with a ragged breath moments later, coughing afterwards. Seeing him like this absolutely tore me apart.
"I had to. I would've have left you in the first place if I knew that something like this was going to happen. How badly are you hurt right now?"
"Christine, the physical pain I'm enduring could never hurt as much as when you said that you didn't love me anymore."
"I-I'm so sorry. Please forgive me," I pleaded, wiping away my tears.
"Christine?", a familiar male voice called behind the door.
I gave Tyler one last look and gently kissed his forehead before getting up to see who it was. A shocked gasp escaped my lungs as I opened the door to be greeted by my fiancé, dressed in his formal work attire.
"Oh my god, Damon, what are you doing here?", I asked him, completely appalled.
"We need to talk," he demanded, pulling me out of the room before shutting the door.
"Andrew called me yesterday. He was visiting his cousin in Winchester."
"What does this have to do with anything?"
"He told me that he saw you and Tyler going into his house. Turns out Andrew's cousin lives in the same neighborhood as your ex. How convenient is that?", Damon said with a mock smile.
I was about to speak when he continued.
"Do you have any idea how much it hurt when Andrew told me that? I even asked him if he was mistaken, but he kept insisting that it was you he saw. I bet you slept with Tyler too, didn't you?"
Damon's cold eyes penetrated right through me, his expression full of anger and disbelief.
"Yes," I admitted with guilt.
"Of course you did. And where the hell is your engagement ring?", Damon roughly demanded, lowering his gaze to my left hand.
"I must've forgotten it at Tyler's," I muttered under my breath.
"Christine, what's wrong with you? Of all the people you could've cheated on me with, you chose Tyler?!"
"I'm sorry. Wait a minute, how did you know that I was here at the hospital?"
Damon ran his fingers through his hair in frustration and took a deep breath before speaking.
"After I heard about Tyler's accident on the news, I booked an immediate flight to Boston because I knew that you'd probably be here to see him.
"And I wanted to confront you about this whole cheating thing. I stayed up all night just thinking about it. Christine, why would you do this to me?"
The huge bags under Damon's eyes indeed proved that he hadn't slept a single hour last night. I sighed and headed back out to the waiting room, leaving my fiancé standing there in the hall, completely dumbstruck. I needed space to think all of this through.
A few minutes later, Damon approached me, his suit jacket hanging on his arm. He seemed to have calmed down a bit and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Let's get out of here," he said.
"No," I objected.
"What do you mean, 'no'?"
"I'm not leaving Tyler," I stated defiantly.
"Now you're just talking nonsense," Damon scoffed, grabbing my arm as I struggled to tug it out of his firm grip.
Suddenly, the nurse from earlier came running over to us, with a look of panic and fear on her face.
"Tyler's oxygen line has been cut!", she exclaimed.
"What?!", I cried in disbelief.
I immediately ran down the hall back to Tyler's room and right away, I noticed the broken oxygen cord. The heart monitor was blank, obviously not working anymore. How on earth could this have happened?!
"Who was the last person in this room?", the doctor demanded.
"My husband and I haven't been in here since Christine came," Tyler's mother informed him.
"Wait, are you saying that someone cut the cord?", I clarified.
"Yes," the doctor said.
"What about your fiancé? He was the last person I allowed to come in here," the nurse asked.
Then it hit me...Damon must've done this while I was out in the waiting room! I had no idea that he'd actually been serious when he talked about killing Tyler. But turns out the guy wasn't kidding.
"Doctor, I'm afraid that my fiancé is the one responsible for this," I spoke.
"What are you talking about? He seemed like a nice guy to me," the doctor asked in utter confusion.
"Trust me, he is. But this is a different matter. Make sure he doesn't leave the hospital," I ordered.
I rushed over to Tyler and frantically shook him awake to see if I could get any response. My efforts resulted in failure and I dropped my head on his chest with defeat as tears fell rapidly down my cheeks.
"Oh god, why...," Jackie wailed in agony, crying as she and her husband mourned their son.
It felt as if the world had come to an end. I heard the sound of the cops coming from down the hall, interrogating Damon. How could he do such a thing?
I looked at Tyler's motionless body as grief consumed me, my heart crumbling to pieces. Even though he was dead, I still wanted to say the things that I was going to tell him.
"I love you so much, more than you'll ever know. And lying to you about it was the biggest mistake I'd ever made."
I placed desperate kisses on Tyler's cold face before resting my head back on his chest, wanting nothing more than to stay by his side for the rest of my life.
"But please don't leave me..."
At that moment, I detected a faint heartbeat coming from inside of Tyler's chest. Or was it just my imagination? I immediately pressed my finger against the side of his neck and to my amazement, felt a pulse.
I glanced around to see if Tyler's parents were still here but once again, they had already left.
"Ty, talk to me. You're alive. I know you are," I said urgently, gently shaking his shoulders.
It felt as if time stood still when Tyler's eyelids slowly fluttered open and we stared at each other in utter silence. Oh, how I thought I'd never get to see those beautiful, brown eyes again.
"You know I could never leave you. I'm a tough guy, remember?" he wheezed, managing to give me a small smile.
Those words were all it took for me to burst with tears of happiness.
I wrapped my arms around him, careful not to hurt his already crippled body as I embraced the love of my life, whom I was so close to losing.
Talk about miracles.
Mixed emotions clouded my mind as I got up and headed out into the hall, informing the doctor that Tyler was alive. Immediately, he and Tyler's parents ran back to the room as I went to confront Damon and the cops.
"Excuse me, may I speak with my fiancé?", I asked one of the officers.
"You're aware that he's under arrest for the attempted murder of Tyler Seguin?"
"Yes. I just need to have one last word with him," I replied, looking in Damon's direction. His face expression was unreadable.
The cops excused themselves to give us some privacy and at that moment, I couldn't come up with what to say to Damon. Part of me despised him for trying to kill Tyler, but the other felt sorry for him.
"Why did you do this, Damon? Because of you, Tyler could've been dead," I finally spoke.
"I didn't want him to take you away from me. He doesn't deserve you," Damon replied, his voice thick with grief. His eyes began to water and before I knew it, he was crying.
I responded by pulling him into my arms as he buried his head on my shoulder, mumbling a thousand apologies.
"Damon, listen to me. You've been the most amazing boyfriend and fiancé I could ever ask for. I know how much you love me, but I can't love you back the same way that I love Tyler.The years he and I spent apart from each other brought us closer, so it's impossible for me to leave him now."
"He better not hurt you again."
"Trust me, I don't think he will. We've been through way too much already," I replied.
"Then it's probably best if I leave now. I'll never forget you, Christine," Damon said with a torn expression, stroking my cheek. He gave me one last look before walking back over to the cops.
I watched as they handcuffed his wrists, dragging him out of the waiting room. This sure wasn't how I had expected to end my engagement with Damon. But then again, life was full of surprises.
When I walked back to Tyler's room, his mom insisted I tell her all about what had happened between me, Damon, and her son, that lead to Damon's arrest. So I decided to invite both of his parents out for dinner that night.
As we ate, I told them everything that occurred after Tyler and I had broken up, including my engagement then graduation, where he showed up and confessed his love for me.
In the end, I explained to them that I couldn't be with my fiancé because I loved their son, and how Damon must've became jealous and tried to kill him.
"You know, Tyler wouldn't tell us at first why you two broke up when he flew home. He said that he felt bad enough already. So then, Paul and I assumed that our son must've done something wrong.
"We asked him if he cheated on you and that's when he fessed up. And let me tell you, I was furious. I mean, what were the chances that a young lady like you would ever walk into his life again? But I hope you understand how much my husband and I loved you," Jackie said.
"I do. I'm just so thankful that he was able to make it."
"I know. It's been quite a day for you though, hasn't it?", she remarked with a warm smile.
"Believe me, I'll never forget it," I replied.
After Tyler's parents and I finished our dinner, I dropped them off at his house, since that was where they were staying then drove back to the hospital. I wanted to spend the night with Tyler, if his doctor let me.
"Aren't you supposed to be home right now?", the doctor asked when he saw me in the waiting room.
"Can I stay here overnight?"
"I can't guarantee that you'll exactly be comfortable, but-",
"It doesn't matter," I quickly assured.
"Well in that case, go right ahead. I'm sure he'd like some company. For an ex-girlfriend, you sure care about him, don't you?", the doctor commented with an amused expression.
I gave him a smile then walked down the familiar hall to Tyler's room, carefully shutting the door behind me. I pulled up a chair next to the bed and sat down, leaning my head back against the wall.
"Christine, is that you?", Tyler asked in a hoarse tone.
"You're still awake?"
"Come lay with me."
"Are you kidding? I'm probably gonna squish you to death," I said, laughing quietly.
"I'm serious. I'll be fine, trust me," he replied.
"Alright, I trust you."
I carefully climbed into the bed next to Tyler and to my surprise, there actually was a pretty decent amount of room.
"I'm sorry about your fiancé by the way."
"I don't want to talk about him anymore. And make sure you tell me if you need the doctor or anything in the middle of the night, ok?"
Tyler gave me a weary smile then directed his gaze up at the ceiling before closing his eyes.
"God, I love you so much," I whispered, placing a delicate kiss on his cheek as I traced the wounds covering his upper body with my fingers.
"I love you, too, baby," he said quietly, resting his hand on his chest as he interlaced our fingers. The simple gesture brought tears to my eyes, just knowing that Tyler was still here with me.
As I lay next to him, I realized that his life had literally been hanging by a thread earlier, but somehow, he managed to stay alive even after it'd been cut. And if that wasn't considered a miracle, then I don't know what was.
It's unbelievable what had taken place today, but one thing was for sure: I'd never walk away from Tyler ever again.