Getting to Me

Chapter Thirty-Two

“Mr. Baker, can you open your eyes?” Zack heard a voice say to him some time after he had blacked out. He didn’t recognize the voice, and he had no idea how long he had been out. He didn’t even remember what had happened to make him black out in the first place. But suddenly, everything started coming back to him, and he tried to sit straight up.

“Where is Mandy?” He asked, not even caring who he was directing the question to. “Is she alright? I need to see her. I don’t—” He started before feeling someone’s hands pressing him back against the mattress he had been laying on.

“Mr. Baker, please calm down,” the same voice that had woken him up spoke again, this time sounding more soothing than professional. He wondered who it was, and when he opened his eyes, he groaned immediately when he realized that he must be in a hospital when he saw a doctor standing there.

“Where is Mandy?” He asked again, not giving a damn how badly he was hurt. If he was awake and able to function enough to worry about her, he was fine enough to try and see her to make sure with his own two eyes that she was alright. He would never forgive himself if she had been hurt.

“Mr. Baker, I’m going to ask you again to calm down. You’re in St. Alexis Hospital in Bismarck. You were in a car accident just outside of Medora, and you’re not in good shape. It’s not good for you to be this worked up. Take a few deep breaths for me, alright? Can you do that?” The doctor asked him again.

Zacky just groaned and slammed his fist into the side of the mattress, angry that the doctor wasn’t listening to him. “I’m fucking fine!” He snapped at the doctor. “Just tell me how Mandy is? She’s not…She didn’t…”

For the first time since he’d woken up, he saw the doctor’s face soften a little, and he sighed, still waiting for an answer. “Ms. Haner is in another room on another floor for the time being, Mr. Baker. She’s not awake yet, but she’s stable.”

“I just need to see her,” Zack pleaded with the doctor, looking down at the floor before he felt his arms start shaking. He didn’t care if the doctor had told him she was stable. He needed to see with his own two eyes that she was alright. He didn’t want to feel worried that she wasn’t going to make it. He already felt so guilty because of getting into the wreck. He should have known to listen to Mandy. She quite obviously knew the roads better, and her instinct was better when it came to the country. He was the one fully responsible for both of them being here in the hospital, and it hurt his heart to know that he had hurt her.

“You can’t see her right now. She’s not stable enough to see anyone right now. Her family is in the waiting room, if you’d like to speak to them and see them. I’m sorry, Mr. Baker. It’s a wait and see kind of thing right now,” the doctor said in an apologetic tone before she walked out of the hospital room, leaving Zack to himself and his thoughts.

He was the one who had put Mandy hear in the hospital. He was the one who had caused the accident; who had ignored her warnings and continued going even though he himself had had a feeling that something was going to go wrong. He was the person who had put her life in danger, and he didn’t know if he could forgive himself for it.

Before he had any more time to think about how guilty he was, the hospital door opened again and he saw Mandy’s father walk inside. He didn’t look angry, like he had been expecting. Instead, he looked a little worried and more than relieved. Zack couldn’t help but feel confused. He had nearly killed Mandy in that car accident, and her father was here to see him, not looking like he was ready to shoot him.

“How are you holding up? Brian Sr. asked him, sitting in the chair beside the bed before turning to look at Zack, who just looked down at the floor, clearing his throat. He didn’t know how to talk to his girlfriend’s father right now. He felt so damn ashamed of the car accident; so guilty.

“Okay, I guess. They won’t let me see Mandy,” he muttered before looking up at Brian Sr. “I’m so sorry, sir. I…I can’t even begin to say how—”

Her father cut him off by holding his hand up, shaking his head softly before he gave him a shrug of his shoulders. “It’s North Dakota, son,” he told Zack. “It’s winter. The roads were bad, and an accident happened. It’s not your fault the car skidded out of control.”

Zack took a deep breath and then nodded, although he wasn’t so sure he agreed with Brian Sr. He knew that this wasn’t an argument he was going to win, however. He felt as Mandy’s father grabbed his hand and gave it a light pat before he looked up at him and cleared his throat. Zack knew that the man was getting ready to say something serious, and he couldn’t help but feel almost anxious.

“You know she loves you, Zack,” he started slowly before looking up at him with a small smile. “When she was a little girl, I always told myself there was no way I’d ever let her fall in love with a guy I hadn’t known all along. I told myself that she’d stay my little girl forever, and…well, she still is, to a point. But she loves you. And I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice that you love her, too.”

“Yes, sir,” was all Zack said, quietly. He wasn’t sure what else he could say. He could tell that Brian Sr. still had other words to say, and he didn’t want to disrespect the older man by interrupting and saying something when he wasn’t finished yet.

“I’d go as far as to say that the two of you love each other enough that you’re probably never going to want anyone else again. Sometimes, that one love of a lifetime hits young; hits hard, and it hits fast. I’ve never seen two kids look at each other the way you and my baby girl look at each other, Zack,” he cleared his throat, folding his arms over his chest. “I know you’re a fair amount older than her, but that doesn’t mean your love is any different. Are you seeing what I’m getting at yet, Zack?”

Zack’s breath hitched in his throat, because he had a slight idea of what Brian Sr.’s next words were going to be. He didn’t say a word, but only took a deep breath before nodding, sitting as straight up in the hospital bed as he possibly could. Brian Sr. smiled softly and then continued speaking, this time his voice a little softer, more melancholy than it had been before.

“When you love someone the way you love Mandy, Zack, there’s only one thing you can do,” he said, keeping his eyes trained directly on Zacky’s. “You go to the nearest jewelry shop and you buy her the nicest ring you can afford. Then, you take her out to a nice dinner and propose to her. You show that girl how much you love her, Zack. You show her how much you want to be with her; how much she means to your heart.”

Zack didn’t have time to say anything else before Brian Sr. continued. “Now, I know you haven’t asked me for her hand yet. But I can tell just by how you act with her; how you look at her and how you treat her, that it’s only a matter of time. I figured I’d save you the fear. I’d be more than honored to call you my son-in-law, Zack. All I ask of you is that you take the best possible care of her as you can.”

Zack couldn’t believe the words that had just come out of Mandy’s father’s mouth, but he knew that they meant a great deal to him. He took a deep breath and then nodded, extending his hand to the man before putting a smile on his face. “Yes, sir,” he said to him before clearing his throat. “I…I’ll do everything I possibly can to make sure she’s taken care of, Mr. Haner.”

“It’s Papa Haner,” he said with a small smile to Zack before standing up. Zack knew that he was going to go see Mandy now, and he just nodded, watching as he walked out of the room. He knew that what Mandy’s father had just approved of was something powerful; something that he definitely wanted to do. He wanted Mandy as his wife. And he promised himself in that moment that the second he was able to, he was going to do just exactly what Brian Sr. had told him to do—he was going to get down on one knee and propose to her.
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Just as a forewarning, my update schedule will not be normal for the next two weeks. I am going through a house move right now, so things are a little hectic. I need to get some more chapters pre-written on my stories so that I can have a normal schedule again, and it should take about two weeks to get the right amount of chapters pre-written.