James paced anxiously around his living room, cell phone clenched in his hand. He had tried calling Mandy at least twenty times already, and still no answer. It was almost an hour past when she should have been home, which gave James the sinking feeling that she was in trouble.
"Damn..." James growled as he ran a hand through his hair.
He should have given her a ride. Should have ignored her protests and driven her home. Why didn't he? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
James flopped onto his couch, checking his phone's clock for the billionth time. Blackie looked up from her bed by the fire, dark eyes questioning.
"We should go get her." James said. Blackie cocked her head, then got up from her bed to trot over to the door, tail wagging slightly. James flipped his phone shut and jumped off the couch, grabbing two coats off the coat rack and fishing his keys out of his pockets.
The snow was falling heavily as James drove slowly down the main street of town and out the country road, his lights on high. He drummed his fingers anxiously against the wheel, worried brown eyes scanning the road for any signs of life.
Blackie sat diligently in the front seat, looking out at the road as well. James gently ruffled her ears.
"We'll find her." James mumbled tersely, convincing himself. Blackie woofed in reply.
Several miles out of town, Blackie began to whine. James slowed down even further, gasping when the headlights hit the metal frame of Mandy's bike. The snow had settled heavily over everything, and James almost missed the collapsed form laying by the bike.
"MANDY!" He yelled, leaping out of the car as fast as he could struggle out of his seatbelt. He immediately sank ankle-deep in snow, his sneakers instantly becoming soggy. He scrambled over to the bike, throwing the frozen metal off Mandy's body and brushing the snow frantically off of her. Blackie chipped in by licking the snow off Mandy's frozen cheeks.
"Mandy... Oh god, please... Mandy!" James said frantically. He tried feeling for a pulse, but his hands were already freezing from the cold. He swore, then picked Mandy up, surprised at how easy it had become for him.
He struggled through the snow back to the car and opened the door to the back seat, laying Mandy gently down and putting the blanket he kept for emegencies over her still form. Blackie woofed worriedly.
"I'm going, i'm going." James said, opening the passenger door for Blackie to hop in then running around to his open driver's door.
The drive to the hospital was absolutely agonizing for James. Between his anxiety for Mandy's safety and the road conditions, by the time he arrived at the emergency room his nerves were totally fried.
"You can't bring her in here." The nurse said when James carried Mandy into the hospital.
"What?" James said, completely confused.
"It's against the rules." The nurse replied.
"But, she's hurt. She's been out in the cold for an hour at least!" James said frantically.
"I'm sorry sir. May I recommend animal ark? Mr. and Mrs. Hope are the best we have here." THe nurse said before paging a gurney.
"What?!" James practically yelled. "Her parents ARE Mr. and Mrs. Hope, and i'm aware of how good a doctors they are, but they treat animals, not humans!"
"Sir. Please take your dog outside." The nurse said firmly.
"Dog? What dog?!" James yelled. "I don't have a-" A soft whine interrupted Jame's tirade. He looked down to see Blackie sitting politely at his heel.
"Blackie, go sit outside." He told the lab. Amazingly enough, she got up and trotted out the sliding doors, sitting on the curb where she could look in. James rolled his eyes.
The gurney arrived, and James set Mandy down as gently as possible. The doctors then whisked her away before he could blink.
"Hey!" He said, moving to the doors they had disappeared through.
"I'm sorry, sir. You'll have to wait until the doctors are through to see her. Best wait until morning, there's nothing more you can do tonight..." The nurse said. James resisted the urge to punch something.
"Take your dog home, come back in the morning." The nurse said. James was left with no other alternative but to leave the hospital.
"I'm worried..." James stated to his dog as he loaded Blackie into the car. She whined in agreement and nosed the window after he shut the door. James couldn't help but crack half a smile.
"I see how it is..." James grumbled as he got behind the wheel. "You behave when Mandy's involved, but act like anything other labrador when it's just you and I, eh?" He watched in the rearview as Blackie put her nose under her paws. James chuckled despite his dark mood.
James and Blackie drove home silently and carefully, going in their house quietly. James gave Blackie water, then let her lead the way to his room.
As he laid on his bed and listened to his dog's soft snores, James' insides churned with worry.
He should have never let Mandy go. He should have driven her home, and then the whole situation could have been avoided. God, he was such an idiot. Now, because of him, Mandy was lying in the hospital all alone.
With a pang, James realized that he hadn't even called Mandy's parents... But at least that way they weren't worried.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" James said in exasperation, waking Blackie. The labrador got out of her basket and put her front paws up on his bed, kissing his face. Once again, James couldn't help but smile.
"Good dog, Blackie. Good dog." He said. "Come up here with me." Blackie obliged, curling into his side while James patted her head. Without realizing it, he drifted off, lulled by Blackie's heartbeat and the unconscious thought of a certain red haired girl.