“You did what?!” Megan asked hysterical.
“I quit my job.” I said coolly eyeing her over the cookie in my hand. “I walked right up to Tom, gave him his photocopies and coffee and said ‘take your job and shove it’ then I grabbed my purse and left.” I swallowed hard. I never did something like that before.
Megan was quiet for a moment as she took it all in, then she burst into a fit of laughter. She laughed till she couldn’t breathe anymore, bent over and slapped her hands on her knees, “TAKE YOUR JOB AND SHOVE IT...?” she laughed again, “Best… day… of… my… life…” she said as she struggled to breathe. “We have got to celebrate!” she said as she calmed down.
“Nope, no, no, no, no, no…” I raised my hands in the air “I just quit my job…”
“Why we’re celebrating…” she interrupted.
“I’m tired…” I whined.
“I’ll pour you a bath.” She said as she picked up her I-phone, “OH MY GOD TOMMY!” she screamed after a few seconds, “You would not believe what Bell did. We’re celebrating so you better get you cute ass over here…” I grabbed my head in my hands and shook it as I watched her through the gaps in my fingers, she was gathering ingredients for one of her concoctions “Nope, I’m not gonna tell you why, she has to do that… Yup it’s so good I can’t wait to hear it again… see you in fifteen Babe.”
I kept my cool as I watched her throwing a few things, strawberries and vodka in the mixer, “Strawberry Mojitos.” she said as if she could read my mind. “Don’t give me that look.” She stated.
“What look?” I played dumb picking the cookie crumbs off the counter.
“That ‘I’m not going and you’re not gonna make me’ look. Well I’ve got news for you missy; I am so totally going to make you. We are celebrating, NO EXCUSES!” she threw a whole strawberry in a glass and filled it with reddish liquid from the mixer; she then slid it over to me and gave me her ‘don’t even think about messing with me’ look.
I took a small sip and the flavour burst through my taste buds. I took a bigger sip and moaned a little as the strawberry burst in my mouth.
“That’s my girl.” Megan commented and turned towards the bathroom. Five minutes later she came back and gave me a huge grin as she saw the empty glass, “Bath is ready.” She winked then shooed me toward the steamy room.
“Doctor… When will my daughter wake up?” I heard my father’s voice penetrate my dream.
“Any day now Mister Clarke, just be patient, some patients take longer to wake up after a traumatic experience. We just have to give her some time to heal.”
“So this is normal?” my mother asked and I tried to open my eyes but I had no strength.
“Very normal Misses Clarke. Nurse Becky would be here if you need anything. I’ll check in again later.”
My body slacked as I returned to the darkness where dreams come true.
“OMG GIRL! You look just as hot as your performance was today.” Tommy laughed as he looked me over in the mirror.
“Don’t you think this is a little…?” I was looking for a better word than slutty.
“Gorgeous…” Tommy said squinting his eyes, “If you call my fashion sense slutty I will shove something up your ass…” he said in mock laughter.
“Okay okay…” I looked back at the full length mirror. Tommy picked a light pink loose one-shoulder blouse, which was slightly tight around my hips where it connected with WHITE shorts that were too short at mid-thigh. My legs ended in flat ankle high brown leather boots which was the only thing I would’ve picked myself. My make-up was smoky and my hair was in an up-do with curly streaks hanging loose. Megan was responsible for the big hoop earrings and string of bangles which covered almost my whole arm.
I smiled as Megan entered the room and Tommy squealed, “Holy Hell Bitch!” he shouted.
“Oh shut up Tom.” She narrowed her eyes then inspected her attire in the mirror, “I think it’s cute.”
I looked her up and down, from her mile high black heels up her tanned legs to her short red dress which barely covered anything, till her Eiffel tower earrings she bought in Paris and her head of blonde curls falling loosely down her back. My best friend was a goddess.
“I’d do you.” She said to me and I smiled.
“I’d do you too.” I grinned as I said it and she rolled her eyes. “You look beautiful Meg.”
“So do you Gelfling.” We both burst out laughing and Tommy clapped his hands together.
“Sorry to interrupt the love fest ladies but let’s get going or we’ll miss the hunks.” He grabbed his hat and placed it neatly on his styled hair.
Tommy wore black skinny jeans, a blue checked dress shirt and converse sneakers. He was as gay as any guy can be and that’s why we loved him.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The constant beeping was the first thing I heard as my dream disappeared. As I breathed pain shot through my ribs and I cringed. I was afraid of opening my eyes. I slowly opened my lids to slits and bright light blinded me, I blinked a few times to get rid of the brightness. When I could finally see I looked at my hands where tubes escaped my veins and my finger disappeared into a clip. I looked at the flowers covering most surfaces and then at the darn beeping machine which was giving me a headache.
I looked towards a door and saw a doctor talking to a dark-haired man, looking concerned as the doctor spoke. He looked vaguely familiar but sleep overtook my mind and images of a loud and sweaty club infiltrated reality.
A very vague but definite image of an outrageously sexy guy triggered my brain.
Megan helped me to blow off that sexy stranger who came on to me at the club. He didn’t back off that easily because he kept on making himself visible throughout the night. After Megan kept on feeding me those yummy bluish drinks I seemed not to get enough off, his presence didn’t bother me anymore it was actually welcomed.
We talked, I drank, he disappeared, I drank some more, we laughed, I got wasted then he disappeared again.
I went to the dance floor and started dancing. I danced through the night which felt like forever. Stranger returned later, dancing with me closely. His hair was as black as the night, eyes that pierced through my soul. His cologne mixed with his sweat was intoxicating and every time he flashed his sexy smile at me, I knew even in my drunken state, I was captivated.
His body was tight against my back when we moved together on the dance floor. His hands were tracing down my arms to my sides travelling over my stomach. I turned and look at him, still moving. Our eyes locked and the physical electricity shocked me like a thousand volts. His right hand was on the small of my back, his left lacing fingers with mine behind his neck, we stared at each other the whole time, not once breaking eye contact. The moment was to big not to kiss. He didn’t disappoint when he slowly bent his head.
Suddenly my eyes opened and I looked around the room. When my eyes landed on the man talking on his phone a gasp escaped my lips.
There he stood my outrageously sexy stalker. Wow. His dark hair was messy in that just woke up style, his black t-shirt span across his back as his muscles arched and stretched when he moved his arms. His dark jeans fit tight around his backside and I quickly snapped my eyes to his arm holding the phone to his ear. The tattoo was barely visible. As if he could sense me watching him he turned toward me and I quickly closed my eyes.
There was no way this stranger was going to catch me checking him out. I listened to his whispered voice, “No she’s still asleep. God I don’t know. No I’m not leaving her side Monty, let the judge do her worst, she owes me, but I’m not leaving her side…” His footsteps neared my bed and my breathing vanished for a mere second then the darn beeping machine spiked to a hundred beats a minute I assume, “Oh god, I think she’s having a nightmare…” suddenly his hands were on my upper arms and he whispered in my ear, “Bambi, it’s just a nightmare, it’s okay.” Yeah a nightmare this is what it is.
The nearness of his body and his breath on my neck didn’t help the situation and I was so close to laughing at being caught that I nearly blew my cover.
“Mister Tucker!” a stern voice came from somewhere in the room, “Why didn’t you call the nurse?”
“She’s just having a nightmare.” Yeah keep thinking that.
Suddenly the beeping slowed and my body felt heavy like lead. I fell once more into a deep, deep sleep.
The cold metal against my head felt so real and heavy. The sweat seeping through our bodies almost made me gag. The wetness on my side felt warm and sticky. But my eyes stayed locked on the blue ones a few feet in front of me. The pain shot through my side as the arms around my waist tightened. The carefree mood I’ve been in a few seconds ago was totally gone and even the aftertaste of the alcohol has evaporated. The stranger I haven’t trusted all evening was now pleading me to trust him, the irony was not lost on me. I blinked in answer and I hoped he understood.
The wetness ran down my leg and my heartbeat slowed when the man holding me hostage screamed that the man who now had my fate in his hands, killed someone he loved. Yes, this was it; this was the moment when I got ruined for all mankind. But when I looked back into the ice blue eyes piercing through my soul I knew I was safe, I knew this man will save me from a fate as bad as death. For the first time I was afraid of dying.
A loud bang bounced off the walls and I fell to the floor. Strong arms pulled me up and his deep voice asked me to stay awake but the weakness overtook everything. I wanted to ask about Megan, I wanted to ask him to stay with me, I wanted to tell him thank you but my voice turned into a gargled cough and the slight sound of my last request. My body gave in to the shivers and everything felt as cold as ice.
I awoke with the extremely cold feeling, my teeth clattering together and I just wanted the bed sheets to cover me. I tried to tuck the sheets but reached nothing so I tried to curl into a fetes position to get warm but an overwhelming pain shot through my left side. For a moment I didn’t know which was worse, the pain or the cold. I heard myself groaning out of pain but it sounded like a pained shiver.
Someone stroke my hair and tried to calm me down.
“Shhhh, lie still, don’t turn you will hurt yourself. I will call a nurse.” The deep voice soothed me. I felt an arm reach over me and press a button and within seconds hastily feet were approaching me, a quick prick on my arm and I fell back into a peaceful sleep.
The sexy stranger with ice blue eyes was everywhere I tried to look; at my table, on the dance floor at the bar, at the end of a gun… His dark hair and piercing eyes never left my dreams.
The irritating beeping of that damn machine seeped through my consciousness and I just wanted it to stop. Slowly I tried to open my eyes but they were still heavy. When I finally got them to open a figure sitting on a chair caught my attention. The sight caught me off guard and my heartbeat started to rise making the beeping noise faster. Damn beeping machine. It was not every day a girl gets to awake from a dream about a very hunky man and there he was sitting right in front of you!
He didn’t notice and was still sleeping in a sitting position, one hand clutching a coffee cup and the other tucked under his chin. He had a five o’clock shadow and dark circles under his eyes. I took my time studying him. I had to admit he was even more attractive than I remembered in my drunken state at the club.
His black hair was neatly short and spiked in front, the black fitted shirt was dead giveaway that he still wore the same clothes he did at the club and his pant leg was raised a little by the right leg resting on his left knee.
Our brief conversations flashed before me. I have never been friendly with any man after what happened a few years back, but something happened to me the moment our eyes met. It was something unexplainable. When I entered the club my neck hair rose and I had to turn around, when I did we were looking at each other and time stood still.
When he approached me I got nervous. I always get nervous when strangers approach me, so this was nothing new, but with him it was different. Instead of running away, like I always did, to ignore the conversation I just stood there, frozen and focussing on my nerves. He was definitely not the type I would even consider to ever mix with. My eyes flashed over the edge of a tattoo under his sleeve and I had the sudden urge to see the whole design and even for one brief weak moment, I wondered if he had more hidden on his fabulous body.
He was the typical bad boy; sexy as hell and bad news. And he saw me. ME! That never happens with Megan around; attention always seemed to shift from me to her. It was welcomed. So you can imagine my surprise when I grabbed Tommy to dance and left him with Megan, only to see that his eyes never left me even though he was talking to her.
She confirmed it with huge amusement and even encouraged me to actually take a leap of faith and dance with the sexy as hell bad boy stranger. After all it was a day for taking risks.
“Player, promise keeper and one hell of a shot… I now know three things about you too.” My voice sounded croaky.
His eyes flew open and he jumped up while the steaming cup spilled over his jeans. “Holy shit! Fuck! Ouch!” he rubbed his hands over the burns and snapped his head in my direction. His eyes widened monetarily and then softened… the burn on his legs long forgotten.
He took two steps toward me and spoke in a whisper, “Hi.” He simply said.
A smile played at the corners of my mouth, “Hi yourself.” I answered.
“Shit, I should call a nurse…” he reached for the button but I stopped him and shook my head lightly.
“Wait, water please?” my frog throat pleaded.
“Yeah sure, here.” He placed a straw in my mouth and the cold liquid soothed my burning throat. “I should really call a nurse…” he said again eyeing the button.
“Why are you here?” I managed after a long sip.
“Where else would I be?” he asked shrugging, “It’s my fault you’re here…”
“Mister Tucker, Miss Clarke is awake and you didn’t call me?” a stern voice came from the door.
“Sorry,” I whispered and winked at him.
He gave me a small smile and shrugged, “She doesn’t like me anyway.” He whispered eyeing the nurse walking toward me.
“It’s not that I don’t like you Mister Tucker…” she looked at me with a smile, “No I got nothing, I don’t like you Mister Tucker.”
I laughed a little at her but stopped abruptly when pain shot through my side.
“You think that’s funny Miss Clarke?” the nurse asked I winced while nodding, “Well,” she continued, “Breaking all the hospital rules, never leaving your side and fighting with everyone in sight is not as funny as you may think Miss.” I eyed her and threw a disbelieving look in his direction. The goofy smile on his face was all the confirmation I needed.
“Mister Tucker, will you please leave the room so that I can do the examination?” she waved her hand toward the door.
“I’ll see you later, okay?” he asked me while ignoring the death glare emanating from Nurse Becky.
“During visiting hours Mister Tucker.” The nurse added.
“Later?” he asked still unsure, I nodded and shot a look at the scary nurse.
After a few questions and changing of bandages the doctor entered with a smile showing off perfect white teeth.
My hand lifted and then I felt something cold on my fingertips. What on earth? I tried to pull my hand away but the grip on it was too strong. I opened my eyes carefully and looked down at my hand. Red paint covered a few nails, when I lifted my eyes Megan’s grin made me smile.
“No way in hell my bestie is seeing a sexy guy each night and her nails aren’t done… Good to see you’re awake.” She winked.
“Great to be alive… But red really? I thought you said red was and I quote ‘only for the real desperate girls’ like you?”
“Hey!” she swatted my shoulder and laughed, “You are desperate gelfling, you just don’t know it yet.”
I rolled my eyes at her, “Right, just like you. I guess we could have been twins.”
“But we are my sexy sister. We were separated at birth and joined again at school; see God knew one set of parents couldn’t handle both of us, that’s why he separated us.”
“Your…” I started but was cut off by male voice.
“Good Lord Bell, we need to fix that hair.” Tommy was carrying a small bag and a grin, “Can’t let Mister drop dead gorgeous see your all wild bed head yet.”
“As if he’ll ever see it,” I rolled my eyes, “Hi Tommy.”
“Bell, you seem to be more beautiful than the day I met you, maybe the lack of blood does wonders for you…”
“Or maybe it the excruciating pain in my side,” I countered and his eyes widened, “Tone it down drama queen, I’m fine.”
“Phew, you almost had me in a flat spin…” he waved his hand and remembered something, “Your hair darling that’s why I’m here…”
“And here I thought it was because you loved me…”
“Nah, I love your hair.”
Megan and Tommy stayed over an hour and gossiped about everything and everyone until I couldn’t keep my yawns to myself. They said a hurried goodbye and sleep took me in.
I lay awake for a long time after the doctor did some tests and the nurse left me alone. My eyes wandered over the fresh flowers on almost every surface and locked on the Tupperware filled with homemade cookies. If only I could get up and steal one okay maybe two… I tried to move but was pinned by tubes and heavy limbs… Okay if only I had telepathic power… move little cookies move… it was hopeless. My mouth was almost drooling when heavy footsteps entered the room. My eyes lifted to a clean shaven sexy Mr Tucker. Wow. And then my sight landed on a cup in his hands and longing took over.
“Please tell me that’s for me…” my eyes stayed on the cup and I licked my lips.
He raised it in my direction, “Nope, but you can have a sip.”
Desperate fingers grabbed the warm cup and the sweet latte satisfied my taste buds, a moan escaped my lips, “A little too sweet,” I said remembering my mother’s words “but it’ll do.” I smiled at him.
“Well I guess I’ll go without coffee today.” He took a seat, “How are you feeling?”
“Let’s make a rule, no more how am I doing or feeling questions. I’m fine and will be, that I promise you.” I pointed to the Tupperware, “Bring me that please?” When he placed it in my lap an excited feeling washed over me.
“Why are you so happy?” he asked. I opened the bin and a fragrance of freshly backed ginger cookies and crunchies hit my nose, I held it up to him, “Oh, this explains a lot, you’re a cookie monster…”
I smiled at him and took a bite, the ginger and coffee bursting in my mouth, “Guilty as charged. Take some; my mom said I should share…” I faked a pout and he laughed.
After a while of comfortable silence Tucker looked me over as if inspecting me.
“Do I pass the inspection?” I asked glaring at him.
“Sorry, I just… It’s just… You were almost dead and here you are eating cookies and laughing… I’m sorry, this is all my fault.”
“No it’s not.” I raised my hand when he opened his mouth, “I am thankful you saved me but this wasn’t your fault. I wasn’t afraid…”
“You weren’t afraid? You could’ve died…”
“I’m not afraid of dying.” I looked at my hands.
“What do you mean?” he asked confused and when my eyes met his, fear was eminent in them.
I sighed, but replied, “I died a long time ago.”
“What? Don’t say that! You are alive; you are very much alive… What on earth could make you think you died?” His tone was accusing and serious.
I faltered under his stare and pushed the bin with cookies away, I suddenly lost my appetite, “Yes, I’m alive, thanks to you, but I wouldn’t have cared either way if I died,” I focussed on my hands as I ignored his question, “So tell me are you afraid of dying?”
He narrowed his eyes in thought, “No… Not really.”
“And why is that?” I asked a little harsh my eyebrows arched.
“I have done more than most people my age has, I have seen things I’d rather like to forget…” he was quiet for a moment, “There’s nothing I regret, maybe some people I leave behind but we had our good times.” he wasn’t speaking to me anymore, he was talking to the thoughts flashing through his mind, “I guess I’ll miss my brother, but when I’m dead, it doesn’t really matter does it?”
“Then who gives you the right to preach to me?”
“In my profession I face life and death situations each day, you have to get used it, but I guess it’s only human to sometimes fear death.” He stared me down.
“Life is a beautiful lie while death is a sad truth… I’m more afraid of living than I am of dying .You can stop life but you can’t stop death, death is inevitable. Can I ask you if you killed that guy… my hostage taker?” I eyed him curiously as he took a deep breath.
“I…” he closed his eyes briefly as if in pain, “Yes, I killed him.”
“Then what makes you better than death? Your choice was made in who should live and die… You decided I should live, what makes you better than the man who staked me with a knife so that I could die. You see, death is an inescapable truth but life is just a lie keeping us from seeing the end game. In the end we all die, it’s the choices that define when, or how or where. And it’s always in the hands of someone, if it’s your own or someone else ‘s.”
His eyes went dark and his expression stoic.
“What makes your life less important than a man who was the cause of more OD’s than I care to remember, than the scum of the earth? Why should I have let him live and let you die?” I opened my mouth to answer but he silenced me, “If the situation were reversed, would you have stared into my eyes and let him pull the trigger knowing you could’ve saved me but didn’t do anything about it?”
I was silenced by his question, would I have? “Is one man’s life more important than another’s? If you haven’t killed his wife, would he have tried to kill me? Were your actions still fair, he was still a human being he was mourning the death of his wife and wanted revenge. He could have been the scum of the earth but he surely was a victim too.”
“Are you defending a man you know nothing about, a man who tried to kill you and take you from this earth away from your friends and family for some stupid revenge plot? Are you really that naïve?” His tone was harsh and the vein in his neck was almost about to pop. I hit a nerve.
“Naïve? That is what you think of me? Is it not fair to defend another man no matter what his actions? Maybe I deserved to die and you took that away from me… maybe I was meant to die and you played God!” I shouted and my breathing faltered.
He jumped up from his chair and it skidded over the floor, “Every fucking day of my life I live with the choices I make!” he shouted as he gripped his hair, “And now here I am living with another and you aren’t grateful for the life I saved for you?!” his voice bounced off the walls and I squirmed in my bed. He turned his back and walked to the door, “For some ungrateful princess you sure get excited about the little things in your life… like cookies.” He slammed the door shut.
His whole demeanour changed in a matter of seconds and I realized I was attacking a man who saved my life not merely a week ago. It wasn’t my purpose to attack him or his character I was searching for answers I couldn’t answer myself in over five years and I wished he understood my reason for bringing that up. I lay there for a while rehashing the whole conversation when my body drifted to sleep…