Chapter 23 | Is It My Fault?
When we arrive at the hospital, Jaxons parents are already here in the waiting area. Angie takes no time in rushing over to them both. I quickly follow behind her as my dad carries Jacob.
“What happened?” Angie says, worry all over her face.
“He um...” His mother begins. My stomach drops at her expression, and a million scenario’s go off inside my head. “He was jumped.”
“Jumped? By who?” Angie asks, small tears now falling from her dull blue eyes.
“We aren’t sure. We haven’t been able to see Jaxon yet, and someone called 911 saying they found him alone near an alley.” His mother has tears in her red eyes, indicating she has been crying for a while now. I slowly walk over to her and sit down beside her, placing my hand over hers.
“I am so sorry, Mrs. Reed.” I frown.
“Oh it isn’t your fault sweetie. This could have happened to anyone.” She says, probably not registering how this could potentially be my fault. If Jared had anything to do with this, I’m almost certain Jax will hate me for it involving him.
I notice Angie give me a look at the reply of Jax’s mom, and I ignore it.
“When will we be able to see him?” Angie asks.
“They said should be anytime now.” Mrs. Reed replies, looking back at the two doors leading to Jaxon, I assume.
“Addie, I’m going to take Jacob to the kid play room, alright?” My dad says.
“No, I wanna stay with Addie!” Jacob whines.
“It’s okay dad, I can keep him with me.” I open my arms and Jacob pushes himself down from dad, and then rushes over to me. I pick him up and sit him in my lap.
An hour goes by when Jaxons doctor finally greets us.
“How’s my baby? Can I see him?” Mrs. Reed says, immediately standing up from her seat. Everyone else stands up as well and I still have Jacob in my arms with his head resting against my shoulder.
“He’s going to be alright. A few cracked ribs, bruising, and some minor cuts other than one big gash on his forehead. He broke his nose, and almost his jaw, but that will heal nicely without needing to wire him shut. He’s going to be sore for a few of weeks. He has a fracture in his right leg and he will need a cast for a couple weeks, but he should be back to his self in no time.” The doctor smiles.
Mrs. Reed begins crying, half upset that he’s hurt, and half happy that he’s okay.
“Can we see him?” I ask.
“Sure, follow me.”
I try to hand Jacob over to dad who says he will stay in the waiting area. “No, I want to stay with sissy!” Jacob whines again. He probably wants to see Jax too.
“Alright, come on buddy.” I pull him back to my chest and carry him with me to Jaxons room.
When I walk inside, I see Mrs. Reed slouched over top of Jaxon, kissing his cheek. Angie is in the chair next to his bed with her hand interlocked with his, and Mr. Reed is standing behind his wife with his hand rubbing small, soothing circles into her back.
Jaxons eyes lift to meet mine, and I instantly frown. His face is blue and purple, and there’s a large Band-Aid covering the stitches on his forehead. His right leg is elevated with a bright neon green cast, and I slightly smile because I knew he would pick the most obnoxious color.
I try to give him a sad smile, but the only thing my face allows me to do is frown.
“Mom, can you please get me something to eat.” Jaxon says, his voice raspy and tired.
“Sure sweetie.” His mom leaves, and Jaxon gives his father a knowing look, which told him to escort his mom to the cafeteria. His dad leaves so Angie, Jacob and I are the only ones left in the room.
“Babe, what the hell happened?” Angie starts bombarding him with questions. “Who did this? Was it Jared? I’ll kill him. What a scumbag, as if he didn’t do enough damage to Rebecca and Addie. Why are you so calm right now? Say something.”
“Can you give me a chance to?” He slightly chuckles, but winces instantly. “Crap, can’t laugh. Ribs.”
Angie frowns, but waits patiently for his answers.
“Jared wasn’t there, but one of the guys did give me a message.” He says, pushing the button on his bed to allow him to sit up straighter.
I feel my stomach drop.
“Well, what was the message?” Angie pushes.
Jaxon gives me a sad look, before letting out a breath. “Stop the trial.”
My eyes slightly widen, and Angie’s face turns red. She snaps her head in my direction and I know what’s about to come.
“I knew this had something to do with you. Dammit Addie, I wish you never would’ve went to that party or talked to Jared at all. Then all of this wouldn’t even be happening.” She sighs in frustration.
I blink at her a few times as hurt begins to build inside my chest.
“You... You think this is my fault?” I softly ask.
“Well, I mean... you did bring Jared onto that dance floor to make Shane jealous. You were all over him.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Angie blames me for all of this?
Is it my fault?
“Well I’m sorry I’m not a mind/personality reader. Excuse me for not knowing Jared was a psychopath.” I glare.
“Babe, it isn’t Addie’s fault. It could have happened to any other girl, and you know it. Stop lashing out at her just because you’re upset that I got hurt. Please.” Jaxon says, reaching out to grab her hand.
Angie glances at Jaxon, and then brings her sad gaze back on me.
“I’m sorry.” She says, wiping at her eye as a tear falls. “I know it isn’t your fault. I’m just mad.”
“I’m mad too Angie.” I reply. “We all are.”
Jacob suddenly picks his head up off my shoulder and looks into my eyes with a frown on his face.
“Jared hurt you sissy?” My eyes widen and I curse myself for deciding to keep Jacob with me. He didn’t need to hear any of this. I actually thought he was asleep against my shoulder.
“Um, no bubba. Everything’s fine.”
Jacob nods, and then turns his head to finally look at his surroundings.
“Jax...” Jacob begins to frown deeper, and I notice how scared he looks while seeing Jaxon in the hospital bed.
“Hey buddy, don’t you worry about me I’m fine. Just some boo-boo’s.” Jax forces a smile.
“Big boo-boo’s.” Jacob comments and I can’t help but slightly smile at how cute he is.
“Don’t worry, when I’m all better I’ll come over so we can play race cars.” Jax says, causing Jacob to smile wide with excitement.
I notice Angie smile too, and I give Jaxon one last look. It’s like he can read my mind as I give him an apologetic smile, and he nods at me before I say I will give he and Angie some alone time before his parents get back from the cafeteria.
My dad, Jacob and I get in the car and I explain to my dad what all happened to Jax. I didn’t tell anyone that I discreetly had my phone in my one hand behind my back, recording what Jax said about the guys who jumped him and the message they delivered. I didn’t even tell my dad.
I don’t know why I began recording these things, I guess I’ve seen one too many court shows and remembered how recordings and evidence can really make or break a case. Right now, I need anything I can get to put Jared where he belongs. He may not be there for as long as I like, but even a couple years behind bars should give him the time he needs to sort his life out and maybe get some sort of counseling.
Jared just turned eighteen, as he failed sixth grade and was kept back a year, so they might even try him as an adult depending on how things go.
My dad told me he would relay the information to Officer Bernard, and to our lawyers. With the trial soon approaching, our lawyers have been working really hard to build a strong case with the help of Officer Bernard.
I hope that with Rebecca’s testimony and both her and Jaxon’s recordings, I will have just enough to win.
I need to win.
Angie stayed with Jaxon overnight at the hospital, which I assumed she would do. My mom came home and cried at the news of what happened to him. After everything that has happened with me and now with Jaxon, I’m not surprised at how scared and worried she feels.
I give her a hug, and reassure her that soon all of this will be over. We watch a movie as a family, and now I’m lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.
I peer over toward my phone and press the home button, checking the time.
Suddenly, my phone lights up again with a text.
Shane: Come out onto the porch.
I furrow my eyebrows, but silently get up and out of bed. I pull a cardigan over my tank top and slip on my pair of fuzzy slippers. I quietly open my bedroom door and practically held my breath the entire way down the stairs. If my dad were to wake up, I’d be dead.
Once I make it safely down the stairs, I head over toward the front door and try my best to make no sound as I unlock it. I slowly pull the door open and quietly shut it behind me.
“What are you doing here?” I say just above a whisper.
“I needed to see you.” He instantly reaches out and pulls me in for a hug, letting my head rest against his chest as he runs his hand lightly through my hair.
“I’m fine.” I smile, tightening my arms that are around his waist.
“I know, but still.”
I know he feels sad about what happened to Jax, and he probably already knows that it has something to do with Jared and the trial. He probably feels as though I would get upset with myself, since all of this started with me. I love the fact that he is willing to check up on me, even at such an insane hour.
We stay like that, wrapped up into each other, before we go and sit down on the porch chairs.
“Wait, why aren’t you sleeping?” He asks me, a slight smile on his face.
“Can’t sleep.” I shrug, looking away from his gaze.
“Are you okay?” His smile turns into a look of concern when I glance back at him.
“Yeah it’s just...” I begin.
“Angie. Today she said that all of this is my fault, but then Jaxon told her it wasn’t and she apologized.”
I frown as I look down at my lap. “What if they actually do blame me for all of this?” I worry.
Shane stands up and steps over to me. He kneels down in front of me and takes my fidgeting hands into his strong ones.
“She probably only said that in the heat of the moment. She’s pissed off because of Jared, we all are. She shouldn’t have said it the way she did, but I’m sure they don’t blame you. If they do, then they are shit friends.” He says, confident with every word.
“I’ve known Angie my entire life. She’s my best friend.” I say, trying to defend her. “I can see why she might feel that way, hell even I feel that way sometimes.” I admit.
“If she’s your best friend, then she knows deep down that this isn’t your fault at all. You know it too.” Shane says, lightly bringing his hand to my chin making me look at him in his eyes.
“Right?” He raises an eyebrow.
Did I believe that this wasn’t my fault? I mean I did yank Jared onto that dance floor, granted I didn’t even know who the hell he was, and I was drunk... but I still initiated the entire thing. If I was sober, there is no way I would have grabbed Jared, or any guy randomly for that matter. I’m far too self-conscious of myself.
It isn’t my fault. Jared is the one at fault here, nobody else.
Immediately after I reply, Shane brings his face to my own and crashes his lips onto mine. The kiss is sweet, yet passionate. It holds a lot of emotion that even I’m not prepared for. His hand goes from caressing my cheek, to the back of my neck, deepening the kiss entirely.
Our chests are pressed together so tightly, that the only thing in-between us is our clothes.
In that moment, nothing else seems to matter. Suddenly nothing else is as important as this kiss. Not Jared, not the trial, not my parents who could wake up at any moment, not how late it is... Nothing.
Minutes go by, and we finally pull apart to get a dose of some oxygen.
Shane rakes his eyes over my body and I blush at the realization that I have a very small pair of shorts on, exposing my legs and thighs.
There is a small amount of lust in his eyes, but what overpowers that is a look I have never seen before.
He brings his eyes back to my own and smiles. “You’re so beautiful.”
My cheeks redden, but I can’t help the small voice inside my head screaming, liar.
“Thank you.” I look down to my lap again. I don’t have enough confidence to keep his intense gaze.
“What is it?” He asks.
“Nothing.” I smile up at him. “It’s getting late though...” I trail off.
“You want me to go?” He slightly frowns.
“No! Of course not!” I quickly reply. “It’s just,” Shane cut me off.
“So let’s just sit here together, all night if we want. It’s not like we have school tomorrow. You can go back inside before your parents wake up.” He smiles.
I look at his perfect smile with his bright white teeth and small dimples around his lips. I smile back instantly and forget anything else that I had been thinking about.
I hate how he does that to me. He just makes me forget about anything when I’m with him, like nothing bad can ever happen, or nobody can ever hurt me. I feel safe with Shane.
And that terrifies me.