One Night

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Chapter 20

I was hit by inspiration the day after Wayne proposed and I agreed. After he told me he had to go to run an errand and left, I sprinted to my computer, opened up the Sibelius program, and started a new project.

Oddly, when I was asked to give the project a title, I found myself writing “Hold the Night.” Too surprised by myself to change it, I went along with, and began writing the notes down in a frenzy, afraid to let the melody in my head disappear like it happened a few times before.

Before I could finish writing down the draft, my cell-phone went off. Annoyed, I grabbed it and saw on the screen an unknown public number. Frowning, I answered with an irritated, “Hello?”

“Good afternoon, Miss Sheridan,” said a grave female voice. “My name is Dr. Orlev. I’m sorry, but your fiance has been hospitalized and is asking for you. If you can come as soon as you can...”

My mind went blank as I tried to understand the words this stranger told me over the phone. First of all, her name was Dr. Orlev. Which was just weird. What kind of surname was Orlev, anyway?

Secondly, my fiance had been hospitalized. I had only one fiance I knew of. But why the fuck would Wayne be hospitalized? He’d been perfectly fine when he left a few hours ago. He’d been more than fine all night when we fucked each other like rabbits. Nothing had been amiss. Nothing.

Numbly, I murmured to the doctor that I’d be on my way and hung up. I looked down at the phone, my heartbeats quickening with every moment that passed. Then I didn’t even bother changing from my pajama shorts and tank top and grabbed my purse and left for the hospital.

It took me a while to find a parking spot because I could barely concentrate through the haziness of my mind. Still, I managed to park my car somewhat safely at the far corner of the parking lot, and then almost ran to the entrance doors. At the reception, I said I was there for Holden Knight, still thinking there must be some kind of mistake, but the receptionist didn’t think the same way, as she gave me directions as to how to get to the surgical department.

Surgical department. As though I was in some bad episode of Grey’s Anatomy or something.

I reached the surgical department easily enough and there asked one of the nurse as to where was Wayne’s room. I was directed by an extremely flustered nurse to his room, and it occurred to me that everyone there must be overly excited to have an Award Winning director in their care.

But I couldn’t care less about the probable excitement. Because when I walked through he door and saw Wayne lying there on the patient’s bed, his arms infused, an oxygen mask on his face, looking pale and tired, wearing the dotted hospital gown, I felt like someone hit me with a sledgehammer.

That was when the terror finally sunk in.

“What the fuck?” I whispered, eyes wide as I looked him up and down, trying to understand what I see. It was impossible.

Wayne shouldn’t have any skeletons in the closet.

He looked at me, his silver eyes trying to pierce mine as they usually did, as they did just this morning, but to no avail. He was too exhausted for that. Taking his oxygen mask off, he said softly, “Will you sit and listen to me, Blair?”

My heart sank to the floor. He never called me Blair when it was just the two of us. Never. Something ugly spread in my chest and my lower lip began to tremble. Still, I knew I had to listen. I had to understand what was truly going on here.

My knees shaking, I settled on a chair next to his bed and watched him, not knowing what to feel or think.

Wayne sighed and gave me a faint smile. “I’ve had a heart disease since I was born,” he told me, and I closed my eyes, unable to look at him anymore, wanting to shut of what was about to come but knowing I couldn’t. “I had a couple of cardiac arrests in my lifetime, but I managed to pass through them. When I was twenty-two, the doctors told me I probably had until I turn thirty. They said it was miraculous for someone in my condition to be able to live so long.”

Stop talking, I wanted to beg. Just please stop talking, you fucking liar.

“I decided to achieve everything I always wanted in that time-frame,” he said and even dared to chuckle. “I became a grade-A director, won an Oscar, befriended Ford and Liam, helped both of them with their personal issues. The only thing I lacked was a woman. A woman who would be different, a tough nut to crack. A woman who would be like a storm, a brand in my life that would be different from others.

“I’d known who you were when we first met two years ago,” he said, voice growing even more soft. “I’d known you were the Blair Sheridan, the girl who was my friend’s girlfriend’s sister, the daughter to the infamous Raymond Sheridan. I’d also known you were seeing someone called Darren Flint. When I saw you in that pub, all alone with a face scrunched in anger, I decided to have a chit chat. It couldn’t harm, after all, since you were supposedly taken and off limits in a certain way. But then we talked, and I never wanted a woman so bad like I wanted you. And when I had you, I felt like no sick heart was going to stop me from ever seeing you again.”

He chuckled. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about it when we met again. I’m sorry I hid it from you. But I wanted so badly to help you, wanted to spend more time with you, I didn’t want you to cower away from me like everybody else.”

My voice found me then. “Who else knows?”

“Liam,” he sighed. “And my parents, of course.”

So Ford and Emma didn’t know. My entire family didn’t know. Only me now because of him being hospitalized. “Why are you here, then? Did you have another cardiac arrest?”

His eyes found mine, searched for something I couldn’t give him just yet. Not now. “I had a heart attack when I arrived the hotel. I’m stable now, but the hospital refuses to release me. I need to have a surgery in a few hours.”

My eyes welled. “I hate you,” I told him in my dry voice, but my lip quivered. “I really, really do.”

“I know,” he sighed again.

“You make me turn all dependent, agreeing to marry you, when you’re in this condition,” my hands clenched into fists and I fought the urge to hit him. It was a tough fight. “I was fine before you. Being numb and emotionless was fine by me. But no, you had to swing back into my life and be all stubborn by claiming I needed to be changed because I didn’t fit into who you wanted me to be. You’re an asshole.”

He said nothing now, which was just as well. I was nowhere near finished.

“And I agreed, even when Liam told me you’re into fixing broken things and considered me a challenge. Now I get it. You can’t fix yourself, your sickness, so you tried to fix everybody else instead. You’re not fucking God. And I can’t believe you didn’t tell me after we’ve been nothing but honest to each other, or at least I was.” I laughed humorlessly. “Apparently, I was the only honest one here.”

“Blair,” his voice turned serious, but I refused to look at him. Instead I looked at the floor so he wouldn’t see the tears. He couldn’t. Not after what he’d just told me. Not after this. He played me this entire freaking time. I owed him nothing.

I was better when I was me, when I was Blair Sheridan, the cunning, snaky bitch who did everything in her power to play with her family members to her whims. I was better that way, so much better. And he ruined me.

One night two years ago didn’t change me. It broke me farther.

“Blair, please.”

I looked at him now, furious with what he wanted to put me through. Because I could see it all over his face; he wanted me there for him. He wanted me to wait outside the OR doors for him to come out safe and sound or dead. “I never took you for a selfish person, Holden,” I bit out bitterly, “but apparently you’re the most selfish person I’d ever known.”

“I promise you that I did everything so I wouldn’t have to die now,” his jaw clenched and I saw he was beginning to get pissed off now. Good. “And I didn’t propose to you because I don’t like you – “

“It’s not even about love or like or shit like that!” I burst out, jumping my feet in the process. “It’s about you not being honest with me, you wanting to tie me to you for at least a few more months until you die. It’s about accomplishing some twisted tale you built in your head about me or any other girl that would’ve crossed you at any given right time. You might still want to give me a new family, a new home with you, for my sake, but you don’t even give a fuck whether I’d be whole and okay when you finally pass to the afterlife. You just want to drag me under with you, you bastard!”

He looked like I slapped him. Then, when I expected him to beg to differ, he closed his eyes tightly and faced the room’s window. “You’re right,” he said softly. “I’m a selfish bastard. I want you to marry me because then I wouldn’t die completely alone. Because until then, maybe I would finally fall for you like I want to, and I’ll die in my beloved’s arms. Is that really so bad of me?” he rasped out a bitter chuckle. “I’m dying, Blair. I think I deserve wishing for something like that.”

“But you’re wrong, Holden,” I said, a sudden realization crushing over me. “You don’t love me. You never fell in love with me, and neither I with you. Don’t you think it says everything about our relationship?”

Because, I understood now, it did. If we could’ve fallen in love with each, we would’ve. But we didn’t. He didn’t love me and I didn’t love me. Sure, we cared for each other, but that’s where it ended. Love shouldn’t take so long to grow. I wasn’t an expert in this particular area, but a hunch told me that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t meant to love each other. Because if we did, then we wouldn’t be here, having this fight.

Maybe some extraterrestrial force was trying save me from getting hurt by losing him to a heart disease. Maybe it was his disease in the first place that prevented him from falling for me and, passively, me from falling for him too.

Before either of us could speak again, the door opened and inside walked Liam. He looked at Holden, who was still staring at the window, face inscrutable, and then at me, with my now-dry eyes and my own blank expression. It was a no-brainer what had just occurred before he walked inside. Still, he cleared his throat and looked at Holden. “The nurse said your surgery has been moved up to now.”

Holden nodded stiffly. “Thank you, Liam.”

Liam glanced at me before saying, “I’ll be in the waiting room.”

When he left, Holden turned to me. “Will you be there as well?”

And, despite everything, I gave him my own stiff nod before leaving the room.

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