Escaping too You ~book 3

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Chapter fourteen

When I woke this morning, I was feeling slightly refreshed and extremely sore. My neck is killing me. My back is killing me. Needless to say, I feel like I’ve hit fifty. Everything between Travis and I has been smoothed over. Both of us had so much pent-up rage that when we finally snapped, we snapped on each other. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and I want to hope it will be the last time, though.

I’m not sure what would have happened if Samuel weren’t present or if he didn’t intervene. I could be paying for damages done to the hotel room and nursing some wounds instead of focusing on what is right in front of me.

Taking care of Ryann. I slipped back into my selfish asshole prick-self last night, and if Travis hadn’t stopped me, I wouldn’t have stopped at just one.

Stopping off at a local breakfast café, I pick up an array of food—everything from yogurt and fruit to pancakes. I have no idea what anyone will be in the mood for, and whatever doesn’t get eaten, I’m sure Jen or Betty will snack on once they visit today.

Samuel is also tagging along and taking Heather’s post outside of the room so she can get some much-needed rest. Jonathan is currently on a special assignment and looking into an offshore account that Jamie transferred ten grand into before withdrawing it and depositing it into another account. Making me believe that Jamie wasn’t working alone.

And then there is Jonathan pretending to be Val. Don’t ask me how that works. Something to do with a computer system and it not really being Val’s number, but it is Val’s number. I honestly don’t know, and Samuel and Travis explaining it was hurting my thought process. Plus, it’s way too early in the morning to try and understand anything complex.

Rounding the corner toward Ryann’s room, I’m met by Heather, who gives me a welcoming smile, “Mr. Copeland, did you sleep well?”

“It was decent. How is she doing this morning?”

Heather beams at me, “Fantastic. The doctor came in early this morning and took her sling off. She’s pretty happy about that. PT should be in later today to teach her some exercises to help with muscle stiffness and to help rebuild some of the muscle she may have lost.” She then turns her attention towards Samuel, “I see you came.”

Samuel nods, “I’m a man of my word. But I’m here to relieve you, so you can go and get some rest.”

Heather nods as if she’s been given a command and leaves her post that Samuel immediately takes up. Walking into the room, I find Val sitting at the end of Ryann’s bed with her feet curled under her and Xayla sitting in the armchair beside Ryann. Ryann’s face splits into an eager grin as soon as she makes me.

“Thomas!” She exclaims, “You’re late.”

Laughing, I set the bag of food down on the floor and the new overnight bag on the couch with the pillow I stole from the hotel. “Sorry, breakfast took longer than I thought, and I had to wait for the stores to open,” I say, walking over to her and placing a kiss to her lips.

“Oooh,” she coos, “What did you get?”

Smiling against her lips, “I got you breakfast, a new overnight bag, and that pillow you requested.”

“Hmm, and the deodorant and change of clothes?”

Chuckling, “And I bought you deodorant and a change of clothes.”

“I love you.”

“And I love you. Are you ready to eat?”

I watch her lean to look around me with a bright smile across her face, “It smells delicious; what did you get?”

“Anything and everything.”

I hear Xayla shuffling through the bag of food as she starts to lay everything out. “Dear God, man. Are you trying to fatten me up before our carpet event?” Looking over my shoulder, I practically see her drooling, “Ohh, fuck it. That’s what Spanx are for.”

Laughing, I turn my attention back towards Ryann, “Babydoll, what would you like?”

Ryann hums, “Can I have some fruit, yogurt, and a pancake.”

Nodding my head, I make her up a plate before handing it to her. We all fall silent as we sit around eating breakfast, and the conversation falls to something cheerful and uplifting, and most of all, drama-free. Xayla is talking about coming back to New York with me as Val is talking about having her mom ship some of her painting supplies to New York so she doesn’t have to buy new supplies.

The only thing about that idea, though, is that I’ve already purchased Val a gift card to a local craft store that carries a collection of paints and supplies. Everything from watercolors to oil paints. And the supplies are limitless. She won’t know what to do with herself once she enters the store.

And Ryann, well, I think she’d prefer staying in New York than returning to California, and I can’t really blame her. Not with everything that has happened. A place she once thought was safe turned out to be just as dangerous as her hometown. But I’m afraid New York will become that for her too with Max here. All of the negative memories will start to drown out the good.

Maybe that’s why I’ve placed a call to her old therapist too. I want to make sure that Ryann has all of the support and resources that she’ll need while we’re staying here. And most of all, I need her to remember the good over the bad. I need those good memories to outweigh the bad ones.

As we finish our breakfast and discard our plates, forks, and spoons, I pull the blanket out from the top of the overnight bag that I bought this morning. “Babydoll, Val got you a gift.”

I say as I drape the blanket over her. “Oh, my, gosh. Thomas, you didn’t have to throw me under the bus like that. It’s for the both of you.” Cocking a brow, “Okay, fine. I got it for Ry. I couldn’t find the one you brought when I went to the salvage yard. So, Heather took me to a local store, and I found this one. Not exactly the same, but I thought you’d like it.” Val says. I catch her looking down at my wrists. Her eyes ignite into an emotional glossiness as she fights back tears. Looking down at my wrist, I see a sliver of silver poking from under my sleeve. Val turns back towards Ryann, hiding behind her smile, “I hope you like it. You know I can be shit at gift-giving, and I wasn’t sure in this situation if....”

Ryann cuts Val off, “No, Valerie, I love it. Thank you so much.” Val beams at Ryann before engulfing her into a hug. “Anyway, Ry, if you don’t mind. I think Xayla and I should head back to the hotel.”

“What?” Xayla protests. “I’m not sleepy.”

Her excuse anytime she doesn’t want to leave.

“I was going to say you could come with me to the condo and help me buy some things for it.”

Xayla jumps to her feet with excitement, “On second thought....”

Waving my hands frantically, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I never said that Xayla could go with.”

Val points in my direction, “You never said Xayla could not go with.”

“Do not rack up a twenty-thousand-dollar charge again,” I warn.

Xayla pouts her lips towards me, “I’d never....Ohh, wait, there was this...okay, okay, I promise I won’t use your credit card this time.”

“Thank you.”

Looking up at the clock on the wall, it’s nearly nine in the morning, and I know at any second Jen is going to come crashing through the door and potentially with Betty. I have Val’s second gift in the bag for Ryann, and I’m not sure if she wants to be the one to give it to her or if she wants me to give it to Ryann. I think Val should be the one to gift it to her, but I’m not sure how openly they’ve talked about the miscarriage. I think Val’s goal is to keep Ryann as happy and laughing as much as possible and from thinking of the loss.

“Val, can I talk with you for a sec?” Val snaps her head in my direction, and I can tell by the angst behind her blues she all jittery with nerves. “Just for a second.” I urge again.

“Uh, okay, ya.”

Leading the way out of the room and around the corner, I catch her give Samuel a perplexed look as she passes him and nearly runs into my back as I come to a stop. “I have the gift that you got Ryann in the bag.”

“Ohh....”

I arch a brow, “It’s a very thoughtful and beautiful gift. She’ll love it.”

Val looks anxiously over her shoulder, her eyes starting to gloss over, “Do you really think so? I wasn’t sure...my friend makes jewelry, and I told her what it was for, and she came up with those two designs. The gems are real.” She admits. And that wouldn’t have been cheap. “She gave me a discount. Well, I guess a trade. She wants two portraits painted of her children.”

“They’re both beautiful. But I think you should give Ryann hers.” I tell her with hope.

“I...” Val trails off as tears start falling from her eyes. “I’m not sure I can.”

Twisting my lips off to the side, I pull Val into my chest and wrap her into a hug, “Val, I think we’ve both been playing the strong role.”

“No-no-no....no, I haven’t.” I feel her chest rattle with her words before she fully collapses into my arms and sobs into my chest. “I’m...I’m sorry. This-this wasn’t supposed to happen.”

I’m not sure if Val is talking about the accident or her finally breaking down. “Shh, you’re fine. It’s okay.”

Val shakes her head as she pulls away, “No, no, it’s not. I’m not supposed to break down like this. I wanted to be strong for Ryann and for you. I’m devasted about what happened, and each night I go back to my hotel, I sob into my pillow. One time Jona.....” She trails off, inhaling her words back in on a hiccup.

A small smile dances across my face. “Jonathan, what?”

“He just walked in on me sobbing. Is all.” Erm...ya okay. “Anyway, I don’t want her to see me crying because then Ryann will cry, and she’ll feel bad. And....”

“Val, calm down. You don’t have to give her the gift if you don’t want. I think it would be a good idea, is all. You two can cry and hug it out.”

I watch Valerie take her lower lip between her teeth and start to gnaw on it with contemplation, “Okay, do you mind if I give it to her when she is discharged? I’d like to do it in private and not in front of everyone. Which means,” she says pointing to my wrist, “that you’ll need to hide the bracelet.”

Pulling my sleeve over the bracelet, “Fine, but it’s going back on as soon as you give Ryann the necklace.”

“So, I can tell her in private, at the condo?”

“Of course,” I say, attempting to sound encouraging because I can sense the hesitation in her eyes. “Val, what are you afraid of?” I ask curiously.

“Oh, I don’t know. That I’ll sob like a freakin’ baby. Or that she’ll hate it.”

Laughing, I wrap her into another hug, “She won’t hate it. Plus, when you go shopping today, you can....” Pulling out of the embrace, I reach for my wallet and hand her the gift card from the art store. “Go shopping for yourself and get the supplies you need.”

Val’s mouth flops open, “You did not. You were supposed to be at the hotel sleeping. Not shopping.”

“Ehh, technically know the shop owner and pulled some strings and met her early this morning. But there should be enough on there to get you whatever you want and need.”

Again, Val’s mouth flops open wider. “How much did you put on this thing?” She asks as she pulls open the card with the gift card tucked securely inside. The receipt is the first thing that she sees, and as soon as she takes one look, Val attempts to push it back into my hands. “Oh, my, God! I can’t accept this. Thomas, I think your friend added one too many zeros by mistake.”

I shake my head as I push her hands back to her body. “Nope. I put how much I wanted on there, and you can spend as much as you want.”

“But this is enough to replace my entire art studio back home and then some. Like, what am I supposed to do when we go back to Cali?” She asks frantically. “I can’t ship all of the new supplies back.”

“No, but I can,” I say, pausing as I hear footsteps walking up behind me. Jonathan stops in his tracks as soon as we make eye contact, and he stands at attention. That or he’s afraid that he’s been busted because he’s supposed to be on an assignment, not here to pick up Val. She must have texted him. “Listen, Val, you deserve more than what I put on that card, but while we are here, I want to make sure that you have everything you need without shelling out money for it. I’ve asked you to stay when you don’t have to. This is my thanks for everything you’ve done for Ryann and me.”

Val smiles as she places the gift card and receipt back into the envelope. “Thank you, but I would have stayed even if you didn’t ask me.”

I eye her, “I thought you said you were going back to Cali?”

She shrugs a shoulder, “Nah, I was just saying that. I really planned on couch surfing again with family and friends.”

Rolling my eyes, I wrap an arm around Val’s shoulder and guide her back into Ryann’s room, with Jonathan following closely. Everything is slowly starting to fall back into place.

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