Ryann ended up falling asleep in my arms, and laying next to her is where I’ve been. It’s the only place I want to ever be. Even if my back is starting to get stiff or my neck is aching, the pain is worth it if it means she is comfortable.
Looking up to the doorway, I see Dr. Turner walking in. “How is she doing today? I heard from ortho that she is no longer required to wear the sling. Has PT come down yet?”
Shaking my head, “No, not yet. They said sometime today, never gave a time frame.”
Feeling Ryann stir in my hold, she slowly sits up when she realizes Dr. Turner is in the room with her. “Good morning, Ryann.” Dr. Turner says as he brings up her information on the in-room computer. “How are we feeling today?”
“Like you’re about to tell me that I’m having another scan today?”
Dr. Turner smiles, “And hopefully, the last one. Everything looked great with the last one. This is just to confirm your body is still healing the way we want. The big concern....”
“I know, I know, my brain.”
“Any headaches?” The doctor asks.
Since waking up from the coma, Ryann has had frequent headaches. We were told that it could be a side effect from the medications used or her head trauma. And Dr. Turner wants to make sure the swelling isn’t returning and has been closely monitoring.
“No,” she answers.
“Good. When was your last headache?”
“Uhh, three days ago. I woke up with it, fell back asleep, and it was gone when I woke again.” Ryann answers.
Getting out of bed, I stretch out my back, allowing Ryann to sit up better and for the doctor to do his exam. It always the same exam. Checking her eyes and testing her flexes and strength as Ryann grips his hands.
“Good. Well, if you’re ready, we will get you whisked off.” Dr. Turner says just as a nurse rolls in a wheelchair.
I watch the nurse walk the wheelchair to the end of the bed before coming to Ryann to unhook her from her fluid line. “Can I walk?” Ryann asks as she stands from the bed.
“Now, Miss. Anderson, you know the rules.”
She may know the rules, but it doesn’t mean she’ll follow them. Like me, she’s not one for following the rules.
“How about to the elevator?”
Dr. Turner shakes his head with a slight smile, “Fine to the elevator.”
Ryann beams up at me as I lean down to place a swift kiss to her lips, “I’ll be here when you get back, and then we can change you out of this gown.”
“It’s a date,” she says against my lips.
I watch Ryann, Dr. Turner, and the nurse disappear out of the room. Ryann is talking with the doctor about the possibility of going home sooner if her scans are normal again today. I will give Ryann this, she is a determined individual and doesn’t take no as a final answer.
Looking around the room, I find Jen still sitting on the couch, spinning her rings. Her coffee cup is sitting on the little table at the end of the sofa, and she is staring off at some random spot on the white wall. Taking a seat next to her, I snap her out of her trance.
“What’s on your mind?” I ask when I know I shouldn’t be asking. I mean, do I really care what is going on in Jen’s little head?
If there is a slight chance of it affecting Ryann’s life, yes, yes, I do.
Jen looks at me with an almost expressionless look. It’s like she can’t decide if I’m being genuine or if I’m only asking because she’s Ryann’s sister.
“The nickname you call Ry, how did you come up with it?”
Arching a brow, I seriously doubt this is really what’s on her mind. “Umm....I thought of a nickname that would annoy the hell of her.” Jen looks at me more puzzled than she was three seconds ago. “She seemed determined to get away from me the first time we met in Indiana. It drove me nuts.” Ryann’s rejection hit hard that day. Women never rejected me, not until Ryann. Then I wanted what I couldn’t have. “She was driving me nuts, and I knew the nickname would drive her insane. It kinda just stook after that day.”
Jen lets out a soft laugh, “That sounds like Ry. She didn’t even want to go Downtown that day, but she ended up driving one of my friends and me because Max backed out at the last second. He got called into work. I ditched her, and me and Claudia went roaming around the area trying to steal a glance of you.” She pauses a moment as her pale blues focus on her fingers twisting against one another. “Max doesn’t have a cute nickname for me. Well....he’s never given me a nickname that was just for me. Like you do with Ry.”
Considering your husband is potentially a sick psychopath, that does not surprise me. Sighing, “Jen, I seriously doubt this is what is on your mind. You’re holding something back; I can tell it, and I know Ryann can too.” I pause a moment as I look out of the bedroom door and see Samuel still standing guard with his hands firmly clasped in front of him. “What’s going on?”
“Did I cause Ry to go into a panic attack earlier? With our dad?” Jen’s voice is small, like a timid child and deflecting my question. “I know our father doesn’t deserve Ryann’s time, but he wants to try.”
“And I think Raymond needs to understand that he’s going to have to wait for Ryann to come to him when she’s ready. I don’t think you fully comprehend the negative impact your dad has done on Ryann. I saw it. I saw it with you too.”
Jen whimpers as she quickly wipes away her tears. “I know. I’ve was awful, but I’m trying.”
“And I think that’s the difference between you and Raymond. You’re the one trying, Jen. Can you answer a question for me?” I ask softly. “Why the sudden change of heart? You went from someone insinuating that your sister was pimping herself out to the elite of Hollywood to sitting in her hospital room and defending her. Why?”
Jen flinches slightly, “You heard that?”
Sitting back on the couch, I rest one leg over my knee, “Jen, I heard more than Ryann realizes. When it comes to your sister, I’m very much entuned to her emotions. I knew when she got off the phone with you. I knew when she got off the phone with Raymond. I also knew when she was dodging phone calls or dealing with Pearl. I know Ryann better than any person.”
“Better than Max?”
I feel my jaw tick at the mention of his name, “Better than your husband.”
Jen sighs again as she pulls her cellphone out of her front pocket and immediately hits silent and ignoring her husband’s call. “I lied earlier.” I arch a brow. “I wanted to talk with Travis about something.”
Jen starts to flick her nails, and I catch Samuel peaking in. I wave him in because I need a witness for whatever the fuck she has to say. Once Jen senses him, she tenses as her eyes go wide, watching him close the door behind him.
“Jen,” I urge, “What did you lie to me about?”
“I want to explain something first,” she clarifies with the click of her nails flicking against one another again. “I was in love, and I thought he was lying.” Okay, she’s losing me now. “I’ve never, ever believed those rumors back home of her selling herself and corrupting the boys at our school. I was pissed and bitter and when I saw the news articles of her shielding you....the type of protection she was giving you, she doesn’t do that with everyone. I knew.....urghh....I saw that and got pissed, and I ran with my emotions.”
So many fucking questions are running through my damn head right now. “What the hell are you talking about?” I bark. “Your sister is a very protective person. Especially to those she loves.”
Jen shakes her head, “Not the men. That’s a rarity. Ever since Jamie inflicted his damage, she doesn’t trust men easily. She may befriend them, but in the back of her mind, there is this fear that won’t allow her to trust them.”
“And you what? Wanted to ruin the fucking trust she had in me?” Even if I had no clue what trust I had with her, knowing that Jen attempted to put doubt into Ryann’s head pisses me the fuck off.
Looking away in shame, “I was bitter.......”
“No, you were fucking vindictive,” I interject. “You keep saying that you were bitter, but you can’t keep using that as a damn excuse.” I snap.
Jen starts to shake her head frantically, “But that is how I was feeling. I didn’t know. How could I when Ryann shut me out? She stopped talking to me altogether. What was I supposed to do?” What the fuck is she rambling on about? It’s almost as if she’s having a conversation with herself.
“Jennifer,” I bark. “What are you talking about?”
Her body trembles like it’s about to explode with nerves, “Benjamin Arnold approached me shortly after being elected Sheriff. He wanted to talk with Ryann regarding Jamie, and......” Shit, I see where this is going. “Max. When I told him she ran away to Cali, he told me it was probably for the best. Then he started questioning me. Asking me all of these weird questions about Max and if I could remember certain things from High School. But each time he approached me, I gave him the same answer. Every single time I told Benji he was lying and that Max would never do anything to hurt Ryann or anyone. I believed it. I really did. I thought Max really did love me and my family. I thought he truly cared for Ry.” She rushes out, pausing to catch her breath. “About eight months ago, Benji told me that there was another girl who came forward.”
I’m pretty sure my mouth is on the fucking floor, “What are you saying, Jen?”
She starts to sob, “Ry isn’t the only one from our school. There was someone else. She was in my grade, and I had no clue. I had no fucking clue. If I really think about it, there were signs, and I ignored them, and I married a fucking monster.” She spits the last part with so much venom that I’m not sure Max will even be alive for me to avenge Ryann. Jennifer may already be doing it on her sister’s behalf. “I gave that flash drive to Benji because I knew my husband would be on there. I knew he was on the videos. I could tell by the still frame because I bought him those shoes for his birthday one year. I had no clue, Thomas. At the time, I had no fucking clue. If I did, I wouldn’t have dated Max or married him. You have to believe me. Please.” She pleads with her sobs.
I just stare at Jen in disbelieve. I’m not sure how to comprehend what the fuck she just told me because I’m pissed and still flabbergasted that Jen could treat her sister the way she did for so fucking long, knowing the rumors were not true. The hardships that Jen subjected Ryann to should’ve never of fucking happen.
“Why should I believe you?” I question with a challenge. “For all I know, this is all some fucking game that you and Max are orchestrating. I don’t trust him. I never trusted him. Why should I trust you?”
“You....you don’t know him. You have no clue how good he is at manipulating a situation in his favor.” Jen stutters between her sobs.
Crossing my arms across my chest, I arch a brow, “I don’t need to know Maxwell when I’m hearing someone yell out for Max to stop. Over and over again. At times she’s screaming at the top of her lunges for help. And when Ryann wakes....”
Jen begins to sob uncontrollably, “Stop. Please!”
“Why? They didn’t when your.......”
“WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY?” Jen screams. I’m being an emotionless prick, but I want my point to be made, and I need to know if this is all some con show starring Maxwell and Jennifer. Making eye contact with Samuel, he’s standing straight with his arms crossed across his chest, not blinking, and watching Jen like fucking pray. “If I could, I’d go back in time and fix all of this.”
I can’t help but scoff. I’ve said the exact same saying, but I’ve never realized how fucking annoying it was to hear it. “That’s a loaded statement.”
Jen frowns as she wipes away her tears. She shuffles on the couch to sit straighter with a little more confidence and annoyance, “It’s not a loaded statement. Don’t you dare....”
“Judge you based on your actions?” I say dryly. Jen’s frown deepens. “Don’t sit next to me, in Ryann’s HOSPITAL room, and attempt to play the damn victim. That ship has long since sailed.” I state evenly in an attempt to keep my voice from reaching a violent level. “And we will not be buying this bullshit any longer.” And I’m done with this conversation because if I don’t take a moment to gain my composure, Ryann will sense something is wrong as soon as she is wheeled into the room.
“I’m.....” Jen lets out an exasperated breath. “I wasn’t trying to play the victim card. I...erm...I wanted to tell you what I knew. That Benji is working on charges. Not only for Jamie but for Max as well.” She pauses a moment as I catch her looking down at her phone. Max’s name flashing across the screen of her phone again, and she easily ignores the call once more. “Well, I guess charges have been brought up against Jamie already, but I guess he’s ready to talk. And Jamie is Jamie and looking out for only himself. He’ll rat out Max if he has to.”
Also helps that Jamie pissed off all the wrong people who know how to bring your world-shattering down around you.
With Allison Drake managing to dig up a past that was so eagerly hidden, the rumor floating around....yes, I hear rumors too. More women have come forward in implicating Jamie in sexual violence charges or some sort of misconduct. I haven’t talked with Travis to see if there is any truth to those rumors. I’m not sure I’m really interested in splitting my attention further and down an unnecessary rabbit hole.
Ryann isn’t going to testify if she’s approached, even if the statute of limitations aren’t up. She’s won’t testified or press charges. She’ll want everything to be handled discreetly, which won’t happen. Not with me at her side, and not with Jamie talking to any media outlet that is still willing to give the piece of shit the time of day.
And I think a lot of her reasoning has to deal with the fear and judgment she’ll receive from society. She came forward once before and was harassed and ridiculed for speaking the truth.
My gut tells me Ryann won’t be eager to step into that light, not again.
“How long have you known Max was involved?” I watch Jen chew on her lip as her eyes nervously dart to Samuel. Snapping my fingers, “Hey, don’t pay attention to him. I’m the one asking you the question. How long did you know Max was involved with what happened to Ryann?” I ask again, but this time slower.
“I.....I...erm......before Jamie attacked Ry in Cali.”
Feeling my jaw and every muscle in my fucking body tense, “I asked you this once. I’ll ask one more time. Who in the hell sent Jamie after Ryann?”
Jen’s eyes dart towards the door at the sight of movement. Following her eyesight, I see Betty just outside of the door. Great, just when I’m about to get the damn answers I want, Betty makes an appearance.
Feeling a harsh hand gripping against my forearm, my attention is brought back to Jen as she leans in closer, “You need to question your publicist.”