The Defendant

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Chapter 17. A Gift

A constant beeping sound filled my brain as I slowly emerged from darkness. My mouth was dry and my abdomen was hurting badly. My muscles felt weak and I struggled to pull my eyelids apart. At first everything was fuzzy but after blinking a few times my vision began to clear.

The room was dark, the only light the glow from the machines next to me. I furrowed my eyebrows as I tried to remember what was going on. A sharp pain slashed through my head and I winced, closing my eyes and grabbing my head. That’s right, I thought, the accident. I opened one eye and saw a glass of water. Slowly I reached out and managed to grab it, guzzling greedily, water leaking from the sides of my mouth.

My poor car was probably totaled. I set the glass down as I began to asses my injuries. My right arm was bandaged tightly, some bruises blossomed over my skin. I wiggled my toes and was relieved that everything seemed to be moving. I reached up and touched a huge knot on my head, wincing slightly. Finally I looked down into my hospital gown and saw my middle was covered with huge bandage. Seems the damage was pretty extensive. I’d been stupid though, driving off when I was so emotional.

From across the room a soft grunt/snore sounded causing me to jump slightly. I narrowed my eyes barely making out the rumpled form of a person sleeping upright in an uncomfortable chair, feet propped up in an identical chair. I glanced around and found a switch, turning the light above me on. The light threw the sharp planes of Wes’s face into view and my breath hitched.

He was here. After all the horrible things I’d said to him, the way I’d pushed him away. He really was here watching over me. My lip trembled slightly as I watched the light dance across his sleeping face. He let out a small grunt/snore again and I stifled a giggle. As if sensing me watching his eyes flew open suddenly. His stormy greys met my blues for a moment.

“You’re awake.”

Even though it didn’t sound like a question I nodded. He stayed still in his chair, studying me intently. I fidgeted with the blanket draped over me. “Why are you here?” My voice sounded scratchy even after downing the water. In the blink of an eye he was up and beside me, his fingers curling around mine, pulling my hand gently to his chest. I could feel his heart pounding.

“You gave me a real scare there babe. You were hurt pretty badly and...” he made a slight chocking sound as he held back his emotions, “And I’d never forgive myself if something happened to you.”

My eyes burned slightly as I continued to look at him. With him closer I could see the scruff along his jaw showing that he hadn’t shaved in a while. Under his eyes were slightly blue tinged as if he hadn’t been sleeping. I reached up and cupped his cheek gently. The rough texture of his scruff rubbed against my palm as his eyes watered slightly. “I was so angry....”

“You had every right to be. And we’ll talk about it later but for now I want to call your nurse in. You’ve been out for a while and I’m sure they’ll want to talk to you and check you over.”

Before I could respond he reached over and pushed a red call light. It beeped before a polite voice asked what he needed. He told her I was awake and the voice disappeared. “Wes, why don’t you go home and get some rest? I’ll be fine and we can have that talk tomorrow.”

With a small smile he shook his head. “If you think I’m leaving then you took an even bigger bump on the head than I thought. Besides, I promised your dad I would stay and keep an eye on you.” The door opened and a women in scrubs walked in with a smile. “I’ll just go send everyone a quick text to let them know the good news.” He squeezed my hand with a wink before heading out the door.

The nurse stopped by the side of my bed and smiled wider. “How are you feeling dear?” She asked kindly. She reminded me of my mother, her skin the same chocolate brown, her hair braided and pulled away from her face.

I touched my head lightly. “My head hurts pretty badly.” She nodded sympathetically before untucking my blankets. She asked me to move my toes and feet before bending me legs gently, checking if I had any pain.

“Well Olivia, I’m Lucinda and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Do you know why your here?”

I nodded slowly. “I was in a car accident. I was going too fast and not paying attention, I drove off the road.”

Lucinda smiled at me and reached out to gently pat my hand. “The damage was pretty bad, though better than it could have been. You broke a rib which punctured your lung. The doctors had to do surgery to set it and patch you up but your oxygen levels have been great. You fractured your wrist and gave yourself quite the concussion but overall you should heal ok. Now, let me get you some medicine for the headache and I’ll speak to the doctor about maybe getting you something to eat.”

“Oh please,” I said, realizing then how hungry I was. Lucinda checked the machines, writing down a few numbers before heading out the door. As soon as she left, Wes slipped back in.

“Your parents will be here first thing. They were releaved to hear your awake. Your mom especially.... she’s been.... pretty scared.”

My eyes began watering again as I thought about my parents, my sister, and even Wes. I could tell how shaken he was. “How long have I been out?”

Wes ran a hand through the back of his hair. “About 2 days.” My mouth dropped open. 2 whole days!

“And you’ve been here....”

He shrugged gently, “From the moment I got the call.” The beeping of the machines filled the room as we continued to look at each other. He’d stayed here for 2 days, even after the things I’d said. The way I’d thrown his past mistakes in his face. My eyes burned with unshed tears.

“Wes, go home. You can’t stay here. You need sleep and... and a shave.” He chuckled slightly. He turned and settled back into the chairs he’d been in.

“One more night won’t hurt. It’s just a few more hours before your parents will be here and then I’ll go home and take care of all that,” he said with a lopsided grin. My chest felt tight as I watched him. He wanted to be here, keep an eye on me. He’d stayed for days. As I watched him try to settle back into the chairs I pulled back the covers over me, scooting to the side of the bed.

“Come on then.”

He furrowed his eyebrows. “No Liv, babe, just get some rest. I’m fine,” he gave me another small smile and I shook my head slowly as I rolled my eyes.

“Just get over here before I have to come get you myself.” He hesitated a moment before standing slowly. As he reached the side of my bed he kicked off his shoes. Nimbly he laid next to me, our faces inches apart as he settled in and I covered him.

“Your nurse will kick me out in a minute, you’ll see.”

I couldn’t help but reach over and run my fingers through his silky blonde waves. He let out a small sigh before gently resting his arm on my hip. “I thought I lost you for a moment there, didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said shakily. I continued to run my fingers through his hair, tugging gently at the strands. I could almost see the tension leaving him as his body sank into the bed next to me, his exhaustion claiming him within minutes.

I studied his face for a moment. My eyes trailing down the slope of his nose, across the wide expanse of his eyelashes, down to his slightly parted lips. I was still in shock about what had happened. I’d driven off the road and done some serious damage to myself. And the crazy thing was, all the anger I’d been feeling before that happened didn’t seem to be there anymore. Suddenly, it wasn’t important that Travis had my office, or that my ex coworkers knew I’d had an affair with Wes. Because despite it all, here he was with me in the hospital, keeping a vigil for my family so they could rest.

The door opened and Lucinda breezes through with a cup full of meds and a jello cup. She stopped by the side of the bed with a frown. “Here are some meds and a little something to eat. We’ll see how you do. The doctor would like to come around shortly and just check in with you but if you need anything just press the red call light.” She set everything down next to me before patting my hand gently.

“You’re not going to make him move, are you?” For some reason my eyes watered at the idea of Wes not being next to me. I looked up at her with a frown and she smiled slightly.

“As long as he’s not hurting you it should be fine. But you are still pretty banged up dear, so if he starts flailing around or anything he’ll have to move.” I nodded solemnly and she turned for the door.

I reached out and took the meds quickly, hoping they would help the constant pounding in my head. The jello I ate slowly, making sure to take my time so I wouldn’t be sick. When that was done I turned onto my side, facing Wes again. I could see his eyes moving rapidly behind his eyelids and I couldn’t help but smile. Tomorrow, we would talk. I kissed the tip of his nose gently. Tomorrow I would tell him the truth, that I loved him too.

************************

In the morning I woke up to the smell of Wes and the sound of movement behind me. Rubbing my eyes slowly I turned around to see Lucinda and a tall brunette doctor. “Sorry to wake you dear, this is Doctor Jensen and he wants to talk to you more about what happened.” I nodded, sitting up slowly. Next to me, Wes stirred, muttering something in his sleep.

“You has a close call there Olivia,” the doctor said. “As Nurse Lucinda told you we had to do surgery. The wound looks good though and your xrays just showed the one broken rib and fractured wrist.” He continued on about medications and things to be cautious of. He gave me a prescription for pain medication and told me to follow up with my regular doctor. By the time he was done Wes had sat up, swinging his legs off the edge of the bed to stand and stretch.

Once the doctor was finished and left he turned to me with a small smile. “Sorry about that, I should have just stuck to the chairs. I hope you got some rest.” I smiled as I reached out a hand. He took it gently between both of his. “So, I’ve got a few things for you.” He let go of me and turned toward a backpack on the floor by his chairs. “I didn’t want you to worry since you just woke up. I spoke with Tracy and got some things figured out. The first is this,” he set a nearly typed letter on my lap.

I glanced at it, the words swimming slightly before me. “What is it?”

He bit his lip gently as he shuffled form side to side. “It’s a letter of recommendation... from my father.”

I glanced up, eyes wide. Wes looked at me sheepishly. “I went to see him after you left. I got him to agree to write this for you. I also spoke to Tracy and she’s put in her notice.”

“Why?”

“So she can work for the most hardworking kick ass attorney of her own. Who just so happens,” here he pulled out another piece of paper, “to have her own office space.” This sheet of paper was a lease to an office space in a building downtown, not far from my last office. My jaw dropped open as I took in both sheets of paper.

“How... how did you do this?” I stuttered in amazement. “You want me... to run my own firm?”

He nodded. “I told you, your too smart to be working for someone else. You should be running the show and calling the shots. You were made for this.”

My lip trembled slightly as I looked at him. Warm tears slipped down my cheeks and the room was quiet except for the beep and hum of machines. Wes had gotten me a letter from his father. One that could open doors to clients and other business partners. The Alderman name was highly respected in the law world. He’d even gotten me my secretary and a new work space. He’d thought of everything. I had to tell him.

“Wes, this is amazing. I can’t believe you were doing all this for me. I honestly can’t believe you care for me this much and I know a big part of that stems from my past. But... I think I’m ready....”

He held up his hand, gesturing for me to stop. A confused look spread across my face. He’d just stopped my declaration of my feelings. Again, he reached into the bag and pulled out a Manila envelope. He placed it gently on the bed before reaching up to cup the back of my head, forcing me to look at him.

“I have one more thing for you. One more thing to tackle before we can truly start on this journey together.”

I swallowed roughly. “What is it?”

Wes took a deep breath in through his nose, his eyes closing before flicking open with determination. “Liv, I found your birth parents.”

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