34 | Painful Decisions
The beeping sound of machines is the first sound I hear as I open my eyes only to be greeted with the cold sterile atmosphere of the hospital walls.
Weirdly enough, my body doesn’t really hurt as I expected it to after the car crash. After blinking my eyes open, I make out the vague outline of a middle-aged nurse in blue scrubs, jotting down something on the clipboard.
As if sensing my consciousness, she looks up with a wide smile and flashes me her pearly whites.
“Ciao cara, come ti senti?” I frown in confusion at the language that she’s speaking and watch her smile falter upon seeing my confused state.
She spews a few more words in a language that I presume is Italian and holds up three of her fingers frantically, waving them in front of my face.
What the fuck…
Did they admit me with lunatics or what? Where the fuck am I even? Shit, is this a mental facility?
“What on earth are you doing?” I croak out in confusion and watch her exhaling in relief.
“You speak English?” She speaks slowly pronouncing each syllable like I’m some child who doesn’t understand ABCD.
“Of course I do” I reply and rub my temples to ease the pain that’s starting to form.
“Do you remember your name?” She probes and I frown at her disorientedly.
“Yes, it's Phoebe Carter” I answer her and see her scribbling down something on her clipboard with her tongue sticking out in concentration.
“What happened? Like I know that I’m probably at some hospital but what exactly happened after the car crash?” I ask her, already fearing her answer.
“Ah, you remember the crash?” I nod my head before she continues, “Well nothing much happened, dear. A dog ran in front of your car according to the pedestrian who bought you in and the car next to you was driven by an intoxicated driver who’s currently inside the jail”
At least it wasn’t some planned hit.
“Then…?” I persist further.
“Then, the owner of the dog along with the pedestrian bought you here. There’s good news for you too. You don’t have any internal damage except for the small scratch on your forehead that you received. Also, there are no external injuries except for this” She points her pen at the left side of my face, and instinctively my hand flies to touch the left side of my forehead.
The smooth texture now felt slightly jagged.
“It’s nothing serious though. It will heal and the clotted skin will fall off within two days. Just avoid picking at it” She advises in her motherly tone.
“When can I leave?” I inquire and watch her smile falter.
“You can leave anytime you want. However, a young man was looking for you. He’s on his way here as soon as he was informed of your crash” I widen my eyes upon hearing this.
It must be Blaze. Shit no. I can’t face him. Diana might as well as have already told him everything.
“I’m leaving. I don’t need anyone to accompany me” With that said, I quickly scramble to get off the bed, this makes the nurse instantly alarmed as she rushes to my side.
“I can’t let you do that miss. It’s been just an hour since you were admitted. Maybe you should let someone accompany you home”
I quickly shoot her a glare and reply in a grim tone, “I’ll pay you ten thousand dollars if you let me leave without anyone noticing. I’ll pay you additional money too. Just let me fucking leave!” I wheezed out as my head starts throbbing with pain.
Her eyes widen when they hear the amount I was willing to pay her and quickly she seals her lips and that is when I knew that I have her.
’Money suckers. All of them’ I say to myself sullenly.
“Oh, also, I’m going to need a pen and a piece of paper” I request.
I always knew that God hated me. After all, good things never last in my life.
I regretted my decision as soon as the hotel valet handed me my packed suitcase, courtesy of the maid.
It’s funny how money can do such wonders. As soon as I paid the nurse a hefty amount of money from my card using the ATM booth outside the hospital, she sneaked me out of the hospital with a pair of fresh clothes which I instantly changed as soon as I reached the airport.
Sporting a beige-colored hoodie with a plain white t-shirt underneath teamed with a pair of black joggers, plain sneakers, and lastly a ’Guns and Roses’ cap, I looked pretty normal. Normal as in, I don’t look like some hospital escaped patient. The cap was doing a good job in concealing my face and at this time of the night, I don’t think anyone really cared who I was.
I stare at the unopened magazine dejectedly as the child in front of me plays with his toys.
I was now sitting at the airport, waiting for the next flight that leaves for Seattle. It was really easy to squeeze myself in one of the seats inside the airplane at such an odd hour of 4 am but as soon as the money started flooding in, the airport authorities kept their mouth shut.
As I said, money does work wonders…
Feeling over the top bored, I rummage inside my bag for my phone only to realize that I turned it off. I couldn’t risk Blaze finding out my location, knowing how influential he can be, he would’ve probably had one of his minions trace my location using my phone’s address.
Heck, I even went as far as to using my secret emergency debit card about which no one knows of so that I don’t get tracked by the excessive transactions I made with the hotel and hospital staff on my way.
I know that leaving Blaze so abruptly without any reason would absolutely be heart-breaking for him (That is if he ever loved me).
I snort when I realize that it’s a day before New Year’s Eve. But then again, since it’s already after midnight, so it’s safe to say that today’s New Year’s Eve. My mind travels back to the day when Blaze and I spent our Christmas together. I never thought that I’d ever spend my Christmas with someone that’s not Ava. It was such a lovely experience.
Just an experience…
I know that I’m probably making one the biggest mistakes of my life but maybe this is what love should be like. It’s all about sacrifice.
I look up from my blank phone screen and my eyes fall over a young couple who are snuggled close to each other like birds. The girl’s asleep whilst the boy is busy making sure that the girl’s face is comfortably resting over his chest. I keep on watching the scene like a fucking creep as tears gather inside my eyes.
I blink them back as I stare at the enamel floor. The overhead speaker announces that it’s time for us to board the plane that’s headed to Seattle.
I hastily wipe my eyes to appear normal and as people rise from their seats to form a line towards the entrance gate. I hesitantly power up my phone and suddenly, it starts beeping like crazy maniac, causing several people’s attention drawn towards me.
Heat creeps up my cheek as I quickly silent my phone at stare at in horror when I notice almost thousands of texts and calls bombarding inside my phone.
Only one name catches my eyes the most and I refrain from screaming. My voicemail inbox is filled with Blaze’s voicemails and calls. At least, there are four hundreds of them from him. How can someone even send so many texts?!
Blaze – Did you get lost finding the washroom?
The text was sent whilst I was busy talking with Diana. After that, series of texts are sent from him.
Blaze – What the fuck, amore?! Everyone’s at the table, even your parents. Where are you?
Blaze – Are you alright? Why aren’t you at the venue? Are you not feeling well? For God’s sake, call me!
Blaze – Phoebe! What the fuck is wrong with you? Why is your phone switched off?
The next few texts are all sent after a minute pause. I wasn’t surprised when I read a text where he mentioned my accident.
Blaze – Phoebe…Please don’t tell me you’re not the one involved in the accident on the lake avenue. FUCKING RESPOND ALREADY!
Blaze – I know that you’re probably inside the hospital now. I got a call from the hospital. Just know that I’m coming to get you
My breath gets hitched when I read the last text that was sent just a minute ago
Blaze – What did I do? Why are you leaving me? What is the meaning of that stupid letter? Are you being serious? Phoebe, please…don’t do this to us. I promise I’ll never do anything that will upset you. Is this about Diana? Did she say something stupid? Don’t believe a single word that she says. Please, just come back…I'm sorry for all the wrong things...Please, just come back, amore...
I could literally feel his desperation seeping through the text as I read through each and every line. My heart beats frantically against my chest as I try to keep myself in check. The speaker springs back to life again as it announces the passengers to board the plane quickly and I’m left staring at the check-in, contemplating the fact if I’m making the right decision or not.
Just when I’m about to take a step towards the escalator, leading to the airport exit, another text pings inside my phone, causing me to look down, and instantly I frown when I see that it’s from Ava.
Ava – What the fuck, man? What’s the meaning of all this?
My brows scrunch up in confusion at the absurd text but it’s all cleared when I see a news article attached with it. I click open the attachment and nearly fall like a blob of mud on the ground when I read the headline of the article.
’FAMOUS ELUSIVE BILLIONAIRE, BLAZE HUNTER SIGHTED LEAVING HIS UNCLE’S MASQUERADE BALL WITH HIS FORMER FLAME, DIANA PIETRO’
As if to prove the authenticity of the article, there’s a high resolution picture of Blaze with Diana at the venue, holding hands.
I couldn’t make out their expression. But it was obvious that they were in a deep conversation.
I felt like throwing up the entire contents of my stomach on the airport floor as I keep on staring at the picture with dismay contouring my face. A droplet of water falls on the illuminated screen of my phone, and that is when I realize that I’m shuddering with tears cascading down my cheeks.
Diana’s parting words flood inside my head, ’He’s better off without you’
Maybe she wasn’t lying after all. No matter what Diana did, she always loved him. I know that Blaze is not some stupid kid. He’s clever. If he’s smart, he’ll leave her just in time.
Looks like my work here is done…
I sniff as I turn to face the expectant face of the check-in desk crew. Slowly, I drag my feet to the entrance of the jet-bridge and show my ticket before walking down the narrow made-up passage.
As I near the entrance, I cackle at the irony of the situation. The last time I exited a foreign country, it was Monaco and I was desperately hoping to see Blaze but this time I don’t want to be anywhere near him.
I look back one last time to see the passage behind me all empty, half-expecting to see the man I love standing at the end of the aisle. But he isn’t there.
Shaking my head, I embark on the plane, sealing my fate along with it.
I gingerly knock my hand on the cold wooden door as I wait for the person on the other end to open the door.
The door opens to reveal her wearing a silk pink pajama with her now-straight hair loosely falling over her shoulder. A weird feeling hits me. Six months ago, I was here to console her after her break-up and now I’m the one who needs consoling.
“Pheebs!” She gasps loudly as she takes in my appearance, visibly wincing; I know that I looked like shit. I’m pretty sure that a twelve-hour flight doesn’t help anyone’s appearance, especially when you spend it doing nothing other than crying the entire flight!
“Hey, man” I respond weakly and dive straight into Ava’s outstretched arms. Her signature scent of vanilla overpowers my senses and for some reason, I take a deep breath to capture it. I’m pretty sure that I smell like chocolate bars and grapes with the amount of wine and chocolates I consumed during the entire flight.
“Come on in, come on in” She ushers me inside her spacious condo and I look over at the huge plasma TV to see ’Sex and the City 2’ playing.
She follows my gaze and tries her best to stifle her laugh as we watch Carrie embracing Miranda outside her little apartment in New York City.
Eventually, we both end up laughing despite the fucked up situation and she rests her hand over her hips to study my face.
“This is definitely not something I imagined to get myself acquainted with on New Year’s Eve. Still, I’m going to consider this as a fucking blessing because I really need someone to share tacos and pizzas with” Just like that, she always knows how to turn every situation lightly no matter how dense they are.
And I find myself thankful for having someone like her in my life.
I leave my suitcase on the left side of the door and settle down on the bar chair near the kitchen counter. She slides a box of pepperoni pizza in my direction as she pulls out two bottles of Budweiser from the fridge.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at your office party?” I ask her with a frown and welcome the pleasant taste of cheese stuffed crusty pizza.
“I don’t know. I didn’t feel like dressing up fancily just to attend some God damn party with raving maniacs. I mean what’s the big deal about celebrating to welcome another shitty new year that’s going to consist of the same bullshit that you basically went through over the last 365 days. Just doesn’t make any sense. Besides, you know I’m lazy” She shrugs nonchalantly and takes a swig from her beer bottle.
Typical Avalynn Hayes…
I smile to myself after what feels like ages due to the familiarity of the situation and take a huge gulp of my beer. I relish the sweet herbal aftertaste of the drink and look up to see Ava studying me with a thoughtful expression.
“Are we gonna keep on pretending that you don’t look like an absolute piece of shit and that this whole showing up at my house situation is really odd?” As always, she doesn’t beat around the bush and rests her hands on her hips.
“What? I can’t visit your house now?” I shrug nonchalantly and watch her rolling her eyes in exasperation.
Suddenly, I feel a ball of fur rubbing my leg and instantly jump with a loud shriek.
Oh my God
Purring near my feet is the most adorable white Persian kitten I’ve ever seen in my life. The furry creature looks up at me with its innocent doll-like sapphire blue eyes.
“Katzchen sweetie, you don’t scare people like that” Ava coos towards the cat as it makes its way to Ava’s crouching figure. She picks it up and I watch the cat with awe.
“Since, when the fuck did you have a cat? And why are you speaking pig Latin?” I burst out my questions and she looks at me incredulously with the cat patting her chest for her attention.
“Pig what? Oh my God, Katzchen’s German for feline you idiot!” She throws her head back laughing and the cat starts purring whilst eyeing us curiously.
“So, you literally named your cat, 'cat' in German? Besides, where did you get the cat even?” Her laughter adjourns after hearing my last question and she releases the furry creature on the ground.
“This is going to sound weird but it kind of appeared on my doorsteps out of nowhere inside a small wicker basket. You know how much I love cats, so I couldn’t resist adopting this one” She shrugs and takes a huge bite out of the stuffed taco from the plate.
“Do you think its Noah’s way of apologizing?” I ask warily whilst scrutinizing her expression closely. She pauses mid-chew and swallows down her food, making her face look like she ate some sour lemon.
“Huh, I highly doubt that he even knows that I like cats” She chortles spitefully and wipes her hand on the paper towel before reaching for her Budweiser.
“No offence, but good point” I grimace and clink my bottle with hers.
“None taken” Suddenly, she frowns and asks, “Want to tell me what happened in Italy?”
I sigh realizing that at one point I indeed have to tell her everything.
Yeah, yeah, I didn’t tell her the shady details of Blaze’s character
So I do
I tell her everything
She listens patiently to my pathetic ranting as I sniffle on the tissues. By the time I’m done with my rambling, there is a litter of tissues lying on Ava’s living room carpet messily and I make a mental note of cleaning that before I leave.
“Wow, that’s a lot to take in not gonna lie” She finally speaks up as I continue blowing my runny nose on the tissue.
“I just…Christ, I don’t know what to do about all this. First off, there’s the fact that there was a man in the cellar whom he might've tortured. Then there’s his possessive issue. For fuck’s sake, I don’t even know if this is toxic. I mean, what reference do I have to compare this shit with? He’s my first ever real serious boyfriend” I wail, sagging like a dying fish as she keeps on stroking my head that’s resting over her shoulder.
She sighs loudly as she looks up at the ceiling thoughtfully as if she’s trying to decipher some mystery. Releasing yet another sigh, she tilts her head to look down at my slouched form that's lying on her sofa.
“Ok, I’m going to be brutally honest, Pheebs. Your relationship with him is in a sense kind of toxic. Then again, I’ve never been on a long term relationship either. Even if I was, it usually was one-sided because I was always closed off. Although…” She was about to continue saying whatever she had in her mind but instead, ended up shaking her head as if trying to dismiss it.
“Look, all I can say is that he loves you-” I was about to interject but she shuts me down with a glare, “No seriously. I’m not that blind, Pheebs. He loves you deeply. Think about it for yourself, he listened to all your problems like an open ear. Who does that these days to be honest? Some of his behavior indeed sounds disturbing, but maybe he has a good explanation for it?
“What I’m trying to say is that there are always two sides of the story. What you did was extremely stupid, Pheebs. I mean no offence, a letter? A fucking letter? What is this, The Notebook? Oh no wait, that was in another movie” She goes thoughtful for a second before resuming, “Nevermind. It doesn’t matter. You both need to talk and sort your individual shit out – Face to face”
She waves her finger as if to make her point and I ponder over her words.
She’s right. We do need to talk.
“But what if I tell him that I love him and watch him reject me?” I ask whilst trying my best to not conjure up the mental image.
“At least then you’ll have a valid reason to move on!” She exclaims and I release a frustrated sigh.
“I don’t know. To be honest, I just need some time to process all this shit. Ever since Blaze entered my life, it has turned into a fucking tornado. I need to think my feelings through” I confess truthfully and watch Ava nodding in agreement.
“Good, do that. In fact, I think you could really use some space too…Just…Don’t give up so soon…” She sighs and suddenly a very weird expression shadows her face. It’s like something in between melancholic and bitter.
“Love is a lot of things. Sometimes it feels good, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s definitely supposed to feel good because it shouldn’t be painful unless you envision it to be. It feels good to know that someone has your back in this whole big fucked up world…” Her voice trails off as if she’s visiting some dark chapter of her life and I watch her attentively as her lips thin with her eyes misting.
“Aves, do you feel bad about the Noah situation?” I ask cautiously whilst gauging her expression.
She snickers and looks at me with her eyes filled with unshed tears.
“No it doesn’t. I just don’t want you to make the same mistake that I made four years back”
A/N - Hmm...Any guesses on what mistake Ava made? Also, I know that many of you want to kill me for this chapter which is exactly why I posted it the day after the new year.
I hope you all enjoyed it and I know that the next few chapters might make you feel like killing Phoebe, but please, have some patience.
As I said over and over again, this isn’t your typical cliche story so please don’t expect it to go on like one.
Also, if you’re enjoying the story so far, don’t forget to hit the like button! ;)