Chain Letters

Chapter 6

"What Chuck? What happened?" You said nervous, starting to freak out.

"I can't tell you that over the phone. Are you still in your apartment?" Chuck's voice said still edgy.

"Yes, I am. Chuck…"

"I'm gonna pick you up. I'm gonna be there in 10 minutes." Chuck said and hung up.

You started to walk all over the room. You were freaking out because you really didn't know what was happening. All you knew was that Darren wasn't coming, he hasn't called or texted you and it was unusual on him. And then Chuck called you and he told you that something really bad has happened? What was that? What the hell was going on? And why wasn't Darren the one who called you? Then you started to think something that you really didn't want to think. What if Chuck called you because something bad has happened to Darren and that was the reason Darren was late and he didn't tell you why? No, that wasn't possible because you were with Darren eight hours before and he was good, everything seemed normal. And why Chuck was picking you up? What was that bad thing that happened? It could be a lot of things. A fight, an argument, an accident, that someone was ill, that someone was hurt, that something important has been stolen, or that someone you knew was…No. you couldn't think about it. You really needed to calm down because you really didn't know what happened and you wouldn't know until Chuck arrives to your apartment. Maybe you were worried for something that actually wasn't that important. But Chuck's voice really sounded concerned and nervous. If it wasn't so important, then Chuck wouldn't have called you and talked to you as edgy as he was; he wouldn't have told you that he was going to pick you up so quickly.

You stayed sitting on your couch, thinking about all the possibilities that could have happened until Chuck finally arrived. You quickly left your apartment to go to his car. As soon as you got into the car you saw Chuck's face. He was completely nervous and hysterical as you've never seen him before. Then you really got nervous because, by Chuck's face, you realized that nothing good has happened; that whatever what happened, it was really important.

"What has happened Chuck?" You asked at him, gingerly.

"Darren and Lyla." Chuck answered nervously, running a hand in his hair.

"What has happened with Darren and Lyla?" You asked more nervous, trying to calm down but your heart was beating very fast.

"They were there, at some jewelry store. Probably because Darren asked Lyla to help him to choose something for you, you know your date and all." Chuck said nervous, his voice was trembling and so his body. "And you know, that was an expensive store...and they were there..." Chuck was rambling and it seemed he was trying to make a huge effort to explain you what happened, but he was so nervous that he couldn't find the words to tell you.

"Relax, Chuck." You said gently, trying to hide all the nervousness you were feeling. "Yes, they were at some expensive jewelry store. So what happened?"

"Yes. Then some thieves sneaked into the jewelry store. They were there; they were armed with guns..." Chuck started to breathe faster, inhaling.

"What?" You widened your eyes and now your voice was trembling too. "What has happened with them, Chuck? For God Sake!"

"The thieves were aiming them with their guns. They wanted their money; they only wanted their damn money!" Chuck said fiercely and hysterically. "Yes, Darren gave them all his money, so did Lyla. But they were fucking aiming them with those guns! And then, we they got all the money, they shot them anyway!"

"Oh my god! What the hell Chuck? What? What?" You started to ask extremely nervous while your body couldn't stop trembling. Your heart started to beat really fast now. "Where are they now? How are they?"

"Calm down, calm down." Chuck said, placing a hand on your shoulder. "They have injuries. Darren is wounded but he's gonna be alright, the bullet pierced his chest and he's in an induced coma, but is he's gonna be alright. Lyla...she's worse. The bullet pierced the back of her head and the doctors don't know what will be her prognosis. She's bad, really bad."

"Oh my god, Chuck. This is not happening. No, no." You started to sob, edgy and hysterical and Chuck hugged you to try to calm you down.

"Chill out. All we have to do now is to wait and see what's going to happen. Now...just let's go to the hospital, so you can see them."

You nodded and Chuck started to drive to the hospital while you were sobbing in silence trying to calm down. This really couldn't be happening. Few hours ago everything was amazing and great and now all of this was happening. It wasn't fair. You couldn't believe there were people like those thieves in this world. You didn't get it, all they wanted was the money and they gave them all the money. Why did they have to shoot them? What kind of person is cold enough to shoot another person? Why Darren? Why Lyla? Why them? You really wanted to see Darren; you needed to see how he was. You were extremely worried; you didn't know how this was happening to him. You needed to know by yourself if he was going to be all right. You were wishing that all this was all a nightmare that was going to end soon, just a fantasy. You didn't know if you were going to be able to see Darren like Chuck said; you couldn't picture Darren like that. And Lyla. And Sami. Oh god, what was going to happen with Sami? Her mother wasn't well judging by what Chuck said and she couldn't be alone. How would be feeling Sami right now? She'd be feeling really sad and you couldn't stand it, she was so little to feel sad. What if something really bad comes to happen with Lyla? What would happen with Sami? Thinking about Sami and her mother broke your heart. She shouldn't be feeling this sad at her age; she shouldn't be worrying this much at her age. She was so little; she probably couldn't understand everything that was happening. You needed to arrive to the hospital; you needed to hug Sami, to see Darren, to know how Lyla was. You and Chuck stayed in silence until you arrived to the hospital.

Chuck led you to the room where Darren and Lyla were; but before getting into the room, Chuck stopped you.

"Listen. What you're gonna see it's not very nice, please try to stay calm. Mom and dad took Sami to the snack bar so they can calm her. So there's no one in the room. I'm gonna give you some time alone, but if you need me, I'm gonna be here. Okay?" Chuck said looking into your eyes and placing his hand on your shoulder.

"Okay." You answered nervously.

You really needed to get into that room. Chuck rubbed your shoulder lightly and then he opened the door to let you come in. You came into the room to see Lyla and Darren in some beds, unconscious. The two were placed on a ventilator with plastic tubes inserted their veins. In the first bed, nearest the door, was Lyla. She really looked bad. A lot of bandages covered her head and it seemed that her respiratory rate was almost zero and her heart rate was very low as the patient monitor said. She didn't have that smile on her face as she had at the party; her face didn't look as cheerful and sweet as that day at the party. It was as if you were looking another person. Then Sami popped again in your thoughts. Probably she's never seen her mother like this and that's why Cerine and Bill had to take her away for a while. You really felt sorry for Sami. Then you saw Darren and you approached him while tears started to fall down your face. He looked better than Lyla, but still he looked terrible. You looked at his chest, where also were a lot of bandages. You couldn't believe that Darren was looking like this and hours before he was the liveliest person ever; you really couldn't understand how all of this had happened. Chuck told you that he was going to be alright, but you were really aghast and altered. Darren looked so… lifeless and that broke your heart. You've seen Darren angry; you've seen him sad; you've seen him heartbroken, hurt; but this was completely different. At least in those moments he was expressing something, now his face was expressionless. You couldn't see Darren like this because he seemed so helpless; you wanted him to be alright again, you wanted to see his dazzling and shining smile, and you wanted to lose in his sparkling and bright hazel eyes. You wanted to hear the sound of his voice and feel the warmth of his body again. But you couldn't; all you could do was to hear the slight sound of his breathing. You slowly and gently grabbed his hand. It was a little cold and that, for some reason, made you cry even more. With your free hand you caressed Darren's cheek softly. He didn't make any movement nor had any reaction. When you touched him you had the hope that at least he'd have some kind of reaction, but nothing happened. Maybe if you talked to him, he'd hear the sound of your voice and have at least a minimal reaction. You leaned so you could whisper in Darren's ear.

"Hey Dar, it's me." You whispered softly in his ear. You felt a little stupid because you waited for him to answer, but he was still as before. Your tears kept falling down your face but you kept talking, pretending that he was listening to you. "Dar, you need to get better soon. You won't get rid of me so easily; I'm gonna be the same pain in the ass as always, you know? I'm not giving up. And oh please, I'm sure that you still have a lot to mess around me, that couldn't have been the best you had." You giggled slightly still in tears and with choked voice. This situation was really hard for you. "Dar we still have a lot to live. I still have a lot of things to tell you, there are still a lot of things you don't know about me and you need to be here so I can share it with you. And there are still a lot of things I don't know about you that I'd like to know. And the only way to do it, it's to do it together. You need to be strong and don't let that stupid accident to win you. And you don't have to think you're alone on this. Because I'm with you on this, your family is with you and so your friends. No one wants to see you this miserable and I'm sure you also wouldn't like them to see you like this. You told me once, Dar, that the power of a smile goes a long way. Why don't you smile again then, Dar? I miss to see that smile on your face and seeing you like this...I never saw you like this. It just hurts." You said still sobbing and you caressed his hair softly. "You need to get well, do you know why? Because I really need you. And that's right; those aren't cheesy and vain words. I really mean it. I'm gonna tell you a little secret." You whispered in his ear and then you sat on the floor cross legged, still holding his hand. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you. And I'm not talking about being here in this hospital room right now, I'm talking about being in this life. You're the real reason why I'm alive. You were the one who gave me all the strength I needed to move on, with your words first and then with your actions. Only a simple smile from you to me and that was all to make me feel that finally someone liked me. Only a hug from you to me and that was all to make me feel that finally someone cared about me. The way you looked at me, that was all I needed to feel happy; and the way you kissed me was all I needed to feel loved. You were the only one who made me feel I'm worth it, that there's still hope, that no matter what happened never is late to start over again. You were the only one who made me realize it. I couldn't have done anything I did if it wasn't for you. Thanks to you I kept going; thanks to you I could face my mother; thanks to you finally I learned what love is. That's why you need to get well, because without you I can't do this, because without you I'm gonna be lost again, because now I can't be without you. And because I love you. And I don't love you because you made me experience new things. I love you because you turned me into this person I am now, because I love the way I am whenever I'm with you. I love you because you're an extraordinary and outstanding person. I love you because with you I can be myself, because you are...you. And I really can't explain it. But I'm sure I've never been like this. You're the most important thing I have and I swear if I could do something for you to get better, I'd do it. Even if it means go against everything, I'd do whatever it takes if I knew the way to help you. Because even if I lose everything I have, it'll worth it, because I'd see you good again. There's a point in your life that something or someone turns more important than your own safety or interest. Well, I'm in that point of my life and that someone is you, Dar. So tell me what can I do to see you fine again, because I'm willing to do it. But please tell me how." You said sobbing on his hand inconsolably.

Darren was motionless. He didn't make any kind of sound or any kind of reaction, and you couldn't stop sobbing. It really was hurting you to see Darren like that, it wasn't fair. Then suddenly you felt how a heavy hand rested on your shoulder and that made you startle. You looked up to see who the person who rested the hand on your shoulder was. It was Chuck who was kneeling now, looking at you tearful with a slight smile on his face. Apparently he heard all you said to Darren and you felt ashamed but you really didn't care in that moment. Chuck hugged you gently and you hugged him back, sobbing on his chest. You couldn't help it. You really didn't care if he heard you or not, even though it was something private. Because after all, it was Chuck and Chuck was one of the people who always were there, helping both you and Darren to make work out your relationship.

"What you said to my bro...He's lucky to have someone like you." Chuck said, smiling fondly to you, still hugging you. "I've never seen someone who loved him the way you do. And honestly, I've never seen him happier than when he is with you. I'm sure he feels the same for you. I know because he told me. He's gonna be alright, soon he's gonna be the same Darren than ever."

"What if..." You said with choked voice still crying.

"No. He's gonna be alright, so don't be sad." Chuck said firmly and reassuringly.

"Chuck is right, sweetheart. Darren is gonna be alright." A woman's voice said behind you both and you quickly turned around to see who was.

Cerine and Bill were standing behind, looking at you both also with a tearful look, but smiling sweetly. Bill had an arm wrapped around Cerine's back and she had her hand placed on Bill's hand. You didn't know since when they'd been there, but probably at the same time Chuck arrived there so probably they also heard all you said to Darren. You really weren't expecting them to hear you, you felt a little embarrassed but on the other hand you weren't feeling bad because now they knew how important their son was for you. And they seemed to like you; they were looking at you in that way that made you feel a little better. Because you knew you weren't alone on this, they were there with you too, all of you hoping that Darren could get better. But Chuck told you that Cerine and Bill were with Sami and Sami wasn't there. Even though you didn't know too much that little girl, you were very fond of her. You didn't know how that happened, but you just felt it, as she was really important to you already. Maybe it was because of the way she was with you, she seemed to know about you and she seemed to really love you, as Chuck and Darren told you once. Maybe it also was because you could see on Sami a lot of how you used to be when you were a little girl and your father was still alive. She reminded a lot of you, but you really hoped that all you had to live throughout your life comes to happen to her. That was why you were worried about her and Lyla's condition. Because if something bad comes to happen with Lyla, Sami would feel how is to not have a mom and you didn't know anything about her father, but he wasn't at the party and Darren didn't tell you anything about him. So probably her father was away and didn't want to know about her; or maybe her father couldn't be with her all the time for different reasons; or maybe, and you hoped it wasn't like that, her father was dead. You didn't want to think about it; because, even though Sami wasn't you and she had people who truly loved her, maybe she'd feel what you felt and you didn't wish that to anyone. You really needed to see her to know how she was.

"Where's Sami?" You asked gently and intrigued, wiping away your tears.

"She's with Grant right now, she'll be here later. She needed to be away a little." Bill said softly, looking at Lyla's direction.

You nodded but frowning. You couldn't understand what Grant had to do with all of this. He was at that party and now he was here, at the hospital and they weren't even related, or at least that was what you thought. But you didn't want to ask them the reasons why Grant was always there; you didn't want to seem disrespectful because of something that wasn't your business. All of you stayed quiet and silent, sitting in the room; every minute checking if Darren and Lyla made some kind of movement or sound. After an hour, Sami arrived to the room, holding hands with Grant. Sami really looked sad; she wasn't the Sami you knew, that little girl always smiling and talking. She was silent and looking down, but you could see that her eyes were swollen and her nose was red. She wasn't looking lively as always; suddenly she didn't seem a happy little girl, she seemed a sad girl even she seemed older than she actually was. Seeing Sami like that broke your heart. Once again you wanted to cry; it wasn't fair that a little girl like her had to feel in that way; it wasn't fair that she had to live all that. But you didn't have to cry in front of her; you needed to be strong for her because she needed someone strong to be next to her right now; she needed someone that could support her; she needed someone that could help her to go through this rough moment. Sami needed someone to lean on; someone who could hold her and tell her that everything was going to be alright even though you didn't know if that actually was going to happen; but you needed to tell her that. You looked at Sami into her eyes and when she looked at you, you smiled slightly. Sami quickly ran to where you were and sat on your lap, wrapping her arms around your neck and burying her head on your shoulder. You were surprised at her reaction, the way she held you tight; but you immediately wrapped your arms around her. Cerine, Bill, Chuck and Grant were looking at you both with a weird expression that it was a mix of sadness and thrill.

"Aunt Ari, you came!" Sami whispered hoarsely and that made you shiver.

Sami's voice was terrible; you could notice how much she had been crying. You wanted to make her feel that she was safe and that you wouldn't let that anything bad happens to her. You softly caressed her hair and kissed her forehead slightly smiling.

"Of course I came, Sami."

"I wanted to see you, aunt Ari. Would you stay with me?" Sami said, her voice choked and shedding some tears. It was devastating to see her like this.

"All the time you want, Sami. I'm gonna be here." You said looking into her eyes and wiping her tears away. "But smile for me, Sami."

Sami looked at you and she smiled slightly before hugging you again. You knew she did her best effort to smile for you but she actually was very sad. But it made you feel better that she wanted you to be with her, because that way you were going to be able to help her. But now that you were holding Sami again, she started to sob on your shoulder, as you caressed her hair to try to calm her down. Everybody in the room was looking at you both, but you didn't look at them, you were only focused on Sami and try to make her feel better. Suddenly you saw how Chuck got closer and he started to rub Sami's back, so now Sami was looking at him wiping away her own tears.

"Sami, don't feel sad. Your mommy wouldn't like it, would she?" Chuck said gently still rubbing her back as Sami shook her head. "That's what I thought. Come with me, aunt Ari should get some fresh air now." Sami nodded and went to Chuck's arms.

"Would you come back later?" Sami said looking at you.

"Of course I'm gonna be back, as long as you want." You said smiling reassuringly.

"Yes, I want to be with you, auntie."

"So, here I'm gonna be." You smiled at her and softly you kissed her cheek.

"Now go get some coffee or something, sweetheart. We're gonna be here." Cerine told you soothingly, rubbing your back gently.

It felt nice when Cerine rubbed your back in this moment; you needed a gesture like that. You still couldn't believe the way Darren's parents were with you; it still felt weird, you weren't used a these kind of things, but you were happy for that. But as soon as Cerine rubbed your back you wanted to cry even though you needed to be strong. But it felt as if that nice and caring gesture softened your heart; but you kept strong only for Sami. You didn't want Sami to see you cry. So you only smiled trying to hold back your tears and nodded, walking towards the door to leave the room. You really needed to get some fresh air and a coffee to think about all that happened, and to cry without worrying someone looking at you. You needed to clear your mind, to think about something else, to think about what to do to make Sami feel better, to think what to do to help Darren. When you were leaving, Grant grabbed your arm.

"Wait. I'm gonna join you, so you won't be alone." Grant said almost in a whisper.

"You really don't have to come with me, I'm fine." You answered as low as him.

"No, really. I'd like to join you and besides this way I can give them a little time alone to be with Darren and Lyla." Grant said smiling lightly.

"Okay." You answered nodding.

You walked in silence to the snack bar of the hospital and you sat on a table while Grant went to get coffee for you both. Once you sat on the table you couldn't help it but cry all you wanted to cry while you were in the room. You really didn't want Grant to see you crying but you couldn't stop it. When Grant arrived with your coffee you were still crying and he stood next to the table a little uncomfortable as if he didn't know what to do. You just looked away and tried to wipe away your tears as Grant left the coffee on the table to sit next to you. It was an uncomfortable situation even for you, but in that moment you didn't care because all you could think was about Darren, Sami and Lyla.

"I'm...I'm sorry for this." You said still sobbing but trying to stop.

"Hey..." Grant said gently and kindly, placing a hand on your shoulder. "Don't be sorry, it's totally normal you're feeling this way. There's nothing wrong with crying."

"I don't know. I shouldn't. But..." You said with choked voice as you covered your face with your hands so Grant wouldn't see you crying again. "I didn't want to do it in front of Sami. I need to be strong, but the truth is that I'm so scared, i don't know...I don't know what's gonna happen...and they looked...they..."

"Shhh." Grant said reassuringly and gently he hugged you and he started to rub your back. "They're gonna be alright."

"How do you know it?" You said with tearful eyes.

"I do not. But whatever it's gonna happen, it's because it had to happen. And if we don't have hope, who else will?" Grant said consolingly. "And you said it to Sami; I say to you...Darren wouldn't like you to see you like this. He wouldn't like to see you crying and hopeless; he would like to see you smiling and full of hope. There's not so much you can do it for him now, but you can have hope for him, you can have hope he's gonna be alright."

"You're right. But it's hard to see him like that...he...he didn't seem..."

"He didn't seem to be the Darren you know, yes. But it's like life, we have ups and downs. He's in a down moment now, but you're never down all the time because you always look the way to be up again. And I know Darren isn't one of those people who give up so easily. He's kind of stubborn sometimes." Grant said warmly and chuckling, rubbing your back.

"Yes, it's true." You giggled a little, wiping away your tears. "I hope he keeps being the same stubborn man, now. And Sami...Lyla is worse...and Sami seemed..."

"You really care about Sami, don't you?" Grant said smiling, now sitting in his chair and grabbing his coffee.

"Yeah. I don't know...she makes me feel in this way, she's...special." You said, grabbing your coffee.

"I don't know how you did it, but she really loves you and she's not like that with everybody. When I was here with her all she was talking about was that she wanted to see you. She insisted me to come back to the room to check if you were already there. And the way she calls you auntie, it's cute." Grant said smiling livelier and he makes you smile with his words too.

"Really? I don't know, I guess we have a special connection. She reminds me to myself when I was little."

"Oh please, were you as chatty as she? Please, don't tell me that you used to tell other people's secrets making them feel a little uncomfortable! Because if it's like that now I seriously doubt to tell you something private sometime." Grant said giggling as you did the same.

"Well, maybe..." You said, raising your eyebrow playfully.

Now you were feeling better and Grant really made you clear your mind to think about something else. After all, you were really glad that Grant joined you; otherwise you'd have been really bad in that moment. At first you were feeling a little uncomfortable after what happened at the party with him and Darren, and you had no idea what he and Darren talked about when you left the party. But it seemed to be something good, because you were talking as if you were fine, as if he knew all you meant to Darren and all Darren meant to you. It was being nice to talk to Grant and he didn't make you feel uncomfortable for whatever happened at that party. He was being completely different than that day at the party; you didn't know if it was for this tense and rough situation or if it was because Grant really didn't know that you and Darren had something when he was flirting with you at the party and now he was regretted. Whatever the reason was, you were feeling good with him. But there was still something you couldn't understand, his relationship with Sami. You really wanted to know, but you didn't dare because you knew you didn't have to ask that kind of stuff. But you were intrigued and you knew you wouldn't be quiet until you find it out.

"Grant…Could I ask you something?" You asked carefully.

"Of course. As long as it doesn't involve telling you my secrets of science-cooking experiments." Grant said teasingly and you just laughed slightly.

"Trust me. I have my own secrets for those. It's something…I don't wanna sound gossipy, disrespectful or nosy. Really…If you don't want to answer, it's alright…I don't wanna force you if you don't want to answer, honestly…" You started to say nervously. Why did you have to be nervous all the time when you wanted to ask something? You hated that thing of you.

"Wow wow wow, relax!" Grant laughed. "Just ask it!"

"Okay, yes." You said sighing and trying to sound more relaxed. "You and Sami…I don't get your relationship. I mean, yes Sami is Lyla's daughter and Lyla is Darren's cousin and all. But…from where do you know Sami? It's like you guys seem so close, and I don't know…I just wanted to know, but really if you don't want to answer…"

"That's it?" Grant laughed out loud and you just frowned confused. "Seriously, the way you were so nervous I thought you were going to ask me something really private."

"Well…I…This is kinda private I guess…" You said frowning and looking at him intently while he was still laughing.

"No, actually it's not. I thought Darren told you already." Grant said frowning amused.

"No, he didn't tell me anything about you and Sami. I…if you don't want…"

"Stop it, really. There's nothing you can't know, I mean sooner or later you'd know it." Grant said smiling amused. "Lyla's husband and Sami's father was my cousin, Steven. I and Steven were very close; it was as if we were step-brothers. I used to spend a lot of time with him. Hence I know Sami very well and we're very close; I'm an uncle for her just as Darren is. Not biggie. See? It wasn't so hard."

Now you started to understand everything. It was as if you only needed to know that little thing to finally connect the dots and piece things together. That's why Grant was at the party even though he had nothing to do with Darren beyond being coworkers. That was why Grant talked the way he did about Sami; why he was with her all the time. And also that was the reason why you didn't see Sami's father at the party. Grant was referring to Steven as he was and there were two reasons for that: either or Steven broke up with Lyla and Grant was very fond of Sami so he went to the party anyway, but he said they were close so maybe he and Steven had a fight; or Steven sadly was dead. One of those reasons was why Sami's dad wasn't there in this moment, hard for Sami; and one of those reasons was why they never mentioned Steven. But it was too much to ask Grant what happened with Steven, why he wasn't there. Otherwise, Grant would've told you.

"Well, now I get it. Sorry if I…" You started to say a little uncomfortable.

"No, that's alright. Seriously, I thought you knew it already." Grant said smiling.

"No, really I didn't know. Small is the world, isn't it?" You said smiling slightly but awkwardly. "And Steven…" No. You started to mention him. Why did you do it? You knew you didn't have to talk about it. You probably were sounding totally tattletale, intruding in something that wasn't your business.

"Uhm…" Grant started to say a little tricky and fiddly, and you felt even more unnerved and uncomfortable. "Steven died about four years ago, when Sami was two years old. In a car accident." Grant said distressed and frowning.

"I'm really sorry for your loss, Grant. And sorry because I shouldn't have asked that. I'm sorry." You said remorsefully and ruefully.

"It's okay, really. It happened a long time ago and you don't have to be sorry. That's another thing you'd find out sooner or later. And for what I got you're already like a part of the family, so I don't get why you'd feel you shouldn't know about this." Grant said hearteningly and then his eyes turned a little dark with a hint of concern and hesitation. "That's what worries us if something really bad happens to Lyla. Sami isn't alone, she has all of us; but we actually can't take care of her full time as she would need. Just…we can't picture it."

"No. Don't say that." You said calmingly, grabbing Grant's hands. "Nothing wrong is gonna happen to Lyla. And…in the worst case it comes to happen. Well…we're gonna figure it out. But she's not gonna be alone."

"Yeah. I guess so." Grant said, looking down and frowning.

Inside, you really hoped that nothing wrong comes to happen to Lyla but she really looked bad, you weren't so sure. But also, inside you, you knew that Sami wasn't going to be alone. Yes, it was right that probably neither of them would be able to take care of Sami because they all had a pretty busy life, full of work and responsibilities; but now you were there too and you weren't going to leave Sami alone. You really wanted that Lyla could get better, because Sami was so little to lose both of her parents; she was only six years old and a long life to live, a lot of things to live and learn from her mother. This shouldn't be happening to any little kid; sometimes life was just very unfair.

After a while, you and Grant came back to the room where Lyla and Darren were. There was a tense atmosphere and not surprisingly so. Sami was lying on Lyla's bed, next to her and she was very sleepy. Cerine, Bill and Chuck were sitting in some chairs talking about something you couldn't hear but you also didn't want to hear. After few minutes, a nurse came into the room, telling that the time for visitors was over.

"I'm gonna stay tonight with both of them." Bill said. "You should go home now and take some rest."

"Fine, but if you have some news…" Cerine started to say a little worried.

"Yes, I'll let you know." Bill said smiling reassuringly.

Cerine nodded and kissed Bill before walking towards the door. Grant grabbed Sami's hand to take her out of the room, but Sami started to complain.

"No, I wanna stay! I wanna stay with my mommy! Let me stay!" Sami started to cry frantically, clinging to the edge of Lyla's bed.

"Sami, we have to go. We aren't allowed to stay here. Tomorrow we're gonna come back." Grant said soothingly.

"No, I want to be with my mommy!" Sami said, still crying. It broke your heart seeing Sami that desperate and sad, but you tried to hide it.

"Sami, we can't. We have to go to home and rest; it's been a long day. I promise, tomorrow we're gonna come back here." Grant insisted.

"No, no, no!"

"Sami…" Grant said this time a little wretched. "If we come back to home, I'm gonna make hot chocolate with marshmallows, your favorite." Grant said smiling slightly, trying to lift up Sami.

"Would you?" Sami said wiping away her tears and more calmed as Grant nodded with a smile. "Only if auntie Ari comes with us and she sleeps with me."

You got astounded and dazed by her words. You weren't expecting Sami to say something like that, but it moved you, for sure. Grant looked up to you expectantly and almost appealingly. Cerine and Chuck were also looking at you, waiting for your answer and also a little astonished by what Sami requested.

"Yeah, sure." You answered still astonished but with a smile.

Sami ran to you and she grabbed your hand, livelier and apparently happy for your answer. Grant, Chuck and Cerine smiled at you sweetly and they seemed touched by this action. You finally left the hospital and Chuck drove you all to Lyla's house. In the way to the car Grant whispered something in your ear.

"Thank you."

You were lying in bed with Sami. Sami was curled up like in a fetal position, facing you. You wrapped your arms around her and started to caress her hair. Both of you were silent and Sami was looking into your eyes very deeply. Her eyes denoted a hint of anguish and daze, but she didn't utter a word and you didn't want to force her to talk. Then Sami started to shed some tears in silence and you just looked at her and caressed her cheeks softly.

"Don't cry, Sami." You said sweetly and Sami buried her face on your chest.

"My mommy is like that because she's sad. Because I didn't give her the drawing I did yesterday." Sami said sobbing and hugging you.

You looked at Sami astonished. You couldn't believe that Sami was thinking that her mother was in that situation for something like that, for a drawing. She was thinking it was her fault why Lyla was there. You didn't know if you should explain her that it wasn't her fault because it was because of some thieves; or if you should tell her that it wasn't her fault but if she thought so you could change it. You didn't know if you should tell Sami the truth or not, because you didn't know how she would react, what she would think. The important point was that Sami was feeling guilty for something that wasn't her fault, and you needed to let her know that it wasn't her fault because she was feeling bad about it. You tried to think quickly what to say to her, you tried to pick the best words to explain the situation without breaking her heart. It was really hard, you really didn't know what you were doing or if you were doing the right thing; but you needed to help her somehow. For some reason she was telling this to you and not to anybody else; apparently Sami trusted you and she was looking for your support.

"No, Sami. It's not your fault, so don't feel sad for that. Your mommy is like that because bad people hurt her, but soon your mommy is gonna be alright because there are good people who are helping her." You said a little awkward because you really didn't know how to talk Sami about all of this. Sami was looking into your eyes still shedding some tears.

"Why are there bad people? My mommy isn't a bad person. Why somebody would want to hurt her? What did she do?" Sami asked distressingly and you bit your lips, trying to look some words that wouldn't impact Sami very much, but it was hard.

"She didn't do anything wrong, Sami. Both of us know that your mommy is a really good person and that this shouldn't be happening to a good person like her. But sadly there are bad people who don't care if they're doing bad things to good people. But those bad people have their due sooner or later. And we don't have to think in those bad people Sami, we have to think in good people who are always helping and who are always friendly, those good people are the ones who are worth it; so we really don't want to worry about bad people if we can have a good time with good people." You said trying to sound as reassuring and soothing as you could. "And your mommy, she's gonna be fine and she would want to see you happy, she would want to see that you believe she's gonna be fine."

"How do you know that my mommy is gonna be fine?" Sami said frowning.

You got uncomfortable because you didn't know if Lyla would be fine and you didn't want to lie to Sami; because if something bad comes to happen to Lyla, Sami would feel bamboozled by everyone and that wouldn't be a good feeling for her. Because you knew how it felt, to be bamboozled by everyone and that would cause many problems of self confidence and trust in people in the future; the same that happened to you. And you didn't want it for her, because you were going to do whatever it takes to make Sami see that life is actually beautiful, you were going to make her see what took you a lot of years to understand. Sami wasn't going to live all you had to live, because you weren't going to let it happen. So she needed to know the truth, but she needed to know it in a sonsy way.

"I honestly don't know. But we can still have hope; we can still do things to make your mommy feel better. For example, we could draw something tomorrow before going to the hospital for her; she'd like to see that you drew something for her. And you also can tell her a story, I'm sure she'd like to hear your voice. Those little things could help your mommy to feel better." You said smiling slightly but Sami seemed unconvinced. "Listen, Sami. I'm gonna tell you a story. Once upon a time, a little princess was crying alone near the river of the Earth Kingdom until a little pink and chatty rabbit approached the little princess. -Why are you crying, little princess? - The rabbit asked concerned and the princess looked at the rabbit with eyes filled with tears. -The queen, my mom, went away to the Heaven Kingdom and she left me alone here. - The princess answered, still sobbing. The rabbit looked at her and smiled. -She didn't leave you alone and she'll never do. She must be far away, but it doesn't mean that she's not thinking about you; it doesn't mean that she's not looking at you right now. I heard that from the Heaven Kingdom you can watch to your loved ones who are in the Earth Kingdom and you can take care of theme even if they are away. But we, who are in the Earth Kingdom, can't watch them but we can feel them as long as we keep them in our hearts. - The wise rabbit said to the princess as she frowned confused. - And how does it work? How do we keep them in our hearts? - The princess asked intrigued because she really wanted to feel that the queen was still with her. - It's not hard. All you have to do is to keep all your memories with her both in your heart and your mind; all the good times you remember and the days that you spent together. In that way, her smile and face will never fade, because unconditional love is never forgotten, look deep in your heart it is there at the bottom. And you just have to remember one thing, she'll be there to greet you, you'll see her again someday in a place where there's no tears, nor sorrow; only laughter and smiles. So when you start to get down and you really want to cry, just think of the fun times and don't wonder why. Just leave it at that and know she's better now. She's in a better place. She's watching over you and she's making sure you're okay until the day the queen calls you from the Heaven Kingdom when she thinks you already accomplished all your goals on the Earth Kingdom to see you again. - The rabbit said with a big smile. The princess started to think about this, she thought that maybe the rabbit was right. The queen didn't leave her, she was still there, watching for her and she was there, in her heart. Now the princess started to feel better, but there was missing something, something that didn't let her be completely happy. - I can keep her with me in my heart. But what I'm gonna do in this Earth Kingdom if I can't spend my days with her? I don't have anyone to play; I don't have anyone to accompany me in this Kingdom. - The little princess said a little sad, but the rabbit took her hand gently. - You have me. I'm gonna stand by you. I'm gonna be here to grab your hand and accompany you until the time you have to go to the Heaven Kingdom. - The rabbit answered with a big and cheerful smile. The little princess smiled happily. She knew now that she wasn't alone because the queen was watching over her from the Heaven Kingdom and the rabbit was there to be with her until her last day in the Earth Kingdom. She was loved and she'll always be loved and that was all that mattered." You finished telling the story to Sami.

You never stopped looking into her eyes sweetly and reassuringly, to try to make her understand that was what it was going to happen to her, that whatever it was going to happen with her mom, she'd never be alone. Sami was looking at you, this time a little better. Maybe telling her that as if it was a fairy tale was a good idea. Sami snuggled up to you and she buried her face again on your chest as you caressed her hair softly.

"Auntie Ari? Would you be with me always? Would you be like the pink and chatty rabbit?" Sami asked softly and you got amazed.

"Of course. I'll stand by you to grab your hand always." You answered sweetly and kissed her forehead. "Now we should get some sleep because tomorrow we're gonna get up early to draw."

"Yes." Sami said smiling slightly and closed her eyes. "Auntie, I love you."

"I love you too, Sami." You answered a little astonished but very touched.

Sami fell asleep quickly in your arms, but you couldn't sleep. You stayed awake thinking that Sami was probably the smartest girl you've ever met. She surely understood what you tried to say with that story; she surely understood that she was the princess and Lyla the queen and the rabbit all the people who loved her, including you. She understood it; otherwise she wouldn't have asked you to be the rabbit for her. And she told you she loved you. It was almost crazy to love Sami in so little, but you felt this way with her, she was a special girl for you and now, more than ever, you were going to take care of her. You definitely were going to be that pink and chatty rabbit for her.


Next day you woke up before Sami did. You decided to let her sleep a little more because she really needed that. Last night it seemed that Sami had nightmares because she couldn't stop move restlessly in bed. You went to the kitchen to drink some coffee before bringing Sami her favorite hot chocolate with marshmallows. Cerine, Chuck and Grant were already awake and Cerine made a coffee for you. You talked for a while, they asked you how you slept and you told about Sami and her nightmares; you talked about what you were doing that day; you talked about Darren and Lyla. After a while you decided to wake up Sami, bringing her hot chocolate with marshmallows to her bedroom. When you got into the room, you found out that surprisingly Sami was already awake and she was on her desk, apparently doing something quietly. You slowly approached her with the hot chocolate on your hands.

"Good morning, Sami!" You said looking at her with a bright smile. "I brought some hot chocolate with marshmallows for you."

You gave her the hot chocolate and she smiled at you happily. She looked better than last night. Sami grabbed the hot chocolate and started to drink it. You sat next to her to see what she was doing. She was drawing something. Before you could ask her something, she looked at you and she started to talk.

"I'm doing a drawing for my mommy. Look! There's the queen and the princess. The pink rabbit is there too! I called the pink rabbit Ari, just like you. And I'm the princess, but she's smiling because you told me that my mommy would like to see me smiling." Sami said sweetly, showing you the drawing.

It wasn't the most perfect drawing in the earth, the lines were squiggly and it wasn't correctly colored. But the meaning was what made that drawing perfect. She put in that drawing all her feelings. She drew herself as princess and Lyla as the queen; she even drew you as the pink rabbit. And she drew all of you with a big smile, the three of them holding hands. And she was drawing something for her mom as you told her you could do, to make her feel better. You didn't realize before how much your words meant for Sami. She listened every single word you told her. You didn't know that with your simple words Sami could feel better and more hopeful. The fact was that seeing that drawing and realizing that Sami really listened to you made you feel very touched and that made you feel very emotional. You hugged her tight and kissed her forehead with eyes filled with tears of joy.

"I'm sure your mommy is gonna love this drawing. It's the most precious drawing I've ever seen, Sami."

"Do you really think so? Because I really want to draw something that can make my mommy feels better, so we can play together again." Sami asked, continuing coloring her drawing.

"Yes, I really think so. You know, I'm sure your mommy is proud of you."

"That's what I want. I want my mommy feel proud of me. Would you like to help me finish the drawing, auntie?" Sami asked with a smile and you nodded, grabbing some pencils.

You spent all the morning drawing. Something new was happening. Sami and you were now like sharing a secret, like you were sharing something really private, something that only both of you would know the meaning. You were feeling something new; you were starting to love Sami as she was your little sister that needed you to take care of her. And you knew you would do so.


FOUR DAYS LATER…

You were sleeping in your house while suddenly your phone started to buzz in middle of the night. You grabbed your phone frowning and with eyes half closed you read the text that had been sent to you.

From Chuck: Sorry for the time, but we really need you here at the hospital. Sami is asking for you like crazy. Really, something bad has happened but I need to tell you here. Could you come?

That text from Chuck really freaked out. Chuck never texted you at this late and he sounded desperate. As he said, something bad really happened otherwise he wouldn't have done that. And Sami was asking for you like crazy. What the hell was going on? They were at the hospital. Was it something related with Darren or Lyla? You needed to go the hospital, you needed to know that everything was alright; you needed to know what happened. You quickly changed your clothes to go to the hospital as fast as you could. You needed to see Darren to see if he was fine; you needed to see Sami and check out she was fine and let her know that you were with her. You left your apartment and stopped a taxi to go to the hospital. Then you remembered that you didn't text Chuck back.

To Chuck: Chuck, I'm on my way to the hospital.

After ten minutes you arrived to the hospital and you ran to the room where Darren and Lyla were. As soon as you came into the room, you heard Sami's voice yelling and crying inconsolably while everybody in the room were trying to calm her down. Grant was holding Sami tight to prevent her from moving. You looked around, Darren was still there unconscious but when you looked at Lyla's bed, you froze. Lyla wasn't there anymore. You really didn't want to think what you were thinking. No, that couldn't be happening; that wasn't possible. Chuck quickly approached you and led you outside the room, closing the door behind. Chuck looked devastated and his eyes were red as if he was crying and you've never seen him like that. That made you feel even more nervous; you really needed to know what was happening, why everybody was crying. But you were in shock and you couldn't utter a word, you were feeling dizzy and bewildered. Chuck grabbed you by your arms, looking at you into your eyes with tearful look.

"She died." Chuck said this time shedding tears and you shocked.

You couldn't internalize what Chuck just said, you couldn't believe it. That wasn't happening; that shouldn't be happening. Your body started to shiver as your mind started to process everything; you were thinking a lot of things at the same time in matter of a second. Sami was the first thing that popped into your thoughts. All you said to Sami, that her mom was going to be alright. The way Sami probably was feeling right now; she looked really exasperated and miserable. You thought what was going to happen with Sami from now on, she lost both of her parents and she was only six years old. She was so little and a lot of bad things happened to her, she didn't deserve all of this, you couldn't believe how unfair life was with her. She needed you right now; you promised her that you were going to be with her always. You didn't know what to say to her, how to make her feel better; but you needed to be with her. But you couldn't move, you couldn't do anything because you were in shock. Nothing was going like it was supposed to go. Suddenly you started to cry because a deep anguish took over your body; because Lyla should be here, she was supposed to get better. Chuck hugged you until you calmed down. You needed to be calmed for Sami. It didn't matter how you were feeling now, because all that mattered in that moment was Sami and she needed someone who could be able to take care of her.

"I need...I need to see Sami, Chuck." You said, wiping away your tears and trying to be strong.

"Yes." Chuck nodded, wiping his tears away as well. "I don't know what you said to her or what you did to her. But all she wanted was to see you. She said you were the only one who could understand her. I don't know she mentioned a kingdom and a rabbit, I don't know what it means, but it seemed to mean a lot to her. Thank you, for everything you're doing."

"No, don't thank me anything. I...just need to see her." You said looking into Chuck eyes.

Chuck nodded again and you both went to the room again. You walked toward Sami and as soon as she looked at you, she ran to you, hugging you by your legs and crying exasperatedly. You hugged her, caressing her hair and closing your eyes to try to hide how heartbrokenly you were feeling. After a while you kneeled so you could look through her eyes. You slowly and gently wiped her tears away. It really was breaking your heart to see that little girl very devastated at her age.

"Sami…" You started to say really softly.

"Grab my hand auntie, you promised me that you were going to grab my hand. You promised to stand by me until the day I join her in the Heaven Kingdom. Please, auntie, you promised." Sami said grieving desolately.

You couldn't hold back your tears any longer, not when Sami was being this desolated and she was telling you all this. You knew you needed to be strong for her, but hearing all that just broke your heart. You hugged her tight and then you grabbed her hand, kissing it softly.

"I promised and I'm gonna do it, Sami." You said with you voice choked but trying to contain yourself. "You remember the story, Sami. That was going to happen. Remember that you're not alone, that she's looking over you and you have all of us to be with you in this Earth Kingdom. We all are the pink rabbits who are gonna grab your hand. Remember Sami, you don't have to be sad because she's away now, but she's gonna be always here." You said, placing your hand on her heart as Sami continued crying. "I won't say to you to stop crying, because sometime is good to cry. But I'm gonna tell you that you shouldn't cry forever, because no one would like to see a princess crying; your mommy from the Heaven Kingdom wouldn't like to see you crying. She'd like to see you remembering only the good things. And I'm gonna be always here to grab your hand, you got it, right Sami? I want you to remember that; that you're loved and no one here is gonna leave you alone. Remember it, Sami." You said reassuringly; still with choked voice and shedding some tears. Sami looked at you and she smiled very slightly.

"What if I don't see her again? What if I don't find her?"

"That's not gonna happen, Sami. You're gonna find her because she will be with you always as long as you remember her and all the good moments. She's gonna guide you; remember that she's looking over you. But you have to show her that you're gonna be fine, because that's all she would like. She'd like to see you happy in your time in the Earth Kingdom." You said, caressing her cheek.

"Yes, but..." Sami started to cry again and you grabbed her hand tighter. Then Sami hugged you again, buried her head on your chest and continued crying while you rubbed her back. After a few minutes Sami got to calm a little. "You're right auntie. She wouldn't like to see me like this."

"Yes, c'mere." You smiled slightly, wiping her tears away and hugging her again.

You stayed like that for several minutes. Bill, Cerine, Chuck and Grant were looking at you both, they listened everything you said to Sami and probably now they understood what Sami was trying to say when she mentioned the rabbit, the Heaven Kingdom and the Earth Kingdom. You knew it was going to be hard and rough for Sami, you knew that this was very different than your situation; because Lyla loved Sami, not like your mother. Because Lyla loved she and she showed Sami all her love, and now Sami was going to feel the lack of that love. But you were there for her, to be with her in this hard moment. You were going to help her to go through this situation. Since that moment, you promised to yourself to stand by Sami from now on, no matter what. Sami meant a lot for you.


FIVE WEEKS LATER...

The last weeks were a bunch of fuzzy and blurred events full of ups and downs. Sami sometimes was good and sometimes she couldn't stop crying, but it was normal considering all that happened. Bill and Cerine were really occupied with the funeral while you, Chuck and Grant took care of Sami. Even though everybody was really busy and trying to accept completely Lyla's death; everybody found time to go to the hospital and see how Darren was. He wasn't getting any better as you were expecting. It had been more than five weeks and he was still unconscious. You were really worried and nervous after all that happened because judging by what the doctors said, Darren was supposed to regain consciousness in a week, but that didn't happen. He was in the same situation than that day Chuck called you telling something bad had happened. You didn't want to give up hope, but you couldn't stop freaking out. You were feeling very frustrated because you were useless, because you couldn't do anything about it. Even though it made you feel bad seeing Darren like that and you couldn't stand it, you went to hospital every day and you kept talking to him even though he couldn't answer. You didn't even know if he was listening to you, but you never stopped; maybe he could hear you, so you kept the hopes.

That day you asked if you could take care of him that night and Darren's family agreed. It was actually the first time you were going to stay at night. You didn't do it before because Sami really needed you, somehow she felt better when she was with you. The other reason was because it hurt too much to see Darren like that and you always ended up shedding some tears. But you needed to stay with him, you needed to let him know that you were there with him, even though he couldn't see you nor hear you; but probably he could feel it. Once you got alone in the room, you felt really bad; you didn't know why but you just felt it. It was sad to be in silence next to Darren. You kept staring at him for hours, just staring at him. You started to wonder why all of this had to be happening, why him, why Lyla. You wanted to see some kind of reaction; at least you wanted to see how Darren moved a little his head, or at least some kind of facial expression. But you stared at him for three hours and nothing happened. You were getting sleepy but you didn't to go to the spare bed; so you grabbed his hand and, sitting on a chair, you rested your head on Darren's bed, near his shoulder. You quickly fell fast asleep but you couldn't really sleep well because you were waking up every ten minutes to check if everything was alright or if something unexpected happened. But nothing happened.

"Where am I?" Suddenly you heard and you woke up, startled.

You looked up to Darren who was looking around with his eyes half opened. He looked really confused, dopey and dizzy and you just froze. You couldn't believe that Darren finally woke up, you were really happy but at the same time you were a little nervous. He'd been unconscious for so long and maybe it affected his memory that could be the reason why Darren was very dizzy and dopey. You were alone and a lot of things had happened while Darren was unconscious; you didn't know if you should tell him all those things or if you just needed to skip those things and tell him all that when his family was here. You didn't know if you should call his family, call a nurse or for now don't call anyone. You didn't know if you should talk to Darren or if you just needed to let him rest. You were nervous, happy, emotional, and blithe and you were more relaxed now that Darren was finally awake. You wanted to cry because of all your feelings, you wanted to hug him as you wanted since a long time, you wanted also to kiss him; but you didn't do anything because you thought that probably the best would be to let Darren to try to understand where he was, why he was there, what happened and a lot of questions that probably were crossing Darren's mind. He needed time to try to understand all little by little; and he needed time to try to regain consciousness in a safety way and it wouldn't happen if things rushed. Darren's eyes finally found yours and he stared at you, frowning and taken aback, bewildered. You gently grabbed Darren's hand and smiled at him slightly, trying to hold back your tears. For some reason you couldn't talk, you were really emotional and relieved that Darren seemed to be fine, that nothing wrong was going to happen to him. You were waiting for this moment he regains consciousness for so long and now that it happened you forgot all you had in mind to tell him. It didn't happen in the way you were expecting, but it happened. Finally Darren was better.

"Where am I? Why are we here? Why do I have plastic tubes inserted on my veins? What happened? Dammit, my head hurts." Darren said hoarsely and bemused and in pain, grabbing his head. "I can't fucking focus my eyes, everything's so blurry." He said again hoarsely, blinking and rubbing his eyes.

"Hey, Darren." You said softly and reassuringly, squeezing his hand. "Easy, Dar. You've been unconscious for so long, you need to slow down." You gently caressed his cheek with a slight smile.

"I was what?" Darren asked obfuscated and disturbed. "What the hell?" Darren exclaimed and quickly he grabbed his head again, closing his eyes and frowning. Apparently his head was really hurting as he said.

"Okay, Dar. We need to take this slow. Rest you head again." You said, grabbing his head and helping him to rest it on the pillow again, gently. Then, you looked into his eyes and caressed his cheek. "Yeah, a lot of things had happened, but right now you need to rest, okay?"

"No." Darren said shaking his head abruptly what made him feel pain again. But he opened his eyes again to look at you disconcerted. "I wanna know what happened. What's all this? Why am I like this? Since when was I like this?"

"Darren, you're gonna know all those things but not right now. Now you need to rest." You said softly.

"Oh fuck, for god sake, just tell me it all! Dammit, I need to know what the hell happened!" Darren exclaimed exasperated.

"Darren, calm down for your health." You said softly, staring at him intently. "What's the last thing you can remember?"

"Uhmm…" Darren frowned and closed his eyes to try to remember something. He seemed really frustrated. "We were going to have a date. Yeah. Then, I was at Lyla's house and…" He frowned even more, trying hard to remember. "Ugh! Why the hell can't I remember? This really sucks."

"No, I think it's normal. Little by little you're going to remember what happened. For now, it's better to wait for you to remember more things to explain what happened." You said, patting his hair.

"Wait, no. I remember…I remember I asked Lyla to help me to choose something for you. Yes, we went to that jewelry store. Then we were looking for that…but then, I don't know everything is so damn blurry!" Darren grumbled frustrated and irritated.

"Darren." You said firmly, grabbing his hands and making him to look at you. "Don't force yourself, you soon will remember everything. Now you need to rest, please." You said kindly and kissed his forehead.

Darren quickly grabbed your cheeks and he forced you to stay like that with him, forehead to forehead, with his eyes closed and he started to nuzzle his nose with yours. He was breathing fast, apparently trying hard to chill out. Softly he started to caress your cheek and you ran your fingers in his hair.

"I can't remember anything, boo. Nothing at all. I have no idea why I'm here and that freaks me out." Darren gasped still with his eyes closed and resting his forehead against yours, his voice trembling.

"Look at me, Darren." You said nicely and Darren opened his eyes so now both of you were looking into each other's eyes. "You remembered many things. It's normal that you can't remember what happened after you got into that jewelry store and it's even more normal that you can't understand why you're here, at a hospital. You've been unconscious for weeks and you just regained consciousness. That's why you can't remember right now and that's why you don't have to force yourself to try to remember everything. With time, you're gonna start remember everything. And right now you should stop thinking about it and just relax; you need to rest for your health. But you're doing well, you're gonna be alright and you're doing a huge progress. Later you'll find out everything that happened, but not now. So just try to rest again, Dar." You smiled comfortingly and Darren kept looking at you with nervous and sad eyes.

"Fine. But I just wanna know something." Darren said, looking at you and you nodded. "What happened to me to end up in a hospital?"

"It was…uhm, an accident." You said softly and Darren frowned, looking down. "But Darren, really later you'll know everything. Please, now just rest." You almost whispered and kissed his cheek.

"Okay." Darren said still looking down and you smiled slightly, getting away from him to let him rest but Darren stopped you by grabbing your hand. "No, please stay with me?" Darren asked looking deeply into your eyes, rolling in bed so you could lie next to him. "Please, sleep with me?"

"Darren, I don't think it could be a good idea. You still are weak, and your injuries…I'm gonna stay by your side in the chair, though." You said smiling but Darren kept staring at you with that pleading look.

"Please." Darren begged you, still staring at you. "I'm a mess right now, I don't get a shit what happened, and I'm scared and confused. All I want is you to lie next to me."

"No, Darren, sorry. But I cannot lie down next to you, you need to be comfortable and all." You started to say with guilt and Darren looked down a little sad. "Well, I can't lie down beside you, but I can rest my head on the pillow if that's okay for you."

"Yeah, I'd love that." Darren said, smiling slightly for the very first time since he woke up.

You smiled back at him and slowly rested your head next to his. As soon as you rested your head, Darren got closer and nuzzled his nose with yours, with his eyes closed. You gently curled a few of his curls and he smiled slightly again. It was wonderful to see Darren smiling in that way. You were waiting more than five weeks to see Darren smiling like that again. He was awake again and he was getting better. You felt a huge relief losing that huge load of not knowing how Darren was or if he was going or not to get better. You also felt a huge relief to see that Darren could remember almost everything because you were really worried that he could lose his memory at all; as doctors said once they realized Darren didn't regain consciousness in more than five weeks. And Darren could open his eyes, talk, and move. It seemed as if the coma didn't affect him as much as might have been. Now you had more hopes. Darren was doing alright as you were wanting so hard. Moved, you caressed his cheek softly; expressing all the relief and happiness you were feeling to see Darren back. He slightly pressed his lips against yours with a faint smile, still with his eyes closed. He muttered something with his lips but not uttering a sound that made you feel emotional, filling your eyes with tears.

"I love you too, Dar."


ONE WEEK LATER…

Finally doctors said Darren was completely recovered so he was discharged from the hospital and he returned to Lyla's house, were the Criss family was staying. Little by little Darren was remembering things that happened that day which was supposed to be your first date; but he couldn't remember yet that he and Lyla were shot. Of course you and his family explained him that he was shot and that was the reason why Darren was in the hospital, but you didn't tell him yet about what happened to Lyla. Darren was getting better day by day but he was still weak to know all that, it was a very hard thing to tell him and it wasn't a good moment to let Darren know all that. You and his family decided to tell so to Darren once he was at home and you could notice he was good enough to deal with Lyla's death. Darren was getting better with each passing day. Now he could talk more fluent and he even made some jokes about his condition. Darren was livelier and he started to smile more often. You were really scared to not see his smile and hear his voice again after the accident and after what happened to Lyla. But now you were happy to have him back. You all were all the time taking care about Darren, checking if he was alright, if he needed something and that made feel him a little uncomfortable, but at the same time he was very thankful because he couldn't do everything by himself yet.

That day, Darren came back to Lyla's house and you and Darren's family decided to tell Darren what happened with Lyla because you were avoiding his questions for so long, and now that he was going to stay at her house, he'd suspect something. So that night after dinner, Grant took Sami to bed so she wouldn't listen the story again. You, Darren, Chuck and Darren's parents were sitting on the table, drinking some coffee and Darren only water. That was an uncomfortable moment because no one of you knew how to start telling Darren it all. You all were silent until Darren frowned and looked at you all.

"These days…you all were avoiding my questions about where Lyla is and I haven't seen her around. She was at that jewelry store with me, is she alright?" Darren asked concerned as you all looked down.

"Honey…" Cerine started to say sweetly but nervous and then she stayed silent, apparently trying to find the words to tell Darren everything.

"Mom, please. Just tell me where she is. I don't even know if she was shot like me, if she is safe. I cannot remember anything at all." Darren said with a pleading look.

"Well, honey…" Cerine said and cleared her throat. Bill, Chuck and you were just silent, listening everything and looking at the two of them. "Lyla was shot, like you. But she was shot in the back of her head. She was at the hospital too." Cerine said, trying to stay strong while Darren was looking at her intently and frowning.

"How is she? Where is she now?" Darren asked edgy and freaking out.

"She was in a very serious condition and the doctors did all they could; but it was too late, she lost too much blood. She couldn't do it." Cerine answered with teary eyes and chocked voice.

"What the hell do you mean with she couldn't do it, mom?" Darren asked hysterically and frowning.

"She's dead, Darren." Cerine said this time crying.

Chuck and Bill looked down, trying to hold back his tears. You looked at Darren, he was frowning and he had a horrified look. He was in a shock, looking nowhere and he was deep in his thoughts. You slowly placed a hand over his hand and Darren didn't flinch, he stayed in silence with the same expression, this time frowning and very serious.

"Darren…" Cerine started to say sensibly.

Darren raised an eyebrow and gulped, still with the same serious expression on his face. Then he pulled away your hand sharply and he stood up abruptly, pushing aside his chair and dropping it to the floor. He quickly left the dinner room and you heard how he slammed the door of his bedroom, thumping it several times. Bill sighed as if he was expecting Darren to do something like that, trying to comfort Cerine who was still crying. Chuck was biting his lower lip and grabbing his head, looking down. You were astonished and incredulous by Darren's reaction. Of course Darren was shocked because of this new information for him; but you were expecting something else like seeing him sad but not angry. Because it seemed that Darren was in a rage and that took you by surprise. The point was that you couldn't leave Darren alone in this moment; probably he needed someone now to help him to deal with all of this. You didn't like to see Darren like this and you knew he was feeling confused and shocked; and you needed to do whatever it takes to make him feel better. So you slowly stood up to go to Darren's bedroom and talk to him, but Cerine stopped you.

"Sweetheart, it's better if you don't go with Darren right now. When he's like this and he locks himself in the bedroom, it's because he doesn't want to talk to anyone. He's been like this since I have memory. Soon he's gonna be calmed and then you'd be able to talk to him." Cerine said softly.

"I… I can't leave him like that. I'm gonna try to talk to him, and if it doesn't work and he tells me to go away, I'll try later. But… I need… you know…" You started to say insecure even though you really wanted to talk to him.

Cerine nodded and you started to walk to Darren's bedroom, still a little insecure. The truth was that you really didn't know how Darren would react and if you were going to be ready to be treated in a bad way if it needed to be like that. You stood in front of the door, nervous and not sure if you should open the door or not. Maybe Darren needed some time alone to internalize everything that happened and you were going to bug him with your presence. But you knew how it was to be alone in hard moments like that and it wasn't nice. Even though you could think you needed to be alone and think; you knew it was bullshit because when you were feeling like that the day your father died and no one was next to you to hold you, you felt miserable because everybody needs someone to lean on in those moments even though you try to deny it. Darren needed someone next to him right now and you couldn't do anything if you knew it, you wanted to let him know that you were going to be beside him either in good and bad moments. So, nervous but steady, you slowly opened the door. You looked at the bedroom horrified. There were a lot of things scattered everywhere: clothes, boxes, papers, objects. The lights were off but you could see the silhouette of Darren lying on the bed, his head buried in the pillow. You slowly approached him and you sat on the edge of the bed. Darren didn't change countenance; he stayed in silence still with his head buried in the pillow. You gently started to caress his hair, also in silence. You didn't know if you should talk to him or if you just needed to be there in silence but letting Darren know you were there with him and you wouldn't let him to feel alone and bad.

"Go away." Darren said sharply, still with his head buried in the pillow which was hugging.

You shivered at the sound of his voice, but you didn't move from where you were, you continued caressing his hair gently. Darren, still avoiding your look and with his head buried in the pillow, pulled your hand away offhandedly from his hair. You clasped your hands together, folding all fingers down and placing them on your lap. You were uncomfortable and astonished by Darren's reaction, but you were determined to not go away from Darren's side; even though he was going to be like this with you. You knew it was a reaction of self-restraint to not show all the pain he was feeling inside, you knew it because you've been there.

"I told you to go away. Dammit." Darren said upset and exasperated.

"I won't." You answered quietly although inside you were feeling sad.

"Oh fuck. Get out of here, goddammit. I don't want to see your face, I want to be alone. Is that so fucking hard to do?" Darren said irked and rolling in bed to give you his back, still hugging his pillow.

You stood up and walked to a chair near the bed to sit there. Darren was still giving you his back, but you didn't change your mind. You weren't going to leave his bedroom even if it meant to be there in silence. Darren didn't talk to you anymore, but you stayed there sitting and looking at him. You didn't know how long the two of you were like that, in silence and not looking each other; but you knew it was for a very long time that seemed hours. You couldn't tell because even though you tried to keep your eyes open, you were very sleepy and impromptu, and unwittingly, you fell asleep on the chair. Suddenly, you felt something on your lap. You opened your eyes bemused and you saw that Darren was sitting on the floor, resting his head on your lap and wrapping his arms around your legs, his eyes closed. You looked at him and you started to caress his hair like before and this time Darren didn't pull your hand away; instead that, he sighed and buried his head on your lap while you started to feel how Darren's tears were falling down in your lap.

"I'm really sorry boo. I shouldn't have treated you..." Darren started to say with choked voice, still with his head buried in your lap and his arms wrapped around your legs.

"No, it's alright. I got you." You said reassuringly, kissing his head softly.

Finally Darren looked up to look at your face, more precisely into your eyes. He looked very wretched and bleak; his tears didn't stop falling down his face uncontrollably. You leaned to grab his cheeks and caress them with your thumbs while you kissed his forehead sweetly. Darren closed his eyes and he stroked his own face with your hand before kissing it slightly, still sobbing.

"Why are you always so fucking nice to me when all I do is to be a dick with you?" Darren asked distressed, looking into your eyes with that tearful look.

"Because you're not a dick with me. You're only going through a very hard moment that took you unawares. I understand why you acted like that, I've been there, remember?" You said smiling slightly, also looking into his eyes.

"Why did you not leave after the way I've treated you? You could've left, but you stayed here with me. No one has done it before." Darren said, frowning for the effort he was doing to control his tears.

"Because although you were saying you wanted to be alone, that's not what you really wanted. You needed someone to be next to you, even though you were saying the opposite. You needed someone to be just there, regardless if that someone talks to you or not. And I wouldn't let you alone because I'm here to be your biggest pain in the ass." You said jokingly and that made Darren laugh slightly in the midst of tears. You smiled at him and then you hugged him tightly.

"Thank you, for understand me and not leaving me alone on this." Darren whispered in your ear before stop hugging you. "I can't believe she's gone. It's my entire fault. I told her to accompany me to the jewelry store. If I had not asked her so, she'd be here now. It's my fault; it's my fault that Sami now doesn't have any of her parents. Sami, boo! Why? Why the fuck is all of this happening? This is so damn unfair and I cannot stand it. I cannot bear to know that everything was my fault." Darren said exasperated and dreary, his voice choked and hoarse.

"What? No, no, no. None of that was your fault, okay?" You said firmly, looking into his eyes keenly. "It was something that no one was expecting to happen. If we have to blame someone, we have to blame those thieves. You didn't know that something like that would happen; it took you by surprise; you didn't know that those thieves were going to have guns and that they were going to shoot you. You did all you could, Darren; the doctors did all they could. So don't you dare to blame yourself again, because it's not your fault. And about Sami, we all are gonna find out what to do; we all are helping her to go through this moment. So please, don't feel guilty Dar. All of us know how wonderful person you're and we all know that you did all you could do in that moment."

"Is not that easy." Darren said looking down, still distressed.

"Dar. Look at me." You made Darren to look into your eyes. His look denoted sadness. "It isn't easy, nothing is easy. The whole situation isn't easy for anyone. But all of us still have each other. And I know that probably I don't feel the same that all of you because I wasn't very close, but I do know what it feels to lose someone you love. And I know you can keep moving if you have your loved ones to lean on and support each other. Nothing is your fault. I want you to understand it; no one thinks it's your fault Darren." You said firmly and Darren nodded downhearted.

"Sami… What is she gonna do now? Who would take care for her? We all live in LA and she cannot leave NYC now, she has school, friends, and a life here. We cannot do that to her and we cannot move here because our work and all…and everything is a fucking mess." Darren said frustrated, looking away and frowning to hold back his tears again.

"Darren…" You said reassuringly and caressed his cheek. "We're gonna find out what to do with Sami. Any solution is going to happen. The fact is that Sami isn't alone; she has a lot of people who love her and who are willing to help her; including me. "

"I…I don't know…I…" Darren said anguished.

"Dar, it has been a long day full of news. You should rest now; tomorrow we're gonna think about all of this. It isn't good for your health to worry this much now. Tomorrow, all together are gonna think about this, okay?" You said supportively and softly you kissed his lips.

"All right." Darren said almost in a whisper.

Darren stood up and he went to the bed to lie down there. You also stood up and walked to where Darren was. You sat on the edge of the bed and you smiled at him before kissing his forehead. Darren smiled slightly back to you, looking into your eyes.

"Goodnight, Darren." You whispered and smiled once again before stood up to leave his bedroom, but Darren grabbed your arm and stopped you.

"What? Are you not going to sleep with me?" Darren asked muddled, frowning.

"Well…Uhm, I don't know…I mean, this is your bedroom and well, this isn't my house and your parents…" You babbled awkwardly.

"Oh man…" Darren laughed livelier by your comment. "My parents… Really? It's not like I'm twelve or something and my parents will cut my balls if they see me sleeping with my girlfriend." Darren said raising an eyebrow with a saucy smile.

"Yeah, I know, but still, Darren." You said blushing and a little annoyed because of your embarrassment. "I don't think it'd be appropriate."

"Oh please! Not appropriate?" Darren giggled slightly. "C'mon, what is wrong with my girlfriend sleeping with me? And I'm pretty sure that my parents know already that we slept together in the past."

"Darren…" You looked at him serious.

"Agh!" Darren groused and whimpered. Then he looked at you with his puppy dog eyes. "I just want you to sleep with me, just cuddling. Please?"

"But Darren…"

"Please. I don't wanna be alone." Darren begged still looking at you with his puppy dog eyes.

"Sometimes I really hate you." You said frowning but with a faint smile. Darren just smiled and pecked your lips.

"I love you too, boo." Darren laughed in front of your lips and then he pulled you in bed.

"Wait, Darren. I need to get my pajama or something to sleep." You said complaining a little.

"Oh c'mon, you don't need your pajama. You always can sleep without it." Darren winked seductively and then laughed; you just looked at him raising an eyebrow. "Hey, don't look at me that way. Although I'd love that, I know you wouldn't feel comfortable. You can wear one of my shirts, like the last time I was in NYC."

"Fine." You sighed and stood up to grab one of Darren's shirts that was on the floor. "Okay, turn around, I'm gonna change here."

"Why should I turn around?" Darren asked naughtily, biting his lower lip.

"Darren…" You said applicant, looking intently at him.

"Ooookay, fine!" Darren grumbled and turned away.

As soon as Darren turned around you took off your clothes to wear Darren's shirt and then sleep. You didn't finish putting on his shirt when you felt how Darren's arms wrapped around your waist and he started to kiss your shoulder slightly. Then he started to kiss your neck and you closed your eyes, he knew that was your weak point. You felt how he sighed against your neck.

"I missed so fucking much being like this with you." Darren whispered in your ear and you turned your face to look at him and smile.

"I missed it too." You said and kissed his lips softly.

Darren took advantage and placed his hands on your cheeks, deepening the kiss and leaning you on his bed. You placed your hands in his jaw line while Darren placed his hands this time on your bared waist, rubbing it slowly. You knew you shouldn't be doing this because you were going to be carried away soon if you didn't stop him; and you couldn't do that in that house with his family around. But you really missed being like this with Darren. The last time you were like this it was when you were in LA before the failed trip to the beach. Darren tangled his legs with yours and he started to rub his inner thigh with yours, stroking you slightly. Then Darren started to raise his hand from your waist to the underside of your bust and he moaned into the kiss, shoving his hips against yours. You needed to stop Darren because in a few minutes you wouldn't be able to contain yourself. You gently pulled Darren away, turning your face to stop kissing him. Darren buried his head on your shoulder, breathing fast, still on top of you.

"Sorry." Darren said hoarsely and kissed your shoulder lightly before lie down next to you.

"No, don't apologize." You said smiling and looking at him. "I liked it. It's just..."

"Not here, I know." Darren interrupted you and then he giggled slightly. "Let me help you with that." He got closer and helped you to put on his shirt properly. Then he looked into your eyes smiling and caressed your cheek sweetly. "Come here." Darren said, extending his arms. You smiled and snuggled up to him as Darren wrapped his arms around you.

"Yes, and I missed this too." You said smiling happily, and burying your head on his bare chest while Darren started to caress your hair. Then Darren lifted your chin to look into your eyes.

"I love you." Darren said fondly with a twinkle in his eyes and he pecked your lips.

"I love you too." You said smiling in front his lips and then you buried your head again on his chest.

The two of you stayed in silence for a while. You thought that Darren was already asleep, but you couldn't sleep at all. You were just very happy to be with Darren like this again, to have him back, and to know that he was alright and nothing wrong happened to him. Yes, he was still sad for all that happened to Lyla but you were going to help him to go through all of this. You were falling asleep when suddenly you heard Darren's voice, what made you shiver in surprise.

"There's something weird. Something that I cannot tell if it was a dream or not." Darren whispered.

"What?" You asked intrigued and confused.

"When I was at hospital, I heard some voices. One of those voices it was your voice. I know it was you because I could recognize the sound of your voice even if I can't see you. You were telling me something. But I don't know if I dreamed it." Darren wondered and you got a little nervous. Maybe he heard it all, what you told him the first day you saw him in the hospital.

"Yeah? And what was that?" You asked carefully.

"You were saying… you were telling me a lot of wonderful things. And also something like you were going to be always a pain in the ass and that I had a lot to mess around you yet. You told me…you told me some things that were really wonderful. And I wanted to hug you in that moment, but I couldn't move and I didn't want you to stop talking to me. I wanted to tell you that I loved you so fucking so much and that I was alright, that you were already helping me a lot because you were saying something that you wanted to help me even if you had to go against everything. But I couldn't talk and that freaked me out, because your voice…your voice sounded so…sad and bleak. It was really weird, it seemed so real." Darren whispered again, hesitating while you widened your eyes. Definitely Darren had heard you that time. "Did you tell me something like that or it was just a dream? Because seriously, it was so effing weird."

"I…Uhm…Yeah." You finally answered awkwardly. You still couldn't believe that Darren heard it all.

"Yes what?" Darren looked into your eyes, vacillating.

"Yeah… I told you all that. It wasn't a dream. Woah, that's really weird. I wasn't sure you were listening to me." You said, with wide eyes and raising your eyebrows.

"Thank you." Darren looked at you with a twinkle in his eyes and fondly. "You have no idea the strength it gave me to move on. Your words… I knew I had to do my best to try to talk and move to be with you after all you told me. Thank you, because you made me feel loved, because I knew from that moment you love me as much as I love you." Darren said with bright eyes and you didn't know what to tell him, he left you speechless. You just hugged him tight and started to shed some tears.

"Darren I'm so happy you're fine. I was freaking out, Darren! I didn't want to lose you, I wouldn't stand it. Darren…" You said sobbing on his chest, you couldn't contain your tears any longer and Darren started to caress your hair again.

"Shh, it's all right, boo. You didn't lose me, did you?" Darren said, smiling soothingly. "You know? Since the moment you told me it all, when I was unconscious, a lot of things changed inside me. For better. I wouldn't leave you ever, as you said, I have a lot to mess around you and I wouldn't miss it." Darren said giggling lightly and so did you, nodding. "I want to let you know how happy you make me too. And that's what I'm gonna do from now on. Now, I think we should sleep, tomorrow is gonna be a long day."

"Yes, that's right. Goodnight, Dar." You whispered and kissed his lips softly.

"Goodnight, boo." Darren said warmheartedly in front your lips and the two of you closed yours eyes. "And I heard all you told to Sami. It was the most magnificent and lovely thing I've ever heard."

"Sweethearts, it's time to wake up. I brought you breakfast."

You heard Cerine's voice next to you, but you thought you were dreaming. You were feeling really tired and exhausted and all you wanted to do was to sleep a little more in Darren's arms. It was the nicest feeling being in Darren's arms and feel the warmth of his bare chest. You didn't know how he did it, but every time Darren had his arms wrapped around you, you could feel very comfy and cozy. You wanted to stay like this all day long. You had your head buried in Darren's bare chest and he had his head buried in yours, holding you tight by your waist, his legs entwined with yours. When you dreamed Cerine's voice waking you up, Darren growled and he snuggled to you even closer, this time his lips brushed your forehead. Then you started to think how Darren could have reacted that way if Cerine's voice was only on your dream; maybe it wasn't a dream. You slowly opened your eyes and turned your face to see Cerine smiling and standing next to the bed with a tray with a cup of coffee, probably for you, and a glass with apple juice, probably for Darren; and some chip cookies. You quickly moved away from Darren because it was an awkward situation for you that Darren's mom was looking at you both sleeping together that way very close to each other. Darren growled again and he tried to wrap his arms around you again and to pull you closer, but you stopped him placing your hand on his chest to prevent him getting closer to you. That was the time Darren opened his eyes to look at you frowning and grouchy.

"Why are you pulling me away?" Darren said hoarsely and pettishly, trying to snuggle to you again, but you stopped him again.

"Your mom is here, Darren. She brought us breakfast." You whispered.

"Morning, mom." Darren said hoarsely, looking up to see her mom and he smiled lazily. "It seems delicious. The coffee is for me, right?" Darren said while you sit in bed.

"Of course not. The apple juice is for you, the coffee is for her." Cerine said sweetly and giggling a little.

"Oh damn. I miss coffee. It wouldn't be that bad if I drink coffee only one time." Darren grumped, burying his head on your lap and wrapping his arms around your hips while you blushed.

"Yes, it would. Alright, I'm gonna leave the tray here and feel free to have breakfast whenever you want, today we all have the day free." Cerine said, still smiling.

"Hmmm." Darren moaned still with his head buried on your lap.

Cerine laughed and rolled her eyes before leaving the tray on the night stand and leave the bedroom. You looked at Darren frowning and you tried to pull him away so you could get up and change yourself before have breakfast, but Darren wrapped his arms around you tighter. You tried to pull him away again, but Darren pulled you to bed again, getting on top of you and grabbing your arms to prevent you from moving.

"What the hell are you doing?" You asked a little grumpy and frowning.

"Why do you want to get away from me?" Darren whispered in front your lips, touching them slightly. "Don't you want to be with me any longer?" He asked hoarsely and started to kiss all you neck slowly.

"Darren, stop it." You said grumpy, trying to pull him away. "Those are bullshit. Darren, your mom was here, she brought us breakfast and you were acting all like that. You know it was a little awkward for me."

"Oh man, please!" Darren laughed and looked at you amused. "It's my mom. She wouldn't think anything wrong or perverted if that is what worries you." Darren said still laughing.

"I hate you when you're like this. You enjoy making fun of me, don't you?" You said sharply, pulling him away roughly.

"Woah!" Darren said looking at you surprised but still amused. "Yes, I do enjoy making fun of you. You have no idea how adorable you look when you're upset." Darren said chuckling and pecking your lips.

"Ugh!" You grumbled frowning.

"See? That's the most adorable expression ever." Darren said smiling amused and nuzzled his nose on your shoulder.

"Whatever." You said upset.

You finally got up from bed to get the cup of coffee and you sat on bed, away from Darren. Darren was now sitting on bed, looking at you with a big amused smile. You ignored his look and you started to drink your coffee in silence. Darren got up from bed, walking in front of you to get his glass of apple juice. He walked slowly in front of you on purpose, so you could see his entire body almost naked. –Asshole. – You thought inside. He knew he had a great body and he knew you were used to look at him when you thought he wasn't looking at you. You loved his V-shape body. He was very sexy, even though he said he didn't work out you knew it was probably a damn lie. It wasn't possible to have a body with six pack stomach and well-toned arms and thighs if you don't work out. And there was Darren, showing off his body in front of you and you tried to look away. Instead that, you focused on your coffee trying to think in another thing. Then Darren stood behind your chair and he kneeled to rest his chin on your shoulder with a cocky smile.

"You cannot be mad at me for that." Darren whispered in your ear seductively and you shivered, but you turned your face to not look at him, serious.

"Prove me." You answered shortly.

"Hmm. You cannot be mad at me..." Darren whispered again in your ear and he kissed your neck. "Because you love me." He said kissing your jaw line. "Because you like being with me like this." He sucked your earlobe. "Because I'm adorable." Darren pecked your lips. "And because I brought you a chip cookie." He giggled softly showing you the chip cookie and looking at you with an adorable look.

"You're a goober, Darren." You said laughing this time. You weren't expecting that, Darren was full of surprises and you loved that about him.

"I really could use a kiss from you now, you know." Darren said, this time kneeling in front of you and placing his hands on your thighs to balance.

"Fine, only because you brought me a chip cookie." You said giggling and you kissed his lips softly.

"That's offensive on so many levels." Darren said, faking a pout. "I thought you kissed me because you loved me. Now I'm being cheated with a chip cookie."

"Oh shut up!" You laughed loud.

"No until you tell me I'm better than the chip cookie you're eating now. You know, you could eat me instead the chip cookie." Darren smiled seductively and winked.

"Yeah? Can I eat you then?" You raised an eyebrow, looking at him naughtily.

"Yeah, you can eat me." Darren answered seductively and getting closer.

"Well, then..." You slowly bit his lower lip hard. And Darren grimaced in pain, frowning.

"The fuck? That hurt!" Darren said still frowning and rubbing his lower lip. "When I said you could eat me, I was saying it metaphorically."

"You didn't mention that. How would I know it?" You said laughing softly but Darren was still frowning. "Okay, I'm sorry!" You said kindly and pouting and gently you kissed his lips.

"Hmm, I forgive you if you kiss me again. Kiss me, not bite me."

"Deal." You smiled and kissed his lips softly again.

The two of you kept teasing each other during all the breakfast that lasted for two hours. Darren seemed better than last night. After that both of you changed yourselves and decided to go to the living room, where probably everybody was. Indeed, there was everybody. Cerine and Bill were sitting next to each other on the couch and they were talking to Chuck who was sitting in another couch. But Grant and Sami weren't there; probably they went to the park or something to help Sami to think about something else. When you entered in the living room, everybody looked at you, smiling. The two of you sat on another couch and stayed silent.

"Woah, bro. You seem better today." Chuck said amused. "I'm still wondering what powers she has to make you be totally different. I cannot believe you let her get into your bedroom and you never ever let us to get into your bedroom in our entire lives. I can tell who wears the pants in the relationship." Chuck said laughing amused and you laughed along with him as Cerine and Bill did.

"Shut your fucking mouth. You're wearing me out, Chuck. Yeah, you're totally a wearout, bro." Darren said faking a serious face and nudging Chuck.

"Sure I am. It doesn't mean that she doesn't wear the pants in the relationship. Admit it, bro. It's so fucking obvious." Chuck said smiling cockily.

"No Shit Sherlock! She's Creepy Carrie." Darren laughed and you looked at him raising an eyebrow. "Just kidding, boo." Darren said adorably.

"Fuck yeah. She wears the pants in the relationship and Darren, she has you so fucking pussy whipped." Chuck laughed again, amused.

"Can we change the subject now? Yeah, goddammit. She wears the pants in the relationship. Yeah, I'm totally hooked. Yeah, I don't give a shit. Okay? Fine." Darren said a little annoyed but also amused.

"That's all I wanted to hear. Congratulations, mysterious girl. Now you're free to do whatever you want. Embrace it." Chuck said looking at you and you nodded amused.

"Good advice, Chuck. Good advice. Thought you'd help your little and defenseless bro." Darren said in disbelief.

"Defenseless? That shit had me Rolin', Darren." Chuck said looking at Darren very intently and entertained.

"If you don't shut your mouth, I'm gonna grilla punch you, Chuck." Darren said showing him his fist, jokingly.

"All right, guys. Chill out or I'm gonna be the one slapping your heads." Bill said amused and Darren and Chuck straightened in the couch very exaggeratedly, and you and Cerine guffawed.

Yes, you loved Darren's family. They all were very funny and they were also very supportive and friendly. Somehow you felt very comfortable around them. That was a simple moment, a very ordinary and usual moment for sure for Darren's family; but for you it was a special moment. You could feel how it'd be to be in a family meeting, just spending time with them naturally. You thought that maybe if your father was still alive, your family would've been like Darren's family. That moment was very special for you, because you were feeling as if you were in home with your family, even though they weren't your real family. You talked for a long time until all of you stayed silent; a silence that was interrupted by Darren.

"I'd like to go to Lyla's grave." Darren said almost in a whisper, and looking down as all of you stayed in silence.

"Yes, honey. I think that's gonna be good for you." Cerine said smoothly. "I could drive you there."

"No, no." Darren said, waving his hand. "I'd like if you could come with me." Darren said looking at you and placing a hand in your thigh and you raised your eyebrows in surprise.

"Y-yeah, sure." You babbled stunned, feeling how Darren's family was staring at you.

"Thank you." Darren said smiling slightly and he squeezed your thigh.


The way to the cemetery was long and very awkward because of the extremely silence. When you finally arrived there, you looked for Lyla's grave for a while. Once you found her grave, you walked towards there and Darren kneeled and put the bunch of flowers he bought. Then he sat on the ground cross-legged in silence and staring at the grave, deeply lost in thought. You didn't know what to do, if you should stay next to him or if you should leave him so you could give him some time alone. All of that was very awkward for you and you were feeling very uncomfortable. When you father died you were very little and you barely could understand what was happening, so you really needed someone by your side in that moment; but this was different because Darren wasn't a little kid and he probably would like to talk to Lyla and he needed privacy. You decided that maybe the best would be to leave him alone so he'd be able to say all those things he wanted to say to Lyla. Slowly and silently you leaned to kiss his head gently and then you turned around to leave him, but Darren grabbed your hand and looked up to you with teary eyes. He looked gloomy and distressed and he was looking at you with a pleading look.

"Stay with me, please." Darren begged; his voice choked. "Sit next to me, I really need you."

You nodded and sat next to him, holding his hand tightly. Darren leaned his head to rest it on your shoulder. You started to feel how Darren's tears were falling on your shoulder and you started to stroke his hair sweetly. That wasn't an awkward silence any longer. It was a silence of respect and understanding. You knew how hard and rough this moment meant to Darren and you were there to let him know he wasn't alone and you were going to be with him whenever he needed it. You felt how Darren was breathing fast and how he was gulping, trying to contain himself so he'd be able to talk.

"I miss you." Darren finally said with choked voice and looking at Lyla's grave. "If you could see me right now you'd yell at me, I'm sure. You'd say -Darren Everett, what the hell is wrong with you? You're crying worse than a baby scared. What are you? Two?- Yeah, you always calling me Darren Everett." Darren laughed sadly amid the sobs. You just stared at him in silent, still holding his hand tightly. "I wish you were here to make me those reprimands that you were used to make. I'm sorry, Lyla. I'm sorry because if I hadn't asked you to go with me to that stupid store, now you'd here with us. Now Sami would be with you. I wish I could change the past, but I fucking can't and that frustrates me. I can't believe you're gone. I can't accept it. It seems yesterday the last time we talked, you remember all I told you the last time we talked? I told you that I love you and you were the person that makes me put my feet on the ground. It didn't change. You...you've helped me a lot all my life Lyla and I don't fucking know what I'm gonna do now I don't have you. I try to pretend to be strong, I try to stay strong in front of everybody; but I can't. The truth is that I'm so fucking lost without you, I'm desolate. And I don't have any idea of how things are gonna keep going from now on, now that you aren't here. How all the people who loved you are gonna move on, how Sami is gonna move on. I don't know what's going to happen with Sami and that freaks me out, she's so little. And all of this is because I asked you to come with me that day. I'm so sorry." Darren broke into tears and you only rubbed his back reassuringly. Darren looked at you and he kissed your cheek before resting his head again on your shoulder and wrapping his arms around you. "Do you remember what else I told you? That I was in love and that finally I found someone who truly makes me happy but I was scared of all the intense feelings I was feeling? You encouraged me, remember? You also gave an advice. You made me promise you something. Now, more than ever, I'm gonna keep that promise. And I'm not gonna do it only because of me, I'm gonna do it because of you too. Because it was the last thing you asked me to do and you were always right, always. I want to thank you all you did for me, I wanna thank you all the moments we lived together, I wanna thank you because you were always there when I needed it the most. I wanna thank you because you helped me to grow up with all your wise advices. Because you were my cousin, but you were my best friend also. And I won't forget you, Lyla. I'm gonna keep you alive in my heart, no matter how cheesy it sounds; it's gonna be like that. I love you, Lyla." Darren said, still sobbing uncontrollably.

Darren leaned to kiss Lyla's grave and you just kept staring at him, also shedding some tears. What Darren said to Lyla was very intense, sincere and whole-souled. You never heard anyone talking to a grave, this was the very first time and it broke your heart to see that the man who you loved was the one who was doing it. You finally understood all Lyla meant to Darren. Lyla was a huge loss for Darren and you knew all of this wasn't easy for Darren. You knew that Darren wouldn't be like before after his loss, he wouldn't be the same. But it was up to him if that change would be for worse or better; but you were going to help him to make that change for better. In that moment you promised to yourself that you weren't going to leave him alone and that you were going to stand by him whenever he needed it, no matter what your relationship would come to be. Even if in the future you break up because of any reason, you'd still stand by him; because in that moment you saw a side of Darren you've never seen. You saw a really open-hearted side of him, the real him. And he was the most flawless, kindest, nicest and most lovely person you've ever met. You had in front of you the man you've been looking for all your life. And it wasn't because he was Darren Criss, that famous and talented man, known worldwide; it was because he was the man you always dreamed to have next to you, like the prince in those fairy tales that you stopped believing when bad things started to happen to you. And maybe Darren wasn't perfect, but he was perfect to you. Finally Darren turned away to look at you, still with teary eyes. You smiled slightly at him and hugged him tight; letting him know by your embrace all the love you were feeling for him.

"Thank you, for being here with me in this moment." Darren said hoarsely and with choked voice, still hugging you. Then he looked deeply into your eyes. It was a new kind of look, like a dreamy look despite the sadness he was feeling for his loss. "You have no idea how you changed my life; I never thought I could feel this way with someone. It's like I want to hold on to you and never let you go, because you're…the best thing ever happened to me. I'm not lying; I don't even know how to explain it. You make me feel…safe. I'm head over heels in love with you."

"Me too, Darren. I love you, so much." You whispered, looking deeply into his eyes.

Darren nodded with teary eyes and he leaned to kiss your lips. It was a new kind of kiss. It was soft and short, wet because he had been crying; but it was a perfect kiss, that put up all you were feeling; and the two of you were feeling something unique and inexplicable, but you knew what you were feeling was real.

"The promise I talked about…" Darren said lost in your eyes. "The promise involves you, and I'm gonna do it. That promise is gonna change a lot of things and I don't know if everything is gonna work out, I don't know if everything is gonna come to happen as I want. But I made this promise that involves both of us, and I'm ready to take the next step and start to fulfill the promise."

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.