I woke up to the smell of plastic and antiseptic and I knew exactly where I was. I rolled over and lost the contents of my stomach, which thankfully wasn’t much. I jumped when I felt someone’s hand on my back.
I turned my head too quickly and everything started spinning. I couldn’t help but groan.
“Juliet, are you alright?” I looked up into a pair of chocolaty brown eyes I never expected to get to see again.
I threw my arms around his neck and I can’t tell you why, but I started crying and I held onto him for dear life. I was clutching onto him and bawling and he just sat there with me in his arms. He rubbed small circles on my back as she shushed me and made soothing sounds. My back was hurting and so was most of me. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck or something.
After about twenty minutes I’d calmed down and manager something intelligible. “How are you here?”
Xavier gave me a smile that made me feel like a small child. “Juliet, you aren’t exactly subtle. The paparazzi have been following you for one, you’re in a hospital for two, and Angelica called me for three.”
Xavier let out a soft chuckle. “Yes.”
“Naturally, James has asked me to bring her back.”
“Right.” I nodded, suddenly I felt numb and cold.
“He’s worried for you too.”
“You’re welcome back if you so choose. He’d like you to come back.”
I nodded. I didn’t know what to say.
“But no one can force you to come back.”
“This has always been home…”
“I understand if you don’t want to.”
“But, it’s been different since I’ve been back.” Xavier stopped and watched me curious. “It’s home, but it’s not.” I tried to articulate. “Hell, I haven’t even been allowed to go back to my house since the press first learned I was here. Why does it hurt so much to breathe?”
A murderous look crossed Xavier’s face. “You have three broken ribs and two more are fractured. You also have a concussion and bruised lungs. You’ve been unconscious for the past nine days. That cretin that was blackmailing you, he is now awaiting trial. He signed a gag order, he thought it was a plea deal but it’s binding just the same. When your country’s legal system is finished with him, he’ll be awaiting charges back home.”
“Juliet, he’s being charged with assault, assault with a deadly weapon, possession, assault and batter on an officer as well as paraphernalia, and he was also in possession of an illegal firearm. Upon the warrants arrival, they searched his home and they found a great deal more information and evidence. Upon said search, we found what he was had on you. To avoid international incident, it was removed from his computer and I have what is believed to be the only remaining copy. I will keep it safe as evidence and once it’s deemed irrelevant I’ll have it destroyed.
I felt myself relax and everything hurt.
“Juliet?” I looked up at Xavier. “Don’t you ever leave like that again.”
“I didn’t want to, but I felt like I had to.”
“You should have talked to me. I could have helped. We could have figured something else out. We could have avoided this.”
“I didn’t think I had any other options.”
“There were plenty of options. How could you just leave like that? No note, no phone call? Nothing. You even left your belongings!”
“I didn’t meant to-”
“Juliet, don’t do that again. We were all worried sick for you. We didn’t know if-”
“Xavier,” I tried to cut in.
“Let me finish.” Xavier growled. “Do you have any idea how frantic we all were?”
“Xavier, stop, let me talk.” I ground out. As I was feeling more awake I was also feeling more of my body and it was getting harder to focus. “As I was saying before it was different this time. This was home, but since I’ve been back it’s been different. It’s home, but now it’s not. Something has been missing. Since I left, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of you; that I haven’t missed you. I don’t know what this means, but I don’t want to miss you anymore.”
Xavier looked taken aback for a moment then a small smile spread across his lips. “Then you don’t have to.” Xavier kissed my forehead and I can’t explain why, but I felt lighter than ever, almost like I was lighter than air. Maybe it was the drugs. Because at this moment the nurse came in and injected something into my IV. The last thing I saw was Xavier before the drugs pulled me under.
When I woke back up I smiled as I saw a familiar face sleeping awkwardly in a chair. I tried to sit upbeat felt my ribs and I couldn’t suppress a groan and Xavier woke up.
“You’re awake.” He sighed.
I smiled. “Sorry to wake you.”
Xavier shook his head. “Don’t be.” Xavier stood and stretched and made his way to my bedside. “How are you feeling?”
“Do you want me to call the nurse? Do you want more pain meds?”
“I’m alright.” I shook my head.
“How are you feeling?”
I shrugged and winced. “That hurt a little.”
A dark look crossed his face. “I wish I had ten minutes alone with that bloody tosser and I would show him what it is to…” Xavier took a long breath and clenched and unclenched his fists. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to lose my temper near you, but no man should ever raise a hand to a woman.” Xavier’s fingers gently traced my face. “I wish you had come to me and it hadn’t come to this.”
“Xavier.” I sighed feeling guilty.
“Juliet, you were just gone.”
“Don’t disappear on me l like that again. If you want to leave, fine whatever, I can’t stop you, but you have to promise to tell me. Promise me that.”
“Xavier, you don’t understand. I didn’t want to embarrass anyone. This was my mistake. I trusted Chase when I shouldn’t have. I’m already the black sheep and I wasn’t going to let this get out and let James or worse my uncle find out.”
Xavier sighed and ran a hand through his disheveled hair. “Juliet, you forget, it is my job to fix this. I wanted to help you. I continued to, even after you left. I have friends in high places, once your legal system finishes with that tosser, he will also be tried with trying to defame a royal official. Our system is quite different from yours. I do believe it can be far more effective. Chase’s father cannot by our system like he can here.”
Xavier shook his head. “None of that matters anymore.”
“I said none of that matters anymore.”
“How does it not matter?”
“Juliet,” Xavier chuckled as he shook his head. “I’ve missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
This was the best time ever for the stupid nurse to walk in. I was mad at her for coming in.
“How are you feeling today, love?”
“I’m alright, I guess.”
“That’s good.” She asked me a lot of questions that I thought were stupid. After a lot of stupid tests, like following a pen light and touching all of my fingertips to one another, and an hour later she finally left me in peace.
“All the tests look like they wine well.” Xavier sighed. “You had us all worried.”
“Angelica has to be taken back.”
I nodded feeling my heart sink. “Right, of course.”
“I’ve been given orders to escort her back, but I don’t want to leave you alone. If you want, I’ll take her back and come straight back, if you want me to.”
“Don’t strain yourself, I know it’s a long flight.”
“Do you not want me to come back?”
“No!” I answered quickly.
“No! N-no, dammit, that came out wrong! I mean I want you to come back, I really do.” I blurted out and Xavier visibly relaxed and smiled. “I just don’t want you to stress yourself out or go to any trouble for me. That’s what I meant.”
Xavier sighed and smiled. I wasn’t looking at him when I felt the bed sink under his weight. His fingers tucked a stray lock behind my ear and he gingerly lifted my chin until I was looking at him. “Juliet, you are nothing but trouble and you have been since the day I met you. But all the trouble in the world is worth it for you.”
I couldn’t help by smile.
“You will be here until I get back, afterwards we will discuss our options then.”
“You will have to stay here for observation.”
“I can’t leave?”
“Oh…” I felt cold suddenly. I still hated hospitals. I was really hoping I could go home today. “How long am I stuck here?”
“Are you alright?”
I was about to lie and say I was fine, but knowing it was a lie I couldn’t. I wanted to tell Xavier the truth. I shook my head. “No.” I managed quietly.
“What is it, Juliet? You can tell me anything.”
“I don’t like hospitals.” I shook my head.
Xavier gently wrapped me in a hug. “I understand. Many people are afraid of doctors and-”
“It’s not that.” I shook my head. “I’m not afraid of doctors.”
“What is it then?”
“Hospitals remind me.” I choked out as my emotions rose up. “I spent months waiting and watching. My mom fought hard for about a year and a half, but the last eight months she had to stay in the hospital. It reminds me of that time. I don’t like thinking about it. I miss her…” I trailed off.
“Ah.” Xavier held me close to him and I held him like he was the last solid thing on earth.
I always got like this when I remembered my mom. I missed her more than I’d ever missed anything. She’d been my world. I still hadn’t gotten used to the idea she was gone. I didn’t know how to exist without here. I was surviving, but I hadn’t done much else. I missed her so much. I missed her smile, her encouraging words and her singing. I missed the way she made pancakes, which was just about the only thing she could cook. I missed our classic movie nights where we watched corny old movies. I missed the nights where we would stay in and play board games and cards until the early morning. I missed all the stupid little things. I missed her. “I miss her…” I whispered. I felt a few stubborn tears fall.
“It’s okay to miss her.” Xavier murmured against my hair as he rubbed my back.
“I’ve been alone since she’s been gone. People don’t understand, even when they try. They just don’t get it.”
“You aren’t alone anymore.” Xavier whispered.
“Yes, I am. We all are. We’re all alone. We’re born alone and we die alone. That’s the saddest part, we really are.”
All of a sudden my head started pounding and my vision blurred and I was in excruciating pain. Nurses rushed in and injected something in my IV and that was the last thing I remembered before it all went black.