When I woke up my throat hurt and I heard an annoying beeping noise. My eyes felt so heavy but I managed to open them with more effort than there should have been. I looked down at my arm and saw an IV and the beeping noise was a heart monitor. Guess it was a good thing it was beeping. I had a tube down my throat, that was why my throat hurt. I felt something in my hand. When I looked down I saw Xavier sleeping by my bedside, his hand resting in mine. I must have shifted because he stirred. I smiled as best I could until I noticed the bags under his bloodshot eyes.
My concern must have shown on my face because the first thing he did was assure me. “I’m fine.” Xavier shook his head. “How are you feeling?”
I pointed to the tube and my face said it all.
“Right, must be difficult with those tubes. Are you in any pain?”
I shook my head.
“I imagine you’re wondering what’s going on?”
“Right, well there was a…complication. Apparently after you’d gotten upset there was a complication from the concussion. You had some bleeding on the brain. They were able to stope it, but they’ve kept you sedated. It’s been a week.”
I sat up and Xavier’s gentle hand on my shoulder was the only thing that pushed me back down.
“You have to stay calm. If you don’t they’ll sedate you.”
Frustrated I yanked on the one down my throat and nearly gagged as I tore it out. I coughed and fought to catch my breath. “Fuck.” I panted. “Where’s Angelica?”
Xavier smiled at me. “You’re not the best at thinking things through. That had to hurt. I’ve already seen to it Angelica is taken care of.”
A nurse bustled in. “You’re awake, eh child?” She had caramel skin and dark hair in neat dreads that fell nearly to her waist. “Ya know ya weren’t supposed to take that out.” She scolded as she checked my vitals. “But it’s a good thing ya woke up when ya did. That medicine they were giving ya wasn’t no good for your heart anyway.” She said, her island accent thick. “But it keeps ya from bleeding out which is good for keeping ya alive.” Daphne finished marking my chart before she looked at Xavier and me and smiled. “Well, you’re vitals look good. I’m Daphne, I’ll be your nurse for at least the next seventy-two hours. You need to give us some privacy, young man.” She told Xavier as her head indicated the door. She pointed a finger at him and put a hand on her hip when Xavier opened his mouth to argue. “Don’t even think about arguing or sassing me, boy. I don’t have to let you in here. This girl needs her rest and her dressings need changing. You can’t be in here like some peepin’ Tom. Get going, boy.”
“I’ll be back as soon as I can, Juliet.” Xavier promised as he left and closed the door behind himself.
“Well, Juliet, is that boy your Romeo?” Daphne joked as she put something in my IV.
I shook my head. “No, he’s just my advisor.”
“He wants to be doing more than advising, child.”
“I don’t think so.”
“That boy hasn’t left your side since we had to put ya under.”
“You mean since he got back?”
“No, I mean he hasn’t left.”
“What about Angelica?”
“She came and said goodbye to ya. She cried when she saw ya like that, but another woman was with her, Carol I think her name was, she came and took her away.”
“It was probably Carolynn then…”
Daphne nodded. “That might have been it, but that’s not what matters now, child. Ya need to be resting and relaxing and just focusing on getting yourself better.”
Daphne ran a few tests and drew blood. Afterwards she helped me shower and change. She was sweet, caring and fun to talk to. She made me laugh while she brushed my hair and pulled it up into a French braid and it was only after that she allowed Xavier to come back in. Apparently he’d been waiting outside for most, if not the entire time, she’d been helping me.
I saw how tired and worn out he looked. There were dark bags under his eyes, his hair was tousled, and his clothes disheveled and wrinkled, his tie was at half mast, something I’d never seen from him before. “Are you feeling any better?” Xavier asked, a half hearted smile on his face.
“Yeah.” I nodded. Now that I was awake, Daphne had helped remove all the extra tubes and the only thing I had to worry about was the sore throat and the IV in my arm.
I saw him visibly relax. “Good.”
“How are you feeling?”
Xavier looked confused. “I’m fine. It’s you that you need to worry about. Don’t worry yourself about me.”
“Xavier, you look exhausted. Daphne said you haven’t left the hospital.”
“Oh she did, did she?”
“Yes, she did.”
“Ah, well, it’s the truth.”
“Xavier, you have to take care of yourself! How did Angelica get home?”
“Ah, yes, well, I called your father and informed him of the delicacy of your condition. I told him I wasn’t leaving you. Instead he sent Carolynn over on his private jet and she escorted Angelica home instead.”
“And what have you been doing this whole time?”
“Waiting for you to wake back up.”
“Xavier, you can’t just drop everything because of me.”
Xavier strode over and placed both hands on my shoulders. “Of course I can. Juliet, we almost lost you. You almost died, not once but twice now! Are you mad? How could I possibly leave?”
“You almost died.”
“Oh…” Xavier let out a sigh and pulled me into a tight embrace. “Ribs!” I squeaked as I felt the pressure on my damaged ribs.
He immediately released me and concern etched his features. “I didn’t mean to hurt you! I’m sorry. I was so scared I was going to lose you. You have got to quit doing this to me. You’re going to drive me mad here soon if you don’t stop this.”
“I’m sorry Xavier, it’s not like I planned this to happen.”
Xavier shook his head as he wrung his hands through his hair. “Of course I know that, it just terrifies me to think I almost lost you already.”
I shook my head and gave him a small smile. “Come on, I’m a lot harder to get rid of that that.”
Xavier pinched the bridge of his nose and knocked his glasses off kilter. “You are going to be the end of me.” Xavier sighed. When his eyes met mine there was a small smile on his face. “But you have to stop scaring me.”
“I’ll do my best.” I promised.
Xavier rested his forehead against mine. “Has this been your best?”
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Then your best is dreadful.”
I stared into those chocolaty brown eyes and had a sudden urge I couldn’t suppress. I moved those last inches and touched my lips to his. I stayed there fora moment and Xavier didn’t do anything so I pulled back and looked away.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t ha-” I started but was stopped as Xavier pressed his lips against mine again. After a long moment he pulled back and stared at me, completely out of breath.
“Don’t ever be sorry for doing that. Ever.” Xavier grinned and I mirror that same goofy grin back.
“Okay.” I looked at him for a moment before I leaned back into him and kissed him again. That lasted for all of about 30 seconds because my heart rate increased and Daphne came back in.
“Alright ya two lovebirds.” She chastised with a teasing smile on her lips. “She doesn’t need that much excitement, boy. And I told ya, didn’t I?” Daphne winked. “But no more of that, that medicine she was on wasn’t no good for her heart so don’t be getting her all riled up or I’ll make ya leave.”
Maybe I was imagining things, but for a moment there, it looked like Xavier was embarrassed, and for some reason that made me giggle.
“And you, young lady, good for you.” Daphne sort of scolded us like naughty teenagers caught necking for about the next ten minutes, but since she kept making me laugh the entire time, much to Xavier’s embarrassment, I didn’t mind. In fact it made it even more amusing on my part. Trouble was, every time I laughed, it hurt, which made me laugh harder. Eventually, it got to the point where Daphne told me if I didn’t calm down she’d have to sedate me to get my heart levels back down. That sobered me up real quick and she gave me what had to be more than a healthy dose of pain meds because once it hit the IV I felt a cool rush in my veins and then I just didn’t care. Everything was fringed with white and I felt fantastic.
“Juliet, are you alright?”
“Oh I’m way better than alright.” I laughed. Even that didn’t hurt anymore. I was so gone. Xavier laughed at that.
We sat up talking for a bit then I leaned over to him. “I have a secret.” I whispered.
“What’s that?” Xavier whispered right back.
Xavier leaned over and I kissed him again. I felt him smile against my lips and return it. His lips were a soft gentle pressure against mine. I wanted more so I kissed him back harder and his hands slid around my back and he gave me what I wanted. There was a contained ferocity to it. Some part of me knew he was holding back, that he was still completely in control of himself. I can’t tell you why, but this disappointed me and I pulled away.
“What is it?” Xavier asked, his voice breathy.
I shook my head. “It’s probably just the drugs.”
Xavier looked concerned. “Juliet, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t lie to me. I now when you’re upset. You were fine until just a moment ago. What’s changed?”
I shook my head. “It’s stupid.”
Xavier sighed and sat back. “Please, just tell me already. I’m going to get it out of you sooner or later anyway. Just tell me.”
I shook my head and tried to hide behind my hair before I remembered it was in a braid. Now I felt really stupid.
Xavier sighed and pulled me against him and rested his head on mine. “You can talk to me, I hope you know that.”
If only he really knew. I curled up in the solid warmth of his chest. I don’t remember falling asleep, I just remember waking up. I looked around the room and was alone this time. I felt my heart sink. What was going on with me? I felt sore but pretty okay other than that. I pressed the nurse call button by my bed and it wasn’t long before Daphne was by my side.
“Yes, child? How’re ya feeling?”
“Better.” I smiled. “Whatever you gave me last time really helped.
Daphne smiled. “Of course it did, child! I gave ya the good stuff.”
Daphne told me all of what happened. Apparently the pain I’d felt had been bleeding on the brain, a result from the beating Chase had given me. That’s why they’d given me the drugs they had, they had the potential to stop my heart if not closely monitored, which is why I was where I was now. I was in an ICU with a private room and Xavier counted as my next of kin as my mom was dead and my father was in England. She warned me before a doctor came in to tell me just how lucky I was and to warn me about people like Chase and tell me all sorts of things I already knew, but being a doctor, felt the need to beat it into my skull. It was really a charming lecture. I was warned that I was to take it easy and keep myself calm. I was also informed they wanted to keep me for probably a month. Fan-freaking-tastic.
The days dragged on. You can only watch so many reruns of Family Guy before you start to go insane. I have no idea what was going on between Xavier and I, but everything felt different between us now. Maybe it was the drugs I was on, maybe it was the fact that I was stuck in a hospital, maybe it was the fact that I just didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know and not knowing was infuriating, especially as I had no outlet. Xavier brought me new books every day and he only left when Daphne made him, I ordered him to go get something to eat, or he went to get new books. It was sweet, I suppose, but also tiring.
I don’t know why, but I wanted him gone. Just for a little while. Jesus Christ, what did a girl have to do to get some alone time to think for herself? After having nothing but time, this felt like I was suffocating. I was going stir crazy and if I wasn’t careful, I was going to unload on the wrong person.
It was another early morning and I woke up and saw Xavier sleeping in the cot Daphne had brought in for him a few weeks ago. I smiled and felt that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach and that terrified me. I rolled over in my uncomfortable hospital bed and had too much time to think at the moment.
I wasn’t alone with my thoughts too long before Daphne came in. “Good morning to ya, love.” Daphne smiled. “How’re ya feeling today?”
“I’m alright.” I smiled back.
Daphne shook Xavier awake. “Up ya get, boy.”
Xavier startled awake and looked around. “Oh, good morning, Daphne.”
“It’s time to take care of Miss Juliet so out ya get.”
Xavier nodded. “I have a few errands to run anyway. I’ll be back as soon as I can, Juliet.”
“Take your time.” I waved and felt a strange sense of relief when he left.
“Juliet, what’s the matter with ya, girl?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ever since I caught ya kissing that there boy ya been gloomier than a storm cloud.”
I sighed. “I don’t know.”
“Well, ya best be figuring it out.”
Daphne did the usual tests and left me to my thoughts. I had a few hours to sort out my thoughts when Xavier returned a triumphant smile on his face.
“How would you like to go home?”
“I’ve ararnged the doctors to have you moved to your house. You will still have to be closely monitored, but I know how much you hate the hospital.”
Xavier’s face fell. “I thought this would make you happy.”
“It does, it’s just unexpected.”
Xavier sighed and sat on the edge of my bed. “Juliet, what are you thinking?”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means, right now, what thoughts are running through your head?”
“Because something has changed with you and I don’t know what. I’m concerned, you seem closed off. I don’t know if I’ve done something to push you away, I don’t want that, and I certainly don’t want you to push me away. I’m trying to figure you out, but you’ve been acting differently since I’ve been back. Even worse so since we kissed. Do you regret it?”
I bit my lip. This conversation was not going anywhere near where I wanted to be. “Xavier, where is all of this coming from?”
Xavier sighed. “Never mind.”
“No, you brought it up. You obviously want to talk about this, so fine, okay, let’s talk.”
“Juliet, I can’t figure out what you’re thinking. Ever. It’s infuriating. I’ve always been good at reading people, but with you, you’re like a blank page. I can’t get a read on you and I don’t know how to act or react around you. I’m going mad here. Give me something.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Xavier. What do you want from me?”
“Then there is nothing to tell me, Juliet.” Xavier grumbled. “Either way, you will be checking out today and able to come home. Amanda and Maverick are staying with her parents while we get you settled in.”
I nodded as my throat went dry. “Alright.” I choked out.
Xavier took a steadying breath and gave me a look I couldn’t read. “Well, I’ll inform Daphne and have the car pulled around.”
I nodded as he left the room. I sighed and groaned. I didn’t know what was going on or what I should do anymore and it was driving me crazy. What did I want anymore? I thought I wanted to go home, when I got here it wasn’t really home anymore. When Xavier showed up, I was excited to see him, but now it felt like too much. It was strained and our friendship had changed, in fact I wasn’t even really sure where it went. I hated it.
It wasn’t long before I was at home in my own bed, Loki snuggled up against me. I’m not quite sure who I was feeling but at the very least, it was comforting to be in my own bed again.