Skin of the Night

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Chapter 63: In My Dreams

It felt as though a mountain was lifted off my shoulders. I’d never experienced such overwhelming relief, and it made me cry all over again. He was awake. William was awake.

Jacinta continued while I struggled to come to grips with it, “A blunt force to the head struck him slightly to the left on his frontal bone, which has resulted in a closed and linear skull fracture. We’ve completed a CT scan to assess the damage, but all looks well, so there’s no need for surgery. However, he’s got a concussion and doesn’t remember anything from the incident. He’s also broken three ribs, and two false ribs – one rib and one false rib on his left side, and the rest on his right.

“He’s also broken the ulna bone of his forearm, and will need a cast for the next few weeks. Other than that, he’s in good health. Does have a black eye though, but we’ve discovered no issues with his vision.”

I noticed that she had failed to mention that he’d also been stabbed in his right bicep, but taking into account the extent of his injuries, it wasn’t surprising. She would probably remember to bring it up in a second. Meanwhile, Daphne covered her mouth with her hands. Beside her, John stood to wrap his arm over her shoulders.

The doctor continued, “If you want to see him, you may, but I must urge you not to strain him. He’s still somewhat disoriented. And I’m afraid I’ll have to restrict visitors to his family members.”

Pure agony pierced my heart. I wasn’t allowed to see him? No. I couldn’t bear it. I had to see him. I would implode if I weren’t allowed. In that moment, the urge to see him felt more crucial to my existence than breathing did. I had to see him for myself to trust that he was going to recover, and I needed to look into his eyes and watch him recognise me.

My heart skipped a beat when Jason came to my rescue, “What about his girlfriend?” he asked Dr Patel.

John’s head whipped around at once to stare at his youngest child. “His girlfriend?” he echoed astounded. I didn’t have the mind to be bothered about our secret being revealed. If he fired me, so be it. All that mattered to me right now was seeing William awake.

Awaiting the verdict, I stared blankly at the floor. Beside me, Jason quietly said, “Will and Cara have been seeing each other for a while. I think she deserves to see him.”

How I loved him. It moved me that he was considering my place in all this, when his elder brother had been struck unconscious earlier. Was there any limit to his sense of compassion?

I noticed that John failed to reply, presumably because he was shocked, so Daphne spoke in his stead, “If Dr Patel deems it okay, I have no qualms.” Another wave of relief hit me. I fisted my hands, inwardly begging for Dr Patel to give me the green light.

“Sure, his girlfriend may join,” she replied professionally.

A single sob escaped me. I was going to see him. I was only seconds away from finding him with open eyes.

“Come on, Cara,” Jason murmured and ascended from his seat to drag me up with him. After wrapping his arm around my waist, he supported me toward the doors where Dr Patel stood waiting.

“He also suffered a knife wound to his bicep,” she said after we’d exited through the door. Glancing behind her, she looked at John and Daphne. “It was five centimetres deep, but it didn’t strike his brachial artery. He did suffer blood loss, so we had to have him on blood supply. He’s been stitched back together now, though.”

“He was stabbed as well?” John enquired aghast.

“From his injuries, I would say he was defending himself when his assailant stabbed his arm. His head injury is likely to have occurred after that.”

John halted for a moment, clearly struck. “Do you think it possible that his assailant meant to kill him?” he queried.

Dr Patel looked apprehensive. “Considering the damage inflicted upon him, it’s plausible. When I spoke to the police officers, they said a man intervened. Judging from William’s injuries, it doesn’t look like his assailant was anywhere near finished when he was interrupted. I’ve said this to the police, so that they can take it into account regarding their proceedings.”

Daphne released a whimper that sounded animalistic while she shielded her face with her hands. Like her, we were all horrified. I’d never seen Jason so pale. Oliver had meant to murder William?

“Thankfully, he was interrupted in the nick of time. William is going to be fine. Though, we’re not going to discharge him before tomorrow. After that, he’ll need someone to look after him for at least the first two days. Since he’s suffered a grave concussion, he’ll need to be woken up every few hours if he falls asleep. The ensuing days will be critical whatever regards his recovery. It’s important that if he has any nosebleeds, you call for an ambulance immediately. He will most likely experience nausea, dizziness, confusion, and-or headaches, and if these symptoms don’t soften over time, he’ll need to come back for further inspection.

“I’ll provide you with further information regarding how to care for him after you’ve seen him. If any of you want to remain with him for the night, that’s fine. He’s disoriented though, so do be patient with him. He’s drifting in and out of consciousness a lot, but we’re determined to try and keep him awake for the time being.”

“Has he said anything?” Jason asked of her, anxious.

Dr Patel’s eyes flickered in my direction. “He has asked what happened, where he is and things of the like. After we explained to our best ability, he asked about Cara. He was worried she had been harmed as well.”

He remembered me.

Rendered speechless, I could only stare at her. After all this, he had worried about me? I didn’t know how to react or what to do with myself. The magnitude of my feelings for him made me feel about to explode. Against my will, I released a loud sob and buried my face against Jason’s chest while I trembled in his hold of me.

“Oh, Cara.” Daphne sniffed and rubbed my back. I pulled away to look at her, astounded by her ability to express sympathy when her own son was the cause of my state. There was no questioning where Jason had inherited his mellow heart.

“I’m so sorry we haven’t told you, Daphne. It just seemed-”

“Don’t worry about it, darling,” John interrupted, though his tone was patient. “We’ll deal with that later on. You needn’t be concerned.”

I sighed and nodded my head at him.

“Here,” Dr Patel said and walked to a door down the corridor. “He’s resting in this room.”

My heart was hammering in my chest while I approached her behind Daphne and John. After peeking in, Dr Patel held the door open for us. When I stepped through the door, I was holding my breath. Glancing in the direction of the bed within the room, I found him resting with an ice pack over his bruised eye. It was tied to his face with a white band around his head. Noticing our arrival, his remaining eye browsed our faces until it rested on mine and widened considerably.

Behind us, Dr Patel quietly shut the door to leave us with privacy.

“Hello, William,” Daphne softly cooed and slowly approached his bed to have a seat on it.

“Mum? Dad?” he replied hoarsely and looked between them. The sound of his voice triggered my tears again. It hadn’t occurred to me how much I loved such a small part of him. Truly, any reminder and indication of his character was overwhelming me. I could hardly wait for the moment when that delicious voice would whisper amorous declarations into my ear again.

“We’re here, chap. How are you feeling?” John enquired through a trembling voice and walked over to have a seat on the other side of his bed. Meanwhile, Daphne reached forward to grab around William’s healthy left hand, and she lifted it to her mouth to kiss it repeatedly.

“I... I’m all right. Bit confused is all. I’m on serious drugs, though, so I do feel better than even Genghis Khan,” he murmured and focused his gaze on Jason. He was certainly on drugs. What a random thing to say. “Did you get dust in your eye, Jason?” he queried fondly of his brother.

“That’s not funny,” Jason croaked out and grimaced in anguish. “That’s not funny at all, William.” He shook his head to himself and shut his eyes while he struggled to compose himself. I hugged him against me to offer my support.

“Better than Genghis Khan,” John quoted amused. “Why, that must feel great.”

“Fucking brilliant, actually,” William replied through a crooked smile and looked to his father. “My genes are just as great as his, if not even better. Granted, he had countless concubines... That utter bellend. I’m all about monogamy. He can’t have truly known any of his multiple children. Fucking disgrace. Had I been his wife, I would have slaughtered him.”

These drugs were making him cockier and crazier than ever.

Daphne’s head dropped before she shook it to herself. Eventually, an involuntary giggle slipped out of her mouth. “You should hear yourself.”

“I’m recording this,” Jason murmured and fished his phone out of his back pocket. “This is leverage.”

“Fuck you,” William growled under his breath.

“Language, William,” Daphne scolded.

“Oh, let him curse, Daphne,” John argued.

“Yes, let me curse, Mum. Fuck, cunt, shit, wanker, tit,-”

“This is incredible,” Jason commented while recording his elder brother.

“William!” Daphne ordered.

He giggled like a child. “Am I grounded?”

“What am I to do with you?” She sighed and buried her face in his lap where she started to cry again.

“Love me unconditionally,” he said affectionately and lifted his left hand to stroke her hair. “Don’t worry, Mum. I’m going to be all right. I’m sorry you have to see me like this. I heard they caught the bastard, at least.”

“They did,” John confirmed.

“Andy was the one to intervene and fetch you help,” I murmured. At once, his striking blue eye pierced mine.

“Andy?”

“Yes.” I nodded and stared back at him while my face twisted. Beaten or not, he was still a sight to behold, mainly because I loved him.

He blinked, and I could tell he was moved by what I’d said. “Well, then I owe him my life. Where is he now?”

“Outside with Chloe, Alex and Ivy. Only family members were allowed to see you,” I replied.

He arched a brow at me. ”You’re not family. Yet.”

I gaped. These drugs completely annihilated whatever debatable filter he normally had.

“No, but apparently, she’s your girlfriend,” John interposed, amused, and wiped a lone tear off his cheek.

William’s lips formed a cunning smile while he continued to stare at me, seemingly unfazed. “In my dreams, sure. Though, I plan to make it a reality one day.”

“Well, shit,” Jason said and grinned behind the camera of his mobile. “I might have made that happen for you already. Aren’t I the best brother in the world?”

Frowning, William reluctantly looked away from me to direct his attention to his brother. “What?”

“Aren’t you his girlfriend, Cara?” Jason playfully asked of me. “That’s what I told the doctor. We can’t have me lying to an honest woman, can we?”

I inhaled sharply when William immediately looked back to me, and the hope in his visible eye was nearly tangible. “No, we can’t have that,” I murmured and blew my cheeks out. “Would you mind being my boyfriend, William?” I brought myself to ask.

His jaw dropped. For many seconds, he merely stared at me. “If you’re pulling my leg right now, I won’t forgive you,” he finally said, and I could see that his guard was up. He didn’t believe me. That hurt a little. Was the idea of me asking to be his girlfriend that far-fetched to him?

“I’m not,” I replied resolutely. “I want to be your girlfriend.”

He inhaled sharply, but stopped the instant a hiss poured out of his mouth. His ribs, I gathered. “Bloody hell, that hurt like a clown on acid,” he complained, as if it made perfect sense, and removed his hand from Daphne’s blonde hair to touch his chest. After composing himself, he rested his head on his pillow and stared at me for a long time.

“I sometimes believe in God when I look at you,” he brought himself to say. He was so over the top right now that I didn’t know whether to laugh or melt, so I did both.

“Wow,” John mouthed to himself, seemingly impressed. “That line has got to be a winner. I raised you well.”

“You did.” Daphne smiled.

“Well, then?” Jason pushed.

William frowned, seemingly impatient. “Well, I’m not sure whether I’m hallucinating or actually hearing this. I’m dizzy as hell, you twat. They gave me a dose large enough to tranquilise a bloody elephant.”

“You’re not hallucinating, dear. What’s your verdict?” Daphne softly told him. “Don’t leave her hanging.”

William’s irritated frown persisted. “My verdict is that it’s a stupid question. The answer should be obvious. Of course I want to be her boyfriend. What does she take me for? I’ve been harassing her for weeks now.”

Points for self-knowledge. Only William could phrase himself like that and still sound romantic.

“You cheeky bastard,” John remarked while scrutinising Jason. “You knew about this all along, didn’t you?”

Finally, Jason stowed his phone away. “Not all along. Safe to say I was shocked when I was enlightened. Their story is one of the most original ones I’ve heard. Met by accident the first time, unaware of me being a link between them. But I fancy them as a couple. I’ve always regarded Cara as a version of a sister, so now two of my favourite people are in a relationship. I couldn’t be happier about it. Honestly.”

“Yeah,” William smirked and studied me condescendingly, “he sided with me all along, darling. He might be your best mate, but he’s my brother. Thought you stood a chance, did you? Fuck no. You were a foregone conclusion the moment I realised you were his flatmate. Jason and I combined is a force greater than Sherlock and Watson. Greater than anything you can imagine, actually. He’s the Robin to my Batman. The Pumba to my Timon. We’re fucking incredible.”

I couldn’t stifle my laughter, especially when I heard his last comparison, but I did manage to release it somewhat quietly. He was completely out of his senses, and despite the grim reason for it, he was a hilarious case. I would never forget this.

“Just when I thought he couldn’t get any dafter, he bloody goes and outdoes himself.” Jason chuckled.

“Were you aware when she applied? That why you recommended her?” John queried suspiciously when he decided to return to the subject.

“I had no idea around that time,” Jason admitted without a trace of remorse. “Wouldn’t have changed my course of action, though. Cara deserved that internship regardless of her relation to William. She’s bloody clever.”

“That she is, and now she is finally mine, to have and to hold. When can I have my kiss?” William asked of me.

I was so touched that I had to look toward the ceiling to keep my tears at bay. I was in a relationship with the man I loved with all my heart. Never mind the fact that he was currently high as a kite. It didn’t ruin the moment for me at all. I could hardly wait to tell him I loved him, but I would wait until we had privacy and at least until he was sobering up a bit more. As he was now, it wasn’t appropriate. His mind was scattered all over the place.

“Here,” John said and stepped away from his bed. While looking at me, he gestured toward his son. “Give him a kiss, love. He deserves it.”

“That he does,” I replied emotionally and scurried over to oblige. As gently as I possibly could, I cupped his sharp jaw in my hand and lowered my lips onto his smiling mouth. The fact that he kissed me back wasn’t something I took for granted. Those perfect lips could have been dead and cold if it hadn’t been for Andy. Now they were only dry.

As I pulled slightly away, a tear of mine dripped onto his face, but his eye held me captive, so I lingered. He looked tortured for a beat, and it had me worried. Was I causing him pain? I was about to remove my hand from his jaw when he clasped around my wrist to prevent me. Squeezing his eye shut, he started shaking, and I realised he was weeping.

Utter silence descended upon us while we listened to him choke on his row of stifled sobs. It was heart breaking. It was obvious that he had been more scared than he let on. His brave behaviour was only an act.

Suddenly, he let go of my wrist to fold his hand around the nape of my neck. Pulling me toward him, he only halted when our foreheads rested against each other. In hope to console him, I kissed him repeatedly while he cried.

“I was so worried about you,” he whispered almost inaudibly. “I was scared to death that someone had hurt you as well.”

“William,” I whimpered. “Worry about yourself. I’m fine now that you’re going to be.”

He released me after another kiss, out of breath. “Will you stay with me? I don’t want you to leave.” His tone was achingly vulnerable.

“Of course,” I assured him and had a seat on his bed when I saw that John had found himself a spot in one of the two chairs in the room.

“I’ll stay as well, if you don’t mind,” Jason murmured. William glanced at him with brotherly affection pouring from his face.

“Thanks, Jason. I’d like that.”

“Do you want us to stay as well?” John asked of him. “We’d be happy to stay.”

“No,” William said and rested his head on his pillow again. While looking at John, he continued, “I love you both without a bottom to it, but you ought to get some rest. You’re old.”

“Fuck you I’m old,” John snapped.

William chuckled. “You’re sixty-three, Dad. How’s the pension coming along?”

“Brilliantly, as it happens. Shame you won’t get to enjoy the leftovers, since you won’t inherit a single penny given that dreadful mouth of yours.”

“Well, since I inherited my wit after mum, I won’t need your money.”

“Daphne, what an utter impudent brat you’ve given me. The cheek of him. And yet I wouldn’t have him any other way.”

“Those are your genes speaking now. Not mine,” she countered dryly.

John scoffed and looked sulkily away from her. “As if.”

“Oh, it so is,” Jason sided with his mother.

“Did you arrive straight from the event, Mum?” William asked.

“Yes. We came as soon as we heard. I’m so glad you’re all right, William,” she uttered upset and studied him as if to comprehend his life. “You can’t scare me like that.”

“I’m sorry,” he replied sincerely. “I have no memory of what happened. Last thing I recall is getting ready with Cara in the hotel room.”

My heart jolted. I hoped he remembered everything before that. I’d opened my heart to him for the first time during those hours. I hadn’t thought them to be so crucial until now. I’d hate to have to repeat myself, because it wouldn’t be as genuine a moment. It would be forced, not natural.

But if he had forgotten everything from the function, he had also forgotten his encounter with Oliver earlier in the evening. A shudder crawled down my spine. If that was true, he was going to have an even bigger shock. It was going to arrive like lightning from a clear blue sky to him.

“Do you know who attacked you?” John asked of him. As expected, William shook his head.

“Any suspects?” John continued to probe.

“No.”

“Don’t tell him, Cara. Let the police do it. His genuine reaction will be good for his case,” John instructed me, ever the lawyer. I nodded my understanding to him.

“She knows?” William queried surprised.

“I do. But I’m going to listen to John,” I said and faced my boyfriend again. How I loved that I could regard him as such. He was my first boyfriend, and I surely hoped he would be my last. I wouldn’t make do with anyone else.

“I see,” he murmured and looked away from me. I could tell he was conflicted. While he wanted to know, he could see the reasoning behind John’s command. Part of me wanted to tell him, because I wanted to probe him about whether he’d been aware of Oliver and Francesca, but it could wait.

Another five minutes past, William was struggling to keep his eye open. He was about to drift off again, and it forced Daphne to call for the nurse, as we were uncertain about whether to allow him rest. When she instructed us to keep him awake for at least another two hours, Daphne and John decided to remain until he was finally allowed to catch some rest again.

We talked about everything and nothing while we entertained him during that while. All of us were eager to savour the presence of his breathing life. Every now and then he would make an inappropriate remark that was bound to be due to the drugs in his system, so we either laughed or shrugged it off.

It was nearly six in the morning when Jason and I found ourselves alone with him. We’d fetched two chairs over and had placed them on either side of his bed while he slept in the middle, seemingly at peace. With our arms folded under our heads, we rested against his bedside and eventually drifted into slumber ourselves.

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