In Too Deep

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One

Nova wasn't sure how he does it; how he could sneak in without her knowing, or how he could easily slip out just like that. Maybe, just maybe she was the one who allowed it to happen. The man bore no superpowers, and she was a light sleeper, but that hadn't stopped her from knowing when he regained consciousness or the moment he left her house. The sound of the door closing should have alerted her. It never does, which made her believe the man does have powers.

Two months of saving his life and treating a possible criminal. If she was ever found out, she was going to serve time in prison, because what she kept doing wasn't good.

It was a crime.

But to hell with the law. She was saving a person's life. Her parents taught her not to judge, to help anyone who was in need, and throwing him away, or calling the police on him would not make her parents proud. At least, that's what she had been telling herself for two months now.

The stranger, whom she called Ghost because she was yet to know his name had become part of her life. It was funny how she had been saving his life for so long but never got to talk to him. Every time he showed up with a wound, he slipped away unnoticed. He never stopped to speak to her, and Nova was sure he wasn't interested, so why on earth would he keep coming back, and why would she keep saving his life?

Either way, the last thing she needed was for anyone to know how deeply involved she was in a criminal's life, which way was Nova stopped bringing people to her house, and when someone dropped by unexpectedly, she was quick to send them home. It made her look like she didn't want them to be there, and it was okay they thought that, but it wasn't okay for them to see Ghost. She was always afraid he would show up at the wrong time, always careful when it came to her privacy.

It was a strange kind of stability that had settled over her new life as a criminal's doctor, sort of. It gave her something to think about, to be useful to someone. She felt wanted, even if it was the bad kind of need, it felt great at least. While her job as a waitress was slowly starting to tumble down, this job that didn't even have a payment was better; well, most of the time when she wasn't freaking out that he wasn't breathing.

But this time around, she was handling it well. She had already googled how to take a bullet out. The first time she had done it, she had hurled for two hours straight. The second time she did it, she got better at it and around her third, she wasn't complaining.

Ghost was knifed in the stomach, and although it wasn't a fatal injury, he was still bleeding. He was passed out on the couch, his eyes closed and his hair was out of his face. He had a black eye forming under his right eye, his cheeks had small cuts and a large bruise near his jawline.

Nova filled her glass with wine and gently swirled the contents before taking a sip. That helped her stay focus. That helped her clear her mind. She wondered what kind of a job he did that always rendered him with wounds. What pushed him to risk his life like this? Did he not know there were other jobs out there, ones that were safe? Did he simply love it too much to quit it? She could only stare at him before she made a move to unbutton his shirt with shaky hands even though she had done this so many times, but she could never seem to stop herself from shaking, or from breathing hard and fast. Was it from the heat that was coming from his body and embracing her in its warmth, the cologne that seemed to dance around her nostrils, or from the way her body was reacting to their close proximity?

It was insane, totally and undeniably insane.

She finished unbuttoning the button, and her eyes traveled to his abdomen, to his old wounds that had left scars all around, and she traced each one of them carefully before she focused her gaze on two large cuts across his chest. The longer, thinner one started close to his heart, stretched diagonally across his body and only stopped right at his waist. The other cut was smeared in blood, definitely a deeper wound. If Nova had to guess, a knife hadn't just cut him, but it had been buried in his left-hand side. It was a kill shot. That knowledge alone shook her to the core.

Ghost needed an ambulance, not someone who had dropped out of medical school. This was beyond what she had learned in six months, and even though the internet was of help sometimes, Nova did not think she was the right person to treat him. He was most likely bleeding internally. But she knew better than to take matters into her own hands, or the thought of taking him remotely close to a hospital ever crossed her mind. She wouldn't take that risk, she wouldn't put a target on her back.

Nova grabbed a fresh towel from a cabinet and ran it under the topwater. She came back and knelt down in front of him and wiped the smaller cuts before she pressed a clean towel over the larger cut, applying pressure with both hands to try and control the bleeding. Grabbing the bottle of alcohol that was sitting on the coffee table, she poured it all over his chest, directly on his cuts. If he had been awake, there was no doubt he would have screamed from the pain.

After that, she applied antibiotic ointment on the cuts and let it dry before she pressed her fingers against the wound, holding it shut while she pierced the skin with the needle, stitching the wound closed. Once she had bandaged the cuts, she rose and gathered her kit, taking it back to the bathroom. She came back and scrubbed on all the places the blood had stained until there was no trace of it. That approximately took her an hour and a half, the blood was a bitch like that. But at least, she got the stain out.

Resuming back to the couch that was directly facing Ghost, Nova tilted her head and studied him once again. She played with the ends of her top, contemplating bringing him back to consciousness, but she was also scared of doing it. What if he snapped and killed her? He didn't exactly look like the kind of guy who gave out mercy, but she had been helping him; surely, that had to mean something to him.

She was all kind of mixed emotions. Curious, because she really wanted to know who he was. Frustrated, because she wasn't getting any answers and angry because he wasn't making things easier for her. She was also sad for him, for the life he was living and how little he valued his life.

Ghost looked like he hadn't shaved in days, and the rough look he had going on was totally hot. He finally shifted a bit and groaned out, changing the position of his head. Nova thought he was waking up and that had stopped her heart from beating. She didn't realize she had clutched her hands and her nails were digging into her palm until she had flinched from the pain, then looked down and rubbed on it to soothe the pain away, returning back to stare at him. He was a flawless beauty that probably hid a monster inside.

I want answers.

And answers she tried to look for—In his pockets, there was no wallet. Well, did she really expect him to carry a wallet with him considering his line of profession? Definitely not.

But she was able to get her hands on his phone again. She gazed at his sleeping form before looking down at the screen again, and just like last time, it was unlocked. Was he really that careless? Anyone could have access to his phone and everything on it, was he actually that dumb? Maybe he didn't care, maybe he didn't think the phone was a threat. Or maybe, he left the phone unlocked for her. Why? For emergency, maybe? No. He might think you would need someone to call from his contacts? Nova didn't think so.

What was the best possible way to know someone? From their pictures. Pictures say a thousand words better than mouth would.

Even as she clicked on 'Photos', excitement coarse through her. But just as it came, it went away abruptly. There was nothing in his camera roll, absolutely nothing. She bit on her lower lip hard, hard enough to draw blood. She wouldn't give up just yet.

Once again, she turned up with nothing. He didn't have a single message and that frustrated her more than she let on. She tightened her hold on the phone angrily and made a move to put it back into his pocket when her finger touched his Reminders app. Her eyes zoomed on two things; the first one was two words; Drop off, with a date set on it and the second one that felt like a punch to her guts, but Nova used controlled, breathing exercises to keep herself from hyperventilating.

Assassinate. There was no name of who Ghost was going to assassinate, but there was a location and it was going to happen in two weeks. It sent chills down her body. How could he casually write that down? And who was he going to kill, and why? Suddenly, being nosy didn't seem like fun. It didn't seem like something she wanted to push further if it was only going to bring nightmares to her.

Nova finally controlled her breathing, but she couldn't control her fear as she put the phone back in his pocket. When her phone vibrated in her pocket, she stumbled back in shock and fear, caught off guard. She placed a hand on her heart that was beating so loud, like thousands of butterflies wings fluttering.

She quietly regained a little bit of her sanity before she brought her phone out and her brother's name flashed through her screen. Giving one last glance at Ghost, she retreated to her room to answer the phone.

"Grant?"

"Hey, sis," came a soft reply. He sounded weird. He sounded like he was high. Nova's jaw tightened and she wanted to scream at him, but like always, she never did. She had always been calm and collected. Her mum used to say she was good at hiding her emotions and good at restraining herself. But her mum also said she needed some release every now and then before she blew up. So far, that blowing up hadn't happened, but she was on the very edge of it. Her self control was going to throw itself out of the window and Grant would bear the brunt of it since he was the one who enabled it.

"How is it going?"

"Why are you calling me, Grant?" Because she was sure there was a reason for this call. Grant never called her unless it was important unless he needed something and unless he was in deep shit, and his only way out was to call his little sister. He never wanted small talk, and when he did, his problems would soon follow after.

"Uh..." he trailed off, and she could hear him scratching his shaved head, contemplating whether he should say what was on his mind or not. She knew that because she listened. She knew that because she observed. "How's the money coming along?"

Her lips twitched just a little, and her eyes narrowed at her wall, imagining it to be Grant. He wanted to know how the money was coming along? Was he going to sit his ass down while she came up with his money? And he had the nerve to sound impatient? "I don't grow money, Grant," she replied tightly, trying not to sound like a bitch, but failing miserably.

He cleared his throat through the speaker. "Shit, I know. I was just asking because time's running out for me, you know?"

"No, I don't know. When you took debt from dangerous people, did it never occur to you that they would ask for it back? Did it never occur to you that you wouldn't be able to get their money back?"

"Look," he interrupted angrily. "I didn't call you so that you could call me out on my shit–"

"No," she bit out. "you called me because you expect me to pick and tell you that I have your money. I don't, okay? I don't fucking know how I'm going to arrange for ten thousand dollars, and I don't need you to keep calling me for that. If you can't be patient with me, then you can go find someone to help you, or you can wait until they come to collect and beat the ten thousand out of you. How does that sound?"

Nova was so mad, but she was not mad enough to let her brother handle things by himself. He would never be able to get that money on his own. She would be sentencing him to death if she left him on his own. Grant was her only family left, and they had promised their parents to stick by one another and to protect one another. She wouldn't want his body to wash up at the beach, because she had been too furious to help him.

"I hear you, Nova." And the line went dead after that.

She pressed two fingers on her forehead and groaned as splitting headache began to wrap itself around her head. Sitting down on her bed, she ran her hands through her hair and let it stay like that, looking down at her shoes. Nova needed money and fast. She needed to list down what she would be able to sell and if she was going to make ten thousand dollars from it, but she doubted it. Everything in her childhood home was cheap; maybe not that cheap, but cheap enough not to make her the amount that she needed.

She cursed Grant for dealing with dangerous people, and a bubble of laugh almost escaped her when she remembered she was helping one. Talk about hypocrisy. But unlike Grant, she didn't owe Ghost anything. Unlike Grant, she wouldn't turn up dead for helping a dangerous man. The thought of something happening to her brother was enough to make her sick, enough for her heart to beat fast–too fast. Her breathing was out of control again and she tried to steady it.

It took her a few minutes before she gathered her thoughts and left the room.

And only to find Ghost gone again.

It hadn’t even been ten minutes.

She gritted her teeth and stormed out of the house, hoping she would catch a glimpse of him. But when she walked out, there was no one. The street was empty, and even the wind seemed to have taken Ghost’s scent with it.

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