Reluctantly Yours

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Chapter 17

I honestly wasn't ready to go back. I wanted to stay here in the dark place. It was peaceful there. There weren't any shadows. I didn't see things that weren't there. It was empty. Completely blank, and I liked it. It was different.

But I had to go back. I wasn't sure why, but something was calling me back. It was more important for me to stay than it would have been for me to go. It was strange though, I admit. I didn't know what the feeling was. Whatever was calling me back, I knew that I was needed there. I also knew the risks of going back.

If I went back, I would continue seeing the imaginary things. I would still be depressed, and I would still be broken. But this wasn't about me. I suddenly remembered that it was him. He needed me. I needed him. There was no denying it. I was still hesitant though.

If I went back, he would find out what was wrong with me, if he didn't already, but I had a feeling that he didn't. Was I ready for that? I was almost certain that he would leave me, just like Mom did. But there was still that tiny chance that he wouldn't. I just didn't think that chance would hold out.

***

I woke up to hear a constant, steady beeping noise coming from nearby. I tried to open my eyes, but the room was way too bright so I immediately closed them. Then I fluttered my eyelids, trying to get used to the bright light burning my retinas. I felt my hand being squeezed and I finally opened my eyes all the way.

I didn't see anyone at first, just the blinding light on the ceiling. Then I moved my head to the side and he was there. The reason I came back.

"Shane," I whispered softly. He smiled and nodded, still not saying anything, but his eyes were red. Had he been… crying? Shane didn't seem like an emotional person to me, but I guess we all have our flaws, right?

I looked around. No one else was in the room. The only sound was our light breathing and the beeping of the monitor. I was confused. Surely my father would have been here, right? What about Isabel and Cooper? They should have been here too. They were the last people I saw before I blacked out. Where were they?

"Where is everyone," I asked softly. Shane lowered his eyes and quickly looked back up to me.

"They're in the waiting room. Technically, I'm not supposed to be here, but I've been sneaking in every night," he confessed a little sheepishly. I raised an eyebrow.

"Every night? How long have I been out," I asked him.

"Three days. This is your third night here."

I looked around again. It's been three days? It felt more like three minutes. I guess time passes quickly. I'm not completely sure though. Suddenly, the door opened and I froze. Shane would get in trouble.

"Shane, it's time for you to go. The doctor is making his rounds," informed an older woman. She seemed to be in her forties and she had a kind face. She also didn't seem surprised to see Shane here. In fact, she knew his name. She stopped walking when she saw me though.

A huge grin spread across her face and she looked back at Shane. "I see that I was right," she said. I wondered what she was right about. What did I miss?

"Anyways, sorry to break up your little reunion, but you need to go Shane. The doctor will be here soon and now that she's awake, I'll need to check her stats," said the nurse. Shane nodded once and then walked out after kissing me softly on the forehead. I watched as the door swung closed.

The woman smiled kindly at me, but I just watched as she walked closer. Her name tag said Krystal and I thought of what a pretty name that was. She came and tapped a few buttons on the monitors, though I had no idea what she was doing.

"He's been waiting for you, you know," Krystal said suddenly. I looked over at her, confusion clouding my features. She saw my face and smiled again.

"That boy has barely left your side. He comes in here every chance he can get. Sometimes I watch him, just to see what he does in here. Usually, he'll just hold your hand, cry, and he's sang you a song every time he's come in here. It's really sweet, but it's kind of sad at the same time," she said.

I tried to process the information that she was feeding me. This was all news to me. I never thought that Shane would do that. Or why he would want to. It didn't really make sense to me, but I suppose I would be there for him too, if the roles were reversed. No one deserves to be alone at a time like that.

"How long have you two been together," she asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. I thought for a moment.

"About a week," I told her. Her eyebrows shot up to her hairline. She seemed surprised, though I wasn't sure why.

"The way he looks at you, you would have thought that you two have been together for much longer than that. A man like that is very rare these days, so make sure you hold on to him," she warned me. I didn't say anything. I didn't feel like speaking at all, actually. Unless it was with Shane.

Seeing that I wasn't going to respond, she gave me one last smile and walked out of the room. Moments later, a young doctor came in. He looked to be in his late twenties, and he was very handsome, but I didn't pay much attention to that. He gave me a polite smile, showing his white teeth.

"Hello Jasmine. I'm glad to see that you're finally up. How do you feel," he asked as he stood in front of me.

"I feel okay, I guess. Just hungry," I croaked. And it was true. I felt starved and ravenous. He chuckled a little then told me to follow his finger as he shone the light into my eyes.

"That's completely normal. We'll get you some food very soon. What about anything else? Do you feel moody, or have you been seeing anything… unusual," he said after a second's hesitation. I couldn't help but laugh humorlessly.

"Thanks doc, but I'd much prefer if you be blunt about it. It's easier for the both of us. But no. I've been feeling fine and I haven't really been up long enough to see anything," I told him. He nodded in understanding and wrote it down on his clipboard. He ran a hand through his blonde hair when a few sprigs fell into his face.

He asked me a few more questions and I answered them all honestly. he wrote down my answers on the clipboard and I waited patiently. Finally, he spoke in reassuring tones, which I thought made him a good doctor because it was calming.

"I'll go get your family and bring them in to see you and then we'll go over and check your charts to see if you're clear to go," he informed me. I nodded in slight relief. I wanted nothing more than to go home at this moment.

Moments later, the door opened again and Dad walked in with Isabel following right behind. He came over and hugged me with a smile on his face and I noticed Cooper and Shane lingering by the doorway.

Hey princess. How are you feeling," Dad asked. I shrugged in response. I already knew that this would get annoying because I knew my father and he would ask the same question every five minutes.

"I'm hungry. The doctor said I could get food," I said quietly. Dad nodded and placed a kiss on my forehead before leaving out the door. Now it was just me, Cooper, and Shane. Cooper came over and hugged me, but before he pulled away, he whispered in my ear.

"We need to talk." I nodded and he stood up and sat in a chair that was in the corner by the bed. Shane gave me a small smile and say at the edge of my bed.

"I missed you," he said softly. His eyes were no longer the bright red that they were earlier and he looked much better than before when he was here. I smiled at his words, thinking of what the nurse told me about Shane.

"I missed you too. When we get out of here, do you wanna go home and watch a movie," I asked, trying to distract him from the real reason we were here. Besides, I really wanted to watch a movie and spend time with Shane. He smiled and nodded at my offer and I pulled him down to hug me.

He kissed my cheeks and then have me a quick one on my lips and I smiled even wider, but also felt my cheeks heat at the same time because Cooper was in the room. When he pulled back, I looked at him.

"Shane? Can you give me a minute with Cooper," I asked. I saw him stiffen and his smile fell a little but he composed himself.

"Of course," he said tensely. With that he stood up and walked out of the room, leaving me with Cooper. He came over and sat at the edge of the bed, where Shane was just moments before. He looked at me, his eyes searching but I didn't know what they were looking for.

"Why didn't you tell me," he asked. I felt my eyebrows knit together in confusion. What was he talking about?

"What? Tell you what?"

"About you. About your depression and schizophrenia," he prompted. I felt my whole body freeze. How did he know? Who told him? Did Shane know too? I felt myself begin to panic. Now what? Was he just going to tell me that he wanted nothing to do with me any more?

"Jazz? Why didn't you tell me? I thought we were friends," Cooper said, the hurt evident in his voice. I felt the tears prick my eyes and I buried my face in my hands and sobbed. Instead of walking away, like I thought he would, he pulled me in closer, tucking me into his chest while I cried.

"I'm so- sorry," I hiccupped. "I underst-stand if you want to leave," I sobbed. I felt Cooper tense and he pulled back. He put his finger under my chin and forced me to look up at him, his hazel eyes burning into mine.

"Don't be ridiculous Jazz. I wouldn't leave you for something that you can't control. Shane won't either, if that's what you're afraid of. No one's going to leave you because of that. Ever. Not if we love you. If anything, we'd try to help you get through it, not abandon you because of it," he said. His words made me feel a little better, but I still had doubts. My mother claimed to love me. She always said she loved me more than life itself, yet she still left because of how I was.

More tears pricked my eyes but he wiped them away. He hugged me tightly again and I held onto him. No matter what he had done in the past, Cooper was a good friend.

"I think you should tell him. You're my best friend Jazz and whether the feeling is reciprocated or not, I think that if you really love him, you should tell him. I'll be there with me if you want me to be, but he deserves to know," Cooper said.

I knew that he was right. I just couldn't do it. I should tell Shane before it's too late and then he'll be stuck with me and miserable or he'll get angry that I hid the truth from him. I resolved that I would tell him soon, just not now. I needed to find the right time and the right way to say it.

"Jazz?" I looked up when Cooper spoke again. "That day in the bathroom… was that what was happening?" I had almost forgotten about that day, when Cooper found me screaming on the bathroom floor. I looked down at my hands and nodded, another tear sliding down my cheek. I felt exposed and vulnerable now, like someone had ripped away all of the protection that I had.

Cooper was about to say something else, when the door opened. Isabel and Dad walked in with a plate of food. Cooper smiled at them and got up while they sat it in front of me.

"I got you some breakfast," Dad said. I nodded and opened the lid to see, and smell, biscuits and gravy, which were my absolute favorite, and some scrambled cheesy eggs. They even brought me a bottle of orange juice and I smiled. I was so hungry. It felt like I had been starved.

The door opened again and Shane walked back into the room before leaning against the wall by the door. His eyes flicked to Cooper before landing on me, where they stayed. I ate my food while Dad and Isabel spoke in hushed tones by the corner. Cooper and Shane were both watching me, but I paid no attention to them. I only wanted my food.

When I finished, Dad threw the empty plate away and then the door opened once more. The handsome young doctor walked in with a smile on his face.

"It seems to me that you are free to go. I didn't see any problems with your charts or stats, but I want you to take it easy for a while. When your therapist gives you the okay, then you need to start back on your daily medication, but until then, you're not permitted to take anything stronger than Tylenol or any acetaminophen. You also aren't allowed to drive until the therapist says okay. Here are your discharge papers and you can leave," the doctor said.

"Thanks doc," Dad said after shaking the man's hand. He smiled and walked out again. I slowly stood up and almost instantly, Shane was there, his arm wrapped around my waist, supporting me. We left the room and walked down the hallway.

I was happy that I could finally go home. I was led to Isabel's car and we all piled inside, with me sitting in between Shane and Cooper in the backseat. I leaned my head on Shane's shoulder while we held hands and he moved his thumb in circles on my hand. The drive wasn't long but I fell asleep before we reached our house. We all got out and Shane helped well me inside.

He helped me upstairs and into my bedroom where I laid down on my bed and he crawled up beside me. This is where I wanted to stay. In Shane's arms, beside him, forever. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep once more.

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