Incandescence (Part I)

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I opened my eyes and found myself in a state of disarray. My eyes felt heavy but I pushed through, scanning the room before my eyes landed on Bradley who was asleep in the chair besides my bed.

What happened and more importantly, why was I in a hospital room? I closed my eyes and tried to remember.

My mind went back to the carpark and the sound of gunfire. It was at that moment I realized I must have been shot. I quickly scanned my body wondering where the bullet had hit. I wasn’t sure if it was the painkillers but I felt numb. It wasn’t until I started moving that I felt an immense shooting pain coming from my left shoulder; I looked down to find my shoulder bandaged.

Did the shooter aim for my heart and miss? I couldn’t believe I had been shot; someone attempted to kill me.

Bradley must have sensed my sense of panic because just as I realized the magnitude of what had happened, he jumped from his chair and stood beside me.

‘Thank God you’re awake’ he exclaimed. Relief plastered all over his face.

‘What happened?’ I asked, needing some sort of affirmation of what I was thinking.

‘You left the office a few minutes before me. When the elevator door opened in the carpark I found you unconscious laying on the floor, you had lost a lot of blood. I called the ambulance and we had you rushed into surgery. You were in surgery for several hours. Your parents were here all night, but left a short while ago after we were told your surgery was a success. I must have drifted off to sleep not long after they left. I’ll call them now and tell them you’re ok’ Bradley said as he called my parents and put me on the phone to talk to them. We didn’t say much, but I did tell them to get some rest and they promised they’d come and visit first thing in the morning.

‘Thanks for doing that’ I said. ‘You look exhausted. You really should go home and get some rest otherwise everyone will think you’re the one that was shot’ I said, trying to provide some comic relief; I’ve always looked to comedy during stressful times as a way to stay grounded.

‘Seeing you lying there, I’ve never been so afraid. I thought you were dying and there was nothing I could do to help you’ I was still feeling groggy, but I was sure I saw a lone tear escape Bradley’s eye as he said those words.

Placing my hand over his as they rested on my bed, I gave his hands a gentle squeeze.

‘Do you remember what happened?’ Bradley asked, searching my eyes for answers.

‘Just as the elevator doors opened, I received a message warning me to watch out. I remember hearing footsteps and seeing a shadow in the dark corner.’ I paused before continuing ‘the last thing I remember was the sound of gunfire. Bradley, was my handbag touched?’

‘It was with you when I found you, it’s right here’ Bradley said as he handed me my handbag. Nothing was touched, so I knew this wasn’t a random robbery.

I pulled out my phone and opened my last message from Unknown, handing my phone to Bradley I watched as the blood drained from his face.

‘Tori, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to protect you. I had security at your home and outside our building; but whoever this is, they still managed to get to you’ he said, all the while looking at the ground.

‘You can’t punish yourself. This isn’t your fault any more than it’s my fault. Bradley, you need to understand, this has got nothing to do with you. Someone out there wants me dead and I don’t want you caught up in this.’

Brett took a moment to consider my words before uttering ‘I will have them killed before they can ever harm you again’ his words sent a chill up and down my spine because I knew his words were not an empty threat.

‘You’re tired. You need to go home and get some rest. What time is it?’

‘It’s 10.00pm Tuesday. Between being unconscious, surgery and resting; it’s been over 24-hours since you were last awake. You must be hungry, what can I get you?’ Bradley was clearly avoiding my directive to go home.

‘Bradley, you need to go home and rest. They have food in the hospital, I’m sure they can sort out a meal if I ask. But you look exhausted. Have you managed to get any sleep? And what about work?’ Even though I was the one injured with a bullet wound, what pained me most was seeing Bradley in this state. For someone who always seemed untouchable, right now he was fragile.

‘I’m fine. Leonard will visit in the morning and he’ll bring with him a change of clothes and some of my work. I’ve asked the IT Department to set me up with remote access so I’ll be able to take care of you and still keep on top of my work. We’ve arranged for Leonard and Dad to keep an eye on the Accounts Department for now, so don’t worry about anything. Now, if you can give me a minute, I can quickly find something for you to eat’ he said as he gently lent forward and gave me a kiss on my forehead.

I closed my eyes as he left the room. I didn’t know what was going on, it was as though I had been morphed into a parallel universe. He was only away for a few minutes but I found myself touching my forehead, thinking of Bradley’s kiss. What was wrong with me? Had I sustained a head injury when I fell?

True to Bradley’s word, he returned to my room within moments. I wasn’t sure how he’d managed to find so much food and a Doctor in such a short amount of time, but I didn’t complain. The Doctor introduced himself to me as Dr Clark. He gave me a quick check-up before helping adjust my bed and providing me some much needed medication.

Bradley was there the whole time making sure I was comfortable and when Dr Clark left, he plated my dinner and helped me cut my food to eat.

Watching Bradley let down his guard so that he could take care of me was humbling. ‘You don’t have to wait on me Bradley’ I started. ‘You’re a busy Director. You run the largest business in our State. You don’t have to stay here and keep watch over your employee’.

‘Why do you always have to keep throwing that at me? I know I’m busy with work, but do you really see me as nothing more than your boss? Did it ever occur to you that I might just want to be here; that I might want to be the one that takes care of you?’

I didn’t know how to respond, but felt a sudden sense of sleep take over me; the medication Dr Clark administered was starting to take effect.

As I started to drift off to sleep, a nurse came in with a bunch of flowers. ‘These were left at the main reception desk for you’ she smiled while handing me the flowers. ‘Who are they from?’ I managed to ask and Bradley picked up the card.

‘You really should learn to Watch Out’

‘Who gave you these?’ I could feel the medication work it’s magic, my body was shutting down and I was drifting off to sleep while listening to Brett yell at the nurse ‘You heard me, where the hell did these come from?’

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