Lesly’s world began shifting. Her dimly lit surroundings grew darker as her mind sought to process the implications of what Stacey just told her. The sounds of ringing phones and friendly chatters around the office became muffled and dulled by the loud uneasy thoughts that invaded her head one after another.
“Stacey what are you saying?” Lesly asked in alarm.
“They don’t know how it happened,” Stacey explained hesitantly. “So far, they believe somebody had a score to settle with one of the prosecutors. Two people were pronounced dead on the scene already. Others were badly injured.”
Lesly shakily reached for her phone and dialed Alec’s number. He did not pick up. She dialed it again, but there was no answer. When her third try to reach him resulted in failure, she was overcome with panic. It was happening again. She was going to lose Alec the same way she lost her brother Chris. That was the sole thought that occupied her head that instant. Without thinking, Lesly carried her phone in her hand and marched out of her office. Stacey followed her immediately.
“Lesly, where are you going?”
“He’s not picking up. I need to find him,” Lesly answered in a shaky voice as she hurried towards the elevator.
“You can’t leave alone. It’s too dangerous,” Stacey tried to reason with her.
Lesly ignored her and got into the elevator. Stacey felt compelled to follow her. She tried to reason with her superior one more time to keep her from leaving the safety of her office, but Lesly did not listen. The moment the elevator reached the ground floor, Lesly marched out of the elevator and into the street in a hurry and began scanning her surroundings for something.
It was raining, yet she did not think for a second to walk back in until she found what she was looking for. Stacey watched her from inside the building, hoping all the while that Lesly would finally reconsider and march back in. When she did not, the young woman felt compelled to borrow an umbrella from the doorman and drag her superior away from the elements. She did not know what her superior was looking for. Her only concern was to get Lesly to calm down and walk back into the building before something bad happened.
The young woman held Lesly’s arm in an attempt to get her attention, “We should get back inside. We’ll make some phone calls and find out what happened.”
“Where’s your car?” Lesly asked her young assistant frantically.
“It’s not here. My boyfriend drove me to work today.”
Lesly’s mind registered none of what Stacey just told her. Her eyes found the person she was looking for. He was sitting in a parked car across the street to keep an eye on her just like he always did. She immediately walked towards him against Stacey’s protests. When she got to his car, she knocked on the glass and waited for him to roll down the window. Stacey hastily followed her and tried her best to shield her from the rain.
“You’re Michael, aren’t you?” Lesly asked sternly.
The guy with the cap was hesitant to answer her at first, but then he nodded.
Stacey held on to her arm and tried to drag her away from the shady individual, but she failed to convince her superior to leave.
“Call him,” the guy instructed simply. He seemed uncomfortable talking to her.
“I did. He’s not picking up.”
Michael did not answer. He simply stared at the two women in silence. Stacey found the look he gave them unnerving.
“Lesly, I beg you. Let’s go back inside,” she said pleadingly.
“He knows something,” Lesly said firmly. Her determined gaze was still fixed on him.
Michael still refused to say anything. This prompted Lesly to find some other means to get him to talk.
“I won’t leave until you tell me.”
Michael knew what this meant. She was threatening to make his job a lot more difficult unless he said something to her. If anything wrong were to happen because he failed to get her to go back into the building, his head would roll. This forced him to pick up his phone and dial a number. He did not say much to whoever he was calling. For a moment Lesly thought he was just trying to placate her, but when he hung up, he finally had something to tell her.
“He’s at Saint John’s. They transferred him there earlier today,” Michael explained.
Lesly found little assurance in his answer. Her voice trembled as she asked, “Is he okay?”
“His injuries aren’t life threatening. That’s the only thing I was told.”
“You’re gonna drive me there,” Lesly instructed firmly.
Michael opened his mouth to object, but Stacey beat him to it. She held on to her superior’s arm and whispered sharply, “Are you crazy?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Please come back inside. We’ll ask someone at the office to drive you.”
“He won’t hurt me,” Lesly responded in frustration at being held back.
“I’m coming with you then,” Stacey suggested timidly as she cast a nervous glance at Michael.
“No, you have to stay in the office. I’ll call you when I get to the hospital.”
Stacey reluctantly let go of Lesly’s arm and watched her get into the stranger’s car. Michael had an incredulous look on his face. Lesly was completely oblivious to it. She was busy fastening the seatbelt when she told him to drive. He glared at her hoping that she would get the message and leave him alone, but she was not intimidated one bit. She frowned at him instead and repeated her demand.
Michael did not know how to handle her. Alec was right. She was a handful. On top of that, she had no sense of danger at all. If he miraculously managed to intimidate her into leaving, she might end up seeking some other means to get to her destination, means that would further complicate his one and only job. As such, it was safer to just give in and do what she told him to do rather than argue with her.
When Lesly got to the hospital, she was faced with yet another problem. She was not allowed to see him simply because she was not a blood relative nor an emergency contact. She tried to reason with the staff, but they told her they were under strict instructions to follow the guidelines. The fact that the person she was asking about was an injured party in a shooting case made it all the more crucial not to allow anyone to see him for fear that someone might try to silence him. This made her more frantic than she already was. Her hands shook as she tried to reason with the nurse one more time.
“Can you at least tell me how serious his injuries are?”
“Ma’am, for the last time. I can’t tell you anything.”
Lesly was getting more frustrated with every passing second. She barely kept it together and held herself back from lashing out on the woman standing in front of her. Her hands shakily dug for the phone in her pocket to try to see if there is anyone who can help her with her current predicament. A masculine voice calling her name, however, distracted her from the task.
“Lesly, is that you?”
Lesly looked around and was immediately overcome with relief, “Henry! Thank God.”
Henry had a look of concern on his face when he noticed the terrible state she was in. Her clothes were soaking wet, her face was pale and her body was shaking. She seemed oblivious to all of that. He held her arm, brought her away from the reception desk and began asking her.
“What are you doing here? What’s wrong?”
“Someone I know was transferred here. I came to check on him, but they won’t tell me anything,” she said in a trembling voice.
Henry took one more look at her. Then he asked, “What’s his name?”
“Reid, Alec Reid.”
Henry glanced at the nurse behind her. Then he gave Lesly’s shoulder a gentle squeeze, “Give me a minute.”
Lesly watched Henry approach the reception desk to inquire about Alec. It did not take him long to come back to her with an answer.
“Come with me,” he instructed.
“Is he okay?” Lesly asked as she walked next to him.
“He’s fine. He was stabbed in the shoulder,” Henry noticed the anxious look on Lesly’s face and immediately sought to reassure her, “Don’t worry. It’s not serious. They’re running some routine tests now, but he should be able to get back home today.”
“Thank you,” Lesly whispered in relief.
Henry led her to the room where Alec was staying. He wanted to go in with her to check on the guy himself, but his pager beeped. He told her she could call him if she needed anything. Then he excused himself.
Lesly slowly opened the door to Alec’s room. Her hand which was holding the knob shook as her mind processed one agonizing thought after another. She could hear the familiar voice of a man talking. However, he stopped the moment he sensed that someone was about to walk in.
The dark-haired woman took one hesitant step inside. Her heart started pounding frantically the moment she saw Alec sitting on the side of the bed. Greg was with him, but she only spared him a glance before her eyes became fixated on Alec again. He was shirtless. The stab wound on his shoulder was already covered with a bandage. There was a noticeable cut close to his mouth and a dark bruise on the side of his face. Other than that, he seemed completely fine.
She tried to say something, but her mind would not cooperate. Alec went silent, too. He stared back at her intently and did not say a single word. Eventually he looked at Greg with an unreadable expression on his face and asked.
“Greg, can you please give us a minute?”
Greg complied. Lesly realized that she was still holding the knob when Greg tried to leave. She stepped out of his way and allowed him to shut the door behind him. Her eyes immediately sought Alec again. His gaze was focused on her as well. For a moment, that was all they did. Alec noticed the horrible state she was in. He wanted to ask her if she was okay, but before he did, she slumped back against the wall, covered her mouth with her hand and broke down.
Alec immediately stood up. He grabbed the IV pole and walked towards her while trying to reassure her, “I’m fine. I’m fine.”
She wrapped her arms around his neck and began to sob uncontrollably. He held her cold shaking form and tried to calm her down to no avail. He wanted her to see for herself that his injuries were not serious, but she held on to him and refused to let go. Eventually, he managed to pry her hands from around his neck in order to reason with her.
“I’m okay, Lesly,” he whispered as he cupped the side of her face.
She smiled sadly at him before she touched the bruise on his face. Her fingers traced a line to the small cut underneath it. Then she lightly began brushing soft kisses on the bruised side of his face. When she got to the cut, Alec shifted his face so that her lips landed on his and he began kissing her tenderly. Her hands held the sides of his face. His left arm wrapped around her back and brought her closer to him. For a while, no words were exchanged. They simply kissed their anxieties and insecurities away.
Greg walked in and found the two of them coiled in each other’s embrace. He waited to deliver the important message he had just received, but it did not seem that they would stop kissing each other any time soon. Eventually, he cleared his throat to get their attention. Lesly tried to pull back, but Alec reclaimed her lips and kissed her a couple of more times before he released her to give his friend a death glare.
“The doctor is coming to run a quick checkup before we get your discharge papers all ready,” Greg announced.
Alec did not understand the real message between the lines. Greg could see that. He was probably too dazed to think straight. This forced Greg to seek a way to drag Lesly out of that room as soon as possible.
“Lesly, you can wait with me until the doctor is done with Alec.”
Lesly complied reluctantly. She kissed Alec on the cheek before she attempted to leave, but he grabbed her for another affectionate kiss. When Lesly left the room, Alec immediately glared at his friend.
“You’re dead to me,” he said menacingly.
Greg would have been amused if he did not have to deal with a pressing matter. He looked at the direction of the door to make sure Lesly couldn’t hear him. Then he gave his friend a serious look and told him what was actually happening.
“Your father is coming,” he whispered.
“He heard what happened. He’s worried.”
“You told him?”
“I had to.”
“I’ll keep Lesly away. Have someone phone me when the old man leaves,” Greg whispered hastily before he left the room.
He found Lesly waiting outside for him, so he immediately placed a hand behind her back to guide her in the opposite direction to the one the old man was surely taking. He took her to the cafeteria, asked her to take seat and then inquired about how she liked her coffee. She was too distraught to answer him, so he decided to get two cups of plain black coffee. When he came back to her, he placed them on the table, took his coat off and draped it over her before he took a seat in front of her. She gave him a puzzled look, so he tried to explain himself to her.
“You look cold,” he said as he pushed the warm paper cup towards her.
“I…I left the office in a hurry,” she responded softly as she held the warm cup in her hands.
“I can see that. Who told you what happened?”
“My assistant called Debby, the office secretary. She told her what happened,” Lesly explained. She took the cap off the paper cup and proceeded to drink her coffee silently.
Greg could tell that she was trying to act normal even though her hands were shaking. It might be because she was cold. He could see that her hair and clothes were still wet from the rain. On top of that, she seemed to have forgotten her coat. However, judging by the way she acted when she heard the news and the look on her face when she saw his friend, it was safe to conclude that she was also terrified that something wrong had happened.
Lesly still said nothing to him. It was either because she was trying to calm herself down or because she simply did not feel comfortable talking to him. Either way, he felt compelled to engage her. He wanted to learn more about her, to see whether his friend’s infatuation with her was genuine or simply the result of an unrealistic fantasy he developed about her after she saved his life. She was pretty. He could see that even though she was in a terrible state at the moment. Still, his friend was not the kind of person to take huge risks just because someone happened to have a pretty face.
Without being prompted, Greg spoke to her, “I wouldn’t have known about what happened if the hospital hadn’t called me. I’m his emergency contact.”
Lesly nervously began stroking the paper cup. Then she decided to ask Greg if he knew anything. “Did Alec tell you what happened?”
“You don’t wanna hear the details now. Trust me.”
Lesly became more nervous. She looked at Greg worriedly, “He did something reckless, didn’t he?”
Greg shrugged, “I wouldn’t say it’s not so typical of him.”
Apparently, the answer he gave her made her more agitated. She shakily tucked a strand behind her hair before she held the paper cup in front of her to keep him from noticing the tremor in her hands. He wanted to assure her that Alec was fine, but she spoke first.
“I called him more than once. He didn’t pick up.”
“He didn’t have his phone with him when they brought him here.”
Lesly was still agitated. She wanted to keep herself from speaking her thoughts to Greg, but they were so painful that she could not help but voice them.
“We…we had an argument this morning,” Lesly explained hesitantly. “It would have killed me if what I said to him earlier today was the last thing he heard me say.”
She tried to keep her voice from trembling, but the reminder the possibility brought was too much. She lost Chris the same way. He died in a car crash after he stormed out of her apartment angrily. The things she said to him before she lost him haunted her to this day.
Greg reached for her wrist and gave her a gentle squeeze to get her to look at him. When she did, he tried to reassure her, “He’s fine, Lesly.”
“I know,” she smiled sadly. “Did you notify his family?” She asked in attempt to change the direction of their discussion.
“No,” he lied.
“He doesn’t want them to worry.”
Greg examined her for a minute. It was obvious to him now why his friend refused to disentangle himself from her. It was not a one-sided affair like he thought. She was just as emotionally involved as he was. This could potentially make the problem more complex than he initially presumed. Still, Greg preferred to remain a bit optimistic. If she loved him this much, it could potentially mean that she would be willing to forgive him for misleading her about a lot of things when the time came. He just hoped that he wouldn’t get dragged into whatever messy situation that was bound to emerge sooner or later.
“Can I see your phone?” Greg finally decided to ask.
Lesly gave him a puzzled look, but she did not deny him his request. She handed him the phone and watched him tap some numbers onto the screen. He handed the phone back to her a few seconds later.
“This is my number. Call me if you need anything.”
“Of course. Thank you,” she said softly before she saved it to her contacts’ list. Then she placed a phone call so that he would get her phone number as well. He noticed the lit screen and gave her a questioning look.
“That’s my number,” she explained.
He began tapping on his phone to save her number as he prepared her for what was going to happen next. “I’m sorry to break this to you, but you’re gonna be saddled with him for a while.”
“I don’t mind,” she said smiling.
“He can be a royal pain sometimes, but I’m sure he’ll be as docile as a kitten with you.”
Lesly’s smile deepened at hearing Greg describe his friend like that. He wanted to continue to disparage his friend, but the text message he received next told him that he could finally return to Alec’s room.
Greg stood up, grabbed his cup of coffee and motioned for Lesly to walk with him.
“Come on. I’ll drive you two back home.”