Forgiven

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Dead at Last

Chapter 48:

His frown was the first thing she saw when she fully regained consciousness. His blue eyes were focused on her, but the words he spoke were directed to someone else.

“How sure are you?’

“Pretty sure. She’s fine,” answered the familiar voice of a certain redhead.

“Which direction did he go?” Asked Alec as he turned Lesly’ face to the side gently so he could inspect her bruises.

“I don’t know.”

Alec’s frown was intense as he directed it towards the redhead, “Michaela…”

“I told you already. I received an anonymous call that instructed me to come here. When I arrived, whoever called was nowhere to be found.”

Alec nodded towards one of the guys with him to search the area before he stood up and turned his attention to Hannah.

“Make sure they get home safe. I’ll follow when I’m done.”

Hannah nodded and watched Alec leave in the direction he suspected the mystery man had taken. Then she knelt down and tried to assist Lesly who was struggling to sit up.

“You okay?” Hannah asked.

The dark-haired woman tried to speak, but her throat hurt so much that she could not get the words out. She nodded instead.

Michaela examined Lesly’s bloodied hand and tried to double-check that the injury was indeed not as serious as it looked. She voiced her thoughts to Hannah who showed signs of concern. “I need to get her wounds cleaned.”

“It’s not my blood,” Lesly’s voice barely rose to a whisper. Her eyes were forcefully shut in pain as she struggled to say the words. “It’s his. I stabbed him.”

Her eyes scanned the area in search of the dead body. They eventually became fixated on it the moment she located it. Michaela held the side of her face and tried to direct her attention away from the distressing sight.

“How did you get here?” Michaela asked gently.

“Long story,” Lesly answered in a whisper before she struggled to stand up.

Michaela assisted Lesly and helped her stand straight. Then she examined her friend who was now leaning against the wall to see whether she could indeed get the task done on her own.

“Can you walk?” Hannah asked.

“Yes.”

Hannah made a couple of phone calls as she guided the two women to one of the emergency exists in the venue. There, they found a man who was dressed as a waiter waiting for them with a coat and scarf that Lesly recognized as hers. Hannah grabbed them and helped Lesly put them on before she guided her to a car that was waiting outside. Someone was already in the driver’s seat. Hanna took the passenger seat next to him after she made sure that Michaela and Lesly got in the back seat. Then they silently drove off to their destination.

The moment the car pulled over in front of the apartment building, another car pulled behind it. Alec emerged out of it as Michaela and Lesly stepped out. He exchanged a few words with Michaela before he followed Lesly into the building. When they both got in, Lesly immediately tried to disappear into her room, but Alec would not let her. He held her arm gently to keep her from walking away. Then he slowly removed the scarf that was wrapped around her neck. His frown never left his face the entire time. When he finally saw the dark bruises around her neck, his jaw became clinched and his hand which was still holding on to the scarf turned into a fist.

He opened his mouth to speak, but Lesly spoke first. Her raspy voice which barely rose to a whisper coupled with her emotionless face did little to betray what she was thinking.

“You don’t have to say it. I know it already. You were right. I was wrong. I should not have disappeared on you. I should have let you know what was happening. I should not have tried to resolve the matter on my own. I did not keep my word, but at least we’ve gained something this time. I stabbed him. He’s dead. We can identify him and finally figure out what he’s after.”

Her hand pried his away from its grip on her arm as she kept her cold gaze locked with his. “Anything else you wanted to say that I forgot to mention?”

Lesly watched him as he took deep even breaths to keep his anger in check. It was obvious that he was mad beyond imagination, and as much as she understood where all that anger was coming from, she could not bring herself to be around him when every thought in her head was bleak.

She walked away and left him in the hallway. The slow steps she took in her condition could not get her into the solitude of her room fast enough so she could put some order into the chaos in her head. The moment Lesly got into her room, she slammed the door shut and took her heavy coat off. Then she threw the heels she held in her hands into one corner in her room before she took hesitant steps towards the mirror. Her eyes inspected her sorry state. Her hair was a mess. Her dress was bloodied. Her face was covered with cuts, and worst of all, her neck was badly bruised.

Seeing the traces of his violent hold on her neck brought her reminders of how she nearly died. This forced her to try to direct her attention to the task of pulling the pins out of her hair in an effort to distract herself. However, the moment she did, she noticed traces of his blood on her hands and arm. She took deep shaky breaths as she tried to not dwell on the recollections the scene evoked, but she failed miserably. Her pulse quickened as adrenaline began coursing through her veins. She knew what was happening. It was another panic attack. She began fumbling with the zipper on her dress as her breathing grew shallower and shallower. Sobs were threatening to come out as hot tears began filling her eyes. She forcefully shut her eyes to keep the tears from falling as she struggled to slip out of her dress and underwear. If she allowed them to fall, she will lose control entirely. No matter what, she could not let that happen, not when she thought she knew what it felt like to be okay for the first time in years.

She hurried towards the bathroom and stepped into the shower in hopes of washing this entire experience away. Her hand shook as she turned the faucet and allowed the warm water to pour over her. Her eyes watched the water turn red as it flowed towards the drain. It drove her into panic even more. Before she knew it, she was sobbing uncontrollably. Her feet gave away, and she sat down in the tub beaten and hopeless. Her arms hugged her knees to her chest as she prepared herself for what her mind was going to put her through next.

Every thought, every image, every recollection that emerged in her head was more haunting and torturous that the one before it. They kept her trapped in a horrid past that was more painful than everything she had ever experienced. She forcefully kept her eyes shut and buried her hands into her hair as the images that flashed became unbearable.

Suddenly, she felt a hand holding her bare shoulder. She looked up with a flinch and found Alec standing there staring at her. The haze in her head kept her from comprehending what was happening. She simply watched him as he turned the faucet off and draped a bathrobe over her before he helped her stand up. The moment he did, he held her to his chest and wrapped his arms around her. She broke down instantly. Her hands gripped the front of his shirt as she buried her head into his chest and cried. Her sobs were low, but they made him feel helpless. The only thing he could do was whisper some comforting words and hope that they sounded reassuring enough.

A while passed before she had calmed down a little and stopped crying. He pulled away a little and lifted her chin so he could take a look at her. The sight of the cuts on her face and the bruises on her neck did little to calm the rage he was feeling, but he kept it in for her sake. He wiped the tears off her face before he scooped her up and carried her out of the bathroom. He sat her down on the side of her bed. Then he went looking for something she could wear. Her eyes watched him as he dug something out of her dresser and turned towards her. She realized when he helped her put it on that it was a cotton strappy nightdress that she had recently purchased but never wore. When he was done with the task, he knelt on the floor in front of her and held her hands in his.

“Can you tell me what happened?” He asked in a low reassuring voice.

She shook her head. Her eyes never really met his but remained focused on his hands which were holding hers.

He figured that it was too soon for her to talk, so he decided not to press her even though he was dying to know. His thumb began to draw circles on her skin as he contemplated what to say next.

“Can you at least tell me what made you go there on your own?” He asked, recalling too well the surveillance footage he had to check in order to find her.

He waited impatiently for her to answer him, but she chose silence once more. His hands squeezed hers to get her to look at him. When she did, he asked her another question.

“He did not try to…,” he struggled to find the words, partly because the answer he might hear terrified him and partly because he did not know how to phrase the question delicately. Still, it was a question that he needed her to answer for his sanity’s sake and hers.

“He did not try to…hurt you, did he?”

“He didn’t,” Lesly finally whispered but said nothing more.

Hearing her answer his question gave him hope that she was ready to talk. He waited for her to clarify, to say something that could help him understand, but she went silent again. Thinking that she might be in desperate need to have something to calm her nerves, he decided to go to his room and fetch her the tranquilizers he had been relying on every time he went through an episode of his own. However, the moment he stood up, she held on to him.

“Where are you going?” She asked in a raspy voice.

He placed a palm on the side of her face and explained, “I’m just gonna go get something from my room. I’ll be back.”

She released his hand reluctantly and allowed him to leave. He walked into his room and decided to change first before he got to the task of searching the medicine cabinet. Once he slipped into a pair of shorts and a cotton t-shirt, he marched into the bathroom and got a hold of the bottle of Xanax he was looking for. He took it back to Lesly along with a bottle of water that he fetched from the kitchen and handed her a pill. She looked at him questioningly and waited for him to explain.

“Xanax,” he said to her as he removed the cap off the bottle of water and handed it to her.

Lesly complied without saying a word. He helped her slip under the covers afterwards before he turned off the lights and joined her in her bed. His hand circled her waist as he pressed her back against him. She held on to his arm, wrapped both of her hands around his and pressed it to her chest. Falling asleep after what happened was going to be an arduous task. She knew that nothing awaited her but nightmares, and she was right.

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