"Where there is great love, there are always miracles."
A week and a half after Annalise's accident, and there was still no sign of her waking up. Trepidation began to overtake my mind as I stared up at the ornate ceiling in my palace bedroom. I still couldn't believe I was here, let alone staying here. I hadn't explored much since I usually stayed at the hospital, but right now seemed like a perfect time. It'd take my mind off things, and it'd give me something to do since I couldn't sleep.
Throwing off the covers, I left my room, heading to nowhere in particular. I had free reign of the palace, and I had every intention of using that privilege to the fullest extent.
Of course, my feet naturally led me to the kitchen. Apparently, my vice to make me feel better when depressed was still food. The junkier the food, the better. I went straight for the ice cream, digging through the endless amounts of pints in the fridge. From what I'd gathered over the years about Will and his family, if there was one thing they all had in common, it was their love for ice cream. I figured they wouldn't care if a pint or two went missing.
Snatching a Cherry Garcia out of the freezer, I dug into the pint, knowing full well it'd all be gone in less than an hour.
I meandered through the palace, staring up at the rich tapestries and detailed paintings lining the hallways. Some had plaques underneath them that I stopped and read, but most didn't. I found myself in the portrait room, which held all of Will's ancestors. I didn't know much about them off the top of my head. History had never been my strong point. However, judging by the looks on the faces, I could tell some like Queen Jane and King Tyler were characters. One day, I'd have to ask Will about his family's history. I do remember it being quite colorful. Then again, what royal family isn't?
Leaving the portrait room, I checked out the libraries. I didn't pick up any books due to the condensation on my fingers from the ice cream, but I mentally made a note of which ones I'd want to read later. Some in the classics library looked like they could be two or three hundred years old.
Next, I found myself in a relatively empty room. The rug had been removed, and it reeked of cleaning product. Frowning, I scanned for a clue about what it used to be, but the search proved futile. Instead, I searched for another room to explore. This time, I ended up in Will's study. I felt guilty for being in here, but he promised I had no restrictions at the palace. Besides, it wasn't like I was going to snoop through his files or anything. I just wanted to see what was in here. What could the harm in that be?
The room was incredibly tidy. However, considering Will spent most of his time at the hospital at Annalise's side, I could understand its neatness. Strolling over to his desk, I noticed he had a few framed pictures. One was of him and his family, another of him and his father, when Will was a mere toddler. A photo next to that was of him and his mother at one of Will's birthdays.
I zeroed in on the last two. The first was of James, Will, and Annalise in South Africa. The two boys flanked my sister, towering over her even though she wore four-inch stilettos. The second photo captured only a tired Annalise and Will, but both were smiling, and they looked happy.
It'd been the happiest I'd seen Annalise in a long time. Before the fiasco with Lorraine, my sister smiled more often than she ever had before. Will, James, the Griffiths, and Everly lifted her spirits immensely, and I truly believed Annalise felt like a burden had been lifted off her shoulders with all the support she had from not only them but the Stewarts and Wallaces too.
Seeing Annalise smiling and almost carefree made my heart constrict. The emotions from earlier threatened to overwhelm me, and in that moment, I knew I couldn't be alone with my thoughts. My anxiety would only bring out the worst outcomes of Annalise's situation, and I couldn't handle it by myself.
Mark and Everly were both exhausted from taking care of Reid and watching over Annalise, so I didn't want to bother them. The Griffiths were with Will, all three of which needed to sleep. I didn't want to concern them with my problems while they were at the hospital either. The Stewarts and Wallaces would be asleep, leaving only one other person.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I walked swiftly to his room, knocking softly on his door. Voices sounded from inside, so I at least knew he was awake.
Sure enough, the door opened, revealing a shirtless James. His hair stuck out in different directions, and his sweatpants dropped low on his hips. He looked like a Greek god sent down to earth, and my face heated up at the sight of him. I'd needed a distraction, and boy did I get one, more than I bargained for.
Not that I was exactly complaining…
The distraction disappeared as quickly as it came, however. Under normal circumstances, I might possibly have drooled and been rendered speechless, but I wasn't. Instead, I found my voice, as feeble as it was, and said, "I can't sleep, and I don't want to be alone. I didn't know who else to come to."
James brow furrowed in concern as he moved aside. "Come in, come in."
"Thank you." I entered his room and stood awkwardly, wondering where I should go.
"Here," he said, motioning for me to follow him. "I'm watching FRIENDS. I couldn't sleep either. Had I known you were having trouble, I would've invited you."
James plopped down on his bed, and I crawled next to him. "What season are you on?"
"I literally just started. I'm about five minutes into episode one. So, what's on your mind?"
I shrugged, staring down at the last remnants of my mostly melted ice cream, stirring it mindlessly. "I'm worried about Annalise, worried about Will, worried about what will happen to me if Annalise dies, worried about her assailant still being on the loose… the usual."
"I wish I knew how to help, Mia…" James said gently.
"But you are, just by being here for me whenever I need you. I have nightmares every night of when we found her. I haven't been sleeping well because of it, and I hate falling asleep because I'm terrified of what's coming. I don't know what to do. I get the best sleep when I'm around other people, but that's usually when I'm at the hospital, and I need to stay awake in case Annalise wakes up, or in case someone comes in that shouldn't, or-"
"Mia," James interrupted. "That's why there are two people and guards at every possible entrance to Annalise's room. Even if both of us fell asleep, we both know it's not a deep one. Those chairs aren't the comfiest, and we're both so on edge, I swear if the temperature changed a single degree in the room, we'd wake up to it."
"Maybe I'll start sleeping at the hospital."
"You're not getting good sleep there, though. You need to get sleep here." James rubbed the back of his neck, contemplating his next words carefully. "Listen, I don't know if you'd be comfortable with this, but you're welcome to stay in my room with me. This is a king-sized bed, so there's plenty of room for the two of us, or I could get a cot to sleep on, and you could take the bed. Or we can share your room if you'd rather be in there. It has a king-sized bed, too."
"I would take the cot, but I trust you enough to be in the same bed together. I've shared the same bed with Mark before, so I'm not wigged out by sharing one with you. After all, we're friends." I paused, a realization dawning on me. "Unless you're wigged out by it! If that's the case, I have no problem getting a cot or using my room and-"
"No, no, I don't mind. I wouldn't have offered if I did. I just… never mind. Do you want me to get any extra pillows or blankets?" James asked.
"I'm good. Thank you, though," I replied, tossing my now-empty ice cream pint into the trash can. I slid under the silky sheets and watched FRIENDS with James. For the first time since the assault on my sister, I felt safe and secure. I felt like I was protected. It helped not being alone, and I was forever grateful James cared so much about my wellbeing. And with those feelings in place, I soon fell asleep.
I first heard the incessant ringing, accompanied by an annoying vibrating. Next, I became aware of how hard my pillow had suddenly become. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it wasn't what I remembered falling asleep on.
"Hey, Will, what's up?" James's groggy voice asked. I was still too tired to move or open my eyes, having been in the deepest sleep since Annalise's attack. "She's with me. She couldn't sleep… she's what?! Oh my god, we'll be there as soon as possible!"
James briefly stopped talking, but then he whispered excitedly, "Mia! Mia, wake up!"
"What's going on?" I murmured, finally opening my eyes to slits. I found James hovering over me, his arm underneath my head. I frowned, trying to figure out why and how I'd rolled all the way over to his side.
Sensing my confusion, he said, "You were crying and whimpering in your sleep last night. I woke you up from your nightmare, and you fell asleep in my arms."
"Oh… I'm sorry…"
"Don't be." James smiled softly at me. "Listen, we need to get to the hospital. Annalise just woke up!"
"Well, she's out of her coma, and she's fallen back asleep, but the doctors cleared her from the danger zone, and they've taken the tube out of her mouth. They think she'll wake up fully soon!"
"Oh my god!" I bolted up, nearly knocking my head into James's. "She's going to make it!"
"Yes, she is!" he exclaimed back.
Cupping his cheeks, I kissed him out of sheer exhilaration. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I'm just really excited! She's going to be okay!"
"It's all right," James replied, slightly dazed.
"Give me ten minutes, and I'll be ready to go!"
I sprinted out of his room to my own, throwing on some leggings and a bra underneath my tank top. I hastily applied concealer to hide the dark circles under my eyes and put on some mascara. As I grabbed my purse and was heading out the door, the reality of the situation fully settled in, and I burst into tears of happiness. My sister was alive, and she was going to stay that way. I would still have her for years to come, and the amount of relief surging through me was indescribable.