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Chapter 64

"Delicate but strong, she was bulletproof."
~R.H. Sin


James returned ten minutes later, informing us he had to convince Will not to tell some politicians to 'go fuck themselves' if they didn't allow him to end the meeting early. James also said everyone else was on their way over to see me.

"We won't overwhelm you. They just want to say hi and see you awake is all," James said, sitting back down. "I have a timer going to see how long it takes Will to get here. It's one of the things Mia and I have been doing to keep ourselves preoccupied while we're here: timing Will to see how long it takes him to get here. We noticed early on he would come here in a ridiculously short amount of time, which is why we started it. Kind of brought us some amusement during a worrisome time. So far, the record is nine minutes and twenty-four seconds. We started this once we knew you were in the clear."

I frowned. "It's a twenty-minute drive from the palace."

"Now you see why we keep track. He's also used a helicopter before. He was an hour away. One of his longer times, but still impressive."

"Speak of the Devil," Mia mused, nodding to the doorway just in time for me to see Will come to a literal sliding stop. Mia glanced at her watch. "Five minutes and thirty-one seconds. That's a new record."

"Did you turn into the Flash or something?" James demanded. "I swear if you're keeping that a secret from me-"

"I took the helicopter. I've had it on standby since they took the tube out of her mouth," Will replied, coming next to my bed.

"Any news?" Mia inquired, hopeful.

Murder wrote itself across the prince's face. "No. The son of a bitch is still out there. They have a couple leads they're following."

"They'll catch him," James assured, wrapping a comforting arm around Mia's shoulders. "He better hope they find him before we do."

"I'd kill him if I didn't want to see the look of pure anger on his face when we capture him." Will sat at the end of my bed, just out of reach. His expression softened significantly. "How are you feeling?"

"I've been better," I said, "but I'm alive."

"Do you remember much?"

"Not really. I don't think I'll be much help when it comes to finding him. I never saw his face."

"Don't worry. We have our suspects, and we're waiting on forensics for the tissue samples we found under your fingernails to see if we can get a match to anyone. According to the wounds on your hands, you fought back pretty hard. You got a few good licks in if it makes you feel any better."

The corner of my mouth involuntarily quirked upward. "A little."

"Will, how much time do you have?" Mia asked. "I want to shower and change into new clothes, but if you need to get going-"

"You can go. I'll be here as long as you need me to."

"You want me or a bodyguard to go with you?" James queried.

"The answer is always you because you're much better company, but I don't want to force you."

James stood up. "I'll come. I'd like to shower and change too."

"Mia, where are you staying? Surely our apartment is still off-limits," I said. I was far from a crime scene expert, but I knew well enough that we couldn't be returning to our apartment yet.

Mia rocked back and forth on her feet. "I'm staying at the palace. So are James, Mark, and Everly. Will is concerned whoever went after you may come after us, and since no place is more secure than the palace, we're there."

"It's just a precaution until your apartment is cleared," Will jumped in. "Afterward, I'll assign you both twenty-four-hour bodyguards until the culprit is caught if he hasn't before then."

"Thank you," I said, surprised by his consideration.

"We're gonna go. We'll see you later. Love you!" Mia gently hugged me goodbye; James squeezed my hand. And in the blink of an eye, I was utterly alone with Will. The last time we had, we'd been arguing. I prayed we didn't this time. I didn't have the fight in me.

Will took residence in Mia's chair and said, "I'm paying for your rent while you're not living there. I don't want you paying for something you're not using. Also, I'm making sure Mia is protected for when she goes out anywhere and next week when she goes to her classes. James is usually her bodyguard and is being paid as such, but I still have another one trailing them for precautionary measures. I've got a room all set up for you when you're released. I didn't know if you and Mia wanted separate rooms or not, but if you want to stay with her, I can arrange that too. Almost your entire apartment is a crime scene, but I convinced the police to gather yours and Mia's clothes and any other necessities to be delivered at the palace. They should arrive sometime tomorrow, and I promise I won't make you stay any longer than you have to. It's just if this man really attacked you because of me and this situation with Lorraine, then I want to do what I can to protect you and anyone else he might come for. I'm so sorry I let this happen, Annalise. I swear on my life-"

"Will," I said shortly, cutting off his rambling. "It's not your fault."

"You don't know that for sure. If it turns out to be Lorraine's dad, which I highly suspect it is-"

"Then it's his fault for being a madman. Not yours." I extended my hand out towards him, wincing slightly from the pain. Will hesitated before taking it, but the moment he gripped my hand, it felt like he never wanted to let it go. "Thank you for all your help."

"It's the least I could do."

I smiled softly at him. "Don't get me wrong, when I ask this, because I am beyond grateful for everything you're doing, but am I really worth all this? Shutting down the country? Using your bodyguards to protect Mia and me? Couldn't the police do it?"

"I promised you I'd spend the rest of my life apologizing and making up for what I did to you and Mia. This is one of those ways. I could rely on the police, sure, but I've become paranoid about losing people I care about recently, and I don't-" Will's voice hitched to a stop. He swallowed before continuing. "I feel better having you and the others close by. I lost you once already, Annalise, and by some miracle, you've come back into my life, even just as a friendly acquaintance. I can't lose you a second time. I don't know what I'd do…"

"Will-"

But before I could say anything, Mark and Everly arrived.

And the moment was gone.

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