Chapter 8: Don't cry
Unravel Us Playlist on Spotify
Song; (Fractured Light Music- Memories of You) & (Fractured Light Music- Broken Dreams) & (Aquilo- Human)
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“How long did you know?”
He kept it from me. He risked the lives of my people.
Did he not care that we would get hurt? Did he not care that we could have died?
“Red, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry, I don’t mean for this to happen, I don’t mean it at all-I never wanted your friend to get hurt, much less the boys-”
Fuck his apologies, that wasn’t an apology that was an excuse! How could he just stand there and pretend? How could he abuse my trust?
“She’s my daughter!”
Then what was I?
“Goddamnit Marlen,” I mutter bitterly beneath my breath as I squeeze my fists to my sides. “Why? Why did you do this...?”
Even if I ask or complain or scream out my frustration, I know there’s no point.
He did it because he wanted to.
Simple as that.
So all the effort, all those meaningful conversations, and all the trust... it was just gone.
He had walked away from that so easily and it makes me wonder if anyone else would do the same.
Was there anyone I can trust?
I have to brace my body against the chair in fear of leaping out of it because I’m barely in tune with my rage. Every part of my body despite sustaining injuries is geared for a fight.
I wanted to make someone pay, I wanted the feeling of blood on my fingers and knuckles that throb due to punches.
But I remembered where I was; in the hospital, waiting for Hailey to wake up and not knowing if she will.
The reminder promptly shut my outward thoughts down.
Hailey is more important.
Too much bloodshed has been spilled for the past few days. The world needed a break, I, needed a break.
I just don’t know what I can do to make it all go away.
“Vanessa?” A female voice called out to me from the distance. "Oh my god!" Despite not seeing her for almost two years, it was still a voice I was familiar with.
After all, she took me in when Veronica didn't.
I’ve barely gathered myself before hands are thrown around my shoulders and I’ve been pulled into their chest. Blond hair whip at my face and the scent of warm pine filtered my nose.
Her fingers dig into my back as warm tears cascade down my shoulder. She was crying.
"How long have you been here?"
Her hair is in disarray and her scarf is falling off, of her shoulders, yet I recognize her right away. After all, this was Hailey’s mother. Olivia Williams.
“You look terrible sweetheart-" She pulls away and rubs my cheek, bright green eyes stare at me with worry. “Are you injured anywhere? Hurt?"
“I’m okay,” I say to Olivia, smiling reassuringly.
Right behind her is Hailey’s father who approaches the two of us slowly, eyes seemingly stained red. He had been crying too.
“Vanessa,” Hailey’s father, Johnny Williams is having a hard time looking at me in the eye despite the clear relief in his tone. “I’m glad you’re safe.”
He means it genuinely.
“Thanks, Mr Williams.” It must have taken him a lot of effort to get here.
Neither of them greeted each other, there’s a sense of awkwardness in the air, tinged by their own problems.
I knew it would be tough but I didn’t know if Hailey was going to make it, so I chose to follow the doctor’s advice and called her parents to inform them about the situation.
Despite their differences, the divorced couple had put aside their differences in order to ensure their daughter was alright.
How am I supposed to tell them, that she might not be?
“To be honest... it’s been a lot to handle, but you guys are here now.” Squeezing Olivia’s hands, I gently let go and took a step back.
Truth be told, it slipped my mind that they were on the way. Marlen’s betrayal had distracted me.
“I couldn’t get a direct flight,” She blurts out, her hand to her chest in an apparent move to steady her heart. “How is she...? How is Hailey?”
“The Doctor says she’s unresponsive,” I let the sentence hang. It seemed too cruel to have to tell them what might happen next but I knew I had to.
“They gave her 48 hours, it’s been a day already. If she doesn’t wake up soon... she won’t wake up at all.”
Olivia’s pale face paled even more.
All the blood drained from her cheeks and before her knees buckled, Johnny was there to catch her, supporting his ex-wife with one hand while the two of them stare at me like I’ve just passed down a death sentence.
It felt like I did.
Neither of them can fathom that their daughter might die tonight, I can’t fathom it.
This just feels like a dream. A long, stretched dream, and any moment now, I’ll wake up in my home, smell the scent of burnt pancakes and walk downstairs to see Hailey attempting to cook.
I have to hitch in a breath when I feel my eyes burn.
Don’t cry. You’ve cried enough.
“I’m sorry,” Bowing my head, I bite the inside of my cheek and stayed that way. “We had a fight and she was upset with me so she went back to the apartment herself.”
If only I had followed her if only I had just asked her to stay. Why didn’t I put in the effort? Why did I have to let her leave?
“This is my fault, I should have gone with her, I should have kept her safe-”
“No, no-” Olivia grasp hold of my shoulders and shook me hard. “How was anyone supposed to know the building would catch on fire? It was just a terrible incident, you can't blame yourself.”
No... I can.
What if I hadn’t met Marlen? What if I hadn’t gotten involved with the men? Then, all of this wouldn’t have happened and Rose wouldn’t have any reason to go against me.
Indirectly, it was my fault.
“Olivia,” Johnny calls out as he watches his ex-wife grimly. “We should go see Hailey.”
Olivia, startled that her ex-husband had called her, promptly shook out of her trance to understand what he had said.
The two of them exchanged looks.
Neither bad nor good feelings are conveyed. This was a situation that needed the two of them to work together, it didn’t matter about anything else.
“We’re going to go see Hailey now, Vanessa.” Olivia smiles softly at me as a way to hide the pain but I knew she was on the brink of another breakdown. God knows how many she must have experienced this past day. “Will you be okay, waiting out here?”
I want to see Hailey too.
But instead of voicing my wants, I sidestepped towards the wall so they could pass me. "I'll be okay, go on ahead, Hailey needs you guys."
If they saw my internal expression now, they would know I’m barely keeping my emotions in.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“We’ll see you later.” She squeezes my arm and follows after her ex-husband. The ICU doors opened for them and I’m struck with an overwhelming need to run in, to see Hailey, to hold her hand, to see her face, to just make sure she was breathing.
But the doors closed behind them before I can do any of that.
The silence that I have to endure is heartbreaking.
I’m so startled, I knock my head against the wall from turning too quickly.
Just down the hallway, by the glass panes reflecting the afternoon sun, I spot several figures all standing hesitantly by the arch.
They found me.
“Hey,” I break out into a smile, but the tone of my voice is anything but that. “You made it.”
Mason, Zanthus, Matthew, Victor, and Jared.
The twins are nowhere to be seen and Thomas is not here, still, I am grateful.
They're all okay.
"Did you had a hard time, finding me?" They’ve all changed clothes since I last saw them, meanwhile, I still looked like shit.
It was the least of my worries.
“We weren’t sure where you would be, the hospitals are a mess right now.” The heir of BourneFell approaches me first, his hands in his pockets as the others lagged behind, seemingly sporting apprehensive expressions.
The memory of all of us standing around the makeshift tent, arguing and choosing who goes first flash through my mind.
They didn't know how close Hailey was.
"A lot has been happening, I haven't been keeping track either..." Standing straight, I scratch the back of my neck and attempted small talk to distract the heat building in my chest.
"But you know, things have calmed down now, right? So I just need to take a moment." It’s painful.
Holding it in, keeping it in, just praying it won’t implode.
It’s so, so painful.
“Uh...” Clearing my throat, I glance up and chose Jared to answer my question. “How’s Elios? Is he okay?”
Jared freezes and blinks rapidly. He's hesitant to answer, not because he doesn’t want to, but because he is unsure why I’m so calm.
“They managed to stop the bleeding,” He raises a hand and lets it fall. “He woke up 12 hours ago so they’re still monitoring him.”
“That’s good, he’s alright then, he’s going to be fine,” I was rambling. My mind a muddled mess, my thoughts a jumbled pace. “Evan must have been really happy.”
“He’s back to his usual go-lucky attitude if you count that as happy,” Matthew rolls his eyes sarcastically, but I know he’s just being playful. "How's Hailey..?"
“That’s good, that’s very good.” Hitching, I find my eyes searching the walls, the floors, the lights, their shoes-How's Hailey? I can’t look at either of them. “It would take a lot more to keel that guy, huh?”
Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“Vanessa...?” Victor is the one who calls my name out so gently that I shut my mouth. He steps forward, brushing past Mason, and raises his hands, presumably to place on my shoulders.
Please, don’t cry-
He doesn’t expect it when I lunge into his chest and bury my face there, my fingers clutching at his shirt in reprieve.
“Just... don’t ask me anything okay?” My voice is muffled, my grip is tight. “Let’s just stay like this.”
Victor doesn’t object. Neither of them does.
I hid my face against his chest because I was unwilling for either of them to see just close I am to giving up.
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On the 20th hour, Zanthus and Matthew left the hospital to get some food.
On the 16th hour, I went to the restroom to throw up all the food I ate.
On the 12th hour, Mason has to hold my hand because I was biting my nails to the point that they started to bleed.
On the 6th hour, I sat by myself and didn’t move.
Hailey’s parents have yet to leave the ICU. They’ve been in there since the start which made it all the worse.
Nobody could get me to talk much less interact. They could only hover around my lifeless figure and ensured I was present.
It all falls down to these last few hours.
The clock is ticking, I’m hoping for some miracle that will never happen, I’m praying for Hailey to make it through, she has to make it through-she’s all I have left.
“Drink some water,” Mason holds out a bottled water to my face. He shakes it, hoping that would spark some sort of a reaction.
I lifted my head and unconsciously take the bottle before folding it to my chest, where I put it there and not move.
The heir of BourneFell cannot contain his frustration. He takes the water from me and uncaps the bottle.
“Vanessa come on, you need to stay hydrated.”
I don’t answer him.
My hand swiped out, knocking the bottle out of his fingertips and causing water to splash all across the floors.
I’ve done it so quickly, without attitude or intention that my men all freeze, startled by the abrupt loud sound.
Something in me is rearing.
“Mason,” Zanthus approaches Mason and advises him to take a step back from me. “Just leave it.”
“Vanessa, I know you’re stressed out,” The heir of BourneFell ignores Zanthus comments and attempted to reach out to me once more. “But you need to take care of yourself, you can’t let yourself go!”
If Hailey doesn’t wake up, how am I going to face myself?
How am I going to look in the mirror? How am I going to live every day, knowing she was gone?
How will I do it?
“Let’s just wait for Thomas okay?” Matthew intervenes the two, keeping his tone light. “He said he’ll be here soon, we just have to wait.”
"It'll take him hours to get here," Mason sighs tiredly. “He’s caught up in that fiancée business, his father won’t let him get away."
"Then we stay with her until he gets here." The silver-haired male suggests. "We owe it to her to stay."
Their voices bleed out into the background.
I don't hear anything else as I've covered my face with my palms, my nails digging into my hair in an effort to make the headache go away.
But it doesn't do anything.
Because the hours are still passing, the clock is still ticking and nothing is happening.
The 6th hour faded away just like that.
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The night is cold.
I have to hold onto my arms because the wind is not showing any mercy.
Yet as cold as it was, I did not go back inside.
I've been cooped up in there for the past two days now, I think I deserve some fresh air.
We're down to the last 2 hours.
I couldn't stand being there anymore so I got up from my chair and decided to talk a walk around the hospital. I wasn't sure where I was headed, I just wanted to walk.
That led me outside, in the garden of the hospital.
The moon is fairly high in the sky and the stars are clear.
It seemed like an unfair thing, considering how many people suffered a couple of days ago. Maybe those stars are the people that have died.
The ache in my heart throbbed.
Will Hailey be one of them?
I am aware of a pair of footsteps shadowing me just a couple of meters off. It's Jared, leaning on a pillar, watching me carefully just in case I do something stupid.
He's been following me since I left.
While I intended to be alone at first, I'm grateful he's nearby.
I don't think I could stand it if he wasn't.
Taking a deep breath, I continued my slow pacing around the garden, silently counting my steps as I pass the same patch of grass over and over again.
Will I have to bury another person I love?
Will everyone I care about, eventually die?
First, it was my Dad, then Ethan, and now Hailey?
Will the world really take everything from me?
By the time all these thoughts have swarmed my head, I've longed stopped walking. I'm standing at the center of the garden, the moon is waning in the background.
Crickets and insects are chirping lowly without a care in the world.
How many more people will I lose for it all to stop?
My head snaps up in the direction of a figure. She steps out from beneath the cover of the trees, her cardigan wrapped tightly around her waist.
"Kate?" It was my therapist.
What was she doing here?
Folding her arms across her chest, she approaches me leisurely and only stops when we're a meter apart. "I heard what happened to your home... I wasn't sure if you made it."
"Uh yeah, I got lucky." Rubbing the back of my neck, I turned towards the pillar to see if Jared was still there but he was nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps he left to give me privacy.
"The hospital needed me to talk to some people after the fire, there's been a lot of trauma, that's why I'm here." Kate's expression is one of obvious worry. "...How are you?"
"Do you want the truth or a lie?"
"Whatever you feel comfortable with telling me."
Even outside office hours, she was still so conceited of her abilities. If I wasn't on the verge of a mental breakdown I would've laughed.
"I don't know... I don't know what I'm feeling, that's the truth."
She frowns at that and takes a moment to think things through, but I'm already so strung up that when she attempts to speak, I've already imploded.
"It's okay to feel angry-"
"I'm not angry, I'm just so sick of people getting hurt because of me!" The force of my yell echoes between us. "I want it to stop, I want it all to stop, if that means giving every part of myself, then I don't care! It just needs to stop!"
Breathing harshly, I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth with frustration. Fuck, I hadn't meant to lose it like that.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what's happening, everything is just too much you know? I... I'm struggling-"
"If you're willing to give every part of yourself to make it stop..." Kate ignores my apology and unclasps her arms. "What does that entail?"
Why was she only focusing on that point?
Embarrassed now, I held my arms under my shoulders. "I don't know-"
"Does it mean you'll sacrifice yourself for your friends?"
"I don't know,"
"Does it mean you'll give up?"
"I don't know!"
"Then if you don't know," She inhales sharply, the crease in her eyebrows deepened. Even without seeing her eyes, she is radiating disapproval. "Why bother talking about it? Do something instead."
"Fight back, Vanessa." She nods at the suggestion. "Fight for your friends, for the people you care about."
I sigh. "It's not so simple anymore,"
"You've never been scared before-"
"What if I lose Kate? What if I don't win?" The fear of that is more than my own selfish desire to make Rose pay. "This isn't like before where I had nothing to lose, I have everything to lose, now."
But instead of agreeing with me like I assumed she will, I am instantly reminded why she wasn't like any other therapists, and why I chose her in the first place.
"Well," Kate shrugs nonchalantly as the corner of her lips lifted into a smile. "Then you lose, simple as that."
Simple as that.
There are no guarantees, there are no fixed victories. I would have to go through it all.
Kate seemed to be satisfied with my silence because she takes a step back. "I have to go now, Vanessa."
We locked eyes under the moonlight and for a brief moment, as the reflection from her sunglasses looks back at me, I spot her hidden eyes, just a tinge.
One is looking straight at me whilst the other doesn't move at all.
"I'll see you soon," She turns on her heel and walks back to the hospital, leaving me to watch her back and wonder whether or not our conversation had taken place.
She wants me to fight back?
Could she not see where I stand? Could she not see I had nothing else to give? Why does she want me to fight back? Why does she want me to risk it all?
Shaking my head, I have to massage the crink in my neck as I journeyed back to the waiting area, keeping my pace slow and steady.
It was the first time, I've heard Kate openly supporting this matter.
She always used to listen when I tell her about my illegal activities but this time was different.
Was it because she finally realized why I did the things I did?
I don't know.
I don't know anything.
My men are all in seated positions and are talking amongst themselves when I arrive. They seem to be having a heated discussion.
However, my focus is on another figure by the glass doors.
"Ms Williams?" Something must have happened, if not why was she out here?
She raises her head upon hearing her name and straightens up.
"Is Hailey okay?" My men took notice of my increasing pace as I reach Olivia in seconds. "Is she awake-"
She raises her hand and smacks me across the face.
The loud sound echoes in the air.
I feel the burn from her hit as her green eyes flash to mine, angry and resentful, betrayed.
"I heard everything..." She says, slowly, her tone is cold.
She knows the reason the fire started in the first place.
Scratch that, it shouldn't be the problem right now.
"I've told you before, not to get Hailey involved with what you do, I told you to keep my daughter out of it!" Her yelling is full of blame that I flinch and step back.
Olivia knew I was involved with underground matters during NorthVille but it's never bothered her so as long as I didn't endanger anyone.
I've broken her trust on this by getting Hailey involved.
"She nearly died because of you! How can you just sit here and pretend that you didn't cause this?!" She's angry and for good reason. I deserve everything that she's throwing at me.
"I don't want you anywhere near her! You stay away, and you stay away for good!"
The throb in my heart increased.
"If you want to march right to death then go ahead but Hailey is not coming with you, you hear me?!"
"Ms, please, refrain from throwing your anger around, this is a hospital." Mason has positioned himself in front of me.
One of his hands is raised up in her direction while the other is placed on my abdomen, silently pushing me back. "This wasn't anyone's fault, much less hers."
"It is her fault!" She shrieks, attempting to claw at me when the rest of my men stepped forward and block her attacks.
It's a far cry from how she treated me earlier in the day.
This isn't what I wanted.
This isn't what I needed right now.
"Olivia, please-" Pushing through the protective bodies that hovered in front of me, I struggled to reach her and ignored Jared's arm that kept me still. "I just need to know if Hailey is alright-"
"Stay away from her! My daughter's not going anywhere near you!"
"I'll do anything you ask, just answer my question, I'm begging you!" I've practically gasp out the words, feeling the heat in my chest rise to a temperature I am unable to fathom.
"Please, please... Olivia, I need to know."
I need to know.
Olivia stops herself from saying anything more and as the silence stretches between us, I am afraid she might just walk away and leave me to go insane.
My body moves on its own accord. I get down to my knees in front of her.
"Vanessa!" Matthew is in duress.
Victor has to clench his fists while Zanthus wipes his eyes with the back of his palm.
Here was their Queen, fallen beyond grace.
I didn't care.
Staring at Olivia pleadingly, I clasp my hands together and begged. "I know she's hurt because of me, but I need to know. I need to know she's okay, just this once."
Just this once.
Olivia's cold eyes do not falter once. She's staring at me like I'm the most disgusting thing that's ever walked this earth.
Despite her utter hatred towards what I've done to her daughter, she does me a great service by answering my question.
Relief broke through the dreary haze settling in my stomach and I feel so winded, I almost choked.
"She'll be moved out of the ICU in a couple of hours' time."
She made it.
I want to cry out in happiness. I want to sob into a puddle of nothingness.
"Thank you, thank you for telling me-" I'm still on my knees.
"I don't want you here Vanessa," She cuts me off. "I want you out of here before my daughter comes out."
The absolution in her tone is final and even though a part of me wants to fight back, I find myself nodding.
She turns on her heel with that finality and the ICU doors closed once more.
I can't help but sink to all fours when she's gone as everything swirled around me and the heaviness becomes constricting.
My men are instantly there, their hands holding my body up as someone says something to the other. Their voices are muddled, their questions are blurry.
I can't hear nor speak.
She made it.
"Vanessa? Vanessa, did you hear what I said?" Zanthus is attempting to gain my attention by snapping his fingers in front of my face.
I've been moved to the seating chairs.
"She's okay, Hailey made it," I said instead, going to grab his hand. "She made it Zanthus, she's going to be okay."
"Yeah, I heard." He tightens his fingers as a response, a slight smile breaking out from his face. "But is your face okay? You got slapped pretty hard."
Palming my cheek, I feel the sting but didn't react at all.
It just reminded me that I was alive.
"Hailey's mom wants me not to be here, I should go, yeah I should go-"
"Woah, Woah, go where? You're not in any condition to go anywhere Nessa," Mason intrudes, holding me in place. "Hailey's your friend you should stay,"
"But I shouldn't be here, she's right it was my fault." Standing up abruptly, my men all follow with me, confused by the suddenness of my actions.
"It wasn't your fault, Ness," The heir of BourneFell says gently as though speaking to a child. "How could it have been your fault?"
He doesn't know.
I hold his gaze, my features blank and disbelieving.
For a heartbeat, I wrestled with the thought of saying something or nothing at all.
But then logic won overall.
Why hide it?
Things were only going to get worse.
"Rose is alive."
It's so silent you could hear a pin drop.
"What...?" Matthew laughed out loud, hysterical even. "Vanessa, what are you talking about?"
"Marlen told me everything, the bomb was set by her, she was aiming for me."
"No, no, you're not making sense, Rose is dead, she couldn't have done any of this-" He cuts himself off when he realized I wasn't agreeing.
Mason has already moved, going to grab at my cheeks and forcing our eyes to meet. "Vanessa, tell me you're joking,"
"I'm not joking."
"Damn it, Nessa this isn't funny!"
"Why would it be funny, Mase?" Grabbing his hand, I squeezed it softly, expression still blank. "Think about it, all the things that have happened, all the connections we could never match, it was right in front of our faces."
"But she's dead!" He yells in outrage, so lost with confusion and disbelief. "How can she be alive?"
The worse part about this was that I wasn't sure if Mason was crying out in betrayal or heartache.
"I think... I should go home now..." Gently pushing him away, I stared at each and every one of their faces, feeling their impending aura wash over me like a tidal wave.
Confusion, hurt, fear, and frustration.
I wonder... would they run to her now that they knew she was alive?
After all, she had a place amongst them once.
Who's to say they won't choose her?
I want to go home.
This time when I push them away, they let me go.
Neither of us wanted to admit it.
But Rose's actions have started a ticking time bomb.
I just wasn't sure when the last few seconds would hit or if I'll lose everyone by the end of it.