Chapter 20 - Melody
“Is he okay?” I asked just above a whisper, my voice not working all of a sudden.
My mom had tears in her eyes. “They’re doing X-rays and other tests, but he’s conscious. Taylor and Mayhem are heading there now.”
“I’m going to the hospital, too,” I said with a sudden resolve.
“They won’t allow you in, Mel - they’re only allowing close family members in at the moment. They’re moving him around at the moment for testing,” my mom shook her head at me and hugged me.
“What happened?” I asked, feeling my heart pound wildly in my chest from anxiety.
“Apparently, he ran a red light. It was his fault,” my mom said, sighing heavily.
“It’s my fault...” I whispered, and my mom let me go, looking at me with a giant frown.
“How can it be your fault, Mel? From what I could hear, Connor got into a fight with your sister before he left, and he was upset. But these things happen, regardless. It’s no-one’s fault - not yours and not Hailey’s.”
My heart slammed inside my ribcage, and I could feel my whole body shaking.
“I have to tell Hailes. I’ll be right back...” I said, as if in a trance, and made my way back upstairs, knocking on Hailey’s door.
“Go away! I don’t want to see anyone!” She was crying again; I could hear the anguish in her voice.
“Hailes, it’s me. I have some terrible news...” I started crying after saying those words, and a few seconds later, she flung open her door, her eyes red and puffy from crying.
“What is it?” She asked defensively, crossing her arms over her chest.
“It’s Connor... he’s been in an accident,” the words fell over my lips, and Hailey went pale as a sheet just then.
“What?” She asked incredulously, placing a hand over her heart.
“He has been in an accident - he is in hospital, Hailes. It seems to have happened on his way home from here, when he ran a red light.”
Hailey’s face contorted into an expression of despair and her whole body shook as she started crying again. She bridged the gap between us and clung onto me as we both cried, unable to get another word out.
“I’ve made a mistake. I need to see him, right now,” she suddenly jerked her head up after a few seconds, her eyes manic and her expression wild.
“We can’t, Hailes. They won’t allow us in - only close family at the moment,” I wiped away the tears from my cheeks, hoping so damn hard that Connor would be okay.
“I need to see him. I need to make things right. I... I’ve punished both of us for too long over this,” she whispered, tears still flowing from her eyes like a river in flood. “He made a mistake, but what I did wasn’t right, either, throwing his apology back into his face like that,” her whole body shook again, and I just held her.
“I’m sorry, Mel. I’m sorry that I accused you of sleeping with Connor - I know you wouldn’t. I... I was just so damn hurt when I saw the two of you so unexpectedly that morning. And... I was so upset with him, still. I’m sorry I hurt you. I tried to hurt him, but I hurt you too, didn’t I?” The words tore from her lips in anguish.
“It’s too late now, isn’t it? He’s going to hate me if this hurts his chances to get an offer to play professionally,” she sobbed. “He... he told me that if I let him leave today, it was over. That he was done waiting for me to get my shit together...”
My mom came to a standstill outside Hailey’s door, taking both of us in, clearly having overheard Hailey’s last statement.
“Mel and Hailes, do you want me to give you something to help calm the nerves?” She asked sympathetically, on the verge of tears as well.
“I don’t need anything, thanks,” I sniffed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to drive after taking what my mom had in mind.
“Yeah. I’ll take something, thanks. And mom- if you hear anything, please let me know immediately,” Hailey sobbed, disentangling herself from me.
I sat with Hailey until she sobbed herself to sleep. And my heart just hurt. It hurt for Connor, for Hailey, but also for myself and Knox. There was just so damn much going on in my life right then.
“I’m going to see Aria,” I told my mom, grabbing my car keys, suddenly full of resolve. I hadn’t seen my big sister in weeks, as she’d been on tour with her rockstar boyfriend, Austin Johns, and they’d only come back earlier that day.
“Are you okay to drive, Mel?” My mom asked with a little frown.
“Yes, I’ll be careful. I just... need to talk to her.” The guilt was eating me up inside.
My mom nodded. “Be safe, Mel. Please send me a text when you get there, because my nerves are shot right now.”
I was crying the whole way over to Aria’s. They’d bought an impressive mansion a few weeks ago, not too far away from us. I hoped they were home - I hadn’t thought of calling beforehand, just acting without thinking on instinct.
The tears were still streaming down my face when I got there and rang the bell at the gate. And I was just starting to give up hope that they were home, when her voice sounded over the intercom.
“Mel, is that you?” She sounded surprised, and I wiped my cheeks, trying to compose myself.
“Yeah, it’s me. Can I come in, please?” I asked shakily.
“What’s wrong, Mel?” Aria immediately caught on that something wasn’t right.
“I made such a mess of things, Ar,” I sobbed as the automatic gates swung open.
“Of course - drive on through. I’ll be downstairs in a minute to open the front door. But Mel, just tell me because I’m worried now. What’s wrong?” Aria asked with urgency.
I took a deep breath, exhaling in a shudder. “Connor Blake...” And then I started crying again, and I drove up the driveway to their front door.
About a minute later, Aria opened the door, her hair wet and dressed in a swim cover-up.
“What happened with Connor, Mel?” Aria held the door open for me, giving me a hug.
“He’s been in an accident... it’s all my fault...” I sobbed, and as she led me inside, I told her the whole story.
And just as I finished telling the story, ending with Connor being in hospital and Hailey realizing that she’d made a mistake, Austin joined us as well, looking like he’d just stepped out of the shower - his hair wet like Aria’s.
I looked between the two of them. “Shit... did I interrupt something? I’m sorry for just arriving here without any notice, but I was so damn upset...”
“No - of course not, Mel. You’re always welcome here, and I’m always here for you,” Aria assured me quickly, and Austin just smiled as they gave each other a wordless look that spoke volumes.
And that made my heart hurt, too, because the way they looked at each other was how Knox and I looked at each other when we were making love. When we were wordlessly giving ourselves to each other, and I recognized that look of longing and intimacy. And it hurt, because the last few days, it was as though we were walking on eggshells around each other, almost too scared to say a word. And the only time that it felt that we were us again, was when we didn’t say a word - when we just felt. But above all, I was on the verge of losing him, on the edge of having my heart shattered completely.
Aria raked a hand through her hair, and that’s when I saw it. There was a gigantic stone on her finger - it was so bright as it caught the electric light, it almost blinded me.
I gasped, my hand flying to my mouth. “Ar... did the two of you get engaged?” I asked with wide eyes as a pang shot straight through my heart, and Aria had a radiant smile on her face.
Austin walked over to her, flinging an arm possessively around her waist. “We did. Please don’t tell your mom and dad, though; we’ll tell them ourselves tomorrow,” he asked, looking at Aria with such a fierce possessiveness that I just knew I interrupted something by arriving there unannounced the way I did.
“Congratulations to both of you! I couldn’t be happier for you,” I smiled through my tears, grabbing onto Aria’s hand to admire her ring.
“Thank you,” Ar was beaming with happiness, and I felt pain slice right through me again. Because the truth was that I wanted what she had.
“It’s a gorgeous ring,” I smiled at Ar, and Austin placed a kiss on her lips. And then I felt like I was intruding on something again because there was so much heat in that kiss that it could light a match.
“Only the best for Ar,” Austin said, looking at Aria with worship in his eyes.
“But enough about us... are you okay, Mel?” Aria asked, her face contorting into a frown.
“Yeah. Sort of. Not really...” I started crying again. “I’m worried about Connor.”
She nodded sympathetically. “I’m sure Connor is receiving the absolute best care that money can buy right now. Keep the faith, Mel.”
“And... I’m just feeling so damn sad, Ar,” the tears were streaming down my face again.
“Is this about the guy you’re seeing... Knox?” Aria asked perceptively, and then I sobbed harder. She hadn’t met him yet because she’d been away with Austin on tour for weeks, but she remembered him as well from years ago when I first told her about us. I hadn’t told her the whole story yet, but I’d told her over the phone that he was on the verge of moving halfway around the world, so she knew enough.
“Yes. He’s going soon. I’m so in love with him, Ar, but I can’t say anything,” I sobbed, and there was so much sadness in her eyes when she looked at me and took me into a hug again.
“I’m so sorry, Mel. But... why do you feel like you can’t tell him that?” She frowned again.
“Because he hasn’t said anything. From the beginning, he made it abundantly clear that we only had three months. That we would... end when he leaves. But the thing is... when we’re together, it’s like I can feel that he’s feeling what I’m feeling. But it’s like he’s too scared to put anything into words. It’s like there’s this wall going up between us, and I hate it.”
Aria sighed, and she and Austin gave each other another look.
“I don’t know if you want my advice, little sis, but it’s always better to put it out there how you feel,” Austin said, a skeptical expression on his face. “That way, there are no regrets later.”
I nodded at him. “Yeah. It’s just... I feel like I can’t say it, because I just know instinctively that he doesn’t want to hear it. It will make things harder for both of us, you know?”
Ar and Austin looked at each other again, and Aria looked at me with concern.
“Mel... perhaps he’s just not the one for you. Perhaps there’s something so much better and brighter in your future, but you just can’t see it right now, “Ar said softly, but I shook my head.
“No. It’s like I’ve given away a piece of my soul, Ar. I don’t think you understand...”
And she and Austin looked at each other again, having a wordless conversation, and there was so much damn sympathy in her eyes when she looked at me again that it was going to kill me, I swear.
“I understand. And if that’s the case, and he feels the same, perhaps he just needs time to realize it, too. Perhaps he’ll realize what he has with you when he doesn’t have it anymore. Because nothing makes you realize how much you need someone, than when you lose them... ”
“I let Ar go once, Melody. I was the world’s biggest fucking idiot, but I did. And it was only when I found her again that I realized exactly how deeply I felt for her. It took losing her and finding her again to realize just how much I needed her,” Austin said, looking at Ar with so much emotion that my heart hurt for them, even though they were the epitome of happiness right then.
And I hoped with everything that I had that Knox and I wouldn’t have to walk that same path. That we’d be able to hold on, somehow. But deep inside me, I already knew it was wishful thinking. The writing had been on the wall since the day we started. I was losing him a little more with every passing hour...
About an hour later, I left my sister’s house. And involuntarily, without thinking, I found myself driving to Knox’s place. We’d decided that we’d spend Christmas Eve with our families, and Christmas day together. But I just needed him so much right now...
I was crying again when I arrived at his house. Hoping so hard that he’d be there.
I rang the doorbell, and half a minute later, the door opened. And I sighed in relief when Knox opened the door, clearly ready to go somewhere, his car keys in his hand.
“Snow?” He asked with surprise as I flung myself into his arms, and he circled his arms around me.
“I’m sorry. I know you’re about to go to your parents’, but I’m just feeling so damn sad.” My tears were soaking his shirt, and he sighed as his arms tightened around me.
He just held me, stroking my hair. “I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry about all of this,” his voice cracked, and I realized that I hadn’t even told him about Connor. “The last thing I ever wanted was to hurt you, Snow,” he said, sounded so lost and defeated that it just made me cry harder.
“It’s... not just that. Connor has been in an accident. He’s in hospital, and I feel so damn guilty, Knox. He had a fight with Hailey - he was trying to get back together with her, I think. And he left our house, highly upset. It’s all my fault because Hailey still hasn’t forgiven him for falling asleep in my room that night...”
Knox lifted my chin, so I looked right into his eyes. “Take it from someone who has done a lot worse than you, Snow. This is not your fault - you can’t blame yourself.”
He pressed his lips on mine and held me tight, and somehow I could breathe easier again.
And that was how I spent my second night sleeping in Knox’s arms. We both knew that there’d be consequences. But that was not a problem for tonight...