I love you
“Miss, can you hear me?”
“I don’t think she’s alive.”
“Oh, c’mon man, she’s breathing. She’s just knocked out.”
“Someone beat her up good.”
Lia could hear the discussions going on around her but could not bring herself to open her eyes or move to show them she was awake. Her body felt like it was on fire, and her eyes felt like they were swollen shut.
“Is the ambulance here yet?” She heard a man’s voice call out.
“Hey, I found a phone; I guess this is hers?”
“See if there is an emergency contact.”
Lia could feel herself starting to slip out of consciousness again; she shook herself, trying to fight it.
“She’s moving!” another male voice cried out.
“Let us through! Let us through!”
“Ma’am, my name is Avery. I’m an EMT. Can you hear me?”
Lia felt them working on her and could hear all the voices. A million thoughts ran through her head. She was embarrassed, confused, hoping she wasn’t so exposed, and then it hit her, the wedding. She started sobbing, her bad luck strikes again.
Through the small slits in her eyes, she could see the ceilings of a hospital room, the nurses were talking to her, explaining everything they were doing. Lia still could not make her voice come out, she kept trying, and the nurses told her it was okay, but she wanted to speak, to ask for her friends or anyone familiar. Finally, a nurse brought her some water to let her sip. After a few sips, she was able to croak out a few words.
“Yes, we have contacted people on your phone, and I believe they should be arriving soon. You’re okay sweetheart, you’re safe here.” The nurse was older, with the kindest eyes Lia had ever seen. “Are you hurting anywhere currently?” The nurse finished setting up the IV they had started.
“Um, everywhere.” Lia moaned.
“It’s okay, we’re getting meds started for you. The officers are waiting to speak with you. Are you up for that?”
“Officers?” Her voice slowly coming easier.
“Yes, police officers. Honey, do you remember what happened?”
“Unfortunately.” A tear slipped down Lia’s cheek. She started feeling the walls close in on her, and a panic attack starts to begin. This was all too familiar, why, why her? She kept thinking.“Breathe, sweetheart. It’s okay. They can wait.” The nurse sat on the edge of the bed, patting Lia’s hand. Lia felt so comforted by her, but her heart was longing for her Brother, Dad, or Dani. She wanted Cody, but she was so ashamed to yet again be in a position like this.
“Just breathe honey, I’m gonna go tell the officers to wait and see if your family is here.”
“What’s your name?” Lia asked quietly.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m Benita. You hit that button if you need me, and I will be right here.” She patted her leg then left the room. She heard Benita speaking to someone, and Nathan came rushing in.
“Jesus Lia!” He cried, running next to her. “What happened?!” The tears started pouring again; she was so sick of being in this position.
“Where’s Dani and the girls?” Lia asked first, wondering where her friends had gone.
“Dani is with me; Cody and Dad are here too. The girls are back at the hotel. What the hell happened, Lia? Dani just remembers leaving; she didn’t realize you weren’t with them.” He shrugged, confused.
“I had to use the restroom...” Lia started sobbing again. Damn, she hated this; she hated crying.Before Nathan could say anything else, the Doctor entered the room. He smiled kindly, nodding at them both. “I’m sorry to interrupt. I wanted to come in and check on our patient here.”
“No, please. How is she, Doc?” Nathan stood back.
“I’m Dr. Grimms.” He reached out to shake Lia’s hand then Nathan’s. “She’s doing well, I think.” He lifted his brows at Lia. “Luckily, nothing is broken. Some cuts, bruises, and swelling, obviously. We did complete a rape kit as well.” The Doctor just went over everything routinely, though Lia winced at the rape kit, especially seeing the shock on her brother’s face.
“Rape kit?” He whispered.
“Oh, um. Yes.” The Doctor looked back and forth from them both. “We’ll keep you here a few more hours, just to monitor everything, and you should be okay to go after that. Any questions for me?” He smiled warmly at Lia, avoiding Nathan’s glare.
“No, Thank you, Doctor,” Lia whispered.
“The officers are very impatiently waiting to speak with you; I can send them away if you’d prefer to wait?” He offered. Lia was so emotionally broken, but this Doctor felt like her hero at that moment, saying everything so kindly and his eyes full of genuine concern.
“I’d rather get it over with, honestly.” She started to try and sit up, wincing in pain. The Doctor didn’t hesitate, rushing to her side, helping her scoot up. She winced as he reached toward her, and he stopped.
Lia shook her head, tears flowing as she forced herself to push through the pain to sit up.“Okay then. I’ll send the officers in, and I’ll be back to check in on you in a bit.” He smiled his wide, toothy smile then left them alone.
“Lia?” Nathan started.
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t know if I was raped.” She answered quietly, knowing what he was asking.
“Why didn’t you ask the Doctor?!”
“Nathan, I didn’t want to discuss that in front of you, not now.” Lia put her head in her hands, sighing. Before she could say anything else, two uniformed officers entered the room.
“Yes, that’s me,”
The officers went over the evening’s events with her; she gave them all the detail she could while watching Nathan seize with anger in the corner. Lia surprised herself with her strength during the questions; she held back the tears and state the facts. They had her phone as evidence with Toby’s picture and were working to locate him. They were kind but thorough and excused themselves once they were finished gathering information.
“I’m so sorry, Nathan. God, your wedding. I’m so, so, sorry.” Lia broke down once they left the room. She was in physical pain, emotional distress, but she was just worried and feeling guilty for any disruption to her brother’s wedding.
“Calia! My wedding is like the last thing on my mind right now.” He fussed.
“It’s only a few hours away. You guys need to go, get rest and continue with everything. I’ll be okay, I promise. I won’t be there; I can’t show my face today but please, go get married.”
“You’re crazy. You know that?” Nathan scooted onto the bed with her, rubbing the tears off her cheeks. “I am absolutely not leaving you to go get married. Dani would not even agree to such a crazy idea. We will figure it out. My only concern right now is you.”
Lia could only nod, still feeling the weight of the guilt.
“I’m going to go update the others. I know Dad and Cody are probably fighting over who gets to come in here next. You want me to send one of them in?” He stood, stretching as he spoke.
“Neither.” She said quietly.
“What?” He looked confused.
“I’m embarrassed, Nate. I’m ashamed, and I feel so incredibly guilty. I don’t know if I can face Cody right now, and I don’t want Dad to see me like this, after everything.” The tears flowed again.
“Calia Leigh, you have nothing to be embarrassed about and absolutely nothing to be guilty or ashamed about. You did nothing wrong. That puke is the only one who should feel any type of way, and he will once he’s found.” Nathan fumed. “I’m going to send Cody in; I’ll come back with Dad after that, okay?”
She nodded, giving up in defeat. Once Nathan left, Benita returned, checking in.
“You okay, honey?”
“I suppose. I think the pain meds are kicking in.”
“That’s good. Are you hungry? Need anything?”
“The rape kit, was I raped?” She whispered out.
“I’ll let Dr. Grimms go over that with you. I haven’t looked over everything yet.” Benita spoke softly. “I’ll go see if I can get him to pop back in okay?” She patted Lia’s hand before walking toward the door.
“Is Lia in here?” She heard Cody’s voice.
“Yes, sir, she’s right in there,” Benita responded happily.
As Cody came in, hands shoved in his pockets, leaning over, feeling defeated, Lia felt a twinge of pain. He looked up at her, his eyes looking sad, looking over her for permission to come closer.
“Hi.” She whispered.
“Hi?” He laughed nervously, shaking his head.
“Sorry, how else do I start? We keep meeting in these awful situations, it seems.”
“Oh, Lia. It’s okay. Are you okay?” He made his way over to the bed, sitting on the edge by her, taking her hand in his.
“I think so. I mean, yea. I’m just a little beat up.” She shrugged.
“I’m so sorry. I hate that I wasn’t there to help you.” He kept his head down, rubbing his thumb over her hand.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, Cody. How the heck would you have known to be there?”
“I got a text from you, a picture and ... I knew it wasn’t right, something was off. I just didn’t get there fast enough.” Cody sighed.
Lia knew what he was talking about; she felt sick to her stomach even thinking about Toby’s face.
“It wasn’t from me. He... He... He did that.” She stuttered out.
“I assumed as much. I called the girls and tried to find where you were; I bolted from the hotel and got there as the ambulance was leaving with you. I’ve never felt so helpless.”
“The hotel? You guys were at the hotel?” Lia asked, confused.
“Yeah. The guys, we didn’t wanna go too crazy. Had a few drinks and went back to the rooms, played video games.” He laughed uneasily.
“Seems like you guys are the smarter of the two groups. You bolted to come to find me?” Lia asked shyly.
“Yes, of course. I didn’t say anything to anyone, just took off.” He looked at her, his sparkling blue eyes connect with hers; she could feel the love and warmth. She smiled up at him, squeezing his hand in hers.
“I feel terrible; I’ve completely screwed up the wedding. I tried to tell Nathan to go on with everything like normal, but he just won’t listen to me. Maybe you can talk to him?” She asked, changing the subject.
“You didn’t screw up anything. Geez.” He ran his hand through his messy hair. “You know Nathan listens to no one, right? The wedding is hours away; we can still pull it off.” He smiled.
“Uh, yeah. I haven’t looked in a mirror, but I don’t even want to imagine what my face looks likes.” Lia shook her head at him.
“You’re beautiful, Lia. Beautiful like always.” He kissed her hand. “I was so scared. I didn’t know what was going on, and I saw the ambulance leaving, and they said a young woman, hearing all the murmurs of what people believed happened.” He looked over at her, rubbing his hand down her swollen cheek.
“Stop with the apologizing. I think we just need to wrap you in some bubble wrap, or perhaps I just need to stay by your side at all times?” He teased, a twinkle in his sad eyes.
“Apparently so.” She smiled back at him, God she was in love with this man. The very minute she met him, he had been nothing but a hero to her, always there and always saying the right thing. This whole experience made her realize she was head over heels, and she wanted more; she wanted a label and was tired of taking things slow. Unknown to Lia, Cody was sitting there feeling the same way. Though he had known for some time he was in love with her, he didn’t want to scare her away by expressing it or rushing into something. He had wanted to call her his girl weeks ago, and sitting with her here now, he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life protecting her and spending every minute he could with her.
“Lia... I...” Cody stared into her eyes and decided now or never.
“Miss Morgan, How are we doing?” Dr. Grimms spoke, coming into the room; he paused, looking up from his tablet. “Oh, I’m sorry.” Realizing he was interrupting. Cody was frustrated, irritated at this handsome Doctor barging in on the moment. He sighed, standing back from Lia so the Doctor could do his work.
“It’s okay.” Lia smiled warmly at him. Cody felt a pang of jealousy when she did, even though he knew it was unwarranted.
“I just wanted to check in quickly before shift change.” He stated, looking over her vitals. “Benita said you wanted to speak with me as well.” He raised his eyebrows, looking from her to Cody, assessing if she was comfortable discussing things in front of him.
“I’ll be right back, okay, babe?” Cody spoke softly. Lia nodded as Dr. Grimms took her pulse, chuckling as he let her wrist go.
“Your pulse sped up when your boyfriend was speaking.” He smiled.
“Oh, he’s not my boyfriend.” She stated, faster than she had meant to. “Well, not officially.” She shrugged.
“Ah, I see. Well, Benita mentioned you had asked about sexual assault. From your physical exam, including the rape kit, it doesn’t appear that you were raped but based on physical examination and statements, you were sexually assaulted. Are you in pain? Remembering something? I will have a Dr. visit before you are discharged to set up a psych eval for when you return to your home.” He questioned, concerned.
“No, I don’t remember him getting that far, and I was hoping I was correct. No pain, not that kind of pain.” She kept her head down. “I think he was too drunk to even function properly and too sloppy, thank God. Just too much groping.” She explained quietly. The Doctor nodded, with a blank expression.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Miss Morgan?” He asked quietly. “I’ll get a start on the discharge papers; after that bag runs through, you’ll be good to go. Of course, you’ll need to take it easy...”
“I’m a nurse.” Lia blurted, interrupting him, saving him from further explanations.
“Oh? Well, we make the worst patients, don’t we? But that’s good; you know how to tend to yourself then,” He smiled at her. “Okay, Miss Morgan. You take care of yourself, all right?” He placed his hand on her leg, patting her gently.
“Will do. Thank you, Doctor.”
“I’m so sorry we left you, Lia. God, I had no idea anything like that would happen.” Cameron cried as Lia was getting comfortable in the hotel bed.
“It’s okay. Geez. Who could’ve predicted that? It’s fine, really.” Lia reassured her.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Lia,” Trevor spoke, standing in the back of the room where everyone had gathered to help Lia get settled.
“Seriously, guys, this is ridiculous. I’m fine. You all need to be getting ready for the wedding.” Lia fussed. Cody sitting by her side, shaking his head at her.
“I have told you 100 times, we’re going to push it back.” Dani crawled up the bed, lying next to her.
“I have told you 100 times and then some to not do that! Please, I’m begging you.”
“Sis, you have to be at my wedding,” Nathan interjected. “And before you say anything, if that means we have to wait, then we’re going to wait.”
“Then I’m paying for any costs related to pushing it back,” Lia stated. She was a stubborn one, that’s for sure.
“No way in hell. We’ll just go to the courthouse when we get home from the honeymoon.”
“You can’t have a honeymoon without a wedding.” Lia rolled her eyes.
“Ew. No.” Lia stuck her tongue out at him.
“Okay, stop. I’m the bride, and I’ve already figured everything out. We’re going to have the ceremony tonight; as much as I want Lia with us, I understand. We have guests here, though, and we’ll do the ceremony for them. We’ll enjoy our honeymoon, and when we get home, and Lia feels up to it, we’re going to do a smaller ceremony with her. I mean, two weddings? Works for me, and what I say goes.” Dani explained.
“Thank you. Finally, someone listens to me.” Lia groaned.
“I’m not listening to you; I’m doing what I want.” Dani countered, making Lia laugh. “Now, the rest of you need to go rest up, fuel up and get ready!” She clapped her hands, sending most of the others off.
“I’m not going to let you sit up here all alone; I’ll stay with you.” Cody patted her leg.
“No!! They’re already losing a maid of honor; we can’t take the best man too.” Lia cried.
“Dani?” Cody asked, looking to her for help.
“Fine. We’ll do a ceremony with you two at home. No funny business though, behave yourselves.” She jumped up, laughing. “Lia, I love you. I’m so glad you’re okay, and I promise, we’re going to miss you so much tonight, but we will make up for it after the honeymoon, I promise.”
“I know, babe. You go and marry that crazy brother of mine and have the time of your life, don’t worry about me, please! I want you to have fun, enjoy it, soak every minute in, okay?” Lia started to cry a little.
“Oh girl, I will!” Dani reached in, hugging her tight before heading off to join the others in getting ready.
Lia fidgeted on the bed, trying to get comfortable. Her body was still a bit sore and stiff despite the pain meds. She tried to brush away the tears that kept coming, but that only seemed to make it worse.
“Lia, baby, don’t cry. Everything is going to be okay, you’re safe here with me, I promise, I am not letting anything happen to you again.” Cody kissed her cheek softly.
“Thank you. I’m trying. Just so many emotions right now.” She shrugged, patting the space next to her for Cody. He happily obliged and kicked off his shoes, crawling up.
Cody cleared his throat, wanting to tell her how he felt, hoping for no interruptions this time. “Speaking of emotions, I mean... I know our timing has always been a little crazy, but that seems to be our thing, and I wanted to... Lia” He took her face in his hands, turning her toward him. “Lia, I love you” He smiled sheepishly. “I know this might be bad timing, but is there really a bad time to tell someone that they love them?” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. Lia smiled at his nervousness.
“Cody, there is never a bad time to tell me that you love me. I want to hear it all the time because I love you too.” She whispered, stroking his cheek. “If you can love me through all of this craziness that seems to come with me and with a face like this, I’m one lucky girl.” She giggled.
“You are amazing and beyond beautiful; I’m the lucky one.” He kissed her tears away one by one, snuggling close to her.