Everything still fucking hurt, but at least I was getting the fuck out of this hospital. I think breathing in this recycled air was honestly making my ribs more fucking painful.
I was lucky, well kind of. All my breaks were pretty clean but by the time they got me to the hospital the internal bleeding was really fucking bad, it wasn’t helping that I’d practically got to the point of bleeding out through my hand either. In the end Al said I was on the operating table for almost seven hours but they managed to put me back together. Not that I remember shit about it all.
My hand was the worst, everything else was healing slowly but that bitch tore my nerves up to the point they had to link everything back together one by one. I could feel my fingers which the doc said was a good sign for my recovery but I still couldn’t move them properly unless I concentrate really fucking hard. I’d need another surgery in a few weeks when the swelling goes down but after that they told me I should be fully functioning. Well, at least physically.
“Brie, will you just let me carry you?”
Romeo, always the panicked protector. I told him I could do these stairs by myself or they wouldn’t have let me come home but he never listens. He lost his shit at the hospital when he saw me after the surgery, poor boy even cried and just kept telling me how much he loved me whilst trying not to punch anything. I think if Clarisse wasn’t already dead then that brother of mine would’ve finished the job.
Hannah had been one of the first on the scene at the mansion. To say she was upset to see Clarisse and Tommy laying there with bullet holes in them would’ve been a complete exaggeration... she was practically giddy.
I wanted to protect him, Antonio, I was just going to say I hit my head and didn’t see what happened to Clarisse but by the time I came too after surgery, it was too late for me to do anything.
Hannah told me that when Clarisse shot the window next to my head it triggered the alarms and reactivated the security systems, including the cameras. They saw Clarisse holding the gun at me, they saw the moment I took the gun from Antonio after Charlene tackled the old bitch... and they saw the moment Antonio killed her. She was standing alone and unarmed, although I tried to reason with Hannah about how Clarisse had threatened me and he only did it to protect me, she said it wasn’t enough for him to get away with a self defence charge. She said at that moment Clarisse wasn’t a physical threat.
It was murder. He murdered her as far as the law was concerned.
Hannah tried, but there was nothing she could do. She said if he had fled the country then he better stay wherever he was because the moment he stepped on U.S. soil again, he’d be arrested... and he wouldn’t be getting out again.
I know he’d never let that happen. No matter what he said... that moment amongst the blood and destruction was our goodbye.
It’s still destroying me.
There was one person I could protect though, Charlene. She had suffered enough at the hands of that family and she didn’t deserve to spend her life in jail for what she did to Tommy. The cunt deserved it. Hannah gave me a bit of a wink and a nudge when asking what happened, there was no security footage since Clarisse disabled the cameras before I arrived, so it was just our word. Me and Charlene seemed to silently agree that we weren’t going to let her go down for this. Hannah knew we were full of shit when we said Tommy attacked Charlene and she had to kill him but she didn’t care, now the Vanderbilt’s were gone and their money wasn’t falling into the right hands anymore, all their protection had dried up. People just wanted their deaths shoved away into the back of a dark closet, alone and forgotten.
With that level of protection gone, every dirty secret they’d ever held was slowly seeping out of the woodwork. There was so much blood on that family they were drowning in it.
This had opened up doors for Hannah she never thought she could, suddenly people’s guards were down and she had discovered how deep this cover up truly lay. There had already been a number of arrests from Westbrookes upper class royalty, along with many people from all branches of law enforcement who’d helped them get away with so much for so long, even the bloody FBI came to speak with me. This whole thing was so far beyond Westbrooke now, the powerful were becoming increasingly powerless as the days went on.
The corruption case was all that was in the news at the moment, as more and more dirty laundry seemed to come to light with each passing minute. The Vanderbilt name meant nothing in this town anymore, and thank fuck for that.
Hannah had been strong, so strong. She had told me how Tommy had been released that day without her authority, how Dave the security guard from work had rang the station to report what happened to me outside but even that had been kept from her. She had managed to uncover every broken badge in that precinct and throw them the fuck out, there was talk from the governor about making her the head of the whole bloody force now.
But it would have to wait, she was taking some much needed time off to grieve her lost love. Tara had stood with her at the Vanderbilt estate when they started digging, it hadn’t taken them long to discover Rowena’s body under the large Oak tree, exactly where Clarisse said she was going to put me. They did a formal authentication of her bones but Hannah already knew it was her, the poor girl was still clutching the necklace Hannah had bought her the day they decided to run away together.
It broke me, Tara could barely tell the story through her tears. There was a tiny part of me that hoped Clarisse was lying, I hoped Rowena was just being kept somewhere and we’d be able to unite them again. I think over the years Aleah’s capacity to always be a hopeless sucker for a happy ever after had rubbed off on me, but if Harley taught me anything that day on the beach, it’s that there’s always a plan. I have to believe the perfect person is out there for Hannah too somewhere, just waiting for when she’s ready to love again. I know finding Rowena had brought her some peace, and she could finally tell Rowena’s mother that she never ran away and left her for all these years. It was something.
Jayce had bumped me up the stairs and shuffled me to my room carefully before laying me down on my bed. Damn I’d missed this thing... although not this place. This house... it didn’t seem the right fit anymore.
“Do you want me to get you anything? Lee would come up but-”
“She’s basically like dragging a double wide up the stairs and this point, yeah I get it. Honestly, I just want to sleep. You go, it’s your last night with your woman before you get all famous Romeo, don’t waste it here with my sorry ass.”
Jayce chuckles as he tucks the blanket in around my hips like I’m a bloody child.. he’s adorable sometimes.
“I probably won’t even play, they never put rookies out on the court first game of the season. At most you’ll see the top of my head from the bench.”
Oh, bless. “Josh got me all set up with that stupid sports channel in here so you’ll hear me cheering from there blonde bear. Al still driving down with Josh?”
He nods. “Yeah, don’t want her driving alone. She’s only got like four weeks left now, can’t risk it. You sure you want to stay here? We moved in a few days ago so your room is all ready over there.”
Stop wiggling your eyebrows at me you weirdo, you got that from your wifey.
“I’m good, you guys have your night. I’m on so many pain killers I’m just gonna crash anyway. I’m fine, Josh is coming by later and Chris will probably check in after Kal in the morning. He’s settling Charlene and the kids into their new place today but he said he wants to make sure I’m okay too.. You just go lover boy, I’m golden.”
He shuffles back from the bed, scanning the room to make sure he hasn’t forgotten anything.
“Okay, I’ll come bring you food later. Lee’s still having those Braxton hicks things and she’s about ready to rip my dick off every time one comes so I’ll need the escape... What about-”
“Jayce, don’t.” I know that face and I know what he’s going to say but I just can’t handle it right now.
“Brie, you wouldn’t even let him in at the hospital. He’s worried, he just wants to make sure you’re okay...”
I know he does, but I can’t see Steve right now. After I woke up that morning in his arms at the Manor, I packed my stuff and had Al drive me home without saying a word. Speaking to him, hell even thinking about him is hard. I know he just wants to make sure I’m okay but I can’t face him in person at the moment.
I told him to make a choice and he made it. Josh told me that he’s going to move out of there so that cow can turn his room into a nursery, Steve told him he doesn’t have to but Josh can’t seem to find a way to cope with being in the same room with Chrissy so he can’t stay there anymore.
I’m going to talk to him about moving in here with me but there’s been no time with everything else going on and how long I’ve been in the hospital.
“I know Jayce. I’ll get there, okay? Just let me rest for now.”
I know that’s a sigh of defeat leaving his mouth but he won’t argue with me, he loves me too much.
“Fine.” Leaning down he puts a gentle kiss on my head before moving the bottles of water on my side dresser even closer to me and fluffing the pillow behind my head. If I haven’t said it before then I’ll say it now, this guy is going to be the best bloody dad on the planet. “Call me if you need anything and don’t try to get up without one of us here. Got it?”
I nod but we both know I’m lying. I hate people helping me and the minute he’s gone I might get up and do the bloody macarena out of spite.
Jayce closes my bedroom door gently after checking my pillows are fluffy enough once more, until I have to slap him away from my bloody head. Slipping out of my shorts gently I pull my pyjama t-shirt over my head and try not to wince as I stretch my ribs. They’re getting better, but they’re still fucked.
Drawing the curtains I ignore my beeping phone, it’s probably bloody reporters again looking for a scoop on the Vanderbilt’s anyway and I’ve told enough of them to go fuck themselves for one day. Settling under the covers I embrace the warmth of my familiar surroundings, the smell of fresh cotton sheets and men’s delectable aftershave...
Oh god I know this smell. I whip my eyes open and there he is, standing at the bottom of my bed with the smirk that melts me every single time.