Chapter 12. You Took Him
“Abigail, you have to eat something,” Mom insisted, her eyes filled with concern. “You haven’t eaten anything in three days.”
“I’m not hungry.”
Stormy spent the last few days with my mother because I could hardly take care of myself, let alone her.
A faint knock came from the front door. Mom sighed and left the kitchen to answer the door.
I stared down at the small cup of coffee. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or hardly function after the accident.
“Abigail?” a deep voice echoed in the kitchen.
I knew the voice instantly. I jumped to my feet, spun around, and glowered at my brother.
Mom stood behind him with pursed lips. “I’m going to leave you two alone,” she said. She turned and left the kitchen.
“Leave,” I spat.
“Not until you talk to me,” Sean said.
“I refuse to even look at you.”
“This wasn’t my fault, Abby. It was an accident. You should just be happy it wasn’t your daughter that got hit by that car.”
“You son of a bitch,” I snapped. I stormed up to him and slapped him across the face.
Sean’s head whipped to the side from the blow. He sighed and turned his head back to look at me. “Stop it, Abby.”
“How dare you. How dare you stand there in front of me and tell me that it isn’t your fault. You’re no better than the other three. You’re not innocent in any of this. My daughter could have been killed because you and your worthless biker buddies had to play whose dick is bigger! You all four came to him to stir shit up. You could have done so much more, but you didn’t.”
“They would kill me if I quit or stood in the way. Once you’re in it, it’s for life, Abby. I can’t change it now. I tried to talk Hayden out of quitting because I knew they would try to take him out,” Sean said. “They fear Hayden because he is strong and smart as hell. He would have been the best addition to that gang, and they all knew it. So, when he chose not to be a part of it, they got pissed off. They needed him.”
“I needed him,” I whispered. “And you bastards took him from me. If you guys hadn’t shown up and started a fight, he wouldn’t be in a hospital bed barely clinging to life.”
“He’s still alive, Abigail. He’s not dead,” Sean said. His voice filled with emotion.
“He’s in critical condition, moron. Do you realize what that means? He might not make it. He’s on life support.”
“I’m sorry,” Sean murmured.
I laughed. “You’re sorry? You’re sorry? You can take that apology and shove it straight up your fucking ass, Sean! I don’t fucking care that you’re sorry! I hate you, and I never want to see you again.” I stormed past Sean and out the front door. I didn’t want to deal with Sean or Mom. I knew Mom would try to coax me into forgiving Sean because he’s my brother, but something felt too off about Sean since I got home.
The hospital parking lot wasn’t very full. I went to my mom’s house to check on Stormy. Stormy would eat, but she barely did anything else. Stormy kept telling people it was her fault, but I told her to stop blaming herself for it. Stormy was just a little girl, and she didn’t know any better. We should have been watching her—correction—I should have been watching her.
Self-loathing wasn’t a strong enough word for how I felt. I should be the one in the hospital bed. I should be the one fighting for my life, but I’m not. I despised myself and blamed myself. I wasn’t sure I could live with myself if Hayden didn’t make it. They put Hayden into a medically induced coma because of the severity of his injuries. They told me it could go on for months or for however long he held on.
They told me if they woke him up right now, he probably wouldn’t have his sight or any recollection of anyone or anything. They said they had to keep him under so he could heal.
The lights of the room were on a dim setting. A nurse stood beside Hayden checking his vitals when I came into the room.
“Hey, Abigail,” the nurse said.
“Hey. Tara, right?” I asked. Hayden had this nurse every night since he got here.
She smiled and nodded. “Well, his outside wounds are healing quickly. Considering the situation, we’re all a little shocked how good he looks on the outside,” she said.
“That doesn’t say much about the internal part, though.” I sank into a seat beside Hayden and placed my hand in his.
“Well, we’re going to try to wake him up tomorrow or the day after. We don’t know if he will wake or not. His brain injury is significant, but I have seen people survive worse head injuries.”
She smiled at me. “You’re a lucky girl. He’s very handsome.”
I chuckled and nodded. “Wait until you see his eyes.”
“What color are they?”
“Blue. Blue like the sky.” I rubbed my thumb over the back of his hand.
“Do you mind if I ask what happened? All I know is that a vehicle struck him,” she said.
My eyes flickered to Tara. Tara had been really sweet to me and watched Hayden carefully. She talked to me more than the other nurses. She seemed to genuinely care and not do it just because it’s her job. “My daughter. . .” I trailed off and sighed. I hated talking about it.
“You don’t have to tell me, honey. I’m sure it’s hard,” Tara said sadly.
“My daughter rode her tricycle out into the road. We were in a heated argument with some other people. I should have been watching her. Hayden got to her before I could. He managed to save her, but he couldn’t get out of the way in time.”
“Wow. He must love his daughter. At least, he’s a good father,” she said and smiled.
“No, he’s—” I stopped. My eyes flickered to Hayden. “He’s a great father. He does love her,” I murmured. I almost told Tara that Hayden isn’t Stormy’s father, but it felt like I would be lying if I told her that he wasn’t. Biologically, Hayden wasn’t Stormy’s dad, but he was a father to her in every way that it counted and mattered. I just didn’t realize it before.
“You should eat something. Are you hungry?”
“The café is closed.”
“I’ll find you something.”
“No, really, I’m fine.”
“I insist,” Tara said, and she walked out before I could respond.
I sighed and leaned closer to Hayden. I listened to the monitor beep as it traced his heart rate. “I’m sorry, babe,” I whispered. I rested my head beside him and yawned. “Love you.”
I slipped into unconsciousness before Tara came back.
The doctor and some nurses came into Hayden’s room and insisted that I leave. They intended to wake up Hayden and said it would be best if I weren’t in there in the event that something went wrong. They needed space.
It wasn’t easy to stomach food, but I did the best I could. I took a few bites off the cheeseburger that I purchased in the cafeteria. I couldn’t finish it, so I threw it in the trash.
The halls filled with hospital personal as I wandered aimlessly around. Strangely, Hayden is in the same hospital that his mom is in, but he can’t see her. He wasn’t well enough to see her even if they let him.
My phone vibrated. I sat down in a waiting room chair to check my text message. The text came from Chelsea. I contemplated reading the text. I wasn’t upset with Chelsea, but it wouldn’t be easy to maintain a relationship with her when I wanted nothing to do with my brother.
I sighed and opened the text. My eyes widened instantly. Chelsea sent me a picture of a newspaper clipping. I made out the title easily.
Iris Crowley Wakes Up from A Seven-year Coma.
The other words were too small and blurred. However, the picture of the woman was clear, and it was of Hayden’s mother, Iris Crowley.
“Holy shit,” I whispered.
A young woman and her daughter heard my language. The woman scowled at me, grabbed her daughter, and moved across the waiting area.
I jumped to my feet and headed for the exit of the waiting room. “I’m sorry,” I said to the woman and child. I barely looked at her. I was too in shock by the photo that Chelsea sent me.
I dashed down the hallway to the nurses’ station and stopped in front of one of the women. “Can you tell me which floor Iris Crowley is on, please,” I said politely.
The woman smiled, and her fingers lightly stroked the keyboard as she typed in the name. “The sixth floor. Her room number is three hundred and forty-two.”
“Thanks.” I spun around and headed for the elevators. I jumped into one of them before it could close, irritating the others that were in the enclosed area. I pushed the button for the sixth floor.
The elevator was crowded, and some of the occupants smelt as if they hadn’t showered in days. As soon as the elevator stopped for the sixth floor, I dashed out of it. I snuck down the hallway. I wasn’t sure that Iris was allowed any visitors, and I didn’t want to take the chance of being denied to see her. I needed to hear it from her.
Some people probably wouldn’t want to know if their boyfriend killed his family, but I needed the truth—because some part of me felt that Hayden didn’t do it. Hayden insisted that he was only stable because of the medicine he took, but I wasn’t so sure. Hayden had done such a wide range of good things since I knew him that I had a hard time believing he could kill innocent children.
My footsteps were inaudible as I snuck down the long corridor. Anytime a hospital worker came into view, I hid out of the way until they disappeared. It wasn’t a busy area, compared to some parts of the hospital.
I stopped and stared at the room that had the number 342 on the door. It took me a moment before I could put one foot in front of the other, but a nurse turned the corner, and that kicked me into gear. I snuck into the room before the nurse saw me.
I peeked around a curtain to be sure that it was Iris. Iris Crowley laid in bed with a tired expression, but she was awake. She stared at the television on the wall. She sighed and turned it off. There wasn’t anyone in the small dark room but her. Her blinds on the window were closed, and the lights were on a dim setting. I walked slowly around the curtain. My steps were hesitant.
Iris looked up, and her eyes widened in shock. “W-who are you?” Iris gazed around the bed. Her eyes stopped on the call button. She reached for it as she looked back at me.
“Please, wait,” I said. “I-I know that you don’t know me, but if you could. . .” I trailed off. What the hell do I say? “I know your son Hayden.”
Iris stopped, and recognition clouded her eyes. “Is he here? Do you know how I can find him? I asked them to reach him for me, but they said they couldn’t.”
“Y-you want to see him?” I stammered
Iris smiled and nodded. “I would love to see him. He must be so grown up by now, of course,” she said. Her tone was soft and very motherly. Her eyes danced at the thought of Hayden.
“Nobody told you?” Surely, someone told her. Maybe, she doesn’t recall what happened. Should I leave?
“Told me what?” Iris tilted her head in confusion.
I sighed. “Do you mind if I sit down?”
“Of course, you look tired.” She gestured for me to sit beside her hospital bed. She looked fragile and weak. It was impossible to be near her and not understand that she had been here a long time.
“So, do you.” I sat down on the chair beside her. “Iris, Hayden had an accident.”
Iris’s eyes filled with panic. “B-but they told me he made it. They said he wasn’t—”
“He’s not dead,” I clarified. “But he is here, and he’s not awake. He’s been in a medically induced coma the last few days. They’re actually trying to wake him up right now.”
“How do you know all of this? Who are you?”
“I’m Hayden’s girlfriend,” I murmured. “Um, Iris, do you realize what they say about Hayden? Do you know why you’re here?”
Tears welled up in Iris’s eyes. She gave me a solemn nod. “I know. I can’t believe that Harold could do such a thing. He killed my babies. He killed his own children. He just snapped. Hayden tried to stop it, but Harold slammed Hayden’s head into a wall, and Hayden passed out. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I remember some of it. I tried to stop him. I chased him up to Tyler’s room, but by the time I got up there, Harold already shot him.”
I stared at her dumbfounded. “Iris, Hayden was blamed for killing the kids. They said he went crazy. They said—”
“What?” Iris breathed. She shook her head violently and looked like she might be sick. “Mm, no. No. No, Hayden didn’t—” Iris stopped. “Hayden would never do that. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Harold told the cops that Hayden did it and that Hayden tried to kill all of you.”
Iris sucked in a ragged breath and shook her head. “That’s not what happened, I promise you. How could Hayden not know that he—”
“Hayden doesn’t remember anything.”
Iris sighed. “That poor baby,” she whispered and shook her head. “Hayden’s not capable of something so horrific. Hayden never hurt anyone or anything unless he had to. He shot Harold because Harold stabbed me with a knife. After Hayden shot Harold, Harold came after him and slammed his head into the wall. Harold took the gun and went upstairs. . .” she trailed off. “You already know the rest, I’m sure.”
“Yeah,” I said sadly.
“So, Harold got away with it,” she said and scoffed. “Well, I’m calling the police. He will not get away with this. I’m alive, and that son of a bitch will pay for what he did to my babies.” Iris reached for the phone.
“Wait,” I said. “Iris, I think you should wait on saying anything until you tell Hayden the truth.”
Iris stared at me for a moment and nodded. “Yes, that might be a good idea. There is a lot to the story that he must not know if he doesn’t remember. Harold did what he did because I found out some things. . . Harold is a bad man. Do you understand? You and Hayden must stay as far from him as you can. Harold is dangerous.”
I nodded. “I’ll come back later. I have to check on Hayden.”
“Yes, you do that. Bring him to me,” she insisted.
“If he wakes up, I will. If he doesn’t wake up, I’ll come back up here later, okay?”
“Yes. Okay,” she agreed. “Be safe, honey.” She grabbed my hand in hers and squeezed it gently.
I smiled back at her and nodded.
What Iris told me overwhelmed me, but part of me knew deep down that Hayden did nothing wrong. That meant that Hayden never killed his family. Hayden had been punished for a crime he never committed. He loathed himself over something he never did. I prayed like hell that they woke him successfully. It wasn’t fair. He simply couldn’t die, never knowing the truth.
As I turned the corner, the doctor came out of Hayden’s room. He had his back turned and started down the hall.
“Doctor Fischer,” I called.
The man turned to me, almost unwillingly. He looked tired and solemn. “Yes?”
“My name is Abigail. I’ve been staying here with Hayden. Is he awake?” My eyes pleaded with his.
“We woke him up successfully. We are still running tests to be sure we can keep him awake. When someone suffers head trauma like this, we must know for sure that their head is healed enough to keep them awake. Do you understand?”
“I can’t see him?”
“It’ll be a few hours,” Fischer responded.
“I understand.” Disappointment flooded me, but I understood.
The hospital called me while I was at Mom’s house checking on Stormy. They told me that Hayden was awake and that I could see him. Stormy was already in bed and asleep, but I knew she would want to see him.
I flipped on the light switch. I rushed into Stormy’s bedroom and started putting her clothes into a bag.
“Mommy, what are you doing?” Stormy asked, confused.
I looked behind me at Stormy and smiled at her. “Hayden is awake, baby. Do you want to go see him?”
“Yes!” Stormy’s eyes widened, and she stumbled out of bed. She grabbed her shoes and fought to get them on.
I kneeled down in front of her and helped her get them on.
“Mommy, do you think he is mad at me?”
“No, baby. He loves you. He won’t be mad at you.”
“I’m in pajamas.”
“That’s okay, baby.” After I got her shoes on, I picked her up and grabbed the duffel bag that held her clothes. I rushed downstairs. I left my mother a note to let her know that I took Stormy to see Hayden.
Stormy smiled widely as we walked through the hospital door entrance. “I missed Hayden, Mommy.”
“Me too, baby.”
“Can we stay here?”
“Yes,” I said. For some reason, what Iris said to me earlier that day alarmed me. I had a feeling the safest place for us, for now, was here at the hospital. Thoughts of Harold spun around my head chaotically. What if he knows Iris is awake? Will he try to kill Hayden and her to keep them silent about what he did? Is that what Iris meant when she told me to be careful?
Tara came out of Hayden’s room. She saw Stormy and me. She smiled widely at both of us. “Hayden keeps asking me about you.”
I smiled at her. “How is he?”
“Sore, but he’s going to be just fine. He’s a tough guy. You weren’t kidding about those eyes.”
I giggled and nodded. “Thanks, Tara.”
“No problem. Let me know if you need anything.”
“We will.” I slowly walked into Hayden’s room. My head and stomach spun chaotically as I thought about all the things that happened. I would have to take him to Iris. I sat Stormy on her feet. She held tightly onto the blanket that Hayden bought her as she slowly stepped around the curtain into Hayden’s room. Her little face scrunched up in worry, but I knew she didn’t need to worry about him being upset.
“Go, bug,” I said and gave her an encouraging nudge forward.
Hayden heard my voice and his head snapped in our direction. His eyes locked with Stormy first, and a look of relief washed over him. His body relaxed instantly. Hayden still had a bunch of wires stuck to him, but he wasn’t intubated, and more importantly, he was awake.
Tears welled up in my eyes as relief flooded me. He’s finally awake—I thought to myself.
“Hey, baby girl,” he said to Stormy and smiled. His blue eyes flickered to mine, and he saw the tears in them. “You didn’t think you would get rid of me that easy, did you?” he teased.
Stormy dashed across the room to Hayden. She jumped onto the chair beside his bed and climbed on top of him.