A Deal with the Mafia Lord

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Chapter 2: Memories

“I’m so glad to see you,” Alec breathed against Serena’s shoulder as he tightened his arms around her. “Are you okay?” He pulled away slightly and looked around the room, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. “Are we in the hospital? Are you hurt?”

Serena wasn’t breathing. Her entire body was as taut as a bowstring that was about to snap at any second. Every inch of her skin burned in the places where Alec’s arms were wrapped around her, just as it had when he had given her the flower. And his voice…he was speaking to her like the last five years hadn’t happened.

But it did, and that was never going to change.

Serena finally found the strength to move. As quickly as she could, she untangled herself from his embrace and took several steps backward. “Uh, yeah. The hospital. You…you hit your head, Alec.” Even saying his name was hard for her. She cleared her throat and tried again. “I was just leaving.”

Alec’s exhausted, bloodshot eyes widened. “Leaving? Why? I don’t want you to go.”

The admission left Serena reeling. Before she could think of how to respond, the nurse from earlier re-entered the room followed by the doctor.

“Good to see you awake, Mr. Trivett,” the doctor greeted, a hint of surprise in his tone. “We weren’t expecting to see you so soon. How are you feeling?”

Alec’s gaze reluctantly left Serena. “My head hurts.”

The doctor let out an amused huff as the nurse handed him Alec’s chart. “That’s no surprise there. You have a significant head injury, Mr. Trivett. Do you remember anything from the past couple of hours?”

Alec responded almost immediately, shocking everyone in the room yet again. “I’m meeting Josh tonight after class. We are going to grab a beer and then go back to his house for a bonfire.” Alec looked back over at Serena, his gaze suddenly anxious. “Josh doesn’t think I bailed on him, does he?”

Serena opened and closed her mouth several times, completely speechless. Out of all the things she had been expecting Alec to say, that had been the last. She lowered herself back into the hospital chair before her legs gave out from underneath her.

“What is happening?” she asked no one in particular, her voice high-pitched and venturing on the side of hysteria. Through the chaos in her mind, she wondered briefly if she was dreaming. She contemplated pinching herself to make sure.

The doctor and nurse shared a glance, an unspoken conversation happening between them. The doctor went towards Alec’s bed and began talking with him just as the nurse came towards Serena and slowly crouched down in front of her.

“I know this may be a shock,” the nurse said gently, “but things are going to be a little foggy for Alec for a while.”

“Foggy?” Serena repeated, her voice no longer sounding like her own. She could faintly hear Alec and the doctor talking in the background, but she had no idea what they were saying. She felt like the foggy one.

“Memory loss is common with head injuries, especially one as severe as Alec’s. Usually, it’s temporary and his memory should slowly return with time, but until then it’s vital that he is looked after. Any more shocks to his system could cause permanent damage to his memory.”

Serena allowed her purse to slip off her shoulder and fall to the ground so she could drop her head into her hands. As she tried to process everything that the nurse had just told her, one detail, in particular, stuck out to her. “‘Looked after?’ Who is going to do that?”

The nurse seemed taken aback for a moment. “We thought that since you were the one to bring him in that-”

“No,” Serena replied sharply, cutting the other woman off. “Absolutely not. Not me.”

The nurse sat back on her heels and observed Serena with a mixture of surprise and confusion. “O-okay, Miss Cooke. That’s fine. Who else can we call?”

“I haven’t seen this guy in almost five years!” Serena snapped, her voice harsher than she intended. “Where is his phone? His wallet? Look for someone there. I don’t know.”

“We couldn’t find any sort of identification on Mr. Trivett. We’re assuming that they’re still at the scene of the crime.”

“Of course,” Serena breathed in disbelief. “I can’t take him. I just…I can’t.” Her voice broke on the last word, and the telltale sting of tears broke behind her eyes.

She desperately wracked her brain for any sort of information that could help her out of this mess but came up short. She had cut Alec Trivett completely out of her life five years ago and had had no intention of changing that. She knew nothing about him or the life he was currently living.

The nurse reached forward and placed a comforting hand on Serena’s knee. “Miss Cooke, Alec can be discharged, but he must be cared for. You might be his only hope right now.”

Serena shook her head, holding back a sob. All of the adrenaline from the last hour began to bleed out of her, leaving her a weak, quivering mess. “No, you don’t understand. It’s not-”

She was cut off by Alec’s voice. “Serena? Why are you crying? It’s okay, Ren.”

The nickname felt like a knife to her side. She inhaled deeply through her nose and looked up to find Alec staring at her with concerned, kind eyes. The fondness in them took her breath away yet again.

He continued to speak, his voice low and comforting in Serena’s ringing ears. “The doctor said that I’m going to be okay. We can get out of here soon. No need to worry, alright? Everything will be okay.” When the corner of his mouth turned up into a gentle smile, Serena felt like her chest was caving in on itself.

The nurse squeezed Serena’s knee one more time. “Take good care of him,” she whispered as she rose to her feet and met the doctor at the door. “I’m going to get the paperwork ready for your discharge, Mr. Trivett. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Without waiting for a response, they both left, leaving Serena and Alec alone once again.

Oblivious to Serena’s inner turmoil, Alec began talking to her so casually it was like he was discussing the weather. “Do you have my phone, Ren? I want to call Josh. Unless you already told him what happened? We’ll have to reschedule drinks for another night. Oh, I also need to email my professors and tell them I’m not going to be in class for the rest of the week.”

Serena summoned all of the strength that she had left and turned in the chair towards him. “You…you aren’t in school anymore, Alec. Neither is Josh.”

Alec let out a huff of laughter and stared at Serena as if she had two heads. “Of course I am, silly. Senior year. Josh and I are graduating together in a couple of weeks. Are you sure that you aren’t the one that hit your head?”

Serena took in this new information with as much composure as she could muster. Josh and Alec’s senior year was five years ago this past month. Now Serena understood why Alec was looking at her like he had that night they had first met. The last five years hadn’t happened, at least not in his mind.

He had no recollection of what had happened to her family. No recollection of how he had ruined her life.

Letting out a dark laugh, Serena picked up her purse and got to her feet. “I’m going to go call Carmen. I’ll be back soon.”

Alec watched her walk towards the door with confusion. “Who is Carmen?”

“My friend. We work together at the club.” As soon as the words left her mouth, Serena wanted to shove them back inside.

Alec’s eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. Under different circumstances, it would’ve been comical. “Wait, you work at a nightclub?”

Serena just sighed and walked out of Alec’s hospital room. “That’s just the beginning.”

The drive back to Serena’s apartment was silent save for the radio, which was playing some late-night techno music that Serena recognized from the club. She was too exhausted to reach over and change the channel. Instead, she kept both hands on the wheel and forced her eyes to watch the road in front of her instead of the man in her passenger seat.

Alec had gotten quiet once Serena had come back from her call with Carmen and signed his release papers. The nurse told her that the pain meds had started to kick in, but Serena could tell that there was more to it. The tension in the air between them was practically tangible. She did not doubt that Alec had a lot of questions, but the last thing that she was going to do right now was answer them.

Before Serena knew it, she was pulling up in front of her apartment and shutting off her car. She stared up at the rusty metal door that had been home for six months and wondered how she was going to explain this to Alec.

Almost as if he had read her mind, Alec leaned forward towards the window and looked around. “We aren’t going to your parents’ house?” he asked in surprise.

Serena’s eyes fluttered closed for a moment. “No, we aren’t.” She was so tired.

“Why not?” he pressed. “I mean, where else would we go?”

Serena shoved open her car door and stepped out into the night. “No more questions.”

Alec either didn’t hear or chose to ignore her because he continued to speak as they climbed the steps. “You know, I don’t really know if I want to stay here tonight. I don’t exactly feel safe. Do you hang out here often? I hope you don’t. I can call Josh. He can figure something out for us.”

Serena shoved her keys into the door harder than necessary and began fidgeting with the old lock that only decided to work on good days, which was hardly ever. “We’re fine here, Alec.”

Alec pressed in close behind Serena, his eyes flickering around them cautiously. “I mean, I’m sure it’s a nice place on the inside, but out here it’s not-”

He was cut off by the sound of the lock clicking and the creaky metal door swinging open. Serena stepped inside, flicked on the light, and hung up her purse. “Welcome home,” she said as cheerfully as she could before turning around to face Alec.

His eyes were wide, mouth open in shock as he took in the room over Serena’s shoulder. When he finally managed to speak, his voice was strained. “What the hell happened, Ren?”

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