I was feeling drowsy, and every part of my body was aching. I opened my eyes slowly to find myself in unfamiliar surroundings. It took me a while to realize where I was until the scent of disinfectant and medicines permeated the air.The walls were painted sky blue, an IV was attached to me. I was wearing a hospital gown. I hadn’t even realized back then that I’d been injured too.
There were flashes of the accident. We survived the accident and I was saved from being badly injured when Jack has wrapped his arms around me, cushioning me from the impact and taking the hit himself.
“Jack, you’re injured. We have to get you to the hospital immediately!”
I hurried to the car that was now lodged into a tree and pulled out the First Aid kit and a shirt from my bag. I disinfected his wound as much as I could, tore the fabric and wrapped it tightly around his wound to stop the bleeding.
As a nurse, I knew how to disinfect a wound and stop the wound from further damage but he still needed to be seen by a doctor.
“You need urgent medical attention.” I said frantically wiping the blood seeping through his denim. “You’re loosing blood, oh god!”
“Listen to me, love. Take this phone, and call Mark Bowen...” Jack said holding his bleeding leg. “Code word ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’. If he answers with ‘The Boy who cried Wolf’ only then tell him the address of this area and ask him to come asap.”
“Jackson! Are you even listening to yourself? You could die out here waiting for this person. We need to take you to a doctor.”
“Mark is a doctor! He’s the only person I trust!” Jack said, even though he was injured he was still arguing with me. “Besides, if I visit any hospital, I’ll be arrested and I can’t take that risk.”
He pointed towards the forest. “Take me there.”
I’d helped him up, he’d staggered all the way to the forest, drops of blood trailing on the road. When I placed him on the ground, his back against the tree, I saw that he had another wound near his waist.
“It’s still not too late. Let me call an ambulance.” I insisted, my vision blurred as the moisture pooled in my eyes.
Jack’s once vibrant face was now turning gloomy, like he was battling to remain conscious. His brown eyes looked topaz in the sunlight as he stared at me. “Nurse Riley, you’ve hurt yourself too. Sometimes you need to put yourself before others. Now’s that time.”
I stared at him, was he joking?
“I can’t leave you alone here. You’re stupid if you think I would do that.” I snapped, unable to keep the fury out of my voice.
“Call Mark right now. Please.” He said in a barely audible voice.
I ran back to the car and in a few minutes I located the phone. I called the number and waited, the line rang for a few minutes until a man answered the call.
“Jack & The Beanstalk.” I said
A few seconds later, the man responded. “The Boy who cried Wolf.”
“This is urgent. We met with an accident and he needs urgent medical attention. You need to come here as soon as you can. The address is...”
Jack’s eyes were closing. I slapped his cheeks softly a few times to keep him from slipping into unconsciousness. “Please stay with me...”
He opened his eyes enough to look at me, he raised his blood matted hand to my face and touched my cheek. “Leave Riley.”
I shook my head, taking his hand in mine. “I’ll stay with you until he’s here.”
“The person who threw us off the road, he...” Jack coughed. “He could be out here somewhere...” he winced from the pain, “...waiting to attack you too. He wants me dead and I can’t put your life in danger. One of us needs to be alive. He can’t win this. You need to leave, Riley. Right away.”
“Just leave, Cotton-Candy.” He said. “I can’t protect you like this. Mark will help me. There’s some money in my wallet in the car, take a cab home. Don’t worry about me.”
He squeezed my hand, “I want you to remember two things.”
“Do not trust Aaron Shaw and stay away from Paul Bennet.” He said their names with such disgust, you’d think they were some terrorists. “Stay vigilant at all times.”
I gave him a nod and pulled his head close to my face and kissed his forehead and then his lips before I climbed to my feet reluctantly.
I started to leave, my heart breaking with every step because I knew that I’d never have such powerful desire for anyone else.
“I love you, Riley.” He said in almost a whisper when my back was turned to him. I stopped, my hand flying to my mouth to stifle a sob and he said, “Don’t turn back. Keep going.”
One foot behind the other. I continued to walk ahead. It was like he was saying a final goodbye, as if he knew he wouldn’t survive this.
“Riley, are you with me?”
Voices in the distance.
“Snap out of it!” Some was shaking me which is when I I stared back at my brother’s worried face.
"She's awake!" Ken bellowed at someone in the background. He had a worried expression on his face. “We looked everywhere for you Riles, Do you have any idea how worried you made?”
“Water...” I managed to say.
Ken brought a glass of water to my lips. “Here. Drink this.”
I swallowed some and coughed. The door of the room flew open and in walked Aaron. What I didn’t expect to see was his expressions which were of utter relief.
“Riley, oh thank god, you’re fine!” He said as he power walked to my bed and pulled me in a hug.
I was back where I belonged with people that loved me, I should be glad. Aaron didn’t even seem to be mad anymore about the argument we had before Jack kidnapped me, and yet, I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be with Jack.
I just stared ahead, feeling the trauma of the situation slowly sinking in. He patted my head softly, and kissed the top of my head. “We thought you were dead.”
“Did he hurt you?” Ken asked suddenly.
I didn’t even have time to answer when Ken made an anguished sound. “That bastard raped you, didn’t he? Doctor Shaw we need Riley to take a rape test and then she will give a detailed report to...”
Leave it to Ken to overreact over situations. My blood began to boil, and my ears were ringing. Frustrated, I screamed. “Shut up Kenneth! I wasn’t raped, okay?” The tears began falling uncontrollably. “He did not hurt me!”
The room basked in eerie silence and I didn’t miss how Ken and Aaron exchanged glances like I’d fallen off the rocker.
In his usual soft and understanding tone, Aaron said, “It’s alright. Don’t trouble yourself. You need rest. When you’re feeling fine, I hope I can speak with you. We have a lot to discuss.”
I gave him a nod. “I want to go home, Aaron. I’m fine.”
“No you’re not. You passed out in the middle of nowhere and a car driving by saw you and brought you to a hospital. The staff there recognized you from the news and contacted us.”
I couldn’t even remember passing out. My head hurt too much to even recall the details. “How...how long was I out?”
Aaron checked his watch. “Approximately eight hours now.”
I was shaking. I was out for eight hours! I wondered if Jack was alright, what if my address didn’t go through to Mark and he didn’t know where to find him. What if Jack bled out and there was no one to...
Stop it Riley!
I took deep breaths, my breathing was getting intensified.
“Calm down. You’re safe now.” Aaron assured me. “Whatever it is that happened with you when you were with him, it is over.”
They thought I was his victim. I didn’t say anything because I needed to collect my thoughts before I could say anything. One wrong word out and I could put Jack in trouble.
“I need some pain meds, Aaron, and I want to rest.”
Aaron nodded. “Of course. We are all here for you, Riley. If you need anything, just holler.”
I tried to close my eyes but I kept seeing the accident and everything that followed. I realized I needed some good rest before Aaron and the others questioned me.
Soon, they were going to be all over me.
For defending a serial killer.