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When he goes to grab me again I pull my body in tight and scream. Big mistake on my part, because all it does is piss him off more.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch!” Unfortunately for me, I don’t have the strength to block the blow that hits me right in the temple, and instantly, everything around me fades into darkness. I try to fight it, but when my vision starts going, I know that I’m at his mercy. I just hope that he gets bored with me and stops. I’m not ready to die. I have things I want to do. People I need to set things right with. And a man that I know would be devastated if this was my end.

My last thought before everything goes blank is how badly I want to live, and if I make it through this, I’ll do everything in my power to learn how to let love in.

Chapter 11

When I start to feel the tugs of awareness, the first thing I notice is a shrill sound. The annoying beeping that won’t shut the hell up. I try to move my arms to find the offending noise, but they don’t move. When I attempt to open my eyes, nothing happens. I go through the checklist, trying to make something, anything, respond to my mental command. Nothing. I lay there trying to come up with a reason why I can’t feel anything, can’t move anything, and can’t see anything. Nothing.

I can hear the beeping start to pick up as my mind continues to panic. With every rapid burst, my mind and body start to freak out even more. I want to scream, but nothing happens. Right when I think my panic might be too much for me to control, I feel something cold hit my arms, and in seconds my heart calms, and my mind goes blissfully blank.

The blackness returns, and I fly off to dream again. This time, Beck’s here, smirking with his beautiful full lips and his brown eyes darkened with desire. My smile comes easy when I realize he’s here. He’s always here when I need him. I don’t waste a second before I rush into his arms and soak in his strength.

My last thought before I let my dream carry me away is that I’m so happy that his arms are holding me tight again. I’ve denied us this for so long, and even though he understands why, he still doesn’t deserve it. When his lips touch mine, I want to cry out against the unfairness, but the blackness clouds my vision again, and I fly away.

****

That damn beep is back.

What the hell is that noise?

After attempting and failing to move my body, I take a deep breath and try to figure out what’s going on and why I’m unable to move. I can hear a voice somewhere in the room, so I direct all my attention on that and try my hardest to pick up on something that might be useful.

With every fiber of my being, I strain and concentrate, but only manage to pick up a word here and there. “… asleep still… days… haven’t caught… should call her family… optimistic… should come.” I try to focus some more, but it’s taken so much of my energy just to understand those twelve stupid words. I want to weep when the fear seeps into my bones. I have no clue what’s happening, or where I am. The last thing I remember is going into the office and getting that stupid email from my mother.

I try to keep my mind alert long enough to figure out what the hell is going on, but after only a few moments, I’m flying away again towards the darkness.

****

God! Every single part of my body hurts. My head is pounding like I’ve just come off a weeklong bender, my throat and lungs burn with every breath I take, my arms and legs feel as if I’ve just worked out at that torturous spin class Izzy likes to drag me to, and oddly enough, even my hair hurts.

What the hell?

After accessing my body, and realizing that yes, every inch does in fact hurt, I fixate on the sounds around me. I can hear voices again, but this time I know who they are. Or at least I think I do. I definitely recognize Maddox’s low growl. It takes me a second to place Coop’s voice, though. He doesn’t sound like his normal playful self. Chelcie’s voice is the next one I catch, talking in a rushed low tone; I think she sounds scared, but I can’t understand her words clearly enough to be certain.

Just when I think that I know all the players in the room, one more voice speaks up, and my heart stops in my chest for a minute before it picks up speed. I don’t even need to have my eyes open to know he’s sitting right next to me. Now that I’m becoming more aware of my surroundings, I can feel him. Not just the warmth on my arm and hand, but I can feel his energy in the room. The ever-present love and strength is pouring all over me like a warm blanket. But I also feel his darkness, that vibe of menacing violence that is just itching to come out. He’s pissed and trying to contain it.

I try to remember what happened that could cause this type of reaction from him, but my mind keeps coming up with a big fat nothing. It’s there, the answers that I need, but they are just out of reach.

“She’ll wake up when she’s ready, so I’d appreciate it if you would stop talking about her like we need to start planning her goddamn funeral.” Beck’s snarl shocks me for a second until his words penetrate my brain. Why would they think I’m dying?

I want to cry out and scream that I’m awake, I’m here, and everything is going be okay, but when I open my mouth, nothing comes out but a strangled choke. I feel the vibe in the room change instantly when they realize I’m waking up. The waves of sadness, anger, and confusion dissipate, and a burst of joy and relief zaps through my body.

“Shh, it’s okay, Baby. Let me call the nurse and have her come check you out. I don’t know if I can give you any water, so let me go get her.”

I grab his hand with what little strength I have when he goes to move away from me. Tightening my weak fingers around his hand, I desperately hope he understands that I don’t want him to leave my side. My eyes refuse to budge, so I slowly turn my head to where I think he is. Opening my mouth, I try to tell him not to leave me, but that sickening noise comes out again.

“Dee, please don’t try and talk. I’m not leaving, I’m right here. Coop, go get the nurse.” I feel him move closer from where he must have been standing, his free hand brushing against my hairline. “I’m not leaving,” he vows.

The energy around me goes still, and he continues to murmur in my ear. I can’t tell what he’s saying because he’s speaking too low, but it’s still comforting. His soothing tones calm my out of control heart in seconds.

“Well, I see sleeping beauty decided to wake for her prince, after all. My name is Destiny; we’ve been waiting for you. I’m going to move your bed up slightly so that I can move the straw into your mouth. Okay, Honey?”

When the nurse’s soft voice starts explaining to me why I hurt, I start to panic again. What the hell happened to me?

“All right, Honey, open up and let’s see if we can get you talking. Your throat’s going to hurt, but let’s see what we can do. That’s it, small and slow sips.”

When I get enough to make my throat feel less like I’ve decided to eat sandpaper and closer to a dull throb, I unlatch my lips from the straw.

“That’s good, that’s good. Can you tell me your name, Honey?”

“D-de-nise.” My voice causes me to jump slightly. A low moan of pain escapes, and I try to calm my breathing when the pain gets a little too intense.

“I’ll get you something for that pain in just a second, okay? You’re doing great.” I hear as she moves around the room, and then places a cuff on my arm. When it finishes its tight squeeze, she reads my blood pressure out loud.

I try for a few seconds to calm myself down by taking shallow breaths. My right eye finally cracks open, and I take in the room around me. My nurse, a beautiful woman with skin as dark as night and hair back in a tight bun, is still moving around the edge of the bed. I can see Maddox, Coop, and Chelcie in the corner by the window. Maddox has both of his thick arms crossed tightly over his large chest. His face is hard, but I can tell by the slight tick in his jaw that he isn’t holding his emotions in as well as he would like. No, he’s pissed. To my shock, Coop has Chelcie wrapped tightly in his arms, slightly rubbing her back.

When my eye finally hits the worried, dark gaze of the man sitting by my bed, I want to cry. His eyes are red, and I can tell he’s either been without sleep, or he’s been crying, and I desperately hope he just hasn’t slept. His brows are drawn in tight, his lips are pressed into a line, and his thick brown hair is mussed and standing in a million directions. Even looking as terrible as he does right now, he still is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.

“Everything looks great, Honey. I’m going to get you some more medication for your pain. It’s going to make you sleepy, so let me get the doctor to explain what’s going on before you turn into Sleeping Beauty again.”

My eyes never leave Beck’s face.

“That’s right. This prince of yours hasn’t left your side once, so I imagine I wouldn’t want to stop looking at him either.” She lets out a soft giggle before I hear her slip from the room.

I try to offer him a small reassuring smile, but it must fall flat because his eyes look even more pained. He leans in and kisses my forehead softly right before I hear footsteps next to my bed again. I turn my head from Beck’s worried face and focus on the new arrival. She’s wearing a white coat, so I’m only assuming this is my doctor. She puts me instantly at ease with her calm smile, but it’s her eyes that make me feel like I’m in good hands. She has the kindest eyes.

“Hello there. I’m Dr. Knott. I understand you just woke up?”

“About thirty minutes ago, ma’am.” Beck speaks, and I’m thankful that I don’t have to try out my voice again.

“Good, good. I understand there was an incident at your office, and I know that the police have been waiting for you to wake to speak to you, but I think I can hold them off for a few days. You need your rest. We’re going to keep you on the pain meds for at least another day or so, and let your body get a little better before we take the good stuff from you.” She smiles again and pats the arm opposite of the one that Beck is rubbing softly. “You have a few bruised ribs, but luckily nothing broken there. Your eye, the left one, is going to look and feel a lot worse than it is, but in a few days, the swelling should go down enough for you to be able to open it. We do want to make sure that you aren’t having issues with your vision, so we will need to check it. There are a few other bruises and bumps, but right now, we’re keeping an eye on your head to make sure the swelling stays down. You’re a lucky girl; by the looks of it, it could have been a lot worse.”

She continues to explain various things about healing and home care, but I’m too busy taking in everything she just told me. Beck asks a few questions, but I don’t hear them. I just lay there in shock. She asks me a few more things that I weakly answer before she leaves the room with the promise of sending Destiny back in with my pain medication. The second the door closes, it’s as if the floodgates slam open, and all the memories, leading up to now, come rushing back. The office, no alarm, light on, the man… oh God, the man!

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