“Oh no.” From the nurse.
“What?!” A savage growl from Stone.
“She didn’t get—oh no.” She rushed away.
Stone went after her. “She didn’t what?”
The nurse came back, a doctor behind her, and I still couldn’t see. I could see shapes, but everything was blurred and it was the damn tears. I hated crying. I had to stop. Suck it up. Move forward. And feeling the impending doom that was about to crash over me, I did just that.
I went still.
I pushed past the pain, icing it all down, welcoming that same numbness from before again.
And then, as it all moved up, rising, covering me, I stopped crying.
I stopped feeling.
I grabbed whatever I was wearing and used it to wipe my tears clear, and then, I saw Stone’s back. He was turned toward me, his hips half angled to me, but he was twisted around, paying attention to the doctor and nurse, who I saw were looking over my chart.
The nurse pointed.
The doctor nodded. “Change it out now, especially if she’s awake.” With that, his eyes jerked to mine, went back to the chart. Then. He stopped. He backtracked and his eyes widened in horror. I saw it for a split second before he masked it. The professional coming forth, and he cleared his throat, standing upright, his hands folded over his chest. “Miss Phillips. You’re awake.”
Stone whipped back around to me.
I didn’t look at him. I didn’t want to see what was there because my memory was coming back, and I knew what news I’d still have to deal with, but not yet. Not yet. Not until I could walk out of here.
“I know you’re probably in a lot of pain, but we’ll get you handled and taken care of real quick.”
He looked at the nurse who was stringing something up, and she reached for a tube going into my arm, switching it out.
No, no, no. I knew what that was, and I started shaking my head, but my God. It hurt so bad. Everything hurt.
Stone looked at me, his hand grasping the nurse’s in the next flash.
She froze from his quickness.
I did, too, but then I said with my lips hurting and my mouth feeling just weird. “No morphine.”
The nurse’s eyes enlarged. “But you must be in so much pain.”
“No.” It hurt to talk. “Morphine.”
Stone let out a roar. “She said no fucking morphine. No fucking morphine.” Then, casting me an apologetic look, he quieted his voice, “She doesn’t usually drink or do drugs. She hates not feeling clearheaded.”
I gave him a questioning look because I didn’t think anyone knew that about me. I never drank or partied in school, or got high, and living where we did, so many went that route out of boredom. It was either that or trying to half kill yourself doing stupid stunts like Peter Mills who climbed the top of a crane to hide a flag for flag football and fell.
He didn’t survive.
People did stupid things where we grew up, and I had, too, with Stone when we were kids, but that all stopped.
“Sandy.” From the doctor. He seemed resigned. “If that’s Miss Phillips’ wish, then we need to adhere to it.”
She let go of the tubing and took the new morphine bag with its stand and wheeled it out of the room as the doctor came forward. A grave look in his eyes, and I knew what that was about. I was trying not to flinch, trying not to feel, but the pain was slipping in through the numb shell I pulled over me. Still. I’d deal.
I’d have to.
“Miss Phillips, do you remember what happened to you?”
I couldn’t speak, but my eyes went to Stone, and with a heaviness in his, he answered for me. “She remembers.” He told me, “You backed up and a moving truck hit you. Your car was totaled. The truck just had scrapes. I’ve taken care of that, though.”
“Your head hit your dashboard pretty hard, and we had to put you in a medically induced coma. We needed to gauge your injuries and determine if there’d be swelling on your brain. When the results came back with positive findings this morning, we decided to bring you out of the coma. And now that you’re awake, I need to conduct a few more exams. Are you up for that?”
I nodded, just the slightest movement.
“You’ll be able to speak again by tomorrow. We needed to intubate you for the coma, just in case. Other than the hard hit to your head, you came out of the accident without any big injuries. No broken bones, but your body is still healing from the trauma. You will be in pain for a few days.”
Checking my pupils. My vitals. The doctor left, saying he’d return to discuss departure plans with me about going home from the hospital. He glanced in Stone’s direction as he added, “You will need to go somewhere that you can be cared for. One more person will need to be there, and we can’t allow you to drive yourself home.”
Stone cleared his throat, looking up from where he’d been standing, his arms folded over his chest. “She’ll stay with me. I’ll drive her there.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but no sound came out as Stone sent me a withering look. “All your shit’s already been moved.”
Well. That shut me up.
“There you go. Problem solved.” The doctor touched my foot, a reassuring smile on his face. “Rest, Dusty. Your body needs to heal. One day at a time right now.”
He gave Stone a nod before leaving, pulling the door shut behind him.
Then it was just me and Stone, and his hands went up to his head. He let out a sharp breath. “Fucking hell!” Bending over, touching his elbows to his knees, he swiftly jerked back up, his hands falling, and a stark look was there.
Anger. Frustration. Pity. A whole mix of other things, but he was shaking his head. “Jesus Christ, Dusty. You know how the last few days have been?”
Anger sliced through my chest, and since I couldn’t speak, I mouthed at him, “Fuck. Off.”
He read it, and then his lip twitched before a full laugh left him. “Shit. There you are. Still fucking fighting while you’re literally bed-ridden. I have no clue why I’ve stayed away.” His tone turned mocking, a hardness lining his words, and I felt slapped by his words, but also comforted because that felt like familiar ground for us.
He groaned, slumping into the chair on the other side of my bed. “Okay. You have two options. I can tell you everything that’s happened because you’ve been in your coma for four days. Or we can wait until you can talk and ream me out and I can tell you then. Which option do you want because the outcome will be the same?” His eyes latched onto mine, still so hard and half glaring.
I lifted my middle finger for number one.
“The first option?” He grinned at my finger.
I nodded, just the slightest bit.
With his hands going into his hoodie’s front pocket, he pulled it low. “Since you are unable to travel by vehicle, train, or plane, a funeral was put together for your parents. Gail’s sister traveled from New York to help facilitate everything, and Jared was asked what he’d like to do. If he wanted to remain at his best friend’s house, go to New York with his aunt, or come down here to be with you.”
Pain. Excruciating. Dizzying. Blinding pain punctured me as he kept on. Every word he said was another knife being thrust into me, but I had to hear everything. I had to know everything.
“Since Apollo’s parents are open to fostering Jared the rest of his senior year, he opted to stay with them.”
A tear fell, slipping down my cheek.
It was how it should be. Jared spent more time there than at his own home, more time spent with his best friend to even get to know me. Not that I’d really been around. I’d been in school except for a few months when Gail and my father had started dating.
“I notified your parents’ lawyer and he’s traveling down here to go over your father’s will with you. Jared’s six months from being eighteen. Apollo’s parents are open to the idea of adopting him, if you and your aunt are okay with that. Technically, I believe the aunt has the option first. She agreed to the adoption, and so that goes to you, if you’re okay with them starting the process.”
I moved my head in a nod, more than I should’ve. A primal and head-splitting pain ripped through me, but I made no sound. I let no more tears fall. I swallowed and dealt with it. I knew Apollo’s parents, Bud and Georgia. They were a happy couple, and Apollo with his little sister were both blossoming. Good kids, from good parents. A good family. Jared would be lucky to be taken in by them permanently.
“Okay.” Stone took in another deep breath, his hand coming out of his hoodie pocket and smoothing down his leg. “I’ll let them know, and Jared’s social worker will reach out. She might need to talk to you, or meet you somehow. There are papers to sign, too.”
I couldn’t voice my question, so I motioned toward where his phone was on the nightstand.
He frowned. “You can’t talk at all.”
I made a writing gesture with my hand.
He grabbed his phone, pulling up a notepad app, and handed it to me.
I typed out, “Where are they buried?” And handed it to him.