Authors: Kelly Carrero
I placed the call on mute. “It’s the hospital,” I said to Anna.
“I know,” she said, her face stricken with worry.
I opened the door to the bathroom, which was set up almost like public toilets. Three doors lined one wall of the room, and three sinks hung on the wall in front of them. A full-length mirror covered the far wall, and a two-seater sofa rested by the door. “Chels?”
The toilet flushed. “Yeah?” she said, emerging from a stall.
“You have a phone call,” I said as she turned on the tap with one hand and pumped soap with the other. “It’s the hospital.”
Her breath caught in her chest. She stopped washing and stared at my reflection in the mirror, fearing the call was going to be bad news. She didn’t feel as if she could handle any more bad news. She didn’t want to be orphaned so early in her life.
I forced a smile as I placed my hand on her shoulder. “Don’t be so worried. It might be good news.”
She turned off the tap, shook her hands, then grabbed the handtowel. When her hands were partially dry, she spun around and held out her hand.
I placed the phone in her open palm. “Do you want me to go outside?”
She shook her head, then turned off the mute before speaking into the phone. “Hello, this is Chelsea.”
I could hear the faint voice of the lady on the other end of the call. “Yes, I’m calling to let you know the surgeons have finished doing the skin grafts on your mum. She will be coming out of theatre shortly, and we thought you might want to be here when she wakes.”
“I… a…” Her words caught in her throat. She hadn’t known her mum was going in to surgery and felt bad for not being there before she went under. “I’ll be there,” she finally managed to say, her voice barely a whisper.
“Okay, she’ll be in the recovery room on Level Two, Room Six B,” the caller said before hanging up.
Chelsea’s hand shook as she brought the phone away from her ear. “I… I didn’t even know they were going to operate on her.”
“They didn’t tell you?” I asked, playing dumb.
She shook her head, her eyes brimming with tears. “No.”
“Well, at least you can be there when she wakes up.”
Chelsea wiped away her tears before they had a chance to fall. “This can’t be good. She’s going to be in so much pain.”
She narrowed her eyes when I smiled. “What?”
“It’s lucky we have someone who can stop her feeling the pain, now isn’t it?”
“Seriously?” She raised both hands to her mouth in a praying position. She wasn’t the religious type, but I guessed she was subconsciously willing to try anything to help her mum through the pain.
“I’m surprised you have any doubts after you saw what Anna just did to you.”
She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “You’re right. She’s going to be fine. I just need to stay positive.”
“Exactly.” I should probably have listened to my own advice, considering I was a pessimist when it came to everything revolving around DD. A loud crack came from the rumpus room. Chelsea and I rushed out the door.
Lucas and Aiden were standing beside the pool table, studying something in Aiden’s hand. “Holy shit, you actually cracked the ball,” Aiden said with a laugh. He spun around, holding an equal side of the ball in each hand. “Look at this—” He stopped short when he heard Chelsea’s thoughts. He put the two halves of the ball back on the pool table. “Is everything all right?” Aiden said, playing dumb.
Chelsea had lost her ability to talk nonstop, so I filled the others in on what the caller from the hospital had said to Chelsea. “And we were hoping you could come with us so you can take away any pain she may feel. Is that okay?” I asked Aiden.
“Of course it is,” he replied.
I put my arm around Chelsea’s shoulder. “Well, we’ll go get ready, and I’ll let you know when we’re good to go,” I said to Aiden, then turned to Anna. “We’ll talk more about the you-know-what later.”
Anna gave me an exaggerated wink. “I’ve got it covered. You just concentrate on Marie, okay?”
Both Chelsea and I nodded, then transported to the closet in mine and Aiden’s room.
“Pick yourself out something to wear,” I said, searching through the summer section of the wardrobe for something to change into.
Without saying anything, Chelsea flipped through the hangers, stopping on a black tank top. She wasn’t normally one to go for black, but I guess the saying was true. People dress for their mood. She went over to the shelves and picked out a pair of denim shorts. “Is it okay if I have a quick shower?”
“Of course you can. There are clean towels in the bathroom.”
“I won’t be long,” she said with a heavy smile I wished I knew how to take away. “Hey, Jade,” she said, stopping at the door to the bathroom. She put her hand on the frame and twisted around to face me.
“I just wanted to say thanks, you know, for everything. I don’t think I would be able to get through this without you.” She smiled at me, then turned and trotted into the bathroom without bothering to close the door.
I felt sick to my stomach. She would never have been thanking me if she knew the entire truth.
Forty-five minutes later, we stood outside the door to her mother’s hospital room. If I hadn’t known better, the person lying in the bed could’ve been anyone, male or female. She was covered practically from head to toe with bandages. I hadn’t thought her body had been subjected to the fire long enough to do that kind of damage, but I was wrong.
Too nervous to step inside the ICU room, Chelsea watched her mother through the observation window. Her mind kept ticking over what it was going to be like for her mum when she did wake up. She knew the burns were going to hurt like hell, and she didn’t know if she could handle hearing her mother’s screams.
Aiden put his arm around my shoulder, and placed his hand on Chelsea’s. He must have slipped her some of the good stuff, because her fears were slowly fading away. “I can’t take all her pain away because it would bring too much suspicion. So I’ll try to make her mind register only a fraction of the pain,” he said, low enough so only we could hear.
I thought back to when the psycho was carving me up, and I didn’t feel anything except the pressure of the blade. Aiden was probably hoping he could do something like what I’d miraculously done to myself.
“You can really do that?” Chelsea asked with watery eyes.
“I don’t know, but it’s worth a try.” Chelsea’s hopes dropped, so Aiden added, “And if it doesn’t work, I can always make her forget her pain.”
“But that means she would still feel it, doesn’t it?”
Aiden thought about it for a moment. “I think I could probably make her forget as she is feeling it so her brain will barely register the pain before I take the memory from her.”
Chelsea blinked back tears.
I picked up her hand and squeezed it. “She’ll be okay. We’ll get through this together.”
She squeezed my hand back, but didn’t say anything.
The three of us turned around at the sound of approaching footsteps. A male doctor in his thirties flanked by a female nurse stopped in front of us. “Chelsea?” he asked, looking back and forth between her and me.
“Ahh yeah, that’s me,” she said. Her nerves were slowly calming, but hadn’t returned to normal yet.
“Hi, I’m Dr. Adam Carmody. I will be overseeing your mother’s treatment here.”
“How… how’s she going?” Chelsea asked, her voice cracking with worry.
“The surgery was successful, but she will need to be monitored in hospital until her skin repairs without any possibility of infection,” Dr. Carmody said. “I’m just about to go in there.” He pointed towards her room. “I’ll check on her again before she wakes up.”
Aiden and I stood to the side, knowing the doctor wanted to get started, and the three of us had been blocking the entry. “Chels,” I said, pointing to the door.
She quickly stepped aside. “Sorry.”
The doctor opened the door, and we followed him and the nurse into Marie’s room.
“We just need to check a few things,” the doctor said, picking up Marie’s file from the end of her bed. “If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
While we waited for them to check whatever it was they needed to, we sat on the padded bench under the window. Aiden sat on one side of Chelsea and I sat on the other.
Before long, the doctor said, “She’s starting to come to.”
Chelsea looked nervously at Aiden.
“It’ll be okay,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulders, sending some much-needed calming endorphins her way.
She smiled, relieved he could so easily take away her fear.
Slowly, Marie started to arouse, and I was glad Chelsea couldn’t hear her thoughts, because although Marie’s thoughts were foggy, and the pain she was feeling consumed her mind.
“Crap. It didn’t work,”
Aiden said silently. He would have to resort to making her forget the pain over and over again. A barely noticeable smile edged at the corners of his lips. It was working.
I leaned over to Chelsea and whispered in her ear, “He’s able to make her forget before she has time to think about it.”
A wave of relief washed over Chelsea, and she was finally able to sit back and relax a little.
“I’m giving her some more morphine to help her out with the pain,” the nurse said as she injected it into the IV. Little did she know that Marie didn’t need it, but I guessed it would allow Aiden to stop doing what he was doing. I knew it couldn’t be easy for him to make her forget over and over again. It took a lot of concentration and effort.
Chelsea rushed to her mother’s side. She reached out to hold her hand, but pulled it away, unsure if her affection would hurt her mother. Almost her entire body was covered in bandages, and the skin that was showing looked swollen.
“Hi, Mum,” Chelsea said when Marie’s eyes opened a fraction of an inch. Her eyes glazed over as the morphine kicked in.
The nurse noticed the worried look in Chelsea’s eyes. “It’s just the morphine starting to work.”
“Oh,” Chelsea murmured. She was disappointed she wasn’t able to speak to her mum and ask her how she was feeling, but at the same time, she was relieved to know the medication was kicking in. With the help of Aiden doing his freaky mind-altering thing, her mother really should be on cloud nine.
The doctor returned the folder to the end of the bed. “Do you have any questions for me before I leave?” he asked as the nurse left the room.
“Ahh… How long will she be in here?” Chelsea asked.
“There is no set time for burn patients. It will depend on how quickly her skin is able to heal. She won’t be able to go home until we are sure there is no chance of infection.”
Chelsea nodded, letting the doctor’s words sink in. Her mother would more than likely be there for weeks.
“Right, then. Let the nurses know if you need anything.” He turned to leave.
“Just one more thing,” Aiden said, stopping the doctor at the door.
“Yes?” he asked, turning to face Aiden.
“Do you know what time they will be changing her dressings?”
Chelsea’s face turned pale. “Say what?”
The doctor looked uneasy. Apparently, the patients’ family members usually steered clear during dressing time. He studied Aiden’s face for a moment before saying, “We will be changing the dressings around this time tomorrow… then every day thereafter until her wounds have closed over.”
Aiden looked the doctor straight in the eyes, probably doing some mind-control shit. “Can someone let Chelsea know before they start?”
“Of course,” he said, his thoughts completely void of any animosity. “I will make sure one of the nurses calls her at least half an hour before. Will that give you enough time to get here?” he asked Aiden, not Chelsea.
“That should be fine. Thanks.”
The doctor turned around and walked out, shutting the door behind him.
Chelsea gulped. “I have to be here while they do that to her?” Her voice shook with worry.
Aiden relaxed his shoulders and smiled. “You only need to be here so that I can.”
“Well, you want to make sure she doesn’t feel any pain, don’t you?”
Her eyes lit up. “You would seriously come here every day to help her?”
“Ah, yeah,” Aiden said as if it wasn’t half-obvious.
She looked at Aiden with a heavy smile and eyes that threatened to spill tears. “Thank you.”
An hour later, the three of us were back in England. Chelsea was upstairs, asleep in the bedroom down the hall from ours, while Aiden and I were curled up in bed. We were both beat, but I had too many things on my mind to let him go to sleep without being able to get them out of my system first.
Aiden also decided he had a few things to discuss. “When are you going to give your mum a chance to tell her side of the story?”
“When I’m good and ready,” I said, so not wanting to discuss anything to do with her. But he pressed on.
“Aren’t you the least bit curious to see what she has to say? Why she’s been hiding that part of her life from you?”
“No,” I snapped, realising it was unfair of me to take my frustrations with my mother out on him. I reached over and placed my hand on his bare chest. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s just…”
“I get it. You don’t want to talk about it,” he said, pulling at a strand of my hair that had come loose from my hair tie. “But I think it would be good for you to talk to her.”
A mischievous smile spread across my face. “But there are so many other things I would rather be doing,” I said, tracing the lines down to that oh-so-sexy v-line.
He drew in a sharp breath. “You are so lucky I’m so easily distracted.”
“I think you’re going to be the lucky one.”
A warm breeze brushed past my ear. With my eyes still closed, I pulled the sheet up around my neck and snuggled back to sleep. “Jade,” a voice whispered at the same time as I felt another puff of warm air against my cheek.
“Just five more minutes,” I mumbled, pulling the sheet up over my ears.
The sheet was slowly pulled off my face. Then the voice whispered, “Jade.”