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   Chapter 18 Eighteen

Beauty and the Bad By Aubrey Wolfe Characters: 25766

Updated: 2019-06-04 20:01


When I hear the beeping this time, it sounds much clearer. I can feel the tips of my fingers and my toes, but can't wiggle them. There is a weight on my chest, but I can still feel is rise and fall as I breath slowly, unable to control it.

I'm sleeping again?

I'm more aware this time, and much calmer. I'm not sure what is different this time. I can feel myself breathing, but I still can control it; I can feel my fingers and toes, but still not move them.

But still, I feel a comfort around me, that I didn't feel the first time my mind awoke. There is something warm touching my arm, I recognize the presence I feel along with it.

Wherever I am, there is someone here with me.

Is it Reece?

I know that's the answer, before I even hear his voice, my mind completely giving into the darkness around me.

"I'm so sorry, Chloe, " I hear his voice whisper, but it sounds a little warped. "I should have come to see you sooner, but the guilt that I've carried since that day, I didn't know if I could handle seeing you like this."

I feel pressure in my hand, and warmth spreads through my body.

"This is all my fault, I should have protected you better, I should have been there to make sure you were safe."

His voice sounds so broken, I want to reach out and hug him. I try and fight against the sleep, not pushing too hard, remembering what happened last time I freaked out. I slipped right back under for god knows how long.

I hear the beeping get faster, so I try and focus on my breathing, which is also getting faster. The pressure in my hand disappears, and I feel a small wave of panic wash over me, but I try and will it away.

"What is going on?" I hear Reece ask, his voice just as panicked as I feel.

"I think she is waking up, it's alright. Her wound looks clean and sealed, just give her some time and hopefully, she will be awake soon, " I hear a female voice speak, making me wonder where I am.

I'm alive, that much has to be obvious. So, where did Reece take me then? Did he take me to the hospital? Would that not be dangerous for him? I can imagine after the ordeal in the warehouse, in order for him to have escaped with my life, the police have to be after him.

Or Angel is still alive, at the very worst.

Would he risk it, for me?

I shouldn't have to think twice about that. I know he would.

The look of complete devastation on his face, when I collapsed to the ground after being shot, showed me more than enough to prove to me just how much he loves and cares for me. I can't imagine what he has been going through all this time.

I want to wake up. I want to be the one to comfort him and look into his eyes, be the one to tell him everything is going to be okay. I fight against the darkness, feeling myself sinking deeper, but I keep trying to crawl up.

Until I feel, rather than see, the faintest touch of warm light. I feel it hit my face and spread through my body, like I'm being lifted through a warm, soft surface, before I'm plunged right back into the darkness.

***

I come to my senses again, slowly blinking my eyes against the harsh light.

Where am I? Am I still dreaming?

I continue to blink until my eyes adjust, the blaring of monitors hitting my sensitive ears instantly. I try and lift a hand to cover my exposed right ear, but stop when pain shoot through my chest.

"Ow, " I hiss out. I feel something move next to me, and look down to see a head of messy dark brown hair, and a tattooed covered arm draped over the side of the bed. Reece is passed out cold, snoring softly as he leans over in his chair, his hand inches from mine, like he had been holding it until he closed his eyes.

How long has he been here? How long have I been out?

I want to ask him so many questions, but even when he is sleeping so peacefully, the exhaustion is clear on his face. It looks like he hasn't showered or slept properly in weeks, but to my surprise, still smells amazing.

Even though I want him to sleep, knowing he needs it, I also need to know what happened. Like how I got here, and what happened just before. There are too many questions pressing my mind, ones that doctors and nurses can't answer.

I reach over and shake his arm lightly, calling his name, though my throat is hoarse and feels like a desert. I look over and thank the gods that there is a glass of water and some food put out for me, that still looks fresh with a few melted ice cubes in it.

I grab the glass and gulp it down, ignoring the slight pain in my chest when I move. It seems to shake the bed enough to wake Reece, who shoots up from the bed and looks around in panic.

"Chloe?" he calls out, his eyes frantically searching the room. I touch his hand and his eyes snap towards me. I almost reel back from the wild look in them. What had he been dreaming about? "C-Chloe?" he calls again, his voice stunned.

"Hi, Reece, " I say meekly, unsure how to react in this situation.

He takes my hand in his and reaches towards my face with the other, touching my cheek lightly, then pulling back as if my skin is on fire.

"It's not a dream, " he whispers, staring at me like a deer caught in headlights.

"No, it's not a dream, I'm really awake. I'm here, it's okay now, " I say the words I had been longing to tell him the entire time I was unconscious, unable to comfort him when he needed it most.

He rushes at me, still careful not to crush me too hard, and wraps his arms around. I feel tears hit my shoulders and his back begins to shake. He is completely breaking down in my arms.

This is surreal to see. I thought I might have imagined the look on his face, right before I was shot and even after. But I couldn't have.

"I missed you, I missed you so fucking much, I think I've gone insane, " he whispers into my neck. I try to pull back to look at him, but he keeps a tight hold.

"Reece, calm down. I'm okay, I'm here." I run a soothing hand down his back, pulling him onto the bed with me so we can lay down together. He doesn't let go of me, keeping his arms securely around me the entire time.

"I'm never letting you go again, " he mumbles against my lips, kissing me until the air is sucked from my lungs. "I was such an idiot before to think you would ever be safe with anyone other than me. I should have never let you out of my sight, and I swear to never do it again."

I let out a little chuckle at how cute, but ridiculous he is being.

"Reece, we can't be together 24/7, I will have to pee at some point, " I try and joke, but the look of despair doesn't leave his eyes.

"I'm serious, Chloe. I never want to go through that kind of loss again. For those 15 minutes before I got to you, before I was able to hold you one last time; I really thought that was the end, that I had lost you. I've never felt such heartbreaking pain before, I don't think I can physically go through it another time, I wasn't entirely sure I could this time either, when they moved you to surgery a second time."

I force him to pull back and give him a confused look. "What are you talking about?"

"You tried to wake up, it caused your body to stress and your wound to get worst during recovery. They also found a broken fragment of the bullet still left in the wound, and had to remove it. I was afraid you would go in, and never come back out. It was hard enough with the state you were already in before, " his explains, his voice cracking.

I reach out and caress his face, hoping my touch is enough to calm him down. The tension leaves his face the moment my hand touches his cheek, and he closes his eyes to take a deep breath.

"What happened? How did I survive?" I ask, needing to know answers

stantly takes out his phone.

"What are you doing?" I ask when he presses it to his ear and gets up from the bed.

"I have to make a few phone calls, I'll be right back, " he says and rushes out. A nurse comes in a few minutes after with a tray of food, and I eat silently until Reece comes bursting back through.

"Do you have a bag with you? Any personal belongings?" he asks, running around the room to grab his coat and car keys.

"Uh, no, unless you have my phone." He reaches into his back pocket and tosses me my dead phone. I can imagine how much it's going to blow up from frantic calls and texts from Sissy and Logan. I haven't talked to them in weeks, they probably think I was moved again.

"What's going on?" I ask.

"We're leaving tonight, I got you discharged early thanks to Karl. He's going to meet us out back and drive you away from here, while I distract your mother and the police, if she calls them, " he explains, still rushing.

"Hold on, calm down! I can't just up and leave now. I haven't said good-bye to anyone, at least let me tell Sissy and Logan that I'm alright."

"Chloe, we don't have time. The moment your mother sees that you're gone come tomorrow morning, she is going to have every cop on the streets looking for you and I. We need to leave town tonight, while we still have the chance, " he says and takes my face in his hands.

"I can't just leave them, without saying good-bye. Please, Reece?" I beg him. He lets out a frustrated breath, but nods and grabs his phone again, typing something away. When he is done and I'm dressed, he grabs my hand and we run through the halls.

I can't help the wide smile that splits my cheeks as we run, hand in hand, through the empty hospital. I feel like a rogue couple, running away from the cops or the mafia, something dangerous. Just two star-crossed lovers, willing to take on the world together.

We make it to the back of the building, where a yellow mustang is parked in the shadows, Karl leaning against the hood. I run and throw my arms around him, whispering over how thankful I am to him.

"You saved my life; we barely know each other."

I feel him smile against my neck. "Your family, and I always look out for family." My heart flutters and soars at his words.

I'm a part of the family.

We pull a part and Reece wraps an arm around my waist, pulling me back against his chest. I can feel the glare he has on his face before seeing it, and I can't help but smile at his jealousy. It's something I will never get over; how this amazingly gorgeous man is jealous of other people looking at me.

Only Reece can make me feel like this. I can't wait to start our life together.

We race back to the warehouse, where to my surprise, Sissy and Logan are waiting. They look like they've already spent the last hours crying, but continue to cry some more when they hug me. I manage to tell them everything I can, about what has happened since the last time I saw them, but Reece urgently tells us that we need to leave.

The sun is coming up, my mother will be arriving back at the hospital any moment now to check on me, and start filling out the paperwork. I don't doubt she hasn't already packed the house and all my things. I don't bother thinking about returning for any of it, all of my old personal belongings were thrown out, and I never grew any attachments for the new ones meant to replace them.

"Will you ever be back?" Sissy asks, tears still streaming down her face.

"I'm not sure, but I will stay in touch with you the moment we get settled, and everything has passed. I'll let you know I'm okay this time, " I say and give her another hug. We say our farewells once again, then hop into Reece's car. He himself packs a small bag of clothes and all the cash he has, with a bit of help from his father and Ethan he said.

"So, where are we going?" I ask Reece, settling into the seat once we're out on the open road, the sun almost in full view now over the horizon.

He reaches over and grasps my hand, lifting it to kiss the back.

"Anywhere you want, firecracker."

My pulse races at the thought. We can go anywhere in the world. There are so many places I want to see, but there is one place that has been on my mind for a while, that I know we will both love.

"I want to see your home country." I turn to towards him in my seat.

"Britain? You want to go there?" he asks and I nod.

"I've never been outside the country, and I want to see where you grew up, where you came from. You already know my hometown, and yours is far enough away that my mother will never find us, or at least it will take her awhile."

A smile spreads across his face and his squeezes my hand. I instinctively squeeze back, and I see his chest rise and fall heavily, like he is gasping for breath. I love how the small amount of contact from me has the same affect his does on me all the time.

"London it is, " he says, his eyes twinkling with affection as he stares at me. He re-routes us to the airport, and I feel my heart soaring along with the speed of the car.

I finally found who I am.

THE END

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