CHAPTER 7 - PART 1
Seconds turned into longer but I couldn’t pull my hand free. I continued to stare into his eyes feeling drawn to him in a way I could no longer deny.
“Reece.” My name from his lips pulled me back to reality and I looked down to my hand still against his chest.
“I…don’t…” I pulled my hand free. The panic I had managed to subdue until then began to bubble to the surface and I tried to breath but the air locked in my lungs.
Gently Aiden took me by the arms and levelled his gaze with mine. “Take a breath.” His voice was calm and fixed on it trying to fight my way through the grip my emotions.
I took a shaky breath intent on doing as he told me.
“There you go,” he said gently and I exhaled slowly all the time holding his gaze.
“You’re good,” he murmured and nodded taking another deep breath before releasing it.
His hand on my arms pulled me closer and he hugged me. “You’re good.” I wasn’t sure if he murmured to me to him or himself. I should have pulled away but I didn’t. In that moment I needed him and I couldn’t refute that, not to myself or anyone else.
After about a minute he released me to study me. “You ready?”
I looked to the doorway and nodded. It was now or never. Don’t cry. I told myself. No matter what happens don’t let Lacey see me upset.
The sight of Lacey looking pale and vulnerable in the hospital bed when I entered hit me in the chest like a sledgehammer and I made a point of putting a smile on my face while I tried to ride out the impact.
Aiden followed me in.
I rushed to her and hugged her. All the emotion I’d been trying to keep at bay bubbled over and there was no stopping it. My eyes began to water and tears slid down my face. I hugged her tight like I didn’t want to let her go. It was the fear of the future and what was going to unfold. Nothing was within my control and I had never felt so helpless than I did that at that moment. I was vaguely aware of Aiden on the other side of the bed beside Lacey watching us but I couldn’t look at him.
I let her go to wipe my tears, hating that I hadn’t been strong enough not to cry. This wasn’t helping her at all.
“It’s okay.” Lacey said with a smile I knew wasn’t genuine. I knew her well, and I wasn’t buying it. I could see the fear in her eyes.
I did the only thing I felt I could, I hugged her again and murmured. “I love you.”
My heart broke. I didn’t want to write her off but I had to be realistic. There was a chance she wasn’t going to make it and I needed her to know how much she meant to me.
“I love you too,” she said gently. I closed my eyes briefly, feeling another wave of emotion.
I released her.
“You really know how to do this the dramatic way. You had to get the ambulance involved,” Aiden said teasingly.
His comment made Lacey smile. He had a way of turning an emotional situation around with the a comment. Or maybe it wash is way of dealing with it. He had the same fear in his eyes even with the teasing smile on his face.
“You should have seen the crowd that saw me off,” Lacey shot back and that made him grin.
They had a way with each other that was fascinating to watch. In the short time they had known each other they had developed a deep friendship. And nothing like possibility of death to make a person treasure every stolen moment.
He gave her a hug and I studied Lacey’s features. They were tight and pale. She didn’t look well. I swallowed the panic down. I had already cried like a baby, no more. While I was with her, I would convince myself she was going to survive. It was only when she wasn’t around I would let myself feel the fear of losing her.
Aiden and I stayed with Lacey until Adonis came back. We left the room to give them some privacy.
I stood outside the door watching it like it held the secret to this whole situation. Aiden stood beside me. Neither of us were in the mood to talk and didn’t try to make conversation. Perhaps we were both busy with our heavy thoughts about our friend and her chances.
Every time I even considered the possibility that Lacey wouldn’t make it I felt a sense of panic I had never experienced before I let out a deep breath and suppressed it.
Aiden’s hand found mine and squeezed it. My head turned but he was still staring at the door. My gaze dropped to my hand in his and I took another breath. His eyes met mine and I held my breath.
It was there in his eyes. The memory of his lips against mine, the complete loss of control. It was the reality of being anywhere near him. I had no self control when it came to him and if I had any self preservation I would keep my distance.
But self preservation wasn’t wanted I wanted. My eyes went back to Lacey’s hospital room door. Aiden’s hand tightened his hold on my hand.
Watching a loved one face death made me look at my life. If I was going to die what would matter more: doing what was right or doing what felt right.
My mind chose Max but every other part of me wanted Aiden…it was too much to fight.
It was only footsteps coming towards us and the sight of Lacey’s worried parents that brought me back down to reality with a thump. Hurriedly, I pulled out of Aiden’s hold, hoping no one had see us holding hands. How would I explain it to any observer? Was there any acceptable explanation?
“Reece,” Mrs Harpers said as she hugged him. Mr Harper shook Aiden’s hand.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner,” I mumbled. I couldn’t imagine what they were going through. The possibility of losing a child. It went against the norm of children burying their parents.
“You are here now,” she murmured, affectionately.
“Thank you for being here,” Mr Harper said, putting an arm around me and giving me an affectionate squeeze.
Once they headed into Lacey’s hospital room I was left standing with Aiden but I couldn’t look him in the eye.
“I just need…” I didn’t even finish my sentence as I walked down the hallway to waiting area where I had seen a sign for toilets earlier.
The bathroom was empty as the door closed behind me.
I went to the sink and splashed some water on my face. I stared back at my expression with water still dripping from my chin. This person I saw felt like someone else.
If anyone had told me I was capable of doing to Max what I was I wouldn’t have believed it. I wasn’t a person who cheated but I had. I let out a deep emotional breath. It was easy to blame it on the whole situation and stress caused from Lacey’s health scare but what if it ran deeper than that.
Just when I thought I had found the right guy, after dating one loser after the other and here I was screwing up, possibility beyond repair.
Was I on a path of self destruction? Was that was this was all about?
I wanted to say yes and brush it off as something that wouldn’t have happened under normal circumstances but deep down I knew that was a lie.
Aiden’s mouth on mine. The total abandonment I had felt as I kissed him back without any hesitation. I had never felt like with anyone, ever before. What did that mean?
I didn’t like the person staring back at me. I was no better than all the losers who had broken my heart before I’d met Max.
Feeling awful and undeserving of Max I dried my face.
The only thing that differentiated me from the losers who had broken my heart, was that I was going to step up and admit the truth no matter how much it would cost me. My only regret was hurting Max.
What made it worse was it wasn’t just with any guy, it had been his best friend. What kind of person did that make me?
I didn’t want to answer that.