Lady Hideaway Ch. 03byBlulady©
Conner hadn’t noticed that Misty was in his truck with him on the way to the hospital, but she must have been because when he reached the front desk she was there with him, and he must have been out of it, because he didn’t hear the nurse ask what they needed. It was Misty who did the talking.
“We’re here for Tess Formike.” Misty stated.
“Aarons.” Conner heard himself say, his own voice bringing him back to reality, “Her name is Tessa Aarons.”
“Are you family?” The nurse asked.
“Yes.” Misty lied.
Conner looked up at her, baffled over why she would lie about that, but then he realized that they probably wouldn’t be able to see her if they weren’t family.
“Why don’t you sit down and wait.” The nurse insisted, “I’ll see what I can find out.”
Conner felt numb again, and then realized that Misty was leading him to his seat. They were silent for a long time, or what felt like a long time. At some point a nurse had come over and before Conner knew it he had six stitches binding his own cut hand, and after that he heard Misty again.
“Aarons huh?” Misty sighed, “She must have switched back to her mother’s name.”
Conner looked up, alert and curious again. That’s right, he thought, Misty acted like she knew Tessa. He was suddenly full of questions, even with the concern ringing in his ears.
“How do you know her?” Conner asked.
“She dated my younger brother in high school.” Misty smiled, “Actually they were together long before high school, that puppy love thing, you know?”
“Who’s your brother?” Conner asked.
“You wouldn’t know him, David has been dead for almost seven years now.”
“I’m sorry.” Conner said out loud, but his mind was racing.
Tessa had been hiding for six years now, which would suggest her problem must have started sometime after Misty’s brother had died. Conner’s thoughts must have been clear enough on his face because Misty was giving him a soft smile.
“You don’t know, do you?” Misty sighed.
“What?” he choked, wondering if he even wanted to know.
“About Tess. Everyone knew when it happened. She was pretty popular in high school. She was planning on going to the prom with David when she suddenly broke it off. It was strange really, those two acted like they were made for each other. David was crushed, but, he wasn’t acting like a guy who got dumped. Something else was bothering him so I started to ask questions… turns out Tess had a stalker. It was pretty crazy, everyone loved her and this creepy guy was leaving her strange notes, some threats. I guess he threatened David so Tess broke it off to protect him. The police got involved, but they couldn’t figure out who the guy was so by the time prom came around David decided he wasn’t going to let some psycho scare him away from Tessa. He went to her house, they must have made up because they were seen together at the prom. But… they never made it home. David was found three days later, shot three times and left on a road leading out of town, and Tessa turned up missing. I’m really surprised you didn’t remember it from the news Conner.”
Conner shook his head; it was all he could do. He had figured something traumatic must have happened but this was not at all what he would have guessed.
“Anyways,” Misty continued, “About a month later Dr. Formike was planning Tess’s funeral when he got the call. She had been found somewhere in Nevada. She had gotten away from the freak that took her, but not before he stuck a six-inch switchblade through her chest. I don’t think I’ll ever know how she managed to get help. Apparently, where he was keeping her was pretty secluded and she was very lucky to find a family camping in the area.”
Conner held his head. This was all very difficult to understand, why anyone would ever want to hurt Tessa. He didn’t know whether to be sad or angry or both.
“I guess that explains why she’s the way she is.” He sighed.
“Oh no.” Misty shook her head, “That girl tonight, that was not Tess Formike.”
“What do you mean?”
“When she got back she was a damned hero.” Misty explained, “She was speaking out publicly, going to survival meetings, and the fact that they never caught the guy didn’t stop her. Tess was always tough, you know. The only time I ever saw her cry was when she found out what had happened to David. She was convinced that it was all her fault. We used to have lunch every week for a couple of months, and then one day she didn’t show. I talked to her sister and she told me that Tess had to get out of town, but wouldn’t say why. I was pretty surprised to see her tonight… shit.”
“We should probably call her real family.” Misty pointed out.
“Dr. Formike is out of town.”
“I think her sister still lives close.” Misty sighed, “I’ll go see if she’s listed.”
He hadn’t been too happy about Misty being there. It felt awkward to him, but now he was glad to have her there. Not all of his questions had been answered, but at least now he could understand some of Tessa’s fear. And Misty was being understanding to say the least. He had ruined their date, she likely knew that there wouldn’t be another one, and she was still waiting with him. She was the one who kept bothering the nurses about Tessa’s condition, demanding to know what was taking so long.
Misty had gone for a coffee run when a tall doctor with a balding head approached Conner. He stood nervously, wondering what was about to transpire.
“Desway?” the doctor had recognized him, and Conner had equally recognized the doctor as one of his customers. The customer who called everyone by their last name the way his old football coach did.
“Dr. Arnold.” Conner shook his hand.
“You know Tessa?” Dr. Arnold asked.
“Dr. Formike is out of town, he asked me to check in on her.” Conner explained, “I take it you know her as well?”
Dr. Arnold sighed and motioned for Conner to follow him, so he did, not bothering to wait for Misty.
“I’m not supposed to discuss this with anyone other than her father or sister, but Formike’s a friend of mine and I believe he would ask someone like you to look in on her. Tessa’s been here before, usually I go to her for regular check ups but every once in a while, something like this happens, she’ll have a breakdown and hurt herself.”
“It was an accident.” Conner stated, suddenly feeling like he needed to defend her.
“Even so, I spoke to Tessa’s sister and we agreed it would be best to keep her here for a few days. Obviously Tessa wasn’t happy about the decision and we had to sedate her before she injured herself again, or this time someone else… has she spoken to you Conner, at all?”
“I had dinner with her.” Conner replied.
The doctor looked impressed with that, and Conner hoped now he would be allowed to see her.
“For someone like Tessa it can help to see a friendly face in this situation.” Dr. Arnold explained, “But Desway, no matter how you feel right now you need to think about her. Now honestly, do you think she would want to see you?”
Conner felt sick again. He wanted to see her, but her wanting to see him was a different matter. He thought about how she must feel, alone in an unfamiliar hospital room and he couldn’t stand it.
“Let me see her.” Conner stated.
Dr. Arnold hesitantly nodded and Conner was unaware of his surroundings again until they reached the small room. There were two beds but Tessa didn’t have a roommate, which was good. Conner saw her lying on her back with her head turned from him. He waited until the doctor had left before he silently closed the door and nervously approached the bed.
As he grew closer he could see her wrist was tightly bandaged. The blow to her head must not have been too bad, but her hair was messy and down, tangled under her body, likely from whatever struggle she had put up when she had regained consciousness. What really caught his attention were the leather restraints that held her ankles and wrists to the bed, likely so she couldn’t rip out the IV that was no doubt feeding her whatever made her so calm.
He pulled a chair up to the side of the bed and debated how he should approach her. He didn’t even stop to think that she could be asleep. He decided to gently touch the tips of her fingers. She had been comfortable with that before, and he smiled when her fingers wiggled against his.
She slowly turned her head until her half closed eyes met with his. She had been crying and had obviously been unable to wipe the tears away. But she was calm; the drugs were definitely doing their job. Conner held her hand and reached for a tissue next to the bed with the other. He made sure to show it to her before he gently lifted the soft cloth to her face. He didn’t know if she didn’t flinch away because she couldn’t or because she didn’t want to, but she let him wipe the tears away, staring at him the whole time.
“Misty Smith.” Tessa whispered.
“Huh?” Conner was so surprised to hear her voice that he had no idea what she had said.
“Misty Smith.” Tessa repeated, “I didn’t know you knew her.”
Tessa obviously remembered what had happened, or at least seeing Misty with him. He knew she might be looking for an explanation and there was only one he could give her.
“We we’re on a date.” He admitted, looking for any sign that this news might be upsetting to Tessa, and admittedly, he hoped she would be bothered by it. It was hard to tell though, with the drug the doctors had given to her.
“I’m sorry.” She replied.
Conner wasn’t use to her being so calm. He wished to God he knew whether it was the drugs or not. He smiled anyways; the friendly smile that he thought would put her at ease.
“It was a first date.” he explained, “I made it before…”
He wanted to bring up their kiss, but after the way she had run away from him he didn’t think it was a good idea. Tessa seemed to understand what he meant because she squeezed his hand, and he knew he didn’t imagine that.
He glanced down at the restraints and touched one.
“Should we get these off?” he asked.
Tessa weakly nodded and watched as he gently removed the first restraint, but she was too weak to move her hand even after it was free. He worked his way around the bed, releasing her ankles and covering her exposed feet with the thin hospital blanket. They seemed so small, like a child’s feet. He released her second wrist and then made his way back to his chair but looked down at her before he sat down.
Tessa was looking at him with bright eyes, somewhat more awake now. She wanted to think being in the hospital was just a nightmare, but Conner was there, so it couldn’t have been a nightmare. She knew the drug was taking its toll on her, but she knew better than to believe it was the same reason why she felt so calm inside, as well as out. She had felt more relaxed the moment Conner had touched her hand. She also knew that if anyone else had removed her restraints she would be throwing a tantrum right now, demanding to go home. But it wasn’t someone else, it was Conner, and she was glad he was there. She refused to let herself run away again, not like before; not that she could run away at the moment.
She saw his hand moving towards her face and she fought her body’s urge to flinch. She closed her eyes as his fingers brushed against her cheek, but then his hand left her face and found her own hand again, and his lips brushed over hers.
Tessa took in a breath as his mouth hovered just against hers. She opened her eyes and they locked onto his and then closed again while he gently kissed her. She felt his warm tongue against her lips and parted them just enough for him to taste her.
He explored for a few moments and then her hesitant tongue pressed against his and he deepened the kiss, using everything he had to keep from joining her in the bed. He held her hand, trying not to squeeze too hard because it was the same arm her wound was on.
Tessa took in another breath as he broke the kiss and she turned slightly towards him as he took his seat and surrounded her hand with both of his, kissing the tips of her fingers. The corners of her mouth hinted at a smile. The gesture made him smile and it put him at ease. He wanted to ask her so many things just then, but instead he gave her hand a firm kiss and leaned into the bed just slightly.
“Get some sleep Tessa.” He said, “You’ll be safe here, I promise.”
Conner watched her until she satisfied him by closing her eyes, and then he just watched her. He had been right. She was peaceful when she slept, even in a hospital. Conner wasn’t overly fond of hospitals, so he tried not to think about it as he held her hand, hoping that whatever she had just been feeling towards him would still be in her in the morning.
He must have fallen asleep at some point, because he woke up to the sound of a door opening early in the morning. He hated mornings. He hated waking up. But this one was different, he had lost no recollection in his sleep and his first instinct was to make sure whoever had intruded had not upset Tessa. He smiled when he found she was still asleep, and he was still holding her hand.
His smile faded however, when someone’s sharp nails flicked his ear from behind. Damn, he knew some nurses were brutal, but shit… he glanced back and his eyes narrowed on the young woman standing there, hands on her hips and her foot tapping impatiently.
It took Conner a moment to realize that she was not a nurse, and she looked an awful lot like Tessa, except her hair was darker and she was younger, college student judging by her school t-shirt. Conner didn’t really care who she was, he did not appreciate the attack on his ear, but when she impatiently motioned towards the door and stomped out, he gently released Tessa’s hand, placing it on the bed and followed the obnoxious little twit he was disliking by the second.
The only thing Conner seemed to have in common with this girl was that neither one of them wanted Tessa to wake up. He gently closed the door when he reached the hall and looked at the girl expectantly, only, she was looking at him the same way.
“Who are you?” She demanded, “Overgrown boy scout? Do you have any idea what would happen if she woke up with you there?”
“Tessa knows I was there.” Conner frowned, too tired to be patient, “She’s a friend of mine.”
“Do you expect me to believe that?” The girl demanded, “Tessa doesn’t have friends.”
“Who are you?” Conner groaned.
“Katrina, Tessa’s sister.”
Conner had suspected as much. What he hadn’t expected was how rude this girl was acting. He was fully ready to argue with her further, but the idea of what Tessa would think of that kept him from it, so he held out his hand for her.
She gave him a firm handshake and nodded.
“The handy man.” She sighed, “My father told me about you. He’ll be on the next flight, go ahead and send him the bill.”
Conner frowned as she began to pass him and quickly stepped in front of her before she could enter Tessa’s room.
“I don’t want money.” Conner retorted.
“Then what do you want?” Katrina demanded.
Conner glanced back into the room and let out a breath.
“I want her to be okay.” He stated.
Katrina seemed to study him for a moment, but then she shook her head.
“You have to leave.” She stated.
“I’m not leaving.” He insisted.
“You have to!” She stammered, doing her best not to outright scream at him. “I will have you escorted out of here if you don’t leave. Now, I appreciate what you did for Tessa. Dr. Arnold said she could have bled to death if you hadn’t called, and I’m sure you think you care about her but…”
“Think?” Conner demanded.
“Yes, think. You have no idea what you’re getting into. My sister has problems, and I have been around a lot longer than you. I know what’s best for her and it’s not you, now go away before you end up hurting her worse than she already has been.”
Conner was furious now, but he did his best to hold it back. Who the hell did she think she was? He would never do anything to hurt Tessa. Unfortunately, that alone meant he had to get out of there before Tessa heard them fighting.
“I’ll go.” Conner agreed, “but before I do, let me just say; you may think you’re helping her by keeping her here, by pushing someone who cares about her away, but you’re wrong. I get that Tessa’s had it rough, but not all people are bad, and instead of shielding her from life maybe you should let her experience some of it. Let her make her own choices. She doesn’t belong in a hospital.”
Katrina glared at him but didn’t respond as she turned on her heel and pushed into the room. Conner frowned as he leaned against the wall. He was going to leave but not yet. He peeked through the narrow window on the door and watched as the woman who had made such a bad impression as she suddenly became soft and leaned over Tessa’s sleeping form, hugging her gently and placing soft kisses on her cheek.
What the hell are you doing? Conner wondered as he watched Katrina gently place a hand over Tessa’s eyes while she stirred in her sleep. He heard Katrina’s muffled voice through the door and listened.
“It’s okay Tess.” She cooed softly, “Don’t open your eyes yet, alright? There’s something I need to explain to you. You’re in the hospital.”
Conner listened to a few more things Katrina said, most he couldn’t understand through the door. He saw Tessa wrap her arms around Katrina’s neck and the siblings hugged, but it was Tessa he heard bursting into tears. Hell. He wanted to be the one Tessa woke up to, and if it had been him, she never would have cried. The entire scene broke his heart, especially when Tessa begged to go home and Katrina told her she would have to wait.
Well, Tessa may have to wait, he thought, but when she went home he would make damn sure that everything was perfect. He was tired, but he was also on a mission, and as he moved to leave the hospital he noticed Misty sleeping in a chair near the waiting room. Conner gently shook her shoulder and her eyes snapped open.
“You’re still here?” He sighed.
“You’re my ride.” She pointed out.
Conner took Misty home. He tried to explain to her why he had been such a lousy date but she would hear nothing of it. She completely understood, and he appreciated it. After leaving Misty’s, Conner could have gone home, but he didn’t, instead he went to Tessa’s empty house to see the mess. He put himself to work cleaning it up, all the blood and broken glass, and by the end of the day the windows were prepared as well.
Conner tried to visit Tessa at the hospital, but this time Katrina had instructed the nurses to keep him away. He could have killed her. He thought if only Tessa knew he was there…
He would have to wait. He had no idea when she was going to be home again, and he spent the next days waiting and working. He spoke to one of his friends in the landscaping business and after calling in a few favors he had workers all over her property, fixing her lawn and putting down fresh sod. Even the two boys he had punished were there helping, planting flowers in the planters on Conner’s instruction, and last he spent an entire day cleaning the pool in the back yard. By the time he left that night he could hardly recognize the house, and he topped it off by placing a new carton of chocolate ice cream in her freezer and new flowers in the vase near the entrance.
Conner was beginning to wonder what was taking so long. It had been a week and Tessa still hadn’t been released from the hospital. Every day he went there, and every day he was turned away. It was driving him out of his mind.
He thought maybe that if Tessa wanted to see him then they would let her, but because he was always turned away he began to worry that she had changed her mind again. Maybe she saw him as some jerk off that took advantage while she was all drugged up. No. She couldn’t think that. He had seen that look in her eyes and he wasn’t imagining it, she must want to see him. This was all he could accept.