Authors: Shanna Vollentine
I wasn’t sure what clued me in first, the movement or the sound, but I stiffened as I tried to pry my eyes open. My eyelids felt like sandpaper. Something touched my face and it didn’t feel like a
tongue. Had I gone out last night and brought a guy home and was too hung over to remember? That would explain the eyes and the light groan that vibrated through me.
“Jules, you need to wake up now. Dad said we needed to check every couple of hours.”
a man beside me. Or maybe I was still dreaming?
“Baby, come on, open your eyes.” He was lightly shaking my shoulder.
I managed to open my eyelids a crack. Green eyes were peering down at me. This can’t be good.
“What are you doing here, Ethan?” Eww. My voice sounded like the croak of a frog. I couldn’t believe how dry my mouth was.
“I have to check on you every two hours to make sure you’re okay. How are you feeling?” He started to stroke my arm. Holy crap. What did I do last night?
“What? Why are you in bed with me?” I was able to open my eyes a bit more so I could see he was wearing a tee shirt. I guess we hadn’t had sex. Not that he had to take his shirt off for that, or anything, it was just that he was my best friend Carrie’s brother. Her very hot, younger brother. Unfortunately, his hotness didn’t make it any less icky.
“Don’t you remember what happened?” Suddenly his face creased into a frown.
“Uh, not really. Did we go out drinking?” Drinking seemed like the only reasonable answer.
“No. We went to dinner at the new Thai place and then you fell outside on the way back to the car. You hit your head pretty hard on the curb so I called my dad and he said I should watch you overnight since you wouldn’t go to the hospital to get checked out.”
“Where was Carrie?” And why wasn’t
with me right now?
“She wasn’t with us. It was research for the blog, remember?”
I totally don’t remember. What new Thai place? Why was I going to a restaurant alone with Ethan? My stomach started a slow roll. Something wasn’t adding up.
“Do you want some water?” He leaned over me to the night table and grabbed a glass half filled with water and some mostly melted ice cubes.
“Yeah, thanks.” I took the glass and gulped a huge swallow. My mouth now felt better but I was still confused.
“Does your head hurt at all? Dad said to call him if it does.”
“Um, I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you here?”
“Jules, where else am I supposed to be?”
I looked around the room and recognized the furniture, my furniture. We weren’t at Ethan’s apartment, this was my house. My room.
“Ethan, this is
house. I think it’s time you left.”
He stared at me and then his eyes widened. “Do you know your name?”
“Juliet, duh. What’s your problem?” I was getting a little uncomfortable now; something might be wrong with Ethan. “How did you get in here?”
“I’m going to call Dad, just hang on a sec.” He rolled over to the other side of the bed and picked up a phone.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I hissed as I grabbed for the phone. “Don’t call your dad. How do you think you’re going to explain being here?”
He held the phone out of my reach and scooted to the edge of the bed. “Just calm down, don’t get overexcited, my dad will know what to do.” He sounded freaked out, kind of like how I was feeling.
“Hey Dad, sorry to call so late, but something’s wrong with Jules. She doesn’t remember tonight and she asked me what I was doing in her house. No, she hasn’t mentioned that, hold on. Jules, are you having any trouble with your vision?”
I shook my head feeling mortified. Ethan was telling Carrie’s dad he was at my house at…I looked at the bedside clock, 3:34! What was he doing here in the middle of the night? My heart started pounding. Something wasn’t right. That wasn’t my bedside clock. My clock had bright blue illumination so I could easily see it. This clock was round and old timey looking. Like the ones my mom used to have. What the hell was going on?
“Okay, yeah, I’m going to take her right now. Thanks, bye.” He looked serious.
“Dad said we should go down to the hospital. It sounds like you might have a concussion.”
“Hospital? I don’t have a concussion. My head doesn’t even hurt.” I put my hand up to my head and felt around. “See? I’m fine.” Right about then I hit a tender spot on my right temple. “Ahhg.” A searing pain shot through my head followed by a low throb. I slouched back down onto my pillows.
“Come on, Baby; let’s get you down there so they can check you out.”
I noticed he’d called me Baby, but I let that slide since I had a bigger issue on my hands. “I am not going to the hospital, I just need some Tylenol and I’ll be just fine.” My breath was now coming in pants. I could feel a panic attack coming on. I couldn’t think. I started groping around the bed but I don’t know what I was reaching for. Suddenly I felt hands on my upper arms and then Ethan’s face was directly in front of mine.
“Just breathe. It’s okay, everything will be all right. Calm down.” I knew I was about to lose it and right at this moment I was glad Ethan was with me to try and calm me down. The only problem was that he was the reason I was panicking. “I’m going to get you a cold towel. Hang on.” He got up off of the bed and bolted into the bathroom. Seconds later he was back, holding the towel to the back of my neck.
“Okay, I’m cool.” I wasn’t, but now wasn’t the time to let my weakness show.
“I’m serious; we have to get to the hospital. Dad is meeting us there. Let me get your shoes and we can go.”
He held out a pair of grubby runners, but I didn’t take them. “Those aren’t my shoes.”
He looked down at them and then at me. “These are the same ones you wore to the restaurant tonight. You don’t remember your shoes?”
I stared at them. They couldn’t be mine; I just bought mine last week. They had a blue stripe on them. These shoes were too plain and too dirty. Had someone gotten in and somehow traded out my shoes? And my clock? That didn’t even make sense.
“Come on, we have to go.” He reached down and scooped me up bridal style. “You can put them on in the car.” He carried me out to the living room and grabbed some keys off of the table in the entryway. He managed to open the door, walk out, and lock up while never putting me down. The beep of a car unlocking made me jump as Ethan stalked over to a black sedan. He popped open the door and set me in the passenger seat while I sat there like a dead fish. I was too freaked out to even fight what was happening. A moment later he sat down in the driver’s seat and looked over at me before leaning over to fasten my seatbelt.
“It’ll be okay, Jules.” He gave my hand a squeeze and I fought the urge to pull away. It hurt if I tried to think too hard, so I just stared out the front window and tried to stay calm. In no time we were pulling up to the hospital. I’d never been to a hospital in the middle of the night before. It was lit up and shadowed, with hardly any cars in the parking lot. Surreal.
Ethan pulled into a spot close to the entrance of the ER, scooped me up again and closed the door with his hip. Before I realized it, we were in the building and facing a mean-looking nurse.
“Excuse me; I have a head injury here. Dr. Ross is meeting us.”
“Okay, fill these out and I’ll see if he’s here.” She handed Ethan a clipboard with a pen on a chain. “I’ll go get a chair.” She turned and went to a room a few feet away as I sat there, with my hands wrapped around Ethan’s neck. It was almost like all of this was happening to someone else.
He moved over to the row of chairs in the middle of the room and sat down in one, leaving me on his lap. He moved the clipboard to his left hand, picked up the dangling pen, and started filling out the forms while I watched idly. He had beautiful hands. What beautiful fingers. Hmm. This was the shiniest floor ever. I wonder what they use on it? Suddenly, the nurse was in front of me with a wheelchair.
“Let’s get you in here and see what’s what.” The nurse had a kind voice, it didn’t match her face. I looked over at Ethan as he took his arm from around me and made to get up.
As he set me in the chair I heard a familiar voice. “Juliet, how are you feeling?” I looked over to see Carrie’s dad, Robert. I felt a strange sense of calm mixed with dread. He had a concerned look on his face. “What do you remember about tonight?”
“Well, I woke up and Ethan was in my room, then he called you.” I was too embarrassed to tell Robert that Ethan was in my bed. He might think we had sex or something. “I’m sorry he woke you up to drag you down here. I really don’t know what’s going on with him.”
“Okay, let’s go into the exam room so I can check things out.” He turned and walked to a room right off of the lobby. I started rolling that way and turned to look behind me. Ethan was pushing me with an odd look on his face. What was up with him? Strangely, I had gotten over my earlier panic and I was freakishly accepting of Ethan being with me right now.
“Juliet, why don’t you sit up here on the table and let me get a look at you.”
Robert helped me up onto a table covered with crinkly paper. I scooted up so that my legs were dangling off the side. Robert picked something up and pointed it at my face. A blinding light pierced my eyeball.
“Ow. That’s too bright.” He moved to the other eye with similar results. After that, everything was a blur. I know I was x-rayed and prodded, but I really wasn’t paying much attention. I was so drowsy. All I wanted was to sleep.
The next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes to a hospital room. I felt a whole lot better than I had when I fell asleep. I looked around my room and noticed Ethan slumped on a chair. Why was he still here? I needed to call Carrie. Why wasn’t she here with me? I sat up and looked around for my purse. I needed my phone but it wasn’t anywhere I could see. I looked over at Ethan and noticed his eyes were open.