Written by Princess Juliet
His father�s promise.
Nearly two weeks had passed since the accident. Although alive, Atarah was still unconscious.
Her condition was considered a critical one as her throat muscles were slightly injured. She was unable to breathe on her own and this made Jayden worried as to whether she would be able to speak again.
He stayed by her side all day, reading to her without minding his own health and sometimes had to be scolded by his colleagues and his father before leaving her hospital room for his–that was how much he cares for her and loves her.
At midnight, he couldn�t sleep and just turned and tossed restlessly on his bed. He was thinking about her again, gosh!
Unable to control his emotions, he climbed out of bed, put on his slippers with a grimace, and started limping towards the door.
�Where are you going, Jay?� The sudden sound of Nanny Evie’s voice made him stop walking. �Holy sh*t!� He bit his lip down and swore silently under his breath. He had completely forgotten that she was in the room with him.
�Don�t tell me you are going to check on her again.�
Slowly, he turned around and saw that she was rising from the sofa and was rubbing her sleepy eyes wearily.
�Hun, talk to me, Jayden.� She yawned loudly.
Jayden let out a quiet sigh. �I just want to make sure she�s okay.� He made an excuse to see her and Nanny Evie smirked at him.
�You have done that for the umpteenth time this night, son.� She reminded, much to Jayden�s annoyance and he struck his fist on the wall.
�And that is because she is my girlfriend.� �Gosh! Why can�t they all just let me be? Why can’t they just stop meddling with my personal affairs?� He was on the verge of forgetting himself and exploding with rage.
Nanny Evie remained silent for a moment, studying him intently and then she asked. �What do you intend to do about her mother?�
Jayden swallowed hard at the question, panic fluttering through him. He had also thought about that and the consequences. �What will be their fate from here? Can they make their relationship work despite their differences? What if things don’t work out between……no..no…no…� Shrugging off the thoughts, he looked at Nanny Evie and forced out a smile.
�I believe that should be my concern.� With that, he limped out of the room and crossed a short passage to Atarah�s hospital room. When he entered, he found her the same way, laying unconsciously on the bed and breathing through an oxygen mask.
With a faint smile on his lips, he sat down on the chair beside her bed and brushed the wayward locks of hair from her face. �Hey princess, I�m back.� He stroked her cheek and kissed her forehead before reaching for the novel on the table and flipping through its pages. �So where did we stop? Is it in chapter three or���His voice trailed off in mid-sentence when he heard her sneeze and he peered closely at her face to make sure his mind was not playing tricks on him.
Atarah�s throat was sore and she sneezed over and over again. She was uncomfortable with the oxygen mask over her nose and just wanted to take it off.
�Bless you, Princess.� Hearing the familiar voice made her smile brightly and slowly, she opened her eyes to see Jayden staring down at her with huge blue eyes. A strong feeling of excitement filled her and she forced herself to speak through her pale lips. �J-Jayden.�
Jayden�s eyes grew wide and surprise stiffened his body. �She can talk, my baby can talk�� �Oh my goodness!� Taking the oxygen mask off her face, he brought her palm to his lips and gave her a thousand kisses. She inhaled deeply and breathe in the fresh air. �Thank you for making it out alive, thank you for surviving.� Tears welled up in his eyes and he turned his face away so she wouldn�t see it. �I love you, Tarah, I love you so much.� He poured his heart out to her but Atarah wasn�t listening to him. Her eyes were raking down his body and back up, she didn’t even try to subtle it.
�What happened to you, Jay?� She frowned slightly noticing his bandaged hand. �And where exactly is this place?� The strong smell of antiseptic irritated her and almost made her puke. Yuck!
Jayden paused and regarded her thoughtfully for a moment before replying. �I got into an accident.� Before she could react, he added. �And we are in the hospital.�
Atarah nodded her head slowly but said nothing. Her brain was struggling to digest what she had just heard.
Another pause, this one longer, and a muscle worked in Jayden�s jaw. �God, I was so scared. I just found you. The thought of losing you……� He broke off, rose to his feet, and headed toward the door.
�I�ve got to let the doctor know you�re awake,� He announced, his words clipped, his body language taunted. �Dr Gilbert Louis–you�ll like him. He�s an old family friend and a top-notch neurologist. Fortunately, he is affiliated with Garcia�s hospital as well as Leaf brook memorial. We got him up here right away. He�ll keep your condition quiet until we get to the bottom of this. He gave me strict instructions to find him the minute you opened your eyes. I want him to check you out. I�ll be right back.�
�Jayden?� Atarah stopped him, her voice weak but clear
�You�re blabbing,� She observed, not really processing much over the throbbing in her skull. �I�ve never heard you babble.�
�That�s because I never have. See what you�ve reduced me to?�
Her eyes grew damp. �I love you too, Jayden,� She whispered. �Nothing will ever stop me from loving you.�
Jayden limped back, braced his arms on either side of her, and covered her mouth with his for one brief, fervent kiss. �Let�s get you well and put this nightmare behind us.� He murmured. �Then we�ll talk.� He stood, his knuckles drifting over her cheek. �Now, let me get Gilbert.�
The door shut behind him and Atarah looked around her, feeling a soft inner glow.
Which was overshadowed by an anxiety she couldn�t put her finger on and physical pain that seemed to envelop her entire body. Especially her head.
She reached up, surprised to feel a bandage across her forehead. What had happened to her?
Two minutes later, Jayden returned, joined by a stocky man in a white hospital coat. He was about forty, with pleasant features and an authoritative air. �Hello, Atarah,� he said, his manner calm and reassuring. �My name is Dr Louis. You had us a little worried there. How do you feel?�
She frowned. �I hurt everywhere. Especially my head and my right side. And my mind�s a little jumbled.� She paused, regathering her strength. �I can’t remember why I�m here. Also, I know I saw someone–but I can’t remember who.�
�You will. Don�t push yourself. The blow you took was pretty nasty. Let me take a look.
�Blow? What blow?� Atarah wanted to ask. Why couldn’t she think past the wall in her mind?
Dr Louis did a few routine tests, checking her eyes, her reflexes, her speech and her cognitive responses.
Dutifully, Atarah answered his questions, telling him her name, her birthday, and the school she attends.
�Good,� he praised. �Are you experiencing any nausea?�
�Not really. Mostly, my head just aches.�
�I know it does. I�ll give you something for the pain. �I�m also ordering a few more neurological tests, just to be on the safe side. I don’t expect any complications. Your CT scan came back a few minutes ago. Everything looks fine–no bleeding, no fractures. Still, you were unconscious for a long time. So, I�ll want to keep an eye on you, just to be sure.�
What�s wrong with me?� Atarah demanded
�You have a concussion,� Dr Louis explained. �That is the reason for the pain and mental confusion. You also have a nasty gash on your forehead, which we stitched up. As for the rest, you have lacerations on your side, and some pretty impressive cuts on your right hand. The good news is, there are no internal injuries and I�m fairly confident now that you are awake and I�ve examined you, no permanent damage to the brain. You�ll just be fine, which is a blessing, considering the severity of the impact.�
�The impact.� Atarah swallowed hard. �Where did I fall?�
Dr Louis glanced at Jayden.
�You didn’t fall, Princess,� Jayden replied, gazing steadily at her. �You were brutally beaten up by someone. Do you remember?� He didn’t believe Greg�s story about hooligans one bit.
A flash of recall. �It was a woman.� Atarah looked up at him and flinched as her memory slowly flooded in. �Yes, it was a woman.� she was so sure about that.
�Of course, it was.� Jayden turned to the older doctor. �Gilbert, if you’re finished with the physical exam, I�d like to speak to Atarah alone.�
�All right,� Dr Louis agreed. �But Jayden, don�t wear her out. I want her to rest. The easier she takes it, the faster she�ll heal.
�You have my word.� Jayden forced out a smile and Dr Louis patted Atarah�s uninjured arm. �I�ll order that painkiller. You rest.�
�All right.� Atarah barely managed to answer. And not because she was in pain, but because she was remembering. Throughout, Dr Louis and Jayden�s exchange, pieces had begun falling into places, taking shape like monstrous faces.
As the door shut behind the older doctor, she jerked to a sitting position, moaning at the resulting pain in her skull.
�Shh.�Jayden caught her shoulders, gently easing her back. �Go easy on your poor head. It�s been through quite an ordeal.� He waited until she was settled, and the agonising look had left her face before asking. �It�s coming back to you, isn’t it?�
�Yes,� Atarah�s breath was coming fast. �It was your step mum………
Jayden let out an inaudible gasp. Not that he was surprised, he wasn’t at all. He was only angry with himself for not trusting his intuition.
�She came out from nowhere and…p-pounced on me. Before I knew it, she began to bang my head against the wall and….and……� Tears filled her eyes and her fury, pain, and sorrow choked her. �……and….and….she…�
Jayden�s jaw set. �That’s enough, Princess.�He cooed, trying to calm her down but Atarah would hear nothing of that.
She struggled to a sitting position. �We�ve got to find her.� A moan of pain escaped her lips.
�Tarah.� Jayden stopped her struggles. �Listen to me. Making your concussion worst isn’t going to help anything. Now, lie back and tell me what happened–calmly and without making any sharp movement.
Atarah nodded, closing her eyes until the worst of the pain had subsided. �Okay.� She took a few breaths, then opened her eyes again.
Another tentative nod. �I was outside waiting for my mother……�She started and Jayden cringed at the mention of the word, mother, …..� when your step mum suddenly rushed to me and began hitting me hard….� She wet her lips, fighting for the strength to continue. �I don’t know why she did that but she was so angry, almost like a monster and…..� She squeezed her eyes shut as a sharp pain lanced through her head.
�Tarah?� Jayden gripped her hand. �Sweetheart, this is too much for you. We�ll finish talking later.�
Atarah was about to answer when Dr Louis returned with her painkiller. He helped her ease onto one side, then swiftly administered the injection. �That should start working almost immediately,� he said, setting her back in. �It�ll ease your pain considerably.
�Thank you.� She said with a wan smile.
�I�ll be checking on you throughout the night,� Dr Louis informed her. When he saw the tight lines of pain on her face, he looked at Jayden sternly. �You are overdoing it,� He said flatly. �I understand that time is of the essence but she�s got to rest. No more for now.�
Jayden nodded, worry creasing his forehead.
�I�m okay.� Atarah managed to reassure him as she lay back down on the bed. She felt as if she�d run a marathon and didn’t speak again till Dr Louis left the room.
�Jayden,� She said then. �What if your stepmother returns…….�
�Stop.� Jayden pressed his finger to her lips. �She can’t return. The police are already on the hunt for her.�
�Thank God,� Atarah murmured, without thinking much about what he�d said.
�You get some sleep. I�ll be right here when you wake up.� He whispered close to her ear and she nodded, dozing off almost immediately.
Jayden watched her as she slept peacefully and soundly. Despite feeling tired, he couldn’t sleep as his mind was deeply troubled.
Sunshine danced across Atarah�s face, and she stirred and opened her eyes.
For the first time since last night, she felt fully alert, and her head wasn�t pounding. She remembered awakening on and off during the night. She had vague recollections of Dr Louis examining her twice, maybe three times, and a different pair of warm, gentle hands changing her bandage and helping her drink some juice.
Whenever she�d open her eyes, Jayden had been there, looming over her like a protective guard dog.
He wasn�t looming now.
She glanced over and smiled, seeing him in the armchair, asleep with his head propped on his hand and the novel crinkled up in his lap. He looked even worse than he had last night, his clothes rumpled, a day�s stumble on his jaw. The poor boy had been glued to this room for more than eight hours.
He must have sensed her scrutiny, because he blinked, jerking upright when he saw she was awake.
�Hi.� He leaned over and studied her face. �You look better. How do you feel?�
�I should be asking you that question,� She teased softly. �You look terrible.�
A corner of his mouth lifted. �Get used to it. You’re going to be waking up to me every morning for the rest of your life.�
�Hun!� Atarah raised a questioning eyebrow at him and he smiled. �I want you to move in with me.�
�Like seriously!� Her eyes grew wide in apparent disbelief. �But what about my mother?� This was the exact question she�d been dying to ask, � Why isn’t she here?�
Before Jayden could think of a response, the door creaked open and Greg walked into the hospital room, smiling warmly.
�Dad wants to see us.� His eyes moved to Atarah and he greeted her awkwardly. �Hi, Joanna.�
Atarah recoiled, scared to meet his eyes as they reminded her of his mother and Jayden didn�t fail to notice her uneasiness.
He ruffled her hair and kissed her on the lips briefly before rising to his feet and walking over to his brother �his legs seemed to be a lot better now.
�We have a lot of things to talk about, bro,� he said softly as he brushed past his shoulders and sauntered out of the room and up a spiral staircase to his dad�s office.
Trent was carefully sorting out some files and putting them in order when he felt another presence in his office. Startled, he raised his head and saw that it was his younger son.
�Oh! it�s you, Jayden,� His direct gaze was intense as he seized him up and down. �I can see that you are getting better.�
Jayden scoffed at his observation. �Why do you want to see me?� He demanded, shrugging his shoulders and Trent let loose a long, deep sigh before handing him a file.
Jayden hesitated for a moment before taking the file. When he opened it, his jaw dropped.
It wasn�t just an ordinary file, but the hospital documents signed in his name.
�But this is not possible dad,� his hands were trembling with emotion as he spoke. �I mean, I�m not your first son. What then about Greg?�
�I�m fine with it,� Greg spoke from behind him and he turned around to see him smiling. �This hospital belongs to you in the first place, little bro. To begin with, you are the better doctor. Congratulations.� He patted his shoulder warmly and Jayden could only blink, surprised that his brother cared for him this much despite everything.
Trent watched his two sons exchange warmth and he couldn�t help but feel proud of them. �Get ready guys, the inauguration ceremony will hold this weekend.� He announced and they turned, his two sons and looked at him in surprise.
�The Hobsons hospital will officially belong to you, Jayden just as I promised your mother.� He muttered and allowed himself a little smile of satisfaction.