I don’t even know how I fell asleep but I woke up in the hospital, my dad telling me it had been a few hours later.
“Christ, Winter, you scared us half to death.”
“I’m sorry daddy-“
“Do you have any idea how serious this could have been? If I hadn’t found you in time…”
“Dad…I’m sorry. It’s not like I tried to hurt myself. I just…I got really emotional.”
“This is the second time in a short time span you’ve been in the hospital. Do you know how that makes us feel as parents?” His eyes glistened and I casted mine low in shame. I know he was thinking about Indus and how they blamed themselves for so long and still do, trying to piece together what they did wrong.
“Dad, please don’t feel that way. Mom…?” I looked to my mother who was sat in the corner chair, a stricken look on her face. No other words could leave my lips other than “I’m sorry.”
My dad sighed and ran a hand over his face. “Doctor said you breathed in too much water. I tried to do CPR but it wasn’t enough. They got you here, pumping it out of you the whole way and when they got you breathing again you went into shock.” He paused and seemed to collect himself, “For that split second…I thought I lost you.” His voice croaked, “Not my baby girl.”
“Let’s just get you home, okay? I need to get you home.”
At home the next day I was in bed reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. It did nothing to brighten my sour mood.
I decided that I wanted pancakes and left downstairs to make some. I was disappointed to discover that the only milk my parents had was soy and that wasn’t going to cut it. I grabbed my moms keys and told her I’d be going to the grocery store before leaving.
The familiar roads planted a smile on my face and once I was parked at the store I took a relaxing breath. Even though I grew up hating every old bitch in this town, I was happy to see Mrs. Annerson taking her sweet ass time to walk into the store.
I got out of the car and made my was inside. With no trouble I found the milk and decided on the 2% since my stomach would protest otherwise.
I turned on my heel and let out a yelp at the person standing behind me. I managed to drop the carton of milk and jump back when it spilled between us.
Zayn’s mouth wryly twisted before he bent to pick up the half empty carton and set it back on the shelf. “Don’t know why you’re jumping. It’s only me.”
I ran my hand through my hair and looked around to see the isle empty.
“Are you stalking me or…”
He rolled his eyes, “I just so happen to like my Lucky Charms with milk.”
“Oh…well I’ll just be going then-“
“Wait,” he reached to grab my arm but I stepped away from him.
“Don’t touch me.”
He looked surprised before a slight smirk graced his lips. “Change of thought as of the last time we were this close.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, “You’re an ass.”
“So I’ve been told. Anyway, since your here I think I should let you in on how I feel about that article you decided to grace me with the other day.”
“I really don’t care you feel about the article-“
“You obviously do because you wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t.”
“Whatever, Malik, I have places to be and people to see. I don’t have time for your bullshit.”
“There’s that sharp tongue. I was worried you’d softened up since you got back from Bradford.” He sounded pained in saying it and cruel.
“I don’t have time for your shit. I need to get something to eat so I can take with my meds so if you’ll excuse me.”
I tried to push past him only for him to step in front of me. “Meds?”
“Nothing to be concerned about.”
“What the hell, Orion, just tell me.”
I knew just by the dark look on his face he wasn’t letting up until I told him. I pinched the bridge of my nose and looked down to mumble out my answer. “I went to the hospital.”
“I got that part,” he groaned, “for what? What happened?”
“Why do you care?”
He pursed his lips and took a moment to collect himself before hissing out, “I don’t.”
My blood boiled and all I wanted to do was choke that poor attitude out of him.
“If you really want to know I drowned in my bathtub after learning that the guy that I dropped everything for to help and whom I loved was shacked up with another girl when I came back!”
I was so angry I felt scalding tears streak my cheeks. “I put my future on the line for you because I fucking loved you! Only to learn that it didn’t help because you’ve fallen off the edge. You are one fucked up person and It’s taken me ’til now to see it.” I refused to sob in front of him so angrily grabbing another carton I turned and left him there in a puddle of 2% milk.
After angrily stuffing pancakes down my throat I turned on my TV and tuned in to Spongebob. That dumb ass star thinks he’s smart. My goodness. Mister Doctor Professor Patrick my ass.
The doorbell rang and if it was up to my luck it’s someone I’d least want to be here. My parents were napping like old folks do so I went down to answer it.
I rolled my eyes, “You look like shit. What did you do, crawl here?”
“Actually got beat up because I owe someone money but that’s not the point.”
I frowned and leaned out to look around him. “Are they after you?”
“No but they will be.”
I sighed and leaned back in the house, cocking my hip to wait for an explanation.
I tried to read his face but some sort of mask deceived me. He looked brutal and so unlike the boy that sat in the back of my Bio class, the boy that focused only on his paper when he drew, the boy that smiled down at me when we made love.
His voice told something different. His voice had the raw emotion his face didn’t. “No matter what I do or what I say I don’t expect you to forgive me. I just…” He paused and took a trembling breath, “Thank you,” he croaked. “After all this time I just thought you wouldn’t come back and…Thank you.”
I refused to let my eyes water but I was a sucker for tears and Zayn had a few rolling down his face.
“Since I was young I believed I was a fuck up. All until you came and you thought otherwise. No matter our circumstance back then you still believed in me. So much I believed it myself.”
I bit at my lip and blinked tears. Geez, I’m such a baby.
“I don’t even know how to thank you enough for that. I lost my way but I can bounce back, I know I can. I just need you there with me because losing you has made me realize just how much better of a person I am with you.”
I wetly laughed and covered my mouth as I felt my cheeks tinge.
“And, by god, I love you!” He breathily smiled and ran his hands through his hair. “I’ve loved you since you smeared chocolate froyo on my mouth just to kiss it away. I’ve loved you since you promised me a better ending. I’ve loved you since you endured the nail gnawing experience of meeting my dad. I’ve loved you since you let me see you naked for the first-“
He words were halted by my lips. One step and I flung myself at him, enclosing his mouth with mine. Oh, I’ve missed him. I slightly pulled away and mumbled against his lips, “Shut up before my parents hear you.”
His eyes widened, “They’re home?”
“No I just like to keep two cars in my driveway because it looks nice.”
He smiled and leaned down, pecking my lips twice, “God, I’ve missed you.”
“I could say the same.”
“And that girl. I’ve never slept with her she just a regular…client of mine.”
I scrunched my brow, “Client?”
“I started to get into ink and I run it through my apartment.”
“Ink, as in tattoo’s?”
“Yeah,” he nodded, “I really like it.”
“Show me,” I smiled.
“Really? You really wanna see?”
“I want to know everything about you now,” I murmured, playing with a piece of his hair, “The good and the bad. Show me."