The accidential Hacker

Harriet is a struggling painter.. One day she accidentially hacks into someone computer and it turns her whole life upside down

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26. Back home

 

*Harri POV*

A couple of days later, with a cast and sling and pain almost under control, I am allowed to go back to LA. The hospital has been amazing, and had organised a flight to take me and Zac with a medical team back to LAX. Dr Andrews gives me one last lecture. He hadn't been keen on letting me go home so soon, and would have preferred a transfer to hospital. "You will rest, at home. If you are in any pain you will stop what you're doing and rest. If you get any stabbing pain, throbbing, numbness or pins and needles, or compromised circulation, you go to the hospital immediately. Got it?" 

I nod and he hands me a card to go with the bag full of meds, spare sling and strapping tape I am taking with me. "You have an appointment with the ortho surgeon at Cedars-Sinai on Monday morning. He has your notes and is expecting you. He will organise a physio and anything else you need. Take care, Harriet".

"I will, Doctor. Thank you so much for all you've done for me, I really appreciate it. I wish I could repay you". I say smiling.

"You're very welcome. You could send me a small painting for my office when it's healed." He says with a small smile and I nod.

Zac shakes his hand. "I'll look after her, I promise."

He insisted on me using a wheelchair until I am back at home. Zac is pushing me to the foyer and we see that there is a crowd waiting outside. "This way, Zac." The nurse says quietly. "We're going straight to the ambulance bay".

 

 *Zac POV*

An ambulance takes us to the airport where our plane is waiting. Harriet is given an extra dose of painkillers and a sedative, knowing that the flight will be rough on her. I never take my eyes off me. She looks so fragile with her face, neck and chest bruised and swollen. She has started to lose weight because she isn't eating, and she is having regular nightmares even though she barely sleeps. She won't allow me to help her get dressed or shower, not wanting me to see her body bruised and broken, so she had asked the nurses. I wish I could make her understand that it don't matter to me, it won't affect the way I feel about her, except that it is showing me how strong she is.

 I pray she will let me look after her when we are home, she has a lot of taping around her ribs that

she can't do by herself, but that won't stop her from trying.

We have another ambulance ride from LAX back to my house where she will be staying. I have already organised Ben to bring around some of her things this afternoon. I get her inside and gently into bed, she is still fairly groggy and we both fall asleep. I want so badly to hold her in my arms but I can't without causing her pain, instead I have put pillows between us so I can't hurt her.

When I wake I realise Ben will be arriving soon and creep downstairs. We decide not to wake Harriet for him to say hi, he can come back another time. I reassure him that she is going to be OK, and he makes me promise to call if he can do anything.

Harriet had barely touched her breakfast and refused lunch so I make her favourite pasta and smoked salmon for dinner in the hope I can convince her to eat. 

When I hear her moving around upstairs, I go to check on her and find her sitting on the edge of the bed trying to summon the strength to get up. I sit gently beside her and holds my arm behind her back. "Want some help?"

"Yes please. Maybe if you just hold my right arm I can stand." I help her up, she squeake in pain, trying not to let it show.

"Baby, you don't have to be brave for me. You are incredibly strong, but when you want to fall down that's OK, I'm here to catch you." I say softly.

"I know". She says tearfully, looking up at me. "You deserve much more credit than I've given you. Do you still want to see?"

I nod, and she stand in front of me so I can lift her shirt. I stifle a hurtful moan. She is still taped up so the worst is covered but I can see all sorts of blue and purple bruising spreading out from her side past the middle of her abdomen and past her spine on her back. Her chest, breast and neck is almost black in places, especially over her collarbone, and it spreads down and faded to blue over her shoulder. Her wrist is covered in a hot pink fiberglass cast but I can see her elbow is swollen and blue, and her fingers are almost black and badly swollen. 

 I stand up, taking my first close up look at her face. Her cheek bone has a black splotch, almost like paint, fading to the blue and purple that spreads across her eye and jaw. She still has the cut taped up and blood has oozed out slightly, I wonder if she will allow me to change the dressing. I sniffle and clears my throat, touching her face lightly with my fingertips.

She tries to reach up to my lips, and I sit her back down on the bed, kneeling in front of her. I lean towards her and kisses her ever so gently on the mouth.

When I pull away my eyes were stinging. "I'm so sorry baby. I meant to spoil and protect you, not this..." I trail off, laying my head in her lap and she strokes my hair softly.

"I know baby. You've been amazing and you've been so strong for me. I meant what I said, when I hid things from you I didn't give you enough credit." She says.

After a little while I help her downstairs. I have set the table inside with candles and put on the lights on out on the deck. To my surprise she sit down gingerly and begin to eat slowly without any argument. I had thought I'd have to talk her in to it.

"I must have taught you well, you make this better than I do!" She says with a smile, taking another bite of the food.

"Nah, that's just because you're comparing it with hospital food." I answer, just happy to see her eating, she smiles and it is a welcome sight, one I haven't seen in too long.

When I have cleared our plates she sit on the couch, although she don't look to feel comfortable. She takes my hands and faces me. "I owe you an explanation. It's not pretty, but I trust you enough to tell you. No one knows this. No one. And it does not, ever, leave this room. Understand?"

I nod and listen intently..

 

*Harri POV*

 I take as deep a breath as I can and sigh. "Dean and I started dating in high school. It was fast and intense and we both fell hard. He always flirted with other girls, too much for my liking, and cheated on

me more than once before we'd even finished school. Somehow he always had an excuse and it was always me who was left apologising. Now I can see that was the beginning of the controlling, of the emotional abuse, but I didn't see it at the time. I was young and blind and stupid."

"Harriet !"

 "Please Zac, you're going to have to just let me spill it all out." I say and he nods quietly. "We broke up just after starting uni, but he just kept pulling me back. Whenever it looked like I was happy, doing well, or even talked to another man, he'd suddenly wanted me back and made sure I felt worthless enough to go back. He made me need him. Or think I did".

"When I started getting a bit of success, he'd tell me they only wanted me because I was pretty or because I was cheap. He told me I was nothing special and that one day everyone would find that out and I'd be left with nothing. But he'd make it ok and I'd always have him to come back to, and I owed him for that. Because he would stick around to look after me even though he didn't have to."

"When I moved out here he wouldn't come with me, telling me it wouldn't last and then we'd be stuck here. So I travelled back and forth, slowly burning myself out with exhaustion, and the only thing I was coming home for was to be reminded I was nothing without him. The first time I suggested I might stay for a few months to take on a bigger opportunity, he slammed my head against the wall and pushed me so hard against a bannister he broke my ribs. He made me believe deserved it, and if l told anyone they'd believe that too. I was ashamed I let him treat me that way so I put up with it. I honestly believed I didn't deserve better.

 When the pet pictures really started taking off, I was so excited I couldn't wait to tell Dean. When I got home he told me I was selfish and stupid to assume he'd consider going with me. I told him I was leaving him, he chased me and dragged me down then threw me against the bottom of the staircase. I think that broke more ribs."

I draw a breath and take a drink of water before continuing and Zac lays his hand on my thigh. "I turned down a lot of jobs and continued travelling. But the demand kept raising and I knew we needed to talk. I surprised him by coming home a week early the next time, only to find him in bed with someone else. He tried to turn it around on me again, saying it was my own doing and I shouldn't have left him alone. When I told him it was over and I was moving permanently, he pushed me in to a doorframe and broke my collarbone and then threw me down the stairs. That's how I hurt my wrist, and I think I broke a couple of ribs then, too. That night I had surgery on my wrist and a week later was back in LA, moving in to my apartment."

I look at him and nod to let him know I am done. His eyes are glistening with tears he is trying to hold back. "Was he charged?"

"No. I didn't go to the police and I treated everything but my wrist myself. He was always sorry and looked after me for a while. I was convinced that I deserved it. When I finally realised I didn't, I just wanted to put it behind me. Mum works in the same building with him and he still lives in my home town. While you were out of the room the doctors assured me they wouldn't record the conversation we

had, either. I just want it to stay in the past. Particularly now."

Zac leans in and kisses me softly. "Why didn't you just tell me?"

"Because I figured you'd either run for the hills or pity me, and I didn't want either of those things. I wasn't trying to be deceptive, I just didn't think it was important for you to know, at least not yet." I say honestly.

 Zac kneels on the floor in front of me. "Harriet, I love you. You are one of the strongest women I know. I do not pity you, I admire your strength. You amaze me every day, and I have never been more proud of you and more impressed by your courage." He looks down when his tears starts to fall and I pull his face up to mine, kissing his mouth.

"I love you so much, Zac and I love that we are going to be a real family and have a baby." I say, tears spilling from my eyes.

He hold my hand and brushed my cheek with his fingers and I close my eyes, hearing him wisper softly. "Me too darling, me too".

 I am suddenly in a lot of pain and very tired. "Can you please take me to bed?" I ask, standing up.

They go upstairs and for the first time since the accident I sleep soundly. Zac stroking my back and running his fingers through my hair gently while I drift off and then snuggling into my back, careful not to touch my side.

 

 

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