I nervously wait for Hunter's reply. My heart slams into my chest when I hear my phone go off. I dig through my purse until I pull out my tiny black phone. I have one new text.
Hunter: On my way.
Just seeing his name on my phone has me reeling. How have I made it through almost three weeks of not seeing him? Without talking to him?
Elliot sets a water bottle into my shaking hands and takes a seat next to me. His golden hair shines against the bright lights of the hospital. He presses a soft kiss on my forehead and slides his arms across my shoulders.
"You text Hunter?" he asks me quietly.
I just nod and take small sips of my water. After all this time, Elliot still hasn't asked if anything happened between Hunter and I while he was gone. But then again - why should he? In Elliot's mind, Hunter was just being a good guy, being there for me whenever I needed him. It wasn't Hunter's fault that his charm got so far under my skin that I couldn't turn back.
I gave my virginity to the one man I wasn't supposed to, and now I was suffering the consequences. I still couldn't get Hunter out of my head.
And believe me, I've tried.
I forced myself to leave Hunter alone, to not text him every time I thought about him. Of course a piece of me thought he'd come back, because I really believed he might have feelings for me.
But after weeks of silence, I realized the truth. Hunter didn't have any feelings for me. I was nothing more than a friend he had sex with one drunken, random night. And now that Elliot and I are back together, I should be getting better with the idea of me not having a future with Hunter.
So why do I still feel so broken?
Elliot's warm fingers begin to trace circles down my arm. The repetitive soft touch calms me slightly but my nerves are still shot. When I see the doctor leaving Rex's room, I stand and take a step forward. Rex's parents, who are sitting right next to us, stand as well. The older doctor makes his way towards us, his tired eyes matching the worn-out, saggy skin around them.
"His vitals look good," the doctor says slowly, "but he's very, very disoriented. I would highly suggest you all wait to see him until more tests are run. I fear that his memory -"
"-Oh like hell that'll happen!" Rex's father interrupts. "My boy is finally awake and you expect me to wait out here while ya'll run more tests on him? Well - I've got another thing coming to ya' doc!"
Rex's mother purses her lips at the outburst and gives her husband's arm a reassuring pat. I can't imagine how hard this is for them. The doctor just sighs, as if half-expecting that type of reaction to occur. He looks at all of us and takes a step back, allowing us access into the room.
"Speak slowly, speak softly and don't inundate him with too much information at once. Remember, just being awake is a lot to process. So…go easy on him."
The doctor has barely finished his sentence and Rex's father is yanking his wife into their son's hospital room. They close the door behind them and Elliot's familiar hands move to my waist as he urges me to sit down once again.
"I just want to see him," I mumble softly.
Elliot nods and slips his arm across my shoulders. I look up into his beautiful eyes and once again am taken aback by his flawless face. I don't know how I got so lucky to get a guy like this. And yet still I find myself thinking his brother. Hunter.
I am a horrible, horrible person.
"Jess - I don't mean to bring this up now…but I just wanted to talk about it before you started making other arrangements," Elliot says, his voice soft and warm.
I raise a brow at him and tilt my head to the side slightly. "Ok….?"
"Listen," Elliot says leaning closer to me and lowering his voice. "It's going to be a while before Rex is able to move back into the condo, let alone help pay his share for it. And I overheard Kevin the other night with Audrey. She's trying pretty damn hard to get him out of there and into an apartment with her."
Elliot pauses and gives me a sad smile. He doesn't have to continue for me to know where he's going with this. My dream of living in a condo with my best friend has officially packed up and left. I'm down to one roommate - Kevin - and from the looks of it, he won't be around too much longer either.
There's no way I can afford that condo all to myself. I'm just a waitress for Pete sake!
"Move in with me," Elliot says abruptly.
My mouth drops open and I let his words hang stagnant in the air for what feels like an eternity. Elliot's face puckers with worry as he places a gentle kiss on my cheek. He grabs for my hands and his voice takes on a pleading tone.
"Listen, I know we haven't been dating for too long. And I'm not trying to force you into anything, Jessie. Really I'm not. I just….I don't want to lose you. I've just signed a one year lease for a beach front, two-bedroom apartment. You wouldn't even have to pay any rent. I'll take care of it. Just be there with me and save money for school."
Before I can respond, the door to Rex's hospital room flings open and a teary-eyed Mrs. Miller comes running out. A tissue is clutched within her tiny fist and my eyes glance behind her to see Rex's dad finally emerging as well. His face is unreadable as he walks to comfort his wife. Mr. Miller doesn't say anything to me but nods, silently telling me it's my turn to go see his son.
I gulp down my nerves and take a deep breath. Elliot stands with me but I tell him I want to go on my own. A look of hurt flashes across his eyes but he gives me a tight-lipped smile of understanding. I know I should address Elliot's question about me moving in but I just can't. Because right now my sole focus is on one person and one person only. Rex.
My heartbeat slams against my eardrums as I quietly close Rex's hospital door behind me. I take the small footsteps needed to get to his bed and my arms begin to tremble when I finally look at him. Rex's dark eyes look back at me and I have to blink a few times to make sure I'm not dreaming.
"I'm…I'm so used to seeing your eyes closed," I say softly.
Rex watches me as I gingerly sit in the wooden chair next to him. He studies my face in silence, his eyebrows furrowing together in concentration. I bite my lip and hesitantly reach for his hand. He watches the action, but doesn't stop me when my tiny hand clasps around his.
He stars at our touching hands and then his deep gaze finds me once again.
"Are…are you my girlfriend or something?" Rex asks, his voice low and scratchy from multiple weeks of no use.
My eyes widen at his question but I see the honest confusion in his face. I drop his hand immediately and bring it to rest on my lap. A new batch of tears threatens to spill from my eyes and I force myself to take a few deep breaths.
"No, Rex. I'm Jessie - your really good friend."
I pause to let the information sink in with him but he says nothing in return.
"You…you don't remember me, do you?"
Rex gives me a saddened expression and then looks away.
"I don't remember anything," he mutters quietly.
"He's suffering from a temporary amnesia," I explain to Elliot as we ride the elevator down to the cafeteria.
"Damn. That poor guy….do they know when he'll get his memory back?"
I shake my head, loose strands of my blonde hair tumbling out of my low bun.
"He got hit pretty hard," I say and pick up a small fruit cup. "The doctor says it'll just take time."
Elliot gives me a small hug before paying for our food and finding a free table for us to sit. Like a perfect gentleman, he pulls the chair out for me and gives me an affectionate kiss before taking the seat across from me.
I notice a few passing nurses giving him flirtatious looks but he ignores them completely. My eyes scour over Elliot's perfect face and I study the way his light eyes focus as he opens his sandwich. His pink lips clamp over his straw as he drinks a few sips of water.
He really is beautiful.
Goosebumps break across my skin when a familiar sultry scent dances through my senses. I lift my eyes and sure enough, Hunter's seductive figure is just a few feet away from us. His bold eyes clash with mine and a tremor of desire splits through my body.
Hunter's expression remains unchanging as he comes to our table and takes a seat next to me. His low cut jeans ride his lean hips, his grungy shirt clinging to his muscular torso. He casually flips his dark hair away from his eyes and brings his attention to Elliot and I. My whole body begins to tremble and I suck in a ragged breath praying to God he won't notice.
"Sorry if I interrupted anything," Hunter says cutting the silence.
I internally whimper at the sound of his voice - that sweet, seductive, low voice that I dream about every night.
"I talked to the doctor," Hunter continues. "So I'm up to speed on everything. Rex's parents said they saw ya'll heading down here so I thought I should stop by. I was thinking we should visit Rex in shifts. He won't get overwhelmed that way."
"Plus, it's a great way to avoid us even more," Elliot says curtly.
I bite my lip as the two brothers make eye contact with one another. I knew Elliot had been hurt that Hunter had just 'fallen off the face of the earth' for the last few weeks, but I didn't know he was this hurt. I can feel Hunter's body tensing next to me.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Hunter questions and there's a harsh edge to his voice.
"Don't act like you haven't been avoiding Jessie and I these past few weeks. I know you have a busy life what with your bar and all, Hunter, but that's no reason to leave your friends and family behind."
The angry sneer that has taken over Elliot's voice is one I've never heard before. Hunter's gaze narrows on his brother before slowly turning to me. He raises his brow ever-so-slightly, as if giving me a chance to interject.
So I do.
"Please don't be upset," I say at an attempt to calm them down. "We've just missed you, Hunter."
At my words, Hunter's mouth twists into a scowl. His angry gaze turns to me, and I bite my lip wondering what I've done wrong now.
"Missed me, huh?" Hunter whispers in a slow, calculated way.
I blush knowing full well the double meaning of his question. And for the first time in weeks, I realize that I may not have been the only one that's been hurting from the way things ended between us.
"Yes, we both missed you," Elliot interjects. "But you seemed hell-bent on avoiding us. So out of respect, we were trying to give you space."
There's a beat of silence that passes between the three of us and before I know it, Hunter is getting up to leave. I want to stop him and beg him to stay, but my limbs seem to be frozen at my sides. Hunter remains staring at me, and I can't ignore the many emotions flickering through the depths of his eyes.
"Bro - don't go. You just got here," Elliot tries again. "C'mon just take a seat and we can catch up."
"I have shit to do," Hunter snaps.
"God, what the hell happened to you while I was gone?" Elliot sputters under his breath.
But I don't think any of us were meant to hear it. Except we did. Hunter spins on his heels and gives a hard look first to Elliot and then to me.
"I don't know," Hunter says coolly, "Why don't you ask your girlfriend?"
A/N: Alright cuties - what do you think? I've actually written the next two chapters....so they're all done and now just have to be edited! There's only a few chapters after that! Thank you ALL for taking the time to read and comment. It's because of YOU that I keep writing!! XOXO