Authors: Tim Mettey
Chase was still pale and visibly shaken. His golden tan was gone.
“Can someone tell me what’s going on?” I asked.
“Nicholas, Xavier is a very dangerous Seeker. You are lucky that Genevieve and Riley showed up,” Cora said.
“Nicholas, he is one of the most feared Seekers out there,” Chase said.
“Who are Genevieve and Riley?” I asked both Cora and Chase.
“I’m not sure. Do you know, Chase?” Cora asked.
He blinked repeatedly, and some of the color returned to his face. “Xavier is here. Did you see what he looked like?” Chase asked.
“No, Chase,” I responded. He was clearly focused on Xavier. I really didn’t care who Xavier was, or who Genevieve and Riley were for that matter. I just wanted Chase to take care of Elle and make sure she got better. Everything else was an afterthought, something for later. “Listen, I don’t care who this Xavier is. You take care of Elle. Do you understand me, Chase?”
Chase nodded. He turned and started to walk back into her room.
“Chase,” I called after him. “Go ahead and help Oliver. This was mostly Xavier’s fault anyway.”
lle was recovering in the hospital, still in a coma. I refused to leave the hospital. I had to be there when she woke up. Doctors came and went, but I continued to sit there, waiting. From time to time, Chase checked on her and gave me an update. Her parents were there around the clock too. They took turns going home to sleep while the other sat by her side.
Mr. Canan never spoke to me. I was sure he blamed me somehow for what had happened to Elle. Mrs. Canan was the complete opposite. She was nice, telling me that she would call me right when Elle woke up if I wanted to go home. I politely declined each time. She seemed as concerned about me as she was about Elle.
I spent most nights drifting in and out of consciousness. I was exhausted and still hurt from the attack I had suffered in the park. Fatigue set in, making it difficult to do much of anything. Luckily, Chase was able to get me into the showers that the doctors use at the hospital as well as a room in which I could lie down and relax. Still, for the most part I stayed in the waiting room right outside Elle’s door. Cora brought me new clothes to wear each day. She also brought home-cooked meals for me, the Canans, and the staff at the hospital. Tic Tacs were the only thing that could give me some relief from the nausea brought on by my lack of sleep.
“Nicholas, Nicholas, wake up!” I must have dozed off in the waiting room because Mrs. Canan startled me.
“Is Elle awake?”
“Yes, dear, she is. She’s awake and she wants to see you.”
I stood up, still feeling lightheaded from sleeping. Outside it had become dark; I must have been asleep for a while. I followed Mrs. Canan to Elle’s room. This was the first time that I had been able to see her since that night in the quarry.
When I entered the room, I saw Chase surrounded by a couple of adoring nurses, which was not surprising. Elle was sitting up, sipping a drink. For having just come out of a coma, she looked incredible and full of life. When she saw me she cried out, “Nicholas.” She began to weep. I sat down on her bed next to her. She leaned forward and buried her head in my chest. I held her tightly.
“I thought I would never see you again,” she sobbed.
“I am here. Everything is okay.”
Holding her made all of my aches and pains go away. I rocked her back and forth while she cried. As she got quieter, I could hear some sniffling from behind us. It was Mrs. Canan. She had been crying along with her daughter. Chase and the nurses left the room to give us privacy.
Elle pulled back and looked into my eyes. “You look worse than I do,” she laughed, wiping away her tears. I smiled at her. Even lying in a hospital bed, she could still make me smile.
Mrs. Canan said, “He has been here the whole three days, waiting for you to wake up, never leaving. Nicholas and Cora had Dr. Chase Letterby come to take care of you.”
I looked into her eyes. “When I pulled you out of the water, you told me not to leave you, so I didn’t.”
She took both of her hands and raised them to my face. She pulled me close and kissed me tenderly. All of the sounds of the hospital were gone. Her fragile lips sent a feeling of reassurance through me that she was going to be okay.
Elle’s father showed up a short time later. I left so her parents could be alone with her. Later, Elle’s friends showed up to see her. Mr. Canan came out of the room and walked right up to me. I braced myself for the worst. He stood in front of me for a few seconds and then stuck out his hand. I grasped his hand with mine, and he shook it firmly, which was his way of saying thanks.
I called Cora.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Yes, Elle’s awake.”
“I will be right there.”
When she arrived, we went and stood in Elle’s room with the rest of the visitors. Her friends and family kept asking her what happened that night at the quarry. She never really answered; she just ignored them. I made eye contact with her from time to time. Her eyes told me to be patient and that we would be together again soon.
There were only a few friends left when a police officer showed up. The room went quiet when he entered. Mr. Canan pulled the officer to the side of the room to talk.
“Can everyone leave now? Elle really needs her rest,” Mr. Canan announced to the room. Cora and I started to walk out with the rest of her visitors.
The police officer stopped me. “Excuse me, are you Alexander Taylor?”
I nodded, cringing, still not used to being called by my other name. Cora instinctively stood closer to me for protection.
“My name is Officer James Montgomery, and I want to say that it’s an honor to meet you, young man. You are one of the reasons why I joined the police force five years ago.” He shook my hand. I smiled, and then Cora led me out of the room.
“Can we go get something to eat?” I asked Cora once we were in the hallway.
“Of course we can,” she said as we walked toward the elevator.
I stopped right before I hit the down button for the elevator and turned around. Mrs. Canan was hurrying after us.
“Officer Montgomery forgot he needed to speak with you, Nicholas.”
“Is he in trouble?” Cora asked.
“No, of course not. He just needs to ask him a question or two about the other night.”
“Can’t it wait? He’s tired,” Cora said.
“No, I am fine. I can answer his questions now,” I reassured Cora.
I waited outside of Elle’s room for Officer Montgomery.
“Well, thank you for everything, officer,” I heard Mr. Canan say. “If you need anything else, please let me know.”
Officer Montgomery came out of the room and walked over to where I was standing. “Mr. Taylor, may I ask you a question or two?”
“When we questioned the witnesses at the quarry, no one saw you at the party or entering the water. Most of the people thought you must have been in the car with Mr. Rails and Ms. Canan. Were you in the car?”
“No, sir, I was not in the car. I entered from the shore next to the dock right when the car hit the water. Everyone was probably in shock that the car fell into the water. That’s why they didn’t see me swim out.”
“Incredible! The hero of the 10-10 Earthquake saves two more lives right here in Winsor. A hero once again.”
“Is that all, officer?” Cora asked. “Nicholas is tired.”
“Yes, that’s all. Thanks!”
“Excuse me, do you know how Oliver is doing?” I asked.
“He’s stable right now,” Officer Montgomery said. “He lost a lot of blood, and he had some pretty serious head injuries. If it weren’t for you and Ms. Canan, he probably would have died.”
I pulled him to shore, but what did Elle do?
Officer Montgomery continued, “He’s in a drug-induced coma, but Dr. Chase Letterby is optimistic about his chances of a full recovery. Amazing—even after he put your girlfriend in danger, you were still willing to risk your life for him.”
“Let’s go, Nicholas. You need to get home and rest.”
“One second.” I turned and walked back into Elle’s room. I walked up to Elle, who was lying back in her bed. I ignored both of her parents, who were sitting in chairs next to her. I leaned down and kissed her.
“I will be back tomorrow. Get some rest,” I whispered into her ear.
lle was released from the hospital a week later and was put on strict bed rest at home. Cora and I didn’t speak about Xavier, Genevieve, Riley, or anything else that had happened that night. Elle and I were both exempted from the last month of classes, so school was over for us. Every time I came to visit her, one of her parents would sit in the room with us.
The day she was finally able to get out of bed was also the day of Winsor’s prom. I brought her over a rose corsage that Cora had made for her and a movie for us to watch. She was down on the couch when I got there. Her dad was out of town on business, and her mom, to my surprise, left us alone. She must have been truly better, because her dad hadn’t left once for business until today.
“I got this for you.” I handed her the corsage.
“Nicholas, you didn’t have to get me this.”
“What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t get you a corsage for prom? Plus, Cora worked on it all day.”
She smiled. “Well, thank you, and tell Cora it’s beautiful.”
“I will tell her.”
She smiled, patting the couch for me to sit next to her. I sat down and she curled up against me.
“We are finally alone,” I said.
“Yes, isn’t it nice, Nicholas?” Her fingers had intertwined with mine. She had our hands resting on her chest. I could feel her heart beating strongly, and it stirred memories of the night that I pulled her from the water.
“What’s wrong, Nicholas? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. It’s just that the last time I felt your heart, it was barely beating. I almost lost you.”
She sat up and smiled. “But thanks to you, I am here. Everything is okay.”
“Elle, why did you get into Oliver’s car?” That question had been eating away at me for some time. Now that we were alone, I could ask.
“On the day of the quarry party, Oliver showed up at my house in that old car. He was looking for you. He told me that he had challenged you to that stupid game of chicken—you know, the rite of passage. I told him that you weren’t going to do it and that he should just leave us alone. He told me he was going to find you and show everyone once and for all that you were nothing more than a coward. I lost my temper. That’s when I opened the car door. I began yelling at him, telling him to leave you alone and that I wouldn’t let you get in the car with such an idiot. He grabbed my arm, pulled me inside, and took off driving. I could barely get the car door shut before he sped down the road.
“He began mumbling something about how I should have ended up with the captain of the football team because the most popular girl always does, and how you had ruined everything for him this year. He was losing it. I put on my seat belt, scared he might wreck the car. I even tried to calm him down, but he didn’t respond to me. I demanded that he let me out, but he still wouldn’t stop. He told me that he would take me to the quarry party and pull onto the dock with me inside the car. He would stop on the dock and tell everyone that you were too scared to do the rite of passage, so you sent your girlfriend instead. I was hoping you would see that I wasn’t home and then come to the quarry. Luckily, you did.
“We drove around the town for a long time before he headed toward the quarry. I never had an opportunity to jump out because he never stopped completely. He wasn’t going to go to the party without me, his trophy. When we got to the party, he was smiling. He was getting ready for his big speech. He drove slowly down the dock, stopping near the end. Then the car went head first into the water before I had a chance to get out of my seat belt and escape. Oliver was not wearing his seat belt, so he went head first into the windshield. He was badly hurt and covered with blood. He was lying sideways in his seat, unconscious. The car started to fill with water so I grabbed him and propped him up to make sure he wouldn’t drown. I tried to get my seat belt off, but it wouldn’t unlatch. Then the windshield broke, completely filling the car with water. Right before I passed out, I felt my seat belt go loose and then I shot to the surface. I remember seeing you, and then everything went black.”
“Elle, you should have just let Oliver go looking for me. I can take care of myself.”
She kissed me, shutting me up from the lecture I was about to giv
e her. She looked into my eyes. “Nicholas, I would sacrifice everything for you. I love you.”
“Elle, I love you too.”
END OF BOOK ONE