"He is okay. Here is the list of pills you will have to keep giving him. Don't worry sir, he's perfectly fine." The doctor handed Parker a list and Parker took them and leaned toward him.
"Leo, I appreciate you not reporting to the police about this little situation here. It is a good thing for us being roommates in college." Parker said to him, smirking.
"It's a good thing he's tried to suicide and you've stopped him." Leo paused and pursed his lips, "it is quite impossible how the gun went off at his leg, but..." He scratched his forehead. "If it were somebody else who had shot him, that man would have some serious explaining to do to the police."
Parker nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah, it is a good thing for it to have been an accident." Leo nodded and walked away. Parker exhaled deeply and walked into the room, where Oliver rested with his eyes open. Parker walked to his bed and Oliver said to him, snarling, "You get away from me this instant."
"Listen, kid. I have no business with you whatsoever."
"Get away from me right now, or I'll call the doctors."
Parker took a bottle of mineral water from the bedside table and backed off. He laid one last look at Oliver, smiled sympathetically and went out of the room. He saw Eli, his fingers interlocked looking down at the patterned tiles. He was looking down at his feet and he had pursed his lips. A desolate aura surrounded him and Parker could sense its intensity. He slowly walked toward Eli and noticing footsteps, Eli raised his head, looked at Parker and hung his head again.
"Well, well, well... why're you looking blue?"
"What?" Eli's voice was husky and his eyes were teary.
"Now, why are you crying Eli?"
"I'm not crying."
"Fine. Maybe a little, but what's wrong?"
Eli turned to face the wall. He folded his arms and placed his forehead on the wall. "Hmm... nothing."
"It's Jeanette, right?" Parker's voice was somber. It had a sympathetic undertone to it, but mostly it was gloomy. He leaned against the wall beside Eli and sighed. "Give her some time. She has been through a lot. Her parents are not with her anymore, the people she trusted let her down, her brother is fine, but shot." He paused and noticed Eli's face flinching. "She only has us. You know why those two in the Grove really want her. They know who her parents are and they know she comes with a fortune. Give her some time."
"I don't know how anything can get worse." Eli turned to face Parker. His head was still down.
Parker placed his hand on his shoulder. He knew that Eli was not expecting that from Parker - Parker knew how Eli envisioned him: a heartless man whose only aim was to fulfill his wishes successfully. How did he become heartless? Eli does not know. Why was his yearning so strong? Nobody knows. It was a secret between him and Bradley. The friendship they had. Nothing could describe the pain he felt when he saw the pistol going off and through Bradley's already limp body, and the guilt he had for the rest of his miserable life for not doing anything. Parker could have at least gone to help Georgina.
But no, he had run out of the villa and into his car and driven off.
It was a hundred times more miserable for him, Parker noticed. He remembered the times he had taught Eli to toughen his heart for the work in hand. He was not going to let emotional worries and wishes to interfere with the real deal.
"I am. Aren't I?"
"Yeah, you are. I'm just going to let her be and leave her alone."
Silence. Parker and Eli looked at each other and Parker left.
Eli did not know what to do.
He did not know how to react to his surroundings. Dallas was standing about ten feet away from him and she did not even crane her neck a little to see what he was up to. She was serious about what she had said earlier. What she had said and Eli had not heard. It sounded something like "I can't take this anymore" or "I can't pretend anymore". Eli was not sure. She was driving him crazy. Nuts.
So crazy that Parker - out of all people - had to ask him what was wrong. Eli sat on the chair after a while. He could not take this anymore. Her antics and mind games. He was no psychic, no medium to provide telepathic connections with the girl he loved.
He had been through a lot as well, Eli realized. He had no clue of his real parents, he was waiting until Gabriel and Veronica got what they deserved and then, he would find them and he would provide them with things he could not before. He would keep them healthy and happy. Eli wondered if he had any real siblings. A baby sister, maybe. He had always wanted one of those to constantly tease and make fun of.
Eli was going crazy, that was what he was the most confident of.
He was letting his imagination run riot, conjuring up gags and the funniest anecdotes. Meeting his real family... haha... a baby sister... ha, ha, ha.
He sat still for a few minutes and remained indifferent to Dallas walking past him and out of the building. He cleared his mind after a while. He strengthened his thoughts, stuck his chest and head out and pressed his lips tightly.
He would forget about any romantic endeavors with Dallas. For once and for all. He took out his wallet and pulled out a picture of her. In the picture, she was wearing his shirt and her hair was tied into a loose bun. She had taken this picture at a photo booth in Olive Grove, right before leaving that place the first time. He pulled out another picture; this was of both of them, crammed in the booth. They were smiling like fools. Fools in love.
Trying to forget the pain.
The others who were trying to cause them harm, trying to corrupt their minds.
At the end of the day, it was a harmless thing to sit with Dallas inside a photo booth at a mall trying to restrain the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her. Amidst all the treachery, betrayal, charade, scandal and grief, it was a harmless thought to take her by her waist and twirl her around; listening to the sound of their laughs to how ridiculous, they might have looked at the photographs they had taken.
He cleared his throat, and slipped the photo of the two inside his pocket and walked toward the bin and with a bit of hesitation, threw the picture of her into the dustbin. He sighed, sorrowfully, and walked forward. He saw a familiar face from the corner of his eye.
Felix Bell? Was he supposed to be here? Still? Eli gasped slightly and thoughtlessly, went into the room. He saw Felix lying on the bed, his leg fine with a bandage wrapped around it and his bare abdomen enclosed with another bandage. He was reading a newspaper of some sort. Felix noticed the intrusion and lifted his eyes from the newspaper and his eyebrows rose. He kept the newspaper aside and clasped his hands together. "Eli! Come on in, sit, sit." He tapped the seat next to him.
Eli took a long breath and sat on the chair. He looked closely at Felix's leg and belly. He was thankful for him being fine. Eli and Parker knew things could have taken a far worse turn for Felix and that, that night could have been his last.
"So, how's the wound?"
He rubbed his belly and smiled. "Perfectly fine. I am fine too. How is everybody else at the villa?"
"They're good. Did Justice speak to you?"
Eli said sternly, "She really is devastated that you're hurt." He paused. "So, who did it?"
Felix laughed. He scratched his chin and yawned. "I honestly don't know. This is what I told the police and this is what I'm telling you."
"But, my mother told me two different people had attacked you," Eli interrupted him with certainty. He looked at Felix's puzzled expression. Eli smiled slightly knowing he had hit that spot. He was confident because Felix was in bed.
Felix shifted slightly and smiled, "She did?"
"Oh yes, she did. How does she know that?"
Felix shot a glare at Eli. "I remember telling Justice, and she must've told her mother."
Eli stood up and prepared to leave, leaving the awkwardness behind with Felix. Felix stopped Eli using his hand. He opened his mouth to say something. "Your mother wants to speak to you urgently." Eli had qualms about what Felix had said. Eli knew this was his chance to prepare Felix for the worst.
He knew he would never regret saying this in the future.
"How do you know that?"
Eli would swear he could forever remember Felix's face at that moment. It was an assortment of embarrassment, shame, disgrace, and Felix knew that Eli was well aware of their affair. Felix just stared at Eli, hard enough for his look to pierce through Eli's soul, ripping it through the dead heart in his chest.
Eli turned away realizing he had done enough damage and a sly smile crept into his lips. The satisfaction of catching somebody at his or her weakest was immense, Eli understood. Maybe it was particularly for him, because he has been used a lot. By many people, even his whole 'family'.
He walked out of the room, not turning back to look at Felix's reaction even though he knew he would very much enjoy it. The suspense was another joy itself.
He then remembered Veronica had wanted to speak to him. He huffed irately; it had to be something trivial... it was Veronica. She made trivial, insignificant things seem so important. But Felix had said, "urgently". So, it had to be something less trivial than what he expected.
A while Ago
"Why did you call me, Zed?"
Zed Griffin heard a drained voice from the doorway. It was eleven-forty in the morning, and Bridge was working on the banquet, an event she was wholly responsible. She knew the chances of her getting sacked if something went wrong were slight, but she could not risk ruining her reputation in front of Veronica. She had finished all the planning, but her doubts were on the catering. She could not decide between the flavors of cake, ice cream, the choice for the main course. Ugh. Being a personal assistant was harder than she thought it would be.
'What do you want?" She asked, walking over to him. He sat on the foot of the bed; he rose quickly and smiled. "I wanted to speak to you."
"I'm here. So speak," she snapped back angrily. She waved her hands frantically. "Zed, I was with the guy in charge of all the cooking and ugh, just tell me what you want."
He slowly walked to her and held her hands. He stroked them gently and looked into her eyes.
Bridge, in the meanwhile was in hysterics. She wondered why he was being so overly emotional, and touchy-feely. So expressive. Then it hit her. Something was wrong. This was not Zed. Zed was not even the slightest bit emotional nor was he expressive at all. Her eyebrows rose and she asked him, sounding concerned, "Zed, are you okay?"
He smiled goofily. He pointed at the chair next to him and Bridge reluctantly sat down. "Okay, I have about fifty papers to proofread and you're making me sit down?"
"He can have Patience, can have what he will."
She shook her head and smiled a little. Zed went up to the television set and switched it on. He stood at her side and glanced at the screen.
It was a news channel. A reporter with bright yellow hair was speaking in the midst of a storm in Dakota. Bridge did not understand. What was she supposed to gain from this? Just when she was about to ask him, a crackle was heard. The channel switched to a blank white background. Suddenly, Zed was on the screen. It was a video. He was wearing a red t-shirt and a pair of jeans. He began to talk about Bridge. 'Hi, Bridge. This is really awkward for me, because we've been together for three years and I've never told you how I feel about you exactly. So, here it is-'
"The first time I met you, I had an intuition that I had met the right girl. You put up with my antics and you joked around when we were friends. You became my life. When I was confused in work, you'd sort it out. When I was stupid, you'd laugh and explain to me. When I was sad, you'd make me happy. You became the icing to my cake, and I was crazy about you. Even if I didn't admit it.
I got jealous when I saw other guys hitting on you and you got jealous when others were flirting with me. I knew there was something between us that time. Some can call it madness, but I call it love."
The guy on the screen went on for another minute.
Then, he stopped.
"So..." There was an awkward pause. The screen flashed into a black one and then a white one again. Zed was nowhere to be seen. A short stout man walked and stood in the center. He pulled out a thick scroll from under his coat and opened it. He drew out a parchment from it and unraveled it. It was not long, but not short. It barely touched the floor to say the least.
He cleared his throat and began in a loud, strong voice, "Ten reasons why you should say yes to him: He cleans the bathroom every week. He loves how much you taught him about life or at least tried to. He loves the inner child in you. He likes the way you say, Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, when he can't. He likes your ability to talk to anyone, anywhere. He likes it when you willingly tell people he cried when you made him watch The Notebook. He loves falling asleep in your arms. He loves when you comment on his muscles to make him happy. He likes that you let him mock you endlessly. And he loves you."
The man looked straight as if he were looking Bridge right in the eye; he dropped the scroll, wrung his hands and walked away. Zed walked into the center with a little box and got down on one knee. He smiled and asked with anticipation, "Will you marry me?"
Bridge was in absolute awe. She was batting her eyelashes frantically and could not keep control of her heartbeat. Tears began streaming down her cheeks. She licked her upper lip. She felt as though she was the luckiest girl in the world. The most ecstatic and the cheeriest ever. She turned her head and the sight of Zed down on one knee with the little velvet box in his hand outstretched broke her heart.
A glimmer of hope, one that was too wonderful that words fail to express, shone through his eyes. A glimmer of something she could have sworn she had never seen. Without any delay, she cupped her face and nodded through the tears. He beamed and elegantly fitted the ring into her left finger. It sparkled on her finger and she buried her face into his chest. He rubbed her back and kept whispering, "It's okay," into her ear every two seconds.
She wiped her eyes and sniffed after that. She was the best at being emotional over something that meant the world to her, obviously. She took his face in her hands and kissed his lips passionately. He pulled her closer to her, curled his arms around her waist, and pulled her up. She laughed as their faces separated slowly.
Zed looked into her brown eyes and curled a strand of hair that lay in front of her eyes. "I love you."
She smiled looking into his eyes, and tousled his dark hair. "I love you more."
So, did you like it? I bet you didn't expect this, huh? Tune in for the next chapter to see everybody's reactions to this surprise proposal. Do you think Zed has a plan behind this or are you thinking, 'Leave them alone, Della'?
Please take some time to take the poll and it means a lot, if you could comment. See you soon!