“Johnny’s sick too? I hope there’s nothing going around.” I winced at the thought of being sick, I hated throwing up.
“Me too. Come on, let’s go to class,” Kate suggested, linking her arm through mine and pulling me towards the building.
School passed unbelievably slowly because I didn’t have seeing Liam at lunch time to look forward to. The morning and afternoon just blurred into one long Liam-less day, and on top of that I started to feel a little sick too. My stomach felt queasy and I couldn’t even force anything down for lunch.
Great, now I’m getting sick!
I tried calling Jake to see how he was feeling, but there was no answer. He was probably asleep or something. Kate was dropping me home because the boys weren’t here today. She dropped me at the front and I walked into the house, feeling exhausted, all I wanted to do was go to sleep.
As I walked in through the front door I saw suitcases and boxes and black trash bags full of stuff all piled up in the hall. What the hell is all of this? “Jake?” I called.
I could hear voices in the kitchen so I made my way in there, only to see Liam, Jake, Johnny, and Ruby who was holding a little kid in her arms which I assume was my little brother, Matt. I hadn’t officially seen him apart from the back of his head last week. What the hell are they doing here? Wait, I thought Kate said Johnny was sick - he didn’t look sick.
“Hey. What’s all this? You guys having a conference?” I teased. Ruby smiled at me weakly, her eyes were slightly pink, like she’d been crying. I felt my back get stiff at the sight of her sad face.
Liam came over and wrapped his arm around my waist. “Angel, we’ve got something to tell you,” he said softly. I gulped because of the tone of his voice; this was going to be bad whatever it was.
Jake stepped forward. “He’s been doing it again, Ambs. They’ve left him. I said they could stay here for a while. Mom said it would be fine,” he explained.
Ruby started to cry again softly. I looked up at Johnny. He’d been getting abused and he didn’t tell me? I could feel myself getting angry with him. He knew what that man had done to us; he should have known he could talk to me! I opened my mouth, about to shout at him, but his expression stopped me. He looked so sad, guilty, and actually a little scared. I pulled out of Liam’s arms and hugged Johnny tightly. God, he had been abused by the man of my nightmares too, I shouldn’t be angry with him, he didn’t need that on top of everything else.
Suddenly, everything made sense to me; he never liked to talk about him either. When I asked him if he got on well with him, he always looked really uncomfortable. He was so tense when I was at his house last week when he saw my father.
“You could have talked to me,” I whispered, feeling the tears fall down my face slowly, grieving because I knew exactly what he had been through and how he was feeling right now. At least I had Jake and Liam to look after me then; but Johnny was the eldest, he probably felt like he was the one protecting his mom and brother.
Johnny hugged me back. “I didn’t want to upset you; we’ve been planning all week. Jake and Liam helped us pack up our stuff today while he was at work. He’s away for the weekend. He’s not due back until Sunday morning.”
I pulled back and kissed his cheek. “Everything’s OK now. Don’t worry, he can’t hurt you anymore,” I said sternly. I turned and hugged Ruby even though I didn’t even know her; she just looked like she needed a hug right now. The baby in her arms was gorgeous; he looked just like her, but with blond hair.
“You alright, Ambs?” Jake asked, concern colouring his voice.
I gulped noisily. I was feeling sick actually. I guess I was a little overwhelmed by everything. I couldn’t actually take everything in. “Actually, I feel a little strange,” I admitted, rubbing a hand over my face.
“Angel, you look a little pale. Do you want a drink or something?” Liam asked, walking towards me.
Damn, I was so hot! My lips and fingers were tingling; I started to feel a little dizzy.
I was vaguely aware of an annoying beeping noise; my head was pounding and throbbing on one side. I squeezed my eyes shut trying to make the pain go.
“Angel?” Liam said from near my head.
I groaned and turned my head towards his voice. I felt terrible, like I was in some kind of bubble. I finally opened my eyes to see him leaning over me, looking gorgeous as always, except right now he looked stressed. He was frowning, his was jaw tight.
“Hey,” I croaked, trying to smile and ignore the pain in my head.
“Thank God. You scared me.” He bent his head and kissed my forehead softly, seeming to breathe a sigh of relief.
“OK. If I could just get in and have a look,” a female voice said sternly.
I glanced around and had no idea where I was. I was on a little bed, all strapped in. This was a little room of some sort with shelves and cupboards all along the walls - except we were moving; I could feel the vibrations from the road.
Liam moved to the side and a lady in a green jumpsuit leaned over me. “Hi, Amber. How are you feeling?” she asked, shining a little light in my eyes.
I pushed her hand off of me, looking for Liam again. “Where am I?” I asked, panicking slightly. How the hell did I get here? I was in the kitchen, then I felt a little sick….
“You’re in an ambulance, sweetie. You passed out and hit your head pretty hard on the kitchen counter,” she explained, taking my hands and putting them down on my chest. “I just need to check you over. You’ve been unconscious for about twenty minutes.” She flicked the light into my eyes again, nodding, seeming satisfied. “Does your head hurt?” she asked, touching behind my ear lightly. Pain shot through my head and I hissed through my teeth. “I think you’ll need a couple of stitches here,” she stated, nodding to the side of my head.
I reached out a hand to Liam. He immediately took it, and kissed my fingers, his eyes not leaving my face. He looked really stressed. After another couple of minutes we pulled into the hospital and they started to wheel me out on the little bed.
“I can walk,” I protested, feeling stupid for being wheeled into the hospital on a bed.
“Sorry, sweetie, it’s standard practice. You arrive with lights, you go in on a bed,” she countered, winking at me. I smiled weakly and Liam laughed, but it wasn’t his usual laugh, it was tight and humourless.
We were wheeled into a little cubical and left on our own. “What happened, Angel?” Liam asked, bending over me and brushing his hand over the side of my face softly.
I shrugged and then winced as the movement made my head hurt again. “I don’t know. I just felt a little dizzy, then I woke up to you in the ambulance,” I explained. That was all I could remember.
“You scared the shit out of me. Don’t ever do that to me again. Promise me,” he instructed, making me giggle at just how serious he was. He wanted me to promise him that I’d never pass out again?
“Liam, I can’t promise something that I have no control over,” I teased, still laughing. He sighed and bent forward, kissing me lightly, setting my body on fire. He pulled back when the curtain opened and a doctor walked in.
“Oops, sorry. Shall I come back later?” the doctor asked, grinning. I laughed, embarrassed to have been caught making out in a hospital.
“Yeah, could you give us five minutes?” Liam joked, making the guy laugh. He held my hand tightly as the Doctor looked in my eyes and checked my head, scribbling on his pad.
“So, you passed out, Amber, have you been feeling alright today? Have you taken anything that you shouldn’t have?” he asked, watching me a little suspiciously.
“Like drugs or something?” I asked, shocked. Did I look like a damn drug addict? He nodded, looking at me expectantly. “No, I haven’t taken anything. I’ve been feeling a little off today, a bit queasy,” I admitted.
He scribbled again. “Have you eaten?”
I thought about it - had I eaten? I had some toast for breakfast, but I didn’t eat lunch because I felt sick. “Um, not really. I felt sick at lunch.”
“Hmm, that’s probably your problem right there. Are you under any sort of stress or anything at the moment? Doing exams, that kind of thing?” he asked, scribbling again.
Stress. Wow, that’s an understatement. My abusive father moved back to town, bringing with him a whole new family. A week ago I saw him again for the first time since he tried to force himself on me. I found out just now that he’s been abusing his new family and they’re now moving in with us for a while. Actually, how long were they staying with us? Did someone mention that? I’d have to get Johnny in with Jake, and Ruby and Matt can share my mom’s room, then when my mom comes home I could….
“Amber?” the doctor said, snapping me out of my own little world.
“Oh right. Um, yeah, life’s been kind of stressful lately,” I stated, biting my lip at just how much of an understatement that really was.
“Well, stress can do funny things to you. You really need to eat properly. I’m going to run some bloods to make sure there’s nothing else going on. I’ll get someone to come in and stitch your head and I’ll keep you in for a couple of hours just to check everything’s alright after that bump,” he stated, smiling kindly.
He went to the cupboard and pulled out a needle. I looked at Liam with wide eyes. I hated needles. When the doctor came over to me, Liam bent his head and kissed me.
I closed my eyes and melted my lips against his. Jeez, he tasted so damn good!
“OK, all done. I’ll get these sent up they should be back in an hour or so,” the doctor announced, throwing the needle in the trash and writing on a little vial. I glanced down at my arm to see a little piece of white tape holding a cotton wool ball to the inside of my elbow.
“Did you do it?” I asked, shocked. Wow, I didn’t even feel it!
The doctor and Liam laughed. “Yep, all done. Ah, the power of distraction,” the doctor mused, grinning. I smiled at Liam; I’d have to take him with me for every shot I ever get from now on.