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Chapter Thirty Four

The Aftermath – As Told By Olivia

When I opened my eyes, I was completely disoriented. The lush walls of the hotel were nowhere to be seen; a white sterile wall was directly in my line of vision. I moaned; I felt like I had been held underwater for a long length of time and was just now able to come slowly to the surface.

“She’s waking up,” I heard a voice say softly to my right. At the moment I felt too weak to turn my head.

Even with my contacts in, things were slightly blurry. The white wall disappeared; it was replaced with Nick’s face, leaning over me.

“Liv?” I felt his hand cover mine. “Liv, can you hear me?”

“Where am I?” I croaked. My throat felt like it had been cut by razor blades.

“You’re in the hospital,” he said quietly. I blinked in confusion.

“What happened?”

An awkward silence hung in the room. From my right, I heard a chair being pushed backwards. I saw Brian walk out. I looked back at Nick.

He looked horrible. His leather jacket was draped on a chair in the corner of the room. He was still wearing the clothes from the night before; the blue silk tie was almost completely undone; his shirt sleeves were rolled to his elbows. His eyes were red; it looked like he had been crying.

“What happened?” I asked again. I brought my hand to my throat. I followed an IV from my hand to a large pump. I looked at him again; I was completely confused and completely scared.

He sank down into the chair vacated by Brian. Taking my hand, he looked down. Every little motion seemed to wipe the energy from him. I had never seen him like this.

“It’s my fault,” he said, his voice breaking. I felt a teardrop hit my fingers. “I should have never left you.”

“Nick, you’re scaring me. What happened? Why does my throat feel like knives? The last thing I remember is your kiss and…” I thought back. I had a vague fuzzy recollection of Brian and I clinking glasses but after that there was nothing.

With a shaky sigh, Nick began to tell me about the night before. I was fine until he reached the part where Aaron had put the roofies in the drinks.

“Nick?” I said, my voice rising an octave. He held up his hand and continued, his voice filled with emotion and pain.

As he described his walk through the suite and his discovery of me and Brian, the tears continued to fall from his face. I was shocked into mortification.

“You were barely breathing,” he continued, lowering his head to my bed sheet. His shoulders shook as sobs overtook him. I put my hand on his head; I couldn’t speak. The thought of sleeping with someone and not consciously remembering any of my actions terrified me. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what had gone through Nick’s mind when he walked through that bedroom door. I didn’t even care about the part where I was barely breathing; I would gladly give every last breath to rewind time. I should have been waking up this morning sticky from whipped cream and resting in Nick’s embrace. Instead…

As Nick raised his head, wiping his eyes, I pulled my hand back. I had thought that I knew what true guilt was when I got involved with Nick before dissolving ties with Hunter. That feeling was nothing like I felt now; this was true guilt mixed in with a million other emotions I couldn’t even begin to describe.

“I’m sorry,” Nick said quietly. “The thought that you could have died…” he trailed off.

“How can you be sorry?” I said. It was my turn to cry. “I slept with Brian!”

At that moment Brian slid back into the room. He stood in the doorway, glancing over at me. He looked like a tortured man. I squinted. The side of his face was completely bruised.

“What happened?”

I saw a silent exchange happen between Brian and Nick.

“Nick had to shake me pretty hard to get me conscious,” Brian explained. Nick shook his head.

“No, I hit the fuck out of him,” Nick said. “I lost my temper.”

They shared another look.

“I’m not going to lie to her,” Nick said. “She deserves the truth.”

I didn’t think I deserved anything. I felt weird even looking at Brian, but I needed to. Something else was bothering me.

“Does Leighanne…?” I croaked out. Brian nodded.

“I called and talked to her,” he said. “She caught a flight out; she actually just called. Her flight has landed; she’ll be here soon.” He rubbed his neck, he seemed to find a crack in the wall extremely interesting. “How’s your throat?”

My fingers touched my throat again. I looked at Nick in confusion.

“They had to tube you and pump your stomach. The IV’s for dehydration,” he explained, nodding towards the tubing in my hand.

“Why did Aaron do it?” I asked. Nick smiled; it was the most hateful smile I’ve ever seen.

“He wanted to get me out of the way so he could run off and do whatever he wanted. He was thinking only of himself.”

Brian’s phone rang; he walked back out again.

“Needless to say,” Nick said quietly, brushing a piece of hair away from my eyes. “last night didn’t go according to plan.”

It was the understatement of the century.

“Nick, maybe fate’s trying to tell us something,” I whispered. He looked at me and started shaking his head no.

“No, it’s just a string of bad luck,” he said. “It’s all of this craziness of being on the road. Afterwards when there’s not so much interference…”

“Nick, how can I finish this tour? Every time Brian looks at me he’s going to be filled with guilt; I’m freaking out just knowing Leighanne’s going to be here soon. And,” I continued, my voice practically fading away. “Every time you look at me you’re going to see me with Brian.”

My tears fell fast. I turned my face away from him.

“Olivia, it’s not your fault. It’s not Brian’s fault. This was just a horrible mistake,” Nick cajoled. I didn’t respond. There was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Nick said. Leighanne walked in.

“Hey guys,” she said quietly. She paused a few paces away from my bed.

“Can you give us a few minutes, Nick?”

Nick nodded. He leaned down and kissed my forehead. I watched him walk out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Leighanne took the empty seat by my bed. I didn’t want to look at her. She had been such a good confidant to me; I wasn’t worthy of her trust or kindness.

“How are you doing?” she said. I felt her hand on my arm. Taking a deep breath I turned to look at her. I burst out into tears yet again. Her arms went around me, hugging me.

“It’s okay Liv,” she said.

“How can you say that?” I said. “I slept with…”

She cut me off. I felt her arms drop away. Seconds later she handed me a large wad of Kleenex.

“You’ve got to listen to me,” she said. “But first you need to look at me.”

Slowly I turned back to her. She seemed so put together, her eyes were calm and concerned.

“I’ve had a whole flight to calm down,” she explained, reading my mind. “One of the first things Brian did after they found out you were okay was call me and tell me what happened.”

I winced. I couldn’t even imagine how hard that phone call must have been.

“I’ve been where you are. When I was eighteen I was drugged at a party,” she said. “I woke up naked in a bed with no recollection of what happened. When Brian explained what happened, every emotion I felt that day just came back to me. I was scared and confused, I felt like a whore. What I didn’t realize for several months afterwards was that it wasn’t my fault; I was a victim.”

I didn’t say anything; she had summed up every emotion I was currently feeling.

“What is the last thing you remember?” she said, her voice still soft and kind.

“I remember Nick kissed me,” I said. “And I remember Brian and I clinking our glasses. After that I…” I shook my head. “I don’t know, I don’t remember anything.”

“As far as I’m concerned we’re going to chalk this up to a horrible, horrible mistake,” Leighanne said. “The only ones that are going to know are you, me, Brian and Nick.”

I looked at her in surprise. “How can you just let it go?”

She smiled; I couldn’t help but wonder where her wisdom came from. “It’s not that I don’t care; but if you had been on the other end of the phone when Brian was telling me what happened…you would have heard a man that was torturing himself. For eleven years he has been the most faithful man I’ve ever met. Nothing’s going to change my love for him.”

“I just feel so bad,” I said. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry again; even so I dabbed at a runaway tear.

“Don’t,” Leighanne said firmly. “I still consider you my friend and I want you to promise me you’re not going to tuck tail and run home. You deserve to finish off this tour. You would break Nick’s heart if you didn’t.”

“Nick,” I moaned.

“Yeah, about Nick,” Leighanne added. “In the time I’ve known him, and that’s been quite awhile, he has always been kind of self-centered. When I talked to him on the phone earlier I could hear in his voice how concerned he was for you. Don’t push him away because of this; let it make you closer.”

“How can you be so calm?” I asked instead; I just couldn’t make any promises at the moment.

“Oh,” Leighanne said. Her smile grew colder. “I’m channeling my rage for the person that actually deserves it.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I see Aaron,” she said slowly. “I’m going to kill him.”

“You’re going to have to stand in line.”

I looked over to see Nick and Brian hovering in the doorway.

All three of them looked like they meant business.