Chapter 6

I spent the next week in a panic. My head spun circles around situations that I couldn’t accept as possible—even knowing that they were indeed a possibility. The situations were unlikely, but, as much as I hated to admit it, they weren’t impossible; there was clear evidence that my nightmares were becoming reality. If only my case could go back to a problem as simple as a missing file—if only. My own reality was just shy of crashing around me. There was still hope—hardly, but it was there. All I had to do was think ahead of my opponent, stay ahead of the game—that was what it was after all, a game.

Everything that I thought I knew about my cases was now shrouded in doubt. I was sure of myself, I knew what was going on, and I had everything under control; but after realizing the truth behind Mrs. Jacobs’s most recent incidents, I was doubting myself, I was confused, and I needed to start over. Any conclusion that I had already made needed to be swept under the rug. I needed a clean sheet of paper, and I needed to reanalyze every case that I had been faced with, those accepted as well as those rejected.

Once again, I was laying on my back, the small key in my hands. I let out a deep sigh, staring at the slight glint of sunlight reflecting off of the silvery surface from the slight crack of space between my curtains across the room. My throat was dry. Saliva collected in my mouth, but each time I swallowed, my throat rubbed against itself, leaving a burning sting. It was unpleasant to say the least. I did my best to ignore the discomfort as my mind wandered. It mostly stuck to possibilities, paranoid assumptions, and naive hopes.

Another sigh.

What was I going to do with myself? I could hardly forgive myself for walking straight into such a shock. As a professional, I should have known better than to let my own confidence get the best of me. But that was what professionals were best at, wasn’t it? Being able to portray an aura of capability, and how would one do that without the confident belief that one really was capable?

My head spun again, only it was not from confusion. I had been cutting myself down on food so much so that I was making myself sick. It was not a wise choice; I knew that, but I also knew that my own health was nowhere near top priority—not in a situation such as the one I was in. I glanced over to the window. My head was spinning, my whole being shook, I was hungry, but Jaden would be over any minute; he was accompanying me over to the hospital.

I had asked the doctor to notify me of any changes in Mrs. Jacobs’s memory. If she spoke of any recollections, any strange ideas, or seemed to suddenly grow aware of what was going on, I was to be notified immediately. If any change were to occur, I wanted to be there. I needed to get all of the information that I could from her. There was just one problem, Mrs. Jabobs’s memory had no patterns. One minute she was aware of her situation, the next she was lost. Her nurses had called me three times, and every time, I arrived at the hospital too late. The best solution that I could come up with was staying with Mrs. Jacobs. I couldn’t stay with her forever, but I had decided on spending at least 24 hours at the hospital before calling it quits.

I placed the key under the cushion of my couch and began pacing. The clacking of my high heals seemed to ring in my ears. It was a subtle sound, but my senses were becoming too sensitive. It was as if my body was under high alert. I could hear the buzzing of a fly passing by all too clearly. I could hear the wind chimes jingling ever so gently outside of my window. I could hear my own breathing echoing in my head. I could hear the quick paced heartbeat on the other side of my front door.

Heartbeat?

There was a knock. “Lily?” Jaden’s voice called out.

I walked over to the door and opened it, staying behind my door. Jaden stepped in and looked around the door, giving me a bit of a suspicious glance.

“You okay?” he asked.

I nodded. “Just a little tired.”

“Alright.” He closed the door and looked around my place. “You know, you keep this place freakishly clean.”

“How is it freaky?” I asked, put off by the oddly random and entirely irrelevant topic.

He shrugged. “I don’t know; it’s just—inhumane.”

“How is it inhumane?” I snapped, nearly shrieked.

“Whoa there,” he held up an open palm, signaling for me to back away.

I hadn’t even realized that I stepped right up to him when I snapped.

“Sorry,” I said. “I don’t know what got over me.”

Jaden lifted a brow. “Are you okay?”

“Of course,” I assured him. “I’m just—tired.”

“Why don’t you get some rest then?” he suggested. “You really should be taking care of yourself before this Jacobs lady. I’m not even sure you’ll get anything out of the woman. She’s completely nuts.”

I almost wanted to laugh at the notion of putting myself first. How could I allow myself such a luxury after a slip like mine? “I’ll sleep at the hospital,” I told him.

“While we’re at it, maybe we should check you in, too.”

I gave him a warning glare, but it faded quickly. Jaden only responded with his unchanged expression. His face held true concern. He seemed genuinely worried. I was touched, really I was, but I didn’t have the time to waste over such a matter. The hospital couldn’t help me—and neither could Jaden.

“A nap will do me just fine,” I said, firmly.

“Alright, alright, but don’t look at me when you start passing out,” he said.

“Jaden, if I pass out, the only thing I’ll be looking at are the insides of my eyelids,” I retorted.

Jaden responded with an exaggerated eye roll. I gave him a slight smile and went off to fetch my cloak from the kitchen. It was hanging from the chair near the counter, not even ten steps away.

Jaden swung the door open as I swung the cloak over my shoulders. The hood fell easily into place, hanging over my head and protecting my eyes from the harsh light that spilled into my home. Jaden held the door open for me. Once I was out, he followed, making sure that my door was secured before carrying on. We walked silently to the hospital. There was a strange air hanging around Jaden. I could understand it being due to the fact that we were going to the hospital, but I found it hard to settle with that conclusion. He was getting used to the hospital, and he had gotten over his mother’s tragic passing years ago. He was not a man to hold onto the past. He could let things go more naturally than anyone else that I knew. Still, he seemed upset, nearly angry. It felt as if he was angry at me.

He kept his eyes glued forward the whole way to the hospital. His shoes barely made a sound as they touched the ground. It was unusual. He was unusually serious; I wasn’t used to this side of Swift Wing. His cheerful self seemed to be long gone, somewhere distant, hiding. But what was he hiding it from? Again, the answer seemed to be hanging heavily on me. I felt like I was the reason. I don’t know why, but I did.

Finding the hospital was simple; finding the elevator was just as easy. When we stepped inside the elevator and the large metal doors closed us in, Jaden finally broke the silence.

“Why don’t you take care of yourself?”

His voice was different. It seemed much deeper and painfully serious.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, trying to sound as if I really was confused.

“You’re sick.”

“Ja-”

“I can see it,” he said, coldly. “You’re getting paler, your hair looks dull, and are you getting thinner?!”

“So I haven’t had the time to groom myself, what’s the big deal? I’m just lacking a little in hygiene, but you know better than anyone else that I need to get this work done. Who else in Hollowville can figure this out?”

“Figure what out?! You said yourself: it’s just a bunch of people coming in looking for attention; it all probably started over some strange medical issue.”

Jaden’s complexion was becoming red.

I could hardly believe what I was hearing, or seeing. Jaden had not once expressed this much of a care for how I treated myself. I never saw him angry.

“Take care of yourself,” he said; his tone was threatening.

I gaped at him, speechless, clueless even; I didn’t know how to respond.

The elevator dinged and Jaden’s gaze snapped forward again. He walked out without another word. It took me a few moments to recollect myself, but I soon followed him. The woman at the front desk didn’t bother asking for names. We were able to walk right past her without a problem. Jaden lead me to Mrs. Jacob’s room silently. He stopped at the door, letting me in first, but I stopped as well.

“You can go home now,” I told him, my voice low.

“No,” he said sternly.

My face warmed. He looked so angry. It made me nervous. I didn’t like the feeling of his glare—not one bit.

“Go in,” he told me. “I’ll be back soon.”

I gave him a questioning glance, but he kept his cold expression.

“Go in,” he pressed.

I obeyed. I walked in and Jaden went his separate way. I had no idea where he was going, but there was no use in wondering. I had other things to worry about—primarily the client laying before me in what could have likely been her death bed. The red haired lady looked up to me and gave a disturbingly large grin.

“Helloooooo, Ms. Lily!” she said with a cheerful tone that did not suit her one bit.

Her hair was down for once. It was much longer than I would have expected it to be. It was also messy. Strands were sticking up, out, and twisting all around each other. Her smile glittered, unwavering.

“Hello, Mrs. Jacobs,” I greeted, somewhat hesitantly. “How are you this morning?”

“Just swell!” she informed.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

She nodded, much too quickly for my liking.

Her doctor walked in.

“Good morning, detective,” he said as he walked briskly over to Mrs. Jacob’s bedside. “The receptionist told me that you arrived. Is there anything that you needed?”

“Did you medicate my client?” I asked, making it clear that I was not okay with it if he did.

“Yes,” he answered, simply.

“Was she in pain,” I asked.

“Not terrible pain,” he told me.

“Then why are you medicating her?” I asked.

“She has been delusional,” the doctor put simply. “We need to keep her under control.”

“What do you mean delusional?” I asked.

“She was speaking nonsense throughout the night. At first, she was coming to her senses. She was remembering things, she still is, it seems, but she has been speaking of things that just do not qualify as sane. Not only that, but with her acting as she was, she could have scared our other patients.”

“What was she talking about?” I asked.

“Things that didn’t make sense!”

“I need specifics, Doctor!” I ordered.

“Monsters!” he snapped. “She’s been saying that bloody vampires are after her!”

Mrs. Jacobs let out a giggle. “Vampires,” she mumbled. “Ha!”

“And this is better?” I asked, holding down all of my emotions as best as I could. This doctor was getting in the way of my interrogation. There was no way that I would be able to work with Mrs. Jacobs in the state that she was in.

“What’s going on?” Jaden’s voice broke in.

I was caught off guard by his return, but the sound of his usual cheerful self flooded me with an unexpected feeling of relief.

The doctor and I both looked over at him. He was standing at the door, holding a tray of food. I realized that he wasn’t wearing his uniform. He was dressed casually—light denim jeans matched with a blue t-shirt that matched the ends of his mostly blond hair. The shirt brought out his eyes.

“Hello, Jaden,” the doctor said. “I was just telling Lily that Mrs. Jacobs needed to be medicated.”

“We can leave,” I told him. “There’s no use staying. I can’t talk to her while she’s drugged up like this.”

“But I’m lonely,” Mrs. Jacobs whined.

I closed my eyes and sighed. I willed it all away. It all felt like a really bad joke.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Jacobs,” Jaden said, comfortingly. “We’ll still stay. We don’t have anywhere else to be.”

“What?” I snapped.

Jaden gave me a cold glance and shoved the tray of food into my hands. “Eat,” he said.

I gaped at him, again.

“I’m not hungry,” I said.

He shook his head. “Just shut up and eat. I never see you eat anything and you are losing weight.”

I was in shock. Was life not throwing enough curve balls at me without Jaden’s sudden personality twists?

“I’m going to feed you if you don’t eat it.”

My eyes widened in disbelief. “Are you kidding?”

“Do I look like I’m kidding?”

He didn’t. I took a seat, and Jaden took the small table from over Mrs. Jacob’s bed.

“We’re just going to borrow this,” he said, lowering its height and placing it before me so that I could put the tray down.

“That’s fine,” Mrs. Jacobs said with a smile.

I stared at my tray of food. He brought me a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I picked up the spoon and stirred my soup. I could feel Jaden watching me. It was humiliating. I felt like a child all of a sudden, and I didn’t feel like that for a very long time.

“Why are you stalling?” Jaden asked me.

I picked up my spoon and put it in my mouth. I struggled to not to gag. I managed to finish the soup, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage the sandwich. I doubted that it would be as light as the soup. Still, I needed to get through it. Jaden wouldn’t allow me not to, and the last thing I needed then was him on my back for my eating habits.

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