Chapter 2: "Newlyweds"

1662 Words
Beep. Beep. Beep. ~What the hell? What happened? ~ Eshe's eyes flutter open to the interior of a hospital room, early evening sunlight peeking through slivered parts between white blinds. The source of beeping is a heart monitor to the left of her bed, her eyes adjusting to the lit screen. ~Oh no. Nia! I have to get to Nia. ~ Sitting up in a hurry, the force of a pounding headache drives her back against the slightly inclined mattress. She raises her right arm to see an IV penetrating her skin and secure with tape. Turning to her left arm, she finds her watch has been replaced with a hospital wristband. She glances over her body to see wires attached to her chest; tugging the loose cords, she unsnaps two electrodes when a tall, handsome man in a white, long-sleeve button up shirt and charcoal gray slacks approaches her bedside, gently touching her shoulder. “I don't recommend that." He coos in a soothing tone, staring at her face until she makes eye contact. In an instant, she withdraws from his touch with a sneer. “Don't touch me," she looks him up and down, “why am I here?" She glances around the room. “Who are you? Do I know you? You look familiar…" She investigates him with an interrogating stare, pauses, then glances down at herself. Upon realizing she is braless under her hospital gown, she slaps him and pulls the blanket up over her chest. “What was that for?" Confusion filling his features, his head tilts while looking down at her with honey eyes. “You're a stranger in my hospital room and they took all my clothes!" She shrieks, gripping the fabric tight and pressing the call button on her bed's remote repeatedly. “That's a valid reaction," he nods, a soft chuckle following and revealing his dimples. “Listen, I promise I wasn't looking. I just want to make sure you're alright. You are at Michael Reese Hospital because you lost consciousness after walking in front of my car when I had the right of way--." The tan man is cut short. “Are you kidding me?! Is that what this is about? I had the right of way! I distinctly remember seeing the walk signal light up. If money is what you want, I don't have any." She crosses her arms against the blanket, turning her cheek to him. “What? No. I don't want your money. I'm covering the cost for all of this," he points to the ceiling and circles the air with a twist of his wrist. “Including any loss of wages for time off work. It doesn't matter whose fault it is." His deep voice sinks into her core, his cadence slow and calm as her gaze fixates on his full lips. “I don't understand. You're talking about this like you don't want me to sue you, even though you're saying I didn't have the right of way." Her sight shifts to his honey eyes as her temperature rises from the pressure of reality weighing in. “Multiple witnesses confirmed I had the right of way, stating that you were on the phone and moving in a hurry. The officer from the scene couldn't wait for you to wake up, so his card is with your belongings. You have been here about two hours; they've taken bloodwork and images, and we're waiting for the doctor to provide the results." His demeanor is comforting yet cautious as he explains the situation. Nodding to her, he begins a slow step backwards to his chair with his hands up, never taking his eyes from Eshe. “Really? Now I'm the dangerous one?" She tilts her head with an eyebrow up as she watches him slowly sit down. “Well, it's not every day I meet someone that gets hit by a car then attempts to escape a hospital bed." He leans forward, resting his elbows onto his knees as his eyebrows forge wrinkles into his forehead. Closing his eyes, he clasps his hands together and yawns into his palms. Eshe notices his plaid, turquoise tie is loose as he rakes his fingers through his thick, wavy brown hair to swoop strands from his face. His black, cap toe oxford shoes are freshly scuffed, and his charcoal gray suit jacket hangs over the back of his adjoining hospital chair. “Seriously, who are you?" She asks while pushing the incline button on the bed's remote so she can continue to watch him comfortably. He sighs and clears his throat, “my name is Damien. Damien Godlee." He rakes his fingers through his hair again and sits up straight, scooting the chair to direct himself at Eshe. “Are you for real? Godlee? I can't imagine how that doesn't go to your head with the ladies." She rolls her eyes and mutters under her breath with a skeptical expression. “I don't see how that's relevant. Ms. Johnson," he states firmly, “I need you to sign something that will authorize me to pay for everything. It will also prohibit you from telling anyone about this situation or any adjacent circumstances." He pulls an envelope from his chest pocket that Eshe did not notice until he touched it. “I'm so glad to see you're awake, Mrs. Johnson! How can I help you?" A female nurse enters the room and walks over to Eshe's bedside, silencing the heart monitor. “I was on my way to visit my sister Nia before this happened. She's in 5 South as a live-in resident. She had an incident a few hours ago." Eshe grips the left side rail to hold herself up, her eyes pleading with the nurse. "Can you please let them know I'm on the campus but experiencing a delay? I don't want them to call any of the other emergency contacts since I'm already here," shaking her head to emphasize what she does not want to happen. “Oh, absolutely! What an awful day you've had, you poor thing." The nurse closes the ceiling curtain shut from behind her to block the door and asks Eshe to lie back. She obliges and the nurse starts to pull her hospital gown down from around the neck. “What are you doing?!" Eshe jerks the gown from the nurse's hands and holds it tight to her body. “Oh, I didn't mean to startle you! The machine was going off because you disconnected some electrodes. Since your vitals have been normal the last hour, I was going to remove the rest for you." The nurse defends herself with a face full of concern. “Oh… Thanks. But wait, I don't want you to do it in front of him!" Eshe points at Damien and he places his hand on his chest with a hurt expression. “Uh-oh, are the newlyweds having trouble in paradise? You should go easy on him. He's been worried sick about you this entire time. But since you insist, I can remove them after he leaves." The nurse smiles at Eshe, winks at Damien, adjusts a dial on the IV machine, then pushes the curtain open before leaving hastily. “Newlyweds?" Bewildered, Eshe looks to Damien with a raised eyebrow. “Hey now, don't get the wrong idea," he raises his hands. “It was the only way the hospital would let me see you. And I couldn't hitch a ride with the ambulance because I was dealing with the police report—the copy is in your bag." He pauses, his tone softening, “I'm sorry about your sister, it must be a challenging situation…" He frowns. “Thanks... She's been here since dad died, so I'm used to it. It's just hard on her since I'm the only sibling still in Chicago, and I can't even see her every day because of life." Eshe sighs and shakes her head slowly before furrowing her brow. “Why did I just tell you that?" She thinks aloud, concentrating on her blanket covered knees before glancing at Damien. “Because the nurse turned up your morphine drip after you freaked her out by not letting her remove electrodes in front of your beloved husband." He flashes a cheeky grin and Eshe throws her pillow at him. “You're not my husband." She scowls him then buries her face in her hands to hide a blush. ~ Although I probably wouldn't be mad if you were. Money to throw around on hospital bills with a face and build like that? Ugh. I'm so mad our first interaction involves a hospital bed. I usually look so much cuter than this. ~ “That hurts. I think I'd make an excellent husband. At the very least, I'm a good pretend one." He picks up the pillow and fluffs it before carrying it to her bedside. He cups the back of her neck and she arches her back until he nestles the pillow behind her. She relaxes into it until a buzzing noise startles her. “That must be your phone vibrating… All your items are in property bags down here." He grabs the handrail to her bed and squats to reach under it, the muscles of his arm tensing and bulging against the smooth fabric of his shirt. His large, manicured hand with an ornate ring on his index finger glitters close to Eshe's forearm. He stands with a white, plastic bag in hand and pulls her cell out. Sheer, nude underwear fall off the corner of her phone case. Horror filling her face as he touches them, she hesitates grabbing his wrist when he flips them around and shoves them back in the bag without a word, avoiding eye contact. She snatches her phone from his hand when she sees “Incoming Call from Kesha" on the newly cracked screen. ~ f**k. ~
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