Chapter 8: Guilt, Notes, and Hot SexA Chapter by Sarah J Dhue
"Caresses, expressions of one sort or another, are necessary to the life of affections as leaves are to the life of a tree." -Nathaniel Hawthorne
Jack's head jerked to the side suddenly; his face a frown. A flash of blood covered pavement flashed behind his eyelids.
"No," he said, turning his head to the other side.
The blood was spreading, once white hair was now dyed red.
"No," he said louder, his hands balled into fists.
"It’s all your fault," a voice whispered to him and he could hear a heart pumping in his ears, faster and faster...
"No... no no no," his face twitched and his whole body tensed. His fists tightened and his back arched, lifting him partially off the bed. The heart was pounding, louder, louder, louder... then suddenly it stopped.
"No!" he sat up screaming and breathing hard. He was soaked in sweat. He looked at his hands. There was blood dripping from his fist. He slowly uncurled his fingers and saw fingernail marks carved into his palms. He'd balled his hands up too tight. He'd had marks when he'd woken up before, but they'd never bled.
The dreams were getting more vivid, more life-like. He hated it. He'd thought they'd get better when David got better, but he couldn't get past the guilt. He stood and made his way to the bathroom. He washed his hands. The soap burned his wounds. He winced as he dabbed them with a towel.
He went back to his room and looked at the clock by his bed. ''
"D****t," he whispered to himself. He was supposed to see Red later today and he knew she'd ask about the gashes in his hand. He'd have to explain in some way... he didn't want her to worry about him and he also couldn't tell her why the nightmares were so bad. She thought David had had an 'accident'.
He squinted his eyes closed for a moment. All he saw was the bloodstained pavement behind McCormick's. His eyes flew open. He couldn't sleep like this.
He went into the living room and turned on the TV. It was an infomercial for a make-up kit. He frowned in disgust and changed the channel. This time is was the new piece of workout equipment. He rolled his eyes and flipped to TVland. The Three Stooges was on. He was about to sit down the remote when Moe hit Larry on the head with a hammer. Somehow, even with the added 'bonk' sound, it wasn't funny to him. He turned off the TV. It never brought good feelings anymore.
"So how's David?" Red asked.
"He's doing pretty good. Doctors think they can release him soon," Jack replied.
"That's great," Red reached across the table and took his hand. His jaw tightened when he saw her expression change. She looked at his palm.
He frowned and shifted uncomfortably, "Got a little stressed."
"Are you okay?" she said, rubbing the cuts with her thumb.
"Yeah," he lied.
"You're doing it again."
"What?" he said, looking at her and laughing.
"Blaming yourself for what happened to David."
He looked back down, "I'm fine."
"No, you're not."
She knew him too well for him to cover up his emotions, "Red," he said, looking at her and fighting back tears. He paused. He didn't know how to say what he wanted to.
She frowned, "Jack, please what's wrong?"
He wished he could, then more than ever. He wished he could tell her about everything that was going at McCormick's. That Nigel Grindstaff had been murdered. And that there were people there that wanted him dead. But he also didn't want her to worry and the fact that she was McCormick's daughter meant he couldn't tell her.
"I-" he stopped, fighting back tears, "Red, if I were to die... what would happen to you?"
She looked at him like he was crazy, "Jack, why'd you ask me that?"
"Just answer the question," he said, looking down and pulling his hand from her's.
She sat there for a moment and took a deep breath, "You're my best friend... and now you're boyfriend. I don't wanna lose you. I don't what I'd do without you... as either role. I love you. I think if you died..... if you died, I'd fall apart," she said, standing and walking out of the restaurant.
"Red," Jack said, but she was already gone.
Jack watched the nurse wheel David out to the car. David was frowning at him quizzically.
When the nurse reached the end of the ramp, David to Jack, "Dude, what's up with your hair?"
"Red likes it better this way," Jack said, running his hand through his wavy hair, "I hate my curly hair."
"It's very cute," David said, standing and ruffling his hair as he became the taller one again.
Jack gave him the death stare; David didn't seem to notice.
They drove back to the apartment and made smalltalk along the way. When they arrived, David looked around slowly, "It feels good to be home."
Jack felt a lump in his throat; he hadn't realized that David felt like THIS was home. He felt that way, but David had left it once and he'd figured once this murder business was cleared up that he'd just leave again.
"You hungry?" Jack asked, checking the fridge and freezer, "We have TV Dinners and one Hot Pocket."
"I'll have a TV Dinner," David said over his shoulder.
"What?" Jack said, looking at David incredulously, "Do I look like a waiter? Get off your a*s and make yourself a TV Dinner," he grabbed a beer out of the fridge, sat down on the couch, and turned on the TV.
"No," David said in response to his question, "You look like a waitress."
"Thank you," Jack smiled and took a drink of his beer, "I'm glad to know I'm that sexy."
"Hey, Will," Jack said as Will entered the floor.
"Hey," he said back, nodding.
"What were you doing?"
"Just takin' a smoke break. And you? Haven't really talked to you since Nigel died."
"I guess I'm okay. I've been better."
"Speaking of Nigel, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I mean, it's weird without him. I have a lot less papers on my desk now that I don't have to look over his reports. Not that I really minded looking them over," he lied. He'd hated reading Nigel's reports and it often had put him behind in his work. However, at the moment, honoring his memory seemed more important than being completely honest.
Will nodded, "I haven't really noticed his absence. I don't work in his department though, so that's not surprising."
"Yeah," Jack checked his watch, "Well, I have a meeting five, I'll talk to you later."
"Yeah, later bro."
Jack headed to his cubicle to get the documents he needed for his meeting.
"Hey," Violet said, hitting his chest as they passed each other.
"Hi," he said, forcing a smile; she just didn't quit.
He turned into his cube and grabbed his papers and was about to head to his meeting when he saw a bright yellow square stuck to them.
'wrong decision. the easy way would've been just that for both of us: easier. it's a shame you chose the hard way, we wouldn't have had to have hurt your brother'
Jack felt every muscle in his body tense up. Everything that Red and David had been telling him went through his mind, "It wasn't your fault." "I chose to go to McCormick's with you." "It was an accident." "Stop blaming yourself." And yet the note said "it's a shame you chose the hard way, we wouldn't have had to have hurt your brother". He had chosen the hard way.
He stood outside the meeting room. He took a deep breath, straightened his tie, and opened the door.
Red pulled her coat tightly around herself as she walked out into the harsh cold. She walked to her car and grabbed the handle to open the door when another hand grabbed hers.
"Hey," Jack said as she looked up and met his gaze.
"Hey," she said, looking down again and opening the door.
"I'm sorry about yesterday. It was a dumb question... I guess I was just thinking because of what happened to David."
She remained silent, biting her lower lip.
"I... I just know I'm gonna mess this up," he swallowed and looked at crack in the pavement, "And I don't wanna lose you," he sat on the hood of her car, "The very thought of losing you hurts me."
She looked up at him, a pensive frown on her face, "You won't lose me, Jack. I just feel... almost like I'm losing you. I know you don't tell me everything that you're thinking and I respect your privacy, but you don't have to do this alone. Whatever this is, I'm here for you if you need me."
He began to rock back and forth slightly, "But I do have to do it alone... when other people get involved, they just get hurt," his mind wandered to David, "And I don't want you to get hurt, because... I love you."
"I love you too," she said, rubbing his cheek with her hand. He caressed her hand in his, then grabbed her shoulders and pulled her closer to him. They embraced and kissed. She pressed herself against him and he fell back into a laying position on the across the hood of the car. He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her shoulders. She grabbed his hair, which was too straight and superficial, yet she liked the way it felt anyway.
He pulled away from her lips, breathing hard, "This isn't the best place for this," he said, glancing at the people on the sidewalk, gawking at them.
"Er, right," she said, blushing and climbing off of him. She slid into the driver seat. He climbed in shotgun.
"Where were you last night?" David asked as Jack walked into the apartment; it was after .
He looked at David a moment. His hair was disheveled and had regained its natural waviness. He had stubble and large bags under his half-closed eyes.
"I had a busy night," he said, heading for the fridge.
David gave him a 'what the hell' look.
Jack rolled his eyes, "Bite me," he grabbed a beer.
David still looked incredulous.
"What?" Jack asked, obviously annoyed, "It's not like it's the first time I've been out all night and especially not the first time I've been out all night getting knocked up."
"You're unbelievable," David said, shaking his head and standing, "You know, you could've tried to be loyal. Even if for a week, but no, you go and-"
"Hey, wait, hold on a sec', I don't think we're on the same page here."
"I was at Red's all night."
David's voice caught in his throat and his jaw dropped, "So... you mean..." he made eye contact with Jack and he smiled and nodded, "Ew."
"I mean, ew, my brother and one of my best friends," David shuddered.
"It's better than you and-" Jack stopped short, "I don't get what's so weird. We talked, made out, went to her apartment and hot sex ensued."
"TMI dude," he walked past him.
"Where you going?"
"To throw up," he said, closing the door to the bathroom behind him.
Jack shrugged, took a swig of his beer, and chuckled.
David stood outside the apartment door. He was getting up the nerve to knock and talk to her and see her for the first time since they'd fought... he'd seen her once since then, but he was beginning to wonder if it'd all been a dream.
He made a loose fist and sighed deeply. He raised his arm and knocked on the door. He heard movement inside. Then someone unlocking the door and when it opened, he saw her. Her expression showed great surprise. She immediately closed the door.
"Grace," he said, leaning his head against the door. On the other side, she leaned her back up against the door, "I... I wanted to see you. I know you came to see... in the hospital," he swallowed, "I'm sorry Jack was such a jerk."
She slid down the door; she was crying silently.
"I, uh, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not mad. I know I hurt you... I," he swallowed again and regained his composure, "I should have told you I was leaving. I deserved everything you said to me... I actually think I probably deserved worse. And y-" he cleared his throat; he was doing his best not to get choked up, "you came to see me when I could've been dying. Despite everything I did... you still came back for me," he paused and listened. She was silent, "Just think about it."
He lingered there a moment longer, then walked down the hall.She wiped away her tears and opened the door, "Dav-" she looked down the hall. He was already gone.
© 2010 Sarah J Dhue
Added on January 21, 2010
Last Updated on January 21, 2010
Sarah J Dhue
In the author's lair, IL
AboutI am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My favorite genres are horror/suspense, paranormal, sci-fi, action thrillers, and comedy. My .. more..
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