Authors: Felicia Tatum
Intoxicating Passion #4
By Felicia Tatum
Publisher: Felicia Tatum
Editor: Jeanie Creech
Cover Image: Rene Folsom
This work is not to be reproduced, shared, or copied without my permission.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, and events are made up in my head.
Copyright 2014 Felicia Tatum
All rights reserved.
The scream echoed throughout the car, reaching into my soul and ripping it to pieces. Mere moments before, Korah issued my dare, leaving me staring opened mouthed after her.
It couldn’t be her painful cry.
I didn’t stop to think about it. I dashed from the vehicle, not bothering to close the door behind me, and followed the sound. There were two large dumpsters to the side of the restaurant, cloaked in darkness, and I knew in my gut she was back there. I ran faster, my feet pounding hard against the pavement, my lungs screaming for me to slow.
The dark figure raised an arm, fist connecting with bone, and I somehow made my legs go quicker. I saw the outline of a man as I reached my destination. I grasped the back of his clothing, flinging him to the side. Looking down, I saw Korah crumbled in a ball, her face bleeding, her already hurt neck looking worse than before. I screamed, “Call 911!” praying someone would hear, and focused on Christopher.
He wasn’t getting away this time.
His weak, cowardly body was attempting to crawl away, distance himself from me. I pulled him up by his collar, slamming his back against the dumpster.
“You must be Christopher,” I growled. I pulled him enough to lift him off the dumpster, only to force impact again. His head hit and bounced forward. He winced in pain, but I didn’t care. I repeated the action multiple times. “Do you think it makes you a big, strong man to beat up a woman? Well, I got news for you, asshole, it doesn’t. You’re a pathetic waste of a human being,” I said through gritted teeth.
The voices around me barely resonated in my mind. I was blinded by anger. The sirens filled the night, the loud screech causing Christopher’s eyes to pop open wide. I held him in place until they arrived, continually bashing his head against the hard metal. I wanted to kill him, to see him writhe and cry in pain for hurting Korah.
“Dane,” Cale said sternly, grabbing ahold of my bicep. “Chill. The cops are coming. He’s not going to hurt her anymore.” He looked afraid, worried.
Glancing around, I saw the crowd that had gathered. They all looked at me, some whispering, others pointing. I realized Cale was scared for me. I took another look at Christopher and saw why. He was slumped over, his breathing uneven, blood running down the back of his neck. I let him go, and he slid to the ground.
At least he wouldn’t be getting away this time.
I searched for Korah. She still lay on the ground, her neck black from collarbone to chin. He had gripped her over and over, creating more bruises on top of the one she already had. Her cheek was bleeding where a cut from her outer brow to her nose was open. Silent tears fell freely down her beautiful face as Leela cradled her head in her lap and wept with her.
I fell to my knees, crawling over to her. “Korah?”
She stared at me, opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She didn’t move, but held her hand out, reaching for me.
I took her hand in mine, her cool skin chilling me. I squeezed her, pressing her palm to my heart. “I’m sorry. I got here as fast as I could.”
She nodded, her deep brown eyes pooled with tears and fear. She squeezed my hand back desperately, attempting to pull me closer. I inched as close as I could, but there wasn’t much room.
The cops arrived while I sat there, simply staring into her eyes, hoping I could bring her some sort of relief or comfort. The ambulance arrived and the EMTs loaded her up. I reluctantly let her hand go. The cops questioned me along with everyone around. I was the only one who saw him hit her. While the onlookers said I was equally violent, Korah’s injuries spoke for themselves, so they let me go with the promise of further questioning if needed.
Christopher was going to jail.
Leela rode in the ambulance, telling them she was Korah’s sister. Cale ushered me to his vehicle, racing to the hospital.
“Dude, how do you know Korah?” he questioned.
“Not now. It doesn’t matter.”
“Dane,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, man. I wouldn’t have suggested we go out if I’d known.”
I glanced at him, my fists clenched in my lap. “Knew what?”
He gave me a weary glance from the side of his eye. “That you were in love with her.”
“No, it’s not that. We had a thing…I dunno. Stopping him from hurting her was the decent thing to do,” I argued. I wasn’t sure I believed myself. I wasn’t sure of anything at this moment except I wanted to be with Korah. My sanity depended on finding out if she was alright.
This was the second time I’d been to the hospital for Korah in less than a month. The realization sat heavy on my slowly opening heart. She was such a bright spot in my darkness, and seeing her harmed in any way, especially physically, was almost too much.
I paced the waiting room of the ER. The nurses refused to let me in until after the exam, something about patient confidentiality. I really wished Cale or I had Leela’s phone number at this point, because I was dying not knowing what was going on.
After I thoroughly wore a hole in the floor, I finally situated myself beside Cale, hanging my head between my knees and taking deep breaths, filling my lungs to calm myself. I didn’t know how long I sat like that, the image of Korah beaten and bleeding in my mind, the events of the night replaying over and over.
Cale elbowed me. “There she is,” he said, jumping from his seat.
I followed, rushing to Leela. “Is she ok? What did they say?”
She sighed, leaning into Cale’s open arm. Her face was red, blotchy, and streaked with tears. “She has vocal cord paresis.”
“What in the hell does that mean?” I questioned. I wasn’t angry at her, only the situation, but my patience was wearing thin.
Cale led her to sit, arm still locked around her. “Her vocal cords were traumatized when Christopher kept choking her. She can’t speak right now. She’s going to have trouble eating and drinking for a few weeks. The cut on her face was stitched up, it took ten, and they gave her some pain medication. The doctor wants to admit her for the night.”
Korah couldn’t speak because that jackass hurt her. The rage boiled over inside me, and I clenched my fists again.
“You need to calm down, Dane. She’s had enough violence for one night. I’m not letting you go in there until you’re collected. I don’t think you would hurt her, but she’s really shaken up and doesn’t need the stress of you being all macho, angry man,” Leela scolded. She was weary, tired. She’d known Korah much longer than I, so I couldn’t imagine how she was taking this.
This blonde chick was always right. I wondered if she got tired of it. I was allowing my anger to consume me. Korah deserved better. She needed me to be there for her, to comfort her, not upset her more. I sat beside Leela’s shaking body, laying a hand on top of hers. “Sorry. You always seem to put me in my place,” I chuckled.
She nodded. “Yeah, I’m known for that.”
“Can I go see her if I promise to chill?” I pleaded. My eyes must see her to believe she was going to be ok.
She nodded again, “Yep. They’re moving her to a room, so we have to wait until the desk lets us know where to go.”
I folded my hands behind my head, leaning back against the wall. Waiting wasn’t my strongest area. Something about Korah made me crazy, anyway, but this was getting ridiculous. No matter what, she pulled me completely in, sucked me into this Dane I was terrified of being.
I would be him, though. For her.
She slowly thawed my frozen heart, melting every cold icicle I had surrounding it. I always ran from these things, resisting anything that made me feel something other than pleasure. The moment I saw her in the costume store, my life had changed.
Was I in love, as Cale claimed? I didn’t know. What I did know was as horrifying as the thought was, if it happened with anyone, I would want it to be Korah Daniels.
The desk called for Leela and my heart sped up. Seeing Korah was going to be hard. The thought of her beautiful body harmed was enough to make me nauseated. Something about being in a hospital made it all seem worse. The lighting or something.
Leela approached, giving a soft smile. “She’s still awake. In room 205.”
I didn’t wait for her to say any more. I dashed to the closest stairwell and hurried to find her room.
Everything ached. My head, my throat, my face, my body. The only good thing to come from this was Christopher was in jail. And after I could write my statement out, I hoped he would stay there for a long time. Not being able to speak was going to suck. I had yet to look at my face, but I imagined it would suck, as well. I dreaded seeing the length of the cut, imagining the scar that would mar me.
“We’re ready to move you now,” the nurse said as she came in. Another nurse, a male, stood behind her. They gathered my belongings, piled them on the bed beside me, and wheeled me through the confusing, maze-like halls. How these people didn’t get lost on a daily basis was beyond me. Everything looked the same to me, the doors all the same colors with signs I barely had time to read.
I was really glad my major was journalism at that moment.
Once in room 205, I was greeted with a new face, a sympathetic older lady with a kind face and loving eyes. Brandy was her name. She soothed me with her soft voice. All the machines I was hooked to were scary, but she explained the use for each one, assuring me they were mainly for taking my vitals.
I nodded along, realizing my eyes were growing tired, my eyelids drooping involuntarily. She finally left, apologizing in advance for the intrusions she would make during the night.
I’d never spent the night in the hospital, well other than my birth, but who remembers that? I worried about what she meant. Would they wake me up to check on me? Would I have to have my wounds checked or cleaned or something? Would it hurt?
The door creaked open, and I was glad Brandy was back. I had questions and I needed them answered. I turned my head, wincing with the pain accompanying the fresh bruises, and to my surprise, Dane stood in the entryway.
“Korah? Can I come in? Wave once if it’s ok with you,” he said gently.
I lifted my fingers, motioning him in. He looked tired, but still as handsome as ever. His shirt was untucked on one side, the top few buttons undone. His hair was messy, giving him a bad boy edge. He trudged to my side, inching his way close, but not too close. He kept his eyes down. He looked scared, afraid.
Of course, I couldn’t speak, so I reached for him. He looked at me, his intense gaze settling on my eyes, and I quivered inside. He did things to me no one else ever had. His strong hand grasped mine, and I pulled him to the bed. Patting beside me, I scooted over enough for him to sit. Glancing around, I searched for paper. How did anyone expect me to communicate?
“Korah, are you ok?” he asked. His voice was breaking as his eyes scanned my injuries.
I must look horrible. I nodded anyway, what else could I do?
He lifted his finger to my cheek, caressing the area outside my stitches. “I’m so sorry I didn’t get there sooner. I shouldn’t have let you go,” he whispered more to himself than me.
I widened my eyes, shaking my head slightly. Movement was restricted.
He held his palm on my face and I leaned into it. His warmth soothed my soul. “You need to rest. I had to check up on you, though. Can I come by tomorrow?”