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All characters are at least 18 years old, except where stated otherwise.
There is no sex in this chapter.
It’s now July. Jake, Amy and their schoolmates finished taking their A-level exams in late June. They’ll be starting at university in September or October.
Please note that this chapter switches between different points of view and starts immediately after the previous one ends.
Thanks for reading and please do leave feedback.
“999. Which service do you require?”
“Ambulance.” I replied, as calmly as I could.
“Get the police as well,” I heard Billy say.
“And police,” I told the operator.
“Transferring you now,” the man on the end of the phone replied.
“Ambulance service. Is the patient breathing?” asked a new voice.
“Billy?” I asked, a little panic in my voice. “Is he breathing?”
Billy felt Jake’s breath on the back of his hand and nodded.
“Yes, he’s breathing,” I told the call handler, “but he’s unconscious. He’s been stabbed and he’s bleeding.”
“OK and where are you?” she asked.
“We’re at the Heritage Hotel on the ring road, we’re in the car park,” I said.
There was a pause as the operator typed into her computer. “OK,” she said, “the ambulance is on its way, but I need you to stay on the line with me and I’m going to ask you some questions and we’re going to try to help the patient together. So I need you to stay calm OK?”
“OK,” I replied.
“So do you know what happened?”
“He was stabbed with a knife and then hit on the head.” I paused. “With a bottle,” I added. “He’s losing a lot of blood.”
“And are you in any danger now?” she asked.
“No, he’s gone, Ritchie, the attacker, he’s gone.”
There were a few more clicks at the other end of the line.
“OK the police are on their way as well,” the operator said. “And do you know the patient?”
“Yes, he’s Jake, he’s my boyfriend,” I replied.
“And how old is Jake?” she asked.
“He’s eighteen,” I said.
“And your name?” she asked.
“OK Amy,” the operator said. “Everything you tell me, I’m sending to the ambulance, then they know what to expect when they get to you. So you said he’s bleeding.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“And where’s he bleeding from, can you tell?”
“It’s from his left arm, and the back of his head,” I replied. “Should we try to raise his arm?”
“No, don’t move him,” she said. “Is Jake lying down?”
“Yes, he’s on his front on the ground. We’re in the car park.”
“Has he got a coat or can you put something over him to keep him warm?”
“OK,” I said. I was still wearing Jake’s dinner jacket, which he’d given me to put over my shoulders. I shrugged it off and laid it over him.
Suddenly Rob, my step-dad, appeared next to me.
“What happened?” he asked breathlessly.
“I’m on the phone to the ambulance,” I said. “Go to the hotel and get help and some blankets.”
“Amy, are you still there?” the operator asked.
“Yes, I’m still here,” I said.
“And is Jake still breathing?”
I held the back of my hand in front of Jake’s mouth and nose. I felt the gentle warmth of Jake’s breath against my skin. It was a moment of great comfort.
“Yes, he’s still breathing.”
“OK Amy, you’re doing really well. I can see the ambulance is about five minutes away. I’m not going to hang up on you, but I need you to talk to Jake for me. He may be able to hear you. You need to tell him that you’re with him and that help is coming and that you’re going to stay with him. And if anything changes, like he stops breathing, you need to tell me OK?”
“OK,” I said. I kept the phone to my ear, but took Jake’s hand in mine.
“Jake, it’s me, it’s Amy,” I said softly. “It’s OK, the ambulance is coming. We’re getting you help. I love you.”
Then I felt it. It was weak, but real, not imagined: The gentlest squeeze of my hand. It was Jake. He was with me. He was fighting still.
“Hello, Jake?” the voice on the end of the phone sounded a little disoriented. I’d woken his mum up.
“It’s Amy,” I said, hearing the strain in my voice. “Jake’s been hurt. I’ve called an ambulance. They’re about to take us to hospital.”
There was a pause as my words sank in.
“Is he OK?” his mum asked. “Is he breathing?”
“Yes,” I replied. “He’s OK, he’s breathing. He’s bleeding a lot though.”
“And are you OK?” Jake’s mum asked.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I said. “Look I’ve got to get in the ambulance, but can you meet me at the hospital? Just come as quick as you can.”
“We’ll both come. We’ll see you there,” she replied.
“OK,” I said, preparing to say goodbye.
“Thank you. Thank you for looking after him.”
Two hours later, I was sat by Jake’s bedside in the hospital. His head and arm were swathed in bandages, but he was fast asleep and oblivious to all. I watched the gentle rise and fall of his chest. He looked so peaceful antalya escort and yet so vulnerable.
That night I realised how much I loved him. There was so much I liked and admired about him – his self-deprecating humour, his quiet dedication to his academic work, his warm singing voice, his calm confidence, his loyalty to his friends, his care for his animals and his determination to be the perfect gentleman in our relationship.
But it was more than that: When I needed him, Jake was always there for me – there to support me, without smothering me with overattentiveness; there to reassure me, without trivialising my concerns; there to celebrate my joy and happiness, without ever trying to hog the limelight; ready to wait for me, however long it took.
And then there was his body. Even covered in bandages, it was clear he had a physique that most teenage boys would envy. His wasn’t the over-pumped torso of a gym fanatic or brain-dead sports jock. His muscles were toned from patient, honest toil – a gentle strength, not one born of aggression. I don’t think Jake realised how good looking he was – for him, his broad shoulders and six-pack were just the occupational hazard of working on the farm – it wasn’t an ideal he was striving for.
Those few times we’d been in bed together, when I’d felt that body against me, he’d made me feel so secure, wrapped up in his arms. He could follow the rhythms of my pleasure, knowing instinctively when to reassure or to hold off, letting me lead when I wanted to. His pleasure was always secondary to him, perhaps that was one of my few frustrations; the gentleman in him made sure that I came first.
I’d kinda been desperate for a boyfriend, as I suppose most eighteen-year-old girls are. It was something I wanted to tick off before leaving school. I didn’t want anything serious, just someone to have a bit of fun with and maybe fool around a little. I didn’t see a first relationship lasting – I’d meet someone for the long-term at university.
But Jake had changed everything. I’d fallen in love – really, truly in love – hopelessly, deeply in love, and quickly too. I’d pretended it wasn’t happening, and maybe it had frightened me a little, but now my only fear was that I would lose him.
I held his hand. “Jake, I love you, please get better, I need you,” I whispered.
The door opened and his mum entered the room. She’d been with the doctor. She smiled warmly at me. She sat down next to me at her son’s bedside.
“It’s good news,” she said. “He’s going to be fine. He’ll wake up tomorrow badly concussed, but he’s going to make a full recovery.”
She saw the wave of relief sweep across my face. I fought the tears welling up in my eyes.
“I love him,” I said. “I really do.”
“I know you do,” she replied. “He loves you too.”
I nodded. “Should I go?” I asked, not sure if Jake’s mum wanted to be alone with her son.
“You can stay here as long as you like,” she said. “But he’s probably going to be asleep until tomorrow lunchtime. If he does wake up before then, it won’t be for long. So, if I were you, I’d go home now and you can come back tomorrow. I’m going to do the same, but his dad’s going to stay with him overnight.”
I nodded and she hugged me.
Then I stood and placed a kiss on Jake’s head. On a whim I took off my necklace and fastened it around him. I turned, feeling a little embarrassed. Jake’s mum was smiling at me.
“He loves you Amy,” she said. “We all love you.”
It was the smell that woke me. That strong smell of disinfectant that seems to pervade every part of a hospital. The room was bright, but I could tell no more than that. I struggled to focus. Shapes swam in front of me. There were voices – some soft, some sharp. My efforts exhausted, I slept.
I woke again. My vision still blurred, but I could see the outline of the room now. Bright sun. Blinds in front of the windows. Stiff bed sheets. A firm mattress.
My arms were heavy and both were bandaged. There seemed to be wires running all over me. The machine next to me hummed and beeped. There was something wrapped tightly around my head. And tubes in my fucking nostrils. My temples throbbed gently.
‘What’s that round my neck? I can’t see. It’s cool and a bit scratchy. Can I move my arm to feel? These wires are in the way. Ouch that hurts. What is it?
‘It’s a necklace. But I don’t have a necklace. Why am I wearing a necklace? Jake doesn’t wear a necklace. Am I Jake?
‘What’s that? Is that a pendant? There’s a gemstone. I can’t see it. Can I lift it? Yes, it’s an, it’s an aquamarine!’
‘Noises. Sounds. Voices. Two people are talking. What are they saying?
‘Someone’s asking if I’ve woken up yet. Apparently not, but hopefully soon. I’ll be woozy when I come round. Too fucking right I’ll be woozy.
‘Someone’s asking if they can sit with me for a bit. It’s a female voice. A familiar voice.
‘It’s quiet again.’
The voices had stopped.
‘Am I on my own? No, there’s someone else in kemer escort the room with me. Who is it? Can I talk to them?’
“Uuurrrrggggghhhh,” I croaked.
‘No my throat is too dry. Fuck, maybe there isn’t any one here.’
“Jake, Jake?” the voice said. “Are you awake? It’s me, Amy!”
I tried to vocalise a response, but none came. There was a pause and then I felt a hand take mine and stroke it gently.
“Oh Jake. I love you so much. It’s so terrible to see you like this. I need you, you’re my rock. I’m not complete without you,” she said, her voice choked with emotion now. “Please wake up,” she cried.
I managed to force my eyes open. Amy was sitting on the side of my bed holding my hand. She was crying, shaking, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Ayyyyymmmmrrrrrrhhhhhh!” I managed to murmur. My mouth was dry.
“Jake, Jake, you’re awake!” she cried. “You’re awake.”
“Water,” I croaked, “water!”
“I’ll get the nurse,” she said. “I need to tell them you’ve woken up!” She darted out, returning moments later, followed by someone in a blue uniform.
Together they helped me into a sitting position and I was able to take a few sips of water.
Amy sat back on the bed, beaming at me, stroking my hand.
“I love you,” I said simply.
“I love you too,” she replied. “I really do.”
“I need to get up,” I said anxiously. “I have to milk the cows.”
Amy looked startled. “It’s OK,” she said. “The cows are fine, your dad’s milked them.”
“It’s alright,” the nurse said leaning across to her. “He’ll be a bit confused for a few days. It’s normal. The most important thing is he recognises you dear.”
“I am in the room, you know,” I protested. “There are animals that depend on me, I just need to make sure they’re OK.”
“Jake,” the nurse said firmly. “All the animals and people that you love and care about are just fine, I promise. But the best thing you can do for them is to focus on getting better.”
I was quiet for a bit, hoping the nurse would leave, but she didn’t. I’d taken an instant dislike to her bossy attitude.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Can I tell him?” Amy asked the nurse. “I don’t want to upset him.”
The nurse nodded.
“Jake, do you remember last night, the Prom?” Amy asked.
“Yes,” I said simply.
“When the Prom finished, we went outside to wait for Rob to pick us up with his car and while we were waiting, someone attacked you. They stabbed you in the arm and then smashed a bottle over your head.” Amy explained.
A doctor came in. “Ah Jake,” he said. “I’m Dr Marshall. It’s good to see you awake.”
“Am I going to be OK?” I asked.
My Mum burst into the room. “Jake, Jake,” she called. “You’re awake!” She came over to the bed and kissed my forehead and then embraced Amy. “I’m so happy that you’re here too!”
The doctor filled me in on the medical details. The wound to my arm had been pretty deep and I’d lost a fair bit of blood, but I would have lost more if someone hadn’t tied a tourniquet before the ambulance arrived. They’d had to remove some shards of glass from my scalp, but for the moment, the scans suggested there wasn’t any brain damage.
I was concussed and I was going to feel very tired for the next few weeks and it was likely that I’d have some very bad headaches. Ordinarily they’d expect to discharge me almost immediately, but the deep wound to my arm apparently complicated matters and they wanted to keep me in for observation.
The bad news was that I wasn’t going to be allowed to drive for at least six weeks and I’d be signed off work for three. I’d have to be on light duties at the Campsite until my arm was healed.
Once the doctor was gone, I was able to piece together a few more details.
Amy had ridden in the ambulance with me. She’d called Mum from my mobile phone, who’d come straight to the hospital with Dad.
“Wow,” I said. “Sounds like I missed an exciting night. Shame I can’t remember it!”
“But you remember the Prom?” asked Amy, sounding a little disappointed.
“Yes,” I replied. “It was amazing and you looked so beautiful! It was a really wonderful evening.”
I was starting to get tired and Amy reluctantly said goodbye to go home, but Mum stayed for a little longer.
“I’m meant to be at the Campsite at six tomorrow morning,” I told her anxiously.
“It’s OK,” she replied. “I’ve phoned your boss, they know you won’t be there. Lauren’s going to stand in for you for a couple of weeks. She’s up there now to talk to them. She’ll be fine.”
“Thanks,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief. “I’m sorry, I’ve caused so much trouble.”
Mum smiled at me, “Jake, you have nothing to be sorry about. I’m just so happy that you’re OK. That’s all that matters.”
“Is Amy OK?” I asked. “She must be pretty shaken.”
“She’s been very calm,” Mum said. “From the moment she called me last night, she’s dealt with everything really well. You should be really proud of her. She’s been really brave. And your friend, the konyaaltı escort one who tied his shirt around your arm – they both looked after you until the ambulance got to you.”
“My friend?” I asked. I couldn’t remember being with anyone else other than Amy.
“Yes,” Mum replied, “you know the boy with blond hair.”
“Oh Stijn,” I said.
“No, not him,” she said. “the blond boy in the play – he was Mercutio – I can’t remember his name.”
“Billy?” I exclaimed. Ritchie’s stooge – I’d never consider him a friend in a million years.
“Yes, him,” continued Mum, not noticing my astonishment.
“And when you left in the ambulance, he helped the police find Ritchie apparently. That’s how they arrested him so quickly – they got straight to him.”
I paused. I’d never expected Billy to do that – bandaging me up was one thing, but leading the police to Ritchie was quite another. I’d badly misjudged him.
The doctor was the first visitor to my bedside the following morning. He’d given me the sanitised version the previous afternoon and although he was positive and upbeat, it was clear that there were good reasons for keeping me in hospital for an extra couple of days.
My concussion was severe, there was no escaping that and the next week or so would be very unpleasant. I’d hit my head hard on a kerb in the hotel car park and it was this injury that concerned them most. All the scans I’d had suggested that there wouldn’t be any permanent brain damage, but there was still a possibility of a bleed occurring. Should that happen, I’d need to go pretty much straight into theatre, so I’d need to alert the medical staff if I felt my condition worsening, especially if I noticed anything wrong with my vision.
There were a few cuts on the back of my head from the glass, but they were mostly surface scratches and would heal quickly. They’d shaved off some of my hair to make sure that they could properly disinfect and treat the wounds, but that would regrow soon enough.
As far as the head trauma was concerned, if everything turned out for the best, I’d be over the concussion in about two weeks, although it would be best to avoid any strenuous activity for another ten days after that. The doctor looked at me pointedly, “No sex in July, I’m afraid Jake,” he said.
My left arm would take longer to heal. The knife had been sharp and had gone in deep, but as I’d twisted to shove Ritchie away, the cut had lengthened and hadn’t come out cleanly. Although the blade had missed the main artery by millimetres, I’d still lost a lot of blood. The good news was that Billy’s tourniquet had prevented a bad injury becoming very serious, but it wouldn’t be fully healed until mid-August at the earliest.
‘Just in time for exam results day,’ I thought.
Detective Sergeant Roberts arrived at my bedside around an hour later. In her early thirties perhaps, she was warm and friendly, yet efficient and business-like at the same time. I took an instant liking to her. She asked how I was feeling and whether I would be able to answer some questions.
“I’ll try,” I said, “but I don’t think I can remember that much.”
“That’s OK,” she replied. “Just tell me as much as you can. If you’re not sure about anything, just say – we’d rather have an incomplete account than one that’s not accurate. And if something occurs to you or you need to correct something you’ve said, just let us know. You won’t be in trouble if you get things confused, but you need to let us know.”
I nodded and proceeded to describe the attack as far as I could. I was able to recall walking with Amy across the car park towards the main hotel building and Ritchie threatening the two of us with a knife. After that I remembered someone telling me that I was bleeding badly, but that was about it.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s mostly a blur. It all happened so quickly.”
“That’s OK,” the Sergeant replied. “Tell me about Ritchie. Did you know him well? Was he a friend?”
I attempted a laugh.
“He certainly wasn’t a friend,” I replied. “He used to bully me a lot. My parents are farmers, so he used to make animal noises whenever I walked past or hold his nose and pretend I smelt of manure.”
Sergeant Roberts nodded sympathetically. “And was he still doing that, or had he grown out of it?” she asked wryly.
“It had mostly stopped,” I said. “I’m a sciences student and he does humanities, so we’ve mostly been in different parts of the school for the past two years.”
“And you were both in the school play together?” she prompted.
“And did he bully you then?” she asked.
“Not really,” I said. “I wasn’t in that many scenes and if we were together, there’d usually be a teacher around too. I just did my best to ignore him.”
Sergeant Roberts paused as she wrote down what I’d said in her notebook.
“And Amy,” she asked, “your girlfriend. You’ve been together since Easter, since the play ended?”
“Do you know if Ritchie was angry that you’d started going out with her?” she asked.
“We thought he might be,” I admitted. “That’s partly why we kept it a secret for so long. Not many people knew we were together until the Prom. That was when Ritchie found out.”
“So Ritchie wanted to go out with Amy as well?” she asked.
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