Desire (#3)

By: Carrie Cox

1





I RAN DOWN THE rest of the steps and dropped to my knees beside Benjamin. For one horrible, heart-stopping moment, I thought he was dead. His deathly pale skin was marked with livid bruises, and blood covered the lower half of his face. I put my hand against the side of his neck.

My stomach twisted – I couldn’t feel a pulse.

I pulled off my cardigan and used it to try and wipe away some of the blood. Most of it appeared to originate from a cut on his lip.

Lord Vastor barked into the telephone, demanding an ambulance, as I stared down at Benjamin. Oh, God, please let him be okay. Why did I send that stupid text message? I’d been behaving like a pathetic child.

I was vaguely aware of Lady Vastor moaning beside me as I put my ear to Benjamin’s mouth. I felt his breath tickle my cheek. Thank God.

I took hold of his hand and squeezed. “Benjamin, can you hear me? It’s Kate. You’re going to be all right.”

I held his knuckles to my lips. “The ambulance will be here soon, and they’ll sort you out at the hospital.”

He didn’t respond.

I continued talking to him, stroking his hair and holding his hand as Lord and Lady Vastor spoke in hushed voices behind me. I didn’t move from Benjamin’s side until the paramedics arrived and gently moved me to the side so they could examine him.

They used medical terms I didn’t understand, and as they started to wheel him out on a stretcher, I ran alongside.

“Can I go with him?” I asked.

The female paramedic, a young girl with freckles, looked at me for a moment then nodded.

“Kate, call us with any news,” Lord Vastor called after me as I rushed out.

It wasn’t until we were in the ambulance, tearing along the country lanes with the blue lights flashing that I realised I didn’t have my phone.

I couldn’t call the Vastors and couldn’t even call Colin to let him know what had happened.

I pinched the bridge of my nose.

It didn’t matter. Once I knew Benjamin was okay, I would figure out a way to contact Colin. I just needed to focus on Benjamin now.

I sat with my hands clasped in my lap, my eyes fixed on Benjamin’s pale face. He was usually so strong, so vital, to see him like this was a shock. I wanted him to flash that beautiful smile at me, to tell me everything was going to be all right.

“Is he going to be all okay?” I asked the paramedic.

She paused and tightened her jaw. God, that wasn’t a good sign. “We’ll know more when we get to the hospital…” she said.

A groan from Benjamin made us both react quickly. I reached out for him, but the paramedic put up her hand to stop me. “Please stay there. I need to treat him.”

I nodded. “Sorry.”

The paramedic made some adjustments to the IV line in Benjamin’s arm. My hands twisted in my lap. I so wanted to reach out and touch him and convince myself he would be okay. His face tensed, and he looked as if he was in excruciating pain.

Within seconds his face relaxed.

“I gave him something for the pain,” the paramedic said, squeezing my hand. “We’ll be there soon. Try not to worry.” She smiled.

I nodded, but I couldn’t manage to smile back.

Less than five minutes later, we arrived at the county hospital. As soon as Benjamin was pulled from the ambulance and placed on a wheeled trolley, medics and nurses surrounded him. Their focus was totally on Benjamin, which was how it should be, but I didn’t know whether I was allowed to follow him.

They wheeled him towards the entrance, and I followed through the double doors. No one seemed to notice me as they pushed Benjamin into a white and stainless steel room.

As I stepped inside, I kept my back against the wall, my eyes wide and staring as I watched them start to cut Benjamin’s clothes from his body. I gasped as I saw his beautiful torso covered with red bruises. I sucked in great gulps of air, and the smell of disinfectant tickled the back of my throat.

A moment later, a plump nurse, with fly-away hair, was at my side, guiding me out of the room. “Come on, sweetheart. You’re not supposed to be in here.”

I couldn’t speak, not even to ask if she thought Benjamin would be all right. I didn’t realise I was crying until she handed me a tissue. She led me into a waiting area and up to a reception desk.

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