Part 21

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When I wake up in the white hospital room, I'm reminded of the first time I came here. Except for this time, it's not to an empty room. As my blurry vision clears, I recognize the distraught faces of my friends staring down at me. Jay's there too.

"Ash!" I hear Lylah shriek, immediately enveloping me in a crushing hug. My head pounds at the loud noise. "Ash, I'm so sorry!" she cries into my shoulder.

"Be careful! He's injured!" Wren tries to pull her off, but she doesn't budge.

"I-It's alright," I say, my voice strained. My throat feels as dry as cotton.

"It's all my fault, Ash," Lylah continues. "I'm the one who insisted we go to the game. If I hadn't, this would have never--" she breaks out into another sob.

All I can do is stroke her hair, trying to calm her down. "How are you feeling?" Wren asks me sincerely, gently taking my hand in his. I squeeze it gratefully, noting that I feel like absolute shit.

"Could be better," I try to smile, earning worried looks from both Wren and Jay.

"I should have stayed with you, Ash. I don't know why I--" Jay puts his head in his hands, sounding exhausted.

"It's none of your faults, guys. I shouldn't have walked on my own. That was so dumb of me," I feel my throat tightening, my face getting hot.

"No! That disgusting bastard had no right. Did he-did he hurt you?" Wren's eyes fill up with tears and I know he's not talking about physical injuries. He's talking about whether Henry had his way with me. 

I shake my head no. "H-he tried. He was gonna--but Daemon came before he could,"

Jay's face hardens. "I heard they had to scrape that asshole off the pavement when they found him after Daemon was done with him."

"Is he d-dead?" I ask. Because from what I saw, he very much could be.

"No, unfortunately. Alpha Lucien is dealing with his sentence right now," Jay sighs, running a hand through his hair. "Are you really okay, Ash?"

My lip trembles. Am I okay? I don't feel okay at all. I can still hear Henry's voice. Feel his horrible touch. It makes me want to take 10 showers in a row. And worst of all, I can still remember how helpless I felt. How weak.

"No. B-but I'll be better soon," I try to assure them, but from the pained looks on their faces I know it's not believable.

Lylah finally pulls off me after listening silently for a while, sniffling and wiping her eyes. "I'm never letting you go alone anywhere again," she grabs a tissue and violently blows her nose into it. I pat her arm in comfort.

"So...what exactly happened? How did Daemon find me?" I ask.

Lylah looks hesitant, glancing at the other then back to me. "It's kind of a long story. Are you sure you don't want to rest?"

I shake my head. "No. I...I don't want to be alone right now,"

Lylah nods in understatement, clasping her hands together as she begins her story.

"After we left you with Jay, we were at the bathroom and stupidly didn't see your texts to us until later. We figured you were still with Jay, but then we saw him with his teammates without you and were confused. So we asked him where you were and he said that you had left a while ago. So then we texted you but didn't get a reply. We figured you might have gone to my car but when we got there we--we found Jay's jersey laying on the sidewalk, you nowhere to be seen.

Ash, I was so scared at that moment. I knew something wasn't right. And Jay was with us searching too, but we still couldn't find you. We thought Daemon might have picked you up. So one of Jay's teammates had his number and called, asking if you were with him. He said no and we told him you'd been missing for over an hour. Daemon immediately sent some scouts from his team out to look for you. 

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