30: Tyler

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30. Tyler

I've decided that I hate hospitals.

They're not doing Ethan any good, for one thing. He still looks like complete crap. It doesn't matter how many times I visit him—he never looks any better. And today is no different. I walk into his room and there he is, sitting upright on the bed with his eyes closed peacefully.

I walk over and perch on the end of his bed. The nurse told me not to do that, but I couldn't care less. My being close to Ethan isn't gonna kill him. After a minute or so with no movement, I sigh and snap my fingers in front of his face.

"Wake up, you lazy bastard," I grumble.

His eyes flicker open. "Someone's grouchy," he mumbles. I sigh again and rub my face with the palms of my hands. "Bad day at work, sweetie?"

"Fuck off," I mutter and move my hands away before looking at him. "You look awful."

"Thanks," he says. "It's not like I got stabbed or anything." I look down at my hands. "Oh, stop that!" he suddenly says.

"What?"

"Looking like someone just kicked you in the testicles," he says. "I'm fine, Tyler. Look at me. I'm happy, breathing and still a sarcastic, pessimistic asshole."

"I put you in here, Ethan," I say.

"No." He narrows his eyes at me. "Your boss did."

"Because of me!" I blurt out.

"Jesus, Tyler," he groans. "Is that it, then? You're just going to sit and wallow away in guilt? Snap out of it, Ty! I'm still breathing."

"For now," I mutter without thinking. Ethan chuckles. He pushes himself up and I go to stop him, but he moves my hands away. He leans over to me and clasps a hand over my shoulder.

"Carl already made his point," Ethan says. "He already hurt me and he got to you by doing so. He's not coming back for me, he's too smart to do that. He's not going to use the same pawn over and over again. He'll hurt others, and then he'll try and lock you—checkmate."

"Franny," I whisper.

Ethan frowns. "The brunette?" I nod and look away sheepishly. I hear Ethan sigh. "God, your timing's shit."

I ignore the last statement and look back up at him. "What I don't get is why he's doing it. If I was that much of a problem, he could kill me, get the guys to beat me until I'm dead. He could fire me, forbid me to walk back into his circuit ever again. But he hasn't. Why?"

"You know Carl better than any of us," Ethan points out.

"I barely know him," I say.

"That's a lie," Ethan says and I frown at him. "Come on, Tyler. You were messing around and going through tons of sketchy crap last year when you found out about your parents. Carl was the one that took you in. Something happened during that time—you know him."

"I don't want to."

"That doesn't matter. Knowing anything helpful about Carl could stop you from getting killed."

"Why hasn't he shoved a knife in my stomach then?" I ask. "Huh? He's stabbing everyone else."

"Who's stabbing people?" A new voice comes from behind me and I turn around quickly just as Ethan's eyes widen.

Detective Franks stands in the doorway, hand lifted as if he were about to knock.

"What?" I stumble out.

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