I staggered at the sight of Aiden cradling Alexandria's broken and bleeding body. Her blood seeping through her beautiful white dress made me feel sick, reaching out for something to steady me as my head began to spin. My grasping hands finally found Lucas's shirt, holding onto it to keep me standing upright. Lucas's arms went around me, pulling me against him, my head pressed against his chest.
I couldn't cry. I knew I should be crying but I couldn't. The initial pain I had felt at first was blurring into a numb feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was feeling nothing. My best friend in all the world had just been murdered and I couldn't feel anything.
Aiden cradled her body, letting his tears flow down and mixing with her blood. What would he do without her? What would I do without her? If Alexandria hadn't been there Lucas and I would still be hiding in corners, not a married couple.
"I'm fine," I said to Lucas, stepping out of his embrace and trying to walk towards Aiden. "I'm fine. Let me go."
He let me go reluctantly and without a word, his loving, concerned eyes watching me. I knelt beside Aiden, reaching out to hold his hand. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but we both knew words couldn't express the horror of what had just happened.
Aiden already knew what I wanted to say, smiling at me and saying "thank you". I saw both our hands were covered in blood, Alexandria's blood. I tried not to wretch, hating the sight of the browny-red liquid covering my hands.
"Come away Aislinn." A hand on my shoulder and Lucas's soft voice brought me slowly to my feet and made me back away from Aiden. My legs were wobbling and I was feeling so unsteady I had to lean on Lucas to prevent myself from falling.
He led me inside and away from the group of people that were beginning to gather around Alexandria's body. We entered a small storeroom where no one would see us or be able to disturb us and Lucas sat me down on a low wooden stool, kneeling next to me.
"Everything will be OK." Those were the first words Lucas said to me.
And although I didn't want to accept it those were the words I needed to hear.
"Thank you," I breathed, throwing my arms around Lucas and burying my head in his hair. "I love you Alexandria," I whispered, ignoring the fact that it was Lucas I was holding. "I know you're still here and always will be."
It wasn't until that moment when I felt the first tear fall.
"You need to stop scaring us like that," I said as I arranged the flowers I had brought in the vase next to Alex's bed. "You're going to make us think you're a drama queen."
Alex laughed at that. It was good to hear her laugh again and see the flash of happiness in her eyes. She was alive.
Pippa had been discharged but was being confined to her house by her parents who were still convinced she wasn't well enough to be out of bed. This meant I was dividing my time between visiting Pippa at her house and seeing Alex at the hospital. I didn't mind; it's what friends are meant to do.
"Now is there anything you need?" I asked. "I've brought you magazines, those books you asked me for, grapes and chocolate."
"You need to stop worrying Ness," Alex said as I sat down. "You'll kill yourself if you're not careful."
"I don't know what I'd do without you Alex," I said, holding her hand.
"Probably spend the rest of your life hidden in a corner where no one can see you." We both smiled at that, knowing it was very true. "Speaking of which I haven't seen Luke around for a few days. Is something going on between you?"
"I don't know," I replied, secretly hoping she would drop the subject.
"But I thought you were a couple now."
"So did I but I think that Luke now believes that we can't be together now because you are awake again. He seems to think that you won't approve of him because he's not from the same social circle as you."
"That's nonsense!" Alex exclaimed.
"I know it is but he's been avoiding me so I can't tell him that."
"Then go and tell him now. He'll be at home so can't run away from you. I don't need you sitting by my bed all the time when you have things like this to sort out."
"Are you sure you don't mind me leaving you?"
"Of course I don't mind," Alex replied. "Now go and sort things out with Luke or I'll have to go and do it myself."
"Thanks Alex, you're a perfect friend." I picked up my jacket from where I had put it on the end of Alex's hospital bed and headed for the door. "I'll be back to see you tomorrow."
"And make sure Luke comes too," Alex called after me as the door closed behind me. I smiled to myself. Somehow I knew everything was going to turn out alright.