I woke up to the sun glaring through the window, knowing my dream had been a good one but having no memory of what happened in it. It bothered me more than it should have. I did remember wanting to remember when I woke up, but that was it, frustratingly.
Max had gone somewhere. God knew where but I wished he hadn't. I needed his hand in mine for longer. The comforting quality of it was unreal and now I felt incredibly lonely.
Suddenly, lying in this one position was very uncomfortable and, forgetting Max's warning, I attempted to move. The pain shot through my torso quickly at the small adjustment, and lingered without ebbing. I thought to myself that it was lucky the bullet hadn't punctured my lung because it would have made the deep breaths I used to control pain about as useful as land to a fish.
Slowly, I sat up to a position by which I could reach everything I needed by only moving my arms. My mobile was on the bedside table, all in one piece again, so I picked it up. Among tens of missed calls from Boss and Harriet, there was one text message.
Sorry, we're never not on call.
I groaned. I suppose Max hadn't really been a victim of what happened, but he could have at least been given the day off or something. He had been injured fighting with Joe beforehand, which he didn't provoke. He'd been threatened. Joe had attempted to murder him with the gunshot that actually hit me.
Now that I thought about it, Max had been a victim, although it was strange to think. Had his injuries been treated? Somehow I doubted it. To be honest, I doubted he mentioned them at all. I also wanted to know how Harriet had gotten into the state she'd been in when she'd appeared at his house and how on earth he'd got her to take part in his plan.
I was also really hungry, but food could wait.
When a doctor came in, I asked if I could see Joe. Strange as it seemed, I wanted to know exactly what Max had done to him and I doubted Max would tell me himself.
I was lead to Joe's room, but told I wasn't allowed to go in, which was absolutely fine with me. Through the glass, I could see he was unconscious and I doubted he'd been awake at all. From the dressing I could see, his jaw was definitely broken, and his whole body looked pretty bruised and battered. The bandage on his head had blood soaking through, and suddenly I was worried for Max's sake how bad these injuries were. The last I'd seen, he'd only been bleeding from his leg.
And something else bothered me. Aside from the jarring guilt I felt at seeing another human being hurt at my expense, I didn't care that Max had done it. I didn't care that my ex boyfriend was hurt in this way. I didn't care about the extent his injuries had gone to. It was actually like a release, and I didn't like that at all.
My phone buzzed in my pocket and I knew it was Max before I looked.
"Yes?" I replied when I'd found my thoughts again.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes," I said again as I stared at Joe and his injuries, trying to suppress the feeling of panic that was rising in me.
"Are you sure?" he asked and I assured him in an unconvincing voice. I think he decided it would be better to let me lie, and he began to explain what Boss was getting him to do. He sounded pretty calm, like he had everything under control.
On my end of the conversation, however, I did not have everything under control. Silently, so that Max would not hear, I attempted to control the telltale signs of a panic attack. I slid down the wall, shaking uncontrollably.
Then Max noticed my lack of back channelling. "Briony? Are you still there?"
I nodded, unable to speak through my struggle for air.
"Briony? Are you OK? What's wrong?"
The last thing I did was place the phone on the floor silently before everything went black.