I dosed in and out of sleep, uncomfortable because I was still sat up, but afraid to move in case I woke Eliza. Artemis was sat in the corner of the room throwing bits of torn up paper into a bin. He hadn’t spoken to me in a while –either he thought I was asleep, or he just didn’t know what to say.
Half way through the night, I was woken by the door opening, and footsteps coming in. I glance over to check Eliza- still asleep- before closing my eyes again to listen.
There was a pause, and a sound- Artemis crushing the paper he was holding. ‘Yes?’
A low chuckle. ‘No need to sound so threatening, I just want to talk.’
‘I found out that threats are more listened to than being polite. Who are you?’
‘My name is Galen. I work in the hospital. I want to talk about your sister.’
‘What about her?’
Galen sighed, and I heard the creak as he sat down on the bed. ‘I know about you. You think people do not notice the amount of Strayer’s that walk through those doors? And,’ There was a pause. ‘Prince’s?’ They had been looking at me then. ‘I don’t care about people fighting. It happens. But I am worried about your sister.’
‘My sister is fine!’ Artemis snarled.
‘Really? So you two have an argument, she runs off and collapses. Is that fine, Mr Strayer?’
‘Accidents happen. That’s all it was.’
Galen sighs. ‘No, its not. And you know it. Eliza is not made for the life you lead. If she stays like this- hiding how she feels, not showing her fear and anger to anyone, it could cause her damage. Think about it, Mr Strayer. If you love your sister, you will think about what this is doing to her.’
He got up and walked to the door, closing it quietly. There was silence for a while, and then I heard Artemis get up and walk out as well.
I open my eyes, looking around the now quiet room, until my eyes landed on Eliza. I felt like my heart was breaking, watching her, knowing that my family was part of why she was here. I slowly put her hand down, and slid off the bed. She stirred, and I froze, half standing up.
She opened her eyes. ‘Elijah? Where are you going?’
‘For a walk.’
She sat up and stretched, climbing off next to me. ‘I’ll come with you.’ She looked away, frowning. ‘Where’s Arty?’
‘He…went to find something to eat.’ I say, lying through my teeth, not wanting to upset her. ‘Come on.’ I walked over to the door and looked out. I couldn’t see Artemis anywhere.
Eliza runs up to me and grabs my hand. ‘Where are you taking me then?’
I grin. ‘The roof.’ She laughs. ‘No, I’m serious. We are going up to the roof.’ I pull her out and up the stairs. As we walk, she asks me questions, slowly getting harder to answer.
‘Why do you think you have changed, Elijah?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the damage that happened to my brain wiped out who I was, letting me start again. I wish I knew why though.’
‘Are you glad you have changed?’
I didn’t even have to think about this one. ‘Yes!’
‘Because I don’t want to be that person any more. And I don’t want…I don’t want you to hate me.’
She stopped a stair above me. ‘Why do you care what I think?’
I look away, not trusting myself to speak. She slowly pulled my face round, and I stood there, staring into her eyes. ‘Elijah, please tell me.’
I closed my eyes briefly, giving up the fight. Opening them, I carried on staring into her own blue ones, melting in them. I take a step up, so I am level on the stairs with her. I put my hands on her shoulders, pushing her gently against the wall. Slowly, watching her every reaction, I lean forwards and kiss her, oh so gently. She closes her eyes as I pull back, stroking her cheek with my thumb.
‘Does that answer about why I care?’ I whisper.
She smiled, blushing. Hesitating, she lifted her arms up and looped them round my neck, bringing her face closer to mine.
‘Yes.’ She whispered back. ‘I think it does.’
She closed the last few centimetres between us, kissing me back. I crushed her against the wall, stroking her hair, her face, her sides. She gasps, opening her mouth slightly, and I kissed them more hungrily- until I suddenly realised I could taste salt.
I open my eyes, taking in her red-ringed eyes, her tears. She was crying, and I hadn’t even noticed. ‘Eliza, what’s wrong? Have I hurt you?’
I go to step away, but she tightens her grip on me, burying her head in my chest. ‘No.’ I heard her murmur. ‘Its not you.’
‘Then what is it?’
She shakes her head. I prise her away from me. So I can look at her face, then turn us around and sit on the stairs. I fold her into my side, leaning my head on hers. I stroke her arm, comforting her. ‘It’s because of who we are, isn’t it?’ She didn’t reply, which I took as a yes. I sigh. ‘Don’t be sad, Eliza. Please.’
She sniffs. ‘I can’t help it. This is going to create more problems…’
I smile softly at her. ‘It may cause problems, but at least we are together.’
She smiles. ‘Yes, at least there is that.’ She stands suddenly, looking down the stairs.
I grab her hand, pulling her back down on top of me. ‘Where are you going?’
She laughs quietly. ‘I need to go and talk to Arty. He’s the only one in my family I trust- and the only one who will not judge me.’
She bent down and kissed me, her lips lingering on mine, before standing up and stepping away, throwing me one last smile before running back down the stairs. I knew all I had to do was call her and she would come back, but she was right. We needed Artemis.