Lazarus panicked some more as Melissa slumped, not realising that she was still breathing. He swore and sat beside her, his head in his hands, clenching his hair.
‘I knew I shouldn’t have let you come up here.’ He muttered and looked at the mess around them. Blood was spread across his carpet and trailed out into the hall. He gazed unhappily at Melissa, wiping a little of the blood from her face, trying not to smear it. He felt her shallow breaths on his hand and his eyes widened. She was still alive! He began to cry again, this time with relief. He picked her up, moving her to the sofa. Putting her down gently on the leather covers, not caring about the blood stains, he kissed her forehead and brushed her hair out of her eyes. ‘I gotta clean up,’ he murmured, kissing her again. But first, a quick phone call.
He picked up the phone and found out the number the Sergeant had used to call him, and wrote it down, then dialled it. The Sergeant picked up and his ever weary, gravelly voice answered:
‘It’s Lazarus Thorn. Sorry to interrupt, I just called the last number in my history.’ He started.
‘Lazarus!’ the man exclaimed angrily. ‘I don’t have time to talk to a murderer I just released back into the public.’
‘I don’t care,’ Lazarus snapped. ‘You better get those hunters soon, Sergeant,’ he said in a commanding tone that the Sergeant did not like at all.
‘No, my fiancée just got shot by one of them.’ Lazarus interrupted, quietly enjoying the way the word “fiancée” rolled off his tongue. ‘You may think I deserve it, but she certainly doesn’t.’ The Sergeant was quiet, his irritated breathing blowing down the phone into Lazarus’ ear.
‘Where is your fiancée now? In hospital?’ Lazarus arched an eyebrow.
‘No she’s fine. I said she was shot at, not actually shot,’ he said, trying to cover up the fact that Melissa didn’t need a hospital because she was in fact, already dead.
‘Right,’ the Sergeant said.
‘Please just... I don’t know. Why am I asking you to put them away anyways, you let me go free.’ Lazarus sighed.
‘Look, Mr Thorn, there is only so much we can do. We had a look at that place in the woods you told us about. Nothing there. Just a little cottage. What more do you want us to do?’
‘I told you – the lab is underground. The cottage is just a cover. Look I gotta go.’ Lazarus pushed his hair back, frustrated.
‘Okay. We’ll have another look tomorrow. Bye,’ Lazarus hung up and sighed. He was not a fan of cleaning. And there was a fair bit of it to be done. He started in the hall, clearing up the blood outside his apartment first – he didn’t want anyone to feel they were justified in dragging him straight back to the police. He collected up the rest of the donor blood and stuck them in his fridge, fitting them in around the collection of out-of-date microwave meals and pizzas that desperately needed throwing out.
Lazarus grabbed a flannel from the bathroom and soaked it in warm water. He took it to Melissa and gently cleaned her face, washing the blood from her features, from her hands.
Night fell and still Melissa did not wake up, though she still breathed and the wound in her stomach looked as though it was slowly closing up. To calm his nerves and pass the time, Lazarus sat down at his piano and began to play. Out of habit, he played Gabriel’s song, but it brought no smile to his face. He switched to the melodies he had written for Melissa, but they seemed empty without the violin accompaniment. Quickly, he fell quiet, depressed for the first time by the piano. He ran a finger over the dents in the wood, his lips tugging down into an unhappy scowl. Behind him, Melissa stirred.
‘Laz...arus?’ she slurred weakly, not opening her eyes. Lazarus turned, by her side in an instant.
‘I’m here,’ he murmured, holding her hand. Her eyes fluttered open hesitantly, slowly as she searched for his face through the haze.
‘Are you... okay?’ she mumbled.
‘I’m fine, how are you feeling?’ he asked, his voice soft, his concerned eyes roving her face.
‘It hurts,’ she said, forcing a smile to her lips. ‘A lot.’ Lazarus didn’t smile back, the frown on his forehead too deep set; he gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
‘Do you want anything? Do you need more blood?’ he queried.
‘No... Just stay with me a while. Please,’ she whimpered. She paused as she heard the desperation in her voice rising. ‘Don’t leave me.’
‘I wasn’t planning on it. I love you too much for that,’ he said, smiling this time. He sat down on the floor beside her and rested his chin on the sofa next to her head. He kissed her cheek gently. She rested her head on his shoulder.
‘I thought I’d be gone for sure.’ She whispered. He twisted so he could put an arm around her, carefully avoiding the wound.
‘Me too. You really scared me.’ He paused. ‘And now we know that I was right,’ he chuckled.
‘Yeah, but I couldn’t let him take you from me, not again.’ She replied, shifting his arm so that it was in a comfortable position.
‘You still shouldn’t have come back up here.’ He muttered stubbornly.
‘I won’t let them take you! You hear? I won’t!’ Melissa cried. Lazarus’ eyes widened.
‘Calm down, you’ll end up making the wound worse again,’ he said, kissing her. ‘And do you blame me for saying? I almost lost you!’ she pulled away from him, putting her head back on the cushion. She stared at the ceiling, her eyes distant.
‘I won’t...’ she sighed, keeping her eyes trained on the discoloured plaster work above her. ‘I know. I’m sorry.’ Lazarus sighed.
‘I love you. But please... let me keep my promises to you next time?’ Lazarus smiled.