“No.” And the word is painful to say. Physically painful. Because he’s right. I hit my head. I can feel the warm blood dripping onto the back of my neck. “Nate was here. He was here talking to Vincent and then he was following me while I was riding. He scared Titan on purpose.”
I stop talking because honestly, it just hurts too much to move my mouth.
Dante is staring at me in horror, trying to decide if I am confused or if I know what I’m talking about. He picks up his phone again, but I can’t hear what he is saying now because the world is sort of going black again.
No. It’s definitely black.
The world is bright.
My eyes squint as I try to open them.
I can feel the soft bedclothes around me and I know that I’m in my bed. I’m not sure how I got here because the last I knew, I was lying in the grass by the side of the road. And Dante was beside me.
And he’s beside me now.
I open my eyes up and there he is.
Worried. Anxious. Beautiful.
He’s holding my hand. One hand. Because the other hand is in a cast.
“Dante,” I whisper. It feels like I haven’t spoken in a while and my mouth tastes funny and all I can muster up is a whisper. “I don’t understand. What happened? I don’t remember anything. But falling off Titan.”
Dante winces, like the memory is painful.
“You’re alright,” he assures me. “You broke your wrist. And you have a mild concussion.”
I’m amazed by this. I’ve never broken a bone in my life. Not when I fell out of the hay loft when I was eight and not when I fell out of the back of my grandpa’s farm truck when I was twelve. And we were even driving down a dirt road going 30mph. I rolled into the ditch and didn’t break a thing.
So I got my first broken bone from falling off a horse?
I’m so lame.
Dante drops his head onto the bed and mumbles something that I can’t understand.
He looks up at me and his blue eyes are so very blue, so very contrite. So very guilty.
“I’m so sorry, Reece.”
“Why are you saying that? I’m the one who fell off the horse. Not you. I guess you won’t want to take riding lessons from me now, will you?” I smile, but Dante doesn’t think it’s funny.
“It’s not your fault. Do you not remember? Before you passed out, you told me that Nate did this to you. My friend Nate. He did this to you on purpose.”
“What?” I look at him in confusion, but even as I do, the memories start flooding back to me. Fragments and bits. And then I see Nate’s horrible smile as he rams his car into my horse. “Oh my God. He did. Why?”
Dante shakes his head. “I don’t know. But I’m going to find out. This wasn’t funny. If he thought it was a joke, it is so not funny. And coincidentally, he and his new friend Vincent are nowhere to be found. But trust me, I’ll find him.”
He starts to get up, but I pull on his hand. “Don’t leave me.”
Dante freezes, looking down at me with concerned eyes and an anxious expression.
“Are you in pain?”
I shake my head. “No. I must be on some serious pain relievers. I just don’t want you to leave. Please.”
He immediately takes a seat next to me, without question or complaint. “Have you been here the entire time?” I ask. I’m guessing that he has been. And he nods.
“Have you gotten any sleep?” I ask. Because I’m guessing that he hasn’t.
He doesn’t say anything.
“Dante,” I sigh. “You have to get some sleep. Don’t worry about confronting Nate right now. Just go take a nap. In your bed. Not in that chair.”
He looks at me doubtfully. “But you wanted me to stay.”
“That’s true. But I’m just going to go back to sleep anyway, I think. So you should get some sleep, too.”
Dante studies me for a scant moment longer, then nods.
“Okay. The doctor who came here and set your wrist said that you should stay in bed for at least 24 hours. So, I want you in bed all day today, okay? I have to go to a dinner for the Regatta with my father this evening, but I’ll be back. And I expect to still find you in this bed. Understand, young lady?”
He raises a golden eyebrow and I smile. “Understood.”
“And you might want to call your parents. I called them and they’re really worried.”
I groan. And he smiles. “What? They’re your parents. I had to let them know.”
I groan again.
“I forgot about the Regatta,” I tell him. And I had. I remember Elena mentioning something about it weeks ago, but I don’t know what it is. I tell him that and he explains.
“It’s a huge annual boat race. We’ve done it here for a couple hundred years. It’s a big thing. My dad wants me with him on the Daniella. We don’t race, but he has to be there to oversee the race. Make an appearance. And tonight, we have a pre-Regatta dinner. It’s tradition.”
I nod. “I wish I could go.”
He’s already shaking his head. “You can’t. You’re going to stay in bed.”
“I could get used to that,” he tells me with a grin. “Want to keep calling me sir?”
I roll my eyes.
“That’s my girl,” he says. “I know you’re feeling better now.”
I smile and he smiles back and then he’s gone.
But I’m happy. Because he just called me his girl.
I’m Dante’s girl.
It makes me feel so warm and happy that I go to sleep. Of course, the pain relievers might be contributing to that. But either way. I’m warm and happy and Dante’s girl. And so I sleep.
* * *
I feel significantly better when I wake up.
My head doesn’t hurt.
My arm hurts, but it’s broken, so of course it’s going to ache.