I put a hand on either side of his neck so my thumbs could trace his jaw, knowing they could see my humongous ring and almost burst out laughing at how stupid I was being. Not that they had any doubt before, but they for sure knew we were together now. I pulled away and smiled at him, “That was ridiculous.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the wall of yogurts.
“That was hilarious.” He corrected.
“Yeah, except now they’re going to fantasize about you kissing them. Good job honey, I’m pretty sure they’re goners now.”
His deep laugh made me shudder and bite my lip, “I’m not going to lie, that was fun. I make sure guys know that you’re mine all the time, it was fun to let girls know I’m taken.”
“You do not.” I smacked his chest playfully.
“I do. I thought guys stared at you too much when we first started dating, you should see it now. It’s frustrating the hungry looks in their eyes when they look at you.”
“Harper,” he turned my chin so I was looking at his green eyes and talked soft and low, “Maybe me telling you you’re beautiful isn’t helping, so let me try another way. I know you think you look bad, but you’re sexy as hell. Pregnancy looks damn good on you. Trust me. It takes everything in me not to rip your clothes off and finally make you mine despite what the Doctor says. And when other guys look at you, I see that look on their faces, they’re fantasizing about the exact same thing.”
I rolled my eyes but planted a quick kiss to his lips anyway. After filling up my cup with frozen yogurt, I leaned into him and whispered, “It was a little fun. I flashed my ring their way when you kissed me.”
Brandon’s next laugh bounced off the walls, “That’s my girl.”
A male employee helped put the toppings on and took our cups to the register, there were now three girls huddled around it staring at Brandon. Brandon huffed a light laugh and shook his head as he wrapped an arm around me to pull me outside. We ate our Pinkberry in his Jeep in the parking lot and he had just turned the car back on when his phone rang. It was Scarecrow, Brandon put it on speaker.
“Man you gotta be there, this could make us more than we’ve ever got before. I already have a few bets and they’re high.”
“I’ll be there, where is it?”
Scarecrow gave him an address and Brandon cursed, “I can’t I have Harper with me, we’re already ten minutes away, I wouldn’t be able to get back in time if I took her home.”
“Come on man, don’t do this to me. The bets are only going to be this high if you’re the opponent. I need you.”
Brandon looked at me and took a deep breath in and out of his nose, “Fine. But you keep an eye on her, if anything happens to her, my next fight will be against you. Got it?”
“HELL YEAH! I knew my boy wouldn’t let me down. See you in a bit.” He hung up before Brandon could say anything else.
“I’m sorry sweetheart, but I have to take you. If you don’t want me to go tonight, just tell me and I’ll call him back.”
“Well I don’t, I never want you to go. But I know this means a lot to you.”
He brushed his knuckles along my jaw, “Thank you. I love you.”
“I love you too. Call your guys, I’ll call Konrad and Jeremy.”
By the time I was up on the platform with Crow; Breanna, Konrad, Jeremy and one of his friends were arriving and making their way towards us. They were surprised to see me at such a big fight, but after explaining our date and how he wouldn’t have made it back they understood and the boys made a loose circle around Bree and I. I had accidentally been elbowed in the stomach pretty hard not too long ago, and that had been the last big fight Brandon took me to, ever since then I get boxed in whenever I’m allowed to come.
Scarecrow was jumping up and down and couldn’t stop laughing and smiling. He finally leaned in and told me if Brandon won, he would be bringing home at least forty-five hundred. I blanched, that could only mean the guy he was fighting was really good. The most Brandon had ever made was three thousand. He introduced them, and the fight began along with my uncontrollable shaking. Bree held my hand, she knew how much I hated this. The fight seemed to go on forever, both fighters equally getting in good punches and kicks. Brandon finally got him on the ground and almost choked him out before the other guy, who went by the name “Demon”, tapped out.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and Bree and I laughed shakily and hugged. Scarecrow hugged us hard and started out to the ring. I looked back at my fiancé who was riling up the crowd on the opposite side of the basement we were in. I saw Demon push someone away that had been yelling at him and charge toward Brandon, just as Brandon turned back around, Demon punched him so hard Brandon’s body went stiff and fell to the ground. Demon sat on top of him and began punching him again and again until Scarecrow and some other guys pulled him off. Scarecrow rushed back over to Brandon but he wasn’t getting up and he wasn’t moving. I was screaming and trying to run to him, but there were multiple pairs of hands holding me where I stood. I kept getting flashes of Chase’s limp body on the stretcher, his lifeless hand in mine. Bree’s hand was gripping my arm so hard, I had no doubt she was seeing the same thing. A few guys helped Scarecrow pick up his body to carry him out of the room, and I broke away from whoever was holding me to get to Brandon. He was breathing, but he wasn’t opening his eyes or responding to anything.
It probably wasn’t the brightest idea, but there was a hospital less than a mile away so the guys carried him up the stairs and put him in the back of his Jeep. Jeremy jumped in with me so he could drive after tossing his keys to his friend. Konrad said he’d follow us there. Jeremy jumped out and ran into the E.R., when he came out he was followed closely by nurses with a stretcher. They took Brandon back to an exam room but made us stay in the waiting room. I collapsed into Jeremy’s side and bawled my eyes out. I’d seen Brandon knock guys unconscious, but after a minute or smelling salts, they always woke up. Brandon didn’t. There was no way this was happening.
Bree, Konrad and Jeremy’s friend rushed in together, Bree was crying just as hard as me. Konrad’s face was ashen and blank. This was too much for what we’d seen just over three months ago.
Jeremy’s friend, Kevin, stood next to Jeremy and half whispered, “I get he was knocked out and all, but these people need to calm the eff down.”
Konrad lunged at him but Jeremy jumped in between them. “I got this.” He said calmly to Konrad and turned on his friend to push him toward the door, “Not cool man.” I heard him say before they got outside.
Konrad sat on the couch and pulled Breanna onto his lap, she curled into him and soaked his shirt with her tears, his other arm went around me. None of us could say anything, the only sound was our sobs. My eyes seemed to not be able to leave his left arm that was holding Bree to his body. The thick pink scars from trying to get to Chase seemed to stand out even more now. Taunting me with alternating flashes of Chase dead on the ground and Brandon laying unresponsive. A few minutes later, Jeremy pulled me from Konrad and wrapped his arms around me, he was still in High School, but he was just as tall as his brother, though slightly lankier, and was able to hold me just as easily as Brandon.
“It’s okay sis, it’ll be okay.” He softly crooned. “He’s going to be fine.”
An administrative nurse came up to us with a clipboard and paperwork to fill out for Brandon, and with the help of Jeremy, we got it completely filled out. When I sat back down on the couch, Kevin walked up, he’d been sitting in some chairs against another wall, and looked at us sheepishly.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t know about…” He looked around for a second, biting his lip.
“It’s fine.” I said hoarsely.
Scarecrow came running in and came right over to us, “Is he okay? Did he wake up?”
Bree and I started crying again at those questions. He’s not waking up! I remembered Konrad’s hysterical screaming from that night and my pleas for Chase to wake up when the EMT pulled me away from him.
Jeremy talked to him for a minute, and went back to trying to calm me down. Konrad wasn’t having much more luck with Bree, but then again he looked like he was in shock. Scarecrow held a wad of cash in front of me and I looked up with disgust. I sucked in a deep breath to let him know what I thought about him and his money but Jeremy hugged me close, grabbed the money and shoved it in my purse while telling Scarecrow he needed to leave. He was a good brother for stopping me from saying something stupid.
“Sis, look at me.” he ordered and I reluctantly looked up, “He’s going to be fine. I know what this means for all of you, but he will be fine.”
Jeremy and I jumped off the couch and rushed over to the Doctor.
“Are you family of Mr. Taylor?”
“I’m his brother, this is his fiancée.” Jeremy answered, keeping a tight grip on my upper arm in case I fainted, which I definitely felt like I was about to do.
“He’s awake, and you can see him. Only one person at a time, but I have some questions before you go back there. Can you tell me how this happened?”
Jeremy replayed what happened after the fight had ended for the Doctor who nodded and looked at his watch.
“We should have the X-ray back in a few minutes, if there’s anything suspicious I’ll be running more tests, but you may go in and see him now if you’d like.”
After making sure I was going to stay vertical, Jeremy let go and walked back to the group.
“Miss? Do you need a wheelchair?” The Doctor asked looking at my swollen stomach and pale face.
“I’m fine, just please take me to see him.”
We walked down two halls and into a room. Brandon sighed in relief and reached an arm toward me. “Come here sweetheart.”
I grabbed his hand with both of mine, no longer caring about the tears still falling down my cheeks. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, just feel like I got my ass beat.” He huffed a laugh.
“This isn’t funny. You weren’t waking up Brandon!”
“I know.” He pulled my arm closer to his body, “Come here.” He kissed me twice and held my face in his hands. “I’m sorry, he was dirty, I wasn’t expecting that. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again though. That’s the first time I’ve had someone do that.”
I pulled away abruptly, “Again? No! Brandon, you can’t fight again. Do you know what it was like seeing you like that? Unresponsive on the ground? I can’t lose you too.” I sobbed and fell into the chair next to the bed.
Brandon tried to get off the bed, but the IV was keeping him there. “You won’t lose me sweetheart, I promise. I’ll be more careful.”
My entire body was shaking hard, I was trying to take calming breaths but it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I thought watching Chase die on the ground was the worst thing I would ever experience in my life. I was wrong. Seeing Brandon like that, and thinking I was going to lose him too, that was the worst moment of my life by far.
There was a knock on the door, “Mr. Taylor?”
I looked up to see the Doctor walking in. I wish he had more emotion, his face looked like he could easily be delivering good news or bad news.
“It looks like you’re going to be okay, you have a major concussion and we’re going to have to keep you for a while to make sure nothing happens. But there isn’t too much swelling, so that’s a good thing. I do need to stress something though. You fight often, is that correct?”