How Do We Tell Her?

Liz’s point of view

I slowly opened my eyes and the first thing I felt was pain, searing pain radiating through every part of my body. I cried out softly and then saw Kevin’s face appear in front of me.
“Hey Liz,” he said softly and placed his hand on my arm. His touch felt cool. “Are you in pain?” he asked.
I nodded because I couldn’t speak due to the breathing tube in my throat.
“Get some rest,” he instructed and kissed my forehead. “You’ll feel better after you sleep,” he added. I closed my eyes and once again drifted off to a world where reality couldn’t touch me.

Kevin’s point of view

I walked back to the waiting room and found all the guys sitting there.
“How is she?” asked Howie worriedly.
“In pain,” I replied sighing and sat down on a chair. “She went back to sleep,” I added.
“Oh man, how are we going to tell her?” asked AJ frustratingly.
“I don’t know, I’m still trying to believe it myself,” I said shaking my head.
“It’s just so unfair you know! Everything was going fine and then…” began Brian but broke off because tears came to his eyes.
“I know Bri, I know,” I said comfortingly and wrapped my cousin in a hug, the other guys joined in too.

Liz’s point of view

I woke up again and this time the pain was not as great. I still had the breathing tube in my throat and I could barely move.
“Liz, you awake?” I heard Brian’s voice softly call out. I turned my head to the side, painfully, and saw Brian sitting next to my bed. I nodded. “Do you want the tube out?” he asked. I nodded again. Brian called the nurse and she came up to my bed.
“Well, it’s nice to see you awake Liz,” she said warmly. “Now, I’m going to take the tube out, I want you to take a deep breath, and then exhale when I tell you to, okay?” she instructed. I nodded once again. “Okay, exhale!” she said and I exhaled as she pulled the tube out. I started coughing as soon as the tube was out and the nurse gave me some ice chips. “Here, these should help,” she said and placed a few in my mouth. The ice chips helped and I felt my dry throat return to normal, but it was still very sore. “I’ll be back later to check on you,” said the nurse and left.
“Better?” asked Brian sitting down next to me once again.
“Yeah,” I replied, although my voice was very hoarse. “What happened?” I asked quietly.
“Well, you have a fractured skull, a massive concussion, you’ve got a bad case of pneumonia, you lost a lot of blood, and you’re dehydrated,” said Brian.
I winced at his words. “All those things?” I asked in disbelief.
Brian nodded sympathetically. “But the good news is that you’ll make a full recovery,” he said giving me a small smile.
I tried smiling back and succeeded, kind of. “Where are the other guys?” I asked looking around the room and not seeing them.
“Well, Howie and Kevin went to get some food for all of us, and AJ is trying to reach your mom,” replied Brian.
I thought for a few seconds as I realized that Brian was missing someone. “Where’s Nick?” I asked.
Brian’s face immediately clouded over with pain. “Um…” he said not being able to find the words.
“Bri, where is Nick?” I asked slowly.
“He, oh God Liz, I don’t know how to tell you this,” said Brian tears starting to flow from his eyes.
My heart began to beat wildly in my chest and the pain in my head went from bad to worse. “What happened?” I asked quietly.
“Nick got shot,” responded Brian and my eyes widened at his words and then immediately filled with tears.
“WHAT?” I exclaimed.
“Nick got shot,” repeated Brian as the flow of tears from his eyes increased.
“Is he…?” I asked not being able to say the word.
“No, he’s alive, the bullet missed his heart by a few millimeters,” replied Brian.
“Oh my God,” I said shaking my head in disbelief. “Wait a minute, Nick was the one I felt crashing into me before I blacked out!” I exclaimed and then realized one important fact: Nick saved my life.
“Yeah,” said Brian nodding. “The doctors said that if the bullet had gotten you, you wouldn’t have survived due to the other injuries and your pneumonia,” he added wiping away his tears.
“I wanna see him,” I said and tried to get up. I was unsuccessful.
Brian quickly put his hands on my shoulders and gently pushed me back down. “You’re in no condition to go anywhere,” he said sternly. “Besides, Nick is the ICU, no one is allowed to see him,” he added.
I felt myself begin to fall apart. “Bri, can I be alone for a while?” I requested.
“You sure?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said and Brian got up from his seat.
“Okay, but either I or someone else will be back soon,” he said, he hugged me lightly and then left.
As soon as the door closed I let the tears flow from my eyes. Nick saved my life, he reached me in time to stop the bullet from hitting me…but he couldn’t stop the bullet from hitting him. I couldn’t believe that he was in the hospital because of me. I should’ve never opened the door for that man, that way I could’ve prevented this from happening and Nick wouldn’t have gotten hurt.

AJ’s point of view

I came back to the waiting room after trying to reach Liz’s mom. I couldn’t do it. She was in meetings all day and couldn’t be interrupted. I saw Brian, Kevin, and Howie all sitting on chairs and talking.
“Hey guys,” I greeted them warily.
“Still no luck?” asked Kevin.
“Nope,” I replied. “Anyone reach Nick’s parents?” I asked and looked around.
“Nope, no one is answering the phone over there,” replied Brian.
“Great, did you tell Liz what happened?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Brian.
“How did she take it?” asked Howie.
“Not very well, she asked to be alone,” responded Brian. “I think she blames herself for what happened to Nick,” he added.
“But it’s not her fault,” said Howie.
“We know that, but Liz doesn’t know that,” pointed out Brian.
“Any new news on Nick?” I asked.
“No, he’s still in ICU and we’re still not allowed to see him. They said that they extracted the bullet from his chest, but his lung collapsed right after because the bullet went through it,” said Kevin and blinked away tears.
“He has to pull through, he just has to,” said Brian out of frustration of not being able to do anything to help his best friend.
“I’m gonna go check on Liz,” I said. “Tell me the second you know anything about Nick,” I added and then headed off to Liz’s room.
I walked in and saw that Liz had her back turned to me. “Liz?” I called out softly. She turned around and I saw that her face was tear streaked and her eyes were red.
“Hey,” she said weakly.
“Liz, are you okay?” I asked and sat down next to her.
She shook her head. “How can I be okay AJ? Nick got shot because of me!” she exclaimed and started crying harder.
My heart broke seeing Liz in so much pain, both physical and emotional. “Liz, listen to me,” I said and looked into her eyes. “It’s not your fault, do you understand me? It’s not your fault!” I repeated.
“Yes it is my fault, if I used my head that day and realized that no one I know could possibly be at the door because the security system was turned on, none of this would’ve ever happened!” she cried out.
“Liz, no one is blaming you for this, and Nick definitely won’t blame you,” I said reassuringly.
“How do you know? How can you be sure that he’ll ever speak to me again?” she asked through tears.
“Because I know Nick, he did what he did because you were in danger, and he cares about you, he was willing to do anything he could to keep you out of harm’s way, he told us himself right before he went to find you,” I explained and then it came to me. Nick being unbelievably upset that Liz was taken, him willing to do anything, and then him taking the bullet for her; Nick was in love. “Oh my God,” I said looking at Liz.
She looked at me confused. “What?” she asked wiping away some of her tears.
“Nick is in love with you,” I replied and searched her face for a reaction, and I saw one.
“That’s ridiculous!” exclaimed Liz, but I could see it in her eyes, she was happy. “Nick is not in love with me,” she said stubbornly.
“Yes he is,” I insisted. “It all finally makes sense.”
“No he’s not,” repeated Liz.
“You’re in love with him too aren’t you?” I asked and Liz immediately lowered her eyes. “Yes you are,” I said.
“No I’m not,” she said doggedly.
“You can believe that if you want to, but eventually you’re gonna have to face the truth,” I told her.
Liz sighed. “I don’t want to face the truth because it hurts too much,” she finally said.
“Why does it hurt? Love is one of the most beautiful things in the world,” I said confused by her words.
“Yeah it is, but with love comes pain,” she said, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
“You’re thinking about Josh aren’t you?” I asked.
She nodded. “Well, it’s kind of a similar situation don’t you think? I mean, Nick is always someplace else because of his career; he also has tons of screaming girls throwing themselves at him practically all the time. How do I know the same thing won’t happen that happened with Josh? How do I know that we won’t break up because we won’t get to see each other? Or better yet, how do I know that temptation won’t get the best of him?” she asked.
I took a deep breath. Those were hard questions to answer. “Well Liz, I’m not the right person to talk to about this, because you know what, only Nick can answer those questions for you,” I said softly. “Now get some rest, you look worn out,” I commented.
“Okay,” said Liz nodding. “Just promise me you’ll wake me up when you know something about Nick,” she said.
“I will, don’t worry, now sleep,” I said. When Liz’s breathing took on a steady rhythm and I was sure that she was asleep, I left the room.

Nick’s point of view

I opened my eyes and all I saw was white. ‘Oh man, I gotta stop waking up like this,’ I thought as I realized that I was in the hospital. My left side hurt like hell and breathing was basic torture. I looked around the room and saw that I was alone. Then I tried to remember what happened. I remembered following Liz’s kidnapper to the building where she was, I remembered walking towards Liz, and then I remembered the click of the gun. I remembered running towards Liz and then there was a second of pain, and afterwards everything was a big blank. I took a wild guess and figured that I got shot instead of Liz. But another thought came to my mind, if I was shot and passed out, was Liz here in the hospital with me, or did the kidnapper get her again? I had to find out right away so I pressed the button to call the nurse. She came in about a minute later.
“Mr. Carter, I see you’re awake,” she commented and came up to me to check my vitals. “You probably want this breathing tube out of your throat,” she stated and I nodded. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that, your lung collapsed and you’re going to have to wait just a while longer to make sure that you can breathe on your own,” she said. “Would you like to see your friends?” she asked and I nodded again. “Okay, I’ll send them in,” she said with a smile and left. A few seconds later Brian poked his head into my room; he was followed by Kevin, Howie, and AJ.
“Hey Frack,” he said and came up to me. “You okay?” he asked and I shrugged and nodded.
“That’s good to hear,” said AJ. “We were worried about you there for some time,” he added.
“We’re glad to have you back with us Nicky,” said Kevin and smiled. I would’ve smiled back, but of course the tube prevented it.
“You want to know about Liz don’t you?” asked Howie. I nodded quickly. “Well, she has a few injuries and a case of pneumonia, but she’s going to be okay,” he said and I let out a sigh of relief.
“You saved her life Nick,” said Kevin and I realized that he was right. I didn’t even think about that, all I wanted to do was keep her safe.
“Yeah, and we know you love her by the way,” put in AJ and I looked at him with pure shock. How in the world did he figure that out? “I realized that after I thought about all the things you’ve done for her in the past few days, it had to be love,” he explained. I nodded. But I still didn’t know how Liz felt about me.
“Oh and Nick, you’ll want to know this, Liz loves you too,” said Brian grinning. “But you two are going to have to have a seriously long talk as soon as you’re both well enough to do it,” he added. “Liz blames herself for what happened to you,” he explained. I couldn’t believe it. I mean why would Liz blame herself? It wasn’t her fault that she got kidnapped.
“She thinks that if she hadn’t opened the door for that man, none of this would’ve ever happened,” said AJ.
“Yeah, so Nick, get better fast so that you two can get this whole mess sorted out,” urged Howie and grinned.
“Okay guys, Mr. Carter needs to rest, you’re going to have to leave,” informed them the nurse coming into the room. “You can wait in the waiting room, but not in this room,” she added.
“Okay we’re leaving,” said Howie and the guys turned to me.
“Get a lot of rest, and you better be able to talk the next time we see you, not that we miss that annoying voice of yours,” joked Brian and I really wanted to throw my pillow at him, but I couldn’t, for obvious reasons.
“Yeah, what he said,” said Kevin smirking. They said their goodbyes and left the room.

chapter 9 chapter 11