Song I listened to for this chapter: All That I Am by Ryan Huston
The next morning Alice wakes with a slight headache. She’s confused, since the last thing she remembered is a guy in a bar… Brown eyes… Brown eyes that bring a smile to her face. She hopes that she is wrong about guys… because she rather likes him, wants to get to know him better… wants to know things like… what’s his name again? She frowns, trying to remember it.
“Urgh! What the hell did I drink last night?” Alice grows agitated as her head starts to pound a little more and her whole body feels sluggish. She makes it a rule to never drink much but her infrequent bouts of freedom –from the pressure of school, work and the charities she works on– are so rare that sometimes she needs to make it a night to remember since she never knows when she will get out again.
Her door opens and Sam walks in with a drink in her hand. “Here, drink this. It tastes awful but damn does it work!”
Alice glances at her and then drinks the contents. It does have a bad-taste, but it also tastes… familiar.
Sam looks over Alice. She can’t tell if Alice has any negative effects from last night, but when Scott had knocked on the door this morning with this tea for them –warning that it tasted awful but that he swore by it– she wasn’t going to not give the tea a try. When asked where he got it, all he answered was, “Hatter. He was still up and worried about Alice.”
Scott is still downstairs, having decided to stick around after noticing the girls are all feeling bad. He thinks that whatever Alice had was in all their drinks. Hatter is going to be mad when he tells him. If Alice and any of the girls go back to the club, they will probably get their own room, most especially if Alice is with them. Scott knows that Hatter is worried that Alice may not want him and he’d told Scott that he wanted to have her choose him; if she did, he would do anything and everything to keep her, but he wouldn’t force her into anything. Scott’s esteem for Hatter rose at that, he is here to see what he can do for his boss.
Scott decides to make the girls breakfast, knowing most of the large group will soon be gone and it will end up being just his three girls in the end. Too many times going out partying with them has shown him that the other girls really leech off of Alice. She says that she enjoys the large parties, they make her feel safer, but he hopes she will wake up to reality soon, hopefully before one of them hurts her. By the time his girls arrive in the kitchen, as he has predicted, the rest of the group has already cleared out.
Alice walks in with her hair still damp after her washing her hair and she’s wearing loose black yoga pants with a turquoise t-shirt. Holding her head, she collapses into a chair; in the shower earlier, she could barely stand just the few minutes needed to wash her hair.
Scott looks at her concerned. “Did the tea not help?”
Alice lifts her head. “It took care of the headache, but I feel bad all over still. What happened? And, not that I am complaining, but why are you here cooking breakfast?”
He frowns, thinking they may want to take her to see a doctor to make sure there are no lasting effects from last night. “We think that bastard from the dance floor may of slipped something into your drink or drinks. And I am making sure you are okay.”
Alice gasps, memories flooding her brain of a man grabbing her from behind and… trapping her? And brown eyes rescuing her. She had been talking to brown eyes… Why does everything go in and out of focus? She gets frustrated, feeling there is something she needs to remember. “Scott who is the brown-eyed guy in my memories? The memories are all weird… What the hell?” She bursts out in frustration, but before she can say more, she suddenly feels sick to her stomach and quickly runs to the bathroom.
Sam and Scott run after her with Leigh following behind a second later. Hearing her being sick, the friends look at each other in concern.
Leigh runs from them and yells over her shoulder, “Help her to the car, I am bringing it up, she needs to see a doctor now!”
Scott and Sam nod and as soon as Alice stops getting sick they enter the bathroom, helping her up carefully. “Alice we need to get you to the hospital. Whatever he gave you is reacting bad, we had hoped you weren’t as affected since the rest of us weren’t.” Alice nods and doesn’t argue. They look at each, noting that this is not good.
Scott mouths to Sam, “Grab my phone; call Hatter. He will want to know about this.” She nods and runs to his phone on the table as he helps Alice slowly to the car.
Hatter is sitting in his chair, staring out at the city, his thoughts on Alice. He isn’t complaining that she’s the one that has made him fall…. in love? Is it love? Hatter wonders but decides it doesn’t matter if he calls it love or if he uses a different word: it is love and there is nothing he can do about it now, not that he wants to. He is leaving it in Alice’s hands… her small, slim hands that according to Scott can throw a man across the room. He smiles, remembering Scott telling him about men who had learned that the hard way. Hatter likes the image-
His phone rings, interrupting his thought. “Hatter,” he answers.
“Hatter, we are taking Alice to the hospital, I know you wanted to wait for her to come to you but–”
“Which hospital?” He cuts her off. His voice, thick with worry.
Once at the hospital and after hearing what is wrong, the nursing staff rush Alice into the ER.
The three friends sit in the ER waiting area until one of the doctors comes in, asking for a, “Ms. Leigh Larik, Ms. Samantha Moen, and a Mr. Scott Lytle?” They stand up quickly and he walks over to them.
“Ms. Hamilton’s records show that you are the people to talk to?” They nod. Since all of Alice’s family is deceased, they are the closest to family to her. “You should have brought her in sooner, but we are giving fluids to her and taking tests to see what was given to her. Due to the nature of this, the police are on their way to take statements. Now for other matters, can one of you fill out the paperwork for her insurance?”
Before any of them can say anything, they hear a voice say, “I will take care of any medical expenses for Ms. Hamilton’s care.”
Hatter walks in and spotting Scott and Alice’s mates standing, he makes his way to them. Hearing the last bit from the doctor, he decides to speak up. He is unaware of Alice’s financial state and frankly doesn’t care what it is. He takes care of those that mean something to him, and she means the most.
Scott smiles, telling them both, “If you look further in her records, you will find there is no reason to fill out any paperwork on Alice.” The Doctor frowns and after punching a few things on his tablet, looks back up shocked and hurriedly says, “Y-yes… I see. I will let you in to see her once we have her moved to her room.” He practically runs out of the room.
Hatter looks after him and then turns to the trio and raises an eyebrow. Sam takes pity on him.
“She owns the hospital.”
Hatter’s mouth falls open in shock. “Owns the hospital? How do you own a hospital?”
Sam can’t help herself and laughs. “Alice’s family was very well off. They made a lot of investments, like this hospital and others.” But, thinking of the guilt her friend always feels and how hard she drives herself, Sam frowns and continues slower, “Alice has, lets’ say a need to contribute to her family fortune or at least manage it correctly. She kills herself working, with school and charities. She doesn’t need to do any of it, but, that is Alice.”
Hatter realizes that they are telling him something big. His Alice is a workaholic due to feelings of guilt. She receives no pleasure from the money and works hard to prove she doesn’t need it. He wonders why she has these feelings and hopes he can find out more in the future, and maybe help her…
Scott watches his boss, who may also be becoming a good friend. He softly tells him, “Alice believes this is the reason guys like her.”
Hatter glances at him and then understanding dawns across his face.
Scott knows his boss doesn’t need money. The club is enough to make anyone rich, but he has suspicions that Hatter doesn’t need the club for that.
The Doctor comes back and is much nicer to them as he escorts them to the back. In his haste he doesn’t notice there is one addition to the party than there should be. The three friends smile, thinking it is much easier to get Hatter to Alice than they thought it would be. The smiles fade away as they walk into Alice’s room. She looks very pale and is hooked up to too many machines.
Sam asked quietly in shock, “Is she okay?”
The doctor, Mark, glances at her. “We don’t know what the person gave her, but she is reacting badly. The good news is that whatever you gave her helped with the worst parts. It looks like some new substance, and very addictive, that is what her problem is now; she is going through the withdrawal stage. Oh yes, this is a very new and nasty drug.”
Hatter stares at Alice. She looks nothing like the fiery woman he met last night. He hears the doctor talking and wishes now that he had beaten that bloody slurvish son of a bitch to a pulp last night. He takes a deep breath and notices that the doctor has left. Glancing at Scott, he tells him, “There will be some turnover at the club once we figure out what happened. That this happened to anyone, much less Alice is inexcusable. Would you mind helping me and Dormie?”
Scott realizes that Hatter is telling him he trusts him and that he is being given a promotion of sorts. He is happy about that, but not that it’s over something happening to Alice. If he finds the person responsible… He realizes this is why Hatter wants him to help: He has a personal vested interest just like Hatter does. Scott nods an agreement to him.
Before either can say anything else, a voice interrupts with a soft southern accent, “If you don’t mind, we would like you to hold off on that, Mr. Temple.”
The group turns and to see a plain-clothed detective in front of them.
“I would like to stop the drug and find out who is pushing it out. From the statement you just made, I take it you think it was someone in your club?”
Hatter looks at the guy and indicates that he would like to step outside. The detective nods, opening the door and watching as Hatter walks over to Alice and softly caress her face with a very tender look. But when one of the tubes touches him, his face grows hard and he turns around, following the detective through the door, Scott close behind.
The detective realizes that he was dealing with a man in love –very much in love– with the woman in the hospital bed. He sympathizes with him because the guy must be going through seeing his love in a hospital bed while knowing she’s there because of his club.
They step outside and a nurse notices them, telling them, “If you follow me, there is a room set aside for private conversations.” They nod and follow her to the room.
Hatter leans against the wall and folds his arms. Scott looks at him and the Detective, then sits down on one of the chairs.
The detective clears his throat. “My name is Riley and I work for Narcotics. I was alerted to this since this was the second known incident like it. Both times are linked back to your club, Mr. Temple. We have watched the club, and between what I know and what we observed, know you have nothing to do with it.” Hatter nods, not showing any emotion, but Riley remembers what he has seen, and knows that this man can control his emotions very well; he must be spitting mad, Riley would be if it was his girl in that room.
Pausing a moment, Riley then continues. “Can you tell us anything? If Miss Hamilton is like the other victim, her memories will be hazy and she may remember hardly anything. Luckily for Miss Hamilton you intervened, Mr. Temple, and then took care of her afterwards. And her friends then taking such quick action, is helping the second part of the attack.”
Hatter is upset listening to what Riley has said and glances at Scott to see that his eyes have widened because of something that Riley said. To take his mind off it, Hatter asks the main thing that is bothering him now, “Second part of the attack?”
“The addiction withdrawal,” Riley answers. “We suspect there are other victims to this drug, but the first was thankfully able to make it to her home and called 911. We got most of her story out of her before she fell asleep. Once they fall asleep they seem to forget what had happened. The next day she complained about her headache and went into seizures. The hospital staff here is very good and saved her life. That is part of the reason we want to know what you gave Ms. Hamilton, Mr. Temple, it may help save other lives.”
Hatter listens and glances at Scott who seems to be deep in thought.
He looks up at Hatter and says, “She remembers brown eyes and was mad she couldn’t remember more, Hatter.”
Hatter’s heart drops. He realizes that due to his stubbornness he may have lost Alice and all because his pride had wanted her to come to him, and not have anyone else intervene. But luckily Scott was there and can vouch for Hatter to Alice. While he hates to say it, this drug is in her system. Today, he had acted before knowing any details. When he heard Sam say Alice was being taken to the hospital, he simply reacted with thought. Now he knows he will need to work to gain her trust and attention from the beginning. He is back a square one.
Riley and Scott watch Hatter as he makes these realizations. It is clear that that this man should not be messed with; the pure hate that is flashing before them on his face makes them both blanch. Scott knows it is due to Hatter being mad at himself, but he never wants that directed at him.
Hatter turns to Riley, and hands him two packets… of tea? Riley looks up at him in confusion.
“Me mum came up with the blend. It works for almost anything. We gave Alice one cup last night for her headache, and I gave Scott a few to give out this morning for any hangovers.”
Scott adds, “Most of the girls were feeling bad, but only Alice, Sam, and Leigh drank any.”
Riley nods. “Can you get me a list of the girls so we can have someone check on them?” Scott nods and after the detective gives him a notepad and pencil he writes down the girls’ information. Riley grabs his cell phone and steps out of the room to make some calls.
Scott looks at Hatter and reminds him, “She remembered something about you, Hatter. She didn’t forget you, and she knows there’s more.”
Hatter nods shortly but sighs. Looking at Scott, he says, “I am more upset with myself. I finally found someone that I love, and I was going to let her walk away. What kind of man am I?”
“A man in love. We all make mistakes, I guess that why they say a fool in love.”
Hatter gives him a look. “I won’t leave Alice. Especially until I can make sure she is safe. ‘Course I thought she be safe in me own club!” He laughs bitterly to himself.
Riley re-enters the room and hears that. “Mr. Temple, your club was probably targeted because of the safety level and how popular it is. Until this happened, your club was deemed one of the safest clubs in the city. And I have no doubt you could clean it again. But we are asking for your help, to use those skills and help us find those that have done this. I ask again, is there anything you can tell us that may help?”
Hatter sighs and recounts what they had pieced together last night. Riley takes notes and then recounts it back to them.
“So from what I understand, Ms. Hamilton normally orders her drinks specially and in a batch of other orders, so hers could not be singled out, right?” They nod and he continues, “And you, Mr. Lytle, made her drinks yourself and sent them with the rest. Ms Hamilton was accosted on the dance floor by a man and his friends held back her friends. You rescued her, Mr. Temple, and took her off the dance floor to the bar. When you and Mr. Lytle thought she was in shock, you brought her to your office. When she was weaker than you thought she should be, you talked over the chance of her being drugged and then gave her some of this tea. Once she was sleeping normally, you had her taken home and her friends watched over her last night. This morning she had a light headache, you gave her more of the tea, and after her shower, she got sick and you brought her here.”
Scott thinks and adds, “She wouldn’t have taken a shower, now that I think about it. She may have washed her hair, but she was done too quick for a shower, knowing Alice.”
Riley looks up interested. “Ms Hamilton may have not showered? We suspect that one of the methods of administering the final dose is a patch.” He turns and goes out the door in a hurry, Hatter and Scott right behind him.
They run down the hall to Alice’s room, grabbing a nurse on their way.
“Did anyone check her for a clear patch?” Riley asks. She shakes her head no and runs into to the room, only stopping to slam the door in their faces.
Hearing a lock turn, Scott grins at Hatter, “Guess they want to make sure you don’t see anything.”
Hatter glances at him and realizing Scott is trying to ease the situation, fires off, “Well at least I will in the future, old son!”
Scott stares at him, and after Riley starts to laugh, so does he.