Song I listened to for this chapter: All That I Am by Ryan Huston
The next morning Bella wakes with a slight headache. She’s confused, since the last thing she remembered was 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?” Bella grows agitated as her head starts to pound a little more and her whole body feels sluggish. She never drank 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 something to remember until she could get out again.
Her door opens and Rose walks in with a drink in her hand. “Here, drink this. It tastes awful but damn does it work!”
Bella glances at her and then drinks the contents. It does have a bad-taste, but it also tastes… familiar.
Rose looks over Bella. She can’t tell if Bella has any negative effects from last night, but when Emmett 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 Bella.”
Emmett is still downstairs, having decided to stick around after noticing the girls are all feeling bad, and thinks that whatever Bella had, was in all their drinks. Hatter was going to be mad. If Bella and any of the girls go back to the club, they would get their own room, especially if Bella is with them. Hatter was worried that she may not want him and had told Emmett 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. Emmett’s esteem for Hatter rose at that, he is here to see what he can do for his boss.
Emmett 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 Bella. She says that she enjoys the large parties, they make her feel safer, but he hopes she will wake up to reality soon, before one of them hurts her. By the time his girls arrive in the kitchen, as he had predicted, the rest of the group has cleared out.
Bella walks in with her hair still damp after her washing, wearing loose black yoga pants and a turquoise t-shirt. Holding her head, she collapses into a chair; she could barely stand a few minutes earlier while washing her hair.
Emmett looks at her concerned. “Did the tea not help?”
Bella 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 have slipped something into your drink or drinks. And I am making sure you are ok.”
Bella 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. “Emmett 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.
Rose and Emmett run after her with Alice following behind a second later. Hearing her being sick, the friends look at each other in concern.
Alice 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!”
Emmett and Rose nod and as soon as Bella stops they enter the bathroom, helping her up carefully. “Bella, we need to get you to the hospital. Whatever he gave you is reacting badly, we had hoped you weren’t as affected since the rest of us weren’t.” Bella nods and doesn’t argue. They look at each, noting that this is not good.
Emmett mouths to Rose, “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 Bella slowly to the car.
Hatter is sitting in his chair, staring out at the city, his thoughts on Bella. He isn’t complaining that she is 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. He is leaving it in Bella’s hands… her small, slim hands that according to Emmett can throw a man across the room. He smiles, remembering Emmett telling him about men who had learned that the hard way. He likes the image-
His phone rings, interrupting his thought. “Hatter,” he answers.
“Hatter, we are taking Bella to the hospital, I know you wanted to wait for her to come to you but–”
“Which hospital?” His question interrupts her. His voice, thick with worry.
Once at the hospital, after hearing what is wrong, the nursing staff rush Bella into the ER.
The three friends wait in the ER waiting area until one of the doctors comes in, asking for a, “Ms. Alice Brandon, Ms. Rosalie Hale, and a Mr. Emmett McCarty?” They stand up quickly and he walks over to them.
“Ms. Swan’s records show that you are the people to talk to?” They nod since all of Bella’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. Swan’s care.”
Hatter had walked in, and spotting Emmett and Bella’s mates standing, made his way to them. Hearing the last bit from the doctor, he spoke up. He is unaware of Bella’s financial state and frankly doesn’t care, he takes care of those that mean something to him, and she means a lot.
Emmett smiles, telling them both, “If you look further in her records, you will find there is no reason to fill out any paperwork on Bella.” 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. Rose takes pity on him.
“She owns the hospital.”
Hatter’s mouth falls open in shock. “Owns the hospital? How do you own a hospital?”
Rose can’t help herself and laughs. “Bella’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 felt and how hard she drove herself, Rose frowns and continues slower. “Bella has, let’s 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 Bella.”
Hatter realizes that they are telling him something big. His Bella 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?
Emmett watches his boss, who may be becoming a friend? He softly tells him, “Bella believes this is the reason guys like her.”
Hatter glances at him and then understanding dawns across his face.
Emmett 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 this is much easier than they thought it would be to get Hatter to Bella. The smiles fade away as they walk in the room Bella has. She looks very pale and is hooked up to too many machines.
Rose asked quietly in shock, “Is she ok?”
The doctor, Edward, 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 Bella. She looks nothing like the fiery woman he met last night. He hears the doctor 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 Emmett, he tells him, “There will be some turnover at the club once we figure out what happened. That this happened to anyone, much less Bella, is inexcusable. Would you mind helping me and Jake?”
Emmett realizes that Hatter is telling him he trusts him and that he is being given a promotion. He is happy about that, but not that it was over something happening to Bella. If he finds the person responsible… He realizes this is why Hatter wants him to help: He has a personal vested interest like Hatter does. Emmett 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 he watches Hatter walk over to Bella and softly caress her face with a very tender look on his face. But when one of the tubes touches him, his face grows hard and he turns around, following the detective through the door, with Emmett 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 the hell the man must be going through seeing his love in a bed, and knowing she is 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. Emmett looks at him and the Detective and sits down on one of the chairs.
The detective clears his throat. “My name is Jasper Whitlock 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 Jasper remembers what he has seen, and knows that this man can control his emotions very well; he must be spitting mad, Jasper would be if it was his girl in that room.
Pausing a moment, Jasper continues. “Can you tell us anything? If Miss Swan is like the other victim, her memories will be hazy and she may remember hardly anything. Luckily for Miss Swan 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 Jasper had said and glances at Emmett to see that he has widened his eyes because of something that Jasper had said. To take his mind of it, Hatter asks the thing that is bothering him now, “Second part of the attack?”
“The addiction withdrawal,” Jasper 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. Swan, Mr. Temple, it may help save other lives.”
Hatter listens and glances at Emmett 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 and he realizes due to his stubbornness he may have lost Bella, all because his pride wanted her to come to him, and not have anyone intervene. But luckily Emmett was there, and while he hated to say it, this drug was in her system. He had acted before knowing what he was doing when he heard Rose say Bella was being taken to the hospital. And he now knows he will need to work to gain her trust and attention from the beginning.
Jasper and Emmett watch Hatter and realize that they don’t want to mess with this man; the pure hate that flashed before them on his face makes them both blanch. Emmett knows it is due to Hatter being mad at himself, but he never wants that on him.
Hatter turns to Jasper, and hands him two packets… of tea? Jasper looks up at him in confusion.
“Me mum came up with the blend. It works for almost anything. We gave Bella one cup last night for her headache, and I gave Emmett a few to give out this morning for any hangovers.”
Emmett adds, “Most of the girls were feeling bad, but only Bella, Rose, and Alice drank any.”
Jasper nods. “Can you get me a list of the girls so we can have someone check on them?” Emmett nods and after the detective gives him a notepad and pencil he writes down the girls’ information. Jasper grabs his cell phone and steps out of the room to make some calls.
Emmett looks at Hatter and reminds him, “She remembered something about you, Hatter. She didn’t forget you, and she knows there is more.”
Hatter nods shortly but sighs. Looking at Emmett, he says, “I am more upset with myself. I finally found someone that I love, and I was going to let them 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 Bella. Especially until I can make sure she is safe. ’Course I thought she’d be safe in me own club!” He laughs bitterly to himself.
Jasper is re-entering the room when he 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. Jasper takes notes and then recounts it back to them.
“So from what I understand, Ms. Swan 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. McCarty, made her drinks yourself and sent them with the rest. Ms. Swan 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. McCarty 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.”
Emmett 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 down too quick for a shower, knowing Bella.”
Jasper looks up interested. “Ms. Swan may have not showered? One of the methods of administering the final dose we suspect is a patch.” He turns and goes out the door in a hurry, Hatter and Emmett right behind him.
They run down the hall to Bella’s room, grabbing a nurse on their way.
“Did anyone check her for a clear patch?” Jasper asks. She shakes her head no and runs in to the room, only stopping to slam the door in their faces.
Hearing a lock turn, Emmett grins at Hatter, “Guess they want to make sure you don’t see anything.”
Hatter glances at him and realizing Emmett is trying to ease the situation, fires off, “Well at least I will in the future old son!”
Emmett stares at him and after Jasper starts to laugh, so does he.