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Saving Hailey: Chapter 43

CARTER

Ive lived through my fair share of darkness. I’ve seen more death and pain than thousands of people combined, but nothing hit me as hard as watching the paramedic stab a needle into Hailey’s neck to push a tranquilizer into her bloodstream.

She lost her fucking mind when Vaughn stopped breathing. When the ambulance arrived less than a minute later, Hailey was amidst the worst panic attack I’ve ever witnessed.

My muscles are still like rocks eight hours later as I sit by her hospital bed, holding her hand. I haven’t moved since we arrived. Despite the late hour, no one has asked me to leave.

Not since I threatened Hailey’s doctor. I’ll gut him if he hurts one hair on her head.

Broadway, Koby, and Ryder spent the whole day in these uncomfortable plastic chairs but to my surprise neither of them have voiced a single complaint. They take turns popping their heads in every hour to check on me and Hailey.

I’m in fucking pieces.

Seven cups of coffee haven’t sharpened my brain in the slightest. I’m still processing everything and wondering how much damage the last few hours might leave on Hailey’s mind.

I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees and rake both hands through my hair. Broadway brought me a change of clothes, which is a fucking blessing because the white shirt I arrived in was soaked in blood, enough to sell by the pint if someone took the time to wring it out.

Lifting my gaze, involuntarily glancing at the angry red lines Hailey’s carved down her neck and arms, I inhale deeply, my guts twisting into elaborate knots. She would’ve done more damage if I hadn’t immobilized her, but before I managed to, she almost drew blood while scraping her throat.

Another hour goes by. The IV drips into a tube connected to Hailey’s arm, keeping her asleep. I’m dreading the moment she wakes up. I have no idea how I’ll survive another meltdown.

Her doctor stops by at seven in the evening on the dot. He gives me a wide berth until his purposeful steps halt at the foot of the bed. A few lines of incomprehensible gibberish and a lot of page-flipping later he calls in a nurse.

“We’ll try to wake her now,” he tells me, eyes on the monitors showing Hailey’s vitals. “She might be a little disoriented but she should be calm.”

He spares me a nervous glance as if checking I heard him and won’t tackle him for going near my girl, then juts his chin at the IV stand. The nurse moves in, altering the dosage.

It takes mere moments before Hailey starts waking. Her fingers flex around mine, her eyelashes quiver, and those beautiful steel-blue irises glance around the room. I see the moment when the memories wash over her as clearly as if she’s told me.

Her lips part, fear clouding her vision. She tries speaking but only manages a croaked, incomprehensible whisper.

“You’re okay, pretty girl,” I say, squeezing her hand tighter. “You’re in the hospital but you’re fine. You had a panic attack.”

The doctor clears his throat, keeping to the other side of the bed as he steps closer.

If he thinks that’ll save him, he’s wrong.

“Miss—”

“Dad,” Hailey utters, searching my face for answers.

“He made it,” I say, loving the relief flooding her features. “They finished operating an hour ago. he’s recovering now.”

“I want to see him.”

“That can be arranged,” the doctor pipes in. “First, I need to make sure you’re doing okay.” He grabs the clipboard, flipping a few pages. “Can you tell me your name?”

“Hailey Scarlett Vaughn,” she recites, clearly amused. Her eyes find mine again, full of little sparkles. “I remember.”

Her glee is contagious. Not only that, but it makes the tension constricting my functions disperse and I pull in my first full breath since Vaughn’s heart stopped.

“Yes, you do,” I say, bringing her hand to my lips. “Your head’s okay, Hailey. They did some tests while you slept. There’s no swelling… no reason to worry about you forgetting me.”

“No,” she breathes, pinching her eyebrows together. “Those two years I lost… I remember. I remember everything.”


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