Saturday, October 7, 2017

Will Love Prevail - Chapter 22

Chapter 22

Mark was taken to Swedish hospital and right away was admitted to the ICU. His blood pressure had been dangerously high but his heart rate had been too slow. Because of the trauma he had endured and the lengthy loss of consciousness, his body had basically gone into a state of shock and was shutting down. In the ambulance he had been seizing several times and was put on Oxygen.

In the ICU they took off his blood and urine soiled clothes and cleaned him up somewhat. His face was swollen and covered in blood, streaks running down his neck and his hair sticking together. He had several gashes on his head and face, some needed stitches. A cervical collar was placed around his neck for immobilization.

Mark’s records and his past medical history were retrieved from the VA, giving insight to his injuries in Afghanistan, the diagnosis of his paraplegia and in addition showing that Mark had suffered a previous traumatic brain injury during the explosion that had left him paralyzed. The attending Neurologist assessed Mark’s past medical history quickly while an emergent CT Scan and MRI of his brain was conducted.

Mark was kept unconscious through all of it and it was decided that a hole needed to be drilled into Mark’s skull to relieve the pressure and possible bleeding in his brain. He was prepped for the Operating Room.

It was unclear how severely his brain had been affected but it was obvious that he had suffered numerous strong blows to his head. He would not be able to wake up and was going to be kept in a coma to get his body stable and give his brain time to hopefully recover. After he came out of the Operating Room he was still considered in critical condition. Everything was done to keep him alive.

On the ninth floor Chiara was sleeping in her bed and was kept on the sedative. She had no idea that Mark was also at Swedish hospital and fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit.

It was in the early morning hours on Tuesday when Officer Collins found out about the SWAT operation. Even though he was shocked, he wasn’t all the way surprised. Really since Portland he had been worried about Mark and Chiara the whole time.

When he called Swedish hospital about Mark that morning, he was told that no one was allowed to see Mark at the time. Officer Collins then decided to at least go and visit Chiara later on that day.

During the day Chiara was waking up somewhat and right away she asked about Mark. She was told that he was at Swedish hospital as well but that she was not allowed to see him in ICU at the moment.

She was devastated and too distraught at the situation and kept asking for Mark over and over. Her nurse tried to keep her calm but without medication it wasn’t possible.  

Officer Collins showed up around four that afternoon. He came into the room and Chiara was startled from a delirious sleep when he walked in.

He softly greeted her, “Chiara, Hi.”

Chiara slowly opened her eyes and shifted some, trying to sit up more. Her vision was somewhat off as she tried to look at Officer Collins. She felt groggy and tired.
She didn’t know who Officer Collins was and was nervous about his appearance in her room.  
He slowly came around to the side of the bed and she followed him suspiciously with small eyes.

He glanced at the chair next to the bed, “Do you mind if I sit down?”
Chiara shook her head and asked, “Who are you?”

Officer Collins pulled the chair over, sat down, and smiled at her, trying to ease her mind, “My name is Dan Collins, I’m a police officer with the Burien police department. I’m friends with Mark. He had contacted me after you had texted him from Portland. I was the one who informed Portland police about you being held captive down there.”
Chiara’s voice trembled, “So you’re not here to charge me or anything?”
Officer Collins shook his head, “No, I’m here to get to know you.”

“Do you know anything about Mark?”
Officer Collins shook his head, “Not really but I guess you heard about what happened?”
Chiara lowered her eyes and shook her head, “Not really. No one tells me anything. I broke down when they told me last night that Mark has been attacked and was hurt. I…”
She felt the tears in her eyes collect, “I know I’m on medication right now to stay calm but I’m so worried about him. I want to know what’s going on. I need to see him.”
Officer Collins nodded, “I understand. I also tried to see him today but was told that no one is allowed to see him at this time. I do know that he is alive.”
Tears ran down her cheeks now, “Where is he?”
“He’s actually here at the hospital in ICU. They’re trying to stabilize him and are taking care of him here. He’s been seriously injured and is in critical condition.”

Chiara was crying now but she was incapable of doing anything else. Her body felt heavy and like she was glued to the bed.

Officer Collins tried to make her feel somewhat better, “I understand this is very difficult for you. I also hope that Mark will be okay but I’m sure they’re doing everything they can for him here. That’s one reason I’m here. I’d like to establish a channel of communication between you and I and what’s going on with Mark. I guess I could be your middle person until you can see him.”

Chiara couldn’t really speak because her mind was racing around Mark.

Officer Collins added, “Trey Espinoza has been killed. Also, three of his friends, probably people you were familiar with.”

Now Chiara looked up at Officer Collins and he just kept his eyes on her, waiting for her to say something.
She swallowed, sniffled her nose and tears were just running over her cheeks, when she said softly, “If Mark dies, I don’t want to live anymore.”
Officer Collins took a deep breath and looked down to the folded hands in his lap, then back up at her, “He’ll make it through this.”  

Chiara couldn’t comprehend the situation all the way. She felt like she was in a daze with everything that had happened. And even when Officer Collins told her about Trey having been killed, she felt a sort of pain in her heart. She didn’t know why but she had been with him for so many years and now he was dead. He would never be able to hurt her, rape her, or beat her. He would never be able to sell her body to men who were willing to pay. She would never feel the pain Trey had inflicted on her all those years but it was the only life she had known for a long time. Those were thoughts she couldn’t all the way comprehend.

Instead though she felt a pain even stronger. It was the pain of blaming herself for the situation Mark was in and it was the pain and fear of possibly losing the love of her life because of everything. It was tearing at her heart and it was occupying her mind so much that her head was hurting. If Mark wouldn’t make it, she wouldn’t stay in this world. She was absolutely sure she would kill herself if Mark would die. Without him there was no reason for her to live anymore. Nothing could keep her in this world if Mark wouldn’t be there with her.

Officer Collins pulled her from her thoughts, “I’ll get in touch with Mark’s doctors and get you an update as soon as they let me talk to someone.”

Chiara looked up at him and nodded. She really didn’t know what to say. Officer Collins knew nothing and she wasn’t allowed to see Mark but she had a tiny bit of peace knowing that he was at least in the same building with her.

It was the next morning when Chiara was laying in her bed and the phone on her bedside table rang.

She answered and Officer Newland was on, “Chiara?”
“Yes.” She still felt tired and exhausted from the medication that had kept her mostly sleeping.
“I’m transferring a call to you.”
“Who is it?”
“It’s someone named Miriam DeWitt. We verified her claim to be your boyfriend’s sister.”

Chiara’s jaw dropped and she was stunned. A small adrenaline rush seemed to heighten her senses for a moment but she couldn’t speak.

Officer Newland was on the other line, “Chiara, are you still there?”
She focused back on the phone, “Yes, I’m still here.”
“May I transfer Ms. DeWitt?”
“Yes, are you going to monitor the call?”
"We have to.”
“Okay, you may transfer her.”

Chiara tried to sit up somewhat and held the phone in her shaking hand. 
She waited until she heard a click and she then said, “Hello?”
A soft voice was on the other end, “Hi, is this Chiara Pearson?”
“Yes, this is she.”
There was silence for a moment until the woman on the other end spoke again, “Hi Chiara, my name is Miriam - Miriam DeWitt. I am…I’m Mark Ross’s sister.”

Chiara could hear the trembling in Miriam’s voice and she didn’t really know what to think. She was stunned and surprised with this call and wondered how Miriam even knew about her.

“Hi Miriam.”
On the other end Miriam cleared her throat and then explained nervously, “I got a call from the Seattle police this morning. They told me about…”
Miriam stopped and took an audible deep breath, then stuttered, “They informed me…they informed me that something has happened to my brother…to Mark and that he’s in a coma in the hospital, I guess. Since…since I’m his next of kin they somehow…somehow they had my number and called me. I’m …I’m completely shocked and I still can’t really believe this. I haven’t seen…”

Chiara remembered Mark telling her about his sister.
Miriam obviously had a hard time with this phone conversation and Chiara now tried to sound confident, “I know you haven’t seen your brother in a few years.”
Miriam sounded relieved that Chiara had said this, “I haven’t. The last time we spoke was when…it was when he was at Walter Reed hospital…after he had been injured in Afghanistan.”

Chiara could hear the nervousness in Miriam’s voice.
Chiara took a deep breath, “Mark told me.”
“He did?” Miriam seemed surprised.

Miriam took another deep breath, “I don’t know…I…they told me you…you and Mark were together and they gave me this number to call so I can…so I can talk to you. Honestly I’m a little unsure what to…what to say and do.”
Chiara felt she needed to help Miriam out and she tried to sound friendly, “I’m very happy you called. I’m happy to get to know you. Yes, Mark and I are together.”

“So what happened to him? Is he going to be okay?”
Chiara sighed and tried to keep her tears in, “Actually I don’t know. I haven’t seen him. He’s in the ICU and no one is allowed to see him. He’s been in an attack.”
Miriam was confused, “So, were you both attacked? Since you’re also in the hospital.”
“My situation came out of a different thing. It’s kind of a long story. Mark and I have been through a lot in the last couple of months. All of this happened because of my situation.”
“What do you mean?”
Chiara took a deep breath, “It’s a lot to explain on the phone.”
“Yes, ahem…I was thinking about flying over. I live in Connecticut.”
“Even though this sounds like a great thing, I don’t know how things are going to be with Mark. I don’t know much about everything. I’m actually…”, Chiara swallowed and her voice trembled, “This is very difficult for me. I’m very scared about everything and I’m terrified about losing Mark.”

Miriam cleared her throat again, “How bad is it? I mean…do you know what happened to him?”
“I do somewhat but I don’t know how he’s doing and I don’t know if he’s going to make it.”
Miriam seemed shocked, “So you’re saying there’s a chance he may actually not make it?”
Chiara felt tears come up in her eyes, “I really don’t know. I wish I could tell you more.”
“Is…is…I mean he’s paraplegic, right?” Miriam seemed confused but was looking for something to hold on to.

There was silence again for a few seconds and then Chiara said, “Mark told me about you and him and how everything was. He also told me that he would like to reconnect with you but didn’t know how and he felt you didn’t have any room for him in your life. He said you have a very good life and there are some personal issues between the two of you. He did tell me that you went to see him at Walter Reed but it wasn’t a good visit and he was still in bad shape at the time.”

Chiara now heard sniffling on the other end and Miriam’s voice sounded shaky, “I want to see my brother again. When they called me about this I…I was shocked and I…I need to see him and…I want to apologize and reconcile. I’m very worried about him now.”
“Maybe you can wait a few days until you come over. We can stay in touch and I can hopefully keep you updated on what’s going on with him.”
“I would appreciate that so much. I…I know Mark and I…we had a fallout and it was really my fault. I blamed him for things I shouldn’t have. I need to see him and talk to him.”
“If he makes it through, I’m sure he would be so happy about that.”
Miriam sniffled her nose again, “I’m so glad to talk to you and get to know you Chiara.”
“Me too.”

They were quiet for a moment and then Chiara added with tears running over here cheeks, “Mark is a wonderful man. He has a good heart and he means the world to me. I love him very much.”
“How long have…have you been together?”
Chiara tried to swallow the knot in her throat, “We’ve only met a few months ago, last year in the fall but I had some very difficult personal circumstances and so we weren’t able to be together really. There were some things that needed to be sorted out. I’ve loved him from the moment I first lay eyes on him though. We can talk about everything when you come here. It’s not an easy story.”  
Miriam sounded relieved, “I can’t wait to meet you Chiara. I can’t wait to see my brother again.”
“I can’t wait to meet you and I know Mark would want nothing more than to see you again.”
“I hope so.”

The two women finished the conversation with the promise to stay in touch and Chiara would keep Miriam informed on anything pertaining to Mark.

After she had hung up with Miriam, Chiara fell back on the pillow and stared into the room thinking about the conversation with Mark’s sister. She remembered Mark talking about his sister and the issues they had. She also remembered that he had said he would like to reconnect with his sister someday.

Chiara thought about her own brother. She had no idea where he was and if he was even still alive. Having talked to Miriam she now felt this intense longing to also find out where her brother was. Maybe once all of this was over, she could go back to her hometown and see if she could find her brother again. 

The following days were a blur for Chiara. Christmas came and passed and even though around her Chiara saw the hospital staff trying to spread the magic of Christmas, she didn’t feel anything even close to some kind of Christmas cheer. She cried a lot, she worried constantly and she barely functioned. Officer Collins did get in touch with the ICU and Mark’s doctors and he kept her updated.

In the attack and with numerous severe blows to his head Mark had suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was kept in a coma and had been put on a ventilator. He was still in critical condition and they were just trying to keep him stable. It was unknown what results would come out of the brain injury. Since Mark had suffered a previous traumatic brain injury during the explosion in Afghanistan, another injury of this type would most likely result in serious post traumatic symptoms. It was unpredictable how Mark would come out of this.

Chiara imagined all the scenarios in her head over and over again and she was scared for Mark. She wanted to see him, she wanted to touch him and hold him, but no one was allowed to see him and the old year ended and the new one began. Chiara felt nothing and was numb to any kind of cheer or joy pertaining to the holidays.

She cried a lot, usually at night when she wasn’t distracted and when no one was around.

The first week of January she started physical therapy and was now allowed to get out of bed and with the help of a hospital wheelchair she was allowed to move about some.

With Trey’s death Chiara’s protection level had been lowered and the police officers were replaced with security guards from the hospital. A security guard usually escorted her when she left her room. And sometimes she made it all the way to the entrance door of the ICU, thought of her boyfriend inside and turned around crying and devastated. It was only a door that kept her separated from Mark and it tore her up.

And all the requests to see Mark were denied and only Officer Collins kept her updated on his condition. It was almost unbearable for her to not be able to see Mark. Every time Officer Collins talked to her and updated her on Mark telling her how he was still in a coma she realized that there was nothing she could do for him anyways. She thought of Mark every second of the day though, she cried when she thought about him, she felt the pain almost tear her apart.

She kept in touch with Miriam and when she talked to her she tried to be strong and keep a clear head, updating Miriam with the newest information. The information didn’t change much though. Since no one was allowed to see Mark, Miriam decided to wait with her visit but would come over as soon as Mark could have visitors.

It was about three weeks after the attack when Officer Collins came into Chiara’s room once again. She was sitting in the wheelchair and was looking out the window. With all the visits Chiara and Officer Collins not directly involved in the investigation of the case anymore, they had been able to connect on a more personal level and she now called him by his first name, Dan.

“Hi Chiara.”
Chiara turned toward him, “Hi Dan.”
He sat down on the chair, “How are you today?”
Chiara shrugged her shoulders. She really felt indifferent to her moods anymore, “I’m okay I guess.”
“They’re letting him wake up.”
Chiara’s eyes shot at Dan and he added, “Today.”
“When can I see him?”
“I know not yet today. I’ll find out tomorrow. I was told that we can’t go in yet because he’s still intubated and we can’t see him until he comes off the ventilator. They’re just really trying to avoid any kind of stress for him.”

And Chiara cried again of worry at what was going to happen and the anxiety of the state she would possibly find Mark in. And she waited and worried again for a few more days.

It was three days later on a Friday morning at the end of January when she was finally able to see Mark.
The physical therapist had just left when Dan came in to tell her the news. Chiara was sitting in the hospital issued wheelchair wearing a tank top and shorts, the only type of pants she could fit over her thick bandaged right ankle and leg. Her left ankle had mostly healed and she only wore a light ankle brace to keep the ankle supported. Over the brace she wore a anti slip hospital sock.  

Her physical therapy usually consisted of having the therapist move her legs around, especially to keep her hips flexible and the left leg moving. With her right leg in the thick bandage she couldn’t really move it very much but the therapist helped her lift her leg and also helped her get used to the crutches and only bearing weight on her left leg.

She couldn’t believe it for a moment when Dan told her they were now allowed to see Mark.
Her eyes were glistening as he stated, “I’ll take you to the ICU.”
Chiara nervously put her hands to the rims of the bulky wheelchair and pushed toward the bathroom, “I’ll be right out.”
Dan nodded, “I’ll wait outside.”

Inside the bathroom she used the toilet and she then looked at herself in the mirror. Her face had healed mostly, there was barely any bruising visible anymore. Her lip was healed but her hair was hanging lose and stringy down to her breasts. She grabbed the brush and ran it through her hair quickly. Her face was pale and she didn’t really look well. Even though physically she felt a lot better now, mentally had been a different struggle. With everything that was going on with Mark she had not been able to keep it together really and had been put on anti-depressives and anti-anxiety medications that had helped her cope with daily life somewhat. 

Now her heart was beating at seemingly a hundred miles per hour as she pushed the hospital wheelchair next to Dan. Her right leg was propped up on a leg rest and they made their way through the hospital toward the ICU. Dan was in his uniform as he was basically on duty while visiting and as they passed people, they got some curious glances.

In front of the ICU doors, Dan rang the door-bell and after they explained who they were there to see, it took a moment and they were buzzed in. Chiara was nervous and scared and her breaths came quickly as they entered.

A young male nurse intercepted them in the hallway, “Hi there, are you here to see Mark?”
“Yes, I’m Officer Collins, a friend of Mark and this is his girlfriend Chiara Pearson.”
“Awesome, I’m Mark’s nurse for today. My name is Toby. It’s nice to meet you.”  
Chiara didn’t say anything, she felt her hands tremble and they were sweaty.
Dan replied, “Nice to meet you.”

Toby then asked softly, “May I talk to you for a moment before I let you see Mark?”
Chiara felt nervous and Dan was the one answering again, “Sure.”
Toby led them to a quiet area and offered Dan to have a seat. Toby sat down on a chair as well and then started, “So I’m sure you can’t wait to see Mark?”

They both didn’t say anything and Toby continued, “Mark came off the ventilator two days ago. He finally was able to breathe on his own again. As you probably all know he suffered from a severe traumatic brain injury and I just need to let you know that some things may be affected in his cognition and physical abilities. We’re aware that he’s paraplegic so we hope that not more of body is affected with the TBI. We won’t know until he gets stronger. Right now, he’ll stay here in ICU so we can monitor his breathing and heart rate, brain data and just his overall condition. He’s been through a lot and you’ll find him still weak and there may be issues with his memory and cognitive abilities or any physical traits as in speech, vision or mobility. I want to ask you to take it easy on him.”

Chiara felt her heart beat fast and Toby smiled, “But he did know your name which is a good thing. He has been asking for you.”
Chiara lowered her eyes; she felt tears in her eyes again.
Toby then shifted, “So I know you’re ready to see him. Just give him time to adjust to the excitement. I’ll keep an eye on his heart rate and things like that while you visit with him. We can’t make this visit too long yet as he has to get used to the commotion and we really want to avoid any kind of stress.”
Chiara only nodded but Dan replied, “Yes, that’s totally understandable.”

Toby and Dan got up and Chiara followed them in the wheelchair as they made their way over to the room. Toby pushed the glass door open and the curtain aside and they entered the dimly lit room.

Mark was lying in bed with his eyes closed, but now opened them when Toby announced softly, “Hey Mark, my friend. There are some people here to see you.”

Mark was in the bed somewhat inclined and Chiara right away let her eyes travel to him. He didn’t move and he didn’t do anything but she pushed the wheelchair over to him. The side rails of the bed were up.
Toby meanwhile lowered the bed with a soft hum, “Here we go, I’ll let Mark down some.”

Dan only slowly approached the bed, Chiara was now next to the bed.
Mark slowly turned his head toward her. Chiara looked at him with a smile.

He scanned her face and she said softly, “Mark, my love. Hi.”
Mark said barely audible, “Chiara.”

Chiara thought for a moment and then reached her hand through the bed rail and took Mark’s hand in hers. His hand felt limp and cool in her hand. Mark’s eyes scanned over her face.
She couldn’t help when a few tears ran out of her eyes.
Mark now only said, “Don’t cry.”

His voice was weak, he looked pale and his eye sockets were sunken in with dark circles under them. His cheek bones were showing but he was obviously freshly shaved as there was no facial hair. The last time Chiara had seen Mark he had had a three-day stubble. He seemed to have lost weight, his body under the sheet seemed fragile and thin. His hair had gotten longer and bangs hung into his forehead. There were light bruises on his face.

Chiara didn’t see the side of his head where they had shaved a patch of hair and drilled a hole to relieve the pressure on his brain. The hair had somewhat grown over again but the stitches were still there.

She didn’t know what to say and she couldn’t stop more tears from flowing. She really was lost for words. Mark kept his eyes on her and just watched her cry.

Dan stood by quietly and Toby stood over by the monitors and IV pumps.

Chiara looked over to Toby, “Is there any way you can let the rail on this side down?”
Toby smiled and came around, “Yeah, sure, while we are in here we can do that.”
Chiara let go off Mark’s hand through the rail as Toby let it down gently.

She then pushed the wheelchair even closer and leaned forward some to be closer to Mark, “Mark, hi babe.”
He was still just looking at her and Chiara was scared he wouldn’t really recognize her.
She took his hand again and touched it to her cheek and said with a trembling voice, “I love you Mark.”
Mark’s lips formed a weak smile, “I love you too. I missed you.”
Chiara couldn’t help it anymore and she now swallowed and broke into actual crying, “I missed you too. I missed you so much Mark.”
Mark still just watched her and she held his hand to her face as her tears ran down and she actually sobbed.
Mark then said softly, “I don’t like seeing you cry.”

Chiara shrugged her shoulders and sniffled her nose. Dan stood over on the side and just watched. He didn’t think he should really say anything yet but felt it was lot more important for Chiara and Mark to connect.

Toby then turned to everyone and said in a friendly tone, “Everything is good right now. I’ll leave you to it and give you some time. I’ll be outside at the nurse’s station if you need me.”
Toby then leaned over Mark, “Are you going to be good for me Mark?”
Mark slowly turned his head toward Toby and answered softly, “Yes.”
Toby warmly touched Mark’s arm and then walked out with a smile at Chiara and Dan.

Mark moved his eyes back to Chiara.
She cried and she didn’t know what to say.
Mark then stated softly, “Ranger is dead.”

Chiara quickly looked up at Mark with tear filled eyes and then over to Dan. She actually had not even known that Ranger had been killed and now when she looked at Dan he only nodded in confirmation without words. Chiara’s eyes shot back at Mark and now she saw tears run out of his eyes.

She swallowed and she wanted to be so much closer to him, and she wanted to hold him.

She lifted her leg off the leg rest on the wheelchair and awkwardly she stood up on her left leg and held her right leg off the ground as she leaned closer over Mark and now hugged him. Mark weakly wrapped his arms around her. She cried into his hair and she felt his face next to hers and she knew he also cried.

She mumbled into his hair, “I love you so much Mark. I was so scared. The last couple of weeks have been hell. I missed you so much. I thought I was going crazy not being able to see you and be with you. And I was so very scared to lose you.”
Mark held her as she cried and he now said, “I love you a lot too. We’ll make it through this Chiara. We’ll come out of this on the other side even stronger.”

They held each other for a while and eventually Chiara let go off him and just looked at his face, scanning him with her eyes. A few of her tears dropped onto his face. Mark let his eyes travel over her face. Chiara then leaned down to him and her lips softly touched to his lips and they kissed for a moment. When Chiara couldn’t stand up anymore, she unlatched her lips from his and they let go of each other. She sat back down, but they were still holding their hands and looking at each other.

Mark then turned to Officer Collins who was still standing over on the side silent.
Dan was glad that Mark still remembered his first name and stepped up to the bed, “Mark, it’s good to see you.”
Mark added, “Thanks for bringing Chiara here.”
Chiara now explained, “Dan did a lot more than that. Over the last couple of weeks, he kept me updated on you every day.”
Mark looked questioning from Chiara to Dan, “Couple of weeks?”
Chiara now looked at Mark, “Yes, you’ve been here for like five weeks.”

Mark seemed to be surprised some. He didn’t say anything but only kept his eyes on Chiara.
Chiara didn’t know if she should elaborate more but she decided not to. 

Mark then looked back at Dan, “Thanks for keeping Chiara updated I guess.”
Dan replied, “I wanted to help. It was a difficult time for her.”
Mark nodded, “I understand.”

The conversation was somewhat insecure now. Mark didn’t seem to know how long he had been in the ICU and how serious things really had been and still were.
Dan decided to give Chiara and Mark some time alone.

Dan reached his hand out to Mark and Mark took it, “Thanks for everything Officer.”
Chiara and Dan glanced at each other since Mark had called him Officer but they didn’t say anything.
Dan bid his farewell and promised to visit again the next day.

Chiara stayed behind with Mark and she looked at him with sad eyes.
Mark swallowed and he seemed to be thinking about what he wanted to say.
Chiara then asked nervously, “Mark, do you remember what happened to you?”
Mark swallowed again but he only slowly moved his head from side to side.
Chiara held his hand. She debated very much on telling him but she didn’t know if it was a good idea. She didn’t say anything in that sense but she did say, “I’m glad you remember me Mark.”
Mark looked over at her but didn’t speak.
She asked, “You do remember what we have, don’t you?”
Mark only managed to say, “I know I love you.” He sounded insecure.
Chiara nodded and squeezed his hand, “And I love you so very much.”

The rest of the visit was somewhat quiet then, Mark didn’t speak a whole lot anymore. He looked at Chiara with glistening eyes and it seemed like his brain was trying to recollect the things that had happened and also what he had with Chiara.
He eventually seemed tired and Chiara felt it was time to go.

She leaned over to him and looked into his blue eyes, assuring him softly, “It’s okay if you don’t remember everything Mark. I’ll try to help you remember the important things.”
Mark’s eyes were shiny, “You won’t leave me, will you?”
Chiara ran her hand over the side of his face, “I’ll never leave you Mark, come hell or high water. I’ve been waiting all this time to see you, it’s been so difficult to not be able to see you.”
Mark swallowed, “So I’ve been here for a few weeks?”
Chiara nodded and answered softly, “Yes, it happened in December before Christmas. You don’t remember?”

In a way she wanted him to remember but at the same time she felt that maybe it was better that he didn’t remember.
Mark just looked at her and his eyes were flickering nervously but he didn’t say anything.
Chiara ran her fingers over the side of his face, “I love you Mark.”
He seemed relieved and kept his eyes on her, “I love you.”

That night Chiara cried in her room as she laid in her bed. She knew pieces were missing from Mark’s memory and she was scared to think about the future. Really everything was just so uncertain.

Having heard from Mark that Ranger was dead had been devastating and terrifying to her at the same time. She didn’t dare to let her mind imagine what had happened the night of the attack. Tears were constantly streaming over her face and the pain she felt in her heart was excruciating. 

The next day she called Mark’s sister and told her about the visit with Mark, updating her on the status.
Miriam then said, “I want to come over as soon as possible. I just need to get things organized here with my family but as soon as I have it figured out, I’m coming over.”
In a way Chiara wasn’t sure if it was actually a good idea since Mark didn’t really remember some things. Then again, maybe it would be a good thing to see his sister.
Chiara was supportive of Miriam’s plans, “Yeah, just let me know when you’re coming.”
“I will.”
Miriam had sounded determined and Chiara sensed there was nothing that could stop Mark’s sister from coming to see her brother.


  1. Wow, last chapter was so strong, heavy, you really have a way of conveying these emotions. I really enjoyed it. Now this chapter is heartbreaking, but really good to see things getting better for Mark and Chiara. I really want to know what's coming in their journey. You're a wonderful writer, Dani. Thanks for sharing the story with us! It's just the right amount of everything, I particularly enjoy all the drama.

    1. Thank you so, so much. This means a lot to me

  2. Good to see things working out (almost) for Chiara and Mark! I spent the entire week going back to the last chapter. Wow. I was really moved. Great chapter, can't wait for the next. ;)

    1. I appreciate the comment, thanks so much for reading. Yeah, the last chapter was hard to read but I am so glad some people still like the story

  3. Great chapter thanks for posting!

    1. You are welcome, thanks for reading and commenting

  4. Your story has a great development. It's getting better and better.

    1. Thank you so much Chandelier, I am very glad you like the story