Me and Mace are left alone together, after my Dad leaves and goes back to his room, next door. After our long talk I feel absolutely exhausted. I thought it was mostly mental exhaustion, however, my body told me otherwise when I stood up I felt dizzy and sick, my legs nearly went from underneath me and it took all my strength not to throw up all over the floor. Luckily my Dad moved quickly enough to stop me collapsing into a heap on the floor.
I am a doctor and I should know better, after everything my body has been through I should have been in bed, sleeping and resting. I have totally over done it by being sat virtually all day in that chair, talking. I should be letting my body recuperate, I should be concentrating on getting better instead I have not had any proper rest at all today and have let my head be filled up with much more than it can handle.
I lie with my eyes closed, while my mind runs riot. My Dad has given me a hell of a lot to think about. Suddenly I think Mace was right, I have got that man totally wrong, and I have been doing it for the whole of my life. It's not just my Dad either, when I look back all I can see is a string of mistakes and misunderstandings, things I have got horribly wrong. My Mother, My Dad, not just the last twenty years of my life, but the whole of it ... and Forrest ... how the hell did I get that so wrong!!!! Is Mace right again, I was constantly and so drunk or high that I could not see the truth!? I get a horrible feeling that my Dad is right about Forrest and our relationship ... suddenly everything makes more sense, and especially my sudden confused feelings for not just Forrest, but Mace too.
The words 'emotional attachment' keeps bouncing around loudly in my head and I can't stop it. Do I even know what love is?! I start laughing at myself, the laugh turns into a moan when another wave of sickness washes over me.
"Baby are you okay?"
I open my eyes and turn to look at Mace who is frowning at me worriedly, he looks nervous, almost scared and I wander why.
"Yeah I'm just mentally and physically drained. It will take time for my body to recharge itself after everything that it has been through, and I've been told so much today, and not just by Dad, my head is doing somersaults." I smile at him
"Are you okay with everything ... have you and Dad made friends?"
"I guess ... I'm not angry with him surprisingly ... I understand why he did what he did, and he has definitely given me a hell of a lot to think about."
"Are you angry with me?" he asks me nervously
"No silly!! Why would I be angry with you?
"Tami ..." he mumbles quietly
"Yeah ... you and my sister!!" I pull a face at him "I'm not happy about all the lies and that you had me crossing a line that I would not have crossed knowingly!! If I had know you was my brother in law I would not have touched you with a barge pole!! I must have looked like a right hypocrite banging on at Gravel for what he has done with Coral when I was doing something very similar myself!!"
"So you are angry with me." he mumbles
"Not exactly ... but it is done now and there is nothing we can do to change it, so is there really any point in talking about it?" he sits there looking nervous "Mace I'm not going to fall out with you over it if that is what you are worried about, we were both secretly married and have baggage ... I just want to forget about it. It would have been a totally different story if Tamarin was still alive, because it would have caused a hell of a lot of trouble, but she isn't ..." I frown at him "Tell me something WHY would Gravel even want to fade his own sister when Dad says she was a good, kind and beautiful person."
"She was. He hated her, because Dad doted on her, she was his little princess. It was always you and Tami that he was most jealous of and you know jealousy is what drove Gravel most of the time. That is why he messed with me so much, because he knew it would get to Tami ... and the same with you and Forrest."
"But why me?" I frown at Mace who laughs quietly
"For lots of reasons and most of them petty ... he hated you for being better looking and not having the Rock nose, you are not visibly mixed and have all of Dad's colouring like all the others when he was the odd one out. The close relationship you had with your Mother, Forrest and even Amber. Forrest says he blames you for his infertility problems and for Amber fading because Slate was your child ... and as the years went on it got worse, he has known where you have been all the time over the last twenty years and has hated that you beat your addiction, cleaned up your act and got yourself a good career, he hoped after you left prison that you would end up in the gutter and fade yourself with the booze and drugs!! He was also very miffed that there was no contact between the two of you. You didn't even try to contact him after you left prison and that got to him."
"He's pathetic!!" I mumble quietly
"But the main reason, he knew the only reason Dad stayed with your Mother was because of you, and while you was Dad's 'special little miracle' Gravel was the unwanted, inconvenient accident ..."
"How did he know that when I didn't? I only found that out today."
"Gravel is a sneak remember ... he used to earwig on your parents conversations and argument, and your Mother used to confide in Forrest's Mother all the time, he used to earwig on those conversations too. He has hated you since he was a child."
"How did he ... fade her?" I ask after a few minutes of silence.
"He shot her ... he shot all three of them ..." he mumbles miserably " ... in the head."
"Baby I'm sorry!!" I choke
I lie there numb and thinking while I watch Mace heaving himself up onto the other bed that I have been told Slate will be occupying later. I really don't get Gravel, the thought of what he has done, especially to his own sister, makes me sick!!"
"Do I smell? I frown at him
"I don't think so why?" he frowns at me
"Idiot!! It was a rehetorical question you didn't have to take it literally, but I must smell if you prefer to get into the other bed!!" I laugh at him
"You need to rest, I'm happy to lie here reading, you don't need me stopping you from sleeping." he smiles at me "Besides, I've had my orders ... your green thing read me the riot act for having you in my bed last night. This is a hospital not a hotel apparently!!" I laugh for a moment.
"Oh just ignore him!! He is not my green thing either, twenty years ago maybe, but not any more!! he smiles at me "Do you love me?"
"Of course I do!! I don't even know how you can question it!!"
"Is you loving me what has kept me alive?"
"What?!" he frowns at me
"If Gravel hated me that much ... did he send you to fade me ... payback for getting your Dad and Uncles locked up?"
"Oh berry no!!" he starts to laugh "I think he half hoped I would feel that way, but it honestly never crossed my mind!! He sent me to you to lie low from the law, as well as sit on you to keep you away from Sugar Valley."
"So what was all that about you getting me back on the drink and in the gutter." he laughs
"He was jealous of your life, he wanted to ruin it and he thought if I egged you on to start drinking again, you would ruin it for yourself. He tried to get T to do the same thing. He hated that we both wouldn't do it!! He starts to look upset. "I never would have done it honestly!!"
"I know I heard you talking about it in that taped conversation. You told him to get lost!"
"Well if you heard it why ask me again now?" he frowns at me
"I wanted to see your face when you said it to me." I smile at him as he laughs quietly.
''So my little social ladder climber ... " I smirk at him "do I have any Brown Stones in my wardrobe?''
''Oh, so they have told you then.'' he smirks at me
''Yes they told me and I felt like a right idiot ... I really hate not knowing who you are, and you should have seen their faces when I said I didn't know you paint, draw and all the other shit that you was doing!!''
''I'm sorry, hiding everything from you was just something I had to do to hide my real identity.''
''Why? I haven't even seen you do any doodling. You could have done your artistic stuff at home, why hide it from me?''
''I was scared you might try to encourage me to do something with it work wise ... I could not afford to let my artwork go public, it would and could have attracted attention to me, and that was the very last thing that I wanted or needed.''
''I guess.'' I smile at him ''But to go all that time without doing what I am told you are very passionate about ...'' he laughs
''When was the last time you went into the loft space above the garage?'' I frown at him thinking that a strange question to ask.
''Berry knows' I actually forgot it was there ... why ask me that anyway?''
''When you go home, just take a peek up there.'' he laughs ''You will see, I did actually do quite a lot of painting and drawing over the year ... I just hid it from you, I was scared that you might find it one day!!''
''In the loft space !!'' I start to laugh
''Yeah. I used to paint and draw up there when you was at work. The lighting was not the best, but it was the best that i could do without you or Marigold seeing. Only T knew what I was doing up there.'' He rolls his eyes ''Half the time I got the sack from my jobs because I used to lose track of time, I would go up there and totally lose the day drawing or painting. A few times you nearly caught me, I didn't realize the time until I heard your car pull up on the drive. The washing machine and drier being in the garage has saved my skin a few times.''
''You idiot!!'' I start to laugh at him
''To answer your original question about the Brown Stones ... your favourite jeans that you wont part with.''
''Stop shitting me!!''
''I am not, you check the label.'' he laughs at me ''I regret getting you those, I ordered them offline and it was a laugh for me to start with, but every time you wear them it just reminds me of what that berry hole made me give up!!''
"Get you anyway!!" I grin at him "Acting like the uneducated idiot when you are sat on a Masters Degree and were working as a lecturer in a college!!"
"What choice did I have?!" he shrugs "I had to hide it all!"
"There are so many things that I didn't see ... your obsession with expensive painting, you knowing about painting styles and different Artists, Mango's wife for one, your obsession with designer labels ... they were all clues to who you are, and I never knew it!!" I frown at him "Thyme says you were making some serious money ... how serious?"
"Serious enough." he grins "I was on a good salary, and I was being paid a lot for some of the freelance work I was doing. The fashion designs, raked it in and some of my paintings I sold for thousands."
"So you was loaded and that is why you like spending money like a maniac, because that is what you are used to!!"
"Not really ... the house is paid for, and I wasn't flash with it, how I turned up on your doorstep was me. Tami was the one who used to spend it ..." he laughs then his face twists "I have a hell of a lot of things to sort out when I get out of the hospital ... three funerals, our house and belongings in Apple Hill ... how the hell am I going to do it all on wheels?"
"Don't stress about it now ... we will get it all sorted, you are not on your own remember!!" I smile at him "As for the wheels, you will get used to them, along with all the changes we will have to make. Your life isn't over you know, and before you say anything ... no I am not going to dump you because you are now paralized, it isn't going to alter us in any way!!"
"It will though!! It is going to be awkward, near on impossible ..." I frown at him "Our sex life."
Mace starts to get really upset, he starts to cry quite loudly and uncontrollably. I am not sure what exactly he is crying for, it could be for a few reasons. I can not bear hearing him crying so I struggle out of me bed to get onto his.
"Baby please don't cry!!"
"I don't think that I can live without my legs."
"You can!!" I say as I wipe the tears off his face "It is not the end of your life and you need to remember we could both be six foot under by now instead!! We have both knocked on deaths door, but we are still here." I smile at him "It is going to take time but you will cope with it once you get used to it. Yes we will have to make some changes and there will be a few things that you will not be able to do like before ...."
"Dancing, jogging, working out, driving and sex ... that is going to be impossible!!"
"Amusing more like. Oh Mace!!" I laugh at him "I think you are still going to be a nympho, you know most of it is up here in your head. I doubt you think about much else other than sex!!" I tap on his head as I laugh at him. "I guess your hands and mouth are going to be very busy from now on!!"
"Seriously Gran it's not funny!!" he mumbles quietly "I don't think I can even get an erection any more." this makes me laugh
"Oh you can!! You have one right now sticking into my leg, just because you are thinking and talking about your favourite subject!!" I laugh at him as I move off him a little and he feels himself. A big grin spreads across his face. "I bet you have been worrying yourself stupid as well as trying to pull one off on the sly haven't you!!" I smirk at him
"Are you joking, with Dad constantly in the room!! I couldn't could I!!" he laughs "Its just stayed limp and floppy." he mumbles quietly
"Well it is far from floppy now!!" I smirk at him "Don't get worrying about our sex life, we can still have one. When we get out of here we will work through it and it will be fine!!"
He stares up at me like he is unconvinced by what I am saying.
"While we are on the subject ... I need to know something ... just how many people and who have you slept with other than me and my sister!" he looks at me sheepishly
"None!! Just you two."
"You liar!!" he frowns at me "I heard your conversation with Gravel that the police had from your bugged ring!! I heard you two talking about you playing him, you even told him I suck dick better than he does!!" I snap at him "I feel sick just thinking about it and that you just lied about it!! You better not have done it in our house and our bed!!" I snap at him and he suddenly starts laughing
"I am not lying honestly!! Yes I played with him ... but only his mind. I could not even touch him if my life depended on it - just the thought of it makes my skin crawl." he shudders then carries on laughing "Gravel has a very big weakness ... he switches off when he gets hammered, he doesn't know what the hell he is doing and he never remember anything when he sobers up. He only THINKS that we did something when really we didn't!!" he smirks at me "He came over to Cherry after our bust with T and you took off to Mint for the weekend ... after he gave me and Atlas a kicking he sent Atlas home and we went out on the lash. Gravel was so hammered he was out of it. He stayed at ours - in the spare room - he set himself up so I screwed with his head. He stripped himself naked and just collapsed on the bed. He was still out of it when I went in the next morning, so I ruffed up the sheets and jumped into the bed before I woke him up." he starts to howl "He shit himself when he saw me there, automatically it was the first thing he asked me, so I told him we had, and he fell for it!! I got a good paling for it, he thinks I took advantage of him while he was hammered, but it was worth it, to this day he still thinks we did, when we didn't!! It grosses him out big time."
"Swear!!" I laugh at him because I know he is telling the truth, much to my relief.
"I swear!! I would never cheat on you and especially not with Gravel!!" he shudders again.
"Okay so you didn't touch Gravel ... but I still don't believe there has only been two of us!!"
"On my daughters life, Tami pounced on me when I was eleven years old and never left me alone after that. I gave in to her when I was about 17, and she was the only person I have ever slept with until you and I never cheated on you. Atlas has kissed me twice, but I didn't kiss him back I slapped him."
"Seriously ... you are telling me that I am the only man you have ever slept with!!"
I frown at him and he smiles at me and nods ... he is telling the truth again isn't he, but hell in a way I wished he wasn't!! When I think about what I did to him, which I am still struggling to forgive myself for. This makes it even worse!!
"You wound me up for months because of my two second first attempt at shagging you. You didn't let me live it down, because it was my first time and I couldn't control myself. You kept calling me a virgin when you was basically one yourself!! You should have told me!!"
"How could I when I had filled your head full of shit talking about an ex boyfriend that never existed!" he rolls his eyes "Besides it wasn't the same, shagging a woman is actually not so much different to shagging a man. I had shagged someone before, where you hadn't. I had had blow jobs before where as you hadn't ..."
"Yeah but its not like you got any of those things from me - instead I made you play bitch and I refused to give you anything including blow jobs - in fact, now I think about it I treated you like he treated me, only he was nice with it, I wasn't. But the point is, you had never been shagged before and you let me ... abuse you!!"
"I wouldn't quite call it abuse!" he laughs at me
"Well I would!! You said yourself you felt like I was raping you ... now I look back I know I was very wrong, I'm sorry!!"
"Forget it, its done now, and you have put it right." he smirks at me
"Yeah but look at all the time we have wasted while I was being a stubborn berryhole, building walls and clinging onto the control freak!!" I pull a face at him "These last few months when our sex life has been better than good ... that is all we are ever going to get, from now on we are going to have to ... improvise."
"I know ..." he chokes "And you will get fed up and go back to him and leave me because of my stupid legs!!"
"Don't be silly!! I've already told you, I am not leaving you, and especially not because of your legs!! Sex isn't going to be an issue for me, like I think it will be for you!! I lived without any sex at all for fifteen years, hell I have lived my whole life up until a few months ago never having proper sex ... we still can have a sex life of sorts. Besides I think our improvising will still be a damn sight better than me playing bitch for the totally straight guy!! The thought of never having another blow job ... oh you can forget it, its not happening!!"
Mace tries to laugh but I see the tears starting to roll down his face. I know sex is going to be a very big issue for Mace mental and it is going to get to him a lot. There is nothing that I can do while we are in here to start putting his mind at rest, so I try to distract him by kissing him. As we are kissing, I feel myself starting to get aroused by it. I think about that kiss with Forrest where I felt nothing and numb. Something snaps in my head, a strange feeling washes over me and the kissing goes a little too far, gets a little too desperate as well as heated and Maces hands start to wander to places I rather they wouldn't.
"Someone is horny!!" he smirks at me before he starts to bite my neck, while his hand is groping me.
"Baby not here!!" I laugh at him as I slap his hand then hold it to stop him from playing with me and winding me up anymore. "There are camera's in the corner of the room ... I think we have performed enough don't you ... our love making has been listened to and recorded enough by the police, now you want to give the hospital security guards a pornographic video to get off too ... besides anyone could walk through that door at any second, including Dad, your Daughter or my Son!!"
"See ... your brain is puddle!! It is me who has had a bleed on the brain not you, but you are the one who is acting like it!!" he laughs again as I frown at him "Did you have some kind of epiphany when you faded or was in that coma - because you are definitely not yourself where I am concerned, since you rejoined the land of the living."
"Epiphany!? ... listen to you ... I didn't think you would know what that word meant ... but then I guess you can now dropped the uneducated idiot act." he laughs at me "Anyway, what are you on about?"
"You have made some very unexpected decisions, namely not leaving me to run back to him. The way you just kissed me, you have never kissed me like that before, you keep calling me baby again and ... Love making?!" he pulls his funny face where his one eyebrows shoots up but the other remains normal and the one side of his mouth follows his raised eye so he gets half a smirk on his face. "Love making!! Since when did you call it that ... sex and doing me is how you usually refer to it! I swear I am dreaming this new you because for me you are just too good to be true" he laughs "So what happened to you ... did your brain get scrambled or did you see the light or something when you faded?"
"You idiot ... you faded too so I think you know as well as I do, you dont feel or know a damn thing when you are away with the fairies or angels or whatever you think we go." I laugh at him "I don't know what is wrong with me because I'm confused ..." I have to stop talking because a wave of sickness washes over me and I heave.
"Are you okay, you are going a funny colour again" he frowns at me as he touches my face "You feel a bit hot too!"
"I'm just a little tired and still feel a bit sicky. I'm not sure my body is up to any kind of excitement just yet, especially not the kind that you have in mind." I smile at him
"I'm sorry!! I didn't think! Do you want me to fetch a doctor or nurse?"
"No, I am due my meds soon so they will be here soon enough. I could do with a sleep though, my head is spinning with everything right now, I need to shut it off for a while."
"Okay I'll go and leave you in peace." he smiles at me
"No!! Stay ... I don't want to sleep alone and I guess I must have really missed cuddling up to you while I was in that coma." I mumble as I settle myself down, wrap my arm and leg around him, lie my head on his shoulder and close my eyes.
He laughs and kisses my head.
"You be careful you are definitely going all sappy on me!!"
"Mmmm if you say so." I mumble sleepily.