As Nancy's eyes fluttered up and down, she foggily wondered why her head hurt so much. Opening her eyes so she could look through the slits, she saw that she was surrounded by white. Looking down, she saw and IV in her arm, but she couldn't feel much of anything but a tingling all over. There were fingers intermingled with hers. Turning her head, and regretting it when a sharp pain nearly blinded her, she made out Frank's features. He was resting his head on her shoulder, and he looked uncomfortable leaning over the bed in the chair he was in. His form was rising and falling steadily, letting her know that he was asleep. He must have been here all night, she thought to herself.
Turning back to the ceiling, very slowly this time, she tried to remember what had happened. Lifting her other hand, she felt her head was swathed in gauze.
Her movement woke up Frank. He jerked up so fast that she almost laughed when he turned to her with tousled brown hair and red eyes. He looked very much like a little boy at that moment and she grinned, he was so cute, and deep down, very selfishly, she was touched that he was so concerned.
Frank turned his head from side to side, searching out the disturbance of his slumber. He was on edge, and he would do anything to protect the woman sleeping in the bed, for reasons he'd rather not admit, even to himself. Turning his eyes toward her bruised face, he noticed she was no longer so asleep, and was grinning up at him. He felt a smile grow on his face, and brought himself closer to talk to her, not noticing he still clung to her hand.
"Well, hello sleeping beauty," he jibed. She laughed, but her face screwed up in pain and she gasped for air. "Hey take it easy," his glib expression turned quickly to a guilty concern as he fluffed up her pillows. "You have a really serious concussion. You've been out of it for the last three days."
Nancy's eyes got big, and he patted her hand. He knew how disconcerting it was when you had a head injury. Hell, they had all had far too much experience with these hospital visits.
"Frank, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but I have to tell you right now." Her breath came out in a rush and she struggled to sit up. He tried to push her back down, but she fought against him, and he gave in, finding it safer for both parties to just help prop her up. Once upright, she drew his eyes toward her.
"Frank," she bit her lip, knowing he'd be mad at her for what she was about to say. "I was on a case for the university when I got here." Letting that sink in, she looked down at her hands, one still comfortably resting in his, and continued. "Important documents are being stolen from the Dean, and the perpetrators are using them to blackmail the school. Some are about affirmative action, and drug cases that were suppressed, and they could be worth millions of dollars should the press get a hold of them. I was hired when I got here to hold some of the papers for safekeeping, and to also look for the criminals. They think it's an inside job." Nancy took a deep breath of air, and looked up at Frank with pleading eyes. "We have to find those documents. It could mean the Dean's life. He's a prior convict Frank. He's in Witness Protection."
Frank stared at Nancy's hands after her diatribe. He didn't know what to think. He was relieved that she was all right, but felt betrayed. She should have told him. Why would she keep it a secret? They could have helped each other. He carefully withdrew his hand and stood up straight, hands in his pockets, keeping his eyes on the floor. Nancy recognized the defensive stance.
"Frank, I couldn't tell you. I couldn't tell anyone. I was sworn to secrecy. There's a man's life on the line."
"Then why tell me now, huh Nancy?" He looked up with blazing, hurt eyes. "Look," he ran his hand through his hair, "I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I," he faltered. What did you say to someone that had just lied to you since she got back in town? "I gotta get to class. Prof's gonna kill me." With that he stalked out of the room. He pretended not to hear the apology that followed him out or the tears that choked the voice.