The shot rang in her ears even though the shooting had happened hours ago. Gillian shivered even with Eli's jacket wrapped tightly around her.
"Still cold? Why don't I ask the nurse for a blanket?" Ria offered quickly.
"No, I'm fine. I just…wanna get outta here." Gillian looked around her at the sterile hospital equipment surrounding her. She hated hospitals. There was a knock on the wall and she looked up, hopeful for a sign of the ER doctor. The curtain spread open to reveal it was only Eli. "Hey, h-how is he?"
Eli shrugged, his shoulders trying to seem casual but his face stating otherwise. "He's…" He trailed off, knowing there was no use lying to Gillian or Ria. "He's still in a coma. Doctor says the bullet hit a major artery. He's lucky even to be alive but he lost way too much blood and…" He fell silent again. "You shouldn't worry about him right now. How's the arm?"
"It's fine." Gillian answered curtly. She had almost forgotten about the pain. Thoughts of the shooting and of Cal outweighed everything else in her mind right now.
"She got a few stitches but nothing major. We're still waiting for the doctor to sign off on her." Ria elaborated, looking at Eli pointedly.
He gestured at the space outside the curtained-off area they were in. "Why don't I go see where that doctor is…"
As if on cue, a white-robed man appeared. He checked the clipboard in his hands and offered them a smile. "Sorry for the wait, Dr. Foster, it's been a busy night here in the ER. Everything looks in place. I'll have the nurse get you some painkillers and you can be on your way."
"Oh, she already gave us some." Ria pointed to Gillian's purse, indicating where the medication had been placed.
"Oh, perfect! Then it looks like you can go. You can come back in two weeks to remove the stitches."
Gillian was already gingerly getting off the hospital bed and was on her way out of the ER as the doctor gave her his final instructions. Ria and Eli knew better than to slow her down. They followed closely behind. Gillian's one-track mind did not stop until she reached the ICU. The first room to the left was where she found him. Despite the bandaged head and the various tubes attached to him, Cal looked peaceful, like he was just asleep. She resisted the urge to enter the dimly lit room as Zoe turned to see her. Both women exchanged tired looks through the window separating them. It wasn't until Emily, who was sitting bedside by her father, waved that Gillian reached for the door and entered.
"How's your arm?" Zoe asked sincerely.
Gillian glanced down at the large bandage on her left arm. It was in full-view now that she had returned Eli's jacket to him. "It's um…sore but, I'm alright. Thanks."
As if reading her mind, Emily quickly explained, "Doctor says he doesn't know when Dad will wake up."
Gillian could tell there were a lot of questions Emily wanted to ask her but always having been mature and considerate for her age, the girl opted to keep her inquiries to herself for now. She got up and pointed to the door. "Danny said he'd wait up for my call. I should go let him know what's going on."
"Ok, hunnie, but don't go far." Zoe gave her daughter a comforting pat on the arm.
"I won't." As Emily walked to the door, she stopped by Gillian's side and offered, "I'm really glad you're ok."
Gillian managed a weak smile as an uncomfortable sinking feeling entered her gut. She could tell Zoe's eyes were trained on her. She knew what was coming but for as long as she could hold off that conversation…
"You knew he would come for you…"
"I didn't know, Zoe!"
"Fine. You didn't know but…" Zoe paused, trying to gather herself. "Cal almost died trying to save you!"
"I know that! I know that…" Gillian kept her attention on Cal, not wanting Zoe to see her eyes fill with tears.
"You know, anyone else, Gillian, anyone else and I wouldn't be so…" Zoe left the thought unfinished.
Finally, she turned to look at Zoe. "I could go if you want me to. I don't wanna upset you anymore than you already are."
Zoe considered the offer but shook her head. "No, you should stay." Her anger dissipated as she nodded at Cal. "He'd want you to be here." There was a pause before she added, "He always wanted you to be around."
The last part had been said so quietly, Gillian had barely heard it. She looked at Zoe. "I'm…sorry…if I ever…"
"Caused a problem for us?" Zoe smiled bitterly. "You were only one of many problems for us. Cal and I had many issues to begin with…but you already knew that."
"I'm sorry. I never meant to…"
"I know. Of course, that only made me feel worse. It's one thing when a woman aggressively pushes her way into your husband's life. It's another story when he willingly shares it with her."
The two women fell into silence as they both looked at the man lying lifeless in front of them. It wasn't until the door opened and Emily returned that that the silence was broken. Emily could sense the tension immediately. She looked at her mother and then at Gillian. "Is everything ok?"
"Yeah…" Zoe glanced at Gillian before giving her daughter a reassuring smile. "I'm gonna go make a few phone calls. See what the police have right now…"
Emily watched as her mother disappeared from the room. She returned to her seat beside Cal's bed and looked up at the silent Gillian. "I don't think my mom's really mad at you. She's just frustrated and worried."
"I think she is mad and I think she has every right to be. So do you."
"Why? Because some crazy stalker came and tried to kill you?" Emily shook her head. "You couldn't have known that he would've done that."
"I was watching when the police questioned him before. I should've caught something…"
"Even Dad didn't catch anything and I think Dad's pretty good at this kinda stuff."
"Yeah, but he's the one lying in a coma right now, not me."
"Dad saved you cuz he wanted to. I think even if he knew the outcome and he could go back to change what happened, he still would've jumped in front of you."
Gillian was amazed by the clarity in Emily's thoughts but that only made her feel worse. She wasn't sure what to say.
"I don't blame you for what happened. You shouldn't blame yourself either." Emily looked at her father and placed her hand over his. "And, anyway, I don't care what the doctor says. I know he'll wake up. He has to."