I jumped into the back of the ambulance just as they were closing the doors. A sharp pain originating from my mid section radiated throughout my body, shortening my breaths. I clutched my stomach, ignoring the fire inside me. A male paramedic caught my hand and helped me up. I looked into his hard brown eyes. They softened as he gently twisted my arm and gawked at my purple bloodied wrists. “You can stay, but keep to the side. Your friend is in bad shape.” Wrapping my small hand around La Tige’s chunky one, I closed my grip as tight as possible. The stinging in my wrists minimal. “Thank you,” I whispered. I stayed out of the way but didn’t let go of La Tige’s hand. The pain in my side receded as the ambulance sped through the city and my mind raced. I couldn’t focus on any one thought except Are they going to be OK? They had to be. I loved them both - my surrogate family. “How do you feel?” asked a female paramedic, interrupting my thoughts. Her long blonde hair pulled back into a tight pony tail. “Confused, scared.” She squatted in front of me. Pointing to her partner she said, “He’s got your friend. I’m going to take care of you.” Her voice calm. I gazed at La Tige’s face. His eyes closed as if in a deep sleep and a mask over his nose for oxygen I assumed. She felt for my pulse, checked my blood pressure and looked into my eyes. “Everything checks out, but your blood pressure is a little high. You need to calm down.” “I’m trying,” I said, the words choking in my throat. She held out my arms. “This doesn’t look good, but it will heal. I noticed you wincing when you hopped on board. Are you sore anywhere else?” I nodded my head, “My mid section.” She brought her hand to my mid section. “I’m going to touch your stomach and along your sides. You tell me where it hurts,” She gently pressed her fingers against me. The entire area was tender but not agonizing. Then she pushed against my left ribcage and fire burst through my side. “There,” I squeaked. She continued pressing her fingers in various areas. “He’s going to be OK,” she reassured, then described what her partner was doing with La Tige. Most of it went in one ear and out the other. I know she was talking to me just to calm me down. She nodded, “You may have bruised or broken ribs. You’ll need to be admitted to the hospital as well.” I shook my head. “What about Kacy?” I asked. “The young lady? We can radio the other ambulance and find out.” As she said that the ambulance pulled into the hospital ER loop. “Here we are. You’ll find out soon. There’s a waiting room inside the double doors, wait there.” I nodded. They rolled La Tige out of the back of the ambulance. His large frame so fragile on the stretcher as they raced him through the hospital. Kacy was already inside, somewhere. I saw the waiting room and, understanding there was nothing more I could do for the moment, I took a seat. I stayed put for maybe five minutes before I started pacing, ignoring the throbbing in my side. Taking deep breaths I tried to control the convulsions of fear riding through my body. But inhaling large breaths hurt too much, so I settled for shallow ones. “Cleo,” called a male voice. I turned and met eyes with Javier, Kacy’s sexy boyfriend. I ran to him and folded my arms around him, taking care not to make sudden movements. My body shook and tears flowed over my cheeks and onto his shirt. He rubbed my back. “He’s a tough guy, honey. It’ll take a lot more than that to take him down. Why don’t we sit?” He guided me away from the ER waiting room and into a far quieter one. We sat on the couch. “Would you like a soda or coffee?” “No, I don’t think I can hold anything down right now,” I said through sobs. He clucked his tongue. “How do you feel?” “My ribs are-“ “Miss,” called a nurse, wearing purple scrubs and white hospital-style shoes. Her gray hair wrapped in a bun with wiry bangs. “Yes,” I stood. She took a step back and grabbed the handles of a wheel chair, “Are you with Mr. La Tige?” “Yes. Do they know something already?” I asked, thinking it was far too soon for any answers. “No, not yet. I was told you need medical assistance.” I remembered the female paramedic’s words and cringing with each breath walked towards her as she said, “Come with me. I have orders to get you into triage.”
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