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Carmen looked over at the heart monitor next to her bed. It beeped furiously; her heart beat maintaining a quicker rhythm since her minor car accident. Thanks to her, it could have been a lot worse. But finding herself in the same annoying place as before, this time as the patient, was enough to make her lash out at the same nurse checking her breathing.

"Will you please leave me alone, I'm fine!" Carmen yelled at her. The kind nurse swerved Carmen's hand and continued to check on her.

"Please calm down Miss Stevens, what you've just went through could have ended your life. It's completely normal to be scared."

"I'm not scared, just please leave me alone," Carmen begged this time, sounding exasperated. The nurse took pity on her and gave in.

"I'm done checking you anyway. You have bruising up your side and your knee may be a bit tender but otherwise, you're fine. You're pretty much good to go. In fact, so is your mother, so why don't you go to her room and you can both go home together."

The nurse gave her a warm smile and then departed, leaving Carmen alone. She took no time at all in getting out of bed. She had to take steady breaths to keep from feeling light-headed.

A knock at the door distracted Carmen from a quick getaway to her mother's room. She looked up to see a familiar man.

"I am so sorry about clipping you with my car earlier," the man apologised whole-heartedly, contemplating whether to enter the room or not. He waited for her reaction to see if she would be cruel or kind. "That man came out of nowhere then you appeared and I didn't have time to stop. It all happened so fast. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Carmen told him, sounding plain enough so he couldn't detect her mood and emotions.

"That's good. Erm, I am terribly sorry. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?" He seemed nice enough and Carmen began to feel guilty for giving him the cold shoulder. She knew he didn't mean to hit her with his car.

"No, it's honestly fine, you don't need to do anything. You really didn't do anything wrong. Just a shock is all."

The man sighed a breath of relief. He appeared to be around Carmen's age, if not just a tiny bit older judging by his mature voice. He was attractive, but not Carmen's type. "That's good to hear."

"You do look slightly familiar," Carmen noted, stopping her packing to focus on him. She squinted. "I do know you from somewhere. Maybe I've served you at the Pandora Café?"

"That's not where you know me from," the man smiled. He walked into the room and extended his arm for her to shake his hand. She didn't take it but he held it out for as long as he talked. "I'm Cory Rosenberg, I was a childhood friend of Christina's. I didn't go to the same school but we played on the same street. I've been living in Weeping Willows, the next town over, for the past few years."

"Weeping Willows? Why would you live there, it's basically empty?"

"Exactly," Cory laughed. Carmen thought about the loneliness there and realised it didn't actually sound too bad. She smiled and finally accepted his hand. "It's weird, this is my first day back in Lakefield View in just over a year. Funny how I'd be welcomed back by running you over."

"It's hilarious," Carmen replied sarcastically. "So you are friends with Christina then? Does she know you're back?"

"No, I haven't spoken to her in forever. We used to be pen pals but we grew apart. Distance, you know. I would love to see her again."

Ashes of the Innocent (Abyssal Sanctuary #2)Read this story for FREE!