{thirty-two}

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White. 

All around her, the color didn't change. Meanwhile, various blurred images flew in and out of her mind. She remembered the trees in the dark. After that, all she had was Dylan's face and then the hospital. She wasn't quite sure any of it happened.

Then she woke up.

Even with the lights dimmed her eyes watered. She closed her eyes again, willing the throbbing in her head and on the back of her shoulder to go away. She looked over at the IV. Saw the morphine drip. She pushed the button and sighed a bit later as the pain subsided.

She hadn't expected to be back at UChicago like this. She looked out the window and saw the Museum of Science and Industry. Alessandra remembered the greenery and the prominent dome. She'd always been into science and would get there every chance she got. That had been before she'd started working for the Illinois State Police.

She looked around, trying to reacquaint herself with the new surroundings. She was by herself in this room so at least she had the TV. Alessandra turned on the news. A press conference. Pat and Dylan were there along with Eric Jay and some unfamiliar people. They must have been family members of the victims.

"You up, Les?"

Was that? She turned and looked. "Mel!" The tears flowed as she hugged her friend.

"I'm glad you're so happy. You only mentioned one person in your sleep, and it wasn't me." She handed Alessandra some ice and looked at the TV. "That's him!"

Oh no. She hadn't. Alessandra looked around. "What did I say?"

"I'm not telling. I see why he was in such a rush now. Said he'll be back later." Mel got a cotton swab and rubbed some Carmex on Alessandra's lips. "I know you didn't want to talk about him, but we're friends. I wouldn't think any less of you for falling in love. I'm happy for you."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Alessandra looked over to the window but tried to keep an eye on the TV. She wanted to see him.

"Oh really? It's written all over your face."

"Not true."

"If you don't believe that would you believe I can sense it? There are times when you just know."

"No." Alessandra focused on the TV again. She missed his smile the most. His voice was a close second.

"He saved your life you know. It's not everyone who can say that about a guy they're into."

Now a couple of images were clear. She'd been trying to bang her way out of the trunk through an intense fog in her head. Somehow Nate had found her. Then there was the frigid water.

She'd been unable to move, her slow breathing technique the only thing she could think of doing to buy time she didn't have. Even now it felt like a nightmare.

They hadn't been able to find drugs in her system. But the lack of memories, the dream state, and being unable to move suggested Ketamine. He would know it couldn't be detected. Her friend was right. Dylan had saved her. As for the other part...

"God, Mel you make me crazy." Alessandra hugged her friend. "It's good to see you."

"You too. Don't ever do that again. If anything ever happened to you, I don't know what I'd do."

"I know. You're gonna make me cry again."

"I got some time off for the holiday. I'm hoping you'll be out, but if you're not, I'll be here."

"I hope so, too." Alessandra leaned back. "I was planning to see you when the case was done."

"Good thing it's over." Mel gave her a pat on the shoulder. "I'm glad you got the lowlife."

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