XVI

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Blake texts me back almost instantly.

*Glad he's okay. Take your time* I smile at the screen and shut my phone off.

"Something is bothering you." I turn my head toward where Darek's voice came from.

He's studying my body language, I know because I've watched him do the same to other people to get a read on them.

I sigh and run a hand through my hair "You and Blake said the same thing." I tell him gently.

He offers me a smile but it isn't his normal smile.

"Something is bothering you, too." I call him out.

He laughs "What gave it away? The hospital gown, or the stressed look on my face?"

I smile and shake my head in amusement. I love how even in the worst of situations, Darek always has a great attitude.

"I think the hospital gown was a red flag." I tell him with a giggle.

He smiles at me but closes his eyes and lays his head back in exhaustion. I don't think he's gotten much sleep.

"When was the last time you slept?" I ask.

He shrugs "Couldn't tell you. They don't want me to fall asleep because they're afraid I-" He stops as his eyes meet mine.

He sees the worry and doesn't finish the sentence. But I already know what he was about to say.

"They were afraid you wouldn't wake up?" I ask helplessly.

He shakes his head and grabs my hand. This is the first time I've noticed my hand has been shaking.

I'm shaking.

I think the only reason I'm not in full on panic mode is because I'm still sorta shocked.

"I feel fine. Aside from the lack of sleep, the lump on my head, and the bruise on my cheek, I feel perfectly fine." He assures me.

"That's not good enough." I whisper.

"I know." He says. "Teal... I haven't been honest with you." He says.

I raise an eyebrow. "About Liam. That thing I won't tell anyone. The thing that made me hate him before what he did to you." He says.

"Darek you don't need to tell me-" "No, I do. You deserve to know and we tell each other everything."

He pauses and that hits hard with me. I take a deep breath and he continues.

"I walked in on him sleeping with my mom." Darek says as he grits his teeth afterwards.

I feel my skin go cold at his words. "What?" I ask completely and totally repulsed.

It makes total sense now that I know, but I never would've guessed.

He nods "I beat his ass. I was pissed at my mom and when I threw him out of the house, my dad was there... things were already bad enough between them. Add the fact that my mom just had sex with someone my age, let alone someone I once called a friend." He says.

"I fucking hate him. I would kill him!" I exclaim.

"You of all people would have that right." Darek says with a sigh. "He was cheating on you to top it off. I didn't deal with what was happening at the time because I was trying so hard to be strong for my sister and for you..." He says as he looks down.

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