Twenty Six

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I'm so sorry for today. For everything. I acted terribly and I am so, so sorry about your mom's store. I can come help you both clean up and do whatever else I can.

I texted Leo but didn't hear back from him. Figuring he needed time to cool off, I waited until morning before checking my phone. But he still hadn't responded. Disappointed, I got out of bed and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. The mirror still hung on the wall without glass, serving solely as a reminder of what had happened. I got dressed and grabbed my phone.

My willpower wouldn't last the day, I was sure of it. I bargained with myself that I would call Leo only once. If he didn't answer, I'd leave him a voicemail apologizing profusely and then hope he'll check his messages. If he does answer, I'll have the chance to tell him how sorry I am in person. Sounded like a win-win for me, so I quickly placed the call before I could talk myself out of it.

It rang a few times and I began practicing my voicemail apology in my head. But then I heard a click and a voice say "Hello?".

I cleared my throat. "Maggie?"

"Oh Everly?" she asked in return.

"Yes, hi," I spoke nervously. "I'm trying to get ahold of Leo. Is he there?"

"No, sweetie, he's in the hospital," she cried.

"The hospital? What happened? Is he alright?" I gasped.

"We were cleaning up the store last night and he fell off the ladder. I had left the room for a minute. For just a minute! And when I came back....he was just lying there on the ground," her voice broke into a sob.

"No!" I cried. "Is he okay? What did the doctors say?"

"He'll be alright. He hit his head pretty hard though. They said he needed stitches and they were testing him for a concussion. I'm on my way back there now. I only stopped home to grab a few things."

My head was spinning and my heart pounded in my chest. Here I was thinking Leo was still mad at me, but he'd been hurt and in the hospital the whole time. I felt terrible.

"Maggie," I asked. "Would it be okay if I came with you? I mean, I totally understand if you say no, but..."

"Definitely! I can pick you up on my way."

I gave her my address and then ran around my bedroom throwing random things into my purse, not even sure what I should bring with me.

I left a note for my mom and then waited outside until Maggie pulled up. The drive to the hospital was pretty quiet. We both were lost in thought, presumably about Leo.

"Maggie, I just wanted to say how sorry I am about what happened to your shop. I feel terrible. If there's anything I can do-" I said.

"Don't apologize. It wasn't your fault. As soon as I know Leo is okay, I'm going to help you. You'll need me if you're going to get that spirit out of your life." She smiled, pulling her car into the hospital parking lot. "You're up against something very powerful."

I swallowed. I wasn't sure I wanted to get "that spirit" out of my life. It was still Ariana, no matter what happened. Part of me still felt like my best friend was in there somewhere.

I was thankful when we got out of the car and rushed into the hospital. Leo had been moved from the emergency room and admitted to the hospital in stable condition. I sighed in relief and followed Maggie onto the elevator and patiently waited until we reached the right floor.

The hospital was quiet in this wing, with various nurses ducking in and out of some of the patients' rooms. Maggie pushed open a door and I slowly walked in behind her. Leo was lying on the bed, blankets covering most of his body up until his chest. His left arm was in a cast and he had bandages wrapped partially around his head. Maggie rushed to his side, grabbing his hand. He blinked his eyes in focus as I walked a little closer.

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