Eleven - Linkin

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The whole Jaysen situation was getting to me. Everytime I closed my eyes, I could see the fear written on his face; it was the downside of having a photographic memory. I didn't just remember the good or the important memories.

For three days I attempted to just sleep away most of the day. Instead of seeing Jaysen's eyes everywhere I looked, I had nightmares about drowning. I was trapped between a rock and a hard place. The only thing that got my mind off of my situation was exploring the grounds. It only took me 4 hours to walk the entire resort, but I was glad I did. I found an observation deck at one of the highest peaks of the island. Below me was untamed wilderness which eventually met the harsh line of sand before it was swept away into the ocean.

It was perfect and thoughtless. I was far enough away from the main activities I could hear nothing except the sounds of nature. Also, since I was so far away, there was no one who came to disturb me.

I sat in a recliner chair as I put on another layer of sunscreen. With my fair skin I burned easily, plus the sunscreen was free - courtesy of the island. I was struggling to put sunscreen on my back when I heard a guy clear his throat. "Want some help?"

"From you? No."

"Just lean forward. If you didn't want help, you shouldn't wear a bikini top and not expect your tattoos to fade or for you to get burned." Stuart attempted to reason with me.

We stared at each other for a second before I shifted and turned my back to him. "Will you leave after?"

I passed him back the bottle which he took and applied generously to his hands, then my back. "No," he replied simply as I shivered at the cool cream and his gentle touch. I tried to be annoyed, but he did have the hands of a doctor. "Desmond is worried about you, asked me to talk with you. He said you haven't been sleeping well and that you weren't talking to him?" Great, now he was really being a shrink.

As much as I enjoyed the feeling of his hands roaming over my back, the conversation wasn't one I wanted to participate in. I stayed quiet and shifted as Stuart put some more sunscreen on my shoulder. It was still a sore, and if anything, it was getting worse.

"So what's this about you being a doctor?" he hummed, changing the topic to another one I didn't really want to participate in.

"It's a long story." At this point, he was basically giving me a massage. I had to give him something so he didn't stop.

"I've got time."

Of course he did. "I guess it depends on who you ask. The truth is, I never even graduated high school let alone went to medical school."

I could almost hear Stuart's brain struggling to figure out how that worked, "Well, that makes sense how you're so young and a doctor. Doesn't make sense how you're a doctor though," he pointed out, wanting me to continue.

I chewed my lip, but practically moaned as he dug his thumbs into a knot in my shoulder. "I went to visit a friend in the hospital. He wasn't getting any care and he needed help. I read some books and when he started to crash, and I was the one who incubated him. I was wearing a white shawl at the time and people just started to call me Doctor. A nurse asked me to check out someone else, it all just kind of went from there. I never corrected them. I worked in that hospital for almost a year before someone finally checked my credentials and realized I didn't have any." I paused and glanced back. Stuart's hands were frozen on my back. "I am a doctor, MD or not. I save lives and I am better than half the buffoons who actually went to medical school."

Stuart's hands worked to my lower back and side. The feeling quickly changed from good to agony. I gasped and jerked away from his touch, the movement hurting more. "Valentina, are you okay?" he asked, worried, temporarily forgetting what I had just told him.

I wrapped my arms around my middle loosely, but even that action hurt. "Bruised ribs, remember?" I sighed. I was in too much pain to be snarky. I took a few breaths as I waited for the throbbing to decrease before I added in, "It's Linkin. Ever think I won't talk to Desmond because he keeps calling me 'Val'?" I went back to the original issue before he could comment on what I just told him.

Stuart shifted back a bit, but with the both of us sharing the recliner, he was still uncomfortably close. "Why do you want to be called Linkin so bad?"
I almost didn't care that he was trying to shrink me again. "It's the name I chose to use. My full name is Valentina Linkin Rosemary Maione. My second name was from my grandfather. He was the one man who loved me and didn't think I was a total freak. After he died, my family didn't even wait a week before they kicked me out." I probably shouldn't be trusting him with this information.

I glanced back to Stuart just in time to see the frown on his face; a look of pity. I sighed and looked forward once again, my back still towards him.

"I'm sorry that happened. Why would your parents think you're a freak?" When I stayed silent and showed no sign I even heard him, he quickly slipped out of shrink mode. "It's not like you're stubborn or a pain to deal with."

"Take off your tie."

"What?"

"Take it off, put it in your pocket," I repeated myself, not looking back.

I felt the chair shift a bit as he removed his tie and pocketed it. "What's this for?"

I took a breath and closed my eyes. "Your tie is wine with 47 cream-white stars on the main body." I glanced back in time to see him staring at me in confusion before rushing to take his tie out of his pocket. I gave him a moment to count the small stars, his face getting more twisted in confusion as he went. When he glanced back up at me, I sighed. "I have a photographic memory."

Stuart's face changed from confusion to a bit of shocked mixed with horror, but it quickly faded. "Photographic memory?" He blinked, shaking his head. "Is that why you haven't been sleeping well, avoiding Desmond?" I nodded in response and he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose before adjusting his glasses once again. "Was it the incident?"

I shook my head as my eyes fell. "Only when I'm sleeping. I saw Jaysen's eyes. It doesn't make sense. It isn't possible." Stuart struggled to find words, so I ended up continuing. "Where is he?"

"Would you feel better if you heard from him?" He avoided my first concern.

"Yes."

"I'll see what I can do," he said before standing up and passing me my sunscreen. "Don't shut out Desmond; he didn't mean for any of it to happen." I reacted to Stuart's comment by leaning back in my chair and closing my eyes. "And thank you for telling me your story..." He added in gently. I heard the sound of expensive leather shoes walking away and I hoped I was alone once again. I didn't open my eyes to check.

I would talk to Desmond when I was ready, I just didn't know what to say. Desmond was the one who threw me into the pool despite the fact that I couldn't swim. Granted, he didn't know that. Next, he was the one who gave me CPR—a fact he later confessed out of guilt. Still, he didn't know what he was doing and bruised two of my ribs. Most importantly, I didn't trust him. 

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