Chapter Fifteen

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A hastily scrawled sign hung on a rope strung between the posts at the bottom of the ramp which led to The Overhead Café. Blood spattered the ground outside, and passers by speculated as to what might have happened. Witnesses to the event were all too happy to recount the fight and cast their own wild aspersions to spice things up. Upstairs, out of sight, Mitch was slumped back in one of the chairs with ice packs resting on his bruised chest. Cassidy tentatively wiped the blood away from the gashes on his face and affixed large plasters to his skin whenever she found the source of the weeping in a bid to stem the flow.

The police had left after taking their statements, but Mitch had been against the idea of pressing charges. Cassidy had protested his decision and begged him to act, but the exhausted, humiliated man didn't want to invite further calamity. Jed's friends were the type to enact revenge upon anyone who sent the man back to prison, and Jed himself would see to it that Mitch came to regret his decision the moment he was back out on the street. The way he saw it, he was safer if he didn't say anything at all.

'At least let us take you to the hospital,' Cassidy had pleaded as she pressed the cloth against a gash on his forehead. 'You've probably broken something.'

'Have you called Meg?' Mitch asked, ignoring her request. 'I wasn't meant to be gone so long.'

'I called her,' Bill confirmed from behind the counter. He watched Mitch with a mix of pride and shame; impressed that the boy had mustered the courage to stand up to Jed, and ashamed that his granddaughter had been the cause of his current state.

'This is ridiculous,' Oliver said at last. 'Finn, help him to my car. I'm taking him to A and E.'

'I'll come with you,' Cassidy said, leaping to her feet.

'No,' Mitch refused flatly. 'I don't need it.'

'You're covered in blood!' Cassidy argued.

'I'm fine!'

'Enough!' Oliver snapped at the bickering pair. 'Cass', stay here with Charlie, Bill and Abigail. I'll send Finn back in once this idiot's in my car. He can make sure you get home safely.'

'You really think Jed might come back this soon?' Finn asked.

'He might if he knows Mitchell isn't pressing charges,' Oliver said.

Defiant to the last, Mitch said, 'I'm not going anywhere with him.'

'Mate, do you really think you're in any fit state to stop me from dragging you to the car?' Oliver challenged. 'Because, believe me, I will.'

Oliver's knuckles were white on the steering wheel

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Oliver's knuckles were white on the steering wheel. The roads were busy with tourists ferrying themselves between attractions, and the gridlock was setting him on edge. His shoulders were high with tension, and it was taking everything in his power not to snap at Mitch for acting so recklessly. The pair had never been great friends, and Oliver still resented the man for derailing his efforts to find Cassidy all those years ago, but he couldn't overlook the fact that Mitch had provoked Jed with the fight and that the fallout from the event might impact them all.

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