Before

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Everything felt wrong. Like my brain was three sizes too big for my skull. Like my bones were made of glass. Like my face was all scrambled up, my eyes on my chin. Nothing hurt, not really, but it all felt...wrong. Before, there was so much pain. Like I'd been smashed thin with a hammer. But now everything felt almost numb, the feeling where your foot falls asleep.

I tried to blink my eyes open, pry them apart, but they didn't budge. Slowly, awareness broke through me, one by one. I was lying in a bed. A really stiff one, with scratchy sheets. I couldn't move an inch, to move my exposed skin off the fabric.

"Jo?" a soft voice entered my awareness, enough to make me jerk. Internally. I didn't feel my body move. "Jonas?"

Your voice is loud, I wanted to say. Can you be a little quieter?

"Is she awake?" a different voice interjected, lower, deeper. The mere sound of it made everything jerk awake, and that's when the pain came. As soon as my body moved, the smallest twitch, it woke a wave of ache. Most of it was centralized in my chest, as if someone was trying to carve out my lungs. "How can you tell she can hear you?"

"I don't," the loud voice returned, and I realized it held a familiar, feminine lilt. "I just hope she can."

I could, I seriously could, but I wished that they'd both just shut up. Just for a minute.

I tried to think of the last thing I could remember. Beck was over. The first time he'd been to my apartment. We sat on the couch. No, we made out on the couch. What happened after? I didn't feel good. I had a headache. He left, and...

"I wish I hadn't left her alone that night," the second voice said on a sigh. "I knew she wasn't feeling well. I thought she just needed extra sleep."

Beck glanced over at me, falling asleep on the side of the couch. I no longer was able to keep my head up, and laid it on the arm of the couch. The angle was horrible, painful, but I couldn't move. "Jonas? Maybe I should go. You can sleep."

Each word was punctuated by a stabbing in my temple. "Maybe. Yeah, that'd probably be best."

My eyelids fluttered; I could feel them tickle my cheeks. "She probably won't want us here when she wakes up," the feminine voice said, close to my ear.

"We're all she has."

Beck tucked me against his body before I knew what was happening, and I let out a yelp of surprise. "What are you doing?" I demanded as he pulled me up off the couch, one arm threaded behind my knees, the other supporting my back. Bridal style.

"I'm carrying you to bed," he said simply.

Hubba-hubba. Under different circumstances, my mind would've gotten away from me, but everything in me hurt too much to be able to contemplate what could've happened any further. "I can walk, you know."

"I know." Beck angled his chin to look down at me. "But I've got you."

"Jonas." A woman loomed in front of my vision, and that was when I realized I'd opened my eyes. I could only tell it was a woman because after my vision began to clear from the kaleidoscope of blurs, I recognized her fiery hair. When Kelsey smiled, it quivered. "Jonas, oh my gosh. You're awake. You're finally awake."

Finally? How long had I been asleep?

And gosh, why was my mouth so dry?

Kelsey picked my hand up off the bed and brought it up. I saw rather than felt her squeeze my fingers, as if awareness was slowly coming back to it, my brain slowly coming awake. And I didn't want it to.

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