Chapter 21 - Numb

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"Ow!" I squealed when the anaesthetic spray hit the gash around the impaled glass in my knee.

Perched on the bathroom countertop, Harley had warned that the cool spray might tingle a little. Tingle, was he serious? It stung like an agitated wasp on a hot summer's day, all over my sensitive knee, despite the two painkillers that he had given me just ten minutes before. Granted, it was only a short burst of pain before the cool sensation spread to a relieving insensitivity, but still. Fortunately, I had Elijah on the other side of me whose hand I'm sure would turn blue from how hard I was clutching it.

"Sorry, I'm trying to just spray the surrounding area." Glancing up at me, Harley's eyes were drowning with sympathy.

A burst of guilt stung me a little harder than the spray, this was my fault after all. I was just about to apologise myself when- never mind, spoke too soon. I felt a strong urge to rip my hand from Harley's secure grip the second the liquid landed on my burning hand, but I didn't. Compelled by a desire to prove I didn't fear them or compare them to Dominic, I pushed through the pain with gritted teeth.

"I thought it was supposed to numb the pain, not give the pain," I muttered with indignation at that bottle of the devil. If I wasn't going to shout or scream, I could at least feel a little satisfaction from complaining under my breath.

Elijah stifled a laugh and, in return, I shot him my signature not-so-threatening glare that I had been practising. "Not funny," I grumbled.

He shot me a smile- damn it, why wasn't he cowering in fear- and his expression morphed into one of consolation. "I know, sorry, you just make me laugh," he squeezed my hand, making me feel a little better. "You're being really brave."

I scoffed, I couldn't help it. Brave? I couldn't even survive the night without a flashback, not being able to distinguish the traumatic memories of Dominic's disciples from reality. Brave, is not the word I would use.

He caught my chin and I offered a half-smile looking into those sincere eyes. "Maddie, I'm being serious, I don't know any other thirte-"

He was interrupted when I winced and jerked away harshly from the cold spray hitting my exposed stomach. The irony was almost comical if it hadn't felt like acid being doused on my raw wound. Brave, what a joke.

Harley stood up. "We're all done with the anaesthetic." Oh lord, how many murderous implements did he have left? He shot me a weak smile, "Hey, at least you don't need stitches."

I threw my head back with a sigh, I wish I had his eternal optimism.

"Alright, five minutes then we'll take the glass out," he said. I stiffened. As if sensing my anxiety, Harley rubbed my shoulder, unknowingly easing the tense knots. "It will be all numb by then, you won't feel much at all."

Much. Surprisingly enough, that was the only word my mind decided to pick up on and anxiety of the unknown rolled around inside me. For some reason, I didn't exactly trust his painless promise.

"Here, you can play the games I know you downloaded on my phone on Tuesday," he said with a small smirk, placing it in my uninjured hand.

My cheeks reddened. Harley had let me borrow his phone on Tuesday when mine was still confiscated to research photosynthesomething for biology homework. I might have become a little sidetracked and downloaded a game or two, maybe four, but carelessly, I clearly forgot to delete them.

Seeing my guilty smile, he laughed. "I don't mind, as long as you got that homework in on time."

C-, could try harder, Maddie.

Images of that messy red teacher handwriting over my paper flashed through my mind. I gulped, nervously. I had different, non-scientific, strengths, like watching vines and reaching level twenty-five on fruit ninja. Just different priorities. Not all of us were made to be brain surgeons, Harley.

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