Life After Dark
Chapter 50

"What are you doing out here?" Keesha asked, as she left Simone's hospital room.

"Oh, hi, Lil Bit," Justus said with a tight smile.

"Hi, cuz," Keesha said. Noticing the strain in his eyes, she added, "What's wrong? You don't look so good."

"Nothing..." Justus stopped speaking and roughly rubbed his face with his hands.

Keesha became even more concerned and placed a hand on his arm. Lightly squeezing his arm, she asked, "Are you sure?"

"Simone. How is she?"

"You're this worked up over Simone?" Keesha asked with a small laugh. "She's fine. She's better than fine, she's great. I thought you've been by since she's been awake."

"The night I stopped by, she was asleep, and I didn't get a chance to speak with her," Justus answered.

"That was a few nights ago. You haven't seen her since she's been awake? You haven't spoken to her?"

" No." He slowly shook his head. He was ashamed of himself. He should have visited her, but each time, the thought crossed his mind, he pushed it back out again. Her first few days of consciousness should be spent with her family and not with her ex-boyfriend. He had no idea what possessed him to come there now. He should go, he decided.

"Why not? She really is all there, Justus. She would love to see you."

"Yeah," he said gruffly, the disbelief coming through in his voice.

"She would! Just go."

"I'm not so sure... Maybe I'll come back later," he said, turning to leave.

"You're already here. Why are you so hesitant? If you're worried about running into Tommy, don't. He's not here. They had dinner and he left a few minutes ago."

"Oh," Justus said softly, processing the information. Maybe without Tommy glaring at him, seeing Simone wouldn't be so bad. But, then again...

"Come on, Justus," Keesha said, pinching his arm. When he jerked away in surprise, she laughed, "If you're scared, I'll go with you."

"I'm not scared!" Justus said, indignantly. He pinched her cheek and said, "I'll tell her that you said, 'hi.'"

Keesha laughed softly as she watched Justus take a deep breath before he tapped on Simone's door and went in. The 'scaredy-cat' routine got him everytime.


"Come in."

"Hi, Simone," Justus said, pulling the door closed behind him. He tentatively moved to stand behind the guest chair which had its back to the door.

"Hello, stranger," Simone said with a smile. She placed the magazine she had been leafing through on the bedside table and gave Justus her full attention. She hadn't seen him in what felt like forever. She was not surprised to see that he hadn't changed a bit. Maybe he was a little rougher around the edges, but looking into his eyes, she could see that he was the same man she almost married.

The apprehension left Justus' body when Simone smiled at him. Feeling relaxed and little bit more sure of himself, he smiled back at her and took a seat in the guest chair. Overjoyed at seeing her lucid again, he simply beamed at her.

Simone laughed at softly at his reaction to her recovery. Resting back against her fluffed up pillows, she said, "I see you still have that mega-watt smile. Where have you been keeping yourself? I wanted to thank you for helping Tommy."

"He told you I helped?" Justus asked, a look of confusion crossed his face. He couldn't imagine Tommy giving him credit for anything, including his part in the rescue. The last time he and Tommy spoke, the animosity was still present and didn't appear as if it would disappear anytime soon.

"Gina and Keesha told me. Tommy doesn't like to talk about it," Simone said softly. In the back of her mind, she saw her son's face cloud over whenever she asked him about the rescue and his role in it. After talking to Keesha about it, she realized that his sadness stemmed from her losing consciousness after the explosion. Gina added that he was barely able to hold the hysteria at bay as the paramedics worked on her. His friends, Lucky and Nikolas, had to physically restrain him in order for the doctors to assist her.

"Oh, I can understand that. The entire thing could be very traumatic, especially for a teenager."

"Tommy's not a typical teenager, Justus," Simone said, her voice firm and direct. "He's endured a lot more than most will ever encounter in their entire lives. He thought he was too late and he had lost me. His not talking about the rescue is understandable."

"I didn't mean to imply that it wasn't. I'm sorry, Simone. I..." Justus flustered. He wanted to say the right thing, but the words wouldn't come.

She saved him. "Don't apologize. Maybe I came on too strong. Mothers can be overprotective, you know."

"I know," he said softly. "He's very protective of you, too. You did a wonderful job with him."

"Oh, hush! You're making me blush," Simone said, a soft smile on her lips. "We have to play catch up. You know what I've been doing. Fill me in on you."

"There's not much to say. I'm still an attorney," he said with downcast eyes. The recent doubts he had about being the legal counsel for the mob began to resurface as he answered Simone's innocent question. His inability to look into her eyes as he answered her question spoke volumes to him. He was ashamed, and since he was ashamed, why was he doing it?

"Justus? Are you okay?" Simone asked. Watching the shadows darken Justus face and cloud his eyes concerned her and she wondered why being an attorney caused him so much pain. He loved protecting the legal rights of others. Why would that change, she wondered.

"I'm fine, but look at you, worrying about me! How are you doing? Are they taking care of you in here? Do you or Tommy need anything?"

"I'm doing well. I won't be out of here anytime soon, but I'll do my best. I have a consultation with my physical therapist tomorrow. As far as us needing anything , we're fine. Audrey has been great with Tommy. We couldn't ask you for anything."

"You're not asking. I'm offering," Justus said. He reached out for her hand. The movement startled her and when she shrank back against the bed, his eyes flew to hers. He saw fear and anger in her eyes. Surprised by her reaction, he rose and stood behind the chair he had vacated.

Simone wanted to apologize for the involuntary reaction, but she found that she was rendered speechless. The look of sympathy which came into his face made her even angrier. She didn't want his sympathy or anything else he offered. Suddenly, the only thing she wanted from him was to be left alone.

Justus stood still as once again, he was at a loss for words. He didn't know whether or not he should apologize or just leave. Both would work in the present situation, he decided.

As Justus drove away from the hospital, his mind drifted back to how Simone flinched from the possibility of his touch. Keesha had told him bits and pieces of what happened in that hell on earth, but after seeing the rage in Simone's eyes, he knew he had to know more. Too many people he cared about had been hurt and quite possibly damaged for life. He decided that he wouldn't rest until he found the person who was responsible for the pain which clouded Simone's eyes.

Chapter 51

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