Chapter 37

Get-well balloons, flowers and cards covered every flat surface in the room. Keesha looked at the items but couldn't bring herself to read the attached notes. She didn't want to wade through the well wishes. Not when she knew what everyone was thinking: how can she go through it again?

It was a good question. In fact, she hadn't known a moment's peace since Justus and her parents gave her the news. Guilt tortured her. Once again, she was at fault. The first time, she kept AJ's drinking from Jason. When her first love discovered the truth, he confronted his brother and foolishly jumped into the car with him. Had she not enabled AJ in the first place…

This time, she kept Jason Morgan's interest in her specifically a secret until they were on the road. Why did she wait until AJ's attention was divided to come clean? Yes, the deer appeared from nowhere, but maybe AJ would have reacted differently if he hadn't wondered if she betrayed him.

Two men. Two life-altering events. One common factor. Her.

A light knock tapped at the door. Jason couldn't have found a wheelchair that quickly. She released a defeated sigh and called out, "Come in."

Tony entered. His expression was neutral. He clutched a clipboard and gave a brief examination of her vitals. His mouth curved into a thin-lipped smile. "How are you?"

"As well as can be expected," she said. "You're not my doctor so you must be here about AJ. I don't think I want to hear this."

He nodded. "I know. Your family has spoken to me about your misgivings."

She fought for control. The threat of hysteria loomed. For the first time since he left, she wished Jason would hurry up and come back. God, she didn't want to hear this alone. Not again.

"Keesha," the doctor said her name with compassion.

Fear turned her stomach. She pressed her hands to her ears. "Please, Tony. Don't say it. Just give me a few more minutes with my memories of how AJ used to be--"

The clang of wheels, metal and the door sounded all at once. Keesha looked past Tony. Jason stood there with her wheelchair. He glanced from her face to Tony and his usually bland expression transformed to protective anger. He pushed the chair into the room and stormed to her side.

Tony met the other man's gaze with an outward display of calm assurance. "Keesha, as I was saying--"

"What were you saying?" Jason cut in. "She's upset. What did you tell her? She shouldn't hear this alone."

Tony's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "I wasn't aware that you cared. Keesha, do you want him here or should I call security?"

Jason's hands clenched into fists at his sides, but he remained beside Keesha.

"It's okay, Tony." She lowered her hands from her ears and clenched her hands in her lap. "Since you're here, just say it. Tell me how AJ won't recognize me or remember what we shared. I don't want to hear it, but I can't run away from it."

Tony moved to the other side of the bed and took Keesha's hand. "AJ's prognosis isn't the same as Jason's was. The early tests show that his memories will remain intact."

She squeezed his hand and on impulse, grabbed Jason's hand, too. "AJ's brain wasn't damaged."

"No, that's not what I'm saying," Tony said gently. "The hemorrhage and subsequent blood loss caused some damage. Although AJ will remember you and his family, his life will be different. His abilities have been affected. He will have a long road of recovery ahead of him."

Keesha's entire being became still. She barely noticed when Jason moved closer and put his arm around her shoulders. Without realizing it, she leaned against him. "What abilities? I don't understand."

"His communication abilities," Tony said, "may be affected. The degree of the aphasia is unknown at the moment. We'll know more after he wakes up."

"Can I see him?"

Tony patted her hand. "That's highly recommended."

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