***** Artemis's POV *****
"Grace!" I cried out in a panic as I caught her unconscious body.
"Grace." I called out again, more calm this time, but she stayed limp in my arms.
I immediately carried her into the house and straight upstairs into her own bed.
After pulling the covers over her, I went out of the room and called one of my friends who was a doctor. His father worked with mine and I knew him from elementary and half of middle school.
He picked up after the eighth ring.
"Hey. It's Artemis. I need a favor."
"Hi to you too." Dr. Carter said groggily. I must've woken him up. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this call at..." He paused as if to check the time. "At 12:52 in the morning?"
"My wife fainted. Can you come and check her out?" I instantly cut to the chase.
"Wife? When did you get married?!" He sounded a lot more awake.
"That's not important. Can you come right now?" There was urgency in my voice.
"Sure. Be right there."
I hung up and went back inside the room. I pulled a chair up to the bed and sat down next to Grace. I held one of her hands while my other hand tenderly pushed the hair back from her forehead.
She looked so fragile laying there: her eyes puffy, her complexion pale, and her hands and arms had tiny scratches on them. My heart clenched tightly.
While still holding her hand, my other hand went up to comb through my already messy hair. What was I going to do with you? I thought.
I was shocked when Nate called to tell me what Grace had seen. I called her immediately after but she refused to pick up. After that, all my calls went straight to voicemail.
I went to check the stairs since that was where Nate saw her last and found the broken phone. After searching for hours and still no signs of Grace, I decided to call her parents and friends to see if they knew where she was but no one did.
I was scared half to death looking everywhere for her, thinking of the worst. Eventually, I decided to stay at the penthouse in case she came back. I got restless after waiting for hours in the house. After a while, I changed my waiting spot from the living room to the front of the elevator.
As I was pacing back and forth—seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into hours. When I heard the elevator dinged, my heart stopped beating, and there she was—eyes drained of life. My heart broke at that moment but relief also washed over me.
However, now as I sat here, I didn't know what to do. With my elbow on the bed, my free hand came up to cover my tired face. I sighed wearily.
Should I tell her everything or let her divorce me until my revenge is over? My heart squeezed tighter at the latter. No, I was too selfish to let her do that. I won't be able to let her go even for a day.
The doorbell chimed and broke me out of my dilemma.
I went downstairs to get the door.
"Hey." Dr. Carter said the moment I opened the door. He had a big black rectangular case with him.
"This way." I hastily ushered him in and up the stairs to see Grace.
He took out his stethoscope and checked her.
"All her vitals are normal. I think she just over exerted herself." He stated as he looked at me. "I'll give her an IV drip and after some rest, she should wake up good as new." He added. "Well, physically anyway."
I immediately understood the implication—that he couldn't guarantee her mental state will be good as new.
I nodded, acknowledging that I heard him. After he was done putting the IV needle into her arm, he turned to scrutinize me. "Man, you look like hell. What happened?"
"Sorry, I'm just not in the mood to have a conversation right now." I said gruffly as my fingers roamed through my hair—messing it up for the hundredth time today.
"I understand." He said sympathetically as we walked out of the room and down the stairs. "I'm sending you an invoice for calling me at 1 in the morning." He tried to joke and make light of the situation.
I laughed bitterly. "Sure. Just send me the bill."
His tone got serious as he stood in the doorway. "Hit me up for a drink after work sometime."
"Will do." I said before I closed the door.
I went back to sit in the chair next to Grace's bed. I crossed my arms on the bed and put my head down. I held on to her hand and fell asleep almost instantly.
Sleep didn't take my suffering away since I woke up with tears streaming down the sides of my face. I sat up and noticed Artemis's sleeping form next to me—his hand holding one of mines. I wanted to reach out and touch his head but the wound in my heart throbbed painfully making it hard for me to breathe.
As I stared at him, love, anger and hate filled me. How could I still love him so much? Even though I was hurt right now to the point of it being unbearable, my heart still loved him just as much. How could my heart have room for such conflicting feelings?
My stomach twisted and tightened causing waves of nausea. I got out of bed and was stopped by a painful pull in my arm. I looked down at the spot and ripped out the IV needle as I walked clumsily to the bathroom.
I got in the standing shower and immediately turned on the faucet. The cold water sprinkled out of the showerhead shocked my body as hundreds of needles pricked my face and body one after the other. However, they still couldn't numb the affliction in my heart.
I slid down to the floor, hugging my knees as I waited for something, anything, to take the agony away—long enough for me to take a breath without feeling suffocated.
Suddenly, the rain stopped and I felt my shoulders being grabbed forcefully to a standing position.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Artemis shouted at me as water dripped down my forehead, hitting my lashes and making me blink. "Are you trying to hurt yourself?!"
His beautiful face twisted in anger and sadness as he gazed down at me.
"I'm trying to numb the pain." I answered softly without much emotion.
His face crumbled like someone had punched him in the gut. He quickly turned and grabbed a towel nearby to wrap it around me.
He pulled me into his arms with one arm wrapped tightly around my waist while the other hand held my head against the crook of his neck.
"I'm sorry." His usually calm voice broke. "I had not planned for you to see that." He held me tighter as he bent his head, his cheek on my head. "I'm sorry."
I stood in a daze not registering anything he said. Finally, I tried to push him away but there was no energy behind my arms.
"Here. Sit down." He put me down on the toilet seat and started rubbing my hair dry with the towel. "I'm gonna get you something to change out of your wet clothes before you get sick."
He left and came back with my pajamas. He put them on the vanity countertop and turned away so I could change. After not hearing any movements, he turned back.
"Grace, you need to change." He said gently as he touched my head. I didn't move. He bent down to undo the first button of my wet blouse and I harshly pushed his hands away.
"Don't touch me." I screamed and hurt instantly registered on his flawless countenance as his hands dropped to his sides.
My heart ached for hurting him and that fueled my anger more. How could I feel bad for him when he had hurt me this badly? My outrage rose higher and I hated the fact that even now, my heart was betraying me—taking his side over mine.
My hands covered my face as I bent over, sobbing into them. Artemis stood on his knees and hugged me tightly. My body racked as violent sobs escaped my body.
"I'm sorry." He whispered over and over again like a lullaby soothing me.
The cold finally seeped into my body and made me shiver. Artemis let me go and started unbuttoning again and I stopped him. "I can do it."
He nodded and stood facing the other direction. Once the dry clothes were on, I stumbled my way out of the bathroom. He tried to help me but I pushed him away. I couldn't stand him touching me right now knowing his hands had touched someone else, in an intimate way.
My heart contracted upsettingly as the painful scene popped into my head. I crawled into bed and pulled the comforter over my head.
"You need to eat." He left and came back with something a few minutes later. The china clinked when he put it down on the nightstand next to me. "I had Mrs. Sweetmire make you chicken soup."
He slowly pulled down the cover but I jerked it back up. "Leave me alone. I don't want to see you right now."
He pulled it down again and I reacted the same way. Finally, he said. "I can do this all day."
I angrily threw away the cover and abruptly sat up. "How can you still pick on me after what you did?!" I snapped.
"I'll leave you alone once you eat." He said with a sad half smile.
My heart skipped and I wanted to slap myself. I seized the comforter back and cried into it. "What is wrong with me?! Ahhhhh."
Artemis sat down on the bed and clutched one of my wrists as he gently pulled it away from my face. "Grace." He said my name so lovingly and affectionately.
I started beating his shoulders and chest with my weak fists. "I hate you." I said it over and over again between sobs. He sat silently absorbing all the abuse.
Finally, all my strength gone, I grabbed the front of his shirt and cried into his chest like I've never cried before.
***** Artemis's POV *****
My heart kept breaking as I watched how much I have hurt Grace. I knew there was nothing I could do right now besides giving her time and patience.
I also knew she wasn't ready to hear my explanations. Anything I said at this moment would only make her more angry. I figured I should wait until she had calmed down and can think rationally.
Once she let go of my shirt, I decided to leave her alone hoping my absence would make her feel better. I stood outside the room waiting for her to eat. After half an hour, I heard the sound of metal against porcelain every three seconds and I sighed happily. At least she was eating her soup.
After what I could only assume was five bites of food, there was silence again. I strained my ears to listen and suddenly unrestrained heartbroken weeping sounds escaped the room.
I slowly slid down to the floor with my forearms on my knees as I waited. The inconsolable sounds of anguish were like arrows that shot straight into my heart crippling me. I wanted to comfort her but I knew my presence will only bring her more distress.
After the sounds subsided, I straightened and went back to my room to get ready for work. It would be a long day today but I couldn't miss it. I had a few important meetings to attend to that couldn't be rescheduled. Also, I needed to reevaluate my plans with Nate and Theo about traveling to Shanghai.