Crowd of Lies (Kingsley Academy Book 2), page 23
Her lips are blue when we lay her flat on the side, water pooling around us.
“Call an ambulance!” I scream to anyone who will listen as I reach for her. Carter pushes me away and I growl, ready to lay into him.
“I can help,” he says, his tone serious.
“No!” Selina screams, running towards us, and the moment Carter hears her, sadness lurks in the depths of his eyes.
“She’s not breathing,” I snap, running my hand through her hair.
He grunts, and before I know it, he’s pressing down on her chest, giving her CPR.
Ethan tries to pull me away to give him room, but I shrug him off, leaning down close to her ear. “Please don’t leave me,” I whisper.
Her body jerks with each compress. I sit up, watching her chest, waiting and pleading for it to start rising and falling.
I can’t lose her.
This can’t be happening. Not now, not when she was so close to accepting me, to accepting the new life she’s been given.
There has never been a more beautiful sound than hearing Ivy choking. A noise rises through my chest as I watch water spill from her lips.
Carter rolls her towards me, onto her side, and I bend down, kissing her head and thanking God for not taking her.
“She’s going to be okay,” I whisper. “She’s going to be okay.”
Feeling hands on my back, I startle and look up to find Grant, watching in concern. My vision blurs through the tears, and I’m shocked as they roll down my cheeks.
*** *** ***
The hospital is a hive of activity. Not only is Carter and a few of his swim team here, but Selina, Rome, the twins, Grant and a few other friends are all outside the room they’ve placed Ivy in, waiting to be informed on her recovery.
I can’t leave her side though. The doctors couldn’t understand why she wasn’t waking up so had bloods done an hour ago.
Nova is sitting opposite me, on the other side of the bed, silently crying. “I keep failing her at every turn.”
“You’ve not failed her,” I reply, my voice rough.
Sam walks back through the door before she can speak, his expression tired and weary as he sighs, running a hand through his ink black hair. “The doctors are coming in. They have her results.”
We stand when the doctor walks in, anxious to hear the results. He looks up from the file in his hand, scanning the three of us.
“Am I okay to speak freely?”
Nova steps forward, curling her arms across her chest, and nods. “Yes. We’re family,” she tells him, her gaze briefly reaching mine.
“Ivy is going to make a full recovery. She had a bad reaction to acid, a drug known as LSD. Do you know if Ivy has been involved in any substance abuse before?”
“What? No!” Nova and I proclaim.
“So, she was tripping?” I question.
“Yes. The drug will still be in her system for five days, but the effects from the dosage will clear in the next twenty-four hours. The high can last up to fifteen hours.”
“So, she’s going to be okay?” I ask for confirmation, needing to get out of here.
Ivy has only just started drinking, and apart from the two times she’s gotten paralytic, she’s not had more than a beer. There is no way she’d ever go near drugs, not after what her mum put her through with her addictions.
“Her blood pressure is still increased, even in her comatose state, and her heartrate is still high, so we’d like to get them down. She might feel a little nausea and suffer with mild insomnia for a while too.”
“And her drowning?” Nova asks, her voice cracking. “Her skin is slightly blue still.”
“We’re going to keep her in for monitoring, but so far, there are no signs of pneumonia or respiratory distress, but please expect her to have chest pains and shortness of breath for a while. She’s been through a lot. She’s a very lucky girl. One incident in itself is life threatening, but the two at the same time… She got really lucky.”
“Thank you, doctor,” she sniffles, leaning into Sam when he wraps his arms around her.
The doctor gives her a gentle smile, patting her arm. “A nurse will be in soon to check her vitals.”
As the doctor leaves, I turn to Nova. “I need to go somewhere. Can you call me if she wakes up?”
“Where are you going?”
“There’s something I need to do,” I tell her, evading the reason. I can’t tell her I’m going to hunt down the bitch who did this.
“Okay,” she replies, her attention back on Ivy. She runs a hand over her head, the sweetness of the touch something a mother would do.
“Thank you,” Sam calls out, stopping me at the door.
“What for?” I ask, still not convinced of his motives towards Ivy.
“For getting her here. For saving her,” he tells me, his pupils dilating as they fill with tears. “I’m going to be the dad she was robbed of having. And it kills me that now it’s twice she’s nearly died. I should have protected her. I’m glad you were there.”
I wouldn’t call it lucky. I promised her I’d protect her, make sure nothing else happened. I’m worried this will push her over the edge and she’ll leave.
And the scary part is, I’ll fucking follow.
Because you love her.
The blood drains from my face and I nearly stagger backwards.
But the feeling I got when she was run off the road was the same feeling I got at the pool. It wasn’t just fear, it was a loss so deep it weighed me down, suffocating me to the point there wasn’t a way of recovering.
I’ve never believed in love, in romance. I never exactly had role models to show me that love did exist.
And that was fine with me.
But there is one person in the world that fits you. Some call it true love, some prefer soul mate, some their other half. But Ivy… she’s more than that, more than words can describe.
The feeling I get when I’m with her can’t be measured. It can’t be bought, and it can’t be faked.
And maybe if I hadn’t met her, I would have met someone who made me feel like that, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere close to how I feel about Ivy. It wouldn’t have been this deeply rooted inside of me.
I’m still reeling over admitting my feelings for Ivy when I leave the room, the door quietly clicking shut behind me.
Everyone stands away from the wall, waiting for me to fill them in. But I can’t. I need to hit something, someone.
Grant follows me, stopping me at the end of the hall. I’m unable to meet his gaze.
“No. Where are you going?” he asks, side-stepping me.
“To go fuck someone up. I’m sure they can pull together a fight last minute.”
“No!” he growls.
I glance up at him, narrowing my eyes. “Since when do you tell me no, Grant? Huh?”
“You want to hit someone, hit me,” he throws out, pushing me back.
It’s enough to give me pause, but not enough to calm down my anger. “Move! I’m not fucking hitting you.”
“Why? I sexually assaulted your girlfriend. I hurt her. Nearly drowned her,” he taunts, pushing me to the brink.
I punch him, and footsteps come running down the hall from behind. “Shut the fuck up, Grant,” I roar, kicking him in the stomach.
He coughs, looking at me from the floor where he’s doubled over. “Again!”
“Woah, man, calm down before they kick you out,” Carter says, holding me back with Ethan on the other side of me.
Grant gets up, narrowing his gaze on me. “She needs you right now, man. You can’t leave.”
“I can’t sit around and do fucking nothing.”
“Yeah, and fighting is going to help this situation? You’ll end up killing someone, Kai.”
I sigh, shoving Carter and Ethan away before taking a step back, needing the room to breathe.
“What happened, Kai? What’s wrong with her?” Lucca asks.
“People are saying she had a psychotic break,” Selina adds, sniffing. Carter walks over to her, openly pulling her into his arms, surprising me. I look to the twins, and they each shrug.
“He’s got a pass for the day. He saved Ivy,” Lucca explains, not looking happy.
“Again,” Carter boasts, yet somehow it doesn’t sound like he’s gloating, more like trying to lighten the mood.
“But there’s always tomorrow,” Ethan snaps.
Carter just grins, pulling Selina closer.
“She didn’t have a fucking psychotic break. She had LSD in her system, a lot of it. She was having a bad trip.”
Ethan and Lucca share a look. “But she doesn’t take drugs.”
Selina sniffles, and I’m shocked to see her openly hugging Carter and finding the twins are okay with it.
“It’s all over Facebook. Someone recorded the whole thing, even in the bathroom,” Selina informs us.
I grit my teeth and look to the ceiling. “So, the person was watching out for her reaction the whole time.” I turn to Grant, finding it hard to keep my anger in check. “There’s only one person who would do this.”
He nods, wiping blood from his lip. “What do you want to do?”
“Give her a taste of her own medicine,” I grit out. I might not physically hurt her, but she went too far. That drug alone could have killed Ivy in so many ways. It’s time she felt a sliver of what she’s put others through.
“I’m in,” Carter calls out, surprising everyone. He looks to his teammates and they all nod, standing straighter.
“Us too,” Ethan and Lucca vow.
I turn away from the crowd, slamming my palm against the wall and taking deep, heavy breaths. Once I’m composed, I face them again, ready to come up with a plan.
High heels click on the marble floor and we all turn towards the sound, seeing Jasmine and Jenny heading towards us.
“They’ve really got a death wish,” I grit out, moving to meet them halfway. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“We need to tell you something,” Jasmine explains, twisting her hands together.
I cross my arms over my chest, glaring down at them both. “Talk!”
“It was Danielle,” Jenny blurts out, looking like she’s seconds from peeing herself. “I didn’t know until it happened. And by then, Ivy was already on her way to the hospital. We came to tell the doctors what she gave her, so she doesn’t die. Are we too late?”
“Are you fucking serious?” I snap, stepping closer. “It’s been nearly three hours.”
“We were scared,” Jasmine squeaks, her voice high-pitched.
“Tell me what you know.”
They share a look and a low, guttural growl rumbles through my throat, making them jump. “We don’t know much. Danielle didn’t tell us. She and Krysten have been besties for a few weeks now,” she explains bitterly.
“I don’t give a fuck. Tell me about Ivy.”
“Oh,” Jenny mutters. “She spiked her drink in track. She didn’t think she gave her enough when nothing happened, so she spiked her drink in the lunch hall. That’s when we found out. We didn’t know what to do. We thought it would be like doing coke, you know?”
My lip curls in disgust. “Not everyone has a tolerance for drugs, you bitch. They could have killed her.”
Her face falls. “We didn’t know.”
“Have you gone to the police?” Grant asks, and I’m relieved he’s thought ahead.
“Not yet. The police were at the school, asking what happened, but we wanted to come here first.”
“Yeah, then spent most of the time panicking in the carpark,” Jasmine explains, looking nervously at the crowd forming behind me.
“Don’t tell the police anything. In fact, don’t tell Danielle you told us,” I warn them.
They clearly aren’t understanding, both sharing a look of confusion. “I’m so confused. I thought Danielle was lying when she said you were secretly together. I mean, you seemed pretty hot and heavy with Ivy,” Jenny rambles.
I roll my eyes, wishing I could shake some brains into them both. “I’d never go near fucking Danielle. Just do as you’re told, and if I find out you’ve spoken about any of this, I’ll kill you in your sleep.”
Jenny whimpers, clinging to her friend who rolls her eyes. “We won’t,” Jasmine vows, then flicks her gaze to Selina. “It was Danielle who set the tent on fire. I’m sorry you got hurt.”
Selina gasps, holding tightly to Carter, who tenses, looking ready to commit murder. “How the fuck do you know?” he growls.
Twisting her hands, Jasmine looks away, unable to meet anyone’s gaze. “She was wearing her Dior costume and her Prada sandals all day. But on the night, she was wearing Hermes and Chanel.”
“What does that have to do with the fire?” I ask, wondering if this bitch is crazy.
She rolls her eyes, cocking her hip. “Because, that Dior Costume wasn’t even released yet and she threw it in the bin. I got it out, thinking she’d accidently dropped it, and she went mad, saying Dior was so last season. But… she wore Dior the following day.”
“That still doesn’t prove anything,” Ethan mutters, his lips twitching, and I can see he’s struggling to hold back laughter.
“Of course it doesn’t. But they smelled of smoke and she wasn’t wearing that near the fire. Duh,” she mutters sarcastically.
“Seriously!” Carter growls. “Give me fucking strength.”
Ignoring Jenny and Jasmine, I turn to Grant. “I’ve got the perfect idea,” I tell him, and his answering grin is sinister.
“Just make sure I’m involved,” Carter adds, and I turn to glare at him.
“Why the fuck are you still here? Ivy is fuck all to you.”
He shrugs, looking down at Selina. “But she is. And it hasn’t been you who has listened to her screaming out in her sleep.”
“You’ve slept with him?” Ethan screeches, stepping forward, but Grant places a hand on his chest, pushing him back.
With two fingers in a V, Ethan points them at his own eyes, and then at Carter, mouthing, “I’m watching you.”
Carter blows him a kiss before turning back to me, waiting to hear the plan. I look at the others around us and shake my head. “Meet at mine tomorrow night. Ivy will be released then.”
He nods and I sag with relief, finally having an end near. I didn’t want it to end this way, but if there’s one thing Danielle needs to learn it’s that all actions have consequences. And she’s about to be hit with a boat load of them.
*** *** ***
It’s the early hours of the morning and Ivy still hasn’t woken up. Nova and Sam are sleeping on the love seat in the corner, both cuddled up together. Seeing them yesterday and last night made me wonder if there’s more going on between them. No longer is Nova defensive around him, tense. In fact, she seems to be drawn to him, seeking him out for comfort.
I’m not sure how Ivy will take the news that they’re getting closer, maybe even fucking. It’s something they need to hide until she’s strong enough to deal with it, but it isn’t my place to say something.
Taking in Ivy’s appearance, I notice she’s got colour back to her skin, yet she’s still a little pale.
A small groan slips past her lips and I sit straighter, the chair creaking under me. With only the machines quietly beeping, it echoes around the room, rousing her from sleep.
“Hey,” I whisper, running my hand over her knotted hair.
She blinks, disorientated, before focusing on me, her breathing escalating. “What happened to me?” Her voice is hoarse, raspy, and the torment I hear in her words have me gripping the edge of the bed.
“It’s okay. You’re okay,” I tell her.
She shakes her head, the movement causing her to whimper and close her eyes for a moment. “It’s not. Your dad. My mum
“It wasn’t real, baby. You were spiked and hallucinating.”
“But it felt so real,” she croaks out, her bottom lip trembling. “Who did this to me?”
I tighten my lips for a moment, not wanting to tell her. “We’ll talk about that when you’re at home. You fell into the pool at school, and that, combined with the drugs, meant it wasn’t safe to take you home.”
She seems to be mulling something over, taking her time. I might not be able to read her mind, but there’s no mistaking she’s thinking back on yesterday’s events, trying to put pieces of the puzzle back together. It’s in the change of her expressions, different emotions flashing through her mind.
“It was Danielle, wasn’t it?” she asks, rolling until she’s lying on her side, facing me.
I give her a sharp nod. “The bitch is going to pay.”
“No!” she calls out sharply, but her voice breaks at the end. I hand her a glass of water, letting her suck some from the straw. She leans back, taking deep breaths before composing herself. “I want to deal with it.”
I take her hand in mine, leaning in closer. “I can’t let you do that. And I’m not saying you can’t handle Danielle, Ivy, but the plan is already in place. She fucked with the wrong people, and hurting you was her gravest mistake.”
“You don’t get to decide for me. You have no idea what I went through,” she tells me, closing her eyes, shutting out the fear and pain lurking in them. It’s too late though. I saw it.
“I’m not dropping this, Ivy. I know you are strong and that you can take care of yourself. You proved that every time you went up against us, not taking our shit. But, baby, you don’t have the means to do what needs to be done.”
“What do you mean?” she whispers, scanning my face.
I shake my head, looking down at the bed. “No one is going to physically hurt her, even though I’d love to see the bitch be put in her place. What we have planned is far worse for her. Bruises can heal. Pranks can be forgotten, moved past. By the end of the week, she’ll never come back to Cheshire Grove. And by the end of it, I hope you can still be with me.”