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I'm Not Letting Go

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“What… The… Hell?” Brad says.

I nervously swallow. “I care about her,” I reply. “She wanted to. And I mean that. I would never force her into it.”

“She's sixteen, what were you thinking?”

“She's old enough to give consent.”

“That doesn't give you the right to-”

“Like I said, it was her choice! She was ready. I treated her with respect the whole time.”

I see in the corner of my eye, Imogen turn to Terese. Terese stands, walks over & stands beside Brad to my left.

“Thank you,” She says to me.

Both Brad & I look surprised.

“At first, the news shocked & angered me,” She says. “I can't imagine my little girl growing up so fast. However…” She sighs. “She is. Has been since she left for Canada. And it's about time that we catch up.” She looks at me. “I know you care for her. What you did today is proof of that. As much as I want to be angry over you having sex with her, I can't ignore the fact that, if it weren't for your relationship with her, we wouldn't be standing here right now. Piper would have been raped had you not gone looking for her. So as much as I’m furious, I’m going to let it go.”

Brad looks in disbelief, his anger still there underneath.

“Thank you,” I reply.

Terese nods. “Now… You & Imogen go be with Piper,” She says. “And Karl? I’m sorry you had to witness this.”

“No, don’t worry,” Karl says. “Young love. Makes everyone a little on edge.”

None of us know what to say in response. Imogen pushes me towards the door. We slip out.

“How is it that adults somehow manage to find a way of completely embarrass us like that?” She asks, once the door is shut.

I shrug as we cross to Piper’s room. I open the door for her, & she smiles as she steps in. We both smile at Josh as I shut the door.

“How is she?” Imogen asks.

“She hasn’t woken up,” Josh replies. “Whatever he dosed her up with must be really strong.” He scoffs. “The irony of this. He accused us of using drugs, & then years later, he drugs my little sister.”

“Well, she’s going to recover.”

“Except that she’s going to be traumatised by the whole experience.”

“She has us for support.”

“Any news on what they’ve done with Brodie?”

Imogen looks at me.

I shake my head. “Last I heard, Mark was stuck at the station with him, trying to get him on the record,” I reply. “Sounded like he was resisting.”

Josh looks shocked. “He was caught in the act! What does he think he can do to get off?”

“Just leave it to Mark & the rest of the Erinsborough Police,” Imogen replies. “I really don’t think Mum & Dad would appreciate you ending up breaking your good behaviour bond over that idiot.”

“He deserves it,” Josh mutters, resting back in his chair.

****

Terese & Brad join us shortly after, Brad much calmer. After a while, Imogen suggests they go get dinner.

“Wanna join us?” Imogen asks.

I shake my head. “No, I’m not hungry,” I reply. “Besides, I want to be here when she wakes.”

She nods. “Okay.”

“But thanks anyway.”

She smiles. “No worries.”

“Immy!” Josh calls from the hallway.

Imogen waves bye & I watch her leave. I sit back down as I sigh. I reach out & take hold of her hand- the first contact I’ve been able to give her since we arrived, because Josh doesn’t know about us yet. I hang my head- Please wake up, Pipes.

Her fingers curl around my hand. I snap my head up, eyes focused on her hand. But it’s her breathing that catches my eye- her chest rises & then drops as she sighs. I turn to look at her face. Her eyes open, & then close again as she fights to wake up. It takes a few attempts, but she opens her eyes fully.

“Hey,” I say, smiling.

Her eyes turn to me. She smiles.

“Best sight to wake up to,” She replies, groggily. “Shame it’s here in the hospital & not your bed.”

I smile, chuckling. “How are you?”

“Well… I can feel my whole body,” She replies. “Which is an improvement.”

“Good,” I reply, standing up. I kiss her forehead.

“You shouldn’t do that.”

“Kiss my girlfriend?”

“What if one of my family walks in?”

“They won’t. They went to dinner,” I reply. “Besides… three of them know.”

She raises an eyebrow. “What?”

“Karl had an obstetrician examine you,” I reply. “He told your parents that although you hadn’t been raped… you’d had sex.”

“Oh god.”

“Imogen & I were present. Don’t ask why I was there, it’s too long a story,” I reply. “I left Karl’s office, in an attempt to avoid it, but Imogen noticed something was up. She wouldn’t stop pestering me until I admitted what I knew. I’m sorry. I had to.”

“It’s okay,” She replies. “I’m assuming Mum knows.”

I nod. “Imogen suggested I tell her & Brad right away. Take advantage of Terese loving me for saving you.”

“Dad flipped, didn’t he?”

“He was angry, yes,” I reply. “Thankfully, Terese was willing to forgive me, & he let it go. Though I’m sure he’s just delaying it…”

“I wish I’d been there when they found out.”

“So do I,” I reply. “But Imogen backed me into a corner.”

She nods. “It’s okay. I understand.”

“Feel free to be the one to tell Josh,” I reply. “Preferably when I can make a getaway to avoid his fury. You know he’s wanting to make Brodie pay for drugging you.”

“He’s just being a protective brother.”

“Yeah… I don’t want to get on the receiving end of it. The close call with Brad is close enough for me.”

She smiles. “If he dares touch you, I’m going to threaten to do something in return.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Like what?”

“Haven’t decided yet,” She replies, reaching up & putting her left hand on the back of my neck. “Shut up & kiss me.”

I smile as I lean down & press my lips against hers.

****

I let Karl know that she’s awake, & he comes in to check her over.

“No lasting injuries,” He says. “You’ll just be a bit drowsy.”

“Thanks Karl,” She replies.

“What about the blood test?” I ask.

“I’m still waiting to hear back on that,” Karl replies. “Unfortunately, our lab is very busy. But I’ll let you know as soon as I know.”

I nod.

****

Mum, Dad, Josh & Imogen return- all very relieved to see me awake.

“Mum! You’re squishing me!” I say.

“Oh,” She replies, pulling back. “Sorry, baby.”

“It’s fine.”

Karl enters. “I have the results of the blood test.”

“What did he drug her with?” Dad asks, arms folded over his chest while he frowns a little.

“He injected her, via a vein in her left arm, a drug named Flunitrazepam.”

Dad, Mum, Josh, Tyler & I are confused. Imogen looks shocked.

“Rohypnol?” She asks.

Karl nods. “That’s one of its many names, yes.”

“The date rape drug?” Tyler asks, earning a hard stare from Dad. “I’ve heard of its use. A girl I know had her drink spiked with it once. Her friends luckily interrupted before the guy could take her away.”

Karl nods. “That’s what most people use it for… other than addicts.”

“So what… what does this mean for Piper?” Mum asks.

“Well… she may be confused, have dizziness, confusion, drowsiness… you might not be able to move properly… And you might be feeling nauseous for tonight & some of tomorrow,” Karl says. “You will also may have what we call partial anterograde amnesia, which, in basic terms, means you won’t be able to recall what happened after he injected you.”

“He used chloroform to get me in his car,” I reply. “I woke up some time later… I think I was still knocked out from the chloroform when he injected the rohypnol.”

“Okay,” Karl says, making a note in my file of that. “I want to keep you in overnight. Just for observation. Rohypnol can cause respiratory issues. It’s usually caused by a dose mixed with alcohol, but can happen with a high dose of the drug as well. And considering we are unable to determine how much he used… I want you to stay where we can monitor you.”

I nod. “And then I can go home tomorrow?”

He nods. “If you are well enough to, I will discharge you by lunchtime.”

“Thanks, Karl.”

He smiles at me. “You’re welcome,” He replies. “Now… as much as I want you to stay, I’m sorry, but visiting hours finish in a few minutes.”

“We’ll say our goodbyes & head home,” Terese says. “We can drive you, Tyler.”

Tyler nods. “That would be good, thanks.”

Karl says bye & leaves. One by one, Mum, Dad, Josh & Imogen come over & say bye to me. They all leave. Tyler waits to say bye. He makes sure Josh is out of sight before stepping over to me & presses his lips to mine.

“Sleep well,” he whispers.

“Would be better if I was with you,” I whisper back.

He smiles. “When you’re out of here, we’ll see if you can come over.”

“Or… you could come to mine?”

He raises an eyebrow. “You wanna explain to Josh why I’m sleeping over?”

I wince. “Good point.”

He kisses me again. “Night, Pipes.”

“Night, Tyler.”

****

I arrive early at the hospital the next morning after stopping in at Harold’s to collect some breakfast for the both of us. I turn the corner to her room, & nearly drop our food & drinks when I see who’s standing outside her room.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, angrily.

He turns from the window into her room to look at me. “I came to see how she is.”

“Well, she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”

“She wouldn’t come of her own will,” He says. “I tried explaining it to her- that we are soulmates & that she belonged with me. But she’s been blinded by you. I had to make her see the truth.”

“Well,” I reply, smiling sarcastically. “You did a good job of that. She now knows you’re nothing more than a monster.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Oh? So you think it’s okay to drug a woman you supposedly love & try to rape her?”

“She needed to be punished.”

I place our food & drinks down on a chair & turn back to him.

“You need to get your head screwed on properly,” I say.

“Has she gone down on you yet?” He replies. “Or is she doing what she did to me? Dragging you around to be some eye candy to make all her school friends jealous?”

I grab his shirt roughly, raising my right hand to punch him.

“TYLER!” Mark barks, making me stop inches from his smug face.

I look to my left, seeing Mark followed by two officers walking over. I let Brodie go, glaring at him as he smirks.

Mark steps up, looking at me in disbelief. The officers stand a few steps back.

“You going to tell him off for that?” Brodie asks.

“He didn’t actually hit you,” Mark replies.

“So?” Brodie replies. “I want him charged for attempted assault.”

“Turn around,” Mark tells him.

“Why?”

“Just do it, or I’ll make you.”

Brodie smirks at me. “I see the anger runs in the family.”

Mark steps closer. Brodie turns around. Mark takes hold of Brodie’s left arm, pulling it behind his back.

“What the-?” Brodie says, looking over his right shoulder as Mark pulls Brodie’s right arm behind him.

“Brodie Chaswick, you’re under arrest for breaching the restraining order,” Mark says, starting to handcuff Brodie’s wrists.

“Wait… what restraining order?” Brodie asks.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say can & will be used against you in a court of law,” Mark says, ignoring Brodie’s question. “You have the right to speak to an attorney, & to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you at government expense.”

“What restraining order?” Brodie repeats.

Mark ignores him again, turning him around & guiding him towards the two officers. “You’ll find out in time,” Mark replies. He looks at the officers. “Take him out to the car. I’ll be out shortly.”

The officers nod, taking one of Brodie’s arms each. We watch as they walk him out. Mark turns to me, looking unimpressed.

“What were you thinking when I walked in?” He asks, hands on his hips.

“He was saying nasty things about Piper!”

“And you think it’s a good idea to punch him for it?” He asks. “Do you understand how hard it was to snuff out assault charges on you last night? He wanted you charged for the punch you threw. You’re damn lucky Sarge threw it out based on the circumstances of the situation. Today’s close call could have ended differently. Do you think that Piper would appreciate you getting charged?”

I sigh. “He needs to be put back in line.”

“Yeah, but let me handle that, okay?”

I nod. “Okay.”

“Good,” He replies, before turning to go.

“Hey, what restraining order?”

“Huh?” He looks confused for a moment. “Oh, Brodie’s? Terese called me yesterday afternoon. She wanted to know if there was anything I could do to prevent Brodie from seeing Piper again. So… with Toadie’s help, & Sarge managing to get us an appointment with a judge… we were able to get a restraining order out on him, on Terese & Piper’s behalf.”

“And I’m guessing Brodie had no idea about it.”

He nods, looking a little awkward. “I may have neglected to inform him of it when he made bail at six this morning…”

I look shocked but then impressed. “Nice one, bro!” I say, giving his arm a light punch.

He smiles. “I wanted to find out what he would do,” He replies. “We had a tip off that he was here. And I’m glad that we did come. Especially when it stopped you from doing something reckless.”

"Spare the lecture,” I reply. “I get it. It was a dumb move. Just… Go ensure that creep doesn't come near our family ever again.”

Mark frowns.

“Piper is Paige's half sister, remember?” I add.

“Which means you're dating a member of your own family.”

“Piper and I aren't related, it's not illegal.”

“Says the one who just called her family a minute ago.”

“Oh, shut up & go deal with that psycho.”

****

I open my eyes as my room’s door opens. I look over my right shoulder in time to see Tyler quietly shutting the door, unaware that I’m awake.

“Hey ninja,” I say, causing him to jump a little & look at me.

"Hey," He replies, smiling as he comes round my bed. I notice he has food & coffees from Harold’s. “How are you?”

“Better,” I reply. “Desperate to get out of here & snuggle on the couch with you while we watch movies.”

He smiles. “Who says I have the day off?”

“Uh… me?” I reply, sitting up. “I think I’ve earned the right to have you.”

“I already cleared it with Lucas.”

My jaw drops. “You cheek!” I exclaim, lightly hitting his arm.

He laughs. He leans over & presses his lips to mine. He pulls back, but I grab his head, keeping his lips to mine.

“I brought us some breakfast,” He says, when I finally let him go. “I know they give you some, but… This is better.”

“Uh… Not hard to be better,” I reply. “Why is hospital food so bad?”

He shrugs. “That's a mystery for eternity.”

I smile, struggling not to laugh.

****

Mum drops in after breakfast, to see how I am & to sign my discharge papers. She & Karl return a few minutes later.

“You are free to go,” Karl says. “I want you to take it easy for a couple of days, just to make sure. If you feel unwell, sit down & call for help, okay?”

I nod. “I will.”

“Good,” Karl says. “You can get dressed & leave.”

“Thanks, Karl.”

He leaves.

“We’ll wait for you outside,” Mum says.

Tyler gives my hand a squeeze, & I watch him follow Mum out before I get up.

****

I follow Terese over to a couple of chairs in the waiting area. We just reach them when her mobile rings.

“Excuse me,” She says, stepping away to answer it.

I sit down & wait. Terese comes back before Piper. I stand as she approaches.

“That was work,” She says. “There's some crisis, & they can’t handle it without me.”

“You can go sort it out,” I reply. “I can take Piper home.”

“Are you sure?”

I nod. “She wants to curl up on the couch & watch movies with me.”

She nods. “Okay, that sounds nice. Please tell her I'm sorry for having to leave.”

“I will.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

She turns to leave. Piper emerges in a clean set of clothes & crosses to me. We wrap our arms around each other & she presses her lips against mine.

“Where's Mum?”

“Work crisis,” I reply. “She wanted to stay & drive you home, but I said I could.”

“Awwww, you're such a good boyfriend.”

“We have a date with my couch, remember? I thought I’d save her the trip, given we’re going to end up together anyway.”

****

We spend the afternoon curled up on the couch under his doona, watching movies & enjoying having the house to ourselves.

He kisses my forehead. “How you going?”

"Better now that I’m with you,” I reply, lifting my head & looking at him.

He smirks, cupping my face with one hand & pulling me in for a kiss. The front door opens & we part as Paige & Mark walk in. Paige sees us & looks surprised.

“Oooo, look at you two!” She says.

Mark gives her left shoulder a gentle squeeze in warning.

"Since Aaron is working late with Son, I thought we'd order some take away,” Mark says to us. “You can stay if you’d like, Piper.”

I nod. "That would be good. I’ll let Mum know.”

“Good.”

"Thanks, Mark.”

“No worries,” He replies. “Any preference?”

I shrug. “Whatever you all feel like.”

He nods. “Ty, come help.”

Tyler groans. “Really?”

Mark gives him a look. Tyler sighs, slips out from under his doona. He joins Mark in the kitchen. Paige comes & settles on the couch with me, pulling the doona over her lap & legs.

“How are you?” I ask.

“Says the one who just got out of hospital after being drugged & nearly raped.”

“Hey, you’ve been through a lot too,” I reply. “And I’m not the one pregnant.”

“Can you not make that sound like a bad thing?”

“Uh… Says the one who was against the idea of having kids right now until you found out you're expecting.”

She glares at me. “I was merely hesitant, okay? It's a big commitment, & I was scared of being a terrible Mum & was feeling like I couldn't go do all the things I wanted to. But that all changed when I found out about our babies.”

“Wait… what?!”

She clasps her hands over her mouth.

“Did you just use the plural term?”

She looks at me, completely petrified. It's a long moment before she slowly nods.

“Oh my GOD!” I exclaim.

“What's going on?” Mark asks, as he & Tyler come back over.

I look at Tyler. “Did you know?”

He looks confused. “Know what?”

“That they're having twins?”

“Paige!” Mark chastises.

“It slipped out!” She replies.

“So did you?” I ask Tyler.

“No,” He replies, before turning to Mark with a ‘what the hell?’ look.

“I wanted to keep it a secret for a while,” Mark replies. “We’ve been through a lot of bad stuff lately… I wanted something for just the two of us to know.”

“So… We're first to know?” I ask.

Mark nods.

"When are you telling the others?”

Mark looks at Paige. “I guess tomorrow…”

Paige looks sheepish. “I'm sorry.”

“It was bound to come out.”

We congratulate them & then decide what to have for dinner.

****

I pull him into his room & draw him in for a kiss. He pushes the door closed while we kiss, before turning us & leading us over to his bed. He lifts me up just before he backs into his bed, holding me as we fall onto it. I straddle him, rubbing my hips against him, making us both groan. He slides his hands under my shirt & up my sides.

He holds me close & flips us, so I’m now pinned on his bed. He kisses my neck, & I can't wait to make love with him again.

He reaches down, & unbuttons my jeans. He sits up, kneeling between my spread legs. He pulls off my shoes & jeans. I flashback to the motel, but push the memories down. I won't let Brodie win!

He unbuckles his belt, & as he reaches for his jeans’ button… I look up at his face, but it's not Tyler anymore.

It's Brodie.

And I’m back in the motel room.