“Maria,” Ryan caught up to her as she walked down the hall. “How’s he doing?” He couldn’t stop the racing of his heart. “I mean, really doing? Not some medical bullshit.”
“With the help of the pain medication, he finally fell asleep. The doctor says he’ll heal physically, but he’s really freaked out. What the hell were you thinking barging in there like that? You scared him half to death. He thought you were Rob coming back to finish what he started,” Maria scolded.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t expect him to be awake. Then when I saw him…” Ryan bowed his head. Why was he caring so much about this man? Yes, he’d saved his life. Zack wasn’t the first abuse victim he had saved, but he was the only one to affect him this way. Perhaps it was because the bad guy was his brother.
Maria sighed, her shoulders sagging and the exhaustion etching her pretty features deeply. “Look, I know you want to talk to him, but I think it would be best if you didn’t. He’s going through a lot right now. He’s got a lot of healing to do, both physically and mentally. Rob put him through enough hell to last a lifetime.”
“I know my brother did horrible things to Zack. Things no one should have to deal with.” Ryan’s fingers nervously brushed through his short cropped brown hair. “I don’t know why this is so important, but I need to see him. I need to talk to him.” He confessed. “Maybe it’s just to clear my own mind, or maybe it’s to try and make amends for what my asshole twin did. Please…I just need to know he’s okay.”
Maria’s eyes searched his face. He didn’t care if she believed him. The words he spoke were the truth. Something compelled him to right Rob’s wrong.
“He’s not okay, Ryan. Don’t you get that?” she shot back. “He’s never going to be okay. Rob made sure of that. Zack’s forever reminded of the monster your brother was by the scars left on him every time he looks in the mirror. And I can’t even imagine what’s going on in his head. What Rob did to him that we can’t see.”
Maria looked as if she came to a decision. She pulled her shoulders back, straightening her posture and raised her head. “Thank you for saving Zack. I love him and I’m glad you were there for him. But it’s time to move on. Just leave him alone. It will be the best for all of us.”
Ryan watched Maria walk away. She was a mother hen. It was radiating from every gesture and word she spoke. But no matter how much she tried to hide her feelings, he had noticed the glistening of unshed tears in her eyes. The defeated look she had by being unable to help Zack sooner. Ryan knew how she felt. If he’d been just a few minutes earlier, perhaps Zack wouldn’t have been hurt as bad. Or maybe he could have stopped it from happening at all. Guilt. A familiar emotion.
Sighing, Ryan glanced at the closed door down the hall. Maria thought it best if he stayed away. Logic told him to do the same. But he couldn’t. Not yet. Not until he spoke to Zack face to face. Only then could he move on and make sure his brother paid for what he did to Zack.