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The Most Eligible Bachelor Bella Winters 2022/7/22 14:15:34

“Right okay.” Brandon looks a little pale, like he can’t quite cope with what’s going on. It makes me feel terrible. “So we should just go inside and wait.”

I keep my fingers looped through his and I wave our hands back and forth while I look at him lovingly. “Look, Brandon, I really do appreciate you staying here with me, it’s such a kind offer but I can do this by myself. I don’t mind if you want to go back to your motel. I shouldn’t have asked you to come and meet my dad. Now that I’m hearing the words aloud, I can hear how crazy it sounds, so maybe we should pretend I never asked that question.”

He snatches his hands away from mine and puts them on my cheeks. Then he pulls me towards him for a kiss. As his lips crash into mine I can feel a desperation behind them which I’m sure comes from the dilemma that I’ve accidently put in front of him. This wasn’t ever my intention. I kiss him back, but my mind spins the whole time.

“I’m coming in with you,” he finally gasps into my mouth. “I want to be here, come on.”

Then he takes my hand and he leads me into the room, not waiting for me to argue with him at all. As we enter and get nearer to my father, I forget all about Brandon’s inner dilemma and I suck in a deep tense air once more. This really isn’t easy. I’ve been through it more than once before, and it never feels anything less than stressful.

“So what will they do for him?” Brandon asks quietly. “What happens now?”

“They manage things, sort him out and send him back home again.” My voice cracks with emotion as I speak. “That’s all they can do, it can be a bit of a vicious cycle.”

Brandon puts his hands on his hips and he narrows his eyes. He looks like I did in the beginning, he wants an answer that just isn’t ever going to be there. I remember it well, but I’ve given in now. I gave my hope for a cure a whole lot of time and effort, and it exhausted me. Now I’m in a better place because I’ve accepted it. It is what it is, I suppose.

“And has he seen every specialist available? Has he dealt with every doctor?”

“We can’t really afford to see every doctor.” I know Brandon doesn’t understand this, he lives in a world where money isn’t an issue, but I need to make him understand. “So that holds us back but we’ve done everything that we can.”

Brandon parts his lips as I brace myself for him to say something that I won’t want to hear. It’ll be something money related and since that isn’t something that I can change I just don’t want to hear it right now. It makes my shoulders hunch around my ears.

But before he can get even the first word out, my dad makes a groaning noise that grabs both of our attention. The words fall apart on Brandon’s lips and my ears switch off from him. I race to Dad’s side and take the seat next to him so I can grab his hand. His eyes flicker as he tries his hardest to focus on me. At least that pained look is gone now, the medication must be working well. I’m glad, he needs that relief.

“Dad, are you okay?” I gush quietly to him. “What’s going on? What can I do?”

“L…Lo,” he practically whispers back, using the nickname that only he has for me. I wouldn’t like it from anyone else. “Sorry I got sick again.”

“Oh, Dad, don’t ever say that.” Tears fill my eyes. “This isn’t exactly your fault, is it? You can’t help it. I’m just glad that we got you some help in time.”

“At the hospital?” It breaks my heart that he doesn’t even seem to know where he is. “Yes, it’s very white. This must be the hospital.”

“Yeah, we’re at the hospital. I’ll go and get a nurse for you in a moment.”

“Is that not a nurse?” He peers over my shoulder and it takes me a couple of moments to realize who he’s looking at. Brandon’s standing right behind me looking awkward.

“Oh no, that’s not a nurse. That’s Brandon, he’s my… friend.” I cringe guiltily as I lie. He isn’t just my friend, but I can’t call him anything else either. “He’s helping me.”

Dad tries to sit up but the pain is too much for him to do so. Sensing this, Brandon moves closer so my dad can see him. “Hi, I hope that you feel… okay.” It’s

so obvious that Brandon doesn’t know what to say, but the fact that he’s still here and he hasn’t run for the hills says a whole lot about him. “Sorry, I know that you probably don’t want me here, so if you want me to go, I can do so now…”

“Are you the reason?” Dad asks cryptically. When Brandon doesn’t answer, he senses that he needs to continue. “The reason that my Lo has been much happier recently?” My eyes widen in shock. I thought I was so discrete with my feelings. “Oh, I know that she’s tried to hide it from me but I can tell that she’s going through some big changes. I thought love because of the way she now bounces as she walks, and now I can see I was right.”

Me and Brandon share a panicked look. The L word is something we definitely shouldn’t say aloud but that isn’t something that we can say to my dad right now while he’s sick.

“Oh well, he’s my friend, we’ve been hanging out,” I stammer as a blush fills my cheeks. “It’s nothing to worry about, or nothing to get excited about. It is what it is.”

Urgh, there it is again, those words. They sum up more than I ever thought possible. Now I can see why Brandon likes them so much.

“Hmm, I see,” Dad replies, sounding a bit bemused. “Well, I think something different. I think there’s something much more between you, but what do I know? I’m just a sick old man lying in a bed because my body keeps failing me.”

I don’t know how to answer that question, it sends me into a spiral of panic. I can’t look at Brandon anymore for fear of what he’s thinking about my dad and his heavy words. Words that definitely shouldn’t have been spoken aloud, not when things are so confusing between me and him.

“Shall I go and get a nurse?” Brandon asks rapidly. “See what’s going on here?”

I nod rapidly and watch as he leaves in a hurry. Seeing him go makes me feel oddly vulnerable as I wait for the onslaught of questions that’s undoutably about to come from my dad. It takes me a few moments to even turn my neck back to face him because I’m in such a state of panic. And as I finally do I wish I hadn’t.

“He is more important to me than you’re letting on,” Dad says with the shake of his head. “I don’t know why you feel like you had to keep him a secret…”