In the morning, Jared woke up bright-and-early and went to the hospital to visit Celine. Even though his brother had died, Celine still had a chance of survival. Doctors had said that she was in a trauma-induced coma but that her brain health looked well and all of her organs were functioning properly. Simply, Celine was in a coma from the shock of the accident. Jared couldn’t help but wish that his brother could have been awarded a similar fate instead of the death that fate had handed him. As Jared pulled into the hospital parking lot, he couldn’t help but to repeat in his mind over and over again, I will find who did it.
At the hospital, Jared walked to the reception desk to verify the where doctors had placed his brother’s wife. She had just been moved from the intensive care wing to the trauma treatment center in-patient care wing.
Jared didn’t waste time with the pleasantries, “I’m looking for the room number of Celine Matthews.”
After a short moment of typing, the receptionist answered, “Room 345.”
Jared walked into room 345 only to find his mother reading one of her trashy romance novels and sipping from a Styrofoam cup of what he presumed to be her favorite blend of morning breakfast tea. He guessed from the wrapper in the trashcan by the room door and the fresh flowers sitting on the bedside table that she had stopped by the hospital convenience store on the first floor.
“Mother,” Jared answered gruffly, the thick antiseptic smell of the hospital made him feel claustrophobic.
She looked up from her novel before placing a bookmark between the pages she was reading and setting the book on the bedside table. She stood up and smiled sweetly, opening her arms wide to motion for a hug. “Jared.”
Jared hugged his mother softly as he could tell she was here as soon as the hospital allowed visitors.
“You just missed her parents. They had stayed overnight and were leaving to freshen up and get breakfast before returning.” She sat back down and looked at Celine, her eyes going glassy. “I just feel horrible. Their only daughter in this situation because of us.” Her words trailed off as she placed a hand on Celine’s bed.
Jared followed his mother’s gaze to Celine’s face before proclaiming, “I’ll find who did it. I promise.”
Catherine looked up a Jared, allowing herself to smile again. “Oh don’t mind this matter, Jared. Let the detectives handle it. Cooperating with them is the best thing we can do. Just focus on yourself and the company.”
Jared walked over and placed his hands on his mother’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “Don’t worry about me.”
“Always,” she replied like she always did. “You should look for a Deputy Manager to help you during this time. I don’t want you to be too stressed. After you left that position to take your father’s position temporarily, you never looked for someone to temporarily fill that spot. Plus, your assistant will be leaving soon. Do this for your mother, alright?”
“Yes, mother,” Jared replied. “I’ll be leaving now to head to the company. I’m sure there will be a ton of work to do since the news of Greg’s death has gotten out to the general public. Call me if you need anything.”
Jared’s mother nodded and smiled before returning her full attention to Celine.
At the office, Jared flipped through the applications for the Deputy Manager position that he had advertised months ago. Everyone seemed the same. Same qualifications, same experience. Jared was tired of the same thing. The applicants’ faces became a blur as he flipped through the stack of applications in his email until he finally he exited out and threw the paper stack of applications across the room. It hit the opposite wall and exploded in a ball flutter of white before littering the floor. Jared sighed at the mess before swiveling his chair around to the television behind him and flicked it on.
The television came to life as entertainment news started blaring from the speakers. Now we are going to move onto a breaking news story. Images released by paparazzi website TPG show actress Daniella Garcia in an intimate relationship with actor Michel Alarie. Garcia and Alarie recently shot a movie together, “With You,” that is scheduled to be released in two months. Garcia is currently dating CEO Jared Matthews of MS Corporation whose brother, Gregory Matthews, recently died in a vehicular accident. We will be following this story as more information is released. In other news…
Jared shook his head at the news. He wasn’t even surprised, just frustrated that Daniella could put him in this position. He had just lost his brother and now he had to deal with his relationship being in the media as well. Jared yanked his office phone from the receiver and called his assistants desk, “call a PR meeting, now.”
In the conference room, the PR team brainstormed how they could deal with the backlash of Daniella’s affair news. Options were thrown across the room with resulting scenarios but Jared just wanted to be done with everything. Done with the meeting, done with thinking, done with Daniella.
“I’ll hold a press conference. I’ll announce that we had a mutual break up months ago but never publicly announced it.” Jared said the words without feeling, a room full of mumbling following after.
The team leader spoke up. “Mr. Matthews, if that is what you have decided to do then we would suggest that you discuss your decision with Ms. Garcia and I will arrange a press conference for you.”
All Jared could muster was a “good” before walking out of the room.
The day had turned to night and Jared still sat in his office. He had messaged Daniella almost an hour ago telling her that they needed to talk. She hadn’t answered and that only showed just how guilty she was. Jared was about to pack up and go home before his secretary called his office.
Mr. Matthews, Ms. Garcia is on her way into your office.
Daniella walked in as if the world hadn’t just found out that she was having an affair. As if there were no problems between them.
“Daniella,” Jared spoke her name as if for the last time. “I think you know what I want to talk to you about.”
She shut the door behind her and but continued to stand by the door. “Jared, I…” her words trailed of as even she realized that the situation couldn’t be fixed.
“I’m not even mad at you, Daniella. We both realized long ago that our relationship stopped being a relationship. It became a familiarity that we couldn’t break. I only wish that one of us would’ve stopped sooner. I wish that you would have waited until after this whole mess with my brother was over.” He said the last part as if he was spitting venom. If he was angry about anything it was that she did this at his most vulnerable time.
“Jared, I’m sorry that this happened when you’ve been going through this case with your brother but you can’t just check out on me! This is the reason that I cheated! There’s no fight in you! I barely even knew what was happening until I called your mother and she told me everything. If we’re dating I want you to tell me these things, even if you think the spark has gone between us. …I don’t expect you to forgive me, but at least show me some care!” She sounded hysterical. Daniella felt insanely guilty and she needed him to feel the same way, even if it made no sense. “You’re right, you’re right. The passion was gone a long time ago but I still love you.” Her shoulders dropped as she said those words. For the first time in a long time Daniella Garcia felt completely helpless.
“Daniella, it’s over. You know that, I know that, this whole town knows that now. I want us to hold a press conference and publicly announce that we broke up months ago. This will help me and you.”
“I don’t need your help,” she spat at him, throwing her hands up in the air. “Yes, I cheated. It was a mistake. That happened months ago while he and I were filming, but it was just a kiss and I’ve tried to avoid him since then, for us. I never said anything because I didn’t want me and you to end. Don’t do this to me.”
“It doesn’t matter when it happened! It happened and that’s the problem!” He raised his voice at her for the first time in their whole relationship and it completely shut Daniella down. She dropped her arms by her side and began to cry.
Jared finally walked over to her and wrapped her in an embrace. It was hard for the both of them as their relationship ended just like that. With an exchange of words and tears. They both knew that even friendship would be hard and maybe that in itself was the hardest part. They had been together for ten years, since they were in their early twenties, having met at a magazine shoots. Jared held Daniella until she finished crying. She pushed him away and wiped her eyes. “I’ll do the press conference,” she whispered. “It’s the least I could do.” She turned around quickly and walked out the door.
Jared fell into the sofa chair that sat by the door. The same chair he sat in when he talked with his brother for the last time. That fatal conversation. Something about this room drew misfortune to it, to him. All of Jared’s worst conversations, news, memories, happened in this very room—the argument with his brother, the news of his brother’s accident, and his break up with Daniella. Jared slammed his fist against the arm of the chair and let the pain resonate through his arm and into his thoughts. Jared needed an escape and the only person who popped into his thoughts was Natalie. Her business card was still in his suit jacket pocket, pressed against his chest in the same crinkled fashion that she gave it to him.
Jared hesitated before pulling the hard out of his pocket and stared at it for a minute before finally taking out his cellphone to call the digits on the card.
“Natalie, are you free right now?”