Lucky sat at the fire station after finishing his training with the crew which had all of them grabbing hose and running with it around the block for five circuits. Then they ran 100 sprints carrying a dummy back and forth in relay fashion. It left him appropriately tired afterward, his muscles aching a bit but that's what they did when they weren't out on calls. He'd started his shift nearly 24 hours ago and would be off soon.
During his shift, he'd stop in for a brief spell just to check on Elena but no change yet. Dr. Marion said he didn't know why she hadn't regained consciousness yet but that it wasn't unusual in such cases. Her body was trying to start the healing process to recover from the brutal beating and that's where its resources need to focus. Still, Chase worried about her even as her bruises started to fade a bit, changing their coloring gradually. The swelling beneath her eye with the orbital fracture still hadn't receded and he winced whenever he first saw it again.
Now he had to wait to get off his shift which had been pretty uneventful. Only a few paramedic calls and one car fire. Jeffrey had said that they'd be cleaning one of the trucks later on and he did paperwork in the meantime with his tall glass of sweet tea and a sandwich that Lacey had brought him.
She'd been on her way to the hospital herself after having Penny one of her workers run the boutique for her in her absence. She'd gotten close to Elena and worried about her too. But the person who should be there, Elena's mama hadn't yet arrived. Lately she'd decided to change what she called herself again and now it was Lulu. Lucky couldn't figure out why she did that, almost as if she reinvented herself every once in a while. Did she feel shame for how she had acted going to clubs to get trashed nightly and hooking up with seedy men when she should have been a mother to her daughter? He couldn't figure it out because the woman seemed too self-centered to give it much thought.
Buck had tried to come by a couple more times but Dr. Marion instructed the nurses to restrict visits to Elena to her mama, Lucky and more recently Lacey and Melissa. The doctor felt that the people closest to Elena would have the best luck at drawing her out of her unconscious state by sitting with her and talking even about mundane topics.
He hadn't crossed words with Buck but he never trusted the guy. He knew that Elena had feared that he'd move from her mama to her and she'd never turned her back on him. She'd spent her whole life having to dodge her mama's men, who were eager to bed a younger version of her mother. Tex had done that hitting on Elena's vulnerability and had been pretty much run out of town. But what he'd done to her had impacted how Elena viewed men.
Lucky was no expert in psychology but he sensed that Elena gravitated to men the way she did because she never really knew her father. He took for granted that he had one even as they clashed over just about everything but she'd never known her own. He wondered if she even knew her father's name.
Jeffrey walked up to him.
"Someone's here for you."
Lucky nodded and got up to go to the front of the station where he saw Melissa standing there still dressed in her waitress outfit.
She smiled at him.
"Hi yourself, I'm on my way to see her," she said, "Just got off a double shift."
"I'm going to the hospital after my own shift."
She nodded and cleared her throat.
"I ran into Royal today," she said, "He dropped by the diner for breakfast."
"How'd he look?"
"He had some attitude," she said, "I guess he's doing something for Lynette's father."
Lucky scratched his head.
"Yeah…trying to get in good with him and his partners," he said, "Making a name for himself through Wyatt's daughter."
"I don't know about him Lucky," she said, "He had these scratches on him…but he said he got caught in some brush."
"I have my own suspicions about Royal. I know Elena was going with him while she worked at the Center. But I don't have any proof. They kept whatever they were doing very quiet."
"Yeah…she did but she mentioned him," she said, "Anyway Lynette came in while we were talking and she called Elena a tramp."
Lucky felt anger fill him but kept himself calm. Lynette considered any woman competition to what she wanted and was catty even about her own crowd behind their backs. He'd heard her complain a time or two about some woman poaching her man but he guessed everyone in their crowd had at one time or another.
"She needs to take a closer look at her boyfriend."
"Yeah, he acted all surprised and concerned when I told him about Elena's beating."
"Yeah right…I wonder if he was the last person to see her before she got beat up."
"He didn't say anything about that," she said, "but just that the police should handle it."
Lucky knew that wouldn't be much of an option once they connected Elena's beating to Wyatt and his daughter through their involvement with Royal. Wyatt would want to shut down any investigation that might make his family look badly in the public eye and who could stop him?
"That'd be mighty convenient but they aren't the only ones who'll be investigating."
"I'm not going to let whatever thug did this to her get away with it. That includes anyone close to Wyatt."
Melissa just pursed her lips knowing better than trying to talk him out of it.
"Don't get into it with Royal…or you'll wind up in jail."
"I have no plans to wind up locked up," he said, "But there's other ways to get justice."
Lynette sat with Royal in the meeting room inside the Center. He's gotten all the furniture moved back into the spacious area including chairs and tables and she'd dropped by just then from the beauty parlor to show him her new look.
He'd liked it of course, but then messed up the intricate curls that framed her face with his hands as he pulled her closer to him.
"Oh god….Lynette…I need you now."
"Oh yes Royal…"
So they had frantically rummaged with each other's clothes until they were going at it on one of the tables. She lay on her back on the hard surface while he lifted her dress, ripped down her panties and after she'd undone his own pants, thrust his cock deeply inside her. She moaned as he rocked against her, rattling the table until they both finished.
They'd fixed their clothes afterward and she'd left him to freshen up and that included trying to fix her hair back to being neat and orderly and as close to perfect as she could get. He noticed that about Lynette and it bugged the shit out of him that she didn't like a hair out of place or any of the messiness of their couplings. That she headed straight to the nearest bathroom to remove even a reminder that they'd been together.
Not like Elena who cuddled with him during the time they spent in the storm shelter in the basement. She couldn't be more different than Lynette but he had needed someone who could take him places.
"Royal…we have that dinner at the club tonight."
"Baby I don't know…I got a lot to finish here."
She gave him a knowing look.
"Daddy's expecting us," she said, "An old business buddy of his is flying in from Boston and he wants you to meet him."
Royal sighed, knowing he couldn't pass up the opportunities that Wyatt had given him but he needed something more concrete than a series of promises.
"The guy liked your specs for the Center and wants to see more of your work."
He brightened at that.
"That'd be great," he said, "I'll pick up later. I just have some work to finish here."
"It's too bad Elena can't work now that she's laid up in the hospital," she said, "but then she did hover around you too much."
"I tried to keep her at arm's length but she's really into guys. Not surprising considering she wound up working there because she bedded one of her mama's boyfriends."
Lynette curled her lip.
"Gutter trash nothing better than that. You just have to stay away from people like that."
Royal sighed as he knew that before he met her, she might have lumped him with the rest from his section of town. But now he was moving up and out of that world towards one where what he wanted was his for the taking.
And now that his path had been cleared, he wouldn't waste one more moment getting what he wanted.
Lulu as she called herself this week walked cautiously inside the double doors of the hospital and looked around before going to the main information desk. She'd tossed on some worn shorts and a tank top to match her heels which added three inches to her height.
Her curly hair she hadn't been able to do much with but she bundled it up off of her face so she didn't look totally dumpy. She had an image to maintain after all, and intended to keep it.
"So who do I have to talk to so I can find out what happened to my daughter?"
The nurse just looked at her.
"Do you have a name?"
"Hell yeah…she's Elena named after a woman I worked with once at some rich guy's house. Last name's Marquez."
The nurse smiled and looked on her computer.
"She's in room 125 and she's restricted to family only."
Lulu reared back.
"I am her family…her one and only family…and I need to see her…"
The nurse looked at her.
"I'm sorry it's just that we've been looking for her family and no one's come forward except some close friends."
"She doesn't need her friends, she needs her mama and I'd have come sooner…but I was ailing."
The nurse just nodded and handed her a visitor's pass.
"Dr. Marion wants to talk to you," she said, "He'll be making his rounds soon."
Lulu nodded and headed towards her daughter's hospital but wasn't prepared for what greeted her when she walked inside and saw her lying still on the bed.
"Oh Elena…oh baby…I had no idea…."
She walked up to the bedside and saw the bruises on her face. Bruises that some man had given her, no doubt. Buck and the news had told her that much but she had to see for herself.
"Your mama's right here now baby so don't you worry now…"
Then she sat down and looked at Elena for a long while.