"Well Amberle, I have just a few more questions." Dr. Mills said after checking her out. She took a deep breath, then said quickly, "Were you raped?"
"I don't think so," Amberle answered slowly, "I don't feel anything."
"I'm glad. Now, I have everything the police will need if you decide to press charges. It's all up to you. Since you didn't come into the hospital, I'm not under any obligation to contact them. You don't need to tell me now. The pictures and the evidence will keep until you figure out what you want to do. Take your time. Any questions?"
When Amberle shook her head no, Carol smiled and packed her bag. "Then I pronounce you fit, except for a sprained ankle. This means you must rest for a few days. If you feel comfortable here, I would recommend staying here for two or three more days at the least. I'm sure the guys would love to have you stay."
Before Amberle could say no, Carol continued, "You're under doctor's orders to stay here for today and tonight, but you can decide about the other days tomorrow, okay?"
Amberle opened her mouth to protest, then paused, closed her mouth, and nodded.
"Great!" Denise said, "I'll go get the guys."
As Denise went out the door, Amberle thought about what Carol had said. I'm sure Lisa called the police, or someone else that was there did. I don't have a choice. She looked around the room and saw almost empty walls and full bookshelves. There were no books in them, though, just music.
I don't want to go home yet. There are too many people I'd have to deal with there. And if I'm not in my dorm, Mom will want me to stay with her. I don't want that, either. She'd never leave me alone.
Maybe I could stay with Lucy. Or Elena. If Jonathan still lived alone, I'd stay with him. I know I'd feel safe with him. But I don't like his roommates that much. I'll worry about it later. I've got a few days to figure this out.
"Dr. Mills? Why do the guys all live here? Are they related?"
"Kevin and Brian are cousins, and the five of them are best friends. They work together and sometimes it seems like they are a family."
Amberle was silent for a moment, then she asked quietly, "Are you sure they won't mind me staying here?"
"I'm positive. And if you tried to stay somewhere else, they'd probably worry about you and drive you crazy dropping by and calling all the time."
"They seem really nice."
Carol could hardly hear her whisper. She sat down on the bed next to Amberle and put her arm around her shoulders. "You will be fine. I promise."
"Thanks." Amberle said as Carol gave her a final squeeze and got up.
Denise opened the door to find Nick and A.J. scrambling across the hall. "Well, since you already know what's going on, how do you feel about Amberle staying here?" Denise asked as she walked into Kevin's room
"Of course she can stay here, mom." Howie, Brian, Kevin, and Nick nodded, smiling and agreeing with A.J.. "She's probably going to feel scared, or at least nervous around you guys for a while, so be aware of what you say and do."
"She will be perfectly safe here with us." Kevin said to Denise. What, does she think we're going to jump her as soon as we're alone? She knows us better than that.
Howie looked insulted at Denise's remark and nodded in agreement with Kevin. "We wouldn't do anything to her!" Howie said, sounding a little mad.
"I know that! But she doesn't!! I can't think of a better place for the poor girl to stay until she's ready to go home, but she doesn't know you and she's probably going to be afraid of you. I'm just saying to be more careful that normal. Your first instinct might be to treat her like a sister or a friend, but that might be a little too, well, familiar for her."
"You mean, don't touch her." Kevin said, understanding. When the other guys looked at him strangely, he clarified. "If it was your sister, you'd give her a hug to try to make her feel better. You're saying it'd be better not to, right?"
"Exactly. Amberle might misunderstand." Denise said with a smile of thanks to Kevin.
"We can do that. I don't want to scare her." Brian said, getting up and heading towards the door.
The six of them walked into the room to find Amberle just coming out of the bathroom, hopping on her uninjured foot and leaning on Carol for support. They rushed to help her, but she reached the bed at the same time they did. A.J. smiled as she climbed into the bed and under the comforter, thinking about how glad he was that Kevin had seen her. He didn't want to think of what could have happened if they'd kept driving.
Howie listened to Dr. Mills but tuned her out after she said Amberle was basically okay. She looks so pale and out of place in my dark bedroom. Tiny and feminine. And helpless. Howie's protective streak, already a mile wide, kicked into overdrive and he smiled at her. He was rewarded with a smile that made her look like an angel. A young angel. He looked again and thought, Maybe I should leave her to Nick. She is probably a bit too young for me, no matter what my hormones are saying.
Howie looked up when he saw Carol and Denise walking out of the room, saying good-bye.