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The foundation series bo.., p.13
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.13

           Kira Adams

  “Yeah, I should head home anyways. My mother has been calling for status updates the past twelve hours.” Bentley sauntered over to my hospital bed taking my hand in his. “Take it easy kid, alright?”

  I nodded without even bothering to speak.

  “Yeah, we should be going too,” my father said.

  Watching everyone leave me when I still had no clue to the events that led up to the hospital was more than a little daunting. I think Kayleigh sensed it in my facial expression because she didn’t move an inch. “I’m going to stay with Peyton.”

  I smiled thankfully back at her. She looked exhausted, her brown eyes had dark circles underneath them and her blond hair needed a wash.

  My parents and Bentley exited the room after their farewells, leaving Kayleigh and me alone. She pulled her chair closer to my hospital bed.

  “You have to tell me what happened.” I attempted to sit up once again, but the pain shooting through my whole body told me to stay put. I was going to be sore for a while.

  “Are you sure you are ready to hear it?” She asked, worriedly.

  I wasn’t sure to be honest…but it was something I needed to know. “Yes.”

  “Why don’t you tell me the last thing you remember?” Kayleigh bore her brown eyes into me.

  “I was just getting off work and heading into the movies. I was supposed to meet Saturn,” I replied, nonchalantly.

  “Peyton,” Kayleigh said softly. “You were in a car accident.”

  “I know that part already…”

  “In Jax’s car…” she trailed off conveniently after the mention of my former crush and perpetrator.

  “Jax?” I basically yelped. My heart began racing and I was finding it hard to breathe.

  Kayleigh instantly began rubbing my shoulder gently as a soothing mechanism. “The doctors think you’re alive because when the impact hit you were already passed out, therefore, your body was fully relaxed. Your body never tensed up, so when you were thrown from the car, you suffered minor cosmetic injuries, a few broken ribs, and re-broke your arm.”

  My mind instantly began obsessing over two separate things my sister had said—I had been passed out in Jax’s car and something about cosmetic injuries. “Do you have a mirror?” I asked.

  “Peyton, don’t you want to wait until you’re healed?” The way she said it convinced me there was no waiting.

  I swallowed loudly. “Show me a mirror Kayleigh.”

  She finally gave in, reaching inside her massive purse and pulling out a compact mirror and handing it to me.

  I hesitantly brought the mirror up so I could see my face; my heart sinking at the sight. I had a gash the size of a small fishhook below my chin on the right side of my face. It was gnarly looking.

  “It’ll heal,” Kayleigh spoke up, in a comforting voice.

  “Yeah,” I replied sarcastically. “Into a huge scar.” Tears began running down my face without much attempt. I thought I had finally figured out this game called life…but it just kept throwing curveballs at me, one by one. And some of those curveballs were massive; I felt like one girl against the world.

  Kayleigh handed me a tissue. “I want to know the truth Kayleigh…no sugarcoating it. What happened to me?”

  “You really don’t remember a thing?” Kayleigh paused, a sympathetic look spreading over her face. I would usually be irritated at the sight of it, but I knew my sister was only trying to help. She ran her fingers dramatically through her long blond hair before continuing. “Jax followed you to the movies, there was some kind of altercation that resulted in you being passed out when you were in the car together, and then the accident happened, you are a miracle.”

  “Where is Jax?” I asked, not missing a beat.

  “Peyton, I think that’s enough for today,” she said softly.

  “What happened to him?” I asked with more urgency in my voice.

  Kayleigh looked back at me, her face fallen. “Jax didn’t make it.”

  My throat felt like it was closing. I was gasping for breath, trying to make sense of it all. Jax was dead. Jax was possibly dead because of me. I couldn’t remember any of it and my brain was running wild with endless thoughts. “How did it happen?”

  “He was drunk Peyton. He drove into oncoming traffic; they aren’t sure if it was on purpose or not.” She was studying me like I was a fragile toy about to break any second.

  I didn’t know how to respond. Then my mind switched to Jace. I knew I had seen him earlier. “Jace?” Was all I could muster up.

  “He’s home with his father.”

  I nodded lightly. I had no idea how such a thing was going to affect him; and to know I was a part of it? I wasn’t sure I could ever face him again. “Did you see him? Did you talk to him?”

  “Briefly, it was more in passing,” she replied.

  “Is he okay?”

  “As okay as he can be for what he has on his plate. He held it together if that is what you are asking.”

  I was in the hospital, Jax was dead, and Jace may never forgive me…and I thought my life couldn’t get any worse. It had been so long since something had actually gone my way I was beginning to think the universe was against me. “He’ll never want anything to do with me now.” My cheeks began growing hot but I didn’t try to push it down this time. If there was ever a time I deserved a cry; it was now.

  “Don’t say that,” Kayleigh whispered, taking my hand in hers and rubbing it softly. “He will just need time to process; as everyone will. Give him a little space; he’ll come back if he truly cares about you.”

  I hoped Kayleigh was right but the tears were free flowing now and I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop them.

  Thirteen: You Could be Everything I Ever Wanted—Everything I Ever Dreamed.

  Russian Roulette

  Russian roulette

  Game of life or death

  Nothing is certain

  Everything’s a bet

  Your money’s your life

  Something you’ll never forget

  If you win

  You’ll play again

  It had been a couple of weeks since the accident. I had been released from the hospital after a few days and had been home resting ever since. My parents had insisted I take it easy, and I couldn’t say I disagreed. I had round the clock care from my loving and supportive family and friends.

  Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard from Jace and that consumed my every thought. I knew I hadn’t imagined him at my bedside when I first awoke in the hospital. So when there had been deafening silence from him I panicked. What if he blamed me for his brother’s death?

  Jax’s passing hadn’t been easy on me. His funeral came and went and Kayleigh said it was a full house. I asked her if she had caught sight of Jace, it was a negative. It was like he had just up and checked out; disappearing into thin air. His Facebook status hadn’t been touched since the week of our passionate encounter. The last update mysteriously read, You could be everything I ever wanted---everything I ever dreamed. I could give you everything you ever imagined---everything you never thought possible. Vulnerability has never been my strong suit but you make me want to take that leap. I can’t tell you how many times I had updated his page and reread his status over and over trying to find underlying hints it was about me. But the more I visited it and tortured myself over it the more I began to believe it was written about Olivia. It didn’t help that the majority of the comments on it were from mutual friends of theirs commenting how adorable or sickly disgusting it was that he was professing his love for her online. Olivia even liked his status after their confrontation the night of the beach trip…meaning she must have also assumed it was meant for her. It was beginning to be a trend; one that was going to be impossible to ignore. I hadn’t dared texting him. I just tortured myself in silence waiting for him to reach back out to me. Let me back in.

  Colton had visited me while I was still in the hospital; the sight of me definitely alarming him. I hadn’t want
ed anyone to see my face as it was, but he was persistent as always. We talked for a long time, must have been close to three hours when the nurses kicked him out because visiting hours had ended. He told me that if it were a different time or a different place we would be together…but he still loved Tara and with the knowledge of their unborn child, he felt it only right to try to make it work. While it hurt like a bitch to hear, I could only commend him for it. He was a good guy, and yes, they did exist. He kissed me one last time passionately before commenting, “You know, I’m going to wake up one day and realize I made the biggest mistake of my life…and more than likely you are going to have moved on…and will be happy with someone new.”

  “I know,” I said, my forehead pressed against his. “I love you Colton.”

  That was the end of the chapter for me and Colton; maybe not the ending of the book but definitely the ending of a chapter. As much as I cared about Colton, and I did…an insane amount, it felt like a weight had been lifted off of my chest. I no longer had to sneak around behind Tara’s back or our friends’ backs with Colton. I no longer had to think about him running back to her because he had chosen her over me…game over. I had been through a lot the past year and while Colton had seemed like the perfect fit early on for me, I came to realize that I wanted someone who wanted all of me and was willing to jump in head first.

  I had been questioned by the police multiple times about the accident, each time they attempted to help me remember the events that led to Jax’s fiery death. More details were released to me from the police and all over the news. The car had crashed into a tree, the impact catapulting me off into some near grass. Jax was unconscious from the blow, and the car caught fire. The explosion was enormous because Jax had been carrying gasoline around in the trunk of his car. I was close enough to the blast I should have been burned to a crisp…but I had mysteriously been moved from the scene of the collision and someone had called 911. The mysterious stranger who showed up out of nowhere, saved my life, and then vanished is what the police had become fixated on; wondering if they might have had a homicide on their hands rather than a simple crash that resulted in death. I became fixated on the thought, idea, or even hope that the mysterious stranger had been Jace. But the longer I experienced complete and utter silence from him, the longer I began to doubt that theory entirely.

  It was the middle of July and I had finally made an effort at being more social. Brooklyn’s family was having a barbecue and she had invited me and Madison. Noah had been texting me earlier about his boredom so I asked if he could tag along. The three of us were piled into Madison’s red Ford Focus.

  “You haven’t called me to write in a really long time,” Noah exclaimed from the back seat.

  I glanced back at him through the mirror on the visor. “I haven’t really felt like writing that much.” It was a total lie, but for some reason I didn’t care.

  “Nice green,” he commented, pointing at the color of my cast.

  “Yeah, I felt ready for a change.”

  “I am starving,” Madison said when we were less than five minutes from Brooklyn’s place.

  “You are a bottomless pit,” I joked, knowing Madison had eaten a hearty breakfast less than three hours prior.

  “Hey!” She shifted her blue eyes to me and then back to the road. “You can’t fault me for my high metabolism.”

  Noah and I just laughed.

  She pulled up to Brooklyn’s driveway, parking the car. “I smell food!” Noah taunted her.

  She was out of the car faster than I could blink, bolting off in the direction of the smoke. I was just locking the car up when Noah grabbed my arm, holding me back. I looked up at him, confused.

  “How have you been?” He asked, suddenly.

  “Fine…”I lied.

  “Peyton, you don’t seem fine. I normally see you three to four times a week and I can’t remember the last time I saw you. It was definitely before the accident.” A look of concern took over his face.

  “I’m fine Noah.” I looked up into his big brown eyes then.

  “You’re different.” There it was again…the same assessment I had been receiving about my new body, face, and personality.

  “I look different, my hand is broken, I’m a little fragile…that’s it,” I replied huffily.

  He ran his hand through his dark black hair. “You have changed.”

  “How so?” I tested him.

  “You’re not the same girl I started writing music with earlier this year.” His assessment mildly annoyed me.

  “Oh yeah? What is so different about me?” Even though I was frustrated, I wanted to know.

  “Everything,” he answered, then lifted his hand to my chin, rubbing his finger gently over my recent forming scar. “Does it hurt?”

  Whoa. I didn’t see that one coming. I shied away, shifting my body just enough so he got the hint, nodding my head lightly. “A little.”

  “I’m sorry. I know you’ve been through a lot,” he stammered, backing up. “I just worry about you.”

  “I know,” I responded feeling equally guilty. “Can we eat now?” I was dying to change the subject…dying to forget his hand on my face. I had been a love struck girl the past year with Colton and then Jace. Throwing another into the mix was not in my best interest, no matter how handsome Noah was—no matter that he was exactly my type. He had been a great support system for me as a friend and I didn’t want to lose that. It meant too much to me, he meant too much to me.

  “Yeah, of course,” he recovered quickly, and then led me into the barbecue.

  I was the main attraction, something I was growing overly tired of; everyone coddling me and acting like I was about to break any second. My scar had been pointed out more than a couple of times and because of my broken hand, no one was letting me do a thing for myself. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

  Brooklyn called me after I made it home safely to apologize for babying me. It was hard to remain mad at her; she had been there for me through everything. After making it up to my room and into pajamas I hopped onto my computer, wanting a distraction from everything, well, me. I logged into Facebook and scrolled down my news feed. I was laughing at a hilarious cat video Harper had posted on her page when I saw that Jace had posted recently.

  I don’t know how much longer I can do this…was all it read. He had over seventy comments in the short amount of time since he had posted and it had me worried. As much as my stomach twisted into knots about the thought of reaching out to him—I cared too much to let it slide. So I did the one thing that terrified me most and I knew would only spotlight me even more…I commented on his post. It took five times of deleting and rewriting before I was happy with the result.

  You can do anything you put your mind to; you taught me that anything is possible. It seemed simple enough and yet this olive branch had me chomping at the bit wondering when he would see it; what he would think about it. Within a mere ten minutes of my comment, it already had thirty likes. The hype over me had not backed down in the slightest. People were calling me a survivor.

  A few minutes later my text alert went off. I grabbed my phone from beside me and unlocked it. It was from Jace. It’s like someone took a hammer to my chest and was repeatedly pounding away at me. I had been waiting for countless weeks to hear from Jace. In one small touch of a finger I would get what I wanted. It was nerve-wracking. I took one deep breath in before opening it. 5445 Bluebird Ln., come.

  I looked at the clock by my bedside. It was a little after ten. I had been waiting for Jace to reach out to me for too long to pass up the opportunity of seeing him face to face…even if he hated me for what had happened. I quickly changed from my pajamas into a loose fitting t-shirt and yoga pants and throwing my hair up before racing out the door.

  Fourteen: How do You Feel About Strip Poker?

  Cincinnati Kidd

  The Cincinnati Kidd, making his rounds

  Six shooter in his hand, he’ll shoot you down
r />   With the bat of the eye, and a draw of the gun

  You’ll walk the line into the sun

  Walk ten paces, might as well be a mile

  Gun in your hand, you’ll go out in style

  Fight to the death, twitch of his brow

  He discards you like a dog with a scowl

  Draw the cards of the deck, not looking too good

  Your hands real slim, maybe you should

  Slip a card down your wrist, new one at hand

  You’ll surely win if not caught by the man

  Walk ten paces, might as well be a mile

  Gun in your hand, you’ll go out in style

  Fight to the death, twitch of his brow

  He discards you like a dog with a scowl

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