Against all odds, p.9
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       Against All Odds, p.9

           Kira Adams
 
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  “That’s okay, we all have those.” He sighs loudly, glancing up at the beaming sun.

  “So, tell me about her…” I glance at him.

  “Who?” he asks, playing dumb.

  “You know exactly who I am talking about. The girl you’ve been seeing…the one who seems to have forgotten not only pieces of clothing at your apartment, but her toothbrush.” I nudge him with my shoulder. He knows me better than this. He knows how observant I can be.

  He rolls his eyes at me. “Her name is Maddy.”

  “Maddy…okay, how old is she?” It’s rare for Lee to have the same girl over multiple times, unless she is a booty call. But the toothbrush is throwing me off.

  “She’s nineteen.”

  I nod lightly. “Okay, so around my age. What is she like?”

  I can tell I am annoying him. “What’s with the twenty questions?”

  I shrug. “I’m just trying to figure out who you’ve been spending your time with.”

  Lee and I tell each other everything, so although he is annoyed, I know I will be getting answers soon.

  He sighs. “She’s from Oregon…she’s here on an extended vacation…and she has a boyfriend.”

  My eyes bulge out. Although it’s unlike Lee to commit, he’s never been a home-wrecker.

  “I know what you’re thinking…but I didn’t know. I swear. We just started hanging out and feelings developed…at least on her end. And plus, they are on a break.”

  “If you don’t feel anything for her, why bother?” It’s blunt, but honest.

  “I never said I don’t feel anything…” He begins drying off his hair with his towel. “I just…” he pauses, taking a deep breath. “She wants more and I’m not sure I’m ready.”

  This does not come off as a surprise to me. What does is the fact that he actually seems to be entertaining the idea. It’s the first time in what feels like forever since Taylor that he is debating taking the next step with someone. “She must be someone really special.”

  He looks at me, quizzically. “What makes you say that?”

  “Because you are actually thinking about it…taking the next step.”

  He tears his eyes away from me and looks out towards the sunset. “Yeah…I guess I am.”

  “What’s stopping you?” I ask.

  He shakes his head. “What if it doesn’t work out and I come in between her relationship for no reason?”

  Now he’s starting to think like the Lee I know. “I think life is too short to live with worries or regrets—so let’s embrace every moment. Say it with me—yes.”

  He looks at me, chuckling then. “So, I’m a yes man?”

  I smile brightly back at him. “You will be after I’m done with you.”

  * * *

  My eyes flutter open and I blink away the blurriness. Instantaneously, I reach my arm out to Avery’s side of the bed. It’s empty. I don’t know where he is, but he definitely isn’t sleeping. He can’t still be angry with me…can he? I push off the bed and stand up, peering around.

  I glance at the alarm clock on the dresser and it reads 7 am. Knowing Avery isn’t a morning person, my stomach dips as I realize he’s probably still upset. I walk out to the living room, assuming he’s probably just working on his computer but frown when his computer is off, seemingly untouched. Making my way into the kitchen, I notice a glass of water sitting on the counter…but still no Avery.

  “Babe?” I call out, continuing to make my way through the rest of the apartment. He’s gone.

  We never go to bed angry, it’s a rule Avery established within our first few weeks of living together. It’s unsettling that he was willing to break his own rule. I rush to our bedroom and head straight for my phone which is plugged in and seated on the nightstand. Sure enough I notice the notification for a missed call. Hurriedly, I unlock it and my stomach plummets. It’s not even a missed call from Avery…it’s from a number I don’t recognize. The area code tells me it’s not from our city. Before I bother calling it back, I decide to make a call to my boyfriend…to see if he answers.

  I hear his familiar ringtone from the drawer inside his nightstand and I realize that he left without taking his phone. Great. Curiosity gets the better of me and I am calling the unknown number back before I have time to contemplate my decision.

  “Hello?” An older female voice answers. I recognize the person immediately. It is Avery’s mother, Helen.

  “Helen?” I ask. I wonder when she got a new number…Avery never mentioned anything.

  “Austyn,” Helen gasps out and I know immediately something is wrong.

  “Helen, is everything okay?” My mind instantly goes to Avery’s father, Jim. He’s been in and out of the hospital for the past few months and I’m terrified something has happened to him. I don’t even know what I will tell Avery, if I’m right…

  I hear Helen stifle a cry on the other end and I sit down on the edge of the bed quickly, preparing myself for the worst. “It’s Avery…” she begins and my mind begins racing along with my heart.

  “What about Avery?” I can’t help the terror that emanates off of my voice.

  “There…was an accident,” she barely gets out between sobs. My heart is pounding against my ribcage and I am having trouble breathing.

  “What? No.” I jump up from the bed, pacing across our bedroom. The way his mother is relaying the information to me is absolutely terrifying. “Is he…oh my God…is he…” I can’t even form coherent sentences as I fall to the floor, gripping the phone tightly to my ear.

  Tears are falling from my eyes at a rapid pace and I think I might hyperventilate.

  She pauses before answering, and I fear for the worst.

  “He’s in surgery. How quickly can you make it to Sutter Health?” She doesn’t have to utter another word before I grab my jacket, purse, and keys and race out the door.

  Twelve – In the Blink of an Eye

  Austyn

  They say you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. They are right. It isn’t until I get the call about Avery that my mind begins playing our last few weeks together, last few days, last few hours. What I would give for a rewind button so I could have made smarter decisions, so I could have prevented him going out for that early morning bike ride. I took advantage of the fact that we saw each other every day and I didn’t know to kiss him longer, hold him tighter, or love him more passionately. No one warned me it was all going to be ripped away from me in a mere second.

  When I arrive at the hospital, his entire family is in the waiting room and I know then that nothing is ever going to be the same again. The doctors tell us that he was hit by a taxi, an accident caused by the driver. Avery’s body was thrown into the air, ricocheted onto the windshield, and then down to the concrete. As the doctor tells us what caused this, I find myself shuddering, thinking of just how much pain he has had to endure.

  They won’t let anyone in to see him. He’s in surgery the doctor says. He suffered a major loss of blood, broken pelvis, broken back, broken ribs, broken leg, broken arm, broken hand, has internal bleeding and swelling on the brain. By the time the doctor gets halfway through the list, my ears are buzzing. Tears are pouring down my face and I don’t think I can stand any longer. The world begins closing in on me, black swallowing me whole.

  * * *

  “She’s awake,” I hear someone whisper.

  I blink my eyes slowly, the world coming back into focus.

  “Austyn, honey,” it’s Avery’s mother. “How are you feeling?”

  I take a deep breath, trying to remember how I got here and then the world comes crashing down on me again. Avery.

  I glance around slowly, realizing I am in a hospital bed and his parents are at my bedside.

  I feel someone take my hand into theirs, squeezing it lightly, and I look up to see Helen attempting to smile through her tears.

  I gasp through my tears, trying to stabilize my breathing. I never got to tell him I loved him. I may n
ever get the chance.

  A few hours pass and I am finally well enough to rejoin the family back in the waiting room. Avery is out of surgery, and the doctor has allowed his immediate family a chance to go in to see him. It’s but a brief encounter that I know will impact their lives forever. As much as I want to be in there as well, I don’t know if I can handle the sight just yet. I think I am still in shock. One minute he was fine and in bed with me and the next minute…

  The doctor tells us that they had to put a tube into his brain to relieve some of the pressure. As much as I want to believe he is going to come out of this on the other side, the same man I’ve always known…I’m beginning to see that it’s nearly impossible.

  I’ve been at the hospital for nearly twenty four hours when his grandmother, Ivy shakes me awake. “Austyn dear, you should go home and get some rest, we will call you if anything happens.”

  Although his family offered to see about getting me in to see Avery…I couldn’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I just don’t want to picture him like that, even though I know it is inevitable I will see him.

  I nod slightly and stand grabbing my jacket which I’ve been using as a pillow and slip it back on, sliding my purse strap over my shoulder.

  “Are you sure you are going to be okay to make it home?” Helen asks, rubbing my back softly.

  I nod. I don’t even know what time it is, but making it home is the least of my worries.

  After hugging his family goodbye, I leave the hospital with a heavy heart. It is pouring outside when I reach the front doors and because of the hurry I had been in to leave my apartment, I hadn’t even thought to grab an umbrella. Normally, I would be frustrated that I have to make the trek to the BART station in the downpour…but today I feel numb. Nothing matters as much as Avery’s life.

  By the time I make it home, Ornery is screaming her head off at me and I realize I completely forgot to feed her. She must have been starving. “I’m so sorry baby girl,” I murmur as I pick her up and hug her close. And then I begin sobbing uncontrollably.

  * * *

  Although my mind and body are beyond exhausted, the idea of sleeping at such a crucial time gives me insomnia. Not to mention the fact that my dreams are filled with Avery and our last fight. I feel so guilty for what transpired the night before with Bane. I know it’s not my fault, but it’s difficult not to feel like I am to blame for everything that has happened.

  Sleeping in our bed feels so empty, so lonely. I walk the halls of our apartment, wanting to hold on to any bit of Avery that I can. I slip into one of his hoodies so I can smell him; just so I can feel closer to him. I sleep on his side of the bed, gripping his pillow tightly, inhaling every part of him that I can.

  I’ve been home attempting to rest for close to eight hours when I finally make the decision to call Lee. I know deep down I should have made the call sooner, but I think some small part of me was still hoping this was all a dream; a terrible nightmare.

  I glance at the clock on my phone. It’s a little after four in the afternoon and he’s probably in a training session but I can’t justify waiting any longer. I sift through my recent call list to find his number and press dial. I inhale deeply knowing just how close Lee and Avery are.

  “Hello?” he answers on the fourth ring, seemingly out of breath.

  I squeeze my eyes tightly closed, a tear escaping out the side. I wish I didn’t have to make this call.

  “Austyn?” he asks when there is silence from my end.

  “Lee…” I cry out, not realizing just how I’d feel when I heard his familiar voice.

  “Austyn?” His voice spikes. He knows something is wrong. “What’s going on?”

  “There was an accident,” I reply through tears.

  “What?” he asks, although I am certain he heard me quite clear. I think it is a normal reaction we all have when we hear something we wish was a dream.

  “Avery was in an accident…a taxi hit him while he was riding his bike.”

  I can hear deep breaths on the other end of the line and my heart breaks for my cousin. I’ve had some time to swallow the information, while he is hearing it for the very first time.

  “Is he going to be okay?” he asks in a tender voice. I can picture him tearing up on the other end of the line and it’s one of the only times I’ve ever heard him cry.

  I take a deep breath before answering because I’m not sure what to say. “I don’t know…” I say, fighting a sob. “He’s stable right now, but he’s in a coma. They are running scans.”

  “I’m coming…” Lee says quickly. “I’m getting on the next flight out.”

  “Lee…” I pause, taking deep breaths. “You don’t have to do that. I know you’re busy with work and the new pregnancy.”

  “Fuck work,” Lee replies instantly. “We’re coming.”

  And so it’s settled. My cousin and his wife will be catching the next flight out. In a way, I feel relieved that I will have them here with me, so I don’t have to be alone. None of it feels real. But I have a feeling that when they arrive, I am going to have to come to terms with the fact that in one small moment everything in my life has been altered; changed forever.

  Thirteen – Hope in the Darkness

  Austyn

  It has been two days since the accident and I just picked Lee and Jacqueline up from the airport. Lee doesn’t want to stop by the apartment to drop off their luggage, he insists we need to head straight to the hospital.

  My work has been completely understanding about my situation and has issued me a leave of absence until I feel ready to go back. A girl named Monica has been filling in for me, and from what I’ve heard on the radio this morning, she’s doing quite a decent job. Heath has been unusually supportive and has called and left me a few messages wishing Avery a speedy recovery¸ offering himself up if I ever need someone to talk to. It is strange, but appreciated.

  I suck in a deep breath of air as we walk through the hospital doors. I’ve never had much of an affinity for hospitals, but being here the past couple of days has heightened my anxiety. It isn’t surprising to see Helen and John sitting in the waiting room, along with Avery’s grandparents, Ivy and Bob. Their faces read exhaustion and I wonder if they have had a chance to rest in a real bed, other than the hospital beds they’ve been sleeping in.

  “How is he?” I address Helen and John as I throw my arms around them both at the same time, pulling them in tightly.

  “He’s stable, for now. They have him in the ICU, in the neuro unit. They are monitoring his brain activity…but he is still in a coma,” John replies, releasing me.

  “This is my cousin Lee and his wife Jacqueline.” I step back and allow Avery’s family to shake hands with the pair.

  “Yes, Lee, we’ve heard so much about you,” Helen says softly, pulling him into a hug instead of bothering to take his hand.

  “And Jacqueline, aren’t you just a darling thing?” She throws her arms around Jacqueline warmly. Her eyes travel to Jacqueline’s baby bump. “Just how far along are you?”

  Jacqueline smiles, locking eyes with Lee. “Just about four months.”

  “Do you know what you’re having yet?” John asks.

  Jacqueline shakes her head. “Not yet. We have that appointment next month.”

  “What are you hoping for?” Helen looks up into both of their eyes.

 
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