Illusions begin, p.28
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       Illusions Begin, p.28

           N.L. Greene
 
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  Chapter Nineteen

  As the cab pulled up in front of the emergency entrance of the hospital, Becky barely let the car come to a stop before she was swinging the door open and running toward the ominous glass doors. As the doors whooshed opened, she told her mother she was there; only hanging up the phone after her mother reassured her that she would be right down to meet her. Finding herself without a purpose for the first time since her mother called only thirty minutes ago, she glanced around the cold, sterile waiting room in a daze. She noticed that there were other sick people sitting around the room but she couldn’t focus on their faces. All she could think about was that her father was in this building somewhere, suffering and possibly dying. Not having her mother to soothe as a distraction, she found herself about to lose it for the first time since the call. Her body began to tremble and her knees were starting to feel week. Just as she was sure she was about to go down, someone came up behind her and placed their arm firmly around her shoulders. Although thankful for the support, she still jerked away from the stranger.

  Only when she looked up and focused her attention did she realize it wasn’t a stranger after all. “Oh God, Blaine! I am so sorry. I totally forgot to pay the cab driver didn’t I?” She began to dig through her purse for money as she started walking toward the doors leading outside so she could pay the cab driver, feeling like a complete idiot and totally embarrassed. “I am so sorry Blaine, I just…” she trailed off when Blaine’s hand wrapped around her elbow, pulling her to a stop. She glanced up in confusion.

  His eyes were soft with understanding and sympathy. “Its fine Becky, I took care of it.”

  Her confusion quickly turned to embarrassment. He already paid for her dinner even though they weren’t on any sort of date. Then he paid for their cab fare to her apartment earlier and came with her to the hospital because he was probably worried about her losing it. On top of that, now he had to pay for the cab ride here because she had lost it and ran out on the fare like a crazy person. “Blaine…” she began to apologize and insist on repaying him but was cut off by her mother’s voice.

  “Oh Becky!” her mother yelled from inside the elevator that had just arrived, pushing past people and moving toward her quicker than she had ever seen her mother move.

  Hearing the fear still in her mother’s voice as well as seeing the evidence of her tears on her delicate face, Becky didn’t hesitate. She ran toward her mother, both of them meeting in the middle of the lobby and throwing their arms around each other. As soon as they were tightly wrapped up in one another, they both began to sob. “Oh Momma, what happened? Is Daddy going to be okay?” she asked against her mother’s shoulder, unable to keep it together any longer.

  Her mother pulled herself together first, moving back from Becky just enough to look into her eyes. She began to wipe the tears from Becky’s face as she offered her a sad smile and slight shrug. “I don’t know honey. He’s still getting tests. The doctors and nurses say they can’t tell me anything until they get all the results back.”

  Becky began to cry again. “What are we going to do Momma? We can’t lose him.”

  Her mother wrapped her up in her arms again, murmuring to her as she rocked her daughter in her arms. “Don’t think like that honey. Your father is a very strong and stubborn man. He’s not going to let something like this take him from us so soon. I am so sorry for scaring you like this. It was so selfish of me. I should have waited until I knew more before I called you.”

  Becky reared back and scowled at her mother. “Oh no you should not have! I would have never forgiven you if you didn’t tell me. What if you waited and something happened to him? No, I need to be here with you and Daddy. I admit I am terrified but you shouldn’t be alone at a time like this and I’m sure Daddy will need both of us once the doctors finish with him and tell us what is happening.”

  “Yes, I’m just…” her mother trailed off as her gaze left Becky’s and focused on something behind her. “Who is that?” her mother asked softly.

  Becky turned around in confusion; unsure of whom her mother was referring too. Then she smiled when she saw Blaine standing just a few feet away, hands in his pockets but watchful of everyone that passed, as if he were guarding Becky and her mother. The thought instantly made her feel a little better. He hadn’t left her side the entire time and she knew he was staying close in case she needed him. He really was a nice man.

  She pulled away from her mother and used her palms to wipe the wetness from her face. She took a few steps toward him. “Blaine?” she called and watched as he turned toward her, his eyes intense. She smiled at him and the smile he gave her in return was breathtaking. Becky heard her mother mutter “my word” under her breath. She ignored her mother’s comment as she motioned him closer. “I would like to introduce you to my mother,” she told him as he came to stand beside her. She turned her attention to her mother when Blaine did. “Mother, this is Blaine. Blaine, this is my mother, Victoria.”

  Blaine immediately extended his hand. “It’s very nice to meet you Mrs. Wellington.”

  Her mother took his hand as well, “You too Blaine. Thank you for making sure my daughter arrived here safe and sound.”

  “You’re very welcome ma’am. Is there anything I can do to help? Anything you need?” he asked politely but she could also see that it was genuine. He was willing to do whatever either of them needed if it meant making things easier for them. Her heart melted just a little bit.

  “No, thank you though, I really appreciate the offer. I think we’ll just go up and wait for the doctors. I don’t want to miss them if they come looking for us. You’re welcome to come with us if you would like,” Becky’s mom offered, more out of politeness than anything else.

  “Oh no, I’ll just head home now. It was nice to meet you,” he said with a soft smile before turning to Becky. “Thank you for dinner Becky, I’ll call you tomorrow?” he asked her, his eyes shooting those electrical sparks she was growing so used to as he gazed down at her.

  “Yes, please,” Becky responded quickly making Blaine’s smile grow and causing her to blush. She knew now was definitely not the time for her whimsical and romantic thoughts, but she couldn’t help it when he looked at her that way.

  His smile faded a bit as he reached out to run one finger across the outside of her hand. “Call me if you need anything at all and I really hope your father’s okay,” he said softly and with a look of utter sincerity.

  “Thanks Blaine,” she said equally as soft, trying to fight the shiver that wanted to work its way up her spine at the feel of just his fingertip on her skin. He smiled one last time before turning and walking away. Becky watched him as he walked down the hall and out of the glass doors.

  “Who was that young lady?” Her mother’s question startled her, making her jump and clutch her chest.

  Becky tried to regain her composure and ignore her mother’s knowing look. “He’s just a friend Mother. Now shouldn’t we go check on Daddy? His doctors might be looking for you.”

  “Yes, we should, but while we wait for the doctors, you are going to tell me all about this friend of yours,” her mother said in a voice that told Becky she wouldn’t be getting off the hook on this one.

  Becky let out a sigh but took her mother’s hand in hers as they walked toward the elevator. “Okay, but there isn’t much to tell.”

  “Hmmm,” her mother hummed as she pressed the button to call for the elevator. “How about starting with how you met him and why he was here with you?”

  Becky thought for a second. She knew she couldn’t tell her mother the truth. Even if she could prove to her what Blaine had told her (which she couldn’t) something told her that she could never tell anyone, not even her parents. So she had to lie, which she hated doing, but she tried to stay as close to the truth as possible. “I met him at the diner, you know, the one I go to for lunch almost every week?” Her mother n
odded but said nothing, meaning that Becky should keep talking. “He goes there often and we started talking one day and found that we had a lot in common. He asked me to dinner for the first time tonight. We were actually at the diner when you called.” She didn’t want to tell her mother that they had actually been at her apartment. She couldn’t tell her the real reason why and the only other reason was one that she DID NOT want to discuss with her mother.

  “Oh, I’m so sorry I ruined your date,” her mother apologized.

  “Seriously? Mom! You didn’t ruin anything and I was serious when I said I would have been furious if you hadn’t called me immediately like you did.” Becky thought for a second and realized what her mother had said. “And it wasn’t a date, not really, just friends having dinner,” she told her stubbornly.

  “Okay dear, if you say so,” her mother said slowly with disbelief but she quickly spoke again, not giving Becky a chance to defend herself. “So it’s obvious why you initially agreed to hang out with him...” her mother winked and Becky looked at her blankly. Her mother blew out an exasperated breath. “I may be old but I am not blind Katherine Rebecca! That man is gorgeous!”

  “Oh!” she said with a blush. She couldn’t help it. He was gorgeous and so much more. She glanced over at her mother and began to giggle at the way she was dramatically fanning herself. “First of all, stop that!” she said as she pulled her mother’s hand down and held onto it. “Second of all, you are not old!” Her mother shot her an incredulous look but Becky didn’t give her time to say anything. “And third of all, yes, I’ll admit that he is very attractive but that is not why I went to dinner with him. He happens to be a very nice man.”

  “So you do like him?” her mother asked with an evil grin.

  Becky blew out an exasperated breath. What did she say now?

  Thankfully her mother stopped being dramatic and squeezed her hand. “Okay, okay. I’ll stop.” Becky sighed with relief but her mother wasn’t quiet finished. “I’m sure he is a very nice man. He seemed very polite when you introduced us, but the fact that he rode all the way over here with you just to make sure you made it safely says a lot more about his character than a few polite words did. I like him and I think he really likes you.”

  “I’m pretty sure he came with me because I was acting like a total basket case. He was probably worried I would get injured or killed if I was left alone and he didn’t want that to be on his conscience.” She tried to laugh it off. She didn’t want to start getting hopeful thoughts about Blaine. She barely knew him and after the sudden turn of events tonight, she wasn’t sure if she would ever get to know him.

  Her mother didn’t seem too happy with her brush off. She tugged on Becky’s hand, pulling her to a stop before facing her. “A man does not jump into a cab and ride all the way across town, just to get back in that cab and go all the way home by himself unless there is some sort of emotion involved. Trust me. I’m much older and wiser than you are.”

  “I understand what you’re saying Mom, but I just met him. There is no way there is any sort of emotion involved. It was strictly a sense of duty.”

  Her mother just smiled at her before turning away and continuing to walk down the hall. Becky thought she heard her mother murmur something that sounded suspiciously like “if you say so honey” but she was afraid to ask. She didn’t want to talk about Blaine anymore.

  Deciding that a subject change was a better idea, she asked about her father. “So tell me exactly what happened with Daddy and what the doctors have said so far.” Talking about the non-existent relationship between her and Blaine had allowed her and her mother time to calm down and it had even helped to lighten their moods. So she really hated bringing it up now because she knew it would get them both upset again, but she needed to know what was happening with her father and how they ended up in the hospital.

  When her mother began to tell her, sadness seeped into her eyes again, but she kept the tears at bay and told Becky what happened. Her parents had been having dinner, sharing stories of their day and laughing over silly things like they always did. Her father had been complaining of discomfort throughout the day but wrote it off as stress. During dinner, the pain in his chest became even more intense and he turned very pale. Her mother decided she wasn’t going to take any chances, and although her father protested, she called for an ambulance. By the time they arrived, her father’s pain was becoming unbearable and the paramedics said it looked as if he was having a heart attack. That was when Becky’s mother lost it. Her mother had wanted to ride in the ambulance but her father refused to allow her. He told her to get a driver to bring her and to call me.

  Becky was guessing that her father had been trying to save her mother the pain of seeing him that way and he was right. Her mother was a strong, hard-working woman, but her family was her weakness. She couldn’t bear it when either Becky or her father was in any sort of pain or even sick.

  So her mother relented, allowed a driver to drive her as she called Becky and arrived at the hospital just after her father had. The nurse that greeted her informed her that it looked as if her father had suffered a heart attack and that they were working with him then. After being told that tests were being done and that a doctor would call for her as soon as they knew more, Becky’s mother was instructed to a waiting area, where she sat and talked to Becky until she arrived. Which brought them to the present.

  Becky and he mother walked into the CCU waiting room and sat down in the hard plastic chairs. Becky glanced at the clock on the wall, taking note of the time. They had told her mother it would be over an hour before they got back to her. After the time they spent downstairs talking and taking their time to get back upstairs, they only had about ten more minutes until they would be expecting some news. They were both much more somber now, after having rehashed the details of her father’s pain, so they sat silently with their hands holding onto each other’s, and waited for the doctors to deliver what they hoped would be some good news.

  Thankfully the nurse had been accurate in her time estimation and a doctor came walking through the door ten minutes later. “Mrs. Wellington?” he asked while confidently striding toward Becky’s mother. They were the only ones in the waiting room so it was an obvious assumption, but her parents were also pretty well known so the doctor probably knew who she was already.

  Becky and her mother both stood and greeted the doctor. “Yes, please call me Victoria and this is our daughter, Katherine Rebecca.”

  “Katherine, please,” Becky murmured and smiled politely.

  “Victoria, Katherine,” he nodded at both of them and extended his hand. “I am Doctor Smith. I’m sorry to be meeting you both under these circumstances.” They all shook hands as the doctor continued. “Your husband is stable and resting comfortably for right now Victoria. We ran some tests and confirmed that he did have a heart attack.” Becky’s mother let out a soft gasp at the news. Dr. Smith offered a sympathetic smile but continued. “We are still waiting on the rest of the test results before I can confirm what may have caused it. Once I have those, I’ll come see you again. But in the meantime, there’s no reason why you can’t go see him.”

  “Okay, what does that mean though? Will he be okay?” Victoria asked anxiously.

  He offered that sympathetic smile again. “It is very common for a man your husband’s age to start suffering from some minor health issues. I saw in his medical history that he hadn’t seen a physician in some time so I’m not sure of what his current state of health was. Like I said before, we don’t have his test results back, but I’m sure there will be something there that will give us a better indication of what we’re dealing with. Whatever it is, adding the stress of his job probably pushed him over. I am going to assume that he works extremely hard and has a hard time delegating?” Victoria nodded her agreement as the doctor continued. “Until I get the results I can’t be sure, but I‘m hoping this i
s something that can be prevented in the future with some minor adjustments to his diet, exercise routine, and cutting back on work. He needs to relax, delegate more, take a few days off or even a vacation. And soon,” the doctor finished ominously.

  “Okay doctor. I understand. Thank you so much for everything. Can we see him now?” her mother asked eagerly.

  “There is no need for thanks Victoria, and yes you can. It shouldn’t be much longer, wait here and one of the nurses will come get you just as soon as he’s settled in his room. It was nice meeting both of you and I will see you again as soon as I have the rest of the test results,” he shook both of their hands again before leaving the room.

  They both sat back down, lost in their own thoughts. The doctor was right. Her father worked entirely too hard. He never took a day off, much less a vacation, especially since she had grown up and moved out. When she was a child, he always took two weeks off each year so they could go on a family vacation, but he was never completely off. He still answered calls and did teleconferences from wherever they were. He had been working extra hard lately, trying to get the office in order and ready for her to take over the reins. He hadn’t put a time line on it, but she knew he planned on giving her a few years to get her feet wet and to get comfortable with running the whole company before doing so.

  Now it looked like the choice had been taken from them. The doctor sounded hopeful for a recovery this time, but they still weren’t sure of the damage that had been done and how her father would recover from this. Was he going to even be able to go back to work? As much as she appreciated him taking her into consideration and giving her time to get comfortable in her new job, she knew now that they didn’t have that time. It was time for her to bite the bullet. She needed to give up on her whimsical wishes for a world of magic and take her job and responsibilities more seriously. It was time for her to step up to the plate and show her father that she was ready to take over the family business so he could retire and live a long and healthy life. Sacrificing her love of magic was well worth savings her father’s life.

  The MysticSeeker Series

  For the first time in her life, Becky had hopes of fulfilling her own dreams. Her little girl desires of a world filled with magic started to become a reality when Blaine Winters came into her life and teased her with possibilities she never thought imaginable. Not only did he reveal that magic was indeed real, but he also stirred feelings in her that she had only read about in romance novels. Just when things looked like they may start to fall into place for Becky, her life gets turned upside down by her father’s sudden illness, causing her to take a much more aggressive role in the family business she hates sooner than she anticipated. Now she finds herself with even less time for anything other than work. With the overwhelming demands of running an entire company, she’s forced once again to forget all about her whimsical thoughts and personal desires.

  Will Becky be forced to give up on her dreams for good this time? And what about Ethan and Blaine, will either of them be able to tempt her past her devotion to her family?

  MAGIC UNFOLDS is set to be released in April of 2014!!

  Acknowledgements

  Once again there are a million and one people to thank and acknowledge for making this book (and soon to be series!) possible...

  My family and friends are the most important of all. They have been so supportive in so many ways; telling anyone who will listen about my books, buying them themselves even if they wouldn’t normally read the genre, and most of all, offering encouragement and praise when I’ve needed it the most.

  My husband has done more than I could have ever imagined, encouraging me when I get frustrated and giving me ideas when I get stumped. I love you!

  My girls…for just being the best daughters a mother could ever dream of. They are beautiful and smart but also have the best hearts I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t be more proud of them!

  My best friend and editor Carie…you are seriously the best friend anyone could ever wish for. You are always there when I need you and go above and beyond when asked. I love you and am so happy that you have been such an important part in making my dreams come true! THANK YOU!!!

  My sister Stacy and cousin Raye…once again, thank you for offering great advice and feedback during the process of writing this book. I couldn’t have done it without either one of you!

  The amazing Kelsey Keeton for designing an AWESOME book cover that is even better than I imagined and the amazing cover photography by K Keeton Designs/Wilson Photography…Thanks!

  And of course to each and every one of you that read and share my books! I love what I do and it means so much to me when you love it too!!

  Author N.L. Greene

  Author N.L. Greene is a writer of YA and NA Contemporary and Paranormal Romances. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and two beautiful daughters. When she isn’t writing or reading, she enjoys traveling around the world with her family, shopping and doing other girly things with her girls, or playing video games with her husband. She is a lover of dogs, chocolate, and anything pink!

  Find her here…

  www.nlgreene.blogspot.com

  Facebook- N.L. Greene

  Twitter- @AuthorNLGreene

  TWISTED by N.L. Greene

  In the Beginning

  My name is Natalie and I have a problem.

  My problem isn’t one of the normal problems that teens come to their parents with or seek advice from a counselor for. I’m not failing school or worried about ending up in jail. I don’t have a drug or drinking problem. I’m not pregnant and there’s not an STD scare I need them to help me with.

  No, it’s not that simple for me. Simple? What’s so simple about teen pregnancy or substance abuse in teens, you ask? Why am I brushing aside the gravity of becoming a juvenile delinquent or contracting an STD? Especially since any person with a lick of common sense can see that these things are no laughing matter. These problems keep parents up at night worrying about their children and thinking of ways to prevent them from falling victim to these exact things. They keep the police out patrolling the streets at all hours of night hoping to catch the evil culprits, or hoping to save maybe just one kid.

  I say my problem isn’t that simple, because my problem is my best friend.

  That makes even less sense, doesn’t it? I mean, how can anyone call their best friend a problem and then compare that to the problems I just listed? The statement alone is like an oxymoron or something, right? Best friends are those special people that you love almost more than yourself. They’re like sisters but better, because you actually want to be around them as much as possible. They’re that person you can never get enough of, who you share your deepest, darkest secrets with, and who you plan your entire future around. Who cares that the guy you marry one day won’t want a double wedding, complete with matching dresses and saying his vows to you at the exact same time as the couple standing right next to you at the altar? Does it really matter if he wants to live next door to that same couple, and spend every vacation and holiday for the rest of your lives together with his wife’s best friend? No! Because this person is your other half; the one person you know you can depend on no matter what, and therefore you plan for them to be a part of every aspect of your life for the rest of your life.

  These are things that besties do. Well, they are if your best friend is all of those great, wonderful things. But the relationship with my BFF is a bit different; a bit twisted. My best friend is the meanest, most manipulative girl I have ever met. She treats everyone like shit, and thinks the world owes her big time. She takes what she wants, no matter who she hurts in the process… and she does it often.

  Even to me.

  But, I ask you - what sucks even more than having this sort of best friend? Not even knowing it.

  My severe case of being oblivious started when I was in the fourth grade.

  I don’t really reme
mber a lot from that time period, but I do remember that life was pretty normal and less complicated. More importantly, I definitely remember the day I met my best friend. It was about midway through the school year when we got a new student. Her family had just moved here from another state. I don’t know where they moved from or why they moved, and still don’t to this day. But when you’re ten years old, those aren’t really questions you ask anyway. The burning questions at the age of ten are… Is it a boy or a girl? Where will they sit? The girls all say, “Yay! Our new student is a girl, so now there are more girls than boys!” That’s critical at this age, really.

  And luckily, she got to sit by me. Our desks were arranged in small sections; four desks put together to make four separate table-like areas in the classroom. The only empty seat in the class was at my area, right across from me. And thank goodness, because I had been forced to sit with two other boys since Charlotte had left the month before. For that reason alone, I already loved the new girl and decided that she would be one of my best friends. It’s easy like that when you’re so young. You just ask if they want to be best friends, and BAM! Instant best friends.

  That’s pretty much how it worked for me and Melanie, and we soon became inseparable. My parents even started giving her a ride to school in the mornings, even though she lived around the corner and not on our street. I wasn’t really at the age to start having sleepovers or anything like that yet, and my parents were kind of over-protective, so I never asked. But Melanie (who by the end of the school year had been dubbed ‘Mel’ and I became ‘Nat’) and I still spent as much time together as we could. We ate lunch together and played on the playground together, which were the sort of things that were critical when you’re in elementary school. Then fifth grade came and suddenly we were in different classes. We still said we were BFF’s and hung out on the playground together, but that was it. From what I can remember, the year was pretty uneventful. What can I say - I was like, eleven? What really happens when you’re that age, other than the occasional new kid coming into your class?

  Toward the end of our fifth grade year things began to pick up a little. Excitement and nervousness began to build, due to the fact that we would be going to middle school the next year. Mel was still going to be at the same school as me, and we were even going to be riding on the same school bus. Our parents let us hang out more over that summer between, and now that we were older, we could ride our bikes to each other’s houses and Mel even came over sometimes to go swimming in our pool. We talked about how awesome middle school was going to be, and made plans to be best friends forever - no matter what.

  Middle School Days

 
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