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Point of retreat, p.31

  Point of Retreat, p.31

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat

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  “No. Not right now, anyway. My grandparents are keeping them for a couple of days. I don’t want them to miss a lot of school, though.”

  “They can stay with me,” Sherry says. “I’m sending Kiersten back to school on Wednesday. If your grandparents have them home Tuesday they can stay with me until they discharge Layken.”

  “Thanks, guys,” I say to both of them.

  Eddie walks around the corner. She’s wiping at her eyes and sniffing. I sit up in my chair and Gavin stands up and grabs Eddie's arm and guides her to a seat. She looks up at him and rolls her eyes. "Gavin, I'm four months pregnant…quit treating me like I'm an invalid."

  Once she’s seated, Gavin takes the seat next to her. "I’m sorry, Babe. I just worry about you." He leans forward and kisses her stomach. "Both of you."

  Eddie smiles and kisses him on the cheek.

  It's good to see he's accepted his new role as a Dad. I know they've got a lot of hurdles ahead of them, but I have faith that they'll make it. I guess Lake and I could start recycling all the stars we open for them, just in case they need them.

  “How’s Lake feeling?” I ask.

  Eddie shrugs. “Like shit,” she says. “But she did just have her head cut open, so that’s understandable. I told her all about the wreck. She felt kind of bad once she found out she was the one driving. I told her it wasn’t her fault, but she still said she wishes you were driving. That way she could blame her injuries on you.”

  I laugh. “She can blame them on me anyway if it makes her feel better.”

  “We’re coming back this afternoon,” Eddie says as she stands up and grabs Gavin’s hand. “She really needs some TLC in the makeup department. Is two o’clock okay? Does anyone have that time slot yet?”

  I shake my head. “See you guys at two.”

  Before they leave, Eddie walks over and gives me a hug. An unusually long hug.

  After her and Gavin walk out, I look down at my watch. Kel will see her next, then Sherry. My grandmother may want to go see her. I guess I’ll have to wait until after lunch before they’ll let me back in.

  “You’ve got great friends,” Sherry says.

  I raise my eyebrows at her. “You don’t think they’re weird? Most people think my friends are weird.”

  “Yeah, I do. That’s why they’re great,” she says.

  I smile and scoot down in my seat until my head is resting against the back of the chair and I close my eyes. “You’re pretty weird yourself, Sherry.”

  She laughs. “You, too.”

  I can’t get comfortable in the chair, so I resort to lying in the floor again. I stretch my arms out above my head and sigh. The floor is actually starting to feel comfortable. Now that I know Lake’s okay, I’m starting not to despise this hospital as much.

  “Will?” Sherry says.

  I open my eyes and look at her. She’s not looking at me, though. She’s got her legs crossed in the chair and she’s picking at the seam of her jeans.

  “What’s up?” I reply.

  She looks at me and smiles. “You did a great job,” she says quietly. “I know it was hard calling me about Kiersten. And taking care of the boys during all of this. How you’ve handled everything with Layken. You’re too young to have so much responsibility, but you’re doing a good job. I hope you know that. Your mom and dad would be proud.”

  I close my eyes and inhale. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear that until this very second. Sometimes it feels good to have your biggest fears discounted with a simple compliment. “Thank you.”

  She gets out of the chair and lies down next to me in the floor. I look over at her and her eyes are closed, but it looks like she’s trying not to cry. I look away and don’t draw attention to it. Sometimes women just need to cry.

  We’re quiet for a little while. She blows out a deep breath, like she's trying to choke back tears. “He was killed a year later. A year after he proposed. In a car wreck,” she says.

  I realize she’s telling me the story about Jim. I roll over and face her, resting my head on my elbow. I don't really know what to say, so I don't say anything.

  “I'm okay,” she says. She looks at me and smiles. This time it seems like she's trying not to pity herself. “It’s been a long time. I love my family and wouldn’t trade them for the world. But sometimes it’s still hard. Times like these…”

  She pulls herself up and sits Indian style in the floor. She begins to pick at the seam of her pants again. “I was so scared for you, Will. I was scared she wouldn’t make it. Seeing you go through that was hard for me and it brought back a lot of memories. That’s why I haven’t been up here very much.”

  I understand the expression in her eyes, and the heartache in her voice. I understand it, and I hate it for her. “It’s okay,” I say. “I didn’t expect you to stay. You had Kiersten to worry about.”

  “I know you didn't expect me to stay. I wouldn't have even been any help. But I worry about you. I worry about all of you. Kel, Caulder, you, Layken. Now I even like your damn weird friends and I’m gonna have to worry about them, too,” she laughs.

  I smile at her. “It’s nice to be worried about, Sherry. Thank you.”

  Sunday, January 29th, 2012.

  I’ve learned something about my heart.

  It can break.

  It can be ripped apart.

  It can harden and freeze.

  It can stop. Completely.

  It can shatter into a million pieces.

  It can explode.

  It can die.

  The only thing that made it start beating again?

  The moment you opened your eyes.

  Chapter Sixteen

  All the visits wear Lake out and she sleeps the majority of the afternoon. She slept through Eddie's second visit, which is probably good for Lake's sake. The nurse brought her soup at dinnertime and she sipped most of it. It was the first thing she ate since Thursday.

  She asked more questions about everything that happened the night of the wreck. She mostly wanted to know all about her forgiving me and us making up. I told her everything that happened after I performed. For the most part I was honest, but I may have thrown in a more climactic make-out scene for added emphasis.


  It’s Sunday and the fact that she’s in the hospital doesn’t deter her from her routine. I walk into her hospital room and set the bags of movies and junk food down in the chair. Lake is sitting up on the side of the bed and the nurse is working with the IV.

  “Oh, good. You’re right in time,” the nurse says. “She doesn’t want a sponge bath, she wants a standard bath. I was about to assist her in the bathroom, but if you’d rather do it you can.” She unhooks the IV and clamps it, then tapes the end of it to Lake’s hand.

  Lake and I look at each other. It's not like I've never seen her naked…just not for prolonged periods of time. And with the lights on.

  “I….I don’t know,” I mutter. “Do you want me to help you?” I ask Lake.

  Lake shrugs her shoulders. "It wouldn't be the first time you've put me in a shower. Although, I hope you help me take my clothes off this time." She laughs at her own joke. She regrets the laugh as soon as she does it, though. Her hand goes up to her head and she winces.

  The nurse can sense the slight awkwardness between us. “I’m sorry. I thought you guys were married. It said on her chart that you were her husband.”

  “Yeah…about that,” I say. “Not quite yet.”

  “It’s fine,” the nurse says. “If you’ll just go back to the waiting room I’ll let you know when we’re finished.”

  “No,” Lake says. “He’ll help me.” Lake looks up at me. “You’ll help me." The nurse looks up at me and I nod. She takes a few items off the tray next to Lake’s bed and walks out of the room.

  “Have you walked any more today?” I take her arm and help lift her off the bed.

  She nods. “Yeah. They had me walk down the hall between visits again. I feel better than
yesterday, just dizzy.”

  The nurse walks back into the room with a towel. “Just don’t let her get her head wet. There’s a handheld shower head in the shower or she can use the bathtub. The tub may be better for her so she can lay down.” The nurse leaves the towel in the chair and walks back out.

  Lake slowly stands up and I assist her into the bathroom. Once we’re inside, I close the door behind us.

  “This is so embarrassing,” she says.

  “Lake, you asked me to stay. If you want, I’ll go back and get the nurse.”

  “No. I just mean because I need to pee.”

  “Oh. Here.” I walk around her and grab her other arm as she backs up. She grabs hold of the metal bar attached to the wall and pauses.

  “Turn around,” she says.

  I turn around and face the opposite direction. "Babe, if you’re already making me look away it’ll be kind of hard for me to help you in the shower. You aren’t even naked yet.”

  “That’s different. I just don’t want you to watch me pee.”

  I laugh. And I wait. And I wait some more. Nothing happens.

  “Maybe you need to leave for a minute,” she says.

  I shake my head and walk out of the bathroom. “Don’t try to stand up without me.” I leave the door open a few inches so I can hear her if she needs me. When she’s finished, I walk back into the bathroom and help her stand up.

  “Shower or bath?” I say.

  “Bath. I don’t think I can stand up long enough for a shower.”

  I make sure she’s holding onto the bar before I let go of her arm. I adjust the faucet on the bathtub until the water turns warm. I grab the washcloth and get it wet, then set it on the side of the tub. It’s a larger tub with two steps leading up to it to make it easier to walk down into. When I stand up, I take Lake’s arm again and lead her to the bathtub. I stand behind her and brush her hair over her shoulder and untie the top of her gown. When it drapes open, I have to suppress a gasp. She’s got bruises all over her back. There’s one more tie on her gown, so I pull the string until the gown separates.

  She slides the gown forward and down her arms. I run my fingers under the stream of water to check the temperature, then reach for her arm and help her up the steps and into the bathtub. Once she’s seated, she pulls her knees up to her chest and wraps her arms around them, then rests her head on them.

  “Thank you,” she says. “For not trying to put the moves on me just now.”

  I smile at her. “Don’t thank me yet. We just got started.” I dip the washcloth in the water and kneel down beside the bathtub. The steps come out pretty far, so it’s hard to reach her without hovering over her. She takes the washcloth out of my hand and begins washing her arm.

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