Authors: Sara V. Zook
(a sequel to The Pull)
Sara V. Zook
(A Sequel to The Pull)
©2015 Sara V. Zook
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law. This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real people, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters and events in this work are figments of the author’s imagination.
Jen Wildner from Just One More Page – what would I do without you? You encourage me, you read for me, you give me your opinion, you pimp the crap out of me – thank you for all you do! I think I’d be lost without you! So glad we stumbled upon each other. You’ve definitely become my RH (right hand).
To my readers – thank you for all of your support. Every email, every message, every review means the world to me. It’s because of you I’ve written this sequel.
Table of Contents
Such a simple word, yet can define a person's very existence.
I once was happy. I sit here and sob while I think that I'm losing everything, everything that ever mattered to me. And I'd worked so hard to get it all back only to be forced to surrender it all once again.
Tears. There are so many of them. I can't stop crying.
Why has this happened to me? It's just not fair.
I hate life. I hate death. I hate everything.
- Livvy Thorne
“Please get up, ma’am.”
I looked up into the teary eyes of a kind face that belonged to an older man with grayish-white hair. He pressed his lips together into a sympathetic smile and offered me his hand.
The whirling blur of the ambulance lights were still flashing in the darkness. The night air was warm. I could feel sweat sticking to my temples, the hardness of the ground beneath me.
“Come on, now,” the man whispered. “Get on up. There’s no need to be laying down there. Let me help you up.”
I placed my hand in his and stood. My eyes shifted to the back of the ambulance as they continued to work on Darin. I could feel myself slipping away from reality, oblivious to everything going on around me. “Who are you?”
People were gathered on the street. This is what happened when you lived in a development. Everyone knew what was going on and could easily come outside to find out if they didn’t.
“Name’s Sean. I’m a neighbor.” His eyes also went to the crowd of people, some of them gnawing on their fingernails as they watched the scene unfold before them. None of them came to me to see if I was okay—none of them but this Sean.
“Oh,” I managed to get out.
His fingers felt warm and thick as he pulled his hand away from me and instead placed a reassuring palm on my shoulder. “You okay? This your husband?” He gestured toward the ambulance.
I nodded. I needed to go to Darin. I knew this, but my legs felt like jelly.
“What’s the matter with her?” I heard someone say. Sean motioned for them to get away from me.
“She’s in shock, that’s all. She’ll be all right. Go on now, back away from her.”
“Mrs. Thorne? Mrs. Thorne, can you hear me?”
I looked up. An EMT was standing there staring at me. She whisked a piece of hair away from her forehead with the back of her arm. “You need a ride to the hospital?”
My heart clenched inside of me. “Is he…? Is Darin…?” I couldn’t get the words out.
The EMT huffed impatiently. “He’s not out of the woods yet, no, but he’s alive if that’s what you’re asking. You coming with us? We really need to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible.”
I just stood there like a dummy, my feet cemented to the ground.
“I’ll take her,” Sean offered, speaking for me. “We’ll be right behind you.”
The EMT only nodded and closed the back of the ambulance, securing the doors. My eyes followed her as she got into the front of the ambulance and it took off down the road, the lights continuing to blaze in the distance.
I could feel people’s eyes on me, watching me. Then slowly one by one they began to scatter and return to their homes.
“I’ll pull my car around to the front of your house here,” Sean told me. “Don’t you move now, you hear?”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t move. I felt the small babe within me shift and my hand instinctively flew to my swollen belly.
There, there, child,
I told him.
Daddy will be just fine.
“Can I get you another coffee?”
I looked down at the cup in my hand. It was still half full, the brown liquid now cooled. I put the cup down. “No, thanks.” I took a deep breath as Sean took a seat across from me in the waiting room. He looked worried, though I didn’t know why. He didn’t know Darin—or me for that matter. “It’s really late, Sean. You’re probably exhausted.”
He leaned back in his chair. “Nah, I’m a night owl. I got no one waiting for me anyway.”
I raised my eyebrows, wanting to inquire more, thinking I should out of respect for all the kindness he had shown me, but at the same time, not really wanting to immerse myself into conversation when all I could think about was what was happening to Darin on the operating table right now. There was a tissue clenched in my other hand. A nurse had given it to me. I twisted it up and pulled on it some more. Perhaps talking to this guy would ease the heavy burden of the excruciatingly long minutes passing by. “No wife?”
Sean’s dark eyes moved to the floor, then back to my face. “I was married once.”
I dabbed my nose with the tissue. “Divorced?”
“Widowed,” he replied.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, not really wanting to discuss that topic at the moment considering the situation at present. I didn’t need to hear about how lonely life was being a widow, how very depressing the holidays had become, that the days just ran together with no sense of time whatsoever.
Sean lifted his own coffee cup to his lips and took a drink. “It was a long time ago.” He waved his hand in the air as if it didn’t matter. “She was sick when I’d met her. I knew it was coming. Was only a matter of time. I moved into the neighborhood after she died. The house we had had…well, it was part of a farm. She loved animals, you see. It was too much for me to take care of all by myself, so I sold it. I downgraded to the development where you and your husband live.” He forced a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
I simply nodded, my eyes still shifting to the door where I waited for a doctor, a nurse—anyone to come out and tell me exactly what was going on with Darin. I didn’t know anything at the moment, and it was driving me crazy. “No children?”
“Unfortunately, no. We got married late in life, and well, she just couldn’t.” He didn’t offer any more information, and I didn’t pursue him for more details. “How about you?” His eyes shifted down to my belly. “How far along are you?”
I pressed my lips together. “A little over five months.”
“Ah,” he said, putting his cup up in the air as if cheering, “congratulations. Know what it is?”
“Boy. We…” I paused. “We just found out recently. Darin was so excited.” The worry came back full force then, nagging on my every word and move.
“You’ll be a good mother, I can tell,” Sean remarked. “I’m very good at reading people, always have been. That’s about the only thing I’m good at.” He chuckled.
We sat in silence for a few moments. I continuously stared at the door just waiting for someone to come out, but they didn’t. It felt like we’d been here for hours, though I doubted it. “Sean,” I finally said, “why me?”
The older man looked puzzled by the question. “Why you what?”
I continued to fumble with the tissue in my hands. “Why’d you help me tonight? You don’t even know me.”
“Oh.” He laughed again. “Just saw a woman in crisis I guess. I was in the service, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know.” I didn’t know anything about this man, only that he seemed genuinely concerned for me and very kind.
“Guess I saw you there on the ground and with everyone paying attention to your husband, someone needed to pay attention to you, too.”
I let his words settle in. “I guess.”
“I didn’t do anything another decent human being wouldn’t do, so don’t go making me out to be a saint or nothing,” Sean continued. “Couldn’t let you drive to the hospital yourself with the state of mind you were in. Got to think about yourself and that unborn baby of yours.”
“I just want Darin to be okay,” I mumbled, my voice choking as I thought about the horrible possibility of losing him.
Sean stood up and walked over to my side. He sat down next to me and patted my back. It felt so fatherly of him, comforting, yet odd at the same time. I didn’t want to be comforted, not until I knew for sure that Darin was okay. My entire body stiffened at his touch as I jerked away from him.
“I’m sorry,” I sputtered out, the tears flowing down my cheeks again as I furiously dabbed the tissue on both eyes. “It’s just been very rough recently, and we had put it all together again and now this,” I kept rambling. “He’s all I have, all I’ve wanted. He was so healthy. I just don’t understand how this could’ve happened, you know?”
Sean stayed nearby but also kept his distance. He sat back down again across from me and leaned forward, his hands placed together as he studied me. “I realize you’re upset, Livvy, but you don’t know all the facts yet.”
“That’s just it!” I yelled out. “No one in this damn place has told me a thing yet!”
A few people turned to stare. I didn’t care. I glared back at them until they turned away.
Sean nodded his head as if he understood perfectly, but he didn’t. No one did. “Isn’t there someone you could call? Any other family or friends? Surely there’s got to be someone.”
A pang of guilt zipped through me at his words. “Oh my.” I reached up to my hair and slicked back the frazzled pieces of curls. Shane. I hadn’t even called Darin’s own brother to inform him that something had happened. How completely idiotic and selfish of me. And his parents, too.
I looked up at Sean, suddenly feeling a little calmer. Shane would know what to do, what to say. I pulled out my cell phone from my purse and turned it over in my fingertips. “I’ll be right back, Sean. Please come get me if someone comes out of those doors.” I made eye contact with him again. “Please.”
“I will, Livvy. I will.”
The phone vibrated and lit up on the stand beside the bed. I turned to reach for it, but instead Gwen blocked my arm. She giggled and pulled herself on top of me.
“I don’t think so, mister,” she whispered, tugging at the lobe of my ear with her teeth. “You promised no work calls would interrupt us tonight, remember? I thought you shut that thing off.”
I groaned as her lips made their way down my neck. “I remember…”
Gwen and I had been together for almost four months. They’d been four wonderful months to say the least. She was a high class business woman with beautiful long blonde hair and a body to match. I’d really lucked out when she’d agreed to go out with me. I’d pestered her before she finally gave in, and now, we were inseparable—that is, when work wasn’t separating us. Our jobs consumed the other half of our lives. We both had our own apartments. She was born and raised in California. Her parents had had money and passed some along to her, so she had a fancy place to live in, but most times she preferred to be at my apartment and would only go back to hers for a change of clothes, or a good night’s rest as we didn’t get much of that around here.
“Let me at least see who it is,” I whispered, giving her a hard kiss back.
“Ugh.” Gwen flopped back over onto her back and put her arm up over her eyes. “I haven’t seen you in four days.
days, Shane,” she emphasized. “And you promised…”
I put my finger up to her plump lips, shushing her. “I know, I know. Just let me check who it is.” I reached past her for my cell. Livvy’s name flashed across the screen. “Damn.” I sat up in alarm.
“Who is it? What’s wrong?” Gwen asked, now sitting up beside me, lines forming in the middle of her forehead.
“Just one second,” I told her. I pressed the phone up to my ear. “Hello? Liv? Everything okay?”
“Shane, thank god you answered,” Livvy huffed out from the other end. She sounded hysterical.
I sat even more straight up, then crawled off the bed and to my feet. I glanced at Gwen. My heart was already pounding within my chest at the way she was speaking. “What’s wrong? Is it the baby?”
Livvy sobbed into the phone, unable to respond for a few seconds. “I don’t know what happened. One minute we were in the kitchen talking, I was cleaning up after a late dinner, and the next moment he wasn’t talking. I heard a thud and turned around and…oh god, Shane, I just don’t know, and they won’t tell me anything. I’ve been sitting in this place for forever and everyone just walks on by. You can’t get a straight answer from anyone on what’s going on.”
“Liv, calm down,” I instructed her. “I can’t understand what you’re talking about. Where are you?”
I heard her take a deep breath. “The hospital. He just collapsed, Shane. He couldn’t talk to me or anything. He just went down, and what if he hit his head, too? What if he doesn’t come back to me? What am I supposed to do with all this?”
“Who collapsed?” But I knew the answer before it even left her lips.
“They have him in surgery now, and I’m all alone except for this neighbor guy who’s been really nice, but I don’t even know him, and I’m so worried about him, Shane,” she said at an alarmingly fast pace.
“Breathe, Liv. Breathe,” I instructed her. Gwen was studying my face with intensity. I turned around and sat on the edge of the bed. My stomach felt sick. I needed details, and Livvy was being too hysterical to say anything that made any sense to me. “Listen, I need to know what happened.”
“But that’s just it,” she cried out, “I don’t know! The people here at the hospital haven’t told me anything.”
“Are you just waiting there?”
“Yes. He’s in surgery,” she repeated.
“He collapsed?” I repeated, thoughts running through my mind of why in the hell that could’ve even possibly occurred.
“Yeah. Shane, I think it was his heart, but I’m not sure. Like I said, they haven’t told me, and I’m just sitting here restless. I just need to see him, to know he’s all right.”
I swallowed. My big brother having a heart attack at his age? Then again, he was one stressed out bastard all the time. He’d had more than enough on his plate lately. I took a deep breath as the sobs returned on the other end of the phone. “Liv, I need you to listen to me, really listen to me.”
“Okay,” she whispered.
She was petrified, and I was far away in California while she was in New York. My mind was racing with what I should do. “I want you to call me the second you hear anything. I have some vacation time built up. I’m going to grab the next flight and come out.”
“Okay.” A whimper escaped from her throat.
“Liv,” I repeated, “you need to calm down, though. It’s not just for you, it’s for the baby, too. My little nephew, remember? It’s not good to have yourself all worked up like this being pregnant. It can’t be.”
“I know. I’m trying.”
I felt Gwen’s nails sliding up and down on my back as she tried to soothe me. “Try harder. Darin will kick my ass if I don’t come out there and take care of you,” I tried to joke. There was no response, just soft cries from Livvy. “Call me as soon as you hear something. I’m on my way. I’ll call you back too and let you know when I think I’ll be able to get there. Do my parents know?”
“No. I’m so sorry. I should’ve…”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll call them.”
“Shane?” Livvy managed to whisper in a shaky tone.
I closed my eyes, the torment already taking over my body. I put the phone down on the bed and just sat there for a few seconds, letting Gwen’s fingers do their magic as she tried to work the tension out.
“What is it?” Gwen asked after a few minutes of silence.
“Remember me telling you about my brother?”
I nodded. “That was my sister-in-law on the phone. She thinks he had a heart attack. He’s in surgery, and she doesn’t sound good at all. She has no one. I know I promised to spend the evening with you, Gwen…”
She then put her finger up to my lips to hush me. She smiled. “No,” she said. “Family comes first.”
I stood up and looked around my mess of a room. Clothes were scattered everywhere. I couldn’t tell which ones were clean and which ones were dirty. I wasn’t the most organized person in the world when it came to my apartment, that’s for sure, and I didn’t know where to start as far as packing was concerned. “Can you come with me?” I already knew she’d say no, but wanted to ask. Over the last few months, I’d learned to lean on Gwen when I needed some TLC in my own life. She was amazing and always took my burdens head-on, making me a stronger person afterward.
She shook her head, her long blonde hair falling across her shoulders as she leaned her head against my shoulder. “I’m sorry, babe. I have a lot of things coming up at the office that I can’t miss.”
I frowned but tried to hide it from her. “I’ll make this up to you as soon as I get back.”
“There’s nothing to make up for,” Gwen reassured me. “Go be with your brother and sister-in-law.”