Always: Broken Series Book Four (3 page)

BOOK: Always: Broken Series Book Four
9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

n Monday morning
, we finally packed up our stuff and headed back to Connecticut. The firm would be expecting us the following day, so the plan was to drive the two-odd hours back home and then try to settle in before facing the firm and all the hecticness that went with being back at work.

“Okay,” I said. “Give me my phone back. I need to call the girls, especially Addison. I need to figure out what was going on.”

Nick smiled. “Here’s your phone. Don’t be on long, though. You know how our girls tend to ramble.”

I sighed. “You were never a young girl. That’s pretty clear. You know how everything is utterly crucial during this time of their lives. I don’t think that you should be making fun of them for being young women and for having young women problems.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t a young girl, of course, but I was young. And don’t forget that I had a sister once.” He looked very sad when he said that, and he put his thumb and index finger to the bridge of his nose. He looked like he was trying to hold back tears. “Oh, I’m sorry. I just had a flashback to that time. It was pretty real, too.”

I put my hand on his. I knew that Nick never got over the death of his sister from cancer when he was a young boy. When I first met him, he had a hard shell, and I found out that this tragedy contributed to his demeanor. That and the fact that he lost his daughter at the age of 7. She was hit by a car when Nick and his ex-wife, Rielle, were arguing and not noticing that she had left the house. I knew that he blamed himself for that one.

Nick sighed. “I’m sure that Addison is just fine, but go ahead and call her.”

I dialed Addison’s phone, and it rang and rang and then went to her voice mail. I listened to the song that played as her message, feeling annoyed because that was a song that I hated. It was some kind of a rap song, one that I didn’t know and didn’t want to know. “Addy, it’s mom,” I said. “I’m sorry that I didn’t call you back right away, but please call me.”

I shook my head. “Let me call Olivia. She’s watching her. Maybe she knows what’s going on.” I then called Olivia, who picked up on the first ring.

“Mom. Come home.”

“We’re on our way, sweetheart. Is there anything wrong?”

“Just come home.”

I started to feel a swell of panic in my throat. “Olivia, talk to me. I’m a couple of hours away. I just tried to call your sister and she didn't pick up.”

“Mom, I don’t want to go into this over the phone. Addison’s here, but she’s shut herself up in her room and won’t come out. She’s been crying since yesterday afternoon. I don’t know what’s wrong, because she won’t talk to me. I tried to call you yesterday. She’s been trying to call you as well. Just come home. I don’t know how to talk to her. I don’t know what to do.”

“We’re on our way.” I hung up the phone and looked at my missed call log, and was shocked at how many phone calls I missed from both Addison and Olivia. There was even a phone call from Chloe. I shook my head. “I’m a horrible, bad mother.” I felt like puking. There was something going on with Addison, apparently, and I didn’t even bother to pick up the phone.

Nick put his hand on my neck. “What’s going on?”

I was suddenly angry with him. Extremely angry with him. “Like you give a shit.”

“Hey. That’s uncalled for.”

“Is it? There’s something absolutely blowing up at home, and I had my phone turned off. And why did I have my phone turned off? Because you, you controlling bastard, took it from me. You turned it off. I hope you’re happy.”

To my surprise, Nick didn’t fight back. That was very unusual for him, because, in our fights, he usually gave as good as he got. Not in this case, though. He was just silent as he stared ahead at the road. He kept his hand on my neck, though, and rubbed it a little.

He finally spoke. “You’re right. That was irresponsible of me. I just wanted us to be in our little bubble and not have to worry about anything for two solid days and three solid nights. I should have known that wasn’t possible.”

“Of course it’s not possible. We have three girls, one of whom is in her twenties, but troubled. I mean, no more troubled than any other girl her age, but Olivia isn’t the most responsible person in the entire world. Yet she was in charge. What were we thinking?”

“We were thinking that Addison was really responsible enough to take care of herself. Olivia was just there as a backup in case Addy needed a ride or something. It’s not like our girls are tiny and there wasn’t anybody there for them.”

“You’re justifying our own neglect.”

“You’re being dramatic.” He took his hand from around my neck and put it back on the steering wheel. “And I said that I was sorry. I guess that, in the future, we can’t really have any time to ourselves.”

“Now you’re the one being dramatic.” I knew that he was right, though. We were parents, we didn’t have a nanny anymore, even though we could well afford one, and we both had high-pressure jobs. To say that downtime was a luxury in our lives was an understatement.

“Look, maybe we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. Now, tell me what Olivia just told you.”

Nick was always able to be calm about most things, which was something that I always admired. I knew that he wouldn’t necessarily jump to conclusions, which I tended to do. Long ago, a psychologist told me that I tended to catastrophize, which meant that I immediately went, in my head, to the worse-case scenario. Even though I had gone through many years of therapy, I knew that I still had the same tendencies when the going got rough. I never quite was able to shake my adolescent years and what had happened to me with Mr. Lucas, even though the bastard was long dead. I had come a long way with that, though.

“She simply told me that Addison was in her room crying and wouldn’t tell her why. Chloe even called us. Say what you will, but Chloe isn’t one to get too fussed about things.” Of all our girls, Chloe was the most level-headed. Addison, God love her, was a sweet, sweet child, but she had an inner worry-wart. As for Olivia…she had her issues, and was always rebellious and brilliant. An iconoclast was the most charitable term I could think of for her. She was a handful and always had been.

“Chloe might not be one to be fussed but Addison is.”

“Yes, but Chloe isn’t taken in by Addy’s histrionics. If she’s worried enough to call us while we’re on vacation, then there’s probably a problem.”

“Okay. There’s not much that we can do about it right this very second. We’ll be home as soon as possible, and then we can get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

I had a gut feeling that Nick was putting too little stock into this problem. A mother knows when there’s something really wrong, and I just had that sinking feeling. That feeling, deep down in my core, that all of our lives were about to be turned inside out and upside down was nagging me to the bone.

“I need to talk to Jack,” I told Nick. Jack was still my best friend, and he still lived four houses down from us. He and his husband Zane lived there with their child Daniel, who was conceived through a surrogate. They also had a mixed-race girl named Jacqui, who just finished Harvard at the top of her class and was heading to law school. Jacqui was almost the same age as Olivia, but couldn’t be more different. She was driven, intelligent and stunning. Olivia was also driven, intelligent and stunning, but, I was ashamed to admit, Olivia didn’t quite apply herself as much as Jacqui did. Jacqui was always studying, where Olivia seemed to always be partying.

“Go ahead and call him,” Nick said, putting his arm around me again. “I’m not sure what he’s going to be able to tell you, but have at it.” He was smiling, so I knew that he wasn’t upset with me. Not that he had a reason to be, but we were at odds on this whole situation.

I gave Jack a call.

“Scotch Marie,” he said, picking up the phone. “How was your little lovey-dovey weekend? Did you have lots and lots of sex?”

I had to chuckle, as I always did when I called my best friend. “We did, of course. Listen, I need your advice.”


“There’s a problem with Addison. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, but Olivia and Chloe both called me. Olivia was kind of frantic. I’m almost home, so I can find out what’s going on, face to face, but I’m kinda scared. I just have a bad feeling.”

“Love, no matter what happens, you know that I’m in your corner.”

“I know you are.” I paused. “I know I shouldn’t be calling you before I know anything. I just wanted to give you a heads-up.”

He laughed. “Consider my head up. Anyhow, get home and find out what’s happening and then give me a call. Me and Zane are taking Daniel out right now to grab a bite. Maybe you can meet us out?”

“Negative. We’re still about an hour away from home, and I really need to see my girls. I need to know that Addison is okay.”

“Rain check then. Anyhow, I’ll see you soon.”

We hung up and I turned to Nick. “It always gives me comfort just to hear his voice.”

Nick raised his eyebrows. “What about my voice? Doesn’t that give you comfort too?”

“Of course, silly. Sometimes I just need extra reassurance, that’s all.” I didn’t want to tell Nick that there were times when Jack could calm me down even when Nick couldn’t. It was just because Jack and I went back so far, and that Jack was the only person who was in my corner when I was a scared teenaged runaway. Without Jack, I probably would literally be dead.

Not to say that Nick didn’t calm me down. He did. He just didn’t always get me the way that Jack did. I was usually in sync with Nick, but I always seemed to be in sync with Jack. And, right that second, I was feeling slightly out of sync with Nick. He just didn’t seem to take this whole situation seriously. He didn’t have the cold feeling of panic that I had in my gut. That was plain to me when I looked at his placid, and still devastatingly-handsome, face.

e finally got
home and went into the house. Olivia was still there, of course, and Chloe was there as well. They both were sitting in the living room, and, when we walked in, Chloe came up to me and gave me a hug. “Mom, we’re so glad to see you. And dad.”

Olivia hung back, as she always did. She wasn’t necessarily the warmest child in the whole world, but that was okay. “Mom, Addison is upstairs in her room. Locked in her room. You need to go up there and see her.”

I nodded my head and took Nick’s hand. “Let’s go.”


and I went up to Addison’s room and I knocked lightly on the door. She opened the door immediately, and I could immediately see that she was really upset. Her hair was all askew, her face was blotchy and her eyes were bloodshot. I looked past her, into her room, and I saw that her laptop was on the desk. It appeared that she had spent a lot of time in front of her laptop, as there was a dinner plate next to the computer with a half-eaten sandwich on it, along with a glass that was almost empty.

“Addy, what’s going on?”

“Mom, there’s something really wrong with me.” She shook her head. “I never wanted to worry you, so I just didn’t say anything. But I’ve had a pain in my right knee for the past six months, and I went to the hospital. That doctor took X-Rays, and he told me that he had to speak to me when you guys are with me. That sounds really serious.”

I nodded my head, trying to be as calm as I could. I looked over at Nick, who was standing to the side. I knew Nick like I knew myself, and I could see that he was trying to cover up what he was really feeling. I could see inside his soul, really, and I saw that he was scared. His fist was on his chin and his other hand was fingering through his thick hair. I knew his tell-tale signs anywhere. He definitely had a change of attitude.

I thought immediately about Michelle, his sister who died of cancer when Nick was only 12. I shook my head.
You’re getting ahead of yourself, Scotty. Addison simply said that she had a pain and she got an X-Ray and the doctor needs to speak with Nick and me. That’s it. It’s nothing more. Nothing more until we get into that doctor’s office and speak with him.

“Addy, honey, why didn’t you tell me before about your pain?”

“I didn’t want to worry you. You have enough going on without…this.”

“You have to tell us when there’s something wrong. Always, always, always.” I took a deep breath. “Well, give me this doctor’s card. I’ll call him and hopefully I can line up an appointment with him sometime soon.”

With shaking hands, she handed me the doctor’s card. It was in the back pocket of her jeans, crumpled up. This concerned me just a little bit. "Addy, when did you go and see that doctor?”

“It was early yesterday morning. Why?”

“Tell me that you’ve changed your clothes since then.” Addison was always so good about not sleeping in her clothes and wearing the same thing for days in a row. Olivia, not so much. But I knew that if Addison was still wearing her clothes from the previous day, she must have been completely distraught. I felt my own heart being ripped out as I realized what kind of depression she was fighting right at that moment.

She shook her head. “I’ve been doing nothing but sitting in front of my computer, just freaking out. I really wish that stupid doctor could have talked to me about what’s going on.”

“Well, okay.” I tried hard to keep a façade of calm, but it was very difficult. “Let me call Dr. Michaels.”

I dialed the number and got the receptionist. “Yes, hello, this is Scotty O’Hara. I’m the mother of Addison O’Hara, and I need to make an appointment with Dr. Michaels if I could. Preferably sometime this month, but I’ll take whatever you have open.” I knew how busy these Connecticut doctors always were, so I figured that it would be a wait before we could talk to him.

“Just a second.” She put me on hold, and I just stared out the window while I listened to the hold music. I didn't want to see the eyes of my husband and my beloved daughter. I didn’t want to concentrate on their fear. I needed to stay as calm as I could, at least until I knew exactly what was going on.

The receptionist came back on a few minutes later. “Can you make it in this office today at 3? Dr. Michaels has a short opening.”

“That would be fine.” Those were my words, but inside, I was panicking. The doctor was getting us in that day. That couldn’t be a good sign. If it was a minor issue, I would have been waiting a month or more to see him.

I hung up the phone and turned to Addison and Nick. “Well, Addy, we’re going to see the doctor today. So we can get the answers we need. Soon.”

Addison simply nodded her head. “I’m scared.”

I pasted on a smile. “Hey, no getting ahead of ourselves.” I took her into my arms and looked over at Nick. He was unusually quiet and standoffish, considering what was going on. But I looked into his eyes and I knew that there was a lot going on under the surface.

“Well,” I said, patting my legs. “Nick, let’s go and unpack. Maybe we can get some lunch before we take Addison to the doctor. What do you think?”

Nick just nodded his head.

e unpacked
the SUV and went into our bedroom. I sat down on the bed and patted it. Nick came and sat next to me. He was quiet and pale.

“Nick, what’s on your mind?”

“Nothing. I…”


He nodded. “I’m really embarrassed that I tried to discourage you from talking to Addison before this.”

“Nick, we don’t know anything.”

“Yes we do. It’s not a good sign that the doctor is fitting us in today. And it’s not a good sign that the doctor wouldn’t talk to Addison without us.” He shook his head. “Michelle never told anybody that she was sick, either. I don’t know why, but she didn’t. She waited so long…by the time we finally saw a doctor about her bleeding, there wasn’t a damned thing that could be done.”

“Let’s not…”

“Get ahead of ourselves?” He shook his head. “I agree with that, but we need to be prepared for what that doctor might say. You know that if it was something relatively simple, like a sports strain or something like that, he would have just told her. There wouldn’t be a reason for all of these formalities.”

I felt like the tables were turned. I was the one who was trying to find the silver lining, where Nick was the one who was being the total pessimist. “Nick, this isn’t like Michelle. She had totally different symptoms than Addison.”

Nick said nothing, but just cleared his throat. “Yeah. Anyhow, let’s get to unpacking. This place is kind of a mess.”

“Since when do you care about a mess?” I was trying to tease him, but it sounded forced.

“I don’t. But…” He then sat down on the bed again and put his head in his hands. “I just need to keep my mind off of what’s about to happen, that’s all.”

I cleared my throat and sat down next to him. I put my arm around him and put my head down so that it was closer to his own, which was still in his hands. “What’s about to happen?”

He shook his head. “Our lives are about to turn upside down.”

“Don’t catastrophize.”

“Don’t psychoanalyze.” He looked at me, and his blue eyes looked completely haunted. “I know what it means when a doctor gets you in the same day that you call. It means that the news is bad. If there was something minor, that doctor probably would have just told her. You know, put some ice on it or something. You have a strain. Don’t worry. He didn’t say any of those things.”

“I know. But let’s just figure out what’s going on before…”

“Yes, let’s. Now let’s unpack and then we can take Addy out to lunch before we see the doctor.”

t 3 PM
, the three of us were in Dr. Michaels’ office. He didn’t keep us waiting, but, rather, sat down right away. “Hello. I’m very glad that you could make it in on such short notice.”

“Of course.” I realize that my hands were gripping each other so tightly that they were both white.

The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m very sorry. I wish that I had good news for you. But young Addison came into the hospital early Sunday morning, complaining of a pain in her right knee. I ordered a bone scan, and unfortunately, the bone scans indicated that Addison has a tumor. It appears to be cancer from the looks of the scans.”

I felt like I was floating above the office. I wasn’t in my body anymore. Inside, I was being split in two. I tried, however, to show an outwardly calm demeanor to the doctor. I didn’t want to fall apart in front of my daughter, who was sitting next to me crying. I took Addy’s hand and squeezed it.

“I see. Are you sure that it’s not something else? Something benign?”

At that, he handed me the scans. I examined them carefully and handed them to Nick. “As you can see, the mass on her knee is irregular. The borders are ill-defined. If it was a benign mass, there would be smooth, round and well-defined borders of the mass. There is also some indication that there has been some destruction of the bones in Addison’s knee.”

I nodded my head. I saw what he was talking about – the mass on her knee did have undefined borders. Nick wasn’t looking at the scans anymore. Rather, he was staring off into space. I crinkled my eyebrows at him. It was so unusual, the way that he was reacting to all of this. I had never in my life seen him look so lost, so alone, so helpless.

“What’s next?”

“Well, I would like to order a biopsy, of course. That’s the first step. The biopsy will tell us what we’re dealing with. Although I’m reasonably sure that there’s a malignancy, the biopsy will give a definitive diagnosis. The biopsy will also give me information about the subtype of the cancer. Once we have that, we can proceed with treatment options.”

“Am I going to lose my leg?” Addison blurted out.

“That is one option,” the doctor said. “Although hopefully it won’t come to that.”

“Mom,” Addison said to me, her blue eyes looking desperate. “I can’t lose my leg.”

I just nodded my head. The last thing that I wanted to do was to make her promises that I couldn’t keep, and if I promised her that she wouldn’t lose her leg, I would be doing just that. Maybe.

“Mom,” she said. “Promise me that you won’t let them take my leg.”


“Promise me.”

I looked at the doctor. He understood that he was going to have to step in to try to explain everything to Addy. “I'm very sorry, Addison, but I don’t think that your mother can promise you that. I can't promise you that either. I will say that I’ll know better how to treat your particular type of carcinoma when I get the results of the biopsy back. I will tell you that 90% of young patients do not have to face amputation. There’s also the possibility that the cancer will need to be treated with chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of the two. Hopefully the cancer will be amenable to surgery, which would obviously be the least invasive option.”

Addison was sitting to my right, getting paler and paler by the second. Nick was sitting to my left, and he, too, was looking pale.

Finally, Nick spoke. “Thank you Dr. Michaels. I appreciate your being open and honest about what we’re going to possibly face. Obviously, as parents, we’re going to go with your opinion on what treatment option is best. Of course, we’re also going to get a second opinion. With something this serious, that will go without saying.”

Dr. Michaels nodded solemnly. “I’m going to order the biopsy immediately. I should get the results back this week, and then we’ll meet back here next Monday. What would be a good time for you?”

“Uh, three o’clock would be fine.” I looked over at Nick. “I can take off work early, of course. That’s not a problem, as I’m a partner.”

“Three o’clock it is. In the meantime, here is the address where you can take Addison in for the biopsy.”

I took the card that he gave me without a word.

We exchanged pleasantries and left.

BOOK: Always: Broken Series Book Four
9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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