Authors: LK Collins
Copyright © 2015 by LK Collins
A novel by LK Collins
Cover Design by RE Creatives
Edited by Lisa Christman, Adept Edits
Formatting by Paul Salvette, BB eBooks
Photography by Mayer George
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 permission in writing.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.
For my Father, thank you for always loving me and supporting me.
“How are you feeling?” a nurse asks me.
Looking around the desolate hospital room, that’s a loaded question.
“I’m not sure how to answer that.”
“Physically, Mr. Wilcox?” she asks in her thick, German accent.
“I’m okay, better than I’ve been for about the last year.”
“Good, well, keep resting. You’re healing well. Your family should be here any time.”
Looking at her long, blonde hair as she leaves the room, it reminds me of Arion. I can’t help but feel happy, knowing soon she’ll be here. I’ve been waiting so long to see her, to hear her voice, to touch her. Finally, today is that day. My eyes are heavy…I’m still so tired all the time and don’t have the strength to do much. So I take the nurse’s advice and close them, envisioning my parents and
Soon, I’m awakened by a familiar touch and a voice I know all too well. Smiling to myself, I open my eyes to see both of my parents. They’re crying, looking down at me, and it kills me that my decisions have done this to them and our family.
“Oh, Nate,” my mom says basically throwing herself at me. Reaching up despite my weakness, I wrap an arm around her. Feeling her again brings tears to my eyes. Glancing at my dad, he has a hand on my arm, red faced, and is just staring at me. I reach for his hand, and am so grateful that they are here. They traveled halfway across the world to be with me. Closing my eyes, I take everything in. But one person is missing.
Arion is not with them and as my mom pulls away, I can’t help but watch the door, waiting for her to come running to me. “How are you?” my dad asks me, leaning down to hug me.
“I’m better, but still feeling pretty rough.”
“You’re so skinny,” my mom says, gripping my hand.
“I know, Ma.”
“But you’re alive, and that’s all that matters.”
“Yes, it is,” my dad adds. Pulling one of my hands away for a brief second, I wipe my eyes.
“How much do you know?” I ask them, wondering how forthcoming the military was with giving them information.
“We didn’t know anything ’til we landed. On the drive over here, they told us what you’ve been through. I’m so sorry, Nate.”
“It’s okay, Dad, I survived. Only for you guys and Arion.”
Bringing up her name puts a cloud over the room. I can tell both of my parents’ attitudes change right away. They glance at each other, then nervously look around the room like the hospital equipment is interesting. They are looking everywhere except at me.
“Where is she?” I ask point blank, not able to stand it any longer that she hasn’t come through the door.
“I’m sorry. She’s not coming, son,” my dad says.
Both fear and pain take over, almost crippling me, as I run through all of the reasons why she might not be here. My chest tightens and I ask, “Did something happen to her?”
“Oh God, no,” my mom blurts out. “She’s okay, Nate, it’s just…”
She trails off without finishing her sentence and puts her head down. I look at my dad hoping for the answers. I need to know why in God’s name my fiancée isn’t here.
“Dad?” I ask in a pleading tone after he doesn’t say anything. I’m about to beg him to tell me when he says the worst words in the world.
“She’s moved on, son,” he says with tears in his eyes.
Agony takes over, almost paralyzing my heart. Never in a million years did I dream of hearing the news that she moved on. Never. Day in and day out, being chained like a pig and the thought never crossed my mind. Tears spill over and I look between my parents, my vision blurred.
“Why?” I ask, clenching my jaw.
My dad pulls a chair up and sits next to me. “She thought you were dead. The military told us long ago that you died in a roadside bombing.”
“Will you excuse me?” my mom asks and gets up from the chair she’s sitting in.
My dad asks her, “Are you okay, honey?”
She nods her head and walks away. I notice how frail she is and she’s using a cane. “What’s wrong with Mom?” I ask my dad, immediately alarmed.
“She has a lot of things going on right now, Nate.”
“What the fuck does that mean?” I ask him, panicked.
“We wanted to wait to tell you, ’til you were feeling stronger.”
“No, Dad, tell me now.”
“I’m afraid your mother’s been dealing with some serious health issues.”
“Like what? Just tell me dammit,” I say aggravated that he won’t let me in on what’s going on with my mom. “I can handle it.”
“It’s a lot to take in, so don’t freak out. As of now, she’s been diagnosed with MS and Aplastic Anemia, which is a rare blood disorder.”
“Oh my God, what does that mean?” I ask whispering.
“She has a long road ahead of her, son. I don’t think at this point with either of the diseases that the doctors can predict how her future will be.”
I rest my head back against the pillow, my physical pain now replaced with anger. Arion’s gone. My mom is dying. Why the fuck did I even bother surviving? What the fuck has happened? This is the exact opposite of what I was expecting. Closing my eyes, I know I have to fix this.
Being in the hallway of her building and waiting for her to arrive is surreal. My body is flooded with emotions. I’m not sure how I’ll respond when I see her, or how she will when she sees me. I don’t know why I’m so worried. I know she will run to me. She has to. Arion is mine – she always has been and always will be. I mean, I love her enough to have stayed away for as long as I have, but not any longer…I need her.
I’ve dreamt of this moment a million times and imagined it going so many different ways. I wish I could scoop her up in my arms and carry her away. But I won’t ’til she tells me she wants me and she’s ready to leave him. Right now, she’s not my girl and I know that. The thought alone fills my body with anger. She’s moved on and really…I can’t blame her, she thought I was dead. When you love someone the way I love her, you respect them even if it kills you in the process. I know for her to be living with someone, she must care deeply for him. And sometimes I wonder if it would be better if she thought I was still dead. She has a new life after all, and what place do I have in it? But my heart has been pulling me towards her and telling me that everything she has with this guy will wash away the moment she sees me.
I could blame me being here on my mom being sick. Arion needs to know what’s going on with her, and neither of my parents are going to bear the bad news to her, but knowing Arion the way that I do, she would want to know. That’s another reason why it pains me to have stayed away from her as long as I have.
Suddenly, my heart drops to the pit of my stomach. There she is. She’s even more beautiful than I remember. She is the essence of flawlessness. More perfect than any other human being.
Staying back in the shadow of the hallway, I watch her look for something in her purse. I’m lost. It takes me a moment to snap out of it. I should help her with her groceries, but sadly…I can’t, as I stand here on my crutches with more injuries than I’d like to name. I’m not the same man I once was, but what is the same: my love.
Finally, I will myself to move, close enough just to smell her scent. It’s exactly as it was the day I left. The same smell I remember as I tucked my nose deep into her hair and said goodbye. That was the day I made the biggest mistake of my life.