Authors: Jacob Chance
Copyright 2016 Jacob Chance
All rights reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This novel is a work of fiction. While reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to people either living or deceased, business establishments, events or locales is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used.
Cover design by Jessica Hildreth
Edited by Stacey Broadbent & Petrina Jenkins
This book contains mature sexual themes as well as sexual assault and violence.
This book is dedicated to my cousin Cara. If it wasn’t for you I never would have written QUAKE or QUIVER. Since I began this journey you’ve been a constant pain in my ass and you know I wouldn’t want it any other way. You’re always there to give me a push when I can use one or mock me when you get the chance. I appreciate that you’re always there to lend a hand when I need it. You did a great job choosing the cover image for QUIVER. Having your support is invaluable. I couldn’t do this without you and I wouldn’t want to.
“I’m falling for you, Janny.”
“Kyle, what’s wrong?”
His lips move, but no words leave his mouth. Panic fills his eyes.
“I want to be with you and I don’t plan to let you go.”
“Kyle, what’s happening?” I yell, my voice is laced with fear.
Our eyes meet. His breaths are quick and shallow. Terror snakes its way around me, squeezing until I can’t breathe. He grips his head with both hands and falls hard to his knees.
I fall to mine, my shaky hands grabbing his face. “Kyle can you hear me?” I scream.
“Janny Moore, will you be my girlfriend?”
His eyes squeeze shut. Sweat beads on his face. I wipe it away, and touch my forehead to his.
His beautiful golden brown eyes open. He smiles.
“We should stop before I can’t.”
Tears cloud my eyes and fall helplessly. I smile back.
He’s going to be okay.
“I wasn’t prepared for you.”
Relief turns to horror when his eyes roll back into his head. He slips from my grasp, his head hitting the concrete with a sickening thud.
“I’ve fallen in love with you.”
I yell, reaching for him.
“I never want to spend another day without you.”
I sob, cradling his bloodied head in my lap.
Four Days Later
The never-ending hum of the fluorescent overhead lights in the room doesn’t even register anymore. The first twelve hours I spent sitting here, I thought the continuous beeping and the hiss of machines working to keep Kyle alive would drive me to the brink of insanity, but over the past four days, they’ve become a symphony of sounds I no longer hear. I’ve taken comfort in knowing they’re helping him breathe, until he’s strong enough to do it on his own.
Life within these four walls has become my new norm. I eat here, sleep here and even shower here. I’m afraid to leave his side, worrying that in a single moment he could take a turn for the worse. It’s crazy how quickly you can adjust to circumstances you never thought you’d be dealing with, but life has a way of throwing us those curveballs we never see coming, until it’s too late.
Why didn’t he tell me about the bullet fragment?
I’ve asked myself this question so many times and I’m still no closer to finding a reason. I can think about it all I want, but the truth is, he didn’t feel like he could confide in me. That’s a bitter pill for me to swallow because I gave him everything. He had access to all the parts of my heart, even the ones I had closed off after losing David and my parents. I opened myself up to him and trusted him implicitly. I wish he would have done the same.
I start to nod off, my head cocked at an odd angle in the recliner beside his bed, when there’s a knock on the door. I sit upright and smooth my hand over the top of my hair. I’m sure I look like a mess in my dirty, wrinkled clothes, and my greasy, un-brushed hair.
“Hello, Janny,” Dr. Stevens says, entering the room with a kind smile on his slightly wrinkled, middle-aged face.
“Hi, Dr. Stevens. I hope you have good news for me.” I study his expression for a clue about what kind of news he might be delivering. He has a great poker face and I can’t get a feel for his mood. I guess it goes with the territory of being a neurosurgeon.
“I do have good news for you.” He beams. “We’re going to start to wean him off the meds that are keeping him in a medically induced coma. His brain has had enough time to heal from the surgery and his vital signs are strong.”
I smile and glance at Kyle in his peaceful medicated state and for the first time since he collapsed on the sidewalk in front of Decadence, I allow myself to feel hopeful that he can pull through this.
“I want to make sure you’re prepared for him to have some paralysis, motor function issues, and his speech may be affected. We know that when he collapsed he was having a stroke and there will be some after effects from that.” He stops talking to type on his tablet for a moment. “We can’t predict how bad the damage is until he actually wakes up, but he could be looking at a long road to recovery.” He looks up at me before once again tapping the tablet’s screen.
“Will he need to go to rehab?” I question. I’ve been researching treatment for stroke victims, but Kyle has also had major surgery on his brain. Dr. Stevens is the surgeon who performed the experimental procedure that saved Kyle’s life. He was able to successfully remove the bullet fragment and it will never be a concern again, but I can’t help worrying this will impact any possibility of improvement.
“Yes, he’ll most likely need to go to rehab. In many cases with stroke victims, they can be there for five or six months. He’s young and strong so I’m expecting him to need less time.”
When Dr. Stevens leaves, all the anxiety I have, returns. The only time I allow myself to indulge my worry is when I’m alone with Kyle. I never express my concerns verbally, I just sit here holding his hand, wondering how this will all work out.
I’ve been burying all my doubts about Kyle’s recovery behind a false sense of optimism. We just found each other and now I’m so scared that I’m going to lose him. Our life together just started and it’s frightening to think that the five months we’ve had could be our entire story. I’m not ready to say goodbye to him – to say goodbye to us. I need more time with him.
God, give us more time.
My first conscious thought is that I’m choking on something. There’s something in my throat. I try to open my eyes, but my lids feel like they’ve been glued shut. I make the effort again and I’m able to lift them slightly before they fall closed.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
My limbs are heavy, my body is sore, but nothing compares to the dull ache in my head. I open my eyes once more and blink repeatedly until I can see. I look at my surroundings and try to bring them into focus; it’s painful. I scan my eyes to the right, taking in the metal bed rail and the machines with flashing lights and beeping sounds.
I’m in the hospital.
When my gaze moves to the left, it stops on the live angel who’s sleeping in the recliner beside my bed. My eyes take her in. From the top of her tousled, golden blonde hair, over the smooth curve of her brow, to the thick, dark eyelashes fanned out over the top of her cheeks. She peacefully slumbers, unaware of my slow study of her tempting form. My gaze continues its journey down over her small, pert nose and pauses when it gets to her mouth. There’s nothing angelic about her lips; they look like they were formed with nothing but sinful acts in mind. My eyes slowly move down over the slight point of her chin, down the length of her slim neck and over the alluring curves of her breasts. When she shifts slightly in the seat my eyes rise to meet her wide blue ones. We continue to stare at each other, neither of us breaking the silence. When her lips tip up in a smile I find myself wanting to echo the gesture. She leans forward and takes my hand, holding it between both of hers. Her palm is soft against my skin and infuses me with warmth. I like the way my hand feels cradled in hers.
“Hi,” she whispers excitedly. “Don’t panic. You’re on a respirator and they’ll remove it soon.” She leans forward, her eyes are filled with tears. I take in the beauty of her features and watch one teardrop slowly skate down her cheek.
“How are you feeling?” she asks, tenderly caressing my forehead with her fingers.
I open my mouth to speak, but I can’t because of the breathing tube. I try again, but I can’t utter a single sound. I can’t respond to the question she asked me, no matter how much I want to – no matter how much I want to ask her questions of my own.
What happened to me?
How long have I been here for?
What hospital am I in?
Who the hell are you?
After regaining consciousness, the moments following are a blurry haze. Swarms of doctors and nurses surrounded me, checking me out like I’m some alien species that’s never been seen before. I’ve been poked and prodded every which way and now I’m tired of their examinations. I’m tired of nobody giving me a straight answer. I’m tired of being here, and I just woke up.
I’m just fucking tired.
They didn’t have much to say to me other than questions they wanted answers to, but the words ‘
you have a long recovery ahead of you’,
registered loud and clear. Fuck.
Now that they’ve removed the respirator I’m able to speak, but my voice sounds like shit. I guess that’s what having a tube shoved down your throat will do for you. I can’t move my right arm, which is fucking fantastic because I’m right handed. The doctors told me it’s most likely temporary, but it’s going to require extensive rehabilitation to regain full use of it. Which means I won’t be able to go home any time soon, or return to work. The good news, is that the bullet fragment is gone, so I no longer have to live each day with that threat hanging over me.
The blonde woman walks into my room, the small smile on her lips grows larger the closer she gets to me. She’s so genuinely happy it’s difficult for me to stop myself from smiling back at her. She sits down in the chair at my bedside and rests her hand on my forearm.
“Hi. I’m so happy to see you awake. I’ve been so worried about you.” Her fingers move down to squeeze my hand and her eyes fill up with tears. “I thought I’d lost you.”
I don’t know what to say to her. I have no recollection of who she is, but she seems to know me and from her reaction, I’d say she probably knows me pretty damn well.
I shift my weight, preparing myself for the devastating blow I’m about to deliver. I clear my throat, “I don’t want to upset you, but I don’t know who you are.” I watch her face closely and the crestfallen expression on her feminine features is heartbreaking to witness. What am I supposed to do though? Isn’t it better to get it all out in the open than to pretend I actually know who she is? That would be cruel and only give her false hope.
She bites on the fullness of her bottom lip before a tear slips from her lower lashes and weaves its way down her face. It flows all the way down to the edge of her jawline and then falls off landing on her pink shirt just above her right breast. “You don’t know who I am?” she whispers.
I shake my head. “No, I’m sorry I don’t. I can’t remember who you are to me.” A continuous stream of tears is falling down her cheeks now and seeing her this distraught makes my stomach tighten. I hate that I’m the cause of so much pain for her. “Who are you?” I feel a pressing need to know who she is to me.
“I’m Janny, your girlfriend.” She sniffs and wipes the wetness from under each eye. “We live together.”
How is this possible? How can I forget her, but remember everything else?