Read Wrecked Online

Authors: AJ Harmon

Wrecked

 

 

 

 

First eBook Edition,
August 2016

 

Copyright 2016 by
ABCs Legacy, LLC

 

 

All rights reserved.
This book may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without
written permission from the author.

Dedication

If there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that I will
be with my family forever. Death will not separate us. The bonds of family will
stay strong.

Wrecked is the story of family. It is the story of belonging
to something much greater than just yourself. It is a story of understanding
where you came from, and where you are going, and with whom. It is a story of
feeling connected to your heritage and helping your children feel and understand
that connection.

I have often thought about my ancestors and what kind of
people they were; what did they look like; what were their hobbies, their likes
and dislikes. Did they fall in love, or were they locked into an arranged
marriage? These are questions I hope to one day ask them.

This book is dedicated to families. All families.
Everywhere. May we love them. May we be kind to them. May we cherish them. May
we be with them forever. <3

1.

With fists clenched, teeth gritted, and eyes squeezed shut,
the internal screams were deafening. The taste of bile in her throat was strong
and despite her determined effort, traitorous tears leaked from her eyes and
streamed down her face, dripping silently from her chin. The will to fight had finally
left her and she succumbed to the weakness and hopelessness she’d been battling
for the past three months. Bess Williams had been strong for so long, but there
was no longer anything on which to lean. It was time to give up. She had no
other choice. She was out of options.

In a mere twenty-four hours she would be officially
homeless. Unable to pay her rent for the past three months due to a virus that
she couldn’t kick and had kept her home for more days than she actually made it
to work, Bess had been given notice of eviction and her final seventy-two hours
were up the following morning. To make matters even worse, which she hadn’t
thought possible, she was terminated from her job as a day-care worker. She
still wasn’t well, despite several visits to the local clinic. Her supervisor,
although sympathetic, had told her that they needed someone to come to work
every day. Reliability over the past several weeks had not been her strong
point. Where she would go and where she could find employment was anybody’s
guess.

As Bess lay in bed that night attempting the impossible, to
sleep, she tried to find something,
anything
that could be considered
positive in her dire circumstances. Sadly, the only thing she came up with was
the fact that she had very few possessions, and what she did own would fit in
the back of her car, with the exception of the twin mattress that she slept on.
She had two camp chairs in her living room and a lamp. She had an old laptop
that she watched movies on, when she had free time, and a few dishes in the
kitchen cabinets. Her clothes and toiletries fit into two large duffle bags,
already packed, and she had one small box of keepsakes from her childhood. Yes,
at least she had enough room in her sixteen-year-old Subaru to store her stuff…
and perhaps sleep in, if it came to that, which she had resigned herself to
accepting as
more
than just a possibility.

The seconds and minutes ticked by on the alarm clock sitting
on the floor near her head as she tossed and turned searching for sleep that
refused to come. It was a pointless exercise and Bess eventually got up in the
early hours of the morning, folded up her bedding and placed it in a black
garbage bag. She walked it to the front door of the apartment that had been her
home for the past two years and placed it next to a couple of boxes and her
bags. She then sat on the floor, leaned against the wall and cried again.

The sunlight streaming through the window woke her a few
hours later. It was after eight o’clock and she’d decided she would be gone
before the manager arrived with the Sheriff. She didn’t want to cause a scene
and wanted no one in the complex to see her leave. She hadn’t made many friends,
but there were a couple of people that she made small talk with on occasion if
she saw them in the parking lot or the laundry. Bess hadn’t had many people she
could rely on in her twenty-three years of life, and friends were not high on
her need list. She’d worked hard to survive – to live. She didn’t have time to
worry about anybody else.

Quietly filling her car with her belongings, it took three
trips to empty her apartment before leaving the keys on the small kitchen
counter. Bess slipped into the driver’s seat of her trusty Subaru and pulled
out of the parking lot, trying with great difficulty not to look in the rear
view mirror as she closed another chapter in her life.

There had been many chapters Bess Williams had closed and
never planned on revisiting. Since she’d left home after her step-father had
come into her room in the middle of the night and slipped into her bed, she’d
come to learn that it didn’t do any good to dwell on the past. At the age of
sixteen, she’d had to grow up overnight in order to make it on her own in the
big world. She’d done okay for herself, and as Bess drove down the freeway
having no idea where she was going, the waves of anxiety and uncertainty almost
drowned her. Realizing she was in no state to drive, she pulled off at a small
diner and gas station and parked her car. Apparently, she needed another good
cry, or two, until there weren’t any tears left and she could venture back on
the road.

She’d been heading southeast, for no reason other than it
was the right turn she made at the traffic light a few blocks from her old
home. After driving for a few hours, Bess assumed that she’d eventually drive
into the ocean, but so far she was still very much on land. She got out of her
car, stretched her arms and legs, and decided to take the opportunity to use the
restroom and get a drink. Ah, there was another positive outcome of not being
able to pay her rent. She had a little bit of money in her purse that should
keep gasoline in her car and buy food until she could find another job. She
almost didn’t feel guilty about ordering a grilled cheese sandwich off the
children’s menu and an ice water for lunch.

With her plate empty, except for a few crumbs, and her water
glass refilled twice by the sullen teenager who’d taken her order, Bess
wondered if she should keep going in the same direction she’d been heading. As
if on cue, the surly old cook walked past her table and stopped, looking at her
with curiosity.

“Where ya headed?” he inquired.

“Not actually sure,” Bess confessed.

“Where do ya wanna go?” he asked.

“Some place I’ve never been before,” she replied with a
sigh.

“Then that should be easy to find,” he shrugged and
continued walking.

If only it were that easy.

The sullen teenager returned and placed Bess’s check on the
table and took the empty dishes away. Figuring exactly ten percent, Bess placed
the money she owed in the middle of the table and stood up, but she never quite
made it.

*****

“Miss? Miss!”

Bess blinked her eyes a few times and then wondered where the
hell she was. A strange man knelt next to her. Apparently, she was lying on the
floor.

“What? What happened?” she asked in a daze.

“You fainted, I think,” a young voice said.

She recognized him. Yes. She knew him. He’d been her waiter.
He’d brought her a sandwich. She was still in the diner. It was all slowly
coming back.

“Don’t try to get up,” the man insisted. “We’ve called 911.
Just stay there.”

“I’m fine,” Bess replied.

“No. You’re not. You hit your head when you fell and there’s
a lot of blood. Just lie still.”

The faint sirens could be heard in the distance and Bess
knew there was no point in arguing; the man’s large hand was pinning her
shoulder to the ground - she couldn’t move even if she wanted to. And then she
heard the tires crunch on gravel and could see the flashing lights through the
large windows above her and she lay still, no longer fighting the large hand,
her eyes no longer able to stay open.

It was two days before Bess Williams regained consciousness.
Tucked into a warm bed in a dark room, her eyes fluttered open and she
immediately felt the agonizing pain in her head. As she pulled her arm out from
under the blankets, the throbbing began in earnest. Her eyes blinked as she
touched her hand to a bandage that covered the right side of her scalp above
her ear and she winced in pain.

Suddenly there was someone next to her, placing a blood
pressure cuff on her arm and sticking a thermometer in her mouth. A new IV bag
was placed on the hook beside her and a kind voice asked her if she wanted a
drink. With a definite nod of her head, Bess welcomed the cool liquid as she
sucked from the straw placed between her parched lips.

“Elizabeth,” the voice said. “You’ve got a nasty gash on
your head. Does it hurt?”

Bess nodded, her eyes closed once more. She heard some
clicking and some rustling in drawers and then the voice told her to sleep. She
was already almost there.

She didn’t know how long it had been since the nurse had
been in her room but it was light outside as Bess opened her eyes. There was
still pain when she moved her head but the intense throbbing had subsided and
for that she was grateful.

“Good morning,” came the voice.

Bess knew it was the same voice she’d heard before and
glanced to the right of her bed. There stood a nurse with a new IV bag in her
hand and a jug of what Bess hoped was ice water. Her lips and mouth were as dry
as the desert and a drink would be wonderful.

“Thirsty?” she asked.

Bess attempted a smile and replied in the affirmative. After
a few delightful sips, Regina – Bess read her name badge on the lanyard around
her neck – took the cup and placed it on the table.

“Not too much,” Regina stated. “Just small sips for the next
little while until Dr. James comes in to see you.”

“Okay,” Bess agreed, although she felt like she could drink
a river at that point. “Where am I?”

“In the hospital, silly,” Regina teased with a chuckle that
made Bess smile. “You’re in Port Lincoln.”

“What happened?”

“You were at Devin’s Diner and fell, hitting your head on
the floor underneath the counter. There was a nail sticking up that got you
pretty good.”

“That would explain the headache,” Bess grimaced.

“But don’t worry about the hospital bill because the owner
of the diner is taking care of it. As he should,” she added with her hands
placed firmly on her hips. “There’s always someone getting hurt there,” she
frowned.

Bess had a vague recollection of being at the diner. “How
long have I been here?”

“This is your third day,” Regina said.

“Wow. So when will I get to go…” Go where? Bess didn’t have
an answer for that.

“Let’s not even think about that until after Dr. James takes
a look at you.”

*****

Dr. Ethan James had worked at Port Lincoln Hospital for
nearly three years as an Emergency Room physician. He loved the small town and
its people. He’d come to the coastal community every summer as a child to visit
his grandparents and had spent countless hours playing on the beach, and even a
few hours in the ER after accidents typical for young adventurous boys. After
medical school and doing his residency in Chicago, he knew he wanted to settle
down in a place that could offer him a life outside of his job. His grandfather
had talked to the hospital’s chief of staff, a close friend, and Ethan began
working there a short time later. It was practically perfect. He got to treat
patients, young and old, and spend a little extra time and attention on his
cases, as the ER wasn’t slammed very often. The summers were busier than the
rest of the year, when the tourists arrived, but the other months were an
enjoyable balance of work and play.

He’d bought a rundown house on a cliff overlooking the
Atlantic Ocean, just a couple of hundred yards from his grandparents’ house.
For the first year he’d lived in Port Lincoln, Ethan had been able to care for
them in their final days. It had been a blessing to be so close to them for
those few months. They’d died within eight months of each other and he knew
that they were together again… somewhere. They’d left him their house, a
beautiful family home that they hoped he would one-day fill with a wife and
children. Ethan hoped that too, although so far he hadn’t found a woman he was
interested in. That had been the one downside to living in Port Lincoln. If
there were any single ladies, they were old enough to be his grandmother, not
the prospective mother of his children. As it was, he was in no hurry to settle
down – he didn’t feel the need to marry the first woman he met that was under
thirty-five. He had plenty of time to find the perfect woman.

Ethan stood at the nurse’s station and reviewed the chart of
the woman that had been brought into the ER just a couple of days earlier.
She’d been unconscious and had a nasty hole in her head. The nail had ripped
open the skin and flesh, and had even punctured the skull, but there was no
evidence it had done any damage to her brain. It was a miracle for sure. Just
one millimeter more and the outcome for this young woman could have been very
different.

She hadn’t woken up while she’d been in his care. All
through the numerous tests they’d performed, her eyes had remained closed. It
was probably a good thing. Women with silky long hair didn’t usually appreciate
the razor being used to allow him to stitch up head wounds. He’d had more than
his fair share of expletives shouted at him by women he was simply trying to
help.

As he reviewed the chart, an unsettling feeling came over
him. There were some abnormalities in her bloodwork, numbers that were
definitely not normal and needed to be looked into further. Once she was awake,
he would need to fill in some blanks on her medical history and current
condition, before the nail in her head brought her into his hospital.

Regina walked out of her room with a smile just for him.
“Good morning, Ethan. I’m liking that tie. Any particular reason you’re all
dressed up today?”

“Thanks,” he replied without looking up. “The tie is old. How
was your weekend?”

“I spent it here,” she said. “But that was great because it
meant Gavin had to run the kids all over the place and watch three soccer games
and buy two birthday presents,” she chuckled. “All I had to do was take some
vitals and rewrap some surgical wounds.”

Ethan laughed. “Gavin should have a newfound appreciation
for all you do.”

“That’s what I’m hoping,” Regina grinned.

“How is the patient doing?” he asked and nodded in the
direction of Bess’s room.

“She’s awake. And a little fuzzy on the events that brought
her here. I told her you’d be in to see her this morning.”

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