Fall Back Skyward (Fall Back #1)(5)
Written By: Autumn Grey
Several things I learned when I was locked away:
Keep your head down and carry on.
Set your priorities and stick to them.
When you get out, run the fuck away from that place and make sure never to return.
I’d set my priorities straight. I’ve known what I wanted and wasted no time getting it. I knew where I wanted my life to go and I’ve worked hard to get there.
Until the letters.
My life is unraveling fast. I’m about to meet the girl who had promised her heart to me, then turned around and gave it to my brother. The girl I forced myself to forget. The girl who still holds my heart in her damn hands.
I reel in my anger, focusing my rage on the one person I blame for this mess that doomed my future with Nor from the moment she and I met. Stephen, Nor’s father. And now, according to the letter from Nor, he was also responsible for her and Josh getting married.
Fucking son of a bitch.
AFTER DROPPING SIRIUS AT THE hotel I had booked during my short break at the motel last night, I drive to St. James Memorial and park the truck in the underground parking garage. My body aches from driving for hours. I woke up earlier this morning, restless. My head was cramped with visions of Josh lying in the hospital and the revelations in the letters Simon had been collecting. I was torn between texting my parents to ask them for Nor’s address and driving straight to the hospital to see Josh. My need to see Josh, Cora and Joce clouded any rational thought and I found myself breaking a couple of traffic laws to get home faster, until I realized that ending up dead wouldn’t help anyone.
Another thought entered my mind.
Was I ready to face them after years of ignoring their letters?
I shake my head, pushing aside those thoughts for now, and focus on Josh. How can someone as sturdy as my brother die? He always ate right and exercised. Whatever this is, I’m sure the doctors will find a way to sort it out. To save him.
I pull out the picture of Joce and Cora from my shirt pocket and then turn the overheard light on and study the two identical faces, committing every feature to memory. A sense of completion fills me, even though I haven’t met them yet. Cora’s mouth is quirked up on one side, a smile very similar to mine, with a dimple to complete that mischievous look. Joce, on the other hand, seems unprepared for the shot. She’s wearing a cute little frown on her face, glaring at her sister. I’d imagine that’s how I look when I frown.
Putting the picture back in my pocket, I step out of the truck and head for the elevators. I have no idea where or which room Josh is in. I sent a text to my mother earlier today but I haven’t heard from her. The elevator stops on the ground floor and I alight and shuffle to the nurses’ station, counting on being lucky.
A nurse with black hair sprinkled with gray on her temple and crown, simultaneously speaks on the phone and types on her computer. I’m partly relieved. I still have time to get my head straight before I see Josh. I glance around the waiting room, trying to distract myself. Not that I succeed in any way. Seems like everywhere I look is filled with people pacing impatiently or agitated, others gathered in small groups in the waiting area.
Someone touches my arm. I turn around, startled.
“Can I help you?” the nurse asks, blinking at me behind black-rimmed glasses.
“I’m looking for Josh Holloway.”
She eyes me with a little frown marring her features, a look similar to the one I notice on people when they first meet and talk to me. I’ve been told I have an unusual voice. I wouldn’t know, though. I have no idea what my voice sounds like since I lost my hearing when I was five-years-old.
Her gaze drifts away from my face, following the tattoos peeking out from my T-shirt at the neck and then traveling down to my arms. Her lips tighten in disapproval. I really don’t give a fuck what she thinks about me and my tattoos. People can be judgmental assholes.
I hold her gaze with my cold one, until she lowers hers to the computer screen and her fingers fly on the keyboard as a red flush fills her cheeks. Her lips move, but I can’t read them given the angle of her face. She looks up when I don’t answer her back, her mouth pressed into a thin line.
“Sorry. I didn’t catch what you said.” I gesture to my ears with my fingers. Her eyes widen, understanding flooding her face.
“Oh. I’m sorry for that. We have an interpreter--”
I hold up my hand and shake my head. “I can read lips.” She nods and glances down at her fidgety fingers on the keyboard.
Great. I made her uncomfortable. “What were you saying before?” I ask, eager to move away from this awkwardness.
Her head comes up and she smiles. “Oh. Right. Are you family?”
I swallow around the lump in my throat. “I’m his brother.”
She nods, types on her computer then looks up at me with something close to sympathy in her eyes. “Third floor. Oncology. Room 305.”
My world comes to an abrupt stop.
My head is buzzing. The only word ringing through it is ‘Oncology.’
A hand gently touches my arm again, tugging slightly. The nurse is staring at me, concern on her face. I think she asks me if I’m okay.
No. I’m not. Everything is reeling around me, and the hope I’ve been holding on to since I left New York fades a little.