When Lightning Strikes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 30 (v.1)

Submitted: August 04, 2012

Reads: 548

Comments: 19

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Submitted: August 04, 2012

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A/N: Soo, after this chapter, I'm hoping to do a double update which has the last chapter and the epilogue! And I'll also have a bonus for WLS up :) Enjoy reading! xoxo

“Gracie! Telephone!”

I was in the middle of arranging the bed sheets when Gwen called for me. I hurried down into the kitchen where Ruby’s mother stood, holding it out for me. When she had heard a bit about my situation (we had only given her enough facts for her to accept me staying here for a while), she was happy to have another girl under her roof, even if she worked most of the time.

Gwen’s fiery hair – the exact same shade as Ruby’s, was pulled up into a high ponytail. I could tell she was getting ready for her night shift at the bar, which was her second job. Although it was chilly, she was sporting a sleeveless, tight button-up top of vermilion. As usual, the first two buttons were popped open. Then there was her velvet black skirt, which reached halfway down her thighs and her fishnet stockings.

Ruby had always been annoyed at the way her mother dressed. “She thinks she’s still a teenager sometimes,” she had grumbled once.

“Who is it?” I asked Gwen quietly.

She smiled mysteriously in return. “I’m not spilling.”

Hesitantly, I took a hold of the phone and cradled it to my ear. I hoped it wasn’t my parents, as I had received a few missed calls from them about an hour ago. However, fate didn’t seem to be listening to me.

“Hello?”

A relieved sigh came from the other end. “Gracie, why aren’t you home yet? It’s nearly midnight. And why is my car parked here? I thought you took it somewhere.”

I cleared my throat. How was I going to say this?

“Sorry d-dad.” I stuttered on the word ‘dad’. “But I’m staying over at Ruby’s.”

A gruff ‘oh’ escaped my dad’s lips. “You could have told me.”

“Um dad?” I took a deep breath. “I don’t think I’m coming home anytime soon.”

There was silence. I could imagine his face turning a shade of red as the meaning of my words sunk in.

“What?”

My heart was beating wildly in my chest. Uh-oh.

“You’re running away from home?!”

I fiddled with the telephone cord. “Not exactly …”

“Gracie Mae, what are you thinking?!” he bellowed. I jumped, and as a reflex, held the phone away from my ear. “I never brought you up to be this rebellious! Come home this instant!”

I let out a frustrated sigh. Never in my life did I think I would become angry with my father. I rubbed my temple. “I’m staying here, dad. I need time away … from you.”

He sucked in a sharp breath. “Excuse me?

I gulped, not meaning the way it sounded. Although he despised me, he was still my dad and I respected him. “I’m sorry. Look, I’m just not happy living with you and mom now. Ever since Aubrey’s funeral, there’s been too much tension and … dad?”

There was no response. I frowned and checked if he had hung up, but he hadn’t. Suddenly, I heard it.

Laboured breaths and wheezing was all I could make out from the other end of the line.

My body filled with dread. “Dad? Dad?!”

There was a feminine shriek – most likely my mother. “Ken! Ken!”

Now I was worried. My hands shook. “Mom?!”

I didn’t think she could hear, but she took a hold of the phone and frantically exclaimed, “I think your dad’s had a stroke! I’m going to hang up and call the ambulance, alright?”

My heart skipped a beat. A stroke? The blood drained from my face as I remembered how my dad’s heart condition. Lately, it had been under control but it seemed like now, it had burst. His blood pressure must have risen within the last few days and my disappearance was the cherry on top. Oh no. How could I have been so stupid?!

“Mom, wait-”

The phone disconnected. I was left there with a dreadful feeling. I couldn’t just stand here and wait for the news. I was going to the hospital.

“Ruby!” I called, as I scrambled back upstairs.

Her head poked out from her bedroom. However, her grin faded once she took in my frenzied state. “G, what’s wrong?”

“Something bad has happened! My dad … I was telling him I was staying here and I – it’s his heart!”

Ruby’s hand flew to her mouth. She knew all about my dad’s health. “Oh my god!”

I nodded. “I know. I was wondering if I could borrow your car?”

“Of course!” she cried out. “Do you want me to come as well?”

I shook my head and forced a smile. “It’s ok. I don’t want to trouble you.”

She rolled her eyes. “You know you never trouble me. Alright, go on.”

I kissed her cheeks after she handed me the keys to the Peugeot. “Thanks Rubs.”

By the time, I reached the hospital, it was nightfall. It felt like Aubrey’s accident all over again. Those feelings had resurfaced – the wild panic, the uncomfortable squeezing of my chest, the feeling that I couldn’t breathe … it was awful reliving it.

Only this time, it wasn’t Aubrey strapped to a gurney. It was my father.

It took me a while to locate where my parents were.

A sigh of relief escaped from mom’s lips when she spotted me coming down the hallway. She re-adjusted the strap of her handbag and folded me in her delicate arms.

“Gracie, I’m so glad you’re here,” she breathed.

“Is he ok?” I asked, looking around.

She nodded. “Yeah, it was just another one his fainting spells. The doctor said he needed lots of rest.”

Oh thank god.

“He’s awake, you know,” mom added with a knowing smile. “You should talk to him. He’s been a mess ever since he found out about … you know.”

I didn’t want to ask if my mother had felt the same, so I clutched the door handle and slowly turned it. It swung open and I tentatively stepped into the room. There was another patient sleeping and half-covered by the lime green curtain. On the other side, by the window, was my dad.

His white hair was ruffled and the hospital gown did nothing to flatter his figure. Instead, it flapped around him and made him look frailer. His light blue eyes flickered upwards and widened considerably as he took me in.

I guessed he hadn’t been expecting me.

“Hey dad.” I pushed myself forward and sat on the edge of the bed, careful not to crush his foot. “How are you?”

He was slow to recover. His mouth opened a few times to try and speak, but nothing was uttered. Finally, he managed a, “I thought you were with Ruby.”

I ignored this and read through the chipboard beside his bed, which listed the tests which had been done on my father. “After you get out tonight, you should rest. No more strenuous activity. Take a day off work.”

This advice was what I had always told him whenever his blood pressure would rise. Take a break, listen to music, eat lots of fruit, take some fish oil …

In return, he did the same thing and pressed on. “I thought I lost you.”

The comment made my heart sink. No matter how angry I was with him, I hated making him worry. I loved him so much. I would never know what to do without my dad. Throughout the years, he had always stuck by my side, and I hated it whenever he was upset.

His eyes, the same ones as mine, looked so worn out and vulnerable right now. All I wanted to do was give him a hug.

So I did.

“I already lost Aubrey. I wasn’t ready to lose you too.”

I laid my head on his chest like I used to do in my younger days. “But you hate me,” I replied shakily.

He sighed heavily. “I don’t hate you, Cee. I could never. It’s just … I couldn’t believe you’d do that to your own sister.”

The guilt barrelled in again and I felt like a kid in trouble. “I promise, I never wanted to hurt her.” I paused. “It’d be better if I was dead.”

Startled, he jumped, and I sat back up. His eyes were as round as saucers as he grabbed my hand. “Don’t say that. I mean it.”

Whoops. I didn’t think parents liked hearing that their children wanted their life to end. “It’s true though … Aubrey and Jason would be married by now.”

“Truthfully, I never did think the two of them made a good couple,” dad admitted. I turned to face him, surprised. His cheeks flushed red. “What?!”

“Aren’t you supposed to be on Aubrey’s side?” I inquired with a frown.

This made his eyes soften. “Cee, I was never on anyone's side.”

I didn’t reply, as I was busy thinking about another question. “Dad … why does it seem like you’re not angry anymore?”

He ran a weathered hand through his hair. “I’m still angry.” I winced. “But it’s just lessened after I learnt that you wanted to stay elsewhere. I hated knowing that it was my fault that you were moving out.”

My lips twisted. “Well, I wasn’t exactly moving out.”

Dad waved a hand to shut me up. “Same difference.”

Suddenly, the door opened and in stepped the doctor and my mother.

“Hello, Mr Elwood. How are you faring?”

My father let out an irritated huff. “I'd be better if I could get out of this damn bed!"

The doctor chuckled as she read through her scanning’s. “I’ll just check if you’re all good.” She paused as her hands skimmed the page. “Yes, you’re fine. You’re allowed to leave now.”

“Oh thank god!”

I watched, amused, as he hopped out of bed and gathered mom into a bone-crushing hug. My mother yelped, surprised, before returning his enthusiasm.

The doctor turned to me and smiled. “Your parents are a wonderful pair.”

I copied her grin. “I agree.”

 

***

 

The night felt different as I pulled up on my driveway. There was peace. There was life. Up ahead, my mother was helping her husband into the house. I paused, taking in the sight of my parents – my beloved parents.

I entered the house after them and helped mom prepare something for dad to eat. As I pulled out a teabag, mom kissed my cheek.

“I’m sorry for what we did, Gracie.”

I offered her a smile. “It’s alright. I’m angry at myself too.”

“Don’t be. You can never control who you fall in love with,” she murmured. “That’s the beauty of love.”

Talking about love made me think about Jason all over again. His heartbroken face replayed over and over in my mind. I hated hurting him. I regretted it, but I was right. We couldn’t have a relationship. There’d be too much drama.

“Don’t worry, mom. It’s over now,” I told her.

In response, she nibbled on her bottom lip. Her dark eyes were full of concern. “It seems like you’ve lost your spark though. I can’t help but notice that …”

I had finished pouring the hot water into dad’s mug, so I simply walked out of the room. Now wasn’t the time. I couldn’t stand to listen to my mother’s wisdom, because usually she was right. I didn’t want to admit that inside, I was breaking apart.

My dad’s once closed eyes fluttered open when I padded into the lounge room. He was lying back on his favourite armchair and smiling faintly.

“Thanks, Cee.”

I carefully placed the steaming mug on the coffee table and took a place on the couch. The very same one where Jason and I had first kissed. I gulped. Why were all these memories coming back?

“She’s right you know.”

I lifted my head, surprised. “Huh?”

Dad cracked open one eye. His intense stare made me shrink back. “It’s like you’ve lost your light.”

“Please dad,” I begged, gripping hard onto the edge of the sofa. My heart was aching all over again. “I don’t want to talk about this.”

A deep sigh escaped his lips. “Alright,” he grudgingly said. “Will you be coming home?”

I bit my lip. The truth was that I wasn’t exactly ready yet. Although my parents and I were back on track, I was still fragile. The house reminded me too much of Aubrey. There was that spot over there, where Aubrey had found out about my illicit relationship her fiancé, the spot where Jason and I had first really connected, my room, where Aubrey had announced she was taking me out for my birthday …

No, I couldn’t stay here.

“I’m not ready yet.” I paused, fiddling with my fingers. “Will you give me a few weeks?”

To my relief, my dad nodded. “Take all the time you need, Cee.”


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