Home > Dark Redemption(2)

Dark Redemption(2)
Author: Charlotte Byrd

I call her phone and no one answers. I text her and I get no response. When I realize that she’s spending the night somewhere else, I sit in the dark and drink the bottle alone.

 

 

2

 

 

Jacqueline

 

 

I read the words on the screen over and over again to make sure that my eyes are not deceiving me. The email is addressed to Dante. It's from the Danick Clinic, and they're requesting additional money from him in order to pay for the rest of my mother's treatment.

The rest?

I confront Dante and he denies it immediately, not the emails so much, but the process by which he found out about it.

I don't remember telling him about my mother, and if I did, I don't remember being so specific. But I can't deny the fact that he found her name probably through me and went all this way out of his way to pay the quarter of a million dollar bill anonymously.

Why? Why would he do this?

I mean, yes, we had some sort of connection initially, but there has to be another reason for going all this way.

Why lie?

And if he's not lying, why this in the first place?

My mind goes in circles.

I don't know what to think or what to believe. The more I talk to him, the more confused I get.

I'm angry and pissed off.

At the same time, I feel guilty.

Dante gave me this unbelievable gift. Yes, it went awry and now I blame him and myself for insisting on that surgery in the first place. But we thought that it would turn out differently.

Frustrated by my own impotence and inability to do a single thing, I blow up at him and I run away.

I go to the hospital, the only place that I know where I can stay indefinitely, and I stay for a long time.

No walks today, nothing but passing time in the waiting room while my mother sleeps.

Around six in the evening, I go down to the cafeteria, grab some food, and eat alone at a table facing the parking lot. There's a large window next to me, and I watch families come and go, wondering what kind of secrets they're keeping from their loved ones.

I know that Dante’s waiting for me back at the hotel, but I can't bring myself to go. I don't want to fight. I don't want to talk about this.

I'm exhausted and tired. Contorting my body into a hard chair with little padding in my mom's room, I eventually doze off.

The following morning after I wake up with the worst pain in my back I've had ever since I was in college, I can barely turn my neck from side to side. I try to do a few stretches but the pain is unbearable.

A nurse comes in, takes my mom's vital signs and gives me an update. Stable and slightly improving. That’s good for now.

I head down the hall and wash my face in the bathroom, wishing that I had packed a toothbrush. When I walk back out, I see him.

Dante’s standing in the hallway, broad-shouldered, dressed in jeans and a jacket, open-collar shirt, no tie. His hair looks a little messy, out of control, and he has big black circles underneath.

"You don't look like you slept well,” I say.

He shakes his head no.

"Are you okay?"

He takes a step closer to me when I turn to walk away and then wince in pain.

"I'm fine," I say, putting my hand out to block him from coming any closer.

"Did you sleep here?” he asks in a gasp.

"Yes."

"I'm really sorry. I did not mean for any of this to happen."

"Yeah, you said that already," I say, refusing to entertain his apology.

"I was just trying to help, okay? Even if you never forgive me for this, please know that I had no ill will. I knew that you couldn't afford the payments, and I could, so I did. I wanted to help you."

I shake my head no and bite my lower lip. "I don't want to talk about this now."

"I'm going to be going," Dante says, and my breath gets lodged in the back of my throat.

"Going where?"

"I have a job in Chicago. I've put it off for a while, but now seems as good a time as any. I've paid for the hotel for the next three weeks. If you want to stay there longer, just tell them and I’ll take care of it."

"I appreciate all of this, but I can't accept it," I finally force myself to say, looking down at the floor.

"You can and you have to," he says, focusing his eyes on mine.

I know that he knows that I didn't have enough credit on my card to extend the stay at the cheap motel down the street, let alone the Marriott. But I also have no choice.

"You're upset with me," Dante says, taking a step forward. "You're angry, but please take care of yourself. Please accept this gift. Please accept this as an apology for me being such an asshole. I just wanted to help. I wanted to be this knight in shining armor, and maybe I shouldn't have. Maybe it was a dick move."

I stand here, unable to move my neck, but unwilling to turn completely away from him to teach him a lesson. I want to reach over and kiss him and tell him that it's fine, but something stops me. Something pulls me away: it’s my pride.

Dante hands me the key to the room and asks me to use it and to rest, because being here is taking a toll.

"I'd like to come back after this trip to Chicago. I'd like to talk about this,” he says.

With my pride getting the best of me, I shake my head no.

"Okay. Just think about it, okay?" Dante begs with his eyes.

He gives me one last squeeze of the hand and walks away. Fluorescent lights cast shadows in all directions while his shoes make a quiet clinking sound colliding with the linoleum floor. I want to run after him and tell him thank you, but I can’t make myself move.

 

 

Despite how angry I am with Dante, I have no choice but to go back to the hotel suite that he paid for. I spend a long restful night there and when I arrive at the hospital the following morning, Dr. Ellis has a big smile on her face.

"Things are improving quite well and very fast!”

Taking my arm, she leads me to the room where Mom sits up a little bit, with her eyes open. She smiles at me.

Big fat tears start to roll down my cheeks.

I run over and give her a big bear hug, holding her close and feeling the warmth of her body.

"You're okay. You're okay," I whisper over and over again. She gives me a wink.

There's still tubes inside of her mouth, but she's here, present. She nods when Dr. Ellis asks her questions and squeezes my hand.

I say a million prayers and thank yous and stay with her the whole day, not wanting to miss a minute.

Mom is still relatively tired and when she takes long naps I lose myself in the books that I bought and think about Dante. Suddenly him paying off this debt and the anger that I felt about it earlier disappears.

I want to talk to him again. I want to thank him for the surgery because after all, even despite the complication, it went well.

They got the entire cancer out and now, Dr. Ellis is very positive about her survival outcome.

Allison continues to check in with me once a day. When I tell her the good news, she celebrates by opening a bottle of champagne.

"Oh, I wish I could join you," I say, "but drinking alone in the room sounds a little depressing."

"It is not depressing," Allison says, tossing her hair and pointing a finger in my face. “Now, go get some alcohol and call me back.”

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