Chad sat at the bar of his latest hangout and downed a shot of Tequila. It had been three hours since his counselling appointment with Nicole and Dr. Mason and he felt horrible. After the appointment he had gotten in his truck and just drove. He didn’t go home to Anna because she wouldn’t be able to help him in this situation and after Nicole had called him, he had felt more ashamed than ever.
After driving around for three hours he decided to stop at the pub before heading home, but one tequila shot turned into several more and he finally numbed the pain he felt deep within. After he had confessed to Nicole about everything and saw her reaction, he had realized that he had made a huge mistake. However, he knew that Nicole had made her mind up. There was no way she was going to give him a third chance to make things right between them and there was no way that Anna would let him go without a fight.
He looked down at the bar where his phone was resting when it vibrated against his hand. He rolled his eyes when he saw who was calling and reluctantly answered the phone.
“Yeah,” he grumbled.
“Chad, baby…where are you?” Anna asked, the concern evident in her voice, “I’m getting worried. You said you would be home after your appointment…is everything ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Chad replied, trying to hide the fact that he was three sheets to the wind at this point, “It’s been a rough day. I’ll be home in a couple hours.”
Without waiting for her to respond he pressed end on his phone and shoved it into his back pocket. He didn’t want to talk to her at that particular moment. He had been too focused on all the damage that he had caused with his family. Nicole and Hudson should have always been the most important thing in his life, but instead they took a back seat to Anna, who was only a mistress and now, pregnant with his child. His heart hurt and Ryan Wilson was just sitting there on the sidelines waiting for Nicole to go running to him.
He couldn’t handle it anymore. He didn’t deserve Nicole and he knew that more than anything, but he sure as hell was going to try and win her back, even if Anna tried to sabotage him in the process.
Chad threw a few twenties on the bar and stumbled out of the pub. He decided to walk for a little while to sober up and then he would go home to Anna. But everything in him told him to pursue his wife and child. They were worth the fight, he just hoped that Nicole would see it the same way.
Nicole woke up with a start when the home phone rang on the table beside her bed. She groaned and rubbed her eyes before looking at the clock.
“Who the hell is calling at 3:00 a.m?” she mumbled, “Whoever it is better have a good reason…”
“Hello,” Nicole asked, her voice sounding sleepy.
“Hi is this Nicole Sanders?” the person on the other end asked.
“It is,” Nicole replied, “May I ask who’s calling?”
“My name is Aiden Burrows, I am a doctor here at Emergency at Vancouver General Hospital,” she replied nicely, “I’m so sorry for the time, but we have your husband, Chad Sanders, here.”
Nicole’s heart began to pound in her chest. What the hell happened, Nicole had wondered to herself, and why didn’t they call Anna? She was no longer his next of kin, but he more than likely hadn’t changed that information.
“Is he ok?” Nicole asked hesitantly, feeling afraid of the answer.
“Actually, he is not doing well,” Dr. Burrows replied, “He was very drunk and as he was crossing the street downtown, he got hit by a car. The driver of the vehicle didn’t see him and when he finally did notice him crossing the street, it was too late. Mr. Sanders is in critical condition and even after the emergency surgery we did, we weren’t able to stabilize him.”
“What was the surgery for?” Nicole asked, her stomach churning, knowing that the response was not going to be good.
“Judging by the description of the accident by the driver, your husband was thrown about 15 feet before he landed on the ground,” Dr. Burrows responded sympathetically, “So when he arrived in emergency he was unconscious and we suspected internal bleeding. Mrs. Sanders, your husband has suffered extreme injuries and we suspect that he won’t recover from that as well as the significant internal bleeding that we did find. We tried to control it, but I can’t be sure how long it will last.”
Nicole felt like she was about to throw up. She had not been expecting this. She threw her legs over the side of the bed and grabbed her cell phone. Unable to respond to the doctor, she was trying to process the news and the gravity of the situation. What was she supposed to do now, she asked herself.
“I have a couple things I have to do,” Nicole said to the doctor, “I have to take my son to my parents and I have someone to pick up on the way, but I should be there in about an hour. Please phone me if anything changes.”
“Absolutely, Mrs. Sanders,” the doctor replied.
Nicole hung up the phone and rushed around like a crazy person, getting dressed, brushing her teeth, at best she was functioning at half capacity. She picked up her phone again and dialled her mom and waited.
“Sweetie is everything ok?” her mother asked groggily.
“No, no it’s not,” Nicole replied quickly and breathless, “Can I bring Hudson over to your place right now? I just got a call from Vancouver General Hospital. Chad got hit by a car and it isn’t looking good.”
“Oh my goodness Nicole,” her mother replied, sounding much more awake, “Do you want me to come with you?”
“No, I just need you to take care of Hudson,” Nicole replied, “I am going to pick up Anna on the way. If he doesn’t make it, we should both be there with him. He may only want her there with him, but I should be there too.”
“You are a much stronger woman than I am sweetheart,” her mother stated, “I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks mom,” Nicole replied quietly, “I’ll be there in about 10 minutes. I have to go.”
Once they said goodbye she put her phone in her jeans pocket and opened her bedroom door and walked down the hall to Hudson’s room. She was shaken up and unsure of how to deal with everything and she felt like one more thing would make her crumble, but she held on, knowing that she had to be strong for Hudson and for Anna.
Anna looked at her clock on the nightstand. It was 3:30 in the morning and Chad still wasn’t home. She had tried to go to bed and sleep, but the worry had taken over and she had spent more time tossing and turning than she had sleeping. She sat up in bed and picked up her phone and dialled Chad’s number.
“Hi, you’ve reached Chad Sanders. I’m not available to take your call right now, but leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”
Anna pressed the red button on her phone, threw it on the bed and sighed heavily. Where could he possibly be, she thought to herself. She pushed herself off the bed and slowly made her way down the hall to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of milk. Milk had always soothed her and made her sleepy, so she thought she would give it a go.
The buzzer for her front door went off and made her jump in her seat. She stared at the door for a minute wondering if she had heard that right or wondered if she was just hearing things. Who the hell was buzzing her at 3:30 in the morning?
The buzzer went off again and this time Anna stood up and pushed the button to answer it.
“Yeah,” Anna growled into the speaker, “Whoever this is, you better have a damn good reason...”
“Anna, shut up,” Nicole’s voice screeched through the speaker, “Let me in.”
Anna went in to panic mode instantly as she pushed the button to let the wife of her current boyfriend in. She and Nicole had always been friends, but she always thought and believed she and Chad belonged together.
A couple minutes later there was a knock on the door and Anna let Nicole in. Nicole just stood there and stared at Anna, her hair was in the messiest ponytail she had ever seen, her eyes were red and her sweatshirt was on inside out.
“What the hell happened to you?” Anna questioned, frustrated that Nicole showed up at a god forsaken hour and unannounced or uninvited.
“Get dressed Anna,” Nicole mumbled, “Chad’s in trouble and we have to get to the hospital.”
Anna was flabbergasted. She hadn’t expected this. Chad was in trouble and Nicole had thought of her despite everything that she and Chad had put Nicole through.
“What happened?” Anna asked her quietly, “Is he ok?”
“He was drunk and while he was walking down the street he got hit by a car,” Nicole replied almost robotically, “It doesn’t look good for him so I thought it would be best if we were both there. After all, he is still my husband...”
Anna looked at Nicole and for the first time really noticed how much of a toll this had taken on her. There were black circles under her eyes, her voice was weary, she was a shell of the person that Anna used to know and her heart sank. She realized that in this situation she couldn’t be selfish with Chad. She knew that Nicole would need some time with her husband, even if he did have every intention of starting a new life with Anna.
“Give me a minute,” Anna said with a sad smile before running down the hall to her bedroom to get dressed.
Half an hour later Nicole and Anna were walking silently down the quiet halls of Vancouver General Hospital. It had been a very awkward drive to the hospital, neither one of them knowing what to say to each other. Nicole felt bad for Anna, but she also had a strong desire to knock some sense into her. However, she refrained from doing so.
They walked up to the nurses’ station in the ICU and there was a doctor standing there with a chart in her hand. She turned and looked at them when they approached and smiled at them.
“Are you Mrs. Sanders?” the doctor asked as she put the chart down.
“Yes, and you must be Dr. Burrows,” Nicole replied, feeling nervous, “This is Anna, a close friend of Chad’s.”
“Nice to meet you both,” Dr. Burrows replied, “Now I must caution you, Chad has been going in and out of consciousness. He is in a lot of pain and we are giving him more than regular doses of morphine to keep it at bay. However, he has a lot of broken bones and we have to wait until 10:00 a.m. before we can get back into surgery and see if the internal bleeding has stopped. I am just giving you a warning that I don’t think he is going to survive this, but miracles happen every day and I pray to God that he will come through this.”
Nicole could feel the tears pooling in her eyes, but she refused to cry in front of Anna. She looked over at Anna, whose lips were trembling and the tears were threatening to spill over. Against Nicole’s better judgment she moved over to Anna and wrapped an arm around her shoulder to comfort her.
“No matter what happens Anna, we will get through this together,” Nicole whispered as a tear fell from her eye, “I don’t know how, but we will figure it out.”
“You are more than welcome to go in and see him,” Dr. Burrows replied quietly, “But I ask that you go in one at a time. He needs to rest and too much company all at once could stress him out.”
Anna turned her head and looked at Nicole with uncertainty. She had pulled away from Nicole, but she was now holding her hand tightly. Nicole knew that Anna was nervous to go into his room alone and so was she. Nicole nodded her head at Anna and gave her a sad smile.
“You go ahead Anna,” Nicole said, “Take your time. I’ll go in after you.”
Anna smiled back and reluctantly let go of Nicole’s hand. She slowly made her way down the hall towards Chad’s room and disappeared inside.
Nicole walked over to a chair and sank into it, finally letting the tears fall freely. She was exhausted and she was terrified. She looked at Dr. Burrows as she sat down in the chair beside her and reached for her hand. Nicole held it and felt strangely comforted by it.
“It’s none of my business,” Dr. Burrows stated quietly, “But I’m guessing this is a pretty complicated situation...”
“You have no idea,” Nicole mumbled as she slipped her hands into the pocket of her hoodie, “My husband left me for her...and when you called me earlier to let me know, my first instinct was to drive over to her house and pick her up...”
“You are a strong woman,” the doctor said quietly, “You put her first, when it’s your husband lying in there fighting for his life. That’s amazing.”
“Did I mention that she is pregnant with his child?” Nicole whispered just before the sobs took over, “I’m worried about losing him and he doesn’t even love me anymore.”
Nicole leaned over and put her head in her hands as the sobs coursed through her body. It was like she wasn’t even in control of her emotions anymore. She had stayed strong for so long that now her body had taken over control. Her whole body shook as the tears coursed down her face and she was powerless to stop it.
Dr. Burrows rubbed her hand up and down Nicole’s back to try and calm her down, but nothing was helping at that moment. Nothing could take away the pain that she was feeling.
Nicole continued to cry, silently at this point and Dr. Burrows never left her side. Nicole leaned her head on the doctor’s shoulder and took deep breaths to try and calm herself down. She slowly began to feel better, but it didn’t take away what was happening. Things didn’t seem right with this situation. It should have been her sitting in that hospital room with Chad, not Anna, but here she was, being the bigger person.
Around 6:00 in the morning Nicole was still sitting in the chair, but now she had steaming hot coffee in hand. Anna still hadn’t come out of Chad’s room and now Nicole was beginning to get angry. Dr. Burrows had left a little earlier to tend to some patients, but Nicole had been extremely grateful for her companionship. She had needed it. Not much was said between the two of them, but just knowing that Dr. Burrows had been there just in case she needed to talk, was enough for her.
Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she pulled it out and looked down at the call display. It was Beth, Nicole had completely forgotten to let her know about Chad.
“Hey,” Nicole said quietly after she answered the phone.
“Hey,” Beth replied, “Are you coming to pick me up today? I hadn’t heard from you since you left work yesterday, so I thought I would check in.”
“Shit, Beth,” Nicole mumbled tiredly, “I’m so sorry.”
“Is everything ok?” Beth asked, “You sound exhausted. Is Hudson sick?”
“Hudson is fine,” Nicole replied, “Beth, so much has happened in the last 12 hours and I haven’t had any time to call and let you know what’s been going on.”
“What is it?” Beth asked.
“The counselling appointment went horribly for starters,” Nicole replied, feeling the emotion well up inside her, “And then when I went home, Ryan told me it was too hard to just be my friend and left. And then, at 3:00 in the morning I got a call from emergency at Vancouver General Hospital saying that Chad was drunk and got hit by a car while walking downtown last night. So I took Hudson to my parents’, went to Anna’s place to pick her up and bring her here to the hospital and she has been in Chad’s room since we got here at 4:00 a.m. I still haven’t been able to see him and it’s killing me...He might not make it Beth...”
There was no response on the other end for what seemed like forever. Nicole heard Beth’s breathing on the other end and then a small gasp.
“I’m closing the office today. I’ll rebook appointments first thing,” Beth replied, her voice shaky and quiet, “I’ll come to the hospital once I’m done at the office. I’m so sorry Nic...I’m shocked, at a loss for words...I really have no idea what to say to make this better.”
“Thanks Beth,” Nicole mumbled, “But there is nothing you can say to alter this. There is nothing good about this situation. I’ll see you when you get here.”
Nicole held her phone in her hand for a moment after they had hung up and she noticed that there was a missed a text message. She opened the message and it was from Chad around 9:00 the night before.
I’m so sorry Nic, I hope you will be able to forgive me one day. I love you more than you know.
Nicole stared at those words until she could no longer read them. Her eyes were clouded with tears and she wished that she could tell him that everything would be ok and that she loved him too, but she couldn’t because she knew that everything wasn’t going to be ok.