I nearly jump off the couch at the sound of my phone ringing and vibrating against the coffee table. I scramble for the phone, not even looking at the caller i.d to answer.
“Err, hello?” My voice is groggy and filled with the lack of sleep I was attempting to catch up on. “Is everything okay?”
“Tommy, no. Everything is not okay.” My grandma’s worried voice fills my ears, and I immediately deflate with relief that it’s not someone from the hospital. And now, I feel guilty because I forgot to call her. I’ve been keeping her and Grandpa updated with a few calls here and there and texting Grandpa when I’m unable to call. He seems to be the only one to understand the whole texting concept.
“Oh, crap. I’m sorry, I meant to call.” I yawn out as I try and rub the sleep from my face. “Please, don’t tell me you’re in New York.”
I hear my grandma huff into the line, “Well, no. Your grandfather wouldn’t let me buy the tickets. He told me that I needed to wait until Ryann was out of the hospital. But Tommy, what is going on? I know you said she’s out of the ICU.”
Ryann and I haven’t told anyone within our family about the miscarriage. Only a select few know, but I need to tell my grandparents. I know my grandma had a miscarriage at some point in her life. I’ve seen the little plaque honoring their son out in the garden. Out of everyone, she’d be the one who’d understand what we’re going through.
“Grandma, I need to tell you something, and I think you should sit down for what I’m about to tell you.”
“Ohh,” my grandma’s voice goes up with a worried anticipation. “Is Ryann okay? Did she get moved back to ICU?”
Running a hand through my hair, I try and figure out what exactly to say to her. This isn’t something that I’ve ever been through before, and I’m not one to bear my soul out this raw for people to see. Even my grandparents
“Oh, Tommy, my dear boy. What happened? Please talk to me.”
Sighing, “Grandma, Ryann was eight weeks pregnant.” As the words leave my mouth, I’m fighting to keep the quiver at bay.
I hear my grandma gasp out, “Tommy, hunny. Oh, I’m so sorry. But you know what happened, there wouldn’t have been anything that you could have done.”
“Is that true, though? We were fighting. If we weren’t fighting....”
Grandma immediately cuts me off, “Nothing would have changed. You can’t keep playing this what-if game. What if you and Ryann weren’t arguing? That could have made things worst. You said that there was a metal frame keeping her trapped; if she would have been positioned differently, then what? You have to see the light in front of you, and that is Ryann. She’s alive, and she’s with you. With us.”
I know she’s right, but there are so many what if’s running through my head. What if we’d left earlier or left ten minutes later. What if we didn’t track through the airport like our lives depended on it. Or what if we had checked in luggage and needed to go to the baggage claim. And the biggest what if, what if I was the one to get into the car first, like always. Instead, I had Ryann slide in first. All of which would have spared her from the accident and saved our unborn child.
“How is Ryann doing? And how are you doing?”
Sighing, “Ryann is trying to cope the best that she can. Her family is in town, so she’s trying to conceal her sorrows because she has yet to tell them. And I’m trying to be strong for her. We did talk to a grief counselor that the hospital has on staff, and we gave our child a name.”
“Oh,” I can hear the smile in my grandma’s voice. “That’s wonderful. May I ask the name?”
Smiling as I look down at my bracelet, “Sloane. It means warrior, and we thought it was fitting.”
“That is very fitting, Tommy. It’s never easy losing a child, but the heartbreak does get easier. Did Ryann know she was pregnant?”
Yes, no. I think Ryann was starting to build the idea up in her mind and had come to terms with the thought of being a mom before she even took the test. But it was ripped away from her. She was stripped from the opportunity because of some selfish fucking asshole. If this is karma’s sick payback, she should have left Ryann out of her demented path.
“She had an idea, but she didn’t have a chance to confirm it.”
I hear my grandma hum on the other line as I hear my grandpa in the background, “Who are you talking to? Is that Thomas on the line? What’s wrong? Is Ryann okay?”
“Shh, I’ll tell you later. Ryann is fine.”
“Then what’s wrong?” Grandpa nearly demands. “Why are you crying?”
“Robert,” Grandma scolds. I tug at the roots of my hair, feeling horrible for making my grandmother cry.
I can hear them going back and forth as a solid knock erupts on my hotel door. Mentally groaning out, I get to my feet and open the door for Travis. I don’t even need to look through the peephole to know his knock. Waving Travis in, I plop my ass back down on the couch and listen to my grandparents arguing on the other end of the phone. Grandpa wants to know what grandma is keeping from him instead of waiting until she is off the phone.
I hear what sounds like a door closing in the background and the sound of the wind softly blowing into the phone. She must have finally called it quits and escaped outside. “Listen, Tommy, losing a child is never easy. It will stay with the both of you for the rest of your lives. But it’s what you do with that pain is how the path you two will take will be directed.”
We have two options. We’ll survive through this and learn and grow. Our relationship will grow and become more unbreakable than it is now. Or we’ll crash and burn. The choice is ours, but it’s hard to tell which way either one of us will go in our current state. All I know is that I will fight tooth and nail, even if it means I’m the one keeping us afloat.
I catch Travis taking a seat in the armchair off in the corner of the living area and crosses his leg as he pulls out his phone, waiting for me patiently.
“But I know,” Grandma continues, “that you two are unbreakable when you stick together. Just remember that.”
Even thousands of miles away, my grandma always knows what to say to make you feel better. Even when the world is trying to eat you alive, she knows the right words to say.
“I know, Grandma. I’m sorry that I haven’t called more....”
Grandma immediately interjects, “Nonsense, I just worry. You know me. Now, I want you to send Ryann, my love, and call me once you two are settled. Do you know how long you two will be in New York for?”
Craning my head up toward the ceiling and stretching out my neck and back, “At least a month, but it could be longer. I can rent out an apartment nearby for you and Grandpa if you two want. Or you can stay with Ryann and I. We’ll have the room.”
“Oh, don’t fret over us. You give us the word, and we’ll visit and stay in a hotel. I’ve always wanted to go to New York, and we will not put you two out during this healing time.” Grandma insists.
I let out a small chuckle with my grandma’s protest, “Okay, fine. But at least let me put up in a hotel and set up a driving service for you two.”
Cutting her off, “Grandma, please. Let me do this.”
Finally, she sighs and surrenders her argument. “Alright, if it’s what you wish.”
“It is. But I need to go, Travis just arrived, and we need to go over the final security detail for when Ryann is released.” Oh, that’s a massive lie. I have no clue why Travis is even in my room when he should be in his, sleeping.
“Of course, I love you, Tommy.”
“I love you too, Grandma. Give Grandpa my love too.” I say before ending the call. Setting my phone down on the couch beside me, I keep my head crane up at the ceiling, not really wanting to deal with whatever it is Travis has to tell me. “And what do I owe the pleasure?” I ask dryly.
“We need to talk.” His deadpanned voice forces me to snap my already stiffed neck to him. Maybe sleeping on the couch was not a wise decision.
“And I thought this was purely a social visit. Pity.” And I need to lose my sarcasm. But consider it a terrible habit when I’m this far down the rabbit hole of sleep deprivation.
Travis scowls a warning. A sign that signals his buttons are pushed past their breaking point. Meaning, the both of us are tinkering to a full-out brawl. “Pearl.” Now he has my full fucking attention. “She emailed Ryann in Vancouver.”
“WHAT!” I erupt. “Why am I just now being informed of this?”
Travis waves his hand for me to sit my ass back down and to calm down. “Because Ryann was freaking out when I found out. I offered up the only resolution I could think of at the time to keep her calm, and since we were traveling, it didn’t make any sense for me to tell you at the time.”
I arch an aggravated brow his way. It’s my busy, and I should have been told in Vancouver. Taking a deep and unrelaxing breath in, “And what did my soon-to-be ex-publicist have to say?”
Travis uncrosses his legs and slides forward in the chair slightly, “She wants Ryann to retrieve what belongs to her.”
“And what would that be?” I challenge.
I watch Travis twist his lips off to the side with an annoyance that could be felt in all of Manhattan. “Helena’s ring.” I feel my brow furrow with confusion. Because that is not what I thought Pearl was after. She wants my mom’s wedding ring? I mean, I guess that would make sense. It was in my safe back home, and that would explain why I caught Jazz trying to break into it. “The one that Ryann wears.” He clarifies.
“I’m sorry?” I feel even more confused now. Why in the world would Pearl want a ring that my grandparents bought their daughter on her sixteenth birthday from a local county fair? I mean, they paid twenty bucks for it. If that. My mom loved it, and since it was her birthday, my grandparents didn’t hesitate to buy the simple, elegant ring for her. According to Grandma, she could have asked for anything on her sixteenth birthday, a car, a new dress, shoes, but all my mom wanted was that ring. “I think you’ve gotten your facts wrong.”
Travis shakes his head, “No, I know I have my facts right. Pearl called Valerie the other night, and Jonathan ended up snatching her phone after the conversation started to get heated. He said from what he could intercept, Pearl is attempting to blackmail Ryann through Valerie now. Saying if Valerie does not give her what she wants, she’ll....” He trails off, chewing on his words.
“She’ll what?” I growl.
“Thomas, she has the flash drive. Jamie sold it to her.”
I feel my face boil to a near explosion and, at the same time, drain of all color. I’m going to fucking kill her. I’m going to kill Jamie and anyone else involved in the god damn matter. I will ruin their damn lives like they’re doing to Ryann. “Is there evidence of this threat?”
“Yes, and I’ve already forwarded all the information I have to your lawyers along with proof of Pearl issuing a twenty-thousand-dollar check to Jamie Maddox. I was also given access to CCTV footage that shows Pearl and Jamie meeting up with the hand-off of a flash drive.”
Pulling at the roots of my hair, I start to pace the length of the hotel living area. “I need to get that flash drive back,” I mumble to myself, but I know Travis is fully capable of hearing me. I’m flying back to a carpet event next Friday with Xayla. I can set up a meeting with Pearl at her office and ask her to have Dax attend. Because where one is sniffing around, the other is right behind. There is no way Pearl would just shell out twenty grand. She had to have some kind of help, and who else better than asking the damn tea kettle.
“I’ve already scheduled a meeting with Pearl on Sunday morning before you fly out. Dax will be in attendance too.” Travis suddenly adds in. There is no way Pearl would believe that something isn’t up with Travis being the one setting up the meeting. “I had Jonathan text Pearl from Valerie’s phone telling her that she has what she wants and can meet her on Sunday since she’s flying out with you.”
Groaning out, “Travis...”
He holds his hand up, stopping me, “I had Jonathan claim that she’ll sneak away and meet her at her office. But it will be you and I meeting her.”
Wait, what? I don’t remember agreeing to ever allowing Travis to accompany me back to California. Especially in the state, Ryann is in. And before I can question him any further, there is another loud knock on the hotel door. Looking at Travis with confusion, he stays seated in his chair with a calm ease.
I hear the room door open and watch as Samuel walks into the room.
What the flying hell is he doing here?