Day four, and the day I’ve been dreading with the impending arrival of Max and Betty. Jen finally called her mom after a day of being in New York. The family is beyond pissed that she left a note and flew to a state where she knew absolutely no one, in the dead of night. It’s not safe, and Jen honestly left it to chance if she could even get ahold of Val. We are all a little preoccupied, and answering our phones isn’t high up on that list. At least on my end, it isn’t.
I will say, one of the nice things about Jen being here, minus the coffee she brings us, is that she was the one to keep Betty informed and updated. That pressure was taken off my shoulders, well...until today. Now I’m forced to look a woman in the eyes, no, look a mother in the eyes, face what has happened, and answer any questions that Betty may have.
I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared for this.
The only news that I currently have going for me...fuck that, going for Ryann, is that she’s improving. Quicker than the doctors initially thought. The original treatment plan was to keep her in the medically induced coma until Saturday and slowly start to wake her. But the latest scans show virtually no swelling, and Ryann is starting to show signs of wanting to wake up. So, as of seven this morning, they have started the process to wake her. And within two hours of the process, she was extubated and breathing on her own, and her neck brace was removed. The only problem, they can’t give me a defiant answer as to when she’ll be awake. Tomorrow, the next day, three days from now. They don’t know, and that is not an answer I wanted to hear.
But I’ve never been alone when the doctors or nurses enter the room. Val has been crazy supportive and persistent that I take a night to take care of myself. The best I could offer up was finally taking a shower on day three. If there is one thing I know for sure, I’m not leaving Ryann’s side.
Even standing in the shower as I watched pieces of debris falling from my hair and, lord knows what else, wash down the drain with the brownish hue of the water. I seriously spent enough time in the shower to wash up; that was it. I wasn’t going to waste another second just standing under the nozzle in an attempt to enjoy the hot water running over my body. Not when my mind was consumed with so many what-ifs.
That constant what-if game is what is killing me and one of the many reasons why I’m refusing to leave Ryann’s hospital room. Even with Jen present in the room, I’ve never strayed too far. Most of the time, it’s me sitting on the couch, watching over her, while Jen sits in the chair next to the bed.
Today will be the first day that I’ll leave this room. Only because I don’t want a slew of people in here arguing. I know her family is pissed that I, nor my people, contacted them after the accident. I know Jen is taking most of the heat because she just up and left without so much of a word or phone call before leaving. I also know that she’s attempted to keep everyone back in Indiana until Ryann woke. Still, even I knew that was a farfetched idea.
Leaning over Ryann, I place a kiss to her forehead because the time has come to go off to the damn conference room that I was able to secure through the hospital. They’ve been warned about the family coming in and the possibility of voices being raised. I’ve tried to assure them that my security team will handle the conflict, but I’m not sure Travis will be able to separate business from wanting to give Max a new face.
But I’ve already called dibs.
“Babydoll, I promise I will be right back. I love you.” I whisper into her ear before placing another kiss to her forehead.
Making my way out of the room, Jen nearly crashes into me, causing me to put my hands up at her shoulders to stop her. She’s shaking with nerves, that or she’s had one too many cups of coffee. Like her sister, it’s essentially a food group to her too. Each time Jen has come to the hospital, she has brought coffee with her. And thank God, too, because it’s better than the shit coffee that the hospital has to offer.
“Woah, slow down,” I tell her as I watch Val round the corner attempting to catch up. “I’m coming.”
“It’s just, they just pulled into the parking garage and are on their way in now. I don’t think I can do this. This was a terrible idea. We should just have security take them back out and to the airport. Can your team do that? Ohh, I know that’s a shit idea......” Jen says in a rapid-fire of words.
I arch a very concerned brow towards Val, who only shrugs a shoulder with annoyance, “No offense Jen, but how in the hell did you manage life in stressful events. I mean, you look like you’ve just downed twenty cups of coffee.”
“Ten, and I didn’t. Ryann dealt with all of that up until she left. She was always my protector, even when I was a bitch to her....she still protects me. I’m tryin’ to do the same. I need to do for my sister what she’s always done for me.” Her shoulders sag forward as she lets out a long exhale of defeat. “I’m doing a shit job, aren’t I?”
“Nooo,” Val and I sing in unison.
“The fact that you’re here is speaking volumes. Don’t ever doubt what your gut is telling you because you’ll regret it.” I tell Jen. Val looks at me as if I just rambled off some sort of philosophical saying when all I was doing was speaking from experience. Because as much as I want to paint Jen as one of the villains from Ryann’s past, I can’t. Instead, I see a sister, her pale blue eyes filled with so much regret and remorse that I know it’s killing her. Jen has been playing the what-if game too, and for how long, I don’t think anyone will ever know. “Are you guys ready? Because I need to get this over with and get back to the room.”
I start walking before anyone has time to answer me. I know no one is ready for the confrontation that is about to occur. I’m not even prepared for the confrontation that is about to happen. I mean, I want to put Max in his place and kick his fucking ass out of Ryann’s life forever, but not now. Not when the love of my life needs me. I should be sitting at her bedside, holding her hand. Not entering this fucking elevator that will take us to the second floor of the hospital.
“No fighting,” Val warns as we enter the elevator.
Waiting for the doors to close behind us, “I can’t promise anything. But, if it gets me back to Ryann faster, I’ll fight.”
“Thomas,” Val warns again, “I get you’re pissed, and this has been a long time coming, but you cannot fight in a damn hospital. You’ll be thrown out and not allowed back in, and then what?”
“What are you two talking about? Who are you going to get into a fight with?” Jen asks, looking between Val and me.
Val dismisses her concern and plays it off, “Oh, honey, no one. Thomas gets a stick up his ass when he’s exhausted. And he’s exhausted.” She says, placing a hand at the side of her mouth as she whispers in Jen’s way. Glaring at her, I give her the magical finger, which only causes her to laugh out with humor, “See, he’s a dick when he’s exhausted—nothing to worry about. Just have to warn him a time or two beforehand. Ryann does the same.”
She does more than the same; she’ll use her assets to render you speechless. Well, only on me.
“Ohh, but you said it was a long time coming.”
The ding of the elevator signals that we’ve arrived and I’m out of the damn box before the doors have time to open, but I hear Val give off a nervous laugh, “Oh, did I? I just meant we are on day four of no sleep and so far, he’s behaved himself.”
Rolling my eyes at the bullshit, she’s somehow coming up with left and right; I lead the way down the empty and sterile hall that will take us to the private room. My heart is hammering against my chest so fast and hard that I can hear it in my damn ears. I’m not sure what the outcome of this meeting will be, but I’m not looking forward to it. I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
Holding the door open for Val and Jen, I see that my team is already in place. It will only be a matter of time before the rest of Ryann’s family walks through that door.
As soon as the door closes behind me, Travis gives a settled nod, and I watch as Heather and Jonathan leave the room to accompany Betty and Max up. Though, I never asked if Ray would be making a special appearance today because I have a few choice words for him too.
“Did your father come too?” I finally ask Jen.
Jen shakes her head, “No, he doesn’t fly. He has a fear of it.” I nod my head in understanding which only prompts Jen to continue. “But he wanted to. He even bought a plane ticket to come out here but couldn’t get past the gate. He wants to FaceTime Ry when she’s well enough.”
And I don’t think that’s a good idea.
“I told him what Jamie did in Cali and what he did in High School. I told him that I found proof and that Ry wasn’t lying, and I know I’m to blame for him not believing Ry. He wants to apologize to her.” Jen whispers.
Well, this family is full of revelations left and right. But even with the apologies, that won’t heal the mental damage that has been done. Since I met Ryann, she has come a long way in her healing process, but even I know that her healing isn’t done. And with this accident, I’m afraid any recovery that has been done has been undone.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Jen suddenly says.
I can’t help but laugh, “I seriously doubt that. The only person who has the capability of knowing what I’m thinking is currently upstairs.”
Jen hums as she studies me for a moment. Her finger tapping lightly against her shoulder as she holds herself. “Perhaps, but I know you probably dislike or hate all of us for what we’ve done to Ryann.”
She’s not too far off base there, “I don’t hate you, Jen. I wasn’t a big fan of yours, but I don’t hate you or your dad. Ryann has done nothing but defended you two up until....”
“Her four-year mark,” Jen states as she keeps her focus trained on the door. “Ya, she kinda stopped calling home altogether. Even stopped calling Max, but I knew it was a matter of time before she found a little family out West, and I knew the people she’d find would accept her more than what Dad or I have. Mom has always been by Ryann’s side, and so has Teresa. They’re through the moon happy to see her succeed, and so am I.” Jen says with a genuine smile.
I can’t help but focus a slightly confused, judgmental, and curious look at Jen because nowhere in that sentence is the mention of her husband. Ryann’s true best friend being by her side. So many questions, but there isn’t enough time to pressure Jen into giving me the answers I want. Another task for another day.
Hmmm, wonder how Ryann would feel if I interrogated her sister.
Val wraps an arm around Jen, “I’m so glad that you’ve come over from the dark side.....” I eye her with her nerdy reference. “Because Xayla and I really didn’t want to fly to the land of cornfields and chuck our heels at you.”
I watch Jen’s eyes go wide with a humorous surprise. “You mean Xayla Masterson? So you and Xayla Masterson were going to chuck heels at me? Ohh, I thought that was something the press just made up.”
Now it’s my turn to laugh, “Unfortunately, no. She throws her heels if you piss her off. I’ve had the pleasure of it happening once or twice, and they do hurt.”
I called Xayla on day two of us being in the hospital. It was late at night, and I felt so lost and confused. Andrew had talked me off a ledge that I wasn’t going to jump from, but I needed my best friend too. I needed her to tell me to suck it up and that Ryann will pull through. I needed her tough Xayla love even though I could tell she’s was having a hard time keeping it together too. She wanted to come out to New York today, but I asked her to please wait until the end of the week because I knew that if she were here while Ryann’s family is, the chances of her shoe being wedge into Max’s head is fucking high.
Plus, there’s not much Xayla can do right now. I sent her a text of the good news the doctors gave and the update everyone has been waiting for. Xayla again insisted on coming out to New York to help out, but I had to assure her more than once that I’m fine, even though I’m barely hanging on, and that Val is here helping. I love Xayla, she will always be family to me, but with Ryann’s family, I don’t think I could handle a dramatic scene between her and them. I want to believe that Xayla could be civil, but Xayla has no filter, and being in a hospital, won’t change that.
At the sound of the door opening, my attention snaps to Heather walking in with Betty and Max, followed by Jonathan. Jen runs to her mom and husband with excitement and collides into them. As soon as Max makes eye contact with me, it’s game over.