The sterile smell and white hospital lights made Ethan dizzy and nauseous.
Hungry, tired, and aching for a shower, he impatiently waited in the lobby next to his older brother, Aden. His desperate attempted to keep calm until the doctor emerged with news regarding Brenna, futile.
It’d been a while since any doctors or nurse had come out to update them. The clock on the wall tick-tocked, paying no mind to those who tracked the time toying with Ethan as each minute passed.
As Aden tells the story, after yoga, Brenna became lightheaded and felt somewhat of an obtuse, sharp pain in her abdomen. At five months pregnant, realizing she might be having complications, Aden rushed her to the intensive care clinic.
They figured it was stress but expecting their first child, a girl, they were not about to leave anything to chance. They’d been trying far too long and the slightest of discomforts was concerning to the new parents-to-be. They needed to make sure they weren’t miscarriage symptoms they headed to the hospital.
To add insult to injury, the couple was set to travel to Seville in three weeks. They were soon to open their latest Boutique Hotel and the unfortunate situation meant Ethan would need to take their place.
He froze. He wasn’t ready for it.
He hadn’t thought about it, but that’s what a few hours in the waiting room will do. Ethan convinced him he should offer. It’s the right thing to do, he said to himself. He was merely waiting for the right time to share it with them.
This was not it. Later, he figured.
Ethan’s stomach knotted and he bit at his nails. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn’t except under stress. His eyes shifted to where Aden paced back and forth and he stretched his neck looking around towards the nurse’s station.
Where’s the fucking doctor?!
Running a hand across his forehead, Ethan stood towering slightly over Aden. The clock in his head wouldn’t cease its horrid ticking sound. It noisily chimed giving him a terrible headache.
Based on habit, he glanced at his wrist again not looking at the watch’s face long enough to make out what time it was. Out of the corner of his eye, his pupils went back to observing his brother.
Aden stood still looking at nothingness and Ethan felt utterly unhelpful. The numb expression on his face and the restless, out of focus eyes, bounced around the waiting room randomly.
He’d been crying and Ethan couldn’t console him. He hoped in a fragmented way, Aden knew how much he loved him.
His brother went back to pacing in front of his chair taking long strides and breathing in between. His square fingers numbly massaged his lips, and he would not blink.
Sighing heavily, Ethan rubbed at his temple with one hand, studying his watch once more, before his gentle, blue eyes looked his brother over.
“Can I get you anything?” he helplessly offered.
With a glazed look over his light brown eyes, Aden shook his head and Ethan caught a glimpse into a world he’d never been a part of. A world he wished to be part of; to be in love with someone, no one mattered, but for them.
It went without saying the brothers would die for each other, but that’s not what he meant. The love Aden had for Brenna and his unborn child, was reflected in his eyes and oozed from his pores, like expensive cologne.
When it came to his girls, all else was secondary. They were his life and his reason and he wanted to keep it as such.
Ethan recalled they’d met six years ago, an evening Aden ate at her restaurant. He complained about an overdone steak and Brenna came out to apologize, standing firmly behind her staff. He wasn’t going to intimidate her. Instead, she softened the mood with her impeccable humor and teasing eyes.
He was hooked and eternally hers.
Ethan grinned to himself and although he wasn’t a religious man, he said a little prayer under his breath. In case anyone was listening.
The doctor came around the corner, and into the waiting room.
“Finally,” Ethan muttered under his breath.
Aden instantly raised from the chair he’d been sitting for barely a few seconds and met the doctor halfway.
“How are my girls doing?”
“Your wife and baby are doing fine. Mrs. Roy is resting but she asked for you. You can go in and see her before she falls asleep.”
As if holding their breath for hours, simultaneously the brothers let out a noisy sigh of relief. Then strongly hugged, patting each other’s backs in solace too concerned to fully relax yet.
“Thank you!” he exclaimed before darting out of the waiting room towards the nurse’s station.
His powerful, running legs quickly carried him away and he disappeared down the hallway. The doctor followed hurriedly, almost sprinting, attempting to catch up.
Comforted, Ethan was left standing solo. He felt it best if Aden went in by himself and had a moment alone with his wife. With clearer thoughts, his mind shifted to the unplanned trip to Spain. With less than a month to organize and pack, he had no clue how he’d make it happen.
If he was being honest with himself, it made him nervous. Not because he didn’t think he could get it together, they had opened quite a few hotels before. But this was their first one internationally and to top it off, there was a language barrier.
Running a hand through the dark strands that fell over his forehead, the realization he’d be gone a year or longer, hit him. Never had he been away from home, for a long time and in a foreign country. With this new reality staring him in the face, Ethan would have to fight the urge to worry himself sick.
Distracted and with a murky mind, he slowly walked towards Brenna’s room. Quietly he popped his head in and Aden lifted his tired eyes towards the door giving him a smile. He gently held Brenna’s hand and lowered his lips to kiss the back of it. A certain amount of peace was evident in his demeanor.
Looking over her tranquil face, Ethan saw she’d gone back to sleep.
With a thumb he pointed behind himself, quietly mouthing, “I’m gonna go.” He placed his right open palm on his heart and thumped his chest. “I’m happy she’s doing better. Call me.”
Aden nodded absentmindedly shifting his attention back to his wife.
Closing the door, he headed to the parking lot and slid into the solace of the cream, leather seats inside of his red Tesla. Shutting his eyes and with them the world around him, he took a thick calming breath.
Yawning, he flipped the music on his phone and it blasted through the speakers. He had slept four hours the night prior. It would have to do to keep him awake on the thirty-minute drive back home.
Setting the keys in a ceramic bowl atop the mahogany table, he headed to the fridge. After placing the cell phone on the countertop, he grabbed a beer and slid out the glass doors leading to the terrace overlooking the ocean.
Scanning the beautiful scenery, he realized how much he loved the smell of salt and the sound of the crashing waves against the rocks. They brought him calmness at the end of a hectic day and with melancholy, he recognized how much he was going to miss it. He might be gone for more than a year. Or, at least until the hotel was smoothly running and the Spanish team could take over. After, one of them would need to fly back and forth, a few times a year until established.
If everything went well, as he hoped, he might be able to travel back to San Diego after the baby was born. Christmas would be fun this year with a niece to spoil.
He couldn’t wait to be an uncle. He loved watching his family grow, especially since it had been the three of them at every holiday, event, or business venture.
Finishing his beer, Ethan walked back inside and heard the beep of a voicemail message on his cell.
- Hey babe.
I thought you might need my company tonight. Give me a call if you want to head out to the club or stay in. You know what I mean ... Kisses.
Rebecca’s message ended with a giggle.
He erased it.
Not tonight Rebecca, Ethan shook his head.
He wasn’t in the mood for her games or demands, regardless of how good she made his body feel. He also knew it wasn’t entirely her fault. Although he’d ended it with her on more than one occasion every time she wanted something from him, he needed release or felt lonely, he’d give in to her antics.
Random evenings she showed up in a trench coat over sexy lingerie and a pout on her face. Did he have regrets about it? Seldom. How can a single man resist that?
He gathered the essential ingredients to make a sandwich and opened a second beer heading back to the moonlit deck.
He damned himself for his weaknesses concerning her. He knew she was trouble but he kept sticking to her web. Not like he couldn’t help it, but more like he didn’t want to. He was tired of searching for the right woman and Rebecca, was available. He knew it would never become more than what it already was. Sex.
He hated feeling toxic.
A smile curved at the corner of his lip. On a positive note, when he left for Spain, they’d be so far apart they could end it at last. He wasn’t sure finding love abroad is what he wanted, but the younger brother wanted to explore his options.
Plus, Rebecca wasn’t a victim in all of this. She was using him as much as he was using her. It was based on a sole physical bond. The year abroad would be the perfect opportunity to finish with the relationship, or whatever the hell it was they shared and shouldn’t have started.
She was superficial, possessive and could hold a grudge making her a conniving person. She also has positive traits which were what he had noticed first about her. She was intelligent, a go-getter, independent, beautiful, and knew how to have a good time.
She was also extremely talented in bed and at pleasuring a man. But when her charms eased, he understood who she was. An opportunist.
When Rebecca came around, she knew exactly what she was looking for. There was always an ulterior motive. She often offended him by thinking she could manipulate him. Whether it was for his contacts, his generosity, or his business expertise, she always had an angle.
That woman had no idea what the word no, meant. An expert at twisting everything around, she ended getting her way more times than not. She had no boundaries. Shaking her off, he succumbed to the tiredness in his muscles and after a hot shower, fell asleep on the plush towel over the cotton comforter.