Soundtrack To My Youth (book 1)

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All For You

Sam 2020

The coffee from the vending machine, down the hall from Veronica’s hospital room, tastes like mud slung into a paper cup with milk added in an attempt to disguise the foul flavour. I’d been spoiled for choice for many years I guess, Veronica being a coffee snob and insisting we get the top of the line machine for our home, the one that made barista style coffee and you can taste the rich, bold flavour with every sip, making take away coffee pale in comparison.

The image of my beautiful girl, dancing around our small kitchen in her underwear as she made us breakfast in London, filled my mind as I wandered back to the room. Her gorgeous smile radiating and her hips swaying to Shake it Off. I stood in the doorway to our kitchen and watched her move, she didn’t notice me until I grabbed her by the hips, pulling her tight against me and slowing the rhythm down to a more sensual pace. She was so happy, so content in our own private oasis, away from the flashing lights and the endless rumours about our relationship

Outside we couldn’t even walk down the street without someone stopping either of us for an autograph or photo but inside our flat was our own private bubble, where we could just be Veronica and Sam, just like we were back in high school. It had taken me so long to win her back and I wasn’t going to allow the vultures destroy it this time.

My phone buzzed in my pocket and I pull it out to see Kate’s name flashing across the screen, requesting a FaceTime call. I find a seat, away from the chaos of the nurses station. In the darken hallway, the sun had set hours ago and the lighting was dimmed to save energy. I hit accept and am greeted by a very flustered looking Kate.

“Samual”

“Katherine” We both laugh at the use of our formal names, a private joke between us that started in high school and we just never let it go.

“How is she?” Kate asks, her face riddled with concern for her best friend.

“She doing good, still hasn’t woken up yet but her doctors are hopeful it will happen soon. They’ve warned me many times about complications from the accident and surgery and how it may affect her, they won’t know what they’re dealing with until she’s awake” Dr Stephenson had gone through a long list of possible outcomes, from amnesia to total loss of motor functions, I was prepared for the worse but hopeful.

“I wish I could be there with her and not stuck in New York, lockdown sucks” She pouts, I know it would be killing Kate to not be able to be by Veronica’s side right now, the two women have been through so much together, I hate that Kate is making herself feel guilty over something that is beyond her control.

“Kate, I’ve been to your apartment, it’s so big that it should have its own zip code, there’s worse places you could be in lockdown” I’m trying to distract her from her own guilt. Kate’s Manhattan penthouse apartment is massive, two floors, four bedrooms, a hot tub and gym plus it boasts one of the best views, overlooking the city and Kate had worked her arse off to earn it too.

“I know and with the twins home from college it’s been great, although they probably don’t think so because I’ve put them to work, Harriet is helping me with new designs and Jackson is running my social media because it’s being predicted that, due to lockdown, there will be a baby boom, which means business is going to be thriving for me, no rest for Kate during a pandemic” Kate often marvelled at how her life at taken a turn for the better from one mistake, falling pregnant during our final year at school was never ideal, finding out she was carrying twins just added on to the already stressful experience. Kate and Alex didn’t have much money and with everything being times by two, they struggled but Kate had one advantage up her sleeve, she was top of her class for textiles and would save money by designing and creating the children’s clothes herself, she never dreamed that a hobby would one day lead into one of the most successful and affordable children’s clothing lines, making her a household name with mothers all over the world.

“That’s one part of lockdown I am actually looking forward to, making babies with Veronica” My admission earns me a look of disgust from a nurse who just happened to walk past at the wrong moment, not that I care, if she knew of our history she wouldn’t judge me for it.

“I’m glad that you two are trying again and when she does fall pregnant I want to be the first to know, this time, what the gender is so I can design all the baby wear, I can see it now, baby Lion’s dressed exclusively by Kate’s Kids.”

“How do you think you’d go at designing the perfect wedding gown?” I ask, watching her eyes go wide with excitement.

“You better not be fucking with me on this Lions” I place my cup of coffee between my feet so that I can grab the small box from my pocket that I’ve been carrying around everywhere since the day Veronica didn’t show up at the house inspection and I found out about the car accident. I open the box and tilt it towards the phone screen.

“It was my Mother’s engagement ring, my dad gave it to me when I was 15 and I had to promise him that it would go on the finger of the girl I loved more than anything in the world, a promise I’ve kept” The ring is elegant in design, a rose gold band with three diamonds.

“It’s beautiful, I’m so happy for you both, it’s finally happening, I know you two wanted to wait until your career had settled down but you’d be waiting forever and you both deserve so much happiness.” Veronica and I had talked about marriage a lot, she never wanted to get married in the spotlight, she wanted a private wedding, away from the eyes of the media that constantly surround us, so I honoured her wishes and waited to ask her the most important question of our lives, I finally thought that the moment was right but fate had other plans.

“Do you think she’ll say yes?” My biggest fear was that she’d reject the proposal.

“Are you kidding me? Of course she’s going to say yes, you have no idea how much that girl raves on about wanting to be your wife. Just between you and I because she’d kill me if she knew I told you this but she thought you were going to ask her on New Year’s Eve, when we were at Times Square” Kate’s confession floors me, I had no idea that Veronica was expecting a big proposal, I just assumed she’d want to keep things simple and private, like she had expressed about the wedding.

“I need to plan something, bigger and better than what I had because my proposal needs to show the world that this girl means everything to me” I don’t want to mess this up. “I think I need your help, you know Veronica better than anyone”

“You’re just as bad as Alex, when he proposed to me he enlisted the help of my Mum because he had no idea how to do it and was scared I’d say no” I don’t miss the glint of sadness in her eyes at the mention of Alex. “Lets change the subject before I start ugly crying”

“You won’t believe who I ran into at the hospital the other day”

“Harry Styles?” She exclaims

“What? No. What is it with you and Bridget just assuming it must be someone famous, I do know people who are not celebrities” I laugh, the reality is that I could count on one hand the amount of real friends I have, the ones who knew me before I started playing professionally. “I ran into Lucas, did you know that he and Roni were friends?”

The face she pulls confirms that I was the only one who had no idea.

“Was it awkward?”

“Not at all, we had some drinks and talked, he’s not the same arsehole who is self involved anymore, he actually a decent guy” Kate doesn’t look the least bit surprised.

“He really is and that has a lot to do with losing you as a friend, it made him realise that his attitude towards everyone needed to change or else he was going to end up alone”

“Hold up, you’re telling me that I stopped talking to Lucas and then, bam, overnight, he just became a completely different person? I would have noticed a change.” She looks away from the screen, avoiding me, indicating there’s more to this story. “Kate, something happened didn’t it?”

“He never wanted you to know, I didn’t even know until after I lost Alex and I was at a really low point in my life and he helped me through it” Her eyes brimming with tears. “Lucas tried to kill himself, he failed, thank goodness but he started talking to a psychologist at the clinic, who helped him work on a lot of his issues”

“Why would he not want me to know? This would have changed everything” I have a vague memory of Veronica trying to push that I should repair the friendship with Lucas, we had a pretty heated argument over it because I believed he was playing her, yet again, and I wasn’t going to stick around to watch them end up back together. I was wrong, so very wrong, I should have had more faith in my girl.

That was the last conversation we ever had about Lucas, I left and when I saw Veronica a year later there was no mention of him, from either of us, the damage of that fight had taken a huge toll on us already.

“He was embarrassed and he never wanted you to be his friend out of pity, he wanted to earn it, to prove to you that he could be the friend that you deserved to have but then you left and he didn’t want to cause any more trouble between you and Veronica so he kept his distance from you” To hear Kate advocate for Lucas is a testimony to how much he has changed, she was pretty vocal about how much she couldn’t stand him. “He’s done so much to turn his life around, he does a ton of volunteer work with schools, helping kids with depression who find it hard to speak up”

“Wow, I had no idea, he didn’t mention any of this the other night, he talked about his wife and daughters but nothing came up about the volunteer work”

“He doesn’t like talking himself up, he’s very humble” A completely different Lucas than I knew, one I wish I had been friends with. “You should get to know him though”

“Yeah, I will”

We end the call with me promising to keep her updated about Veronica. I grab my, now cold, coffee from between my feet and start making my way back to Veronica’s room, searching through Facebook as I walk, I find Lucas and send him a friend request. I’m not looking where I’m going and collide with Dr Stephenson, spilling coffee down the front of my shirt and pants.

“I’m so sorry Mr Lions, I was in such a rush and wasn’t concentrating” She grabs tissues from the nurses station and hands them to me but they do very little to soak up the cold coffee that has left a giant stain on my clothes.

“It was my fault, I was adding your brother on Facebook and I should have been looking where I was going” I apologise, giving her a quick look over to see if I got coffee on her too, theres no evidence, looks like its all on me.

“You and Lucas are friends again, that’s awesome, my Mum will be so happy to hear that” I want to ask her how Gail is, find out if she ever left that prick Roy but I get distracted by the folder in her hands, the folder with Veronica’s name on it.

“What’s that?” I ask

“Remember how we went through all the outcomes of what could happen once Veronica wakes up?” She opens the folder to show me brochures and forms for long term care facilities. “We’re not saying that she’s at that stage, she could wake up and be perfectly fine but we like to prepare you, in case it doesn’t go the way we want and give you an opportunity to go through your options now, instead of having to deal with it if the worst case scenario does happen. It just takes the burden off, not feeling like you’re rushed into making a decision”

“I can’t make this decision on my own, I need Bridget to help” This is just too big of a decision to make on my own, Bridget is Veronica’s sister, her blood, she needs to decide what happens.

“Look, I’ll get you a fresh pair of scrubs to change into, there’s a shower in Veronica’s room, have the nurses page me when you’re ready to talk, we can include Bridget too via zoom” She says, walking off, she returns moments later with a set of crimson red scrubs that match her own. I thank her and go shower.

My thoughts heavy as the hot water crashes over me, I’ve tried to remain positive since she was brought in, not just for Bridget’s sake but for myself, I never once wanted to allow the thought of Veronica not coming out of this the same, my mind was so focused on our future together and now I have to accept that our future may be with her living out the rest of her life in a nursing home. I’d always stay by her side but it would crush me, to lose her but still see her everyday.

For the first time in days I let the weight of emotions that I’d been holding back over power me, bringing me to the shower floor in a heaving mess of tears.

What if I never got to hear her speak again? Never saw her smile? Or laugh? It took us forever to finally reach this point of happiness together and now it could all be stripped away.

The water has run cold by the time I get up off the shower floor, I shut it off, step out and dry myself off before changing into the scrubs. Looking in the mirror I see the image of my Dad staring back at me, there were countless times he’d come home from the hospital still dressed in the red scrubs, he’d get a kick out of seeing me in them now, I’m sure.

I open the ensuite door, stepping back into the hospital room, my eyes instantly go to Veronica, as they do every time I walk into this room, I guess I keep hoping that by some miracle she will be sitting up, eyes open, smile on her gorgeous face but she hasn’t moved an inch.

I cross the room and grab my phone from the table next to her bed, there’s a notification on the screen indicating that Lucas accepted my friend request. I take a seat on the chair next to the bed, I know I should have Charlotte paged but I just need a moment to collect myself, to wrap my head around the curveball I’ve been thrown.

“Sam” Her voice is so small, mumbled but I know for sure I heard Veronica just say my name.

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