45 Days

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Chapter 25- One Year Later

By the time the Ohio Rock Fest comes around again, everything has changed. Eddie remodeled his home from top to bottom. He’s screened in the front and back porch is weatherproofed for wintertime.

Dakota has undergone the most significant alteration of everyone. He’s cut off most of his hair and even gotten tattoos on both of his arms from wrists to elbows, the dead man’s hand, an eight ball on his left elbow, and tribal design writing of the band’s name and the year they started playing in Roman numerals.

One evening after Rey arrives home, only a few more days remain to travel back to Columbus. He’s met with an unexpected guest enjoying a bottle of red wine with Addie.

“Hey, I’m home!” He calls out from the downstairs entrance.

“Up in the kitchen, sweetheart, getting a little drunk,” Addie giggles with a high pitch squeal with a friend.

Up the steps, Rey enters the kitchen to see the girls painting their nails along with drinking a dark red wine.

“Hey there, handsome, sorry for dropping in uninvited, but I haven’t spent time with Addie in gosh, like, forever.” Ally begins as he tries to avoid her and gets a beer.

“What’s for dinner?” Rey asks as his eyes scowler through the refrigerator.

“I haven’t thought that far. Uh, if you want, I can make some pork chops, sweet potatoes, and green beans, baby.”

Nudging his shoulders, Rey heads into the living room, “That’ll work. Nice to see you, Ally, later.”

Rey walks away and into the living room and flops down on the sofa. He takes out his phone to text Aiden since he’s still at work.

Yo man, be forewarned your ex is over here, and I don’t have a good vibe either-Rey.

Nearly a minute later, Aiden sends a return text.

Thanks for the heads-up. I haven’t talked to her in several months.

Rey is astounded that Aiden would still even stay in contact with her.

Are you crazy? Why would you still talk to her?-Rey

We stayed friends until she got into a relationship, and then she stopped, so chillax bub, it’s all cool.

Back in the kitchen, the girls lower their tone down to just above a whisper.

“Hey, I talked to Aiden, and guess what. He’s seriously considering proposing to Vickie.” Addie let’s slip, sending a shockwave rattling Ally’s soul.

“Do what? I thought they were only like semi-serious.”

“Yeah, but Vickie has an amazeballs job. She manages the new Holiday Inn in Barboursville. Plus, Aiden bought her a brand new Civic. She ripped his ass because she wants to get engaged, have a huge wedding. To top it off, she wants to start a family.”

Allyssa sits there with her mouth gaped open in disbelief, “He ain’t giving in, is he?” She asks as a sense of fear comes over her.

“What’s it matter? You’re dating that Gary guy, right? Get serious with him and give him a fair chance.” Addie suggests resting her hand over Ally’s.

“Uh yeah, we just uh broke up, which is why I am here. I wanted to get the skinny on Aiden and Vickie. I still miss him. When we talked before I got with Gary, he admitted that he missed me too, and if things didn’t work with her, then I’d get my second chance.” Ally explains, sipping her wine.

“Let him go; you’re both my best friends. I’ve been caught in the middle before. He’s with Vickie, and they are so good together.” Addie educates Ally that sends the preverbal knife deeper.

“Now, let it go. If you wanna stay for dinner, you are more than welcome to do so.” Addie gets out of her seat to get everything together for dinner.

“Nah, I’m going to head to my apartment and get my students’ homework finished. I’ll text ya later.”

Ally rinses out her glass and gently places it in the sink, “Bye, Addie,” she says, waving as she heads for the steps going down to her car.

“Bye Ally, I’ll see ya soon.”

Prepared with a scheme up her sleeve, Ally quickly comes up with several scenarios to draw Aiden over to her apartment in Milton.

“Maybe, I could say Sam showed up and is trying to beat on me again. Maybe I could fake car trouble… Hmm, it is possible to say I want to talk and congratulate him for taking the next step and saying I got them a pre-wedding gift.” Ally thinks to make it perfect.

At her apartment, she goes upstairs and sends her ex a test text.

Hey, Aiden, we need to talk, please and thank you-Allyssa.

Less than a minute later, he calls rather than text.

“Wow, that was fast,” Ally says, impressed with the quick response.

“Yeah, well, it’s easier than a text; what’s up?”

Not wasting time, Ally says the first thing that pops into her head, “I just wanna talk, and I’d like to talk to you in person. I heard you’re about to get engaged again. If you have any issues or doubts, maybe we could discuss them in person.”

Aiden seems a little hesitant, “I don’t know. I mean, you and me alone have always equaled trouble.”

“It’s just to talk, I promise; when have we allowed ourselves to give in and cheat?” Ally counters to lure Aiden into the trap.

“Honestly, never. Fine tomorrow is Vickie’s long day with shift meetings and end of the month reports. We’ll talk, and that’s it and be the end of it.”

Unable to see the smile snaked across Ally’s face, she realizes that she has him hook, line, and sinker.

“Done deal then, I’ll see you tomorrow, oh my address is 9632 Mountain Way. I promise this’ll help.” Ally says.

Huffing into the phone before he hangs up, Aiden says one word, “whatever,” and ends the call.

“YES!” She screams at the top of her lungs, rushing to her bedroom. She quickly selects something she knows her ex-lover won’t be able to resist.

Aiden keeps his mouth shut about the idea of meeting up with Allyssa. He becomes a little short with Vickie when she gets home not long after the deal was made.

“Sweetie, I’m home!” She announces, walking through the door.

“In the kitchen!” He yells back, picking up the boiling pot of noodles.

“Oh, smells good from the living room.”

Vickie waits for him to drain the steaming black pot and puts her suit jacket on the back of the chair.

“How was work?” Aiden asks.

“Oh, you know I have to get ready for meetings and had an interview for a new Assistant GM and such. Pretty boring day, but I will say this, it’s nice blowing off steam with my pretty new car you bought.” Vickie mentions and acts sweet and innocent, gliding up behind him with her arms around his waist.

A fake smirk to entice Vickie, Aiden tries to keep his responses simple, knowing she can detect something wrong.

“At least you’re home now. Let’s eat in a couple of minutes. Then you can relax with a good book in a hot bath.”

They sit and eat in silence. Vickie has her reports on her mind while Aiden has Ally on his. Beginning to feel tired, Vickie rinses off her plate and kisses Aiden on the cheek.

“I’m getting in the tub now. I love you, handsome.” She scratches his head before walking off.

“I love you too, Vickie.”

She wiggles away and giggles to gain Aiden’s attention. She senses that he’s not going to join her when she hears the music room door open and close.

Vickie runs her water and picks up one of her favorite books by a new independent author, Madison Rose. She reads until the water turns cool, matching the room temperature. Once she’s dried off, she gets out to lay down in bed.

After the bedroom door slams shut, Aiden knows she’s in a pissy mood, “Great, now I gotta deal with her attitude. Ugh, what am I doing?”

Rubbing his hands over his eyes, Aiden gets up, going into the bedroom where they lay together talking for a while with no TV to reduce the background noise.

The next day at work, Aiden tries to think of any excuse to back out of the meeting with Ally. His guilt about the past keeps him from calling off the deal to talk.

“Damn it, why did I give in? I’m an idiot!” Aiden yells in his mind and slams his fist on his desk.

Soon he returns to employee evaluations. The day seemingly flies by, and soon Aiden skips out a little early.

When he pulls up and sees her car near the apartment door, Aiden parks and slowly crawls from the Mustang, knocking on the door, he listens to her faintly call out, “come on in.”

Aiden twists the doorknob and doesn’t see Ally anywhere after he walks inside.

“Where are you?” He calls out, waiting for an answer.

Aiden jumps back when the door swings to a close. Ally reveals herself in a black satin low-cut nightgown.

“Hi lover, I’ve been waiting for you.” She begins as she approaches him, “Don’t say anything, just react and let this happen. I want you all for myself Aiden, I still love you, and you admitted you love me.”

Ally gets closer, putting her lips against his, but to her surprise, he doesn’t respond to her advance.

“Kiss me, you fool!” Ally yells.

She tries again but like before; he stands there with nothing happening.

“Kiss me, Aiden. WE belong together, just you and me. I deserve to keep you goddamn it, no one else!” She preaches, shaking him back to his senses.

“No, Ally, you promised me this wouldn’t happen. Do I love you still, yes, but is it worth giving up something good with someone who hasn’t fucked me over or lied to me? Not a chance in Hell! Goodbye, and don’t text me again.”

Aiden’s stopped when she grabs his arm, “I’m not taking no for an answer!”

Ally lunges forward, her hands trap Aiden’s head as she makes one last attempt to hold her lips to his.

Finally meeting her half-way, Aiden places his hands on her hips, picking her up to send her sailing through the air onto her love seat near the door.

“I SAID NO!” He yells with a wild look in his eyes as Ally braces herself.

“Don’t even move!” He threatens as he heads out the door.

A look of fury etched on his face, Aiden slides into his car, heading home. He waits for Vickie to get home, but as he waits, a violent storm rolls in as rain pours on the dried-out dirt.

When Vickie walks through the door, Aiden picks her up into his arms and carries her to the bedroom.

“Well, hello to you too handsome.” She caresses as he begins to pull away and strips.

Back on top of her body, Aiden doesn’t go for the usual warmup. He takes every bit of aggression pent up inside, transferring it into Vickie’s body. She is in a euphoric state she’s never experienced.

“Oh my God, oh yes, Aiden, I love you, I love this! Please don’t stop…” Vickie huffs and clings to his body for dear life until he finishes with a look of regret in his eyes.

Vickie picks up on the vibe and quickly begins to poke the sleeping bear, “Alright, something is up, what’s wrong?”

Unable to keep his mouth shut any longer. Aiden makes the biggest mistake of his life.

“I went over to Ally’s today because she said she wanted to talk, and that was all.”

Vickie’s eyes begin to grow in anger at the sound of Ally.

“Uh-huh, go on…” As her face begins to glow a crimson shade, she growls as the new blond highlights mixed with her red hair partially cover her face.

“When I got there, she slammed the door shut and tried to seduce me, but nothing happened, I swear. I would never cheat on you, and you know it.”

He looks at her as her eyes grow in anger with each heavy pant from her naked breast.

“And…”

Realizing she’s about to explode any time, Aiden continues.

“Well then, she begs me to sleep with her again and goes on about how she loves me, and stuff and I walked out and came home. Nothing is worth losing you, I swear.”

She loses control, Vickie begins to go crazy, “That bitch! I have had it. She’s done nothing but try to come between us since I moved in with you. I’ve had enough. I’m going to go hunt her down and whip her ass. Where’s her address?”

“I will not let you get put in jail over her!” Aiden says as she hurries off of the bed.

“Fuck you, Aiden, I said I’ve had enough. You belong to me. I’m the one who’s been here and done you right. That little skank’s about to get a wakeup call.”

Vickie throws on a pair of jeans and a shirt. She notices that Aiden isn’t paying attention and makes a dive for his phone.

“Vickie, no! Let it go, she is gone and out of the picture, I promise.” He pleads as the storm outside picks up intensity as the sky darkens more.

“Ally’s ass is grass. I’m mowing her down.”

Opening the phone, she scrolls through the messages, furious, “Oh hell no, you let her tell you that she loves you and shit. You spineless bastard! When I am done with her, I’m dealing with you!”

Vickie memorizes the address in a hurry and dashes for the door. Aiden slips back on his boxers and pants to run after Vickie.

By the time he reaches the porch, she pulls away. He runs back inside to get his phone, shirt, and car keys.

Aiden, out in the heavy downpour, can barely see beyond the hood. He’s forced to reign in the power of his Mustang’s supercharger keeping the RPM’s low.

Vickie’s purpose supersedes any safety concerns.

“That low-life bitch, trying to take away my life. I love him, she had her chance and him texting her like it’s nothing.” She shouts as the tunnel vision narrows her sight.

Near the bridge leading into the tiny community, Vickie flies into a water spot and hydroplanes. Quickly trying to correct herself, she panics steering and counter steering. She slams into a pickup truck with enough force that she rolls from her tires being cut too hard the wrong way when she fishtails.

The driver pulls over and franticly dials 9-1-1 in a state of shock from the Civic hitting the truck.

“Please help. Someone hit me near the Milton bridge on Route 60. I don’t know how badly they’re hurt, but the car rolled a few times and is on its roof.” The lady states as her voice crackles, upset.

“Ma’am, just sit tight. Help is on the way.” The dispatcher replies before pressing the hold button to dispatch for help.

Aiden slows down when he pulls up to the bridge, knowing how easy it is to slide from high water at the end of the structure. His heart drops when he sees the truck on the side of the road. Aiden pulls onto the shoulder just after the bridge and runs over to check on the driver.

“Miss, are you alright?” He yells through the glass seeing her upset.

“I am, but I don’t know about the other person. I called 9-1-1. Help is on the way!” She screams, pointing over her shoulder to the Civic flipped over on the road.

Ignoring the sting from the heavy rain, Aiden squints to see the outline of a compact car. His heart nearly stops when he runs over to the car.

“Vickie, Vickie, can you hear me?” He yells down on his side, crawling into the shattered window.

All he can hear is her moan in pain.

“I’m here; I’ll get you out, I promise. I’m so sorry, baby, please be alright.” He says, reaching for her seatbelt.

Her moans quickly begin to grow faint, causing Aiden to nearly panic.

“I won’t lose you to a car wreck!” He yells, resting his hand against her head when he’s able to yank her from the car.

Carefully he doesn’t jar her body and head too much. Aiden stops when she’s out far enough to check her breathing. He covers her with his coat to protect her from the rain.

“I never touched her. You’re the one I’m with and want. Why can’t you get that?” He asks with tears in his eyes.

“I’m sorry…” That is all Vickie can muster to speak when she reaches for him with her hand and arm soaked in blood.

“Shhh, it’ll be okay, just relax; help is on the way.”

Aiden leans in to kiss her forehead and brushes her hair back as the sirens grow louder.

Once they arrive and take control of the situation, Aiden backs away and waits to follow the ambulance. Taking his phone from the center console, Aiden holds the number two key to speed dial Rey.

“Hey man, what’s up?”

His tone takes Rey by surprise when Aiden begins to describe how he feels, “Vickie was in a pretty bad rollover wreck. I’m following the ambulance to the hospital now. I-I-I-I don’t know what to do right now. I need you there. I can’t face losing someone else to a wreck.”

“Oh yeah, man, you know me, I’m there. Just call me back when you get there. I’ll be there as soon as possible.” Rey says in a state of shock.

After he hangs up the phone, Rey has a lost expression written all over his face.

“I know that look, what’s happened?” Addie wonders, walking into the living room.

“Vickie was in a wreck. Aiden’s following her to the hospital, and as soon as he calls, I’m gone.”

A gasp and nearly dropping her bowl of popcorn, Addie can’t believe it.

“Dear God, no, do you need me to go?”

Shaking his head, no, Rey slips his shoes on and is forced to wait another ten minutes before Aiden calls.

“Hey, which one are you at?” Rey asks, immediately leaping to his feet.

“County Hospital, they rushed her straight back. I couldn’t make it out, but it looked like she was trembling from like a seizure or something.”

Rey doesn’t waste time, especially being so close to home. He takes off as a bullet fired from a machine gun down the steps.

“I’m on my way. I’ll see you in a few.”

Rey hangs up before he gets into the SUV. He drives as fast and safe as possible. He’s forced to slow down for all the curves along the way.

By the time he arrives, the doctor is out talking to Aiden. Rey listens a few feet away.

“Mr. Hart, she’s out of danger. Her leg should be fine with time and therapy. She lost a lot of blood. I can only let you see her for just a minute. We’re going to give her blood. After a couple of days, she should be prepped for surgery on her leg, but she has a cast on her arm.”

Aiden begins to follow the doctor trying to keep his composure, and unknowingly Rey is behind him to see Vickie.

The doctor stopped by the door and recognized Rey, “Hey, thought you left already for the day?”

“Family business right here, Eric. Ain’t about to let my friend here see his lady without family to be here.” Rey states as Aiden doesn’t even turn around since he’s waiting for the doctor to open the door.

Pushing it open, Rey and Aiden walk inside the room to see Vickie lying there unconscious.

“I’ll hang back, but I’m here if you need me, man,” Rey whispers, remembering how hard the past was when Aiden lost his parents.

“Thanks, that means a lot to have someone here this time.”

Still trying to gain control over his breathing, Aiden makes his way up, stroking Vickie’s hair, “Hey baby, I’m here; I hope you can hear me. I don’t know what to say other than I’m not mad at all and please be okay. I can’t lose you…”

He shuts his eyes shut as tight as possible to hold back his tears, “I love you, and I will be right here for you. I know I’ve been putting it off, leaving things unfinished, but I wanted to be the man you deserve. Not part of a broken soul, but for me to be at my best because that’s what you deserve. So just hold on, and when it’s all finished, I’ll give you the best of me, I promise. I love you.”

Resting his hand on her hairline, Aiden stands there for a moment, praying.

I know I’m not perfect, but please don’t let her get any worse. She’s strong and proud. You can’t take her yet. You’ve taken more than I think is a fair share. She’s the best part of me, so you can’t have her yet. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep her here. Please, let her stay…Amen.”

Leaning down with a soft kiss, Vickie nudges her head just a tiny bit to acknowledge Aiden’s touch. It’s enough to make him smile when Rey steps up close.

“Hey man, c’mon, they need to do their thing. I’ll have my friends here keep me updated, I promise, she’s family, you’re family. I got your back, let’s go, homie.” Rey speaks softly, tugging on Aiden’s arm.

They walk out together, and the storm begins to let up. A beam of sunlight manages to pierce through the dark cloud and gives Aiden a warm sense of renewed hope.

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