Crossing Palms

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Twenty-four

Matthew had just reached the truck when he hard the shot go off. He put the girl inside. "I'll be right back I promise", he slammed the door and took off back towards the house. Once he made it through the front door the house was eerily silent. The only sound was a low giggle coming from upstairs. He checked the kitchen but Mark wasn't there. Matthew turned around and ran for the stairs, not caring if anyone heard him. His arms out, finger ready on the trigger. He rounded the corner at the top of the stairs. Mark lay on his back, bleeding from a wound in his stomach. Only his eyes moved when he saw Matthew. He was buying his time wanting Travis to think he was dead.

The floor creeked under Matthews weight and Travis's head popped up, just as Matthew took his shot. Catching him in the throat. His flopped back with the momentum of the bullet, followed by his body. Mark kicked the body as Matthew walked closer and checked the room at Mark's feet. His shoulders falling at the sight of Adinas body sprawled across the floor.

He helped Mark to his feet, watching him carefully. "I can't leave her." Mark buffed out, holding his side. He pushed at Matthew trying to get to Adina but he didn't have the strength. Matthew slid his brothers good arm arcoss his shoulders and pulled him down the the stairs. Mark continued to say he had to go back for her, each time Matthew tried to reassure him he wouldn't leave her.

Once Mark was in the truck he went back for Adinas body. Snatching the blanket off the bed he tried to wrap her in it so that the little girl wouldn't see anything. Scooping her up, Matthew carried Adina down the stairs. He was almost to the truck when her hand came up and landed on her chest. Matthew took off at a full run and yelled for the girl to open the door. He set Adina inside and felt her pulse. She was still alive.

Matthew told the little girl to buckle up as he shut the door and dove for the driver's seat. Throwing the truck in gear he sped off for the hospital. He mashed a button in the steering wheel and barked out "call Mom". The truck filled with the sound of a line ringing, barely making it through the first ring before Kitty answered. He told her to meet the at the hospital, that Mark was shot and didn't know if Adina would make it then ended the call.

He looked over at Mark who was losing color before checking the mirror to see the girl watching Adina. Her eyes fixed on the woman next to her. Tears began streaming down her face when Adina made a gurgling sound. Matthews foot pressed harder on the gas pedal, willing the truck to move.

His mom had already called ahead to inform them he was coming. When he pulled into the emergency bay they were ready. Matthew jumped out and opened the door to reveal Adina while a set of nurses took Mark and the little girl.

He carried over to a gurny they were wheeling towards him and set her down. The little girl cried and ran back to him. Clinging to his arm. "Don't let them take me! Please!"

The nurse looked to him, waiting for him to do something. Took a deep breath and let it out, bending down a little so that he was eye level with her. "I promise nothing else is going to happen to you ever again." She wiped at her eyes, drying them and nodded. He stood back up and held out his hand, taking it freely they walked towards the nurse where her convinced her she was safe, that she would help her. He leaned in whispering, "Might be best to keep any men away from her for now, she's been through alot", to the nurse, just loud enough that the woman almost didn't hear him.

The nurse took Natalie by the hand, and Matthew smiled, giving his approval for her to follow. Natalie let the nurse lead her away, never taking her eyes off Matthew until the turned a corner.

***
A week passed. Marks stitches were healing nicely. Natalie was released into Kitty's care after the hospital and social services confirmed that Natalie was an orphan. The child had taken to Matthew, shadowing his every move. But Adina still wasn't out of the wood works. Raysia sat by her side Day and and night, only leaving to rest when Kitty drug her away and Matthew took over. He'd fallen asleep in the chair and only woke up when Mark had tapped his shoulder. He gave his brother a wry smile. "I just spoke with the doctor." He said. Matthew glanced over to Natalie who was engrossed in something in her phone, ear buds in, not paying any attention. He stood up and nodded towards the other side of the room. "Ok, I don't think the youngin' can hear us now."

Mark let out a deep breath, weighing his words before he spoke. " The doc says we have a choice to make. Adina will never regain consciousness, her brain can't function in its own. The only thing keeping her alive at this point are the machines." He watched Matthews eyes flicked over to Adina and back to him. He knew what his brother was saying was true. He watched the machines as the inked and beeped. Raysia was the only one who could make that call. His eyes darted to where Natalie sat. "I don't want her here for that, I'll have mom take her when she gets back, and I'll stay with you and Ray. "

Mark watched his once quiet and stoic brother shake his head and head over to where the little girl sat. He sat down next to her and pulled the ear bud away from her. Natalie's head swivled to look at him, as he spoke quietly to her. Tears fell down her cheeks as she looked from Mark, to Adina and back to Matthew. She stood up shoving the phone in her little bag. And walked over to Mark, giving him a warm hug before heading over to Adina, and kissing her cheek gently before turning and leaving the room.
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