LIKE A DREAM:
She wraps her arms around his waist, captivated by the brightness of his eyes. His signature scent of nutmeg, baby powder, and fresh linen invades her nostrils, providing an anesthetic to her tense mood. She closes her eyes and waits for his kiss when…he disappears. Plants, flowers and trees slowly die in front of her.
She runs through slime and foul smells so suffocating she can barely draw air into her lungs. Blinding debris and decaying earth is just another roadblock for Amelia as she races to find him. When a slow, body-rattling growl stops her from moving any further, she holds her breath and remains very still, knowing that whatever’s there—is close. A cold fog begins to surround her, blocking anything in her path. She rubs the goosebumps on her arms as the chill descends deep into her bones. Cah! A murder of crows shoots out of the darkness and knocks her down. She jumps up, heart pounding, body trembling. Taking a few steps forward, she stretches out her shaking hand, inhaling one last deep breath before coming face to face—with death.
Amelia walks in from school—famished. She opens the refrigerator and sighs. Her basketball coach has admonished her about eating too much junk food, but the half-eaten candy bar on the shelf is just too tempting. “It’s only half,” she reasons as she devours the sweet/salty goodness.
“Hey baby, did you just get home?” Alexandria asks as she walks inside the house and hangs up her jacket. Amelia gulps down the last bit of candy and opens a bottle of water.
“Um, yes, how was your day mom? You seem cheery.”
“That’s because I am. Guess who won two tickets to Hawaii?!”
“No way! How?”
“Yes way. You know every year they do that big raffle at the school. Well, they pulled out my name. Also, guess who’s teacher of the year? I got a plaque from my students, I swear today was a good day.”
Amelia walks over to her mother and wraps her arms around her waist. “Congrats mom, I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks baby, hey do I smell peanuts?” Alexandria asks.
Crap! “Maybe I ate that candy bar in the fridge.” Amelia shrugs her shoulders apologetically. “It was calling me. It was like, ‘Amelia, if you don’t eat me I’ll haunt your dreams.’”
“Okay if a candy bar is talking to you then we have bigger problems to worry about than you eating it. Besides, I’m too excited to be mad. Just be careful about what you eat. Hey what time is your game on Saturday?”
“It’s at three o’clock. Do you think dad will make this one? I know he’s been depressed lately but he missed my last three games.”
“I know. He’s having nightmares again and not getting much sleep. I’ll talk to him and see if he’ll be up to it,” Alexandria sighs. They head towards the stairs. “Why don’t you go up and change for dinner.”
Wham! The front door flies open. Amelia and Alexandria spin around in shock.
“Alexandria!” Cash screams as he staggers into the house. He grits his teeth and slams the door shut.
“Yes?” Alexandria answers. “Is everything okay?” She tilts her head and stares at him inquisitively.
“Dad what’s wrong?” Amelia asks. She hadn’t noticed her legs were trembling from the way he busted into the house and startled her. She can’t comprehend what’s got him so upset.
He steps closer to Amelia and puts his hand on her arms. “Baby, I need you to go upstairs.”
The pungent smell of the alcohol on his breath makes her eyes water. Since when does he drink? “O—okay dad,” she replies. She takes one slow step at a time until she reaches the top of the stairs and hides behind the wall, listening in.
He scowls at Alexandria and says, “Do you think I’m stupid? I know what you’ve been doing with that Jason.”
“What are you talking about? I haven’t done anything with anyone. Who told you that?” Alexandria replies, crossing her arms.
Cash looks down and walks away from her, facing the door.
“It doesn’t matter. I will not be the talk of Stillwater because my wife’s being a whore!”
Alexandria gets directly in front of Cash and shouts, “You will not call me a whore! I have been faithful to you since the day we met, and I will not put up with this, Cash! Whoever your source is—and I have a pretty good idea—is a big liar.”
“No, you’re the liar! I will kill him. He smiled in my face all the while he was sleeping with my wife. You and Amelia are all I have left and you’re just going to leave me for him?” Tears stream down his face.
Alexandria takes his hands and looks into his bloodshot eyes. “Cash, listen to me. I love you. I would never do that to you,” she pleads.
He snatches his hands away and stumbles to the couch without saying a word. Alexandria wipes the tears from her face and rubs her nose. She kneels down in front of her husband and stares at him. He looks into her tearful eyes and gently touches her face. As they stare at each other in silence, Amelia plants herself at the top of the stairs and contemplates coming back down.
“Did Leona tell you those things? Is she behind this?” Alexandria whispers to Cash.
He sighs and looks away without answering. Alexandria rolls her eyes and shakes her head. She stands up and sits next to him on the couch. Amelia makes it halfway down the stairs and quietly sits down. She studies her father’s sorrowful face and can see the shame in his eyes.
Ding-dong! They all jump from the sound.
“Who could that be?” Alexandria says. She gets up and opens the door to find a delivery man holding a dozen long-stem red roses.
“I think you must have the wrong house,” she declares with a stunned expression.
The man looks down at his tablet. “Are you Alexandria Waters?”
“Yes I am.”
“Then I have the right house.” He hands her the flowers and motions for her to sign the form.
“Thank you,” she says as she closes the door.
“Who are those from?” Cash asks, still irritated.
“I don’t know. They must be from my job. That’s what I wanted to tell you earlier,” she says. “I won tickets to Hawaii. This must be part of the winnings. These are so beautiful. I’ll go put these in some water.”
She sets the flowers down on the dining room table and heads towards the kitchen to find a vase.
Cash lifts off the couch and pulls out the note from inside the bouquet. It reads:
My sweet Alexandria,
I had such a good time the other night. I hope we can get together again soon. I’ll be waiting.
Cash’s eyes turn a lighter shade of brown and his hands start to shake. His color changes from an olive tone to the hue of the roses. He storms over to Alexandria and turns her around.
“Look at this! You still want to tell me nothing is going on between you two!”
Alexandria snatches the note from him. What she reads causes her to tremble—a mixture of anger and fear. “Really? Leona lies to you about me and then I happen to get flowers. It’s obviously a set up.”
Cash walks away and yells, “Just shut up! Don’t blame her, s-she’s always looking out for me.”
“You have to believe me. I didn’t do anything. Jason is only a coworker, that’s all,” Alexandria says.
Cash disregards her protest and rushes over to their locked cabinet. He pulls his keys out of his pocket and manages get the cabinet open.
“What are you doing?” Alexandria inquires. She pries Cash’s hands away from the cabinet but he snatches away from her and pulls out a .38 Special. “Oh my God!” Alexandria backs away from him. “Please—I know you’re upset but this is not smart. I swear I didn’t cheat on you.”
“No! I’m going to kill him!” Cash hollers. He loads the gun and rushes towards the door.
Amelia runs downstairs and blocks the door. “Dad no! I’m not going to let you do this. Mom and I aren’t going anywhere, isn’t that right mom?” Tears run down her face when she looks into her father’s eyes. He’s so enraged he can’t even see her; he stands motionless looking right past her with the gun tightly clutched in his hand.
Alexandria grabs Amelia’s hand and leads her away from the door.
“Go upstairs,” she demands.
Amelia runs to the top and turns around, refusing to move another inch. She holds onto the rail to keep her balance.
“Cash, give me the gun,” Alexandria says. She stands in front of him and holds out her hand. “I said—give me the gun!”
Cash breaks out of his trance and glances over at the roses and the crumbled note on the floor. He squeezes the gun in his hand and grunts, “Get out of my way Alex.” Alexandria shakes her head no and pleads again. Cash walks past her and puts his hand on the door knob when Alexandria grasps his arm.
“No! I’m not going to let you go to jail because your sister wants to ruin what we have. Please don’t let her.”
“From what I can see, she was telling the truth. Now get out of my way,” he says.
“No.” Alexandria grabs the gun and tries to get it out of Cash’s hand.
“Let go! Get away from me,” Cash shouts.
“Guys stop!” Amelia cries. She rushes downstairs.
Boom! Amelia freezes, and crumples to the floor. She looks at her mother’s shocked expression. With tears rippling out of her eyes, Alexandria falls forward, landing on top of Cash.
Cash gasps for air, holding the side of his abdomen. Alexandria sniffles and kneels next to him. “Oh Cash, I’m so sorry. The gun went off, I was trying to get it away from you,” she cries. Feeling something wet, she notices blood pouring out of his abdomen and onto the floor. To control the bleeding, she presses her hands against his stomach. “We-we have to stop you from bleeding to death.” Alexandria adds more pressure while crying continuously.
“Shh, don’t cry Alex.” He rubs her wet face. “This is what I get for being such a hothead. I’ve been such a fool. There is nothing more sobering than getting shot. I hope you can forgive me.”
She kisses his lips, and then notices Amelia rocking back and forth with her hands covering her ears and her eyes tightly shut.
Alexandria takes Cash’s hands and puts them over his wound. “Keep your hands here, I’ll be right back.”
She crawls over to Amelia and hugs her tightly. After a few seconds, Amelia begins to come around and looks into her mother’s eyes. “Mom, is dad…is he?” Alexandria shakes her head no. She kisses Amelia’s forehead and gets up to call 911. Amelia crawls over to her dad and adds pressure to his wound as Cash winces from the pain.
“Amelia, I’m sorry you had to see such an ugly side of me. I promise, I never wanted to hurt you or your mother. If I don’t make it—”
“Dad, please don’t talk like that. You will make it. Mom and I love you so much.”
“I love you too baby.”
There’s a loud thump outside the door. It suddenly swings open. Leona storms into the house. She takes one look at Cash and glares at Alexandria. “What have you done?!”
Alexandria puts her hand over the phone and yells, “What have I done? This is all your fault!”
Leona tearfully kneels down, next to Cash. “It’s going to be okay baby brother, I’m here now,” she cries. Amelia scowls at her aunt as she keeps her hands pressed on the wound. When Leona gets up, Amelia sighs, wondering what she’s up to.
“Yes, please hurry!” Alexandria says through the phone.
“Mom!” Amelia screams.
Alexandria drops the phone and comes face to face with the gun. Leona has the .38 pointed inches away from her chest.
“You witch! If you’re going to shoot me just get it over with. This is what you wanted right, to get me out of the way? Well guess what, Cash loves me and always has and there is nothing you can do about that.”
“Oh there isn’t? I think I have a pretty good chance to do something about it,” Leona replies.
Amelia is seeing stars and all of the blood is making her lightheaded. She keeps a worried eye on Leona and her mother. With a frog in her throat and stomach contents burning her esophagus, she manages to croak, “Leona, please don’t shoot my mom.”
For a split second, Leona takes her eyes off of Alexandria and looks at Amelia. Alexandria charges a distracted Leona to the ground and slaps her. Clack! Amelia jumps from the sound of the gun hitting the floor. Alexandria slaps Leona again, drawing blood from her upper lip. Leona grasps Alexandria’s hair and pulls hard, shoving Alexandria off of her. Amelia crawls towards the gun and grabs it when Leona steps on her hand and takes it away. “Ouch!” Amelia grunts, holding her hand.
As Alexandria rises to her feet Leona points the gun at her head.
“No! Please don’t!” Amelia screams. She puts her hands over her mouth and looks away. She hears the gun clicking and knows that her mother won’t stand a chance surviving.
Cash pulls himself off the floor and pushes Alexandria out of the way. Boom! “Ahh!” Alexandria hollers as Cash falls backwards. A crimson mass spreads across his chest. “You shot my husband!”
Leona drops the gun as tears form in her eyes. “It—it was meant for you.”
“I hate you!” Alexandria yells. She pushes her nemesis to the floor and punches her in the face, repeatedly. Blood gushes out of Leona’s nose.
Amelia runs over and gets the gun. She slides it under the couch and tries to rouse her father. Blood oozes from his chest. He struggles to keep his eyes open. Amelia cries in agony until she realizes that the person at fault is now choking her mother. She doesn’t want to leave her father’s side again but can’t watch her mother die either so she yells, “Fight mom!”
Alexandria musters the strength to get on top of Leona and slam her head on the tile floor, knocking her unconscious. Amelia sighs. “Mom, I tried to keep him awake but, he won’t respond to me,” she cries.
“That’s okay baby, he’s lost so much blood.” She kneels down and whispers in his ear, “Cash, it’s Alex. If you can hear me, please stay strong. Don’t give up, we love you.” She puts her hand on his neck to check for a pulse. “He still has a pulse but it’s faint.”
“Mom, we need to talk. You know Leona is going to tell the cops you tried to kill dad right? If she’s as manipulative as you say, she’ll convince them. Look what she did to dad.”
“Yeah she’s good I’ll give her that, but we just have to tell them the truth,” Alexandria declares.
“You’re right. We should tell them the truth.” Amelia faces Alexandria and takes her hand. “I want you to do something for me. If at any point you feel like they believe Leona, I think you should run. I mean, we’re talking attempted murder, Mom.” Hearing the words out of her own mouth makes Amelia shudder.
“Honey, they will believe me. It was an accident and as far as the second shooting, she did that. Plus, you are an eyewitness. You can tell them what you saw,” Alexandria replies.
“I will. I just want you to know that if they believe her, I’m okay with you leaving. I would rather you be out there somewhere safe than locked up for something that was an accident.”
“I’m not leaving you with her. She hates me and I know she’ll hate you too. I wouldn’t want you having to deal with her,” Alexandria replies.
“If they convict you and send you to jail, I’ll have to deal with her anyway, so what’s the difference?”
“The difference is I’m not going to jail. It won’t come that. Let’s just stay positive. Your father is going to make it through this, he’s strong. I can hear the sirens; the police will be here soon.”
Amelia tries to stay strong, but all she can think about is that her mother will be the one to take the fall for everything. But she quickly dismisses her thoughts and focuses on her dad. She puts her ear close to his nose to see if any air escapes. She’s frightened. “Dad! Dad, can you hear me?” she says, while forcefully shaking him. No response. He’s like a statue. She runs her fingers through her hair feeling helpless. Alexandria is pacing back and forth and biting her nails.
Wham! The front door bursts open, forcing Amelia to jump back. Leona’s sons Navid and Eli stroll in. What are they doing here? Amelia gets up and stands next to Alexandria.
“What’s going on here?! What happened to my mom?” Eli shouts as he rushes to Leona’s aid. He shakes her until her eyes fly open. She slowly sits up and rubs the back of her head as Eli helps her to her feet. Navid remains quiet as he stares at Cash and all the blood.
“Eli, you need to take your mother and get the hell out of my house. This is all her fault,” Alexandria says. “By the way, I thought you were away at school. What are you doing here?”
“Mind your own business. We’re not going anywhere, and I’m not leaving my brother,” Leona says, still rubbing her head. She wipes the blood from her nose and lip and grimaces.
Alexandria takes a step towards her when the police storm inside the house, followed by the paramedics. They rush to Cash and check for a pulse but can’t find one. They start performing CPR. Amelia watches in agony, hoping they can restart his heart.
“Huh!” Cash breathes.
“We got a pulse,” a paramedic says.
Amelia and Alexandria hug each other and walk towards Cash. Alexandria rubs his face and kisses his forehead. Cash smiles at them and then passes out.
“Excuse me, ma’am? Are you his wife?” The police officer asks Alexandria.
“Yes, I am.”
“I’m Officer Brian. This is my partner, Officer Ryan. Can you tell me what happened here this evening?”
“You’re Officers Ryan and Brian?” Amelia asks. Are they kidding me?
Alexandria nudges Amelia and motions for her to walk away.
“Officer, it was all a big misunderstanding. You see, my husband—”
“I can tell you Officer Brian,” Leona interrupts. “By the way, how is your mother?” Leona says with a warm smile.
Officer Brian squints and says, “Mrs. Jamison? Hi there. I wasn’t expecting to see you here.” He walks closer to Leona. “My mother is doing exceptionally well, thanks to you. I appreciate you taking care of her at the nursing home. You made her feel so safe. Oh, and the chief wanted me to thank you for the homemade cookies you sent last week.”
“Cookies? How convenient,” Amelia says. She looks at Alexandria. “Do you think this is a coincidence?” she whispers.
Alexandria’s mouth flies open. “Officer Brian?” she says.
“Oh, yes I need a statement.”
“She tried to kill my brother!” Leona blurts out. Officer Brian turns and gawks at Leona. “She was planning to leave him and when he wouldn’t go she became desperate. His life insurance is all she really cared about. That’s why she shot him twice. Look what she did to me.” Leona points to her swollen lip and bloody nose and starts to cry. Officer Ryan walks over to comfort her.
“You sick liar! Officer Brian, I saw the whole thing. Leona pointed the gun at my mother and was going to kill her when my dad jumped in the way,” Amelia explains.
“She’ll say anything to protect her mother, don’t listen to her. Do you see those wonderful roses over there? Well, they’re from Alexandria’s lover. I’m telling you, she’s dangerous.” She wipes her nose again and sniffs.
Officer Brian shakes his head. He looks at the roses and then back at Alexandria. “Ma’am, did you shoot your husband?”
“Accidentally. He was leaving with the gun and I tried to stop him when the gun went off. Everything that my daughter said is the truth. Leona was going to kill me,” Alexandria explains.
“No, I took the gun away after she shot him twice. It was so awful,” Leona cries. Amelia glares at her aunt’s tearless eyes and can’t believe the show she’s watching.
“Officers, my aunt is a pathological liar. You have to believe us,” Amelia pleads.
“I think I’ve heard enough here,” Officer Brian says, glaring at Alexandria.
Alexandria squeezes Amelia’s hand. The two officers walk towards the door, whispering to each other.
“Mom, why don’t you go to the bathroom and clean your face, you have some blood on your forehead. Here, take your purse so you can apply more makeup,” Amelia says as tears form.
Alexandria’s bottom lip quivers as she whispers, “Je t’aime ma cherie.” Amelia nods and tries to respond but is muted by the devastation. Alexandria goes into the bathroom and locks the door.
The paramedics lift the stretcher and place an IV bag next to Cash.
Feeling nauseous, Navid runs to the kitchen and vomits into the trash bin. Amelia swallows hard and looks away to keep from doing the same. All she can do is cry as they prepare to carry her father out of the house.
She washes the blood off her hands and makes her way to the door when Leona grabs her by the arm. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“To ride with my dad,” Amelia grunts as she snatches her arm away.
“I don’t think so. I will ride with him.” Leona shoves Amelia towards Eli. “You ride with Eli and Navid.”
“You can’t tell me what to do. Now get out of my house!” Amelia says.
Officer Brian steps closer to them with a serious expression.
“Amelia, is there someone you can stay with?”
Her heart drops into her stomach. “So, even though we told you the truth you’re still going to arrest my mother?”
“Don’t insult Officer Brian’s intelligence. He knows a guilty person when he sees one. Plus, we are witnesses. Officer, me and my boys will be happy to give you a statement.”
“You and your boys? They weren’t even here when—oh my God. How long have you been planning this?” Amelia runs her fingers through her hair and then lunges for Leona. “You evil witch!” Eli pulls Amelia back.
“That’s enough young lady! Now, where is your mother?” Officer Brian asks.
“She’s in the bathroom,” Amelia huffs, through gritted teeth.
“She’s been in there a while,” Leona says.
Officer Brian bangs on the bathroom door. “Mrs. Waters, come on out!” He looks back at Officer Ryan and motions for him to come closer. Officer Ryan takes three steps back and runs forward to kick the door open. Amelia walks closer and exhales when she sees the bathroom window open. She looks at Leona and smirks. Leona grits her teeth and tries to get to Amelia but Eli holds her back.
“She’s on foot, she couldn’t have gotten far!” Officer Ryan says as he bolts out the house. Officer Brian talks into his radio and runs out.
“They’ll get her,” Leona says as she and Eli stand by the door. Navid squeezes past them to get some fresh air. He leans against the car as his color returns to normal.
“I’m just going to stay here,” Amelia says.
“Oh no you’re not! Get in that car with Eli and Navid! They’ll drive you to the hospital,” Leona demands. Before Amelia can object, Leona ushers her outside and shoves her inside the car.
She struggles to keep from crying while riding with Eli and Navid to the hospital. Escaping constantly crosses her mind but she knows that disappearing will only make matters worse. Staying by her father’s side and praying that her mother gets away is her main priority.
Once they arrive, the paramedics rush Cash to the operating room. Amelia sorrowfully treks to the waiting area, wishing and praying for the surgeon to come out with good news. Leona, Eli, and Navid join her and wait in petrifying silence. Amelia glances at the nurse’s station and sees a police officer asking questions. Sure enough, they look at her and head in her direction.
“Hi, are you Amelia Waters?” The officer asks.
“I’m Officer Ramon, Officer Brian sent me to ask you a few questions.”
“Oh, now he wants to hear what I have to say?”
“Never mind, what do you want to know?” Amelia murmurs.
“For starters, do you have any idea where your mother might’ve gone?”
“Um, no,” Amelia replies. Like I would tell you.
“Don’t lie, Amelia, tell him where she is,” Leona chimes in.
“Could you not talk to me?” Amelia snaps. She looks at Officer Ramon and says, “Leona is the person you should be arresting. She’s the criminal.”
“Your mother is the one on the run. So I would like a little cooperation, please. Now does anything come to mind?”
Yes, that you’re just like the others. “Sorry, I honestly don’t know.” Tears run down Amelia’s face as she realizes that no matter what she says, her aunt will come out the victor. Leona glares at her furiously, probably wishing she could claw the skin off her body. Amelia takes a deep breath and says, “Is there anything else, Officer Ramon?”
“If you happen to hear from her, I suggest you tell her to turn herself in. I assume you realize she’s looking at an attempted murder charge if your father survives.”
“Yes, I’m well aware,” Amelia mumbles.
“Ma’am,” he says to Leona and heads towards the lobby.
Once again, Leona wins. Amelia ponders how she can fix the situation. She figured things would turn out fine somehow, but now everything is a colossal mess. She bites her nails and then nibbles on her bottom lip. Oh mom, I hope you’re somewhere safe. She knows her dad wouldn’t want her mother to go to jail.
Looking at the three of them sitting there without a care in the world makes Amelia desperately wish she had a bucket of boiling water. Leona gets out of her chair and sits next to her. Amelia jumps up when Leona grabs her arm and slams her back down.
“This is how things are going to go. You will be staying with us from now on, and don’t even think about contacting your grandparents or they’ll have to deal with me. So if you value your mother and her family, you won’t put up a fuss,” Leona demands.
“I’m not staying with you! You psycho! Besides, there is no way I’m putting up with you and your evil trolls for any extended period of time. I’d rather wrestle a bear,” Amelia barks.
Leona snatches Amelia’s chin with her cold hands and warns, “You are fifteen years old and are not legally able to stay on your own.”
Amelia grits her teeth and pushes Leona’s hands away from her face. “That’s right, and I have every right to go and stay with my grandparents.” She feels good about standing up to her aunt, but being this close to Leona’s demonic presence is making her body shiver. She rubs her arms to rid the goosebumps.
“Maybe I’m not making myself clear. If you try and leave, you will never see your grandparents again. Eventually, your mother will contact you and when she does, we will track her down and I’m sure I don’t need to inform you of what will happen next.”
Her low, deep voice rattles Amelia to her core. Tears run down her face as she realizes Leona isn’t bluffing. I’m really stuck with her. She runs to the bathroom, crying her eyes out, repulsed by what her life has become. She barely makes it to the stall before puking. She remembers overhearing her dad telling her mom about the disappearance of Eli and Navid’s father, Roland. Leona met and fell in love with Roland in his home state of Arizona. When her stepmother Grace passed away, they moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, so that she could help her father, Abraham, cope with the loss of his wife. She also wanted to be there for Cash, who was much younger than she was.
Shortly after Eli turned one and Navid was a newborn, she and Roland were fighting about moving back to Arizona. They ended up getting a divorce, and Roland moved back to Arizona with the babies. After four years went by, Leona decided she was not going to travel back and forth for the rest of her life and wanted the boys all to herself. Eventually, Roland noticed how irrational she had become and realized she was not mentally fit to raise them. He was going to get custody after numerous court battles, but on the final day of the hearing, he never showed up.
Cash concluded that maybe Roland chose to give up. He said that Leona can be pretty scary when things don’t go her way. Later, Amelia asked her mom about the conversation she overheard, and Alexandria told her she didn’t believe Roland left town without a fight because he loved his sons so much. The night before the hearing, Leona supposedly spoke with Roland and later told the police that he decided to let her have them. A neighbor claimed she heard arguing, but nothing could be proven. Another hearing was scheduled for the following month but in the end, she got sole custody.
Even to this day, no one has seen or heard from him. Leona told the boys that he never cared about them or wanted them. But Alexandria knew that something was fishy about it all and warned Amelia to stay away from Leona. For that reason, Amelia never had a chance to spend much time with her aunt. She knows her mom was only trying to protect her, but if she knew more about Leona, maybe things wouldn’t be so drastic now. However, she can’t deny the fact that she’s never gotten a good vibe where Leona is concerned.
She knows that Cash didn’t really trust his sister either because he never let her babysit. Something happened in the past, but no one ever told Amelia what it was. She can’t understand why Leona hates her mother and why she insists on breaking up her parents.
All she knows without a doubt is that her parents love each other very much and it was true love at first sight. They went through a lot to be together and vowed that nothing would ever tear them apart, which is why Amelia is determined to make it her mission to get her family back together. She splashes some cold water on her face and stares into the mirror.
“Amelia, you are tough and strong. You can do this,” she says to herself. She walks out of the bathroom and stops in her tracks. Her body trembles as she stares at the back of their heads in the waiting room. Her mind is telling her to go sit down, but her legs want to run out the door. This could be her only chance. Just as she starts to head toward the double doors, she pauses and thinks about her mother and how Leona won’t let up until they find her. She thinks about her poor grandparents, who are innocent and don’t deserve to be involved in this sick and twisted situation.
This sucks! She wants to be reckless but it’s just not in her. She takes a deep breath and walks back to the waiting room, slumping down into the chair. She looks up and sees the wolves gazing at her like they’re eyeing a steak. Eli and Navid all but snarled at her. If looks could kill, I would be done for. It’s almost like Leona raised them specifically to be cruel to her and Alexandria. She’s not sure how to act around them and it’s frustrating not knowing what they’re capable of. But she refuses to show fear. She will fight until she dies because it’s up to her now to protect her family. She just hopes her father will make it, for all of their sakes.
As times passes, Amelia’s left leg begins to twitch and she starts to nibble on her bottom lip. It seems as though the doctors are taking a long time, and she can’t shake the anxiousness. It’s been at least two hours since they rushed Cash into the operating room. This can’t be good. She knows her mom will be destroyed if he dies. Plus, the thought of being stuck with lunatics makes Amelia want to heave—again. They want her mother to pay for what she did, but Amelia knows she’s close enough in their eyes.
She stares at the clock on the wall and watches the hand tick, not missing a beat. Regardless of what’s happening in the world, time will continue to fly by, stopping for no one. If only Amelia could wind back time, then maybe she could’ve done something different. But it’s all too late. She knows this is going to be no picnic and wonders why this had to happen. It breaks her heart to think that Leona got in Cash’s head the way she did. In Amelia’s eyes, her father is a good person and her mother is practically a saint, but Leona is the devil herself.
Clack! The door to the surgery center opens and closes abruptly, startling them. The clicking sound reminds Amelia of a teacher hitting a chalkboard with a ruler. The surgeon slowly walks out and heads to the nurses’ station. He removes his surgical mask and rubs his bloodshot eyes. With a chart in hand he marches over to them, with a somber look on his face. Amelia’s breathing becomes shorter and the room is starting to spin. She’d swear he was moving in slow motion. She wipes the bead of sweat running down her face and can no longer hear. The doctor parks his feet right in front of her. Her entire body is shaking from head to toe. She forces herself to look up and watch his lips move as they form the words…