The Best Is Yet to Come (Summer Lake 1) - Page 24

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"I was wrong." Sarah knew that now. "If I could make it up to him, I would. I care about him. More than you know." More than he knew.

"If you care so much, then you should stay this time."

"Here?" It wasn't until the word had left her mouth that she realized just how incredulous she sounded.

"Yes, here." Irritation flashed again on the other woman's face.

"No," Sarah said, shaking her head. "I couldn't stay here."

Catherine raised an eyebrow. "Why not?"

"My job, my apartment, they're in the city."

"So get a new job and sell the apartment."

"It's not that easy."

"Sure it is."

"Why can't you see that I'm not trying to hurt anyone? I'm just trying to be true to who I am."

"I'll tell you exactly who you are," Catherine said. "You are a woman who was damned lucky to be loved by one of the best men I've ever known. You are a woman who's about to throw it all away again for a bunch of flashing city lights. You are a woman who's too damn scared to even give love a chance." Her gaze was stony. "Whatever you've been telling yourself all these years, that's who you really are."

Sarah could feel how hot, how red her face must be, and she only just barely stopped herself from covering her cheeks with her hands. She wanted to deny everything Catherine was saying. But how could she when the truth was that the glamorous life her father had lived, the very life she'd aspired to, hadn't really been all it was cracked up to be? Long nights in the office. Friends she never really got close to because she didn't have enough free time to form strong bonds.

And yet, it was those very truths that had her fighting what she was feeling. Because realizing that her feelings for Calvin hadn't gone away, realizing that her life in the city wasn't as fulfilling as she'd thought it would be, made her feel weak. As though she wasn't as strong as her father. As though she was somehow letting him--and herself--down by allowing herself to get too comfortable here.

Sarah opened her mouth a couple of times to respond to what Catherine had said, but the words wouldn't come. She didn't know what to say. Because she didn't know what to feel.

A moment later, her mother screamed.

*

They rushed back into the main part of the store to find Olive lying on the floor in her mother's arms. Sarah was barely aware of dropping to her knees and putting two fingers on her grandmother's pulse, finding a faint heartbeat, while Christie called 911 and explained that Olive had started coughing, then had passed out.

She heard someone say, "Please, God. Not her. Not yet," and only barely realized that she was the one begging.

She didn't know how much time passed as they knelt on the floor, just that every second felt like an eternity until they heard the sirens of the local volunteer ambulance crew. And then like magic, Calvin was there with another volunteer paramedic, both totally focused on her grandmother, getting her up on the gurney and taking her vitals.

Sarah held on to her mother as they watched them roll her grandmother into the back of the ambulance. Then Calvin was saying, "Olive needs both of you right now," and leading them into the back as well.

It was a tight fit, but Sarah had never been so glad to be squeezed in. She held on to one of her grandmother's hands while her mother held the other.

In a calm but not at all detached voice, Calvin asked them for whatever details they had about Olive's health.

Sarah looked at her mother, saw that she couldn't possibly speak with the tears rolling down her cheeks one after the other. "She's been coughing a lot. I sent her over to Dr. Morris. She said he told her to rest." She was fighting back her own tears. "I should have gone and talked with him myself to make sure she wasn't just hearing what she wanted to."

Calvin's hand was warm on her shoulder. "Even good doctors like Dr. Morris sometimes miss things." Obviously sensing she was desperate for reassurance, he said, "Syracuse General isn't a big hospital, but it's a great one, with doctors who have trained at all of the best schools."

Olive's chest moved up and down as she took in the oxygen through the mask they'd put over her mouth and nose, and Sarah couldn't stop asking herself, when was the last time she'd sat with her grandmother? With her mother? Just talking or eating or knitting rather than dropping in for a few minutes before flitting away to take care of her "important" career? Even this week, she had been hiding from them. Afraid that they would look too deeply into her soul and see everything that was wrong with it.

It shouldn't have taken her grandmother's collapse to pull them together. Sarah was sorry, so sorry that she hadn't been there more. And she would never forgive herself if the last real conversation she'd ever have with her grandmother had been last week in the cottage about the carousel, when Sarah had been impatient to get going, to send e-mails, to convince Calvin that she was right about everything she wanted to be right about.

*

Calvin stayed with them as the doctors saw Olive. Denise still hadn't spoken, but she took the cup of coffee he handed her. When Sarah shook her head, he gave her water instead and watched to make sure she drank it all down.

Denise's suffering, her fear, was written all over her face, in the slump of her shoulders, in the shadows under her eyes. Sarah was clearly hurting too, but she'd obviously assigned herself the role of holding it together.

He wanted to pull her aside and tell her he'd hold it together for her.

He couldn't take the burden of strength off Sarah's shoulders--he'd been there, knew just how heavy it was--but he could bring her food, he could sit with her, he could watch over her.

And he could pray right alongside her for Olive to come through this.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

A doctor came into the waiting room. "Olive Hewitt's family?"

Sarah asked, "What happened?" just as Denise said, "Is my mother going to be okay?"

The doctor sat with them on the blue padded chairs. "Olive passed out because her lungs were almost completely full. From our first round of X-rays and tests, it seems that she's been walking around with low-grade pneumonia for weeks. Oftentimes, this kind of infection can go on for a while before flaring up and causing big problems. We're waiting for the results of a few more tests to see how her organs have been holding up."

"Her organs?" Sarah looked doubly horrified. "I thought you said her lungs were the problem?"

"It's just a precaution to make sure the lack of oxygen hasn't done more damage. But I have to tell you, that is one strong lady in there with us. She's been sucking in oxygen through a very thin tube. Most people half her age would have collapsed long before she did. We'll be keeping her sedated and on oxygen for the night, to give her body a chance to rest while it takes in the first round of antibiotics. As far as you know, is she allergic to anything?"

Sarah looked to her mother for the answer. "I don't know," Denise said, barely above a whisper. Her voice quivered as she added, "She was never sick. Not until recently." Tears came again. "I thought she had a cold. She told me she had a cold."

The doctor handed Denise a Kleenex from the box on the side table before standing up. "We're going to keep her in the ICU until we have a better handle on her situation. You're welcome to stay with her there for as long as you like."

*

During the hours that Olive drifted in and out of sleep in the hospital bed that dwarfed her, she heard many voices: Denise's, Sarah's, the doctor's, the nurse's, a man's voice that she recognized but couldn't place. She tried again and again to find the surface, to awaken completely, but her lungs felt so heavy, like trying to breathe with a hundred-pound weight strapped across her chest. Her eyelids were as heavy as her limbs.

Slowly, she began to lose the thread of where she was, and then something cool flooded her veins and it was easier just to let herself settle deeper into the recesses of her mind.

Into her memories.

Seventy years disappeared, erasing everything but Carlos.

*

1941...

It had been one week since their trip on the freight train--seven days, 168 hours, 10,080 seconds.

Too long.

It wasn't just the kiss Olive hadn't been brave enough to give Carlos that hung over every one of those seconds--it was learning something about herself that she hadn't liked learning.

Namely, that she wasn't anywhere near as brave as she'd always thought she was.

Somehow she needed to figure out a way to see him again. To be alone with him again.

And to finally be brave.

But after a full week where she hadn't been able to find any way to be with him, she realized just how precious their stolen moments had been.

Every Friday night in the autumn, her family went to the high school football game. A onetime star when he was younger, her father would be out there with the team on the field, helping the coaches, supporting the players, while she and her sisters and mother enjoyed the evening under thick blankets with cups of hot chocolate to help keep them warm.

That Friday night, she was surprised to look out from the bleachers and see Carlos on the edge of the field, near the trees, looking back at her.

"Mom, I think I just got my period. I've got to head back home."


Tags: Bella Andre Summer Lake Romance
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