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  • BD Storey

Sunday Snippet - 02/04/2024



Snippet from When Love Comes Knocking by B.D. Storey - Available NOW on KindleUnlimited!


******


The ringing of my phone pulled me up out of a dreamless sleep. I cracked open one eye as my hand groped for the nightstand, slapping its surface as I felt for the source of the insistent ringing. Finding it, my hand closed over it. I flopped my arm back, letting the phone rest against the side of my head. I cleared my throat before addressing the offensive piece of technology.


“Hel Hello.”


“Is this Mr. Jake Attwood?” a clipped male voice said. I yawned again, my jaw cracking a bit.


“Maybe. Who the hell is this and what time is it?”


“It’s 2:47 a.m. sir. Now, please, is this—”


My groggy brain was not firing on all cylinders, but I heard that time clear enough.


“Three in the morning? Who the hell calls someone at almost three in the morning? Call back when the sun’s up.” I started to move the phone from my ear, but the caller stopped me cold with his next words.


“Sir, do you know Nichole Peterson?”


The mention of my sister's name ripped the shroud of sleep away like a deluge of ice-cold water.


I sat up. “Who is this?”


“Sir, can you please confirm that you are Jake Attwood?”


“Yes, I’m Jake Attwood. Who the hell is this? How do you know Nichole?”


“Sir, my name is Corporal Anderson and I’m with the Colorado State Police…”


As I listened to the trooper, my world shattered into a million pieces.


********


I hate hospitals. I know they serve a noble purpose and that the people who work there are heroes. Still didn’t change the fact that I hated the places. It always seemed that they were covering up the smell of death with the cleaners and antiseptics.


I leaned against the wall of the sterile, dreary waiting room, staring at the doors that led back to the hospital proper; doors that separated me from Nichole. The events since the phone call kept looping through my head. The trooper's words were forever burned into my skull.



Mr. Attwood, there has been an accident. Sir, your sister was just loaded onto a life flight and is on her way to UC Health in Denver. Sir, I would advise you to get to the hospital as quickly as you can.”


My fogged brain latched onto the words ‘life flight’ and ‘Denver.’


“Reggie. What about Reggie, her husband?”


There was silence on the line for a few moments.


Sir,” the trooper said, his voice quiet and solemn at the same time. “There was only a single survivor at the crash site, and she is on her way to Denver. Sir, I think—


But I had already dropped the phone and exploded from bed, tangling myself up in the sheets and thudding to the floor. I kicked my legs as I inched across the floor, ridding myself of the entanglement.


As I hopped down the hall, trying to pull on jeans, I paused and pounded on Mom’s bedroom door. I kept pounding until the door yanked open.


My mom, hair a mess and wearing her long floral nightgown, glared bleary-eyed at me.


“Jacob, what in—”


I cut her off. “Nichole.”


It must have been something in my tone, or my look, because the blood drained from Mom’s face in seconds.


“Five minutes.”


If she said anything else, I didn’t hear it. I was already halfway down the hall, trying to put a shirt on at the same time as boots.


Mom was already in her car, engine revving, when I barreled out the back door. The minute my butt hit the seat, she floored it. We shot off like a NASA rocket leaving the launch pad, engine screaming like a scalded cat.


My mom had one major weakness in her life. She loved muscle cars. She’d always wanted one and when I was a kid, I added it to that growing list of things I would get her if I ever won the lottery.


About a year ago, one of Mom’s uncles passed away. He and Mom had been best buds since he never married or had children. So, it was no surprise when he left Mom a nice chunk of money. She had begun laying out the things we could do to the farm. It took me a week to talk her out of it. I told her that her uncle would have wanted her to spend it on herself, to celebrate the fun they used to have together.


Mom relented and ended up buying one of the 2008 Dodge Chargers with something called a hemi or such in it. I wasn’t mechanically inclined and had never shown much interest in cars. Apparently, this hemi thing was a big deal when it came to how fast the car would go.


Then, as if it wasn’t fast enough, she took it to some shop in Denver and had it modified and painted a deep purple, her favorite color. Even parked, cops wanted to give it a speeding ticket. Mom tried to tell me once about large caliper brakes and engine machining and some huge amount of horsepower, but mechanical things were not in my wheelhouse. All I knew was that after she took it out for her first test drive, she’d been followed home by three sheriff’s cars. The Sheriff, an old high school friend, came out and had a long talk with her.


I didn’t scare easily. Houses of horror made me laugh, and I’d not met a roller coaster yet that did more than get my pulse to beat a bit faster. But I felt my heart jump to my throat as we neared the end of the driveway. I didn’t think we’d make the turn onto the highway; I just knew we were going to fly straight into the telephone pole standing in the field across the road.


I was grabbing the “oh shit” handle over the door and opening my mouth to yell when Mom grabbed the emergency brake, yanked it up, and spun the steering wheel. The car’s back end broke free of the gravel and the tires screamed as we slid sideways onto the pavement. She didn’t pause as she slammed the brake back down and began playing the pedals and gear shift.


The engine roared and the tires smoked as we shot forward. We were doing eighty before she hit the highway and repeated her sliding turn. In a small storage space in the back of my mind, I made a note to myself to never drive with Mom again. Ever. I also tried to figure out where I was going to get new underwear.


As we shot down the two-lane road, she spoke the only words she would utter for the entire trip.


“Tell me.”


I quietly relayed the trooper’s words.


Somewhere between Breckenridge and Denver, something horrific had happened. Nikki and Reg were supposed to be at his parent’s by 8:30 p.m., and when they didn't show up, the Petersons began to worry and started calling their son’s phone. By 10 p.m., they knew something was terribly wrong. Reggie was a stickler about punctuality. Probably tied into why he was so good at his job. You could set your watch by his time. If he said he’d be somewhere at 7:38 p.m., you could bet money that would be the exact time he arrived. No sooner, no later.


The Petersons were not the cream of the crop in Denver, but they moved in the same circles as the cream. By 11 p.m., the state police and the county sheriffs between the ski resort and Denver were in motion. They found the car at about 2 a.m., or rather, what was left of it.


I was listed in Nikki’s phone as ICE2, thus my phone call from the trooper. Nikki explained to me one time that you should always have someone listed in your contacts as ICE, or In Case of Emergency. She’d told me that it was the way for law enforcement or other first responders to notify the proper folks in case something happened. She had me as ICE2, second behind Reggie and badgered mom and me until we set up our own ICE contacts.


We hit the interstate on-ramp as I finished recalling the trooper’s conversation for mom. The small incline made a perfect launching ramp, and the car left the ground as we sailed out into the lanes. Then, the car slammed back onto the road and began fishtailing. Mom twitched the steering wheel, and we straightened out. I thought Mom had been flying before. She quickly showed me we had just been taxing the aircraft. She slammed the gearshift up, the tires barked, and I glanced over at the speedometer as it passed 120.


“Mom, don’t you think…” was all I managed to say, the rest of my words trailing away as she shot me a look of pure, cold death. She put her eyes back on the road and shifted again. I just closed my eyes as the speedometer passed 140.


They say God looks out for fools and children. After that high-speed interstate run, I had to believe that sometimes, He understood when a mother on a mission needed His help. How we didn’t wreck, or run afoul of the state troopers, could only have come from Divine Intervention. I really didn’t remember much about the drive. I kept my eyes closed and my thoughts on Nikki as the car screamed through the night. I knew we had hit the city when Mom downshifted, throwing me against my seatbelt, and the engine roar quieted a tiny bit. I opened my eyes just as she slid us through three lanes of a left turn at a four-way intersection, the screech of the tires echoing off the buildings. The light was red, but I didn’t think Mom noticed. I decided it was best not to point it out.


We roared into the ER entrance and bounced off a curb as Mom brought us out of light speed and slammed us into a parking spot.


The nurse on duty couldn’t tell us anything other than Nikki was in surgery. She pointed us to the waiting room and said the doctor would come out and update us as soon as they could.


What seemed like hours later, the doors opened and an older man in scrubs came out, pulling down a face mask.


He looked at us and his eyes told me everything I needed to know.


“Mrs. Attwood?” he asked.


Mom came up to stand with me as the doctor gave us the news. She began to cry and sagged against me when he gave us the diagnosis.


“I’m sorry, but the damage is just too great. Frankly, we’re not sure how she is hanging on, but she is still fighting. We’re keeping her comfortable, but there’s nothing more we can do. She’s asking for you both.”


Mom clung to me like a dying woman as the doctor led us to Nikki’s room. We paused outside a door as he went to speak briefly with some nurses. The nurses nodded, and the doctor returned.


“Before you go in, please understand she suffered severe trauma to the face and head. I wish we could… I’m sorry. Please take as long as you would like. The nurses are standing by if needed.” With that, he left us standing in front of the frosted glass door.


Squeezing Mom’s hand, I pushed the door open.


Mom’s breath caught and a low moan escaped her lips as we spied Nikki. Her face was battered, her head was wrapped in bandages that extended down across her left eye and was taped onto her left cheek. Multiple tubes ran into and out of various parts of her, most of which were covered over by sheets. Several bags of blood and clear liquids hung on stands near her bed, the lines leading down and under the sheets.


Mom rushed to the bedside, taking one of Nikki’s hands and bending down to kiss her brow over the one eye. I could only stand next to her, trying to stop the flow of tears as I looked down at my dying sister.


Nikki’s single eye fluttered open as Mom was bent over her. I watched her look at Mom and then blink slowly. Her voice was cracked and raspy.


“Soorryy. Didn’t. Didn’t get a chance… to do my hair.”


Mom laughed and cried at the same time as she stroked Nikki’s cheek.


“You just hush, baby girl. Don’t talk. Just save your strength. Momma’s here. It’s going to be all better. They’re going to fix you up, good as new.”


Nikki gave a dry raspy gasp as she worked to breathe.


“Mom… I need to… I need to talk… to Jake,” she gasped.


It wasn’t hard to see that breathing was taking everything she had.


“I’m right here. Do what Mom tells you and quit being a brat.”


Nikki coughed again and this time, a small bit of blood leaked out of the corner of her mouth. Mom pulled up a part of the bed sheet and gently wiped it away. Nikki shuddered and took in a deeper breath. Her eye suddenly snapped to me with surprising clarity and her words came out less slurred.


“Jake. I need you to be a father a bit a bit sooner than you planned.”


“Hush that talk,” I said.


Mom’s other hand had locked onto mine with an iron grip.


Nichole took a quick, shallow breath. “Jake. Promise me that that you’ll tell her her all about me. Make sure she knows knows how much I loved her. Promise me, Jake. Please.”


My heart was breaking as I managed to choke out the words. “That’s an easy promise, Nikki. You’re going to be out of here in a few weeks and back to loving all over Sarah while I spoil her rotten.”


Promis… Promise me Jake.”


“I promise, Nikki. My word of honor.”


Nikki appeared to sag back against the pillow. A small smile graced her battered lips.


“Tha thank you, Jake. I I love you both so much…”


Her words died to a whisper just as the monitor alarms began blaring. The nurses and doctor rushed into the room as Mom began wailing. Two of the nurses steered us out of the room as the doctor began barking orders and rubbing two metal paddles together. Mom collapsed against me in the hallway and we both let go of the anguish inside us.


A few moments later, the doctor came back out. As we turned anxious eyes toward him, he just shook his head slowly.


“I’m very sorry, but she’s gone.”


*******


Want to find out more about Jake and his story? Check out When Love Comes Knocking on KindleUnlimited today!

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