“I know. I know. A part of me just wants to tell him, roll the dice and see what he says, but what if he decides this isn’t the right environment for me? For us? Then I think… just shut up and keep him as long as I can keep him? You know?”
“I don’t like that you’re thinking of this.”
“What if it’s the truth? I could lose Nova.”
“No. He would never do that.”
“Nothing’s protecting me. I can’t lose her. I can take the pain. I can pretend, lie, take the hits as long as I have her.” My eyes closed, and a tear slipped out, I told her. “She called me ‘Mama’ today.”
She gasped. “Really?”
“Yeah.” Now I was crying and smiling at the same time. I was feeling nuts and probably looking nuts.
“Nate heard it. He was there.”
Oh God. Was that why he decided to end it? Because he heard her call me Mama?
No. I couldn’t believe that.
I could believe a lot, but not that. Nate wouldn’t be like that. He’d never been like that with me.
He has with others.
No. I shut those thoughts down. Nate didn’t deserve me having those thoughts about him.
He made you sign that paper. You can’t fight him for her. Are you forgetting he did that?
“I think you should just tell. Would that actually be that bad?”
“Yes!” I hissed, already feeling the rejection from him, already seeing the rejection from him. “The only good scenario that comes out of this is if he feels the same, and he’s told me he doesn’t. I can’t keep deluding myself. No good will come out of me telling him my feelings. None.”
I needed to keep him to keep Nova, and that meant I needed to handle myself.
I used to hate him.
We’d been enemies at first.
I could do that. Hate him, fuck him, and still love Nova. Still have Nova.
I could do that. I would do that.
It was the only way.
I needed to hate Nate Monson again.
It was the best idea ever.
I turned, feeling energized because it was the best way I could stay.
I could stay with Nova.
I could stay with Nate.
And I wouldn’t get hurt.
I wasn’t looking.
I had forgotten where I was.
I thought I was in the middle of the sidewalk.
I was on the edge, and I stepped out, forgetting…
A blaring horn.
Someone was screaming.
I’d forgotten where I was.
Then everything went black.
The beeping woke me up.
Then the pain.
There was so much pain.
It hurt. Everything hurt.
A rustling sound.
“Miss Royas? I’m Dr. Cass. How are you feeling? How’s your pain tolerance?”
I opened my eyes.
The light was blinding, and I cried out, trying to roll over.
I wanted to get away from that light.
That same voice, but it hadn’t been the one saying I was awake.
I didn’t want that one there.
I knew who that one was, and he shouldn’t have been allowed in my room.
I looked around.
The guy said he was a doctor.
I was in a hospital room.
I tried to think…
I had a headache.
Why did my head hurt so bad?
“Miss Royas, we’ve been checking your vitals, and you’re doing so much better…”
He droned on, and I stopped listening.
I didn’t know who he was.
I didn’t know what he was saying.
I was trying to remember—it happened in a flash.
I was flooded with memories.
A phone call.
I was outside.
I remembered the car now.
I was hit by a car.
I was going—I didn’t remember.
Why didn’t I remember?
I needed to remember.
The memory flooded me, and I almost gasped.
I loved Nate.
I was worried about him knowing.
I was worried about losing Nova.
Where was Nova?
Her laughter was in my head.
I could remember it. Her.
The memories were flooding.
Where were Nova and Nate?
I needed both of them. Now.
Where were they?
They were my family.
I sat up, trying to look for them.
I didn’t know her.
“You need to remain lying down. You can’t pull out your tube.”
I tried talking. Nate. Nova. I needed them both.
I couldn’t talk.
I opened my eyes, and the nurse was looking at me.
I tried to motion. I could write.
“Quincey?” Her lips parted. She was surprised.
I looked behind her.
My father was there.
I felt a dip, and the beeping increased.
“Her blood pressure is skyrocketing.” The nurse again.
I opened my eyes and pain. All the pain, again.
The room was bright. Too bright.
A shadow moved, falling over me. That helped.
The nurse moved there.
Turning my head, I felt like my neck was in cement. I saw my dad and a doctor by the end of my bed.
I croaked, trying to talk.
“Don’t talk yet, Miss Royas. Let’s wait until we can remove the tube.”
I wanted the tube out now, but I lifted my hand, gritting as more waves of agony sliced through me, and I motioned to write on something.