The hospital people came quickly and Alistair stood mutely as the men put his grandfather in the back of the ambulance. His mother called for him and he hurried to her side. Something really bad was happening to grandpa and he didn’t know what to do. He wished Matias was there but he knew Matt had to go away.
He and his mom got in a cab and followed the ambulance to the hospital but when his mother tried to follow the men through the metal doors, she was stopped by a nurse. “Ma’am, I’m sorry, you can’t go in there.”
“But that’s my dad,” Eva said.
“I understand but the doctors have to do their job now. Please.” The nurse gave them a sympathetic look but wouldn’t budge. Finally, Alistair took his mother’s hand and squeezed. She would be very sad soon and he wouldn’t be there for her, but he could at least be there for her now.
An hour later, his mother was still pacing the hallway outside the surgery room. She must have forgotten about him because she never once looked in his direction. Feeling tired, he called out softly, “Mommy?”
Eva looked up and stared at him before seeming to remember who he was. “Yes, sweetheart?”
“I’m going to go sit down, in there, okay?”
She looked towards the waiting room and nodded. “Okay, love. I’ll go get you something to eat while we wait.”
Alistair nodded. He was hungry.
Walking into the waiting room, Al noticed a family already in there. He also noticed a girl around his age just standing in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. When she looked up at him, he smiled a little but she didn’t respond, only turned back to stare at the wall.
Her name was Lorde and her grandmother was dying. She didn’t know it yet but the doctor was about to come in and tell her family that they should go say their goodbyes. He could tell she was very sad, even before the news, but this was a hospital, everyone was sad, even the people who worked here. Alistair decided he didn’t like hospitals.
His mother came in with a wrapped sandwich and some orange juice and he sat down to eat.
Moonlight Falls was only a few states away and Riley got Tony home in less than three hours. He would have been there sooner, except Tony spent half an hour arguing with him about it. Like he would ever stay behind while Connor was in the hospital. Driving, they hit the highway and it was a straight shot all the way up route I-76.
Riley could tell Tony was worried because he’d been sucking on that goddamn lip ring nonstop. Eva hadn’t picked up her phone after her initial phone call and Tony was taking it out on himself for misplacing his own phone. Riley glanced over at his friend. God, this was going to be bad.
“It’s going to be okay, babe.”
“Yeah,” was all Anthony would say.
“You doing okay?” He sat down next to Tony and placed a hand on his neck, gently massaging the tension out. They’d walked into the hospital and had been sucked into the madness. After an hour, the doctors working on Connor deemed him stable enough to move to the ICU. Now they just had to sit and wait.
“What if he dies, Riley?” Tony sat staring at the wall, hands clenched into fists.
“Tony, stop that. We don’t even know what’s wrong yet.”
Tony turned, moving slightly away and Riley let his hand drop down to his side. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here…”
Riley frowned. “I’m not leaving you, Tony.”
“Okay. Good,” Tony said, sighing. His hand inched towards Riley’s. Riley was sure the added stress of this day, plus the exhaustion from the night before would catch up to Tony sooner rather than later.
Riley felt his heart ache. Tony wanted him to stay. Tony needed him but wouldn’t admit it. Not yet, anyway. “Tony…”
“Riley, could you do me a favor?”
Both men looked up to see Eva standing in the doorway. They moved apart and Riley smiled up at her. “Of course Eva. What do you need?”
“Could you bring Al home? We’ve been here all morning and I don’t want him to spend all day in the hospital.”
Riley glanced over at Tony and sighed. So much for staying. He turned back to Eva.
“Sure.” He got up and looked down at Tony, who was looking at the wall again. “Tony? Here. Don’t lose this, okay? I’ll call you as soon as I get to your house.”
He handed Tony the phone and leaned down to whisper, “Be strong Tony. If you need me, just call. I changed your settings. I’m #3 on your speed dial, after your parents. I figure I’m more important than Dre by now.”
He was rewarded with a tiny smile from Tony. Just a tiny one, but it was something. He stood up and walked over to Alistair and Eva. “Alright buddy, time to go home.”
Alistair stared up at him with huge eyes before glancing towards Tony and then his mother. He took Riley’s hand and gripped it hard and Riley’s heart broke a little bit more. The little guy was terrified.
As they walked down the hospital corridor, Riley said, “Everything will be okay. Your uncle is here now and he’s a genius. Between him and your mom, nothing bad will happen to your grandpa.”
Alistair stared up at him and frowned, “Swear it.”
Riley was shocked for a minute by the intensity behind the words and had to look away for a moment. He didn’t want to lie to the kid. He thought about it and smiled. “I swear kiddo. I’ve known your family for a long time; they are very good at keeping each other safe.”
Little Alistair nodded and didn’t say anything else.
Andrei landed at Moonlight Falls International and made his way to ground transportation. He’d tried to reach Eva several times in the last three hours, but she wasn’t answering her phone. Which scared him and pissed him off. Who tells someone their father is hurt and then hangs up?
He walked out of the airport and hailed a taxi. Luckily, it was the middle of the day here and there were no lines at the cab stand. Once in the car, he sent Eva and his brother a text, Then he sent Caleb a message as well. He was sure Eva had called everyone. Just as he was getting ready to call Tony, his phone notified him of a message.
Leave it to his brother to be concise where Eva had been dramatic. He took a deep breath; the first since he’d gotten the call his dad had been drugged. He gave the driver the new address and sat back.
The moment he walked into the emergency room, he noticed Eva’s bright orange hair. Walking up to her, he asked, “What happened?”
She turned and threw herself at him, tears streaming down her face. “He’s dying Dre. Daddy is dying.”
He froze. What? “Eva, calm down and start from the beginning.”
“We went to visit him on campus and we found him there with some woman. I went to him and he just fell. He just – collapsed. I brought him here, the doctors did some test, and then his vitals crashed. They had to put him in a coma to slow down his bodily functions. He has a respirator breathing for him…dear Goddess, he’s dying!” She started to weep again and he led her to some seats. They sat down and Dre tried to get her to stop crying.
While they waited for the doctor to come back, he thought about what she’d told him. Who was “we” and where was the other person now? And where was Alistair? Anthony walked around the corner then, reading what Dre assumed was their father’s medical chart.
“Tony?” Dre asked anxiously.
His brother looked up and asked, “Where’s mom?”
Dre frowned. Good question. “I don’t know. Eva?”
She sniffed. “I have no idea, I didn’t call her.”
His frown grew deeper. He knew that Eva didn’t get along with their mother, but to not call when their father was in the hospital? That was a tad bit excessive.
“Well, who did you call?” Tony placed the chart down on the reception’s desk and crossed his arms. He wasn’t pleased either.
Eva shrugged, she wouldn’t even look at them. “You and Dre.”
“I’ll call mom,” Dre offered before anyone could say more. Tony nodded and said he’d called Dr. Gates.
Walking down the hall, he dialed his mother’s number.
She picked up immediately and said, “I know. I’m on my way.” Then she hung up.
He started to put the phone away but changed his mind and dialed Maya’s number. It went to voicemail after five rings. “Hey Maya, I just called to say hi. I’m starting to get the feeling that maybe it’s you who’s abandoned me. I hope I’m wrong. Some family stuff has come up and I’m going to be away for a while. I wish – I wish you were here. Anyway, call me. Bye.”
He hung up and looked down the hall. He felt restless. Something was wrong. She wouldn’t just not answer or call him back, it wasn’t like her. But then again, it had only been two days since he last called her. Jesus, two days? It felt like weeks. He walked back to his siblings; he would give her some time, right now, he needed to focus on his father.
“Mom’s on her way.”
“From where? Bet you she’s not in town,” Eva said bitterly.
Tony looked at her, “You can’t be like this when she gets here, Eva.”
“Excuse me? Where the fuck was she while my father was being drugged? I’ll act however the fuck I want!” While she spoke, her hair changed color from bright orange to a deep, dark blue.
“Calm down Louey. Now is not the time,” Dre said. He pulled her into a hug and rubbed her back. He couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like to find their dad, especially for her. Growing up, Eva had been very close to their father. Naturally, she’d take this harder than the rest of them.
An hour later, they’d had no new information, although Dr. Gates was now speaking to the nurses. He was just about to get some coffee when his mother came running into the room. “Where is he?”
She directed her question to Anthony. Tony told her everything they knew and went with her to go talk to the doctor.
“Of course she would come in here and ignore us and only speak to Tony.” Eva muttered under her breath. She was pressed against his side, her head on his shoulder.
“Eva, be kind to her. It’s just as hard for her as it is for you.”
She sat up and snorted. “I doubt that. Does she even love him anymore? I can’t believe daddy would cheat on her unless she pushed him to it.”
“Wait, what? Dad’s cheating on mom?” Andrei narrowed his eyes at her. “How do you know that?”
She shrugged and said, “I don’t know for sure, but when we – when I found him, he was with some woman, kissing her. It didn’t look one-sided either. But he must have been desperate to turn to another woman. You know dad worships the ground she walks on.”
“Maybe you were mistaken.” Even as he said it, he knew she wasn’t. She was an artist; she was good at noticing details. If she said dad was kissing the woman back, Dre believed her.
He sat back in his chair. His dad was cheating on their mom. Did she know? Is that why she wasn’t around? How could he do that and was Eva right? Was he pushed into it? He, of all people, knew what it was like to feel trapped in a loveless mating. But his parents loved each other. That had been a constant in his life. He could remember family trips and they all had been happy, hadn’t they? Yes, there were large portions of time when his mother was away on business, but he couldn’t remember his father being particularly sad about it. They’d always joked that it was their chance to go crazy and play without getting in trouble. He frowned and sat quietly until Tony and his mother came back into the room.
He watched her closely for any signs that she wasn’t as distraught as she seemed, but he couldn’t sense any deceit from her. She was genuinely upset. He watched as she touched the lip ring on Tony’s face. Yeah, mom, it wasn’t a phase! She glanced over at him and smiled a little and he got up and switched places with Tony.
“Hi mom,” he said tentatively.
“Hi sweetie. You look the same.” She brushed a hand through his curly hair.
He glanced at Tony’s emo appearance and at Eva, whose hair had changed color again, a bright red this time. He smiled a little. “Yeah, I’m not big on change.”
Rae looked down at her sleeping children. They weren’t children anymore, were they? She couldn’t remember the last time she’d actually sat down and truly talked to them. And there wasn’t really an excuse for that.
I just wish you all were here under better circumstances. She made a promise to herself that she would speak to each of them individually, become more active in their lives. Rae’s phone rang and she checked caller ID, Adeya. Sighing, she answered. “Hey Ade.”
“I am on my way. Are you in a room or what? How are you holding up?”
“I’m doing okay, the kids are here. He was just moved to the ICU but we don’t know his status yet.” Rae looked around the empty room, “the kids are sleeping and I don’t really know what to do with myself.”
“I will be there in a couple of hours. I’m sure he’ll be fine Rosie. Connor is a fighter.”
“I know. I just…he’s all I have left. Mom and dad are gone; the kids are all grown up, if I lose him…”
“Stop it. Don’t think like that. Not even for a second. He is going to be fine!”
Rae wiped away the tears. She would not cry, Connor would not want her to and it would just upset the kids. “You’re right. Everything will be fine. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
“Okay. Love you Rae.”
“Love you too. Bye.” Rae hung up and turned around to find a nurse approaching her. She suddenly felt a soft breeze brush around her and wrapped her arms tight around herself. Someone should close that window.
Rae’s heart started to beat fast. “Yes, that’s me.”
The nurse gave her a tentative smile. “If you would like to see your husband, now is a good time.”
“Yes. Yes I would.”
She turned around and saw that Eva’s eyes were open and staring at her. Giving her daughter what she hoped was an encouraging smile, she turned back and followed the nurse out the waiting room door and towards her husband’s room.