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Chapter 8

"What happened?" demanded the scared woman, as she rushed in the hospital emergency entrance.

Jamie sat on one of the hard plastic chairs in the waiting area and tried provide some explanation to the confused woman. Not being able to meet her eyes, Jamie took a deep breath and began, leaving out the true nature of the conversation that led to the accident.

"I don’t believe this!" said an angry Bridgett. "You were supposed to be her friend Jamie. She thinks the world of you. What did you say to upset her enough to run away from you?"

Sad, blue eyes finally rose to meet flashing green. "That’s between Erin and me. If she wants to tell you that’s okay, but I won’t. It was just a misunderstanding."

Bridgett shook her head. "No! My sister wouldn’t run away from a simple misunderstanding. She..."

"Anyone here for Erin Casey?" asked the doctor, stepping around the corner.

"Yes, I’m her sister." Bridgett turned her attention to the short, brown haired woman, scribbling notes on a chart.

"I’m Doctor Crawford," she said finally, extending a hand and offering a caring smile.

Jamie stood back away from the two, but still close enough to hear.

"Your sister is very lucky," said the doctor. "There are no breaks or spinal injuries and no internal injuries. I had to put ten stitches in her forehead and she does have a concussion and a severely sprained wrist. Because of the previous head injury, I want to admit her overnight for observation and do another CAT scan in the morning. But I really don’t expect any further complications."

Jamie released a heavy sigh of relief upon the doctor’s words. A single tear slid down her cheek as she quietly turned and left.

When she got back to her building, Jamie by passed her apartment and went up to the roof. The anger she had held in couldn’t be contained any longer. An old, black, metal chair suffered the fury of her wrath, as it slid across the rooftop and crashed into a brick wall. She yelled in frustration. "Why?! Why is this happening again?!" A small, plastic table cracked under the pressure of her slamming fist. "Erin didn’t deserve this," she said to the night air. Jamie kept mumbling, as she slumped, tiredly against the wall. "She’s so good, so special. How could I do this to her? How?" She tossed her raven head back and stared into the dark sky. A few stars dared to twinkle at her. The souls that have gone make their presence well known. For the stars in the heavens, have eyes that keep watch. When the twinkles of lights, smile on others below. The quote from Erin’s book was meant to bring peace to those who have lost a loved one. But to Jamie, it only gave her another reason to rage. "You!" she yelled, pointing to the sky. "This all your fault! Why did you leave me? I would have been a good person if you had been here. I could have loved Erin and made her happy! When you left, you took my soul with you and left behind a heartless lump of poison." The anger, at her parents, took her last ounce of energy and she crumbled to the ground. The tears, which she had never shed for them, finally fell from her eyes like the rain of a summer storm.

After several minutes of long overdue grief, Jamie wiped her messy face with the back of her hand. She took a few deep breaths and tried to calm her rapidly beating heart. Finally, she peered back into the night sky. "I miss you," she whispered. "Please help me. Help me to fix this mess, I have, once again, gotten myself into." She wrapped her arms, tightly around her body; unknowingly cocooning the fragile soul inside for it’s coming transformation. "I’m so alone. I never wanted to hurt her. But I have and I don’t know what to do. Please Jordan," she begged her twin. "Send me a sign."

First thing the next morning, Jamie returned to the hospital to try and salvage something of her relationship with the blonde author, even it was just to apologize. Stepping off the elevator onto the third floor, Jamie saw Bridgett standing outside a room at the end of the corridor. She approached her slowly.

"What are you doing here?" asked the still angry red head.

"I came to see how Erin is. I’d like to talk to her."

Bridgett folded her arms over her ample chest. "She doesn’t want to talk to you."

Jamie understood her...former friend’s attitude, but her own anger, at herself and the situation began to seep through. "Are those her words Bridgett, or yours?"

"Erin told me if you came by, not to let you in. She seemed almost embarrassed by something. She won’t tell what went on between you two, but I can tell it was something intense. I’m sorry I ever introduced you to my sister. Now please leave us alone."

Jamie turned and walked back down the long hallway. She stood by the elevator, thinking. I can’t leave it like this. I can’t. It would be the best thing if I just walked away, but she needs to understand. I need for her to understand. She stepped onto the empty elevator and it descended, while she was still deep in thought. Bridgett will never let me near her. I know she loves her sister and just wants to protect her, but I have to find a way passed her.

Back in her apartment, Jamie noticed that her copy of Noah Factor had fallen from the shelf. Not thinking much about it, she picked it up, opened the front cover and saw the recently added words and the signature. She smiled, remembering when Erin had added it.

They had stopped by Jamie’s place on their way to the ranch, because Jamie had forgotten something. The tall chauffeur had disappeared into her bedroom, leaving the author sitting in a chair near the window. Erin listened as drawers were pulled out and items were shuffled around. A closet door was opened and then a small curse was spoken. Erin smiled at her friend’s impatient antics.

"Okay," said Jamie, as she entered the room having found the forgotten item. "We can go now."

Erin stood, as did her canine companion. "What was so important that had you tearing up your room?"

"Its kind of embarrassing."

"Oh come on now," urged Erin. "It can’t be that bad."

"It’s just a...well it’s a good luck charm, I guess you’d call it." She reached for Erin’s right hand and laid the small object in her palm. "It’s just a dirty old rock, but it’s got these grooves carved into one side. Can you feel them?"

"Yes. It feels like something specific. What is it?"

"That’s the funny thing. They’re kind of shaky, but it looks like the letter X. Kind of like X marks the spot, I guess. I found it in a creek bed, the first time I went to the ranch and I also had it with me when I met you. Those were two of the most important days in my life, so it just sort of seemed like luck. I like to take it with me, every time I go out there now. I don’t know. I’m just being silly."

Erin smiled and held out for the chauffeur’s hand, which she held onto as she gave the cherished item back to its owner. "I think you are anything, but silly," she said. "You are intelligent, kind and my best friend. That reminds me, there is something I’ve been meaning to do. Can you get your copy of Noah Factor?"

Puzzled, Jamie reached over to the bookshelf and retrieved the slightly worn, hardback. "Here it is. Why do you want it?"

"I want to make a personal dedication," said the smiling woman.

Tears pooled in the corner of Jamie’s eyes as she read the words, written straight from the heart of the beautiful author.

To my new, best and forever friend, Jamie.

Destiny has merged our paths once again.

May this life bring us all the joys of every one before.

And all the sorrows of a single day.

Jamie’s fingertip traced over the signature Erin Brienne Casey, as a tear splashed on to the back of her hand. She closed the book and turned it over. "I promised I wouldn’t do this. I never wanted to hurt you," she said to the smiling picture of Erin. "And now you are in pain. Even if you can’t be my friend anymore, I have to fix this." Her eyes were drawn to a single sentence, in rather small type, at the bottom of the cover that she hadn’t noticed before. It said, this title also available in Braille. Jamie’s eyes brightened just a touch. "That’s it. That’s what I have to do." She placed the book back on the shelf and a small smile came over her face. "Thanks Jordan."

 

Bridgett entered the tiny hospital room, her heart tightening at the sight of her sister’s small, still form, engulfed in the sterile, woolen blanket. She quietly set the small travel bag on the chair beside the bed and tiptoed to the window.

"I’m not asleep, Bridgett."

"Well you should be," said the red head, as she moved back to Erin’s side. "How are you feeling?"

"The same as when you asked this morning. I’m stiff and sore, but I’ll live."

Bridgett silently cursed her ex-friend again, for not only causing the physical hurt, but also the obvious emotional pain her sister was experiencing.

"I finally got a hold of Mom and Dad to tell them what happened. But," she stopped Erin’s immanent objection. "I told them you said not to interrupt their vacation and that you would be fine. They said they love you and they will worry about you, because that’s what’s in a parent’s heart."

Erin gave a fond smile and accepted the water her sister offered.

"I went to your place to get some clothes," said Bridget. "But just enough for a couple of days. I’ll go get more tomorrow..."

"Why would you need to get more?" Erin asked, afraid of what was coming.

"Because you’re staying with us for a while."

"No I’m not. I’ll be fine at my house."

"Erin..."

"No Bridgett! I mean it. A little bump on the head and a sprained wrist does not make me an invalid!"

"I know that sis. I’m just worried about you. Ten stitches and a concussion are not a little bump on the head. This never should have happened. I told Jamie to stay away from here."

Erin raised her head quickly, a move she instantly regretted as a wave of dizziness hit her. "She was here? When?" she asked through the pain.

"First thing this morning. You said you didn’t want to talk to her and I totally agree with you. It was all her fault."

"No it wasn’t!"

"But you said...."

"I said we had a disagreement. This," Erin said, holding up her bandaged arm, "…was my fault. I was stupid enough to go down those stairs like I did and that’s all there is to it. Jamie can’t be blamed for this."

Bridgett bit back the words on the tip of her tongue, knowing it would only aggravate her sister more. "Okay, I don’t want to argue with you right now. You don’t need to be any more upset than you already are. But I still have issues with her."

Eyes closed behind dark glasses at the thought of what she’d lost.

"About our previous conversation, can I ask you one favor?"

Erin sighed. "Yes."

"Will you at least spend tonight with your family. I already took Arte to my house and the kids pounced on her the minute she got out of the car. You wouldn’t want to take away their fun now, would you?" She knew her sister couldn’t resist the emotional blackmail. "Besides I haven’t seen you much in the last few weeks. Can we catch up while you rest up?"

A slow smile came to the blonde’s face. "Yes, we can do that." She grabbed onto her sister’s hand. "I love you Brig."

"I love you too, Erin."

Jamie pulled into the hospital parking lot and took the envelope from above the sun visor. She studied the white paper and prayed that it would help her connect to her missed friend. She walked toward the lobby entrance putting the envelope into the back pocket of her jeans.

Erin had reluctantly let her sister help her get dressed, do to her body’s current state of immobility. She slowly eased her way down into the chair by the bed, alleviating the lightheadedness she was feeling.

"I’ll go tell the nurse that you’re ready to leave," said Bridget. "I’ll be right back."

Turning the corner, she saw Jamie standing at the nurse’s station. Bridgett tried to keep cool for her sister’s sake. "What do you want now?" she asked, walking up behind the dark haired woman.

A startled Jamie turned at the sound of the calm, but disturbed voice. "The same thing I wanted this morning. How is she?"

"She’s in pain." She strongly implied a double meaning. But with those words, she saw the tall woman flinch and her blue eyes fill with guilt, but even more, a pain of her own. This observation lessened Bridgett’s ire...slightly.

"I know she doesn’t want to talk to me, but...I have to let her know what happened. Could you give this to her." She handed Bridgett the letter. "Ask to her please read it. It is private, she’ll understand."

Bridgett just nodded and let the nurse know that they were ready, while Jamie headed off in the other direction.

"Well, she’ll be right in with your metal limousine," said Bridgett as she strode back into the room. She didn’t notice Erin’s bandaged head drop to her chest at the reference. "Sis, I have something for you."

"What?"

"It’s a letter... from Jamie. She asked you to please read it and that it would help you understand. But I’m asking you to please not read it...at least until we get home." She placed the envelope in Erin’s trembling hand. The author just nodded her agreement as the nurse arrived.

From a hidden corner, Jamie watched as Erin was wheeled to the elevator, the enveloped clutched in her hand as a thumb unconsciously rubbed over the dotted white surface.

 

It was just after three o’clock when they arrived at Bridgett’s home. The blonde was enthusiastically greeted by one dog and two children, but was soon feeling the effects of her injuries and with little persuasion, went to her room to get some rest.

She woke just in time for dinner, but barely touched her meal. After a quick trip to her room, she told her sister that she wanted some fresh air and was going to sit in the garden. Of course Bridgett asked to come along, but that idea was quickly rejected.

"Everything’s okay," said Erin, as she hugged her well-meaning sister.

Sitting on the same bench that she had shared with Jamie, the first night they met, Erin lifted the flap on the envelope and pulled out the folded piece of paper. The fingertips of her right hand were soon gliding across the Braille lettering.

Dearest Erin,

I am so sorry that this happened. It tears me up to know that you are in pain and that I’m to blame. I just thank God that your injuries weren’t more serious. I don’t really know where to begin. My reaction to your declaration of love was rude and unacceptable. I can’t go into details in this letter, but I would like a chance to explain everything. I owe that to you, as my best friend. And that is what you are and what you always will be to me. You have not lost my friendship, but I fear losing yours, after you hear my explanation. Your instincts as to my feelings for you were not totally wrong. I do care about you, very much. You are the best thing in my life. Please meet with me. We need to discuss this in person. I want you to hear my voice when I tell you the truth about myself. If you can’t bring yourself to ever talk to me again, I will understand. But I am asking for a second chance. I need you in my life.

Your best friend, Jamie

Erin turned to the departing sun and made her decision; the only one she could live with.

Strains of soft music drifted through the darkened room as Jamie drowned her sorrows in root beer, fearing the mindless oblivion alcohol would have wrought. That was a state she knew all to well and promised herself she would never indulge in again. Two many lost nights had hounded her youth.

A watched phone never rings. She remembered hearing that once, thus the reason for the absence of light in the room. But she held the cordless phone tight in her hand all afternoon, silently willing it to ring. The ten o’clock hour was fast approaching and hope was fast fading. She closed her eyes, just drifting off to sleep to the melodious vocal sounds of the Irish soprano.

The phone rang once, but Jamie was almost afraid to move. On the second ring she lifted it to read the caller ID. Recognizing her co-workers number, she pressed the button.

"Hello," she said in a hoarse voice.

There was silence for a moment.

"Jamie, it’s me," Erin said, timidly.

Jamie held the cold bottle to her throbbing head. "I’m glad you called. I was afraid I’d never hear from you again."

"I wouldn’t do that to you, for the simple reason that I do love you. I understand you don’t feel the same and you really don’t owe me an explanation. It just happens."

"But I do...owe you an explanation. Please," begged the distraught woman.

"Okay. Why don’t you come by my house Friday evening, unless you’re working."

"No. No, this is too important to let anything stop me. I’ll be there."

"Good. That’s an interesting choice of music I hear," teased the Irish lass.

Jamie smiled for the first time in twenty-four hours. "Yeah, it’s my favorite now. My best friend gave it to me."

"Well, she has great taste in music… and friends."

More silence. Neither one wanted to break the frail connection they had re-established. But someone had to bring the call to an end.

"I’ll see you Friday night then. Take care of yourself Jamie."

"I will. Bye."

"Bye."

How could someone anticipate and dread an event at the same time, she wondered. But that is exactly what Jamie felt as she lay in bed that night, waiting for sleep to take away her sorrow ...at least temporarily.

 

Driving to the beach house the next day, Bridgett noticed her sister’s normally out going demeanor was subdued. Her one or two word answers to her sister’s questions were disturbing.

"I know you talked to her," said the redhead, as they continued down the road.

The annoyance was evident when Erin asked, "Were you eavesdropping Bridgett?"

"No. I was just passing in the hallway when I heard you say goodbye to her."

Erin purposely waited a while before explaining. "She apologized, even though none was necessary and she wants to talk. She’s coming by Friday night."

Bridgett’s silence spoke of her disapproval.

"Why are you so concerned about this?" the blonde asked. "This is my life and my decision. I know you and Jamie, were not that close, but I also know you liked her or you wouldn’t have invited her to the party that night. Maybe you’re eager to just give up a friend, but I’m not."

"A friend is not that irresponsible in her actions."

"I told you it was an accident and all my fault. Now whether or not I choose to continue my relationship with Jamie is my business. I know you’re just trying to look out for me, but please don’t interfere with my life."

No more words were spoken as they neared the oceanfront house.

 

Jamie and Bridget had come to a civil understanding at work. On Friday they had even had lunch together. But Bridgett did leave Jamie with a word of caution.

"I don’t like seeing my sister hurt."

"Neither do I," agreed Jamie. "And I wish I could erase everything that happened this last week. But I can only move forward and do my best to see that it never happens again. If that means staying out of Erin’s life and losing her friendship then that’s what I’ll do. But that is Erin’s decision, not yours."

"That’s the same thing she told me." Bridgett smiled, conceding the debate. "I just want the best of everything for her in life, including friends. She’s had enough sadness since she lost her sight."

The dark head nodded in agreement, wanting the same thing, only tenfold.

"Do you have a sister, Jamie?"

She was shocked by the question. "No," she admitted with sorrow. "I had a twin sister, but she died when we were five."

That surprised and saddened Bridgett, remembering how close she had come to losing her sister. "I’m sorry."

"I’ve often wondered how I would react to things in her life," said Jamie, solemnly. A small smile came to her face. "I’ve come to realize that I would probably be as over protective as you are toward Erin." They shared a small laugh. "So, I do kind of understand. Your sister is very special and I promise you that I would never do anything to intentionally hurt her."

Green eyes looked upon her with conviction. "I think I believe that now."

 

 

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