by Amber Nation
How to Save a Life
Copyright 2014 Amber Nation
All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of these publications may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the Author. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the publisher.
This book is a works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Cover and formatting by ShoutLines Design
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Other Books by Amber Nation
About the Author
OTHER BOOKS BY AMBER NATION
The Brown County Series
Not Alone – Grady and Emmalynne’s Story
Runaway Love – Charlie and Maggie’s Story
How to Save a Life
Unconditionally – Toby’s Story (Coming Soon)
I dedicate this book to a group of fabulous, kickass women, in which I am so blessed to be able to call my friends, The IndiePendents: Annalisa, Delisa, Tara, Ashley, Alissa, Kay, Casey, Cassy, Savannah, Ashley, and Rachael. Each and every one of you mean the world to me. Spork friends for life!
First and foremost the three people who mean the most to me in life: My husband Jarrod and my girls, Alexis and Olivia: Thank you for being my constant support system and encouraging me every single step of the way. I would’ve never ever started this journey if it weren’t for the three of you.
My besties: My cousin and BFF Melanie Brock, my fellow Neon Trees fanatic Amanda Evenson, my author twin Annalisa Nicole, and my Facebook BFF Delisa Lynn, thank you for always being there for me. I am so glad that I can always count on the four of you. Near or far, no matter the distance, no matter if I haven’t met you in person yet, I love each one of you more than words can even express.
The IndiePendents: What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It’s so nice to be in such a tightknit group of ladies who can answer your questions within a moment’s notice. I hope I have the opportunity to meet each and every single one of you, or even to get us all in the same place at the same time. That would be one hell of a good time!
Nation Fixation: You ladies are a fabulous group of supporters and I greatly appreciate all of your help with trying to get my name and my books out into the world of reading! I love you all!
My betas: Chelsie Leverette, Chrystal Nation, Keesha McCallum, Melanie Brock, Ashley Volk, Delisa Lynn, Tracy Brewer, Ashley Ragsdale, Ashley Hampton, and Crissy Sutcliffe: Thank you so much for taking the time out to read and review How To Save A Life before it was released and for making sure that it was the best it could possibly be! I greatly appreciate your time and your support!
The two people that without them, this book would’ve never been possible. My cover designer and formatter Rachel Mizer with Shoutlines Design: You’ve done it again, created a masterpiece out of FIVE different photos! I cannot wait to work with you again to see what you will come up with next! I greatly appreciate our talks and your awesome creative mind! And my editor Anna Coy: What can I say that hasn’t already been said? You are absolutely amazing and have a great eye for editing! I am so thankful that I was introduced to you and can’t wait to continue to work with you!
Enticing Journey Book Promotions - Ena and Jennifer: Thank you again for organizing everything from the cover reveal, to release day promotions, and the blog tour! I greatly appreciate all of the hard work you do for us authors!
And last BUT certainly not least - The Readers, Reviewers, and Bloggers: THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for the constant outpouring of support and encouragement! I appreciate it more than you will ever know! I love each and every single one of you!!!
4 years ago
Little did I know, that one single, solitary phone call would change the course of my entire life, alter my outlook on the world, and how I perceived things. I wanted to disengage myself from everyday mundane activities to just wallow in my self-infused misery. To let the guilt consume me.
Why did it have to happen?
The day started off as any other normal Monday morning. I was awoken by the tiny little human that thought it was hilarious to act like a monkey and climb up on the end of her mother’s and my bed. The light from the hallway filtered in as she shoved open the bedroom door, and I heard the patter of her feet as she ran across the floor. I could just picture her placing her little size eight foot on the first spindle of our footboard and hoisting herself onto the mattress, then having to push her mass of curly ringlets out of her face with her pudgy, little hand. Giggles ensued as she crawled up in between my wife’s and my resting, prone form. I had to feign sleep, because if she didn’t get to do this next part, it would result in tears. But not just any tears, alligator tears, the ones that could turn on and off like a switch, it was just better not to deal with an enormous meltdown.
Inching her way up towards my face, I waited for when she would take those little hands, smash my cheeks together and smack a big sloppy good morning kiss on my lips, and then a massive tickle fight would take place. It was our morning routine, one that she looked forward to every morning. Ok in all seriousness, I did as well. She thought it was the best thing being able to wake up daddy in the mornings.
Right before she got to the best part, Erin, my wife had to spoil our fun. “Hannah would you stop it already?" she screamed at our precious three year old daughter, which had her halting in place.
Throwing the blankets off of my body, I sat up in bed to at least get my good morning hug from my little princess.
Grasping her tightly in my embrace, I gave her a kiss atop of her strawberry blonde hair, a color she inherited from her mother. Those beautiful baby blues looked up at me with unshed tears gathering in the creases of her eyes. “It’s ok princess. Why don’t you go potty and put your clothes on that we picked out last night, yeah?" I said lightly, trying to diffuse the situation, and get her mind off of it before the meltdown occurred. She smiled so brightly, it revealed the little gap in between her baby teeth and shook her head up and down.
I helped her off the bed, and she ran off to get dressed and ready for school. Scrubbing my fingers in my unkempt hair, I turned to look at my wife, who had turned on her side away from me and obviously went back to sleep. I sighed wondering if and when things would ever get better between the two of us. We were high school sweethearts, but I’ve felt us drift apart for quite some time now.
I normally took Hannah to preschool on my way to work, but today it would be different. I had to go into work early to open up my father’s mechanic shop, since he had to take my ma to a doctor’s appointment, first thing this morning.
I was the head mechanic for Jameson Auto, owned by my father Michael Jameson Sr. so it was my responsibility to step up to the plate. Jameson Auto was the most reputable auto mechan
ic in Wentzville, a suburb just outside of St. Louis.
I enjoyed working with my father, some people didn’t have the luxury of saying that. But my parents were amazing people, and I honestly couldn’t see working anywhere else. Erin wasn’t too thrilled being married to an auto mechanic, but when it was in your blood and you enjoyed doing it, you went with it. I began tinkering with cars at an extremely young age, taking apart my bicycles and putting them back together again.
When I was sixteen, my father bought me basically a shell of a 1966 Ford Mustang; you thought I’d hit the lottery. I was ecstatic to be able to build my first car from the ground up. Dad and I would spend our weekends rummaging through the salvage yards, looking for parts to use for my car. It fascinated me how mechanical things worked, so it was also a learning experience as well as bonding between father and son. We continuously worked on it until it was in prime condition, well for a totally restored muscle car. It was painted a cherry red, and you could see your reflection in the hood whenever she was freshly washed and waxed. I was going to keep that car forever, until it ran to the ground, then I would rebuild it all over again.
I was able to keep my Mustang for six glorious years, until I heard the words, ‘I’m pregnant.’ I sold my old favorite girl so I could be a daddy to my new favorite princess. I still miss that car to this day, but it was a sacrifice that I didn’t resent or regret making. I would always make sure Hannah had the world, she would always come first to anything and anyone, including Erin.
After having Hannah, Erin suffered major depression. At first it was just a mild case of postpartum depression, but within a few weeks it escalated to full blown and out of control. Things would get better whenever she took her medicine, but when she didn’t, I often came home to a messy house and Hannah screaming her head off while in her swing, or forgotten food on the stove. It took me threatening divorce and taking Hannah away for her to finally get help and stick to her medication regimen.
But things didn’t stay better for very long. I would work forty to fifty hours a week at the garage, and come home having to pick up the house, catch up on laundry and make dinner, you name it, I did it. Erin was home all day long and didn’t see the need in accomplishing chores that she knew I would do. I wasn’t your average twenty-two year old, I had more responsibility than most. While it didn’t bother me taking care of Hannah, I felt like our relationship was merely one-sided, my side being weighed down so heavily, at any moment the stress of it all would break me.
I was under the impression, that this whole marriage thing meant dual and equal partnership, but I could’ve been very wrong. I knew that’s what it meant to me. Hannah and I honestly would’ve been better off by ourselves.
Then Hannah turned three and was eligible for preschool. Erin stood by her theory that Hannah needed to go to interact with other children her age and I agreed. So three days a week, I brought Hannah to school on my way into work, and picked her up on my lunch hour and brought her home, while Erin did, whatever Erin did. I couldn’t tell you what she spent her time doing during the day and I guess I’ll never know.
Finally, getting out of bed, I went into our walk-in closet and dressed in my standard uniform of blue jeans that had seen better days, no matter how many times they’ve been washed you could never really rid them of the grease stains, and a navy blue t-shirt that had Jameson Auto stitched in white lettering on the pocket. Grabbing my dingy work boots, I sat on the bed to slip them on and lace them up.
Erin was still lying there, so I nudged her shoulder, “Erin, you need to get up and get ready, you have to take Hannah to school." If she didn’t get a move on, Hannah would end up missing Weekend Review, her favorite part of a Monday morning at school.
Rolling over and letting out a groan was her way of letting me know that she was irritated, “Why can’t you take Hannah?" she whined.
“Because I have to open the shop. Dad has to take Ma to the Doctor. I told you this once on Friday and twice yesterday." I reminded her numerous times, because I knew it would come down to this, it always did.
“I don’t know why your mom just can’t drive herself, she shouldn’t be so lazy."
Feeling my blood begin to boil, I released a deep sigh, there was no use getting into this with her right now, even though she was the one being lazy. I didn’t have the time, and I was already worried about my ma’s appointment and how everything was going to pan out. “Erin, she isn’t lazy, they are going to find out the results from her biopsy. They found a lump in her breast, remember? I think that constitutes both of them going and me opening up the shop for them don’t you?" I didn’t even hang around to listen for her response, it probably would’ve pissed me off further.
Getting Hannah’s breakfast situated, I poured my coffee out of the pot and into a travel mug. Black with two sugars, just the way I liked it. Erin finally made her appearance as I was heading out the door, I looked up at her to see her ignoring me, so I went to Hannah and gave her our signature goodbye, an Eskimo kiss, where we rubbed our noses together. It made her giggle every, single time.
“Bye, princess, you have a good day." I said while looking into those crystal baby blues.
Putting on another glorious grin, which always tugged at my heartstrings, she spoke in her little melodic voice, “Bye, Daddy. I love you!"
“I love you too, princess."
It was pushing past lunchtime, and I hadn’t heard from my dad about my ma’s appointment, being anxious was the name of the game. My mother had located a small mass in her breast about a month or so ago, so she had been going to various appointments to get mammograms, ultrasounds, and lastly, a biopsy. Today was the results of the biopsy and my mom was beside herself with worry.
My dad was also worried, but he hid it well. I could see the underlying tension in his body, and he just hadn’t been his usual self these past few weeks, the stress was starting to take its toll on him. My father was her rock, her knight in shining armor, she could lean on him for anything and he would always reassure her that everything would be ok. Taking things one step at a time and day by day, that’s all anyone could do. I envied the relationship they had, even after thirty years of marriage, they acted like two love crazed teenagers.
I was worried as well, but I had to be strong, and I had to be there for my father to lean on when he finally cracked. I had never seen my father shed a single tear or ever let worry or stress get the best of him, but I knew his time was coming. No one could let all of that fester within yourself without ultimately bursting at one point or another.
And the fact that Erin didn’t show one ounce of sympathy, just proved how ill-fitted we were for each other. Everything was always about Erin. I even had to take a break from fixing an air conditioner to make sure she still remembered to pick up Hannah. She was sleeping when I called, but at least I could take worrying about Hannah getting picked up from school off of my list now. I needed to have a sit down talk with Erin and see where she thought our relationship was headed, I couldn’t deal being in a one-sided, loveless marriage for much longer; Hannah needed better stability in her life.
I went back to work, fixing the stubborn air conditioner in a car that had seen the inside of this shop way too many times. The poor thing needed to be put to rest, but the owner was adamant on keeping it running, so who was I to argue? I would do everything in my power to keep this vehicle on the road. But thoughts of my ma were in the forefront of my mind, which made concentrating on these damn parts ten times harder.
Thirty more minutes had passed before the phone inside of the office started ringing. I looked up from my position underneath the dashboard of the old Chevy, willing the news on the other end of the line to be a good message coming from my father. I was slow to react, but I finally left my place from within the car to go answer the ringing contraption.
I tried to wipe the grease off of my hands as best I could with an old shop rag, and had to steady my shaking hand before I picked up the receiver. I just had the
distinct feeling that whatever was on the other end wasn’t going to be along the lines of good news.
What I wasn’t expecting was it to be Hannah’s school, informing me of a terrible accident involving my entire heart, my entire life. As the receiver slipped from my grasp and onto the floor, I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel as if it were my fault.
I changed my entire life, because of that one phone call that could’ve been prevented if I had chosen to do things differently.
Straining to open my eyes, the torturous pounding of my temples prevented my eyes from focusing. Trying to blink away the remnants of sleep, all I could see was white. Plain white walls and a white ceiling.
Where was I?
I tried to lift my head up off of the flat uncomfortable pillow in which it was resting on. Once I was able to raise it a fraction of an inch, my muscles screamed out in agony, that was when I noticed who was sitting in the chair towards the foot of my bed. A menacing scowl on his face as he stared daggers my way while his hands rested in his lap. I could just see the anger and hatred he felt towards me, dripping from his pores. He unclasped his hands and braced the arms of the chair as he pushed himself up to a standing position.
I warily watched his controlled movements, as he shuffled towards the head of my bed. My fingers dug into my blankets, bracing myself for the unknown. I never knew when or what would occur.
The closer he came, the faster my heart would beat.
Thump, thump, thump.
I had absolutely nowhere to go, I could only pray that he took it easy on me this time.
He slowly crept his face down to where his eyes were level with mine, I could see the fire burning in them down to the very depths of his soul. His gaze was so menacing, that if looks could actually kill, I would already be ten feet under.