How to Save a Life

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How to Save a Life Page 7

by Amber Nation

  I explained my reasoning as best as I could and I hoped he understood where I was coming from.

  He uncrossed his arms from where they were perched on his rock hard chest and continued to glare at me. Apparently I didn’t say the right thing and he was pissed, I could see the fire flaring in his eyes from my spot on the couch several feet away from him.

  “You know what, stay here as long as you need to, but stay the fuck out of my way. Who are you to question why I’m trying to be hospitable, the least you could say is thank you."

  And with his parting words he stormed off out of the living room and went towards the kitchen. “Sadie, come!" he screamed. Then mere seconds later I heard the back door slam.

  What do I do now?

  I didn’t mean for him to take offense, I just wanted to know why he was being so nice to me because many people in recent years hadn’t. I’d forgotten what it was like to have decent human beings in my life aside from my parents of course.

  I felt the tears begin welling in my eyes as I was just basically scolded like a misbehaving child. I thought I had gotten away from feeling like this. I would stay because I really needed to watch my money and I still hadn’t called the insurance company; that would be the first thing on my to-do list for tomorrow.

  I would somehow show Mike how gracious I was for him letting me stay here. He wouldn’t have to lift a finger while he was at home to cook or clean, but I would respect his wishes in staying pretty much out of sight.


  It was a cool and dreary day, the sun had ceased to exist. It looked like at any moment the sky would open up and soak everything in a torrential downpour.

  Mother Nature was pretty much matching my mood as of late. I was in a total funk and didn’t know the first thing about how to get out of it.

  Sheridan did what I reluctantly said and stayed out of my way for the most part. We passed each other going to the bathroom every so often, but she wouldn’t even look at me. I was worn out from working all the time, I put in extra hours at the station and when I wasn’t there, I was drowning myself in vehicle parts, just to keep out of sight.

  I honestly didn’t know how to fix whatever ‘relationship’ we had and I was actually surprised that she was sticking around.

  I walked into the garage only to roll my eyes at the odd song choice for Brock to be listening to blaring from the speakers. I didn’t want to be bothered, so I just left the volume where it was, even if it was “Can’t Touch This" by MC Hammer.

  I grabbed a slightly used shop rag, which meant it didn’t have as much grease caked on it as the others, and shoved it into my back pocket. You never knew what would occur being underneath the hood of a vehicle. And I walked over to Sheridan’s car which had pretty much taken up residence in a bay within the garage.

  She had finally received the insurance check, which was more than what the car was being sold for. So in the end she’ll have money left over out of the deal. She’d been leaving money on my kitchen counter for when I went grocery shopping, but I never used it. I invited her to stay at my house, I wasn’t about to make her pay for anything.

  I remembered back to a few weeks ago when I brought her here to take a look at the car. I knew it was in pretty great condition for the price excluding the fact that it needed a new transmission and odds and ends such as brakes, and a new set of windshield wipers.

  That was also the day when she met Brock.

  He was piddling around in the backroom where the extra common parts were stored. Oil filters, oil, spark plugs, belts, things like that.

  Thinking he was sneaky, he went to the stereo and turned on God knows what and came up beside me.

  Sheridan had yet to say anything, she was just walking around the Monte Carlo running a finger alongside the sleek black exterior.

  Finally, the stereo kicked on and I inwardly groaned and gave Brock the stink eye as “Do You Wanna Touch Me" by Joan Jett began streaming through the speakers.

  I casually glanced over to Sheridan who had a deer in the headlights look and her face quickly flushed, and then looked back at Brock who had the cheesiest fucking grin plastered on his face.

  I mouthed the word, “Bastard," to him before he spoke up.

  “Pretty nice, huh?" he asked as indicated towards the car. He casually stepped closer in Sheridan’s direction wiping his hand on his grease stained dark denim jeans and then held it out for her to shake. “I’m Brock Monroe, it’s nice to meet you Sheridan."

  She idly took one look at his rough, filthy, overworked hands and I’ll be damned if she didn’t grasp his hand in a firm handshake.

  This woman wasn’t afraid to get dirty, she surprised me at every turn.

  “It’s so nice to meet you as well, Brock. Um, one question," her hand left Brock’s as she pointed towards the car, “that’s a two door car."

  Brock grasped his chin and he partially turned towards me and we each let out a little chuckle. Sheridan wasn’t talking to me, but I was the one who answered.

  “Yeah, that’s right. Monte Carlo’s only come in two doors."

  “Is that a problem?" Brock asked.

  She looked at it a little more before shaking her head no.

  Shoving his hands in his pockets, Brock started walking around the car. “This car does need some work, but like I’m sure Mike has told you that he is planning on doing most of the work himself, so it’ll keep the costs lower. If you look inside of it, it’s in immaculate condition, the mileage isn’t bad for the year. Really, you won’t find a better deal. It just so happened that Sheriff Mitchell brought it in here and wanted me to help him pass word around that he was selling it. I think it’ll be a great car for you, Sheridan."

  It looked as if she was mulling over the information that Brock had just given her, which was more or less the same exact thing I had told her before.

  “Ok, this will work. Thank you, both of you." I was honestly shocked that she would thank me, maybe things wouldn’t be so hard to repair after all. She turned around and went straight back to my truck and climbed in.

  She wouldn’t let me help her in anymore. No matter if it was uncomfortable climbing into the truck with a broken ankle, she was doing it herself. The days of the idle touches were now just a distant memory.

  “Hey man, what’s going on?"Brock spoke, which pulled me from my memory of the weeks prior.

  “Oh, hey. Just thought I’d come and work on the tranny a bit since I had some free time."

  I could’ve honestly had more of it accomplished, but I was pussy footing around. I didn’t want Sheridan to not have to be dependent on me anymore, not that she asked much of me anyways.

  If her car were up and running, then she could leave Brown County, and I wasn’t ready for that to happen yet, if at all.

  He came out from around the Dodge Durango that he was working on.

  “Is that Ethan Bradley’s?" Ethan was a Sheriff Deputy for Brown County, all around good guy.

  “Yeah, his air conditioner was acting up, just needed a charge really. He wanted me to go ahead and change the oil in it and rotate the tires since it was already in here, easy stuff."

  I nodded my head just to show him that I was partially listening at least.

  “Hey, how are things going at home with Sheridan? Y’all still tip-toeing around each other?"

  “Yeah, I really fucked up. Things are strained at best. I honestly don’t know how to fix them."

  “I don’t think she was trying to come off as rude, she really doesn’t strike me as the type. Now, is she someone to give you hell and bust your balls, absolutely, but I don’t think her demeanor meant being disrespectful. Perhaps she’s just cautious. I mean really she is right, y’all don’t know each other, and maybe these feelings of attraction are new for her. I think she’s been burned just like you and isn’t used to people being nice to her."

  I was perpetually dumfounded, he sounded as if he had personally spoken with her.

  “How do you know all
of this? You speak as if you’ve had a private conversation with her. Her attraction towards me? I’m fucking lost." I said as I let out a long drawn out sigh and rested my hands on my hips.

  “When y’all were here just a few weeks ago, I did talk to her, dumbass. When you went to the bathroom, I went out to the truck and talked to her. I didn’t want her sitting in the truck all by herself."

  “That couldn’t have been more than a few minutes, what all did you get out of her?" I was intrigued. He knew her for all of five minutes and he knew more apparently than I did. Granted, I only knew her about ten minutes longer.

  “Not much, and what I did get I’m not repeating. You’ll get her full story when you earn it. So stop being an asshole and earn it. How is her foot doing?"

  I shrugged my shoulders, because really his guess was as good as mine. “Fine I guess. She is cleaning and cooking nonstop. I haven’t had to lift a finger at home since she’s been there. I’m sure she needs to take it easy, but since she isn’t working, and I’m not accepting any money, she wants to help in her own way. She is an amazing cook, my God. Half the time I am reheating up the meal she makes because there is really no rhyme or reason to what time I come in the door, and usually it’s late enough to where I eat and then head to bed. But even reheating it, it’s the best things I’ve ever eaten.

  “Oh and get this, I was out on the patio the other morning, she came out to make coffee for herself, and made mine too. It kind of astounded me, because Erin never ever took the initiative to make me coffee. Sheridan had made me coffee one time before and she’d remembered how I took it. Never mind it’s easy as hell to make, but the fact that she took the time to commit it to her memory bank." I stopped talking because I was rambling like a fucking woman. “Oh my God, I’ve fucking lost my mind. Over a girl, I don’t even know. Over someone who isn’t even speaking to me at the moment!"

  I felt a sharp sting on my face as I then realized Brock’s hand connected with my cheek.

  “Get a fucking grip, man!" he yelled in my face.

  I shook the fogginess out of my head as I stared deadpan at him, “Did you just fucking slap me? You couldn’t even punch me, you had to slap me?"

  “Well, would you like for me to punch you? Because I’m sure that can be arranged. Damn man, you need a good night’s sleep."

  “Oh, that’s another thing. I get woken up every night by Sheridan thrashing around. I think she’s having nightmares. The spare bedroom is right next to mine and I can hear her."

  This time I got to feel Brock’s protruding knuckles as they dug deep into my collarbone as he punched me.

  Wincing and bringing my hand to my shoulder, I yelled, “God damn, what was that for."

  “You deserved it. You said that you can hear her being woken up in the middle of the night by possible nightmares, but yet you aren’t doing anything about it? What the fuck is wrong with you? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were turning into a bonafide pussy. You pretty much said yourself that you were looking for a sign to be able to approach her again, hello, here is your sign!!! Go comfort her whenever she has a nightmare, maybe then she’ll open up to you and y’all can stop all of this pussy footing around."

  He turned around and walked away mumbling something about “Y’all are downright a bunch of fucking teenagers." And, “I’m getting too old for this shit." Then he stopped short and turned around, “I almost forgot to tell you, Emmalynne had her baby yesterday, it was a girl." My heart immediately sank. “I don’t suppose you want to go meet Charlotte, do you?"

  I knew he could convey my sadness through the perplexed look in my eyes because he gave me a weak smile while nodding his head and said, “I didn’t figure so, but I thought you’d like to know."

  Emmalynne and Grady were friends, not close friends, so I guess they were more like acquaintances. So even though I wouldn’t make an effort to go see them, because being around children is a hard limit for me, I would send them at least a card to let them know that I was thinking about them.

  My head was so garbled with so much despair. Who knew that it would take this long for old wounds to heal? Inadequacy in being a man, that’s what I felt like. I needed to take a giant step in overcoming my fears about love and about letting someone else in. Brock was right, Hannah would want me to live. So I would try my best and live, for her.

  Coming home at night once again, but not because I was stalling because of being afraid of actually holding a conversation with Sheridan, oh how I wished it was.

  Walking in through the front door, I helped guide the screen door shut so it wouldn’t make a loud clang and end up waking up Sheridan or Sadie.

  Today was emotionally and mentally draining. After the turn of events that occurred today, everything was suddenly brought into perspective.

  Maggie Walker was kidnapped this morning by some psychotic drug lord who was trying to get to Maggie’s brother Mason, and Maggie’s boyfriend Charlie Hennings.

  Finding out that Charlie was undercover FBI, almost made you feel a little violated. He had been working under the pretense of being a bartender at Emmy Lou’s Bar, where I frequented pretty often. I couldn’t honestly say that I knew him well, but we did play in The Nation’s Capital together, him being the bass player.

  Luckily Maggie would be alright, and Charlie ended up being shot in the side, but it was only a flesh wound. And the kidnapper met his demise, with several rounds of bullets puncturing his skin. That scene made me glad that I wasn’t a coroner.

  Being in the back of the ambulance with an unconscious Maggie, made me realize that I was exactly where I should be in life, being a paramedic. I loved being able to save lives, even though I wasn’t able to save the ones closest to me. And if that didn’t strike me in the heart.

  I dropped my lunchbox and gym bag directly on the floor, not even caring where it went. I was in almost a zombie-like state as I walked into the kitchen to no doubt find something that Sheridan cooked and put her heart and soul into because that was just what she did.

  She took care of me even if she didn’t directly realize it.

  I devoured the most succulent bacon wrapped pork tenderloin before I crawled under my sheets for what would be a night of little to no or restless sleep.

  That was until I heard the high-pitched shrills of Sheridan yelling, “No Pate, stop!"


  Oh no, he had found me. How in the world had Pate found me, here in this Podunk town of all places?

  I tried to run away, but the boot that was enclosed around my foot prevented me from moving around very fast.

  I could hear the rustling of the leaves as his widely spaced footsteps came quickly approaching. I had no idea how or why I was out in the woods, it was something straight out of a horror movie, which sounded like the last several years of my life.

  I thought I had gotten away from him.

  I ended up tripping over a large branch that was growing up from the ground, landing flat on my face. My foot was throbbing so profusely that I couldn’t even regain the strength to get back to my feet again.

  Hearing his heavy, labored breathing getting even closer, I had to think of something to do. Fighting back never stopped him, so what made me think that it would now.

  “No Pate, no!" I screamed, hoping he would gain even an ounce of compassion.

  I looked over my shoulder only to see his hand coming closer to me. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut and strained myself into locking my muscles and joints, to try and brace myself for the impact only to feel myself being shook by my shoulders.

  “Wake up, Sheridan. You’re having another nightmare. Sheridan, sweetheart, please wake up."

  That soothing almost trembling voice wasn’t the voice of the monstrous Pate. It was the one voice that I longed to hear day in and day out, but hadn’t in several days.


  My eyes immediately flew open as I jerked up in bed, Mike had to abruptly dodge his entire body back, because the impact from our
heads colliding would’ve been excruciatingly painful.

  “Whoa, Sheridan it’s just me." He calmly stated as he put his hands up in mock surrender. I supposed he thought I was going to attack him. Actually, it was the opposite as I lunged for him thrusting my arms around his neck as I clung to his body.

  I was safe in Brown County. No Pate in sight. Nothing to worry about. These nightmares kept getting worse and more and more realistic.

  I felt his hand linger on my back as he embraced me and rubbed his fingertips up and down along my spine.

  “Shh. It’s alright. Nothing can hurt you while you are here with me, do you understand?"

  I still didn’t trust my voice so I just nodded knowing that indeed I was safe with Mike. And even safer in his arms.

  I finally let go of him and settled back onto the mattress, and started feeling a little silly for my freak out.

  “I’m so sorry, Mike, I didn’t mean to wake you up. I sometimes get bad dreams, it’s no big deal."

  “One you didn’t wake me and two, I’ve heard that excuse before, and it’s time to come up with a new one. And perhaps maybe one a little more believable if you are wanting me to back off. Now, you screamed ‘No, Pate’ just like last time. Are you ready to tell me who Pate is?"

  I hesitated, was I ready to tell him about the illustrious Pate Strickland? Illustrious being said with very stern sarcasm. In his everyday professional life, he was highly respected and looked up to because of his father. Within the outer four walls of our house, he was anything but.

  He directed me to sit against the headboard as he sat right beside me and covered our lower extremities with a blanket. He turned towards me brushing back some of my hair off of my shoulder. I didn’t know why he did that, but the touching movement sent electric zings straight to my heart.

  “Sheridan, I’m here to listen, if you are willing to open up."

  I again, couldn’t find my words and it was beyond frustrating. I didn’t know why I was bottled up so tightly. So many concerns were floating around. Would he judge me? Would he think I brought all of this on myself?


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