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Chapter Fifteen

"Bob, please," Kev pleaded.

After Kev and Bri learned I only had twenty-four hours (now twenty two hours) to live, my girl party had ended quickly. AJ, Howie, Kev, and Bri were currently sitting in the hospital's 'family room' with my dad trying desperately to talk some sense into him.

"Kevin, you said it yourself. Nick's brain dead. Even if a miracle did happen and he woke up, he wouldn't be the same. I don't want to watch Nick live a half life. It's all or nothing."

Dad lowered his head; his shoulders shook. Kev's watery green eyes looked up at me.

"I have every reason to believe that he's going to make a full recovery," Kev said firmly. Bri's hands were clasped in front of him; I had no doubt he was praying for the hundredth time today.

"How? You said it yourself just a few days ago. Nick--"

"I was wrong," Kev said. My eyes widened. It wasn't often that Kev admitted he was wrong about something. Again, his eyes flickered over to me. "Nick's a fighter. He just needs time and--"

"Time's something I can't handle," dad said. "The longer I wait, the more his mother will make my life a living hell. I've already lived like that for years. I...I can't."

"You bastard," I said angrily. "God, you couldn't be there for me when I was alive and now you're going to ...you're gonna..."

I couldn't finish. I was so angry. I ran straight at the wall. I wanted to hurt. Unfortunately, I just ended up flying through it.

"Does he have anyone else that we should contact?"

Nurse Becky's voice caught my attention. She was standing in the hall right outside the room I had just vacated talking to Kristin. Kris folded her arms tightly across her chest, her forehead creased in concern.

"Well, there is one person," Kris whispered. She looked at the closed door before looking at Becky. "His girlfriend, Lauren, broke up with him six months ago. I don't think the guys have called her, but--"

"If she wants a chance to say good-bye, she better be contacted soon," Becky said. Kris nodded. I watched Nurse Becky walk into my room.

My eyes widened. Lauren? The possibility that Lauren might still be the one hadn't occured to me. I floated back into the room.


Kev jumped. AJ looked up in surprise. "You okay?"

Kev's eye twitched; he was trying hard not to look at me again. "I've been better."

Dad was full-on crying now. Bri was hugging him and offering his scarf as a snot rag again.

"Kev, I just overheard Nurse Busty and Kristin talking. No one's contacted Lauren! What if she's still the one? Oh my gawd Kev, you gotta call her! Time's running out!"

Kev's shoulders slumped. He looked at dad and then up towards the ceiling.

"Excuse me a moment," he said. Howie patted Kev's arm as he walked past him.

"Are you gonna call?" I asked. "Huh?"

"Yessss," Kev mumbled out of the corner of his mouth.

Fifteen minutes later, Kev was in the men's bathroom again, sitting on the toilet dialing Lauren's number that I still had memorized. For my benefit, he put her on speaker phone.

"I know we've never met, but I'm calling on behalf of Nick," Kev said.

"Nick?" Lauren said. "What about--"

"He was in a bad car accident several days ago. He's currently on life support. His dad's taking him off tomorrow, and--" Kev stopped and swallowed hard. He was getting choked up. I balled my hands into fists.

"Life support?" Lauren repeated. I noticed the panic in her voice. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"I wish it was," Kev said weakly. "I just wanted to let you know. I think it would mean a lot to Nick if you could--if you could come say goodbye."

"What hospital?"

My fingers relaxed. "She's coming!" I shouted. Kev waved at me. He gave her the address to the hospital.

"Isn't it family only?" Lauren asked. Kev's mouth twitched.

"Just tell them you're his fiancee."


"Nothing," Kev said quickly. "Just give this number a callback and I will make sure you get up to see him."

"Okay," Lauren acquisenced. "Thank you for calling me."

"No, thank you," Kev said. He hung up and looked up at me.

"I've got a good feeling about this," I said. "Our worries are over."

"Nick, if this doesn't--"

"IT WILL!" I yelled. "It's...it's gotta work. Lauren's the only girl I really loved. She's the only one that's ever broken my heart. This is right."

Kev sighed. I hated that it couldn't be more hopeful. I needed hope. I needed reassurance.

This was my life on the line.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The lump in my throat grew every minute that went by. I kept glancing at my watch without really meaning to. I felt Nick's watery eyes on me. Honestly, I wasn't laying much stock in Lauren. I know Nick had the whole thing mentally plotted out, but I couldn't see it being that obvious. Although, I guess Lauren wasn't that obvious, since we'd overlooked calling her in the first place, but still...

My mind was racing ahead to how the hell I was going to stop Bob... and in less than (I glanced at my watch) 20 hours.

"When is Lauren getting here?" Nick was hovering in and out of the glass of the window in the family room. Bob had left, Kristin was gone to get lunch, Brian was in with Nick, and Howie and AJ had gone home, having said their goodbyes to Nick just in case and feeling helpless and "third wheel" as AJ put it. I was alone in the family room with Nick, rubbing my neck and staring at the carpet fibers, wracking my brain for the answer.

"I dunno, soon," I muttered.

Nick leaned backwards and, laying on the air, floated around the room about waist-height from the floor, like he was in a swimming pool. I watched him a moment. "Christ," I hissed, "Leave it to your fucking family to ruin everything."

Nick frowned. "And that's different from usual... how again?"

"Well it's a little more than fudging up a holiday or something this time, Nick, they're literally ending--" I stopped and stood up. Tension coursed through my body. I felt sick. I looked around, ready to snap, and lobbed a harsh punch into the wall. The plaster formed a dent around my hand.

Nick hung there in the air, staring at me.

"God damn it," I yelled at the wall. "God fucking damn him."

Nick stared at my back - I could feel his eyes boring holes through me. "Kev," he whispered.

"What?" I hissed.

"How is this different than you saying seven days... exactly?" he asked.

The way he said it, I know he'd been wondering it for quite some time. And to be honest, I had been, too. How was it different? Why did it kill me inside to think of Bob doing it, but made sense when I wanted to do it? The answer was obviously one of two things: Either I really couldn't stand not having control of a situation... or I'd been all talk when I'd said I'd pull it on Nick and, had day seven come, I would've backed down.

I looked up at Nick. "Because I wouldn't have really done it," I answered.

"What?" Nick asked.

Suddenly the family room door burst open. "Kevin! I got here as soon as I could!" Lauren rushed into the room, passed directly through Nick, who stood, gape-mouthed and staring at me, and wrapped her arms around me.

I blinked. This was the first time I'd ever met Lauren.

"I'm so glad you called, I - I can't believe this is - is happening."

I patted her back and stared at Nick, who was still vacantly staring at me, in shock. I cleared my throat and stood up from the chair. When I stood and Lauren was still eye-to-eye with me, I was surprised. "Damn," I muttered, "Be a little tall why don't you?"

Lauren laughed in the back of her throat, "Nick always liked that he didn't have to touch his toes to kiss me."

Nick's vacant, surprised stare melted and a smile snuck onto his mouth, his eyes shifting to Lauren. "Hey, I remember that..." he said softly. He hovered closer to her, "I remember that, Lau." He reached out a hand and tried to touch her shoulder... but it went right through. He frowned.

"He's a good guy," I said.

Lauren nodded, "He is, and - he would've made someone very happy."

"I wanna make you happy," Nick whispered.

"C'mon, Lau... Let me show you to his room... so you can say good bye," I said, snaking an arm around her waist.

"And I can say hello," Nick added, zooming after us.