The woman sobbed as she sat on the floor holding her head. Ryan was furious when he came back to the room and told her that she had let them slip away. Her face was covered in bruises as were most of the other available spots on her body. There was no way to get past this and she knew that this might be the end.
“I don’t give a fucking crap about how sorry you are!” Ryan seethed. “You’re a complete moron and I have no idea why I ever thought you were capable enough to do this. A dog could have done better!”
“I don’t care!” Ryan yelled as he slapped her as hard as he could across the face.
Her body finally slumped to the floor; she couldn’t take it anymore and was praying to God that this was the last time.
Sam yawned and stretched, waking up late in the morning. The sunlight was pouring through the bedroom window and she could hear AJ humming to himself in the kitchen. Rolling over onto her back, her mind played back the night before. It felt so amazing to be free and back out among the living; it was going to be devastating when they had to go back to the real world and she got locked up again. Shaking her head, she got up and made her way out to the kitchen; she wasn’t going to ruin the few days of freedom she had with worrying about going back.
AJ greeted her with a smile and a kiss as she looked around. He had set up a beautiful breakfast of fruit and pancakes with orange juice poured and coffee brewing.
“You didn’t have to do this.” Sam said. “You have done more than enough bringing me out here.”
“Well I’m not going to let you starve to death!” he teased as he pulled her in for a hug. “I’m glad to see that smile on your face, I haven’t seen it since I don’t know when.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen it too.” Sam admitted quietly. “The last time I was this happy was living with my grandmother.”
AJ didn’t push her any further than that even though he really wanted to get to know more about the woman who raised Sam. He waited till they were halfway through breakfast before he asked any questions.
“I was wondering about your grandmother.”
Sam didn’t say anything and just took another bite of her pancake. AJ wasn’t sure if that was a sign to drop it or if she just needed a prodding so he decided to approach it differently.
“I miss my grandmother so much.” AJ admitted. “My mom raised me but we spent most of my life either living with my grandparents or having them around almost daily.”
“I’m sorry.” Sam said quietly as she saw the pain of her loss flash across his eyes. “What was her name?”
“Ursula. She was an amazing woman and honestly, sometimes I felt like she was more of a mom to me than my mom.” AJ realized how badly that sounded so he tried to make it clearer. “My mom worked a lot of jobs to take care of us because my dad walked out when I was little. My grandparents watched me all the time and I guess that’s how I became so attached.”
“When did she pass away?”
“2001.” he replied. “I went off the deep end when I lost her. I was already addicted to drugs and was an alcoholic so when she died, I took it as an excuse to go back to my old ways. Thankfully my mom and the guys were there to pick me up and put me back together again.”
“You were lucky.” Sam said and began to open up a little. “There was no one there after my grandmother passed.”
“I’m sorry Sam.”
“It’s ok. I’m not angry about it, I just wish there was someone there to help me deal with everything. My grandparents had taken care of everything when my parents and Sean died and then my grandmother took care of my grandfather’s arrangements. By the time she passed, I was on my own.”
AJ felt bad and tried to steer the conversation back into a positive direction.
“Sarah said you went to nursing school after your grandmother passed.”
“I did.” Sam said with a nod. “I hadn’t gone to college after high school because I was taking care of my grandmother. When she passed, I needed to do something and I remember all the care and love that her hospice nurses showed when they were helping me in her last few months. I wanted to experience that and take care of someone else that way, so I went to school and got my nursing degree.”
“Did you always work with hospice patients?”
“No. I did that mostly on the side.” Sam paused. “That’s actually how I met Ryan.”
AJ remembered Sarah saying that Sam was Ryan’s father’s hospice nurse and that’s how they met. It made him furious thinking how caring Sam was and how Ryan saw that as a weakness. He swooped right in when he found out that Sam was alone and kept her that way for such a long time. It was a good thing that he wasn’t standing in front of AJ right now or that butter knife wouldn’t be on the table anymore.
Sam could tell what was running through AJ’s mind just by watching his eyes. She reached out her hand and placed it over his; she could feel the tension start to dissipate.
“I don’t want to ruin our time here by talking about Ryan. You brought me out here so that we could have some peace. Let’s just forget about any negative stuff and enjoy the time we have left here.”