“How’d you do that?”
“Press x then o twice,” Veronica explained.
Nick looked over at her and sighed, he could tell she was distracted and rightfully so. They’d been trying to do things to take her mind off her father, but nothing was really working. He’d suggested playing Playstation on a whim and while she acted as if she was excited to, he could tell her heart wasn’t really into it.
She’d spent several hours after the phone call trying to make arrangements to go to Georgia and so far, things weren’t looking so good. She was just getting ready to go back to work, money was tight and it looked as if she would have to use her credit cards. Her Mom was trying to help her out and now Veronica was waiting to hear back from her before she could make any other plans.
“What do ya say we order a pizza and watch some movies?” Nick suggested.
“Sure sounds good.”
“Alright,” he stood, putting the game away, “I’ll order. Anything specific you want?”
“Nah, just cheese is fine with me.”
Nick grabbed the phone, found the listings of pizza shops on the fridge, and dialed.
Once the pizza arrived, they settled down and watched a couple movies while they ate. Nick kept stealing glances of her, wanting to say something, do something to try to make it easier, but he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to bug her, he didn’t want her to push him away, but he also didn’t want to act as if it wasn’t happening. Sighing he wiped at his mouth with a napkin and then took a drink of his pop.
She could barely taste the pizza; she may as well have been eating cardboard. She really wasn’t that hungry and she couldn’t focus on anything. Everything had changed in a matter of minutes, and now faced the reality that something may happen to her dad. The thought sickened her, made her wish she hadn’t been so caught up in herself, hadn’t been so quick to want him to not interfere. Now all that Veronica wished for was to hear his voice again.
Sniffling, she wiped at her eyes with her napkin and stood abruptly, grabbing her plate and heading into the kitchen.
“Veronica? You ok?”
She whirled around, “Oh sorry Nick, I should’ve asked if you were done and taken your plate too.”
“S’ok, no big deal. Gives me an excuse to come in here with you,” he winked.
She chuckled weakly, “Mmmm.”
A Few Hours Later…
“Well, I’m gonna get some sleep.”
“Tomorrow’s the big day, back to work for me and back home for you. Make sure you’ve got all your stuff, boarding pass and all that fun stuff,” Veronica smiled.
Nick groaned, “Yeah, lots of fun.”
“Anyway, good night Nick.”
“Wait, stay out here with me tonight. I don’t want you to be alone.”
She looked over at him, smiling a bit. “Yeah, ok.”
She changed and made her way over, Nick had already pulled the bed out and gotten the sheets and blankets readjusted.
“Alright, I’ll be right back,” he slipped away and headed into the bathroom.
Veronica sighed; her head was starting to hurt. It’d been a long stressful day. After her Mom called and told her the help she was hoping to get fell through, Veronica had been online the rest of the evening trying to find a flight she could afford and a time that would work. Her brother had called several times updating her on her dad. Things weren’t looking good, his liver and kidneys had shut down and he’d developed pneumonia. It made it even more critical that she work something out. She’d called her job and left word with the night manager what had come up and told them that she’d talk with Shelly tomorrow about it.
Nick made his way back in and over to the bed, slipping under the covers and pulling her into his arms.
“So…how are you?”
“Scared, I feel like I’m gonna get sick.”
“I’m sorry baby, I wish I knew what to say,” he frowned.
“Try and get some sleep ok?”
“Yeah, night Nick.”
“Night Veronica,” he whispered, pulling her close to him, hugging her tightly.
The ringing of the phone woke her out of the dreamless sleep she’d been in. Looking up at the clock, she saw that it was about fifteen minutes to one in the morning. Her heart dropped, no one called her this early in the morning.
Bolting out of the bed, she hurried over to the cordless, grabbing it and pressing the button.
Nick groaned, and then quickly sat up when it finally registered that the phone was ringing. He looked over at the clock and then hurried out of the bed, flipping the light one before looking over at Veronica, who had just grabbed the phone.
There was silence for a moment before someone finally responded.
“Veronica…,” came the soft voice.
Her heart dropped.
“He’s…he’s gone Veronica.”
Nick stilled, she’d gone completely white.
“You…you need to come down Veronica. I’m gonna try to make the arrangements up, and I’ll let you know as soon as I can.”
She nodded, unable to find the words to speak; she had no voice to make a sound.
“Veronica? Are you there?”
“Y-yes,” she managed to whisper.
“Ok, I’ll call you later today and let you know what’s going on alright?”
She hung up, blindly setting the phone on the charger.
Turning she started down the hall to her room, “I have to…go online and get tickets.”
“Veronica, come back…”
When she didn’t respond, Nick hurried down the hall after her. He grabbed her just as she was walking into the room, pulling her back against him.
“C‘mon,” he whispered, pulling her away and leading her down the hall. She didn’t fight him, didn’t make a sound. He led her over to the bed and sat with her. “Baby?”
She closed her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks.
His heart dropped, “Oh god.”
Veronica squeezed her eyes tighter shut, wrapping her arms around her stomach, starting to rock back and forth. The numbness was starting to wear off, replaced by the cold hard reality that her father was dead, that she’d never hear his voice again, never feel his arms around her, never hear his laugh, or look him in the eyes.
He was gone.
The sob that escaped her lips came from the depths of her soul, dissolving the last shred of innocence she had left. It wouldn’t be stopped. Everything seemed so stupid now, what she wouldn’t give to have him asking about her life, telling her he knew she could do better. Never again. The sobs came harder and suddenly there were arms around her holding her tightly, and she pushed her face against the hard unyielding chest, her hand fisting up in the plain white t-shirt. She cried for the loss she would never get over, the emptiness that no one would ever be able to fill. Veronica wrapped her other arm around him, clinging to him desperately, wanting him to make it stop, make the pain go away. But it wouldn’t, the pain would never go away. She had lost her best friend.
Daddy’s little girl, was all alone.
Nick held her tightly, her cries cutting through him as nothing ever had. He rocked her gently, whispering soothing words the best he knew how. He closed his eyes, not bothering to hold back the tears that slipped from his eyes. She cried and cried, and he held her, wanting to take the pain and make it his, wanting to stop the pure agony and desperation he not only heard, but also felt.
He’d never seen it, never saw what it was like for someone to lose a parent, the emptiness he’d seen in her eyes, the life gone from her body. And there was nothing he could do, except hold her.