I was sitting out on the porch swing, waiting for Grandma to come back outside with the glasses of lemonade she had insisted on having “on such a beautiful summer evening,” when I heard the sound of breaking glass come from inside.
“Grandma?!” I called out, clambering off the swing. “Are you okay?!” As soon as I got through the door, I knew she wasn’t okay. Shards of glass lay on the floor and she was out cold, looking pale and barely breathing. I quick picked up her phone and dialed 911. Within a few minutes Taylor and Paul were on location, administering care to her. She wouldn’t respond to me or them and I heard
mumble something about possibly being a stroke or something. They asked me if I wanted to ride along with them, but I decided to just gather a few of her items they night need at the hospital and head over by myself. I was just about ready to walk out the door when I decided I should probably call Beth. When she didn’t answer, I called Jack. Taylor
“What do you want Jarret?” he growled into the phone, sounding very annoyed that I was on the other end and not my Grandma.
“Taylor and Paul just came and picked up Grandma…” I explained.
“Just stay put and we’ll pick you up,” he said quickly, his tone of voice softening and 5 minutes later Beth came flying up the sidewalk, looking like an angel in a lilac sundress. Her hair was flying unruly behind her and tears were plastered on her cheeks as she threw herself into my arms.
“What happened?!” she cried.
“I’m not sure.
did say something about it possibly being a stroke, but I guess we will find out when we get to the hospital.” Taylor
“Okay, then let’s go. Do you have her insurance cards and medication list that she keeps on the fridge?” she asked suddenly.
I smiled, glad to know that even if I wouldn’t have been here with Grandma, she had people who cared just as much for her to even know where she kept everything in case of an emergency. “I have it all,” I said quietly.
“Well then, let’s get moving,” she said breathlessly, taking my hand and leading me over to Jack’s Jeep. Before I could tell her to sit shot-gun, she easily climbed up onto the back tire and into the back seat, seeming to forget that she was wearing a dress. I just shook my head and climbed in.
“Thanks Jack,” I said, nodding to him. He nodded back, acknowledging me before he put the Jeep in gear and headed off to the hospital.
It was bad. My dearest Elsie had a massive stroke, placing her in a coma that she was likely to never come out of. We knew it was only a matter of time that something like this should happen, but it didn’t make it easier. We staged a vigil around her bed all day and night, praying and just telling stories of the past because Elsie wouldn’t want us being sad. The only reason Jay didn’t have the physicians remove her from life support was for the simple fact that the rest of his family wanted to say their peace before-hand.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” he said quietly, leaning backwards on the hospital garden’s bench and resting his head on the sun-warmed brick on Friday evening. It had been 2 days and we were all emotionally and physically drained.
“Me too,” I murmured, wanting to cry but realizing I ran out of tears about a day ago. “She is the family I never had.”
“She really does love you like her own,” Jay said reassuringly as he put his arm around my waist and pulled me into his side.
“Mmm,” I hummed. “She’s a very special lady.”
“Are you still mad at me for not visiting her more often?” he asked sincerely.
I looked up and smiled at him. “I’ve forgiven you.”
“Well I’m glad, because I don’t know how I’d explain that one to my parents,” he chuckled.
I looked up at him and smiled because it was good to hear him laugh. The Jarret I had come to know this summer was not serious for more than 5 minutes, so seeing him with what seemed to be a permanent solemn expression was discouraging. “Oh, what do you mean?”
“Well I didn’t want to have to introduce you as my girlfriend who actually hates my guts for not coming to see Grandma.”
“I guess that wouldn’t sound so good,” I giggled. “Now if you introduced me as a friend that hates your guts, I’m sure they’d find it more believable.”
He stopped laughing at this point, but his soft smile stayed. “I like the word girlfriend better.”
I sighed, and absent mindedly traced his left eyebrow that had the scar from some hockey injury a few years back. “I’m still not sure I believe the girlfriend part,” I answered honestly, yet not really wanting to get involved with a conversation on our relationship. I wasn’t able to label it because I wasn’t able to figure out what the fuck was going on.
“This has something to do with Jack,” he said plainly, yet not sounding overly upset about it.
I looked up into his grey eyes and just nodded.
“If I wouldn’t be here, you would be with him.”
“If you wouldn’t be here things would still be the same between Jack and me,” I said, defeated. “We would still be work partners and best friends, no questions on if there was a romantic future between him and me. I guess you became the catalyst,” I laughed sadly.
He threw me off guard when he leaned in and kissed me. A person can usually tell one someone is going to kiss you, but I totally wasn’t expecting this one. I left out a little surprised squeak when his lips pressed to mine and soon I found myself wrapping around him like I did every other time he kissed me. Jarret was so easy to get lost with, but I still wasn’t sure if it was due to the fact I was so physically attracted to him or for the fact that I wanted so bad for this to work out because I knew Jack was leaving.
“So what are you going to do with the house?” she asked as she finished taping up a box of books I was donating to the library. Moving turned out to be the perfect time to part with things I hadn’t looked at in the last 5 years, yet I’m pretty sure Liz was taking most of my things for herself, including some of my old baseball hats.
“I’ll probably sell it once the housing market goes back up. In the mean time
said he was looking to get out of his apartment, so I told him he could stay here and pay the utilities since the mortgage is already paid off.” Taylor
“Are you going to buy a place in
or just rent?” she asked, and I knew then she was just trying to make small talk. I was actually surprised when she showed up here this morning offering to help me pack since she hadn’t really talked to me since the night Elsie was rushed to the hospital. We were all in a state of shock and keeping busy seemed to be the only therapy that helped keep our mind off the one woman who loved us as her own. But, I was fairly sure Liz wanted to give Jarret’s family alone time with Elsie, especially since they finally arrived early this morning. In reality, I really didn’t want her help after finding her and Jarret kissing in the hospital garden last night, but I didn’t say anything because I don’t think she even knew I was there… Saskatoon
I came to say my goodbyes to Elsie on Friday night and also hoped to see Liz to say goodbye to her, but her and Jarret were nowhere to be found in the room or on the floor.
“Excuse me, have you seen Elsie’s visitors lately?” I asked one of the nurses in the hallway.
“Jarret Stoll?” she asked with wide eyes, practically drooling.
“Yeah, he and that girl,” she grimaced, “Said they were going outside for some fresh air.”
I wanted to tell her that I agreed with her disdain about the thought of them being a couple, but I figured it wasn’t appropriate so I just said, “Okay, thanks.” I went out to the dimly lit garden saw the back of their silhouettes sitting on the bench looking quite cozy together. I thought Jarret had seen me so I started taking steps towards them, but next thing I knew he was kissing Liz. Suddenly I lost the urge to say goodbye and decided I’d just text her when I got to
instead of ruining their little make-out session. Saskatoon
Back to Present:
“I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do,” I answered her honestly. She wanted me to be honest, so I figured I might as well be. “I don’t know how long I’m going to be in
, I just might end up heading somewhere else, make a new start…” Saskatoon
Even though I was bent over packing some errant items into a box, I didn’t miss the look of shock on her face and the sudden slumping of her shoulders. “Jack?”
“Yeah?” I stopped and looked up at her.
She stood there looking back at me like she wanted to say something but suddenly seemed to think the better of it and just shook her head. “When are you going to say goodbye to Elsie?”
“I did,” I murmured, going back to moving a box with the others that were piled right by the front door.
“When? I’ve been there for 2 days straight and I didn’t see you…”
“Well maybe if you weren’t making out with her grandson in the garden of the hospital, you would have seen me,” I cranked, unable to hold my tongue any longer.
“I wasn’t…wait, what? I was not making out with him!”
“I saw you two kissing when I walked out into the garden,” I growled.
She looked at me for a moment like she honestly had no clue what I was talking about before I finally saw the light bulb switch on. “Oh…”
“I thought Jarret saw me, so I started walking towards you two, but then suddenly you had your arms wrapped around his neck and well…I saw more than I wanted to,” I continued while busying myself once more.
She didn’t say anything, instead she just stood there quietly, almost as if she was in deep thought. I watched curiously as she reached up and softly touched her lips and dropped her hand when she realized she did it, blushing as if she was ashamed yet not smiling. She looked up at me and then suddenly began walking towards the front door. “I’m sorry, I need to go…”
I stood still for a split second but my feet had a different idea, instantly overriding my brain by carrying me over to her. I grabbed onto her arm and pulled her back inside the house, closing the door behind her and locking it. “You are not going anywhere,” I said in a broken, low tone before pulling her towards me and kissing her hard.
Things just seemed off. When Jack mentioned Jay’s kiss in the garden, it suddenly reminded me how I felt that kiss was out of nowhere. It was out of nowhere because Jarret was staking claim on me by kissing me in front of Jack. He knew that if he kissed me, Jack would most likely just walk away like he had done so many times. Thinking about it threw me for even more of a loop because all this time I had been confused when the boys were basically trying to one-up each other without me really seeing it. I had heard their conversation on the porch the night of the rescue and I had noted their heated conversation right before I came over and interrupted them so that Jack could go over my gear.
When Jack began kissing me so much of me just wanted to let him keep doing it but the red-head attitude took over and I pushed him off of me. “Oh fuck no. I am done with this. I will not be fought over like some kind of prize!” I cried. “You two keep banging chests and all this is about is getting the girl to show who is better! Well, how about you both don’t get the girl? What does that do?!” I continued, moving out of Jack’s reach and unlocking the door.
“What the fuck are you talking about?!” Jack threw back, his strong hand coming down on mine and pulling it off the lock without giving me a chance for an escape. “This isn’t a game to me Liz. I love you. Don’t you ever listen to a god-damn word I say to you?!”
“Yeah, maybe he’s playing the game you are talking about but I’m not.”
“But you are leaving me,” I broke down, finally allowing the tears to come after keeping it in for so long. I had been a wreck when it first came to light but I wasn’t allowed to dwell on it because of everything with Elsie and now here I was packing up his place and he was once again professing his love for me. As a girl who did not deal well with drama, I was quickly finding myself in a really scary nightmare.
I sat down on the floor and put my head to my knees and just cried.
Jack sat down next to me and wrapped a strong arm around me, just letting me sob with an occasional, “sssh,” coming from his mouth, but nothing demanding me to stop for which I was grateful.
“All these years of waiting and now here I am…God…Elsie always tried to point it out but I never believed her because you never let on…I just always thought…why…” Everything came out completely incoherent, but it all made sense to me. I was in love with Jack for so long and I had waited so long for him to say those words to me, I had waited so long to be in his arms like we were that night in the tent and it all just came at the wrong time. The one person I wanted to talk was lying in her hospital bed, on the cusp of crossing to the other side.
When I quieted down to just the hiccups with an occasional sniffle, Jack began to talk. “Her name was Rochelle. She was my high school sweetheart. We had dated since we were 16 and we lost our virginity together on prom night. I asked her to marry me on graduation night but she turned me down because she had been accepted to nursing school and said she had to finish that first. So she went to school in
and I went to medic school and began my training. Two years later I proposed again and we bought our first house right outside of Lethbridge . She got a job at the hospital where my medic unit was based out of, so we basically worked together unless I was out on a call. A few weeks before our wedding I got sick and called off work. I tried my damndest to get her to call off with me so that she could stay home and take care of me but she told me to stop being a baby and walked out the door. 30 minutes later I got a call from the ER director telling me to get to the hospital because Rochelle had been in an accident. 10 minutes after I arrived, she was pronounced dead. I moved to Kamsack after a few months of drinking and staying holed up in the house that was supposed to be ours. Rick had found me at a conference and talked me into working for him, promising me a new and different life. I bitched and threatened to quit when he said he was making you my partner but when I saw your blue eyes I realized that maybe there was still something better in life for me. When I saw you with Jarret that night in Saskatoon , I realized I had waited too long to make my move. Elsie gave me shit on the car ride home from Vancouver , telling me that I was stupid for not telling you after all these years. I told her that I didn’t want to ruin everything you and I had worked for. I admit, I played you for a long time. I always knew what made you nervous around me, I always felt you shutter when I’d stand close to you or touch you. That morning we kissed, I realized I had waited way to long to do that. That night we made love, I understood that God had made another woman for me to replace Rochelle and that I didn’t care if I threw my career away because I needed you. I’m running away to Saskatoon in hopes you’ll come after me because I’m too much of a chicken to just tell you how I feel and how much I don’t want you to be with Jarret.” Saskatoon
After he was done speaking we sat there for what felt like hours, meditating on everything he had just put out in the open. The next move is yours, Liz.
She looked over at me, bleary eyed and straight faced. It was probably the first time I couldn’t read her mind. Her blue eyes glowed with her red, puffy eyes and her hair was an utter disaster. Tears still stained her beautiful face and her lip was swollen from chewing on it. She looked so small and vulnerable as I cursed myself for being one of the main causes for this look.
I’m fairly sure I didn’t breathe when I watched her hand slowly reach across the small space between us and begin unbuttoning my shirt. When it was completely un-done, her hands slid up onto my shoulders and began pushing it off of me. I shrugged my shoulders to allow the shirt to just fall off and quick pulled off my ribbed-tank so that she didn’t have to worry about that either. After that was off I leaned towards her and cupped her face with my hand, still marveling at the fact of how small she was compared to me.
She reached up with her small hands and took mine into hers, staring at it and running her finger-tips lightly over my palm, tracing the lines. “Your hands are so rough but when you touch me, you are so gentle,” she whispered, only glancing at me once as she spoke.
“I’d never hurt you.”
“My uncle did a couple times,” she said quietly.
“I know. Elsie told me.”
She looked up me and smiled sadly at me, biting her lip once more. I couldn’t wait any longer. I leaned in and kissed her, softly at first but then more urgently when she moved up onto her knees and moved closer to me. I hooked my fingers into the bottom hem of her shirt and pulled it off of her in a fluid motion, her bra was off too before her shirt even hit the floor. She crawled closer to me, pushing me backwards onto the floor so that I was now looking up at her while she straddled me. Her hair became a shield from the outside world when it fell all around me. This time our kiss wasn’t gentle, it was demanding and firm. Out of need, I wrapped my arms around her small frame and pulled her down towards me, instantly turning up the heat when the warm skin of her torso came in contact with mine. Her skin was silky smooth as I ran my hands up and down her back while we kissed like crazy.
I threaded my fingers through his dark, thick hair that I had loved since the first day we met. He never kept it tame and it fit him perfectly when it curled around his ears. His body was firm and hard underneath me, almost causing me to cry out in anticipation. I wanted to make love to him and I wanted him to do the same to me. He didn’t disappoint and after a few minutes of tongue-wars he rolled me off of him and switched positions. He hovered above me and smiled before laying a trail of hot kisses down my neck. I fumbled with the button on his shorts, but it didn’t take me long to get him out of them and down to his boxers. Soon I was wiggling out of mine and he was burying himself between my thighs.
“Jack!” I cried out as his tongue delved into me. My hands flew to his thick hair, giving me something to hold onto for the wicked ride he began taking me on. I swear he was purring every time I moved or made a noise. His strong arms clamped my legs down so that I couldn’t squeeze off the blood flow to his head as I came. “F-fuck! Yes, more!” I yelled. As soon as I came, he inserted a thick finger into me and started it all over again. Too soon, stars were being seen and I was laying limp on the floor while he back over-top of me, kissing a path back to my lips. I didn’t even notice he had removed his boxers until I felt his thick, hot length pushing against my tingling folds. I spread my legs for him and granted him entrance.
,” he breathed hotly into my ear as he slowly pushed inside of me, stretching me as he went along. “You feel like home, my beautiful Elizabeth .” Elizabeth
I’m fairly sure I’ll never get used to hearing such loving words from his mouth. If you passed Jack on the street, you would see a gorgeous, dark and rugged man who looked like he would break an egg just by picking it up. However, I quickly found that he was a gentle giant that knew how to touch and please with the best of them. His words were the cherry on top of the most delicious sundae.
I wrapped my legs around him, pulling him deeper, rocking against him every time he bottomed out. His arms were underneath me, cradling me while we made love with our eyes open. It wasn’t long until we were both crying out and giggling at the beads of sweat that had formed on both of our bodies.
“Eeew, you’re totally all sweaty!” I squeaked when he playfully wiped his forehead on my shoulder.
“Like you are any better?” he chuckled, pulling a piece of hair off my face that had become plastered to my skin from our exerting activity.
“I thought guys like girls all sweaty,” I smiled.
He looked like he was going to disagree but he seemed to change his mind when he said, “Yeah, okay, it’s definitely sexy when you know you are the reason for the sweat.”
I just smiled and puckered my lips and willed him to kiss me, which he did with a loud “smacking” sound to finish it off.
This is what I have been missing for so many years.