Take Me On (Page 43)

Take Me On (Pushing the Limits #4)(43)
Author: Katie McGarry

“We’re heading out in five,” mumbles Jax.

A few more worthless words between them, then his footsteps retreat back down. I edge out of the shadows and Haley turns to me. “I’ll see you later. For training.”

“Don’t overthink this,” I tell her.

“I’ll think about it.”

I chuckle and Haley smiles while lowering her head, obviously figuring out the irony of her statement.

“Thanks for the place to crash, Haley.”

“You’re welcome.” Then she disappears down the stairs.

A few hours later, I loiter down the aisle of the grocery store, buying time until Denny opens the bar and I can earn money. It’s noon and I won’t train with Haley until the evening. I used to love Saturdays; now I hate free time.

Abby passes my aisle, then jerks back and heads in my direction. “Come with me.”

“Drug deal gone bad and you need protection?” Why else would she need me?

Her hazel eyes bore into mine. “It’s Rachel. She’s dying.”

* * *

I don’t wait on the elevator; instead I fly up the stairs. Two at a time. Three at a time. Whipping around the corners. Driving faster. Harder. The door bangs against the wall when I wrench it open. A heaviness in my chest causes my breath to come out in gasps. And it’s not from the running. It’s from the breaking.

My sister… She’s dying.

I round the corner, swing into my sister’s room and my heart tears out of my chest. “Fuck!” My hand covers my mouth as nausea climbs up my throat. I bend over to fight the dry heave. I don’t win. I never win. My body convulses. “Fuck!”

It’s not happening. It’s not. My fingers form a fist and slam into the wall. Pain slices through my fingers, floods into my wrist. It’s nothing like the pain ripping the skin from my bones. “Fuck!”

“What are you doing?” It’s a nurse. Smaller than me. Blue scrubs. I glance up and the entire hallway watches.

I point at the empty room. “Rachel…”

“Is down the hall.” She continues to talk, but I don’t give a f**k. I run. Past her. Past others. Past the stares. Past the ICU. Past the waiting rooms. Everything on the periphery blurs. Looking, searching, and then I catch blond hair in a bed and I pause.

Blue eyes. A smile. “West!”

My heart is so out of control I’ve forgotten how to breathe. I stumble into the room, gulping in ragged breaths. “Rachel?”

My sister is up. She’s propped by a million pillows, but she’s up. And pale. Rachel was a small thing to begin with, but she’s lost weight. Scratches fragment her face like a web of broken glass. Her legs are bulky under the blanket.

“Oh, my God, you’re here!” Her smile grows and that smile has always been infectious, but instead of grinning back like I normally do, I scrub a hand over my face and sag against the wall. She’s alive. Air rushes out of my mouth and I inhale again. She’s alive.

A huge bouquet of balloons enters the room first. Three of them bump against my head and block my view of Rachel. I bop them out of the way and throw a dagger glare at Abby as she emerges on the other side of the helium nightmare.

“You said she was dying,” I whisper from behind the wall of bobbing plastic.

Abby rolls her eyes. “Of boredom. It’s not like there’s anything interesting to do around here. Someone tries to bring in a puppy and they get all pissed. It’s not my fault it pooped.”

I grab the string of balloons to keep her from going any farther. “You lied to me.”

That evil smile spreads on her face. “Shocking. What are you going to do, spank me?”

I release the balloons and she blows me a mock kiss. That girl is f**king psychotic.

“What’s with the balloons?” Rachel asks.

Abby places them on the nightstand next to Rachel’s bed and collapses into a chair. “We’re being festive.”

“Festive?”

“Like a party, fiesta, you’re-in-a-normal-room celebration. I need to get you out more.”

My family isn’t here. Not a single one. Isaiah, Rachel’s ass**le boyfriend, sits in a chair parked tight to her bed radiating badass: tattoos, earrings, hair shaved close to his head. Through the tangles of tubes and wires hooked to Rachel’s body, they hold hands.

A muscle in my jaw twitches. Ethan and I found out over a month ago that she was seeing this guy behind my family’s back. She ditched school to see him. She ended up in debt to a street hustler because of him. She fought with me and Ethan over this guy when she’s never fought with us before. He’s why her best friend is a drug dealer. It was through him that Abby and Rachel were introduced.

Isaiah’s bad news and he’s the reason why she’s here. He took her to the dragway. She thinks she loves him, but she doesn’t. “Want to get the f**k off my sister?”

“West!” Rachel chastises.

With his hand still entwined with hers, the son of a bitch barely looks at me. “It’s going to take a lot more than you to pull me away from her.”

Rachel’s head whips in his direction. “Isaiah!”

The balloons thump together. Abby flicks her finger against them until we stare at her. “Festive, people. Urinating on the floor like a pair of dogs does not make for a good party. Well…at least one Rachel should be attending.”

Isaiah mumbles something that makes Rachel giggle and Abby starts into some nonsense story. Their voices shift into background noise as I focus on my sister. There’s less than a year between us. She has a twin, but I secretly feel like their triplet. My earliest memories are of Rachel, of her laughing and sometimes of her being sick.

She suffers from panic attacks. Bad ones. It makes her shy and it’s also made her a target, which is where I come in. From elementary school ’til now, I’ve never had a problem connecting my fist to the jaw of any guy that’s tortured my sister and most girls know better than to talk shit about her when I’m around. They’d find themselves having to hang with a new group of people.

My parents don’t understand Rachel or any of their children, me included. They don’t know all I’ve done to protect her since we were small, but they do know about the one time I failed.

Rachel shifts, but her legs don’t move. There’s a buzzing between my muscles and my skin. Like a trapped fly that needs to be surgically removed. Isaiah stands, his mouth moving, but I hear no words. He helps Rachel readjust and once again her legs remain motionless.