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A Dish Best Served Cold

 

A Dish Best Served Cold by Steve Gee is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

Ryan and Jenny head to the Cayman Islands to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. But their planned second honeymoon plans didn’t include murder. With Ryan’s life on the line, the happy couple might finally realize what “till death us do part” truly means.

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Steve Gee

The digital clock on the dashboard glowed 6.30pm when Ryan Cook reversed the black, highly polished luxury Lexus rental from the drive of his home. He paused to take one last check of his double-story house before shifting into drive and slowly rolling away.

Ryan started to relax now he was finally on the road. He adjusted his grip on the thick leather-bound steering wheel and settled back in the Lexus’s soft, cream leather seats that contoured to his body.

The luxury vehicle glided along the road in silence; not even wind noise could be heard from inside. He smiled to himself as his approving eyes scanned all the gadgets and controls on the illuminated dashboard. He was like a kid with a new toy.

Ryan glanced across at his wife Jenny. He couldn’t contain the smile that illuminated his face.

He was excited about this 3½ hour road trip down to Miami, almost as excited as he was five years ago when they did the same road trip on their way to their honeymoon. But compared to the rental they drove to Miami five years ago, this road trip will be considerably more comfortable.

“Well…Grand Cayman, here we come,” Ryan said. “I can’t believe it has been five years since we were last down there.”

“Hasn’t it gone quick,” Jenny said. “I can’t wait to go back there for our second honeymoon.”

As Ryan slowly cruised their luxury rental through his neighborhood streets he smiled when he noticed Jenny’s focus was on her mobile phone – again.

“Sending off a last minute text, hon?” Ryan said.

“No, I’m not texting…” Jenny said. “I’m posting on Facebook about how excited I am to be spending our fifth wedding anniversary back in the Cayman Islands with you.” Her smile lit up her face.

“Now… I know I’ve asked you this already…” Ryan began. “But…as a last minute check, before we get too far from home…have you got all the details about the airline and accommodation bookings with you?”

Jenny smiled and slowly shook her head. “You have asked me that…twice now. And nothing has changed, Mr. Worrier.” She grinned.

“I have got everything with me that we need. But so you are reassured, I’ll tell you again… We are staying in the same suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove that we stayed in on our wedding night. I have told them we will be checking in late. The next morning we have a 10.30 American Airlines flight to the Caymans.”

Jenny pushed back a finger on her hand. “I have the flight itinerary…”

She pushed back a second finger. “And I’ve got the passports…and the visas…” she said, pushing back a third finger.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you though… I couldn’t get the same villa on Grand Cayman that we stayed in on our honeymoon, but I was able to get the one next door.”

Ryan shrugged. “I’m sure it will be just as special. And I promise I won’t ask again if you have everything.”

”That’s alright…I don’t mind, really,” she said. “After all, it’s better to be sure than arrive there and find we have forgotten something.”

***

The bluish tinge from the Lexus’s high intensity headlights cut through the winter-like darkness as they made the short drive from their home in Windermere towards the on-ramp of the Florida Turnpike.

Jenny extended her hand out in front of herself to admire the sparkling 18 carat gold, diamond encrusted eternity ring Ryan gave her for her anniversary present on Thursday— the actual day of their anniversary.

“It really is a beautiful ring,” Jenny said. “I love it.” She rested a comforting hand on his thigh as he drove.

“I’m yours now for eternity…” she said with a loving smile.

“For ever and ever…” Ryan said. “How does it go…? Until death do us part…”

Jenny smiled and slowly shook her head at his corny comment. “I am so looking forward to this vacation,” she said.

Traffic was surprisingly light for a Friday night as they made their way along Conroy-Windermere Road, a wide stretch of road with two lanes in each direction, separated by a tree lined, grass covered verge.

Two vehicles—one in each lane—were stationary at the red stop light when they approached the intersection with Dr Phillips Boulevard. Ryan pulled up behind the vehicle located on the inside lane.

As he waited for the signals to change they exchanged a loving smile. Such was their excitement, they were like newlyweds all over again on their way to their honeymoon vacation.

Ryan drummed his fingers on the steering wheel waiting for the signals to change. “Once we finally get on the turnpike the time will go quick…we’ll be there in no time,” Ryan said.

Jenny’s head rested on the soft leather head rest while she smiled across at her husband. Her sparkling emerald green eyes were full of love and admiration.

“I don’t care how long it takes when I’ve got you to keep me company,” Jen said.

When the signals turned green the car on the right moved off, but the car in front of them failed to move. Ryan frowned.

“Come on,” he said with a tone of impatience. “They’re not going to get any greener, buddy.”

But the car didn’t move. “Do you believe this guy…?” Ryan said.

“I don’t think there is anyone in the car,” Jenny said.

Ryan squinted through the back window of the vehicle in front. “You know what…? I think you are right….it looks empty. They must’ve broken down and gone for assistance or something.”

Ryan lowered his eyes to shift the gear into reverse. As he did so, his driver’s side window exploded inwards, showering him with hundreds of small glass fragments.

Ryan’s stunned eyes fell to his glass-covered lap. What the hell just happened?

It took a few moments to compose himself, before his thoughts moved to his wife. He looked across to Jenny in time to see her eyes widen in terror. She let out a blood curdling scream.

Ryan’s head snapped to his left to see what frightened his wife.

His eyes flared and his heart skipped a beat when he found himself staring down the barrel of a pistol. At the other end was a balaclava-wearing man with eerie, piercing eyes.

Ryan slowly raised his hands to the gunman, but before he could manufacture any words, the gunman motioned with his pistol and said, “Get the fuck out of the car!”

“What’s going on?”

“I said…GET THE FUCK OUT!”

Ryan looked across at Jenny. “You stay there,” he whispered out the side of his mouth. He opened the car door and slowly stepped out.

Once out of the vehicle Ryan raised his hands to the gunman. The man was much shorter than Ryan’s six feet one inches, but while holding that pistol, the smaller man was intimidating.

Ryan’s eyes locked onto the darkness of the hollow barrel pointed directly at him. Looking down the wrong end of a pistol was incredibly unnerving.

All he could think was, I hope it doesn't fire. Ryan’s racing heart pounded against his chest. His stomach churned and his legs shook.

“Look, I don’t know what you want…” Ryan said. He extended his hand towards the car. “Do you want the car…?” Ryan said. “Take it…it’s yours.”

The gunman’s lifeless eyes glared back at Ryan without a response.

“Do you want money…?” Ryan reached into his rear pocket and removed his wallet. “I have some cash on me…you can have it…Please.. Just let us go.”

The gunman snatched the wallet from Ryan’s extended hand and shoved it into his jacket pocket. Ryan startled at the gunman’s aggressive movement.

The knot in his stomach tightened further when the gunman’s icy stare continued to glare at him through the narrow apertures in the balaclava.

Ryan’s mind raced. He hoped this guy wasn’t on anything that would cause him to do something stupid.

The gunman lowered his eyes to peer into the vehicle at Jenny. “You can get out too, bitch…” the gunman ordered.

With the gunman’s focus on Jen, Ryan saw an opportunity. His fight or flight instincts screamed at him to fight, and to do it now.

Ryan lunged at the gunman and locked a vice-like grip on the hand holding the firearm, forcing it down towards the safety of the ground.

Both men jostled to gain control of the weapon like two selfish siblings fighting over a popular toy, neither one wanting to let the other one have it.

While the gunman struggled to match the strength of the physically larger Ryan, he had superior street-smarts.

Without warning, the gunman head-butted Ryan across the bridge of his nose. A flash of white light filled Ryan’s vision.

It momentarily stunned him and caused him to partially release the pressure he’d applied to the gunman’s wrist.

The gunman lifted the firearm back up to a threatening level, but before he could fire, Ryan regained his focus and lunged at the gunman, re-applying his resistance.

While both men wrestled to gain control, the gun discharged.

The exploding sound of a gunshot echoed across the night time sky. Ryan startled. Both men paused their wrestle. Each one appeared surprised by the gunshot.

Ryan's face tightened. He peered inside their vehicle to check Jenny was OK.

His jaw dropped when he saw Jenny’s head slumped forward. Blood flowed freely from a small wound at the side of her head.

“NOOOO!” Ryan’s horror-filled cry cut through the evening silence.

He rushed towards his wife. Fear etched into his face.

“Jen…” His trembling voice screamed out.

Before Ryan could fully enter the vehicle the gunman leveled his pistol and fired. The round smacked into Ryan’s back, sending him crashing to the ground.

His lifeless body lay face down on the roadway, beside the vehicle’s open door. The back of Ryan’s light colored shirt rapidly absorbed the dark red blood oozing from his wound.

The gunman pointed his firearm at the helpless Ryan, but quickly lowered his gun when he became fully illuminated in the headlights of an approaching vehicle.

The gunman slipped the firearm inside his jacket and ran to his vehicle parked in front of Ryan’s Lexus. He sped from the scene as the approaching vehicle arrived.

 

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2

Ryan attempted to slowly open his eyes but they slammed shut, as if too heavy to hold open.

He tried a second time. This time they remained open for about a second.

On his third attempt it took him several blinks before his eyes remained open and adjusted to the light.

The room was stark and foreign to him. He tried to sit up but an intense stabbing pain on the right side took his breath and he collapsed onto his back.

Once he composed himself, Ryan noticed a white clamp straddling the tip of his finger. An IV line in the back of his hand ran up to a bag on the stand beside his bed.

He had air tubes inserted into his nostrils and a plastic bracelet on his wrist. A heart monitor somewhere to his left emitted a continuous sharp Blip….Blip sound.

Ryan closed his eyes to gather his thoughts. Why am I in hospital? But he had nothing.

Maybe his body’s defense mechanism protected him by blocking the memory of that fateful night, or maybe it was the psychological trauma from seeing his beloved wife shot four nights earlier, but whatever the reason, his usually sharp mind failed him.

A young female nurse entered the single-bed ward and moved to stand beside his bed. “I thought I heard you,” she said. “How are you feeling?”

Ryan’s eyes opened to the sound of the voice. “What’s going on…?”

“Do you know where you are?” she asked.

Ryan lifted the white clamped finger to the nurse. “I’m obviously in a hospital…but I don’t understand why I’m here…”

“That’s right.” The nurse moved to the other side of his bed and dragged open the blinds. “You’re in the Orlando Regional Medical Center.”

Ryan squinted as natural light flooded into the room.

“You were brought in by ambulance four days ago in a serious condition. Do you remember what happened?”

“Not really…No.”

“‘You were very lucky. One of our surgeons was on his way home when he found you lying unconscious on the road. You had a gunshot wound to your back. He did what he could to stabilize you and keep you alive until an ambulance arrived. It was touch and go there for a while.”

Ryan held a blank stare at the nurse. He wasn’t fully registering her comments. The painkillers pulsing through him took the edge off his cognitive awareness.

Some would claim it was divine intervention that saved Ryan on the Orlando roadway that night in November. Some might call it fate, while others will simply say he was just plain lucky.

But whatever the reason, it wasn’t Ryan Cook’s time.

Lying unconscious, face down on the road way bleeding internally from a bullet wound, Ryan was only minutes away from becoming another statistic in Orlando’s growing number of shooting related deaths.

But he didn’t die.

Fortunately for Ryan, a doctor with impeccable timing happened to drive upon the scene.

“You were rushed straight into surgery,” the nurse said.

“The bullet entered the right side of your back, shattered two ribs, ricocheted through your lung and exited out the right side of your body. You had a collapsed lung and you lost a lot of blood.”

“That explains the pain,” Ryan grunted.

“Do you know how you came to be on the road?”

Ryan shut his eyes while he tried to recall, but he had nothing. It took him several seconds before he responded.

“Not really. I remember my wife and I were driving to Miami for our anniversary and I —” Ryan cut himself short. His eyes sprung open.

“My wife…”’ his anxious eyes shifted to the nurse.

“She was shot…I remember…That bastard shot my wife…”′ he said. “Where is she…? Where is my wife? Is she OK…?”

The nurse straightened the bed covers at the foot of the bed before responding. “She’s…in intensive care, Mr. Cook.”

“Is she alright…? I have to see her.” Ryan attempted to sit up.

The nurse moved closer and placed a hand on Ryan’s shoulder, just as the overpowering intensity from the pain sent him collapsing onto his back.

“You have to take it easy, Mr. Cook…”’ Her tone was stern.

“You’re recovering from major surgery. You will rip open your stitches if you are not careful,” she said with matronly firmness.

Ryan’s breathing quickened. His eyes started to fill. Visions of that night were returning.

“You don’t understand…”’ He struggled to articulate his words through his rising emotions. Ryan rubbed his forehead.

“I saw my wife get shot…I have to see her, I have to see she is safe. I thought she was dead. I thought I’d lost her.” His hand cupped his welling eyes.

The nurse paused before replying, maybe to choose her words carefully given the sensitivities involved. Or maybe she found it difficult to be the bearer of the news he didn’t want to hear.

After a few beats passed she said, “She’s in a…serious condition, Mr. Cook. She is in a coma, but the doctors and the medical team are doing everything they can for her.”

“Can I see her…?”

The nurse moved to the IV drip and adjusted a dial. “You won’t be moving anywhere right now in your condition.” The nurse was direct. “You need to rest up. There will be time to see your wife later.”

After checking his vitals the nurse placed the call button on the bed, near his hand, with instructions to press the button if he needed anything. After updating his patient record the nurse left the room.

Ryan nodded once and closed his eyes. He didn’t see her exit his room.

***

The stark décor of his single-bed hospital room had been transformed by colorful bouquets of flowers, get well cards and helium-filled balloons from family, friends and well-wishers.

But it did little to distract his focus from his wife and her condition.

When awake Ryan’s thoughts were solely on his wife. The regular verbal updates from the nurse on his wife’s unchanged condition, while greatly appreciated, were not good enough.

He had to see her.

With so much time to think, his mind’s eye kept replaying in slow motion, his distressing recollection of the powerful sound of the gunshot reverberating, then seeing his beautiful wife’s lifeless body slumped forward.

It was like watching a looping horror movie he couldn’t turn off.

The two detectives from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office who visited him were his only recent distraction from thinking of Jen.

Unfortunately for the investigating police, the traumatic event had temporarily clouded Ryan’s ability to recollect any information that would assist police in identifying the violent gunman who nearly ended his life.

All he had was white male, age not known, dark clothing, wearing a black balaclava, which was all too generic for the police to use.

With no usable description of the suspect and no known witnesses, their job of identifying this offender became more difficult. The only evidence the police had was the .22 caliber round surgically removed from Jenny’s brain.

All they could hope for was a ballistic match from other incidents.

***

The expression etched into her face was one of concern, but the experienced nurse was all business when she burst into Ryan’s room.

The continuous piercing flat line tone from his heart monitor had alerted her that Ryan had unexpectedly gone into cardiac arrest. Time was of the essence as her training kicked in.

What she didn’t expect to see after racing into the room was Ryan, very much alive and standing beside his bed having disconnected himself from his monitoring devices and IV drip.

“What do you think you are doing?” she asked firmly as she moved to silence the screaming heart monitor.

Ryan shuffled to his wardrobe and put on his robe. “I’m not waiting any longer…” He was emphatic.

:I’m going to see my wife. I feel strong enough.”

The nurse silently regarded Ryan. Was she sympathetic to his plight, or did she know she was in for a fight if she refused him access?

The nurse moved to the foot of his bed and flicked through the pages of his chart. Following a brief read she regarded him up and down once again before reluctantly giving him permission to visit his wife’s ward.

“Hey buddy…how ya feeling…?” A gentle but familiar caring voice inquired.

Ryan and the nurse turned towards the voice. The short, powerfully built frame of Ryan’s good friend, Mason Bird, stood in the doorway to Ryan’s room.

Ryan’s face lit up. He hadn’t seen his friend since arriving at the hospital.

“Mase…”’ Ryan said as he gingerly moved towards his visitor. “Great to see you man,” he said as he carefully embraced his friend.

“I came in a couple of times over the past few days, but they wouldn’t let me see you…only immediate family allowed, apparently,” Mason said in a mocking tone.

Ryan turned to the nurse. “Are you kidding me… ?”

He jabbed a thumb at Mason. “This guy’s like a brother to me…”′ he said. “Why didn’t you let him in…?”

The nurse didn’t respond to his rhetorical question.

Mason flicked a finger at the robe Ryan wore. “I see you found the clothes I brought in for you,” Mason said. “I went by your home and picked up some clothes, underwear, that sort of thing. I let myself in using your hidden spare key. I hope you didn’t mind…”’

“Of course not. Thank you, Mase.”

“Most of your toiletries are still in your suitcase, which is at the police station, where it will remain until you are strong enough to collect it…”’ Mason said. “So I bought you a toothbrush, toothpaste and some other essential toiletries from the store.”

Ryan glanced down at his familiar dark blue Hugh Hefner style robe with the large white “R” embroidered on the left chest in fancy script.

“I was wondering how these got here,” he said. “Thanks buddy. I appreciate it.”

“Hey…”’ Ryan began with an excited pitch in his voice. “I’m about to go and see Jen… Why don’t you come with me? I haven’t been able to see her since I got here.”

Mason held his stare on Ryan. His brow dipped. His eyes flicked to the nurse then back to Ryan.

“What…so you haven’t seen Jen yet?” he asked. “You haven’t seen her since she was brought in here?”

Mason’s questioning eyes shifted back to the nurse seeking confirmation. The nurse slowly shook her head.

“No, they wouldn’t let me get out of bed to see her before now,” Ryan said.

Mason rubbed his chin. He exhaled heavily as he passed a hand through his short-cropped hair.

“I’ve just come from there, Ry…Look…” He placed a comforting hand on Ryan's shoulder. “I don’t know how to tell you this, buddy…but she’s not good.”

Ryan’s expression firmed. His brow dipped as his inquiring eyes flicked from Mason to the nurse, then back to Mason.

“What do you mean, ‘not good’?” he asked. “They told me she was in a coma….”

Ryan shifted his focus to the nurse. ”But she’ll…she’ll come out if it, right?” he said seeking her reassurance.

Mason’s eyes lowered. Probably to prevent his good friend reading the distress that would surely be etched across his face. After a brief pause Mason's eyes lifted to the nurse, but she failed to respond to Ryan’s question.

Mason again placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Look Ry…” Mason began. “The bullet struck Jen in the brain…She’s on life support…”′

Ryan’s eyes fell to the floor. His shoulders slumped and his legs gave way. He fell back against his bed as his questioning eyes flicked between the nurse and Mason.

“But… she’ll pull through. She’s a fighter…you know that, Mase. She’ll pull through this. She’ll…She’ll be OK…won’t she?” Ryan’s voice trailed off.

“I’ll arrange for the doctor to come and speak to you about your wife’s condition,” the nurse said. “So you completely understand what is going on.”

She shifted her focus to Mason then continued. “Will you be able to help Mr. Cook walk down to see his wife?”

Mason nodded. He assisted his friend to his feet.

***

The short walk down to Jenny’s single bed ward on the floor below Ryan’s ward provided Mason with the opportunity to carefully broach the issue and hear the first-hand account of what actually happened the night they were both shot.

“So Ry…do you mind if I ask you about that night, buddy…” Mason said.

Ryan’s eyes lowered. “I thought you would’ve talked to your detective buddies, or read the report by now…” Ryan said.

Mason nodded. “I have read the incident report Ry, but it was only a summary at best… there was no detail due to the lack of available witnesses,” Mason said. “So I was hoping you could fill in the blanks for me…Do you mind…?”

Ryan shook his lowered head. “I don’t mind.”

But in reality, he found it difficult discussing the cause of his vivid nightmares which recur every time he closed his eyes, playing in his mind like a horror movie. But he was happy to make an exception for his friend.

“I understand you were wrestling with the offender when the gun went off…”′ Mason said. “Do you think it was an accidental discharge…or did he mean to fire?”

Ryan's mind revisited hearing the gunshot explode and seeing Jenny slumped forward. He shook his head.

“No. No, he definitely meant it…I think he always intended to shoot us.” Ryan said. “He shot me in the back when I went to help Jen, Mase…”’ Ryan said. ”You’re a cop…what does that tell you…?” His question was rhetorical.

“He didn’t have to shoot me… He could’ve run away…I had no idea who he was and I certainly wasn’t going to leave Jen and chase him.” Ryan shook his head. “No, he definitely intended to shoot us.”

“Did he say anything that would indicate why…?” Mason asked. “Why he picked your car?”

Ryan shrugged and shook his head. “Who knows…? Maybe because it was a luxury Lexus. I assumed he was carjacking us because he told us both to get out,” Ryan said.

“A carjacking…” Mason repeated.

When they arrived at the doorway to Jen’s room, Ryan paused when he saw his wife attached to all those beeping and flashing machines.

There was a large tube taped into her mouth. Her blackened eyes were closed and her hair was hidden under a tightly wrapped bandage. Ryan's lips quivered and his eyes filled when he saw Jenny in that condition.

Mason motioned into the room before applying gentle pressure to the small of Ryan’s back. Ryan resisted slightly as he approached Jen’s bed.

She looked so peaceful but Ryan knew otherwise. His eyes were full of pain as he regarded his unconscious wife. Tears ran down his cheeks as he gently kissed her on the forehead.

Her touch was warm when he cupped her hand, but where she would normally grip his hand back, there was no response.

Ryan dragged a nearby chair over so he could sit beside her. He took hold of her hand again. He held it while he sat in silence, watching her breathing, all the time silently willing her to open her eyes and look at him.

He wanted to see those sparkling emerald green eyes and her vibrant smile. But there was nothing.

Mason motioned towards the door. “I’m…I’m gonna…leave you to it, buddy…OK? I’ll come by and see you again soon?”

Ryan held his focus on Jen as he nodded. “Thanks Mase…I appreciate everything you’ve done.”

Mason quietly slipped out the door.

Ryan started to talk to Jen to let her know he was there with her. He promised to do everything he could to make sure she got through this. But it was not up to him.

On several occasions he became frustrated, pleading with her to open her eyes, but there was nothing.

Sitting with Jenny’s hand sandwiched between his own hands Ryan reminisced about the fun times they had together. He shared anecdotal stories from their past, stories that previously elicited a cute little giggle, or a laugh that illuminated her beautiful face.

Ryan chatted to her as if engaged in a two-way conversation. He told Jen not to worry about missing their anniversary vacation; it didn’t matter. He promised once she was better they would go back to the Caymans to make up for it. If only she would open her eyes.

Ryan squeezed Jenny’s hand tighter when he talked about how he looked forward to one day having children. He told her she would make a great mom. All the while he never let go of her hand. It was his physical connection to his unresponsive wife.

Over three hours passed since Ryan sat down with Jenny but the time was irrelevant. He didn’t want to leave her side. The more he talked to her, the more he hoped she would recognize his voice and open her eyes.

But with no movement or sustenance over a prolonged period Ryan became weary. His head became too heavy to hold up.

Without letting go of Jen’s hand, Ryan leaned forward onto the bed and rested his head on his forearm. He wanted to be the first person she saw when she finally woke from this.

***

Ryan’s eyes opened and his head sprung up when he felt his shoulder being gently nudged.

Is Jen awake?

His excited eyes flicked to Jen, but he frowned when nothing had changed.

A male voice to his left startled Ryan. “Good evening Mr. Cook. My name is doctor Fowler…”’

Ryan’s head snapped to the voice. He sat back in his chair and eyed the doctor. “Is she ever gonna wake up, Doc…?” His tone was flat.

“That’s what I’ve come here to talk to you about,” the doctor said. “Are you happy to talk here?”

“Here’s fine with me.”

The doctor perched himself on the side of Jenny’s bed.

Over the minutes that followed Ryan learned Jenny suffered a traumatic brain injury when the bullet penetrated her brain.

“A CT scan showed damage to the right hemisphere of her brain and what appeared to be only one lobe,” the doctor said. “Which is possibly due to the small caliber firearm used.”

Ryan's eyes never left his wife.

The doctor continued. “This could normally prove positive, however in the case of your wife… she had lost a lot of blood and had bled into her brain.”

The doctor spoke of his concerns. “Your wife was not responding to a number of indicative tests that were run to determine her brain activity. The electroencephalogram test showed some sign of brain activity, but it did not look promising,” the doctor said.

“I think you should prepare yourself for the possibility that your wife may never wake up…She could end up in a vegetative state and not be able to breathe unaided.”

“But you’re saying she has a chance, right Doc…? There is some brain activity there, right?”

Ryan was ever the optimist. All he heard from what the doctor said was she has some brain activity.

“I don’t want you to get your hopes up, Mr. Cook,” the doctor said. “But yes, at the moment there is some brain activity, but what is there today could be considerably different tomorrow,” he said.

“Even if she survives,” The doctor continued, “we won’t know the extent of impairment to things such as cognition or memory.”

“As long as she has a chance, Doc, I’m not giving up on her.” His voice was buoyed by this new hope.

“I admire your spirit…” the doctor said, “but you have to understand…at best…I would say your wife has about a three percent chance of survival, and even if she does survive, there is still a low percentage she would be able to achieve a quality of life.”

Ryan’s head lowered at hearing the distressing news.

“I’m very sorry,” the doctor said.

A number of beats passed in silence before the doctor pushed himself away from the bed and moved to leave the room. Nothing more needed to be said.

Tears ran down Ryan’s cheek as he watched his wife’s machine-aided rhythmic breathing.

“She can still make it…” he quietly uttered to himself.

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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Age Rating: 18+

The Way Out of the Dark

Taryn wakes to find herself in an unknown place, surrounded by frightening criminals. She soon learns that it’s no accident she was taken from her home. Can she hold onto herself through unspeakable horrors, and find a way to escape to a life she’d barely begun to live?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault, Homophobia, Assault, Drug use/overdose, Kidnapping, Torture)

The Firefighter

When a fire rips through Leila’s home one night, she loses her one remaining asset as a single mom: her home. When she is hospitalized with severe lung damage due to smoke inhalation she has no one to look after her daughter, Kensie. She has no choice but to temporarily trust Ben, a handsome fireman, but as her health worsens, Leila fears for her daughter’s future. Is a home with Ben feasible? For her and Kensie both?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Assault, Child Abuse, Kidnapping, Rape, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Stalker, Violence Against Women)