Angela Carson is an NYC party girl who’s lost her father and is constantly fighting her image-driven mother. When “rich bitch” is an understatement for her current media status, her mother is left with no choice but to take action with an arranged marriage. Enter the devastatingly handsome Xavier Knight, who must be a vain corporate climber or, worse, a spy for her mother. The only question is, will Angela go along with it or face the consequences?
Age Rating: 18+
My phone goes off at 06:32 in the morning with my ringtone insisting on playing “Mr Blue Sky.”
Usually I wouldn’t mind—I picked the song after all—but when the rain can be heard from deep within my covers, it seems cruel for it to gloat so loudly.
I answer with my eyes still bleary from the lack of sleep and hear my sister Lucy’s frantic voice from the other side.
“Mom… Heart… Hospital.” Are the only keywords that I’m able to pick out from her rushed words and I demand that she slows down before I lose my mind.
Lucy has never been one to deal well with emergencies, and it’s at times like this that I wish she’d never quit those improv classes my other sister, Danielle, had bought her to.
It might have made it easier for her to think on her feet right now rather than just panic.
“It’s Mom, I got a call… She’s in the Sacred Heart Hospital and they think it’s her heart. I need you to get here now,” she finally manages to get out, and instantly, I’m wishing she can take it all back again.
Our mother is the glue in this family and she’s been as healthy as a horse for as long as we’ve known her. Just the idea of her being sick feels foreign to me and I check the calendar to ensure it’s not some sort of sick April Fool’s joke.
Nope, it’s still June.
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” I say into the phone while already dragging a T-shirt over my head.
The sooner I get there the better, as Lucy won’t know any of the insurance information and Danielle is away on holiday with her husband.
I can only imagine how much Lucy’s freaking out right now and I just hope that she can keep it together long enough for me to get there.
With only twenty blocks from my place to the hospital, I don’t even bother calling a cab and run the full way. The entire time I can feel my heart inside my chest hammering away against my ribs and wonder if the same can be said for my mother’s.
It’s stupid to think like that, I know, but I can’t help it. When I arrive, there will be no time for me to freak out as I’ll need to be the level-headed one for my family’s sake.
Thankfully, the dreadful thoughts leave me before they can really begin. When the fear really starts to set in again, the hospital comes into view and I’m already shutting it down.
I have my father to thank for my coping mechanisms, wherever he is now. Hopefully, in hell.
Lucy is in the waiting room and jumps up from her seat the second she sees me. There’s an empty form left on the table attached to a clipboard and after I hold her for a minute, I pick it up to start the paperwork.
It’s boring, long-winded and exactly what I need to clear my head. There’s no way I’ll be able to overthink when I have national insurance numbers and bank details to remember.
“Xavier, do you think she’ll—” Lucy’s sobs prevent her from finishing.
For both of our sakes, I hope she was about to finish her sentence with “get better,” or else, I’d prefer not to have to answer.
There’s no other option but for Mom to get better. I’m hoping one of these nurses will be kind enough to give us an update soon.
The final question on the form is about how long her policy would be valid, which makes me panic for a second because I don’t actually know.
This was done by Danielle back when they changed Mom’s insurance the other year and I pull out my phone to dial the number and check.
The hold music is terrible—a morbidly upbeat song with no substance to it, shoved down the throats of people who want nothing more than to not be waiting for their turn on the line.
The long hand of the clock on the wall has almost done a full circle by the time an actual human answers, and I’m shocked that I almost speak into the phone the same panicky way Lucy had this morning.
“Hi, yes I’m calling on behalf of Jeanne Knight.”
We spend the next ten minutes answering security questions before the lovely lady on the other side of the phone proceeds to break my heart in two.
“I’m sorry sir, but it says here that her policy has expired.”
“It can’t have! It was renewed last year…” I’m on the verge of collapsing here.
“It doesn’t look like it, sir. We requested a final signature in the mail but never heard anything back.”
In the mail… Mail that will have gone to the family home. None of us lives there anymore—the home my father was left with to sell and fund his alcohol addiction with, amongst other things.
Did he get it? Because if he did, that would be unforgivable.
“Thank you for your time.” I hang up and wish for a second that I still owned a flip phone.
The snap of it closing would have relieved some of the pressure building in me. In its place, I can only think to crack my knuckles now—a nasty habit that my mom never approved of.
“What is it, then?” Lucy asks from over my shoulder as she places down two cups of substandard coffee.
How can I tell my sweet, innocent little sister that our mother has no insurance, and therefore can receive no more treatment, should it be needed?
None of us is very well-off. We put every penny we had into getting an apartment for our mom to move away from our dad, and since then, I’ve been trying to grow my contractor business—and failing terribly.
“Have they said if she’s awake yet?” I ask, my voice breaking.
“No, she’s still in surgery, I think… What did they say?” Her bright blue eyes are filled with worry and with only a few words when I break the news to her, I’ll have to watch them start to swim with tears.
We sit around there waiting for what feels like hours but must really be minutes. With this extra dose of bad news, I really need to clear my head, and what better way than to try and run some more?
After confirming with Lucy that she doesn’t object too much, I take off toward the park across the street and break out into a sprint as if my life depends on it.
The puddles growing from the rain splash underfoot and the smell of the damp earth fills the air. Sweat is starting to break out across my back and I push myself harder to feel it more.
Endorphins are good, but this grief is all-consuming.
Just when I’m about to turn a corner, I notice a woman bending down toward a bench, the kind you see used for memorials and such.
I don't know why my eyes are drawn to her, but when I return my attention to the path ahead of me, I find a cyclist driving straight toward her.
He has his headphones in and appears to be messing with directions on his phone. He doesn't look to be slowing down at all and without thinking, I leap forward and carry her out of the way.
“I’m so sorry, but he wasn’t looking where he was going,” I say, while offering a hand to help her straighten herself back up again.
She’s older than I am, closer to my mother’s age, and is dressed quite nicely. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her heading toward the likes of Wall Street just now and I wonder for a second if I’m going to get shot for this.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!”