Oh holy crap, I can’t believe there’s less than two days until the release of the final “AHW: Castaway” serial!! I’m so excited to get this baby out, this ending has been percolating so long in my head and I’ll be glad when it’s finally released!
Thanks again to everyone who voted in the “what my future holds” poll from a week ago, I appreciated all the answers and comments! I have some plans to share within the coming weeks, but for now I give you the final snippet (*sad face*) for the “Castaway” series. The tradition will continue, with new material showing up starting next month! 😀
A strident voice rose from the living room and I suppressed a groan as Georgia entered the apartment. Within seconds she was inside the bedroom, accompanied by two ladies in nurses’ scrubs.
“Ah, darling,” she said, leaning down to kiss her son’s cheek as if he was still a child. “The nurses are here to check on your progress, and I brought some help to clean up this pigsty. Really my dear, you make a terrible maid.”
The last part was directed at me, and the accusation hit me straight to the quick. I looked away, self-esteem wilting under the biting accusation I knew was untrue, but that I hadn’t the strength to fight. When I didn’t move from my spot on the bed, Georgia finally deigned to look at me, distaste in her eyes. “Well, go on. Shoo and let the professionals work.”
“Mother, stop it,” Jeremiah said in a dangerous voice, but I stood up.
“No, let them look at you.” I swallowed back the words I desperately wanted to say to Georgia Hamilton and, trying to keep my chin up, marched out the door. I thought I heard my name called but couldn’t stay in there another minute. Tears were too close to the surface, and I’d be damned if I let either one of them see me cry.
Several maids bustled around the penthouse, cleaning and arranging things. My feelings of helplessness grew as I watched them tidy up everything that could have kept me busy, things that might have given me something to do. The apartment wasn’t dirty; before we’d arrived, it had been thoroughly prepped for our arrival, probably by this same army of maids. I’d kept things as tidy as I could, and yet these ladies were busy enough for me to see I hadn’t been thorough.
I’d never been one to take pride in my cleaning skills—honestly, I wasn’t very “domestic” in the best of settings—but this was one more blow to my pride.
I was sitting on the couch, trying to just stay out of the way, when Georgia swept out of the bedroom. Immediately the ladies who’d been cleaning finished what they were doing and moved after her, already ready to leave. Georgia looked down her nose at me and rolled her eyes. “Surely you have something more useful to do than sit around my son’s house doing nothing.” She sniffed, walking toward the door. “I hate to think he would tie himself to a mooch like you.”
Angry words rose and died on my lips. I wanted to defend myself, to make her feel as unworthy as she made me feel, but I was out of my league. If I had the chops to sling insults, maybe I would have stooped to her level, but the barbs left me too stunned to speak. That couldn’t be how I’m perceived in his house.
My breathing sped up, blood rushing to my head as my chest tightened. I stood up, suddenly needing to move, to do something, but despair crushed me into the floor. Covering my mouth with one hand, I dropped down beside the barstools, holding onto one as I tried to get control of my emotions again. I had to remember to breathe as I felt myself getting lightheaded, and gulped down several gasps of air.
A girl I’d gone to college with used to have panic attacks semi-regularly, and I recognized some of the symptoms. My heart squeezed tight, almost painfully, and I struggled not to be overwhelmed.
There was a light shuffling from nearby, and then I heard Jeremiah call my name. Hearing his voice gave me something to latch onto, a distraction from my sudden misery. I managed to get a deep breath into my constricted lungs, which helped. “Over here,” I said, annoyed when my voice warbled. I stood up to see him frowning at me.
“What were you doing on the floor?”
“Stretching.” I hated how easily the lie slid off my tongue, but I couldn’t explain my problems to him. My body continued to race, urging me to do something, so I moved into the kitchen. “Do you want me to make some lunch?”
“I’m good, but make yourself something if you’re hungry.”
It was my turn to frown as I studied him. “Should you be on your feet?”
“I’m tired of being kept helpless in that goddamn bed.”
I winced at the bite in his words and tried not to read anything into it, but that was difficult given my state of mind. “I’m only trying to help,” I said, unable to keep the brittle note out of my words. At least my back was to him so he couldn’t see my face, which I was having trouble keeping composed.
Behind me, I heard him sigh. “I know that.”
I would have given almost anything to feel his touch right then, hear him say everything would be all right, but he kept silent as he hobbled into the kitchen. I pulled out a box of brownies and set about searching the large kitchen for the necessary items. Oil, eggs and some walnuts were easy enough to find, but I couldn’t find a pan. Crouching down, I rifled through the lower cabinets until I found some nested glass dishes that would work.
Jeremiah moved in beside me. “Let me help you with that.”
“No, I’ve got it.”
“Lucy, I can help you…”
“I said I’ve got it!”
The words came out sharper than I intended. Mortified by my outburst, I rose too quickly and clipped the edge of the glass dish on the countertop. It jerked from my hands, and I watched as it fell to the tile floor and fractured into several pieces.
“Shit!” I started to tremble as my anxiety peaked again. I cast around for a broom or dustpan but found nothing, so grabbed a roll of paper towels from the counter. “I’m so sorry,” I murmured, tearing off several sheets and kneeling down to pick up the pieces.
“Lucy, stop, you’re in bare feet.”
“No, I need to clean this…”
Even now, his voice held the power to command me. But when I ceased movement, my emotions finally caught up with me, and a single sob escape my lips. “I can’t do this anymore.”
A tiny hint of what’s to come in the next few days:
😀 😀 😀