Almost a week had gone by since I woke up from my coma. In so many ways, I wished I hadn’t opened my eyes, because I would’ve died happy believing in the illusion. How could I ever forget that one night of eternal bliss I shared with Noah? I wasn’t sure if I could ever feel anything that could top that experience in real life.
My mom came by and saw me every day, making more frequent visits once Noah went back to work. I didn’t want him jeopardizing his career because of me. I was pretty much out of danger zone.
Everyone got tested last week too, and Doctor Peters said it would take another week for the blood results to arrive from the lab. Basically these tests would be able to determine if my cells would react well with the donor cells. I believe it’s called cross-matching.
I’ve also sort of been reluctant to sleep, because whenever I do, I start dreaming about the night of accident; a night I don’t ever want to remember again.
I was suddenly pulled out of my sea of thoughts, and looked up at my mother, who was practically doing a ridiculous looking victory dance.
“Mom, this game is so lame.”
“Are you kidding me? You love
“Yeah, when I was like…ten!” I laughed, and watched her shuffle the cards.
“You always kick my butt when we play. It’s nice to win for a change, so let me enjoy it.”
It felt like forever since I last saw my mother smile. I really couldn’t understand why she stayed with my stepdad. Rob didn’t make her happy.
“You’ve been somewhere else all afternoon, Aria. What’s up?”
“It’s nothing,” I shook my head.
Come on, a mother knows when her daughter’s in love. It’s that boy, Ryan. Isn’t it?”
Oh god, she was way off.
“He’s been visiting you nonstop while you were in a coma. I chatted with him a couple times, and I was under the impression that he has some very serious feelings for you.”
“We’re just friends, mom.”
I so did not want to have this conversation right now.
“Hmm, I don’t think so. You can talk to me about boys you know. I’m your mother after all.”
How the hell was I going to explain that I was in love with Noah?
“Yeah, I know.”
“Good. We have a lot of catching up to do. Your father told me you got accepted to Berkley and Columbia.”
“I got in to Columbia?”
This was news to me. He never mentioned that.
“Yes. Noah didn’t tell you?” Clearly not.
“I told him that Columbia is a great university, and that maybe there was a chance you’d want to move back to New York.”
That was seriously the plan, before Noah and I got into that collision four weeks ago.
“But I guess you’re loving life over here,” she sounded sad, and I immediately felt guilty.
“I miss you. I miss New York, and yes, I even miss my crazy siblings that drive me nuts half the time.”
She laughed a bit, with tears in her eyes.
“Mom, please don’t cry. Why are you crying?”
“You’re my first child, Aria. I almost lost you.”
“Well, worst case scenario, you’d still have another four children to raise.”
She frowned at me in response.
“Sorry, bad joke.”
“I love you, and I just want you to be happy. If you move back to New York, I’m sure Noah will pay for your expenses at school, and you can live in a dorm with a roommate, just like you’ve always wanted.”
Actually no, what I always wanted was to roomie up with Jade or Alison, and go to Columbia together.
“Everything’s going to be just fine. You’re going to pull through this,” she said to me, squeezing my hand in a comforting way.
“Mom, you look like you haven’t slept in days. You really don’t have to supervise me around the clock.”
“Supervise? I haven’t seen you in almost a year. I’m definitely not supervising you. I’m here because I miss you.”
“Yeah, but I feel bad. Who’s watching over the kids back home?”
“Your grandparents—they drove down from Boston weeks ago, sweetheart.”
“What about Rob? He never closes up the garage.”
“He’s got Sammy running the place until he returns. He wants to be here for you as well.”
“But mom, you guys need the money. Every dollar counts.”
She raised her hand in protest to silence me. “Not another word. I don’t want you worrying about that kind of stuff. We’ve got it covered.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your father’s helping me out.” Oh god no. History repeating itself again,
the dreadful thought plagued my memory, triggering a time where my step dad’s gambling had really gotten out of control.
“Mom, please don’t give the money to Rob. You know what he’ll do.”
“He’s been getting help with his gambling addiction, while you’ve been here in California—this 12 step program kind of thing, you know? And I haven’t told him that Noah’s given me money. He thinks it’s from your grandparents. If he knew, he would never accept it.”
“How much money are we talking here?”
“I declined at first, because there was no way I’d be able to pay him back anytime soon, not in weeks, not in months…years? Gosh, I don’t know,” she laughed nervously.
“Mom, just tell me,” I was growing impatient.
She took a deep breath, opened her hand bag, and pulled out a cheque.
“Wow…” my jaw almost dropped, as I held it in my hand.
“I know. I honestly can’t believe it either. He doesn’t want the money back. He just wanted to help me out.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“I’m going to deposit some of the money into a trust fund for your siblings. Once they’re 18, they can use the money for college. I was going to do the same for you, but Noah told me not to worry about that. He’s already taken care of a generous college fund for you.”
I guess this was going to be another one of his surprises.
“As for the remainder of the money, I’m going to pay off those credit card debts we owe, cut up all the plastic, and start paying for things in cash. I need to feel some sort of financial stability at this point in my life, and Noah’s generosity is a life saver.”
I felt this overwhelming sense of pride. He wasn’t a big fan of my mother, but he knew I loved her a lot, and so he must’ve wanted to help in any way he could. That was unconditional love for you.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“What was Noah like when you were both my age?”
“I’m surprised he hasn’t told you himself.”
“Well, you know him. He’s pretty secretive and reserved about his past. He hates talking about his family. Did you even know about Evan?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I hardly talked about your father. Why would I start talking about his adoptive brother out of the blue? You know I hate going down memory lane where Noah is concerned, especially that messed up family of his.”
“I don’t think they can be anymore dysfunctional than we are,” I added.
“You haven’t met your grandmother, Pearl.”
I could tell she felt some serious animosity towards this woman.
“She tried to break us up so many times back when we were dating in high school, and the witch was successful.”
“You blame her for your breakup?” I asked, curious to know the truth about what really happened between my parents, and their tragic romantic history.
“Blame?” she scoffed. “The self centered bitch practically orchestrated the doom of our relationship. Pearl Hunter is so damn manipulative. She never approved of my relationship with Noah. According to her, my family and I were low class.
She often told her precious son that he could do so much better, right in front of me—the nerve of that woman!”
Okay, she was clearly getting upset, and I didn’t want to rip open old wounds for my mother, but I had to ask this final question.
“Mom, do you still have feelings for Noah?”
She took her sweet time answering me, and I wasn’t sure why it made me feel so uneasy.
“I…I care about him. Your father was never an easy man to love, but he was so charming, and attractive. Every girl in school wanted to date him,” she sighed, and sifted through her past for a moment. “I’m going to tell you a secret, but please don’t tell your father, or Rob.”
“I promise I won’t.”
Mom took a deep breath, and then said, “I think a part of me will always love him.”
There it was. The answer I was scared to death to hear, but I put on the perfect poker face, (something I learned from Noah pretty well.)
“Is that why you never talked about him to me, because you’re still in love with him?” I watched my mother’s cheeks turn a rosy shade of pink.
“I wouldn’t say in love.
The way he and I ended things wasn’t exactly a clean break.”
“Why didn’t you want to marry him when he proposed?”
“Because I didn’t believe his proposal was genuine. At the time I felt he only wanted to marry me because he knocked me up, plus I didn’t particularly want to marry into that family.”
“Are they seriously that bad?”
“When you get married, you don’t just marry your partner, you marry into the familia
,” she said, with emphasis. “Noah’s father, George, was a kind man, but that woman controlled him constantly. Pearl was never going to accept me, and if I married Noah, she would’ve made my life hell. She had a long chat with me one evening, and told me that I could never make him happy, and if I believed I could, then I was just deluding myself. She pretty much said that he would one day cheat on me, and leave me for another woman who is much prettier, wealthier and smarter than me.”
“And you believed her?”
“I was sixteen, pregnant, and extremely insecure,” there was a short pause, and then she sighed. “But I’m glad you’re way more responsible than I was at your age.”
I took a moment to just reflect on everything she said.
“If you could turn back the clock, what would you do differently?”
“I wouldn’t have gotten married so young.”
“So you don’t regret having me?”
“Of course not, Aria. Don’t ever think that way. I am so proud of you. You’re starting university soon, and you’re a bright, young lady with your whole life ahead of you.”
“I wish I could get out of this hospital bed. I can’t believe I’ve been bed bound for almost six weeks.”
“You’re going to have to take it easy for a while, especially after the transplant.”
“I’m anxious about it.”
“It’s going to be alright, sweetheart. It’s a miracle that you’re still here with us. Just keep a positive attitude.”
I forced a smile, and then glanced at the clock that hung above my room door. It was almost six in the evening.
“Mom, you must be starving. You should get out of here, and get something to eat.”
“Rob will be here in half an hour with some sandwiches,” she replied, and stood up to open the blinds. “I love the sunshine.”
“That’s sunny California for you.”
“How are things with you and your father? I’m sure you two have bonded,” she walked back over to my bed, and sat down in the wooden armchair.
“Yeah, Noah and I are pretty close.” We’ve bonded in more ways than one
“Your life is so different here, huh?”
“Well, it’s nothing like New York, that’s for sure.”
“Are you happy living with your dad?”
“Mom, can you stop calling him ‘my dad’, I’m not exactly comfortable calling Noah my father yet.”
“Oh—sure sweetheart. I just thought…never mind.”
“I’m just not ready to start calling him ‘daddy’, you know? It’s a little late for that.”
“Yes, I completely understand.”
It was so awkward for me to address him as my father, because it never ever felt like he was.
“He honestly hasn’t aged much since I last saw him. I feel so old in comparison.”
“Mom, you’re still a stunner. You just need a nice make over. Once I’m out of the hospital, we should go shopping, and stop by at the salon.” I really didn’t like to see her sad. I know she and I had our differences, and she wasn’t perfect, but I loved her.
“Not until you’re better.”
“I’ll get better—positive attitude, right?”
“That’s right,” she smiled. “By the way, I spoke to Vanessa yesterday.”
“She swung by the hospital?”
“No, I went over to her house.”
“Did she invite you?”
What the hell was that bitch up to? Why did she want to talk to my mom?
“Yes, we chatted and ate lunch. She told me that she and Noah have been trying to get pregnant, and after years of failed attempts, they finally have a baby on the way. Isn’t that wonderful? You’re going to have a little brother or sister six months from now.”
“Yes, she’s three months pregnant.” What!? No! No!
I thought he had stopped having sex with her. How could he!? I felt like breathing into a paper bag, and hyperventilating. I wanted to scream and cry my eyes out.
“Aria, are you alright? You’ve gone terribly pale. Maybe I should get a nurse.”
“No, I’m fine.” Must-not-break-down.
“Mom, I don’t have a fever or anything,” I said, while she touched my forehead.
“No, your temperature is quite cold actually. I’m concerned.”
“I’m fine, really,” I plastered on the fakest smile, and then opened the pack of vanilla pudding I had no intention of eating. “See—just hungry.” Ugh,
it tasted so gross. Hopefully that was convincing enough.
“What else did Vanessa say?”
“She was mainly asking about childbearing advice. I told her you were my most difficult birth. The first child usually always is.”
“Does Noah know?”
“She said she was going to surprise him with the news yesterday, so I imagine he’s absolutely thrilled about it by now.”
Oh god. I wanted to puke. I wished I never woke up. I wished I could’ve stayed in a coma. At least I was stuck in my own little paradise with the man of my dreams, despite the fact that it was all in my mind. This felt like such a betrayal, even though he was married to the woman, and I was his daughter. I thought what he and I had was stronger, and more
than what he shared with Vanessa. I guess I was wrong.
“Sweetheart, you really do not look so good. I’m going to get a nurse.”
“I’m just tired, mom.” No, please… I don’t want to cry in front of her,
I was practically begging my ego to take over and tell my fragile half to suck it up.
“Aria, why are you crying?”
“Is it because of—”
“I’m just scared about the transplant surgery.”
What a convenient lie.
“Oh, sweetheart,” she sat down on the edge of my bed, and held my hand. “You’re going to be just fine.”
My tears suddenly started to overflow. This was definitely heart breaking news for me, and I couldn’t open up about it to my mom. What the hell could I say to her? ‘I’m devastated because my dad’s knocked up the woman I despise, and I wish it was me having his baby instead’
She would have me admitted to the psych ward, before I could even explain my feelings.
“It’s okay to be scared. You’re in the best hospital in the state, with the best team of surgeons. You’ll be alright, darling. I have faith in that.”
I didn’t want to be alright. I wanted to die. He was never going to leave her now. Vanessa had won.NOAH
Last night I found out that my wife was three months pregnant, and I was going to be a father. I noticed that she had been gaining some weight, but never suspected pregnancy, especially since she showed no symptoms. You would think that it would’ve made me happy to know I was given another chance at fatherhood. But to be honest, I felt so torn, and disappointed in myself. Our sex life wasn’t all that great, and we weren’t intimate for a while, but the times that we were, was just to keep me distracted, and to relieve the sexual frustration I was feeling about Aria. I knew deep down that I wasn’t happy anymore. Maybe this was God’s way of locking me into a loveless marriage, as punishment for everything I had done wrong in my life. It was all I could think about on the way home.
I was sitting in a cab next to Lewis. Tomorrow would be his ten year wedding anniversary, and he invited me out for a drink with him after work, which I didn’t mind. Usually I would decline, and go straight to the hospital to see Aria, but that day, I just couldn’t bring myself to walk in there with a smile on my face. Breaking the news to her would crush her, especially if it turned out that I was a compatible match, and could donate. She would be hell bent on waging war against me, refusing to take my kidney because she would be too devastated, and would hate me. I think she would choose to neglect her health, deteriorate, and die, just to spite me.
Fuck, I really got myself into a mess. There was no way Doctor Grey could help me here.
“So are we on for that Lakers game next weekend? Hello
? Anybody alive in there?” Lewis snapped his fingers a couple times in front of my face.
“Shit, sorry man.”
“Where the hell is your head?”
“I’m just stressed out, and worried about Aria. My mind’s all over the place.”
“It’s okay, I understand, but you need to take it easy. Maybe coming back to work this early was a bad idea.”
“Lewis, I’m senior partner. Craig is counting on me to help him close that Rochester case.”
“I can handle Craig, and I can handle your cases.”
“You’ve got your hands full with enough. Trust me, I’ve got this.”
“That’s right, I forgot. You’re Noah fuckin’ Hunter
“And don’t you forget it,” I replied, flashing a smug smile.
The taxi soon pulled over to a stop.
“Well, this is me,” Lewis said.
“You still haven’t told me why you didn’t drive to work today.”
He got out of the car, and leaned towards the passenger window. “Let’s just say, it’s part of the wife’s anniversary surprise.”
“Alright, alright. Get out of here.”
“You’re looking at Casanova reincarnated. Don Juan baby!”
he stretched out his arms, and started walking backwards down the busy street.
“Don’t say that to the wife!” I hollered out the window.
As soon as he disappeared into a department store, I told the driver to take me home.
It wasn’t until we got closer to my area of residence, that I realized that Lewis left his cellphone behind, because I heard it vibrate. It must have slipped out of his pocket, and fallen off the seat.
I reached down, and retrieved it. Someone had sent him a text, and he had their name labelled as; Hot Bitch.
I placed the phone beside me, and decided not to violate his privacy. Most likely it was his wife, and he probably called her some sort of kinky nick name on his mobile.
Ten seconds went by, and again, his phone vibrated. Then again, and again…
“Christ—” I muttered under my breath, and grabbed the black berry. It was the same person, ‘Hot Bitch.’ Okay, I’m just going to check his contact list, see if his wife’s name’s pops up,
I said to myself, as I scrolled down his contacts. I’m not sure why I felt nervous. I was expecting Chelsea’s name to not be listed, confirming that he had probably renamed her as ‘Hot Bitch,’ but the fact that her name was in there, strangely unsettled me. Lewis and I were pretty close, and I would’ve sworn if the man was having an affair, he would’ve told me. I never pegged him as the type of guy that would cheat on his wife. He always talked about her, and the family. I was under the impression that he was still madly in love with Chelsea, and a very loyal family man.
Placing the phone down on the seat, I resolved to ignore the incoming text messages. But the messages didn’t stop.
In a fit of frustration, I set his phone to silent, and shoved it away in my pocket. I would give him his phone back tomorrow morning at the office, since he was busy with anniversary plans that night.
‘She’s cheating on you with your best friend!’
Aria’s voice echoed in my head, and wouldn’t stop.
“Fuck it—” I cursed out loud, and pulled out the cellphone.
The next thing I did was open his SMS inbox, and read the texts. Text message from Hot Bitch: Hey sex machine, r we still on for 2nite? I miss MR. BIG ;) My husband won’t be home 2nite. We should hook up. Let me know if u can. xx I’ll wear that sexy lingerie u bought me ;) Last chance before I make plans without u…
You know that moment where that little voice inside your head gets louder and louder, telling you to investigate and dig deeper even though you feel you shouldn’t, because you don’t want to learn the ugly truth? Yeah, that’s called instinct, intuition, whatever the hell you want to call it. All I knew was that something was telling me to text her back. So I did. Text message from Noah via Lewis’s phone: Hey sorry. Was driving.
I had to find out who this woman was, but a part of me already knew. Text message from Hot Bitch: Mmmmm I wish I was there stroking ur cock while u drove. We both know how I LOVE to do that ;) Text message from Noah via Lewis’s phone: Ur a naughty girl. I should punish u. Text message from Hot Bitch: U can 2nite, if ur free ;)
I paused for a moment, and tried to think this out carefully. I could call her up, and see if it’s who I thought it was, or… Text message from Noah via Lewis’s phone: Where’s the husband tonight? Text message from Hot Bitch: Noah’s @ the hospital with little miss teen bitch. The brat is seriously spoiled.
I froze, and just stared at her text. My hand was shaking from the overwhelming sense of betrayal that I felt. It was like I was blind for so long, but was finally gifted with sight, after all this time. Who are you to judge and cast a stone, old buddy? Haven’t you been cheating on the wife as well?
There it was, Noah 2.0, right on time. And here I thought he had left me alone. I had to play this out smart. Text message from Noah via Lewis’s phone: When and where? Text message from Hot Bitch: Usual place xx
Shit, like I knew where that was. Text message from Noah via Lewis’s phone: Let’s try someplace new. Meet me at Mosaic Hotel by the hour. Don’t be late. Will text u room details in a bit. Text message from Hot Bitch: Not gonna meet me in the lobby? Text message from Noah via Lewis’s phone: I have a surprise waiting for you in our suite. I need to be there ;) Text message from Hot Bitch: Ooooo I love surprises! See u soon lover xxxxxx
She was getting a surprise alright, a surprise of her life.oOo
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/incest/i-shouldnt-love-this-way-chapter-11.aspx">I Shouldn't Love This Way- Chapter 11</a>