Posts tagged “hurt

Lighthouse, Chapter 14

Posted on 27/06/2016

Darah and J.R. stood in front of the hospital bed while Hana perched beside a cranky L.J. Obed who glared at the couple before him. A tick jumped in his tight jaw as he eyed their joined hands before lifting his gaze to J.R. “Raju, what is the meaning of this?”

“Meaning of what?” J.R. drawled softly.

The elder Obed shifted his gaze to the girl and his lips thinned in disapproval. “Who is this… child?”

J.R. sighed. “She’s not a child, and her name is Darah.”

L.J. arched a gray brow. “She looks like she barely just graduated high school.”

Darah choked on a laugh. “Oh wow…”

L.J. squinted at her. “Is something funny here?”

“I get that a lot but really sir,” Darah ignored J.R. squeezing her hand a bit too tight and met the older man’s disapproving eyes. “I’m twenty-five years old, twenty-six come September.”

He sniffed and turned his attention back to J.R. “And what is she doing here?”

“We were together when we heard the news,” J.R. answered dutifully, loosening his grip on Darah’s hand. “We need to talk, Father.” He glanced pointedly at Hana.

Hana nodded and stood, only to be stopped by L.J.’s hand on her arm.

“You stay.” L.J. instructed Hana and then looked to Darah with his brow arched. “Since this is a family discussion, please leave.”

“Babu—”

“Not a problem,” Darah said breezily and slipped her hand from J.R.’s. She flashed the older man a grin and spun on her heels, exiting the room.

“Cheeky little…” L.J. muttered, and Hana fought a smile.

“Did you really have to do that just now?” J.R. scowled. “That was completely unnecessary.”

L.J. snorted. “I won’t stand to be disrespected in my own hospital room.”

Hana cleared her throat and rose. Her eyes volleyed between the two glaring at each other, both forgetting she was still there. “You two should talk. I’ll be just outside.”

She maneuvered her way out of the room and immediately spotted Darah leaning against the opposite wall, her arms folded across her chest. She managed a smile that easily slipped when Darah turned away. “Hey, hold on.”

Darah paused in step and turned to face her, brows raised expectantly. “Yes?”

Hana strolled up to her. “Sorry about Uncle L.J., he’s naturally grouchy.”

Darah shrugged. “It’s whatever.”

Her eyes swept over this young woman, J.R.’s fiancée, and was curious about their relationship. They seemed polar opposites, especially after witnessing Darah’s impetuous behavior with J.R.’s father just now. But maybe the ‘opposites attract’ theory applied to—she shook out of the thought, not wanting to entertain such foolishness.

“I was on my way to the restroom,” Darah spoke up. “Can I go now or you’ve got something to say?”

Hana swallowed a laugh. This girl was cheeky indeed. She nodded. “Yeah, I need a potty break too.”

Darah didn’t reply and just turned around. Hana fought a smirk and followed her down the hall toward the bathroom.

L.J.’s scowl darkened the minute Hana left the room. “Where did you find such an outrageous girl?”

“I would rather discuss why I’m just now finding out you’re in this hospital bed.” J.R. folded his arms across his chest.

“You tell me. I was unconscious this whole time,” L.J. replied brusquely. “Imagine my surprise waking up in a foreign place and seeing that insolent chit—“

“Father!”

L.J.’s scowl slipped in surprise at J.R.’s raised tone. He studied his son’s brooding expression and then sighed, his narrow shoulders drooping. “I know you have questions.”

“And I want answers.”

L.J. nodded, now somber. “I’ll try to answer as much as I know.”

“How long have you known about the cancer?”

L.J. blinked in surprise. “They told you?”

J.R.’s lips thinned. “How long?”

His father lowered his head. “A year and a half… almost two now.”

The silence prompted L.J. to lift his head and read his son’s expression. Anger marked J.R.’s furrowed brow and tightened his facial muscles. “Son, I…”

“And when did you plan on telling me?” J.R. asked, his tone low and uncharacteristically steady. His brow furrowed deeper. “When you had one more day to live? Or maybe when I’d receive another call from the hospital?”

L.J. lowered his head so he wouldn’t read the pain displayed in his son’s dark eyes. Regret and shame gripped his throat from answering.

“Th-that’s why you retired early, isn’t it?”

L.J. closed his eyes.

J.R. choked on a dry laugh. “Th-that’s why y-you’re so hell-bent on g-getting me settled, i-isn’t it? Y-you’d kn-nown all that time y-you wouldn’t live for much longer.”

The stutter had returned, indicating J.R. was quickly losing control of his emotions. All because of him.

L.J. sought his son’s face and his stomach dropped at the sight of tears swimming in J.R.’s angry eyes. He sighed and reached out a hand to his boy. “Beta…”

J.R. took a step back, glaring at his father. “H-how could you do this?”

The accusation in J.R’s eyes was worse than the words themselves. L.J. frowned. “If I could’ve prevented myself from getting cancer I would’ve, Raju.”

“You should’ve told me!” J.R. roared, eyes flashing with rage.

L.J. inadvertently flinched. J.R. cringed and L.J. instantly regretted it.

“I-I can’t do this.” J.R. took a step back and another, ready to run. He spun toward the door.

“Raj–!” L.J. groaned when J.R. slammed the door behind him and he covered his face.

Not a moment later, the door opened and he looked up, stifling another groan when an alarmed Hana hurried in.

“Uncle,” she rushed to his side and reached for his hand. “Are you okay?”

L.J. looked past her at the door. “Raju, please go to him…”

Hana paused in counting his pulse. “He’s with Darah, don’t worry.” She ignored his growl and squeezed his hand. “For now, you need to calm down or the nurse will come in—”

Nurse Karen Wells stepped in and gave both a smile. “Good, you’re awake. Just in time for your checkup with Doctor Yancey.”

L.J. dropped his forehead against Hana’s shoulder and groaned, unaware that Hana and Nurse Karen exchanged a cautious smile.

The two sat in silence, facing the brick wall that separated the hospital garden from the bayou. Bullfrogs and crickets croaked in unison, deafening the silence.

Then Darah sighed and peeked from the corner at J.R.’s profile. “Did you two fight?”

J.R. merely snorted and looked down, the sole of his loafer scraping the cement.

She arched a brow. “You two resemble each other. He’s practically an older version of you with the thick hair, tanned skin, dark eyes.”

“It’s the only thing similar between us.”

Her lips twitched in a wry grin. “Unfortunately.”

J.R. jerked his head to gape at her. “What does that mean?”

Darah shrugged. “Just that he’s more expressive than you. It’s refreshing to know not all Obed men are the same.”

He raised a brow. “I don’t see what—“

“I wish you’d be more expressive about your feelings, J.R.”

J.R. sighed and looked away. Darah sighed also and turned her eyes back to the fence.

“It’s not that easy…”

Darah rolled her eyes. “Actually it is. When you’re angry, you show anger. When you’re happy, you show joy or laugh or at least smile. You have a great smile when caught off-guard.”

J.R. didn’t respond and Darah scoffed aloud but didn’t say anything else. She needed to pee again. Pushing to her feet, she started for the door.

“I’m angry.”

Pausing in step, Darah turned around to his lonely figure. His broad shoulders were bowed in defeat, his thick hair streaked with moonlight. Her fingers itched to thread through the strands.

He heaved a sigh and she quickly refocused her attention on him. Her feet shuffled back to the bench they’d once shared and she lowered herself beside him. Peeing could wait.

“I’m scared too.”

Her gut clenched tight. Her eyes traveled up his profile and rested on his furrowed brow. She could only imagine the pain he faced at the thought of his father facing a terminal illness.

“But mostly angry.” J.R. leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees and buried his face in his hands. “And scared and confused. I don’t know what to do.”

The catch in his voice made her scoot closer until their hips touched. When J.R. didn’t scoot over, Darah released the breath she’d been holding and placed a hand on his back. “What scares you the most?” she asked softly, not knowing what else to ask.

“I-I don’t…know.”

Darah ran her palm over his back in a soothing motion. “I think you do, J.R.”

He was silent for a long while that Darah was afraid she’d pushed him too hard. He wasn’t very good at expressing his feelings, so of course expressing fear for his father’s health wouldn’t be easy to share.

Then she heard a sniffle and her hand paused in motion. Darah willed the bullfrogs to quit their pesky croaking so she could hear it clearly. Then she saw J.R.’s hand swipe under his nose, and she gaped.

The muscles in his back twitched under her hand and Darah bent forward. “Wait, are you crying?”

J.R. cupped a hand over the visible part of his face. “No.”

She frowned. “You are crying.”

“No, I’m not.” He shifted away then, causing her hand to fall.

“J.R—!” Darah pouted when he stood abruptly and started for the door. She quickly jumped to her feet and hurried to him, wrapping her arms around his waist. He froze. She laced her fingers together and rested her cheek against his back, listening to the rapid beat of his heart. He was agitated with worry or fear for his father, and she only made it worse by goading him. “Oh Jay…”

His muscles twitched against him; and Darah knew from nights she’d held Eli after a terrible nightmare that J.R. was holding back tears.

“Let it out, J.R.,” she said gently. Unlacing her fingers, she moved her open palm to his left breast, to where she could feel his racing heart. “Stop giving yourself a hard time and let it out.”

A garbled moan escaped his throat and Darah felt his body bow slightly.

Darah cringed as he choked on a held-back sob. Her other hand wrapped around his narrow waist and the other patted his chest, silently encouraging him to release the tension from his chest.

J.R. choked on a sob and it wasn’t long before he began to weep bitter tears.

Exhaling a breath, Darah pressed her face against his back, allowing his sobs echo against her body also. If only she could take away his pain, she would. For now though, she’d be his rock and his comfort. Closing her eyes, she held him tight while he cried like a baby.

<<Chapter 13 || Chapter 15>>

Advertisements

Lighthouse, Chapter 12

Posted on 20/06/2016

When the door opened and J.R. stepped out of the car, Darah actually took a step back. She hadn’t expected him to respond to her usual goading. His face was unreadable though from the look of his taut jaw, he wasn’t too happy with her choice of words. She took another step back when he walked the length of his car to stop in front of her.

But instead of reaming her for calling him names or being disrespectful, J.R. just stared at her with those piercing dark eyes of his. She shifted the weight from one foot to the other, staring at him, waiting for him to say something.

Then he sighed and shook his head. “You have no idea what you’re doing, Darah.”

She scowled instantly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Exactly what I said.” His dark gaze swept over her face, studying her and finding her inadequate.

She squeezed her fingers into fists. “What does that mean?”

J.R. blew out a breath, his gaze unwavering. “The minute I decide to treat you like an adult, you prove me wrong.”

Darah stiffened, his words echoing her brothers’ sentiments. Surprisingly, him saying it hurt more than she’d anticipated. It was obvious that her brothers would never see her as an adult, having raised her since she was twelve. But J.R.? She clenched her jaw. “I’d say the same for you since you’re the one running away. Like a coward.”

His eyes narrowed. “I am not running away.”

“Oh really? So you hiding in the pharmacy was what exactly?”

J.R. frowned. “You…”

“Yes, I saw you.” Darah put her hands on her hips and tilted her chin. “Someone might think I was forcing you to make the wisest choice here.”

He arched a brow. “I’m afraid to ask you what that choice might be.”

“Get married, duh.” Darah didn’t miss a beat. “You need to get married to please your dad, and my reason is obvious, of course.”

J.R. nodded without blinking. “Of course.”

Darah relaxed a little. Maybe she’d worn him down enough and he would actually consider—

“The problem is you thinking this is the wisest choice, or only choice for that matter.” J.R.’s gaze swept over her face. “Let’s ignore the fact that I have other sponsors who with the right persuasion could continue to fund the center. Let’s focus on you first.”

Darah frowned, not liking where this was going. J.R. was annoyingly analytical and had probably analyzed her situation even before knowing the full details. The most annoying part would be that he’d be close to the truth.

“Where’s the father?”

She huffed loudly to distract him from the stiffening of her shoulders. “Not this again.”

“Yes this again.” His brow furrowed. “Why you think I’d be a better candidate than the biological father is beyond me.”

“Maybe because you are.” Her cheeks warmed when he blinked at her. “I-I mean anyone besides that jerk would be a good candidate. Don’t get weird.”

“You proposing to get married in the first place is weird.”

Darah eyed him curiously. “Tell me the truth, J.R., what are you scared of?”

He arched a brow. “I’m not scared of anything, Darah.”

“Then why are you so bent on rejecting me?”

J.R. frowned. “I’m not rejecting you.”

Darah nodded, careful to look unfettered. “From day one when I told you how I felt—“

“You were young.”

She scowled. “I was eighteen! And before you start your rubbish talk about me being a minor, there are many eighteen-year-olds who got married right after high school.” Darah studied his indecipherable features, frustrated that even after ten years she couldn’t read what he was thinking. “Just be honest, you can’t handle me.”

Both brows shot up, eyes wide momentarily before J.R. slipped that mask back on. He let out an incredulous laugh. “I can’t handle you…?”

Darah tilted her chin. “You’re scared that I’ll be too much for you.”

J.R. smirked. “You have no idea.”

Her cheeks warmed as he stared with his hooded gaze. The heat traveled down her body and she bit her bottom lip. Her pulse quickened when his gaze dropped to her mouth.

“Does the kid know he’s gonna be a father?”

His words doused the heat from her body and she blew out a breath. “What’s this fascination about the father? I already told you he’s a nonfactor and should therefore not be mentioned.”

J.R. frowned. “That’s now how any of that works, Darah. Whether or not you want to accept it, the child’s biological father has an equal right to custody and could cause—”

Darah held a hand. “If I wanted legal advice, I’d have asked for it. Since I didn’t, keep it to yourself.”

His dark brows furrowed. “You’ve been ignoring me for years but the moment you’ve got the family on your case, I’m the first you thought to call?”

She then closed her mouth and folded her arms across her chest. “You’re insinuating that I need you to rescue me?”

He arched a brow. “Don’t you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, I can handle my brothers just fine.”

“Still, raising a child on your own’s tougher. So tough you’re actually contemplating getting into a loveless marriage with just about anyone.”

She scowled. “You’re not just anyone! Stop acting like we’re strangers. I’ve known you for years.”

J.R. eyed her warily. “In any case, I won’t marry you.”

Darah stiffened visibly but recovered quickly with a smirk. “Alright.”

“Maybe one day I’ll explain—”

“Dude, it’s fine! I’ll be a fool to ask you again.” She spun on her heel and started for her car.

“Darah, wait—”

Her eyes stung with unshed tears and Darah slammed the car in frustration. After all these years she should’ve been immune to his snobbery towards her. No matter what she did, no matter how many years passed, he’d always look at her through the same lens as her brothers. She would never be anything more than immature, impulsive, quick-tempered and childish.

Sniffing back tears, Darah turned on the engine and reached for her seatbelt. Better to leave before he saw her crying and cement his jaded view of her. She would show him just how mature she was.

Her eyes drifted to his car, to him standing by the open door. He was on the phone, his back facing her.

Looking away, Darah snorted and dragged the seatbelt over her chest. “I’ll show him.” Her eyes drifted back to him. He didn’t enter his car to leave, instead leaning against the car. His back was bowed slightly as if he’d just received bad news.

She put the car in reverse, knowing he couldn’t leave until she did. The sooner she left, the sooner she could be away from such embarrassment. Her foot remained on the brake, eyes watching him.

His free hand moved to his head and remained there.

Darah quietly put the car in park and watched him. She hadn’t witnessed that frazzled pose from J.R. before. Something wasn’t right.

Then J.R. lowered the phone from his ear and rested his head against the car door.

She pressed the car horn. J.R. didn’t turn around. She huffed a breath and unbuckled her seatbelt. She pressed the horn again but J.R. refused to acknowledge her. Pushing the cardoor open, she stuck her head out. “What’s going on?”

He didn’t answer, didn’t lift his head.

Darah frowned, stepping out of the car. Her pulse quickened as she made her way to him. She stopped right behind him and put a hand to his bowed back. His body was taut and not just from his toned physique. She shook him slightly.

He jerked as though just realizing she was beside him, and shifted to face her.

Darah’s eyes widened at his glistening gaze. “A-are you crying?”

J.R. blinked to clear the haze and looked past her. “My father…”

Her pulse jumped and her hand clutched his shoulder. “What happened?”

“He collapsed.”

“My God. Where is he? Why are you still here?”

J.R. shook his head, dazed.

Darah dropped her hand from his shoulder. “What hospital is he? Who’s with him?”

He just stared past her.

Clearly the news was grave or he would’ve said something. She’d never seen J.R. look so lost and it scared her. But the longer they tarried in the parking lot, the less time they’d have to reach his father.

Darah grabbed his wrist and tugged him toward her car. “Come. I’ll drive.”

“I’ll call once we arrive,” Darah said over the speaker in the car.

“J.R., we’re praying for your dad. Don’t lose heart, dear.” Phoebe spoke out, aware that J.R. was seated in the passenger’s seat of Darah’s car.

“Stay strong, brother,” Abe piped in.

J.R. didn’t answer to either and just stared out the window.

Darah glanced once at him and then reached for the phone. “Okay, let’s talk later. Bye.” She disconnected the call and sighed. “Don’t worry. I hear St. Luke’s a good hospital.”

He still didn’t answer and Darah looked his way, noting his taut jaw. “Are you worried?”

“Can we just not talk?” his voice was gravelly as though his throat was tight with holding back tears.

Darah nodded. “We could—“

“Thanks.”

She sighed and faced the road once more. They were only a few miles from the hospital but to Darah, and maybe even J.R., it felt like they were too far. She pressed on the accelerator.

“Don’t speed.”

Her lips twitched and she raised her foot slightly. Even in his frazzled state, he still had a mind to worry about her. She squeezed the steering wheel and said a quiet prayer for J.R. and his father, not knowing what happened except that his father collapsed at home and was rushed to the nearest hospital.

Minutes later, Darah pulled up in front of the hospital’s front. “Go ahead. I’ll park and come find you.”

J.R. grunted his reply as he unbuckled his seatbelt and quickly exited the car.

Darah watched him race for the sliding doors into the hospital lobby. She sighed and drove toward the parking lot. Her phone rang just as she pulled into a parking spot and she groaned, reading Bart’s caller ID. “Yeah?” she answered on the third ring, stepping out of the car.

“What hospital?”

“St. Luke’s. But I don’t think he wants all of us there.”

“We’ll be there in an hour. Gotta put the kids in bed first.”

Darah slung the bag over her shoulder. “Abe and Phoebe coming too?”

“Is that even a question to ask? Stay with him until we get there, then we’ll switch off.”

“I’m not leaving him.” She stepped onto the sidewalk. “Stay with your family.”

Bart was quiet for just a moment. “I’m not going to read into that now. We’ll be there shortly.”

Darah rolled her eyes as she crossed the walkway to the hospital entrance. “Yeah okay. Gotta go.” She disconnected the call before her brother changed his mind and hurried through the sliding doors to find the emergency ward and J.R.

She found him standing beside a doctor dressed in scrubs, a nurse and another woman dressed in street clothes. Eyes on J.R. alone, she meandered over, catching the tail end of the doctor’s words.

“… to monitor his vitals.”

J.R. dragged a hand over his tousled hair and Darah fought reaching out for his hand. “How long?”

The doctor, a white-haired gentleman of Arab descent, raised his bushy brows. “…long?”

“He means how long has it been this way?” the willowy woman dressed in street clothes asked, and for the first time, Darah noticed how close she stood beside J.R. and the hand she placed on his back. “It doesn’t make sense that Uncle L.J. would be in such a poor state.”

Although the woman referred to J.R.’s dad as Uncle, Darah stiffened when J.R. heaved a sigh and the woman rubbed his back. Clearing her throat, she stepped forward, attracting everyone’s attention. She gave them a smile. “Is everything alright?”

The doctor and nurse exchanged curious glances.

J.R glanced once at Darah before nodding at the doctor. “She’s with me. When can I see my father?”

Darah noticed the willowy woman’s hand drop from J.R.’s back and fought back a smile. It wasn’t appropriate in this case. She watched J.R.’s profile and had to hold herself from reaching for his hand.

“Since he’s stable now, I’ll have Nurse Wells get you signed in.” The doctor glanced once at Darah. “Family for now though.”

J.R. nodded and blindly reached for Darah’s hand. “That’s fine. She’s my fiancée.”

Darah wasn’t sure who gasped, her or the woman standing by J.R.’s side or both. All that mattered in that moment was J.R.’s hand gripping hers. She swallowed the gasp and squeezed his hand back.

<<Chapter 11 || Chapter 13>>

%d bloggers like this: