While I cried on my bed, I heard someone knock on the bedroom door. A second later, I heard Julie’s voice coming from the other side.
“Paige, may I come in?”
At the same time, I heard my mother’s voice. “Paige, pick up the phone.”
I held the receiver to my ear in a weak grip. My voice cracked. “Yes?”
“Come to Bellevue Hospital. That’s where I am.”
I sniffled and wiped the tears from my eyes. “Okay, I’ll meet you there.”
“Honey, I know you’re hurting. Don’t worry. You’ll get through this.”
I hung up with my mother, and then Julie walked in. “I asked everyone to go home. It’s just you and me, now.” She sat next to me on the bed and put her hand on my leg. “Are you okay?”
“No.” I grabbed one of my pillows and hugged it. “My dad just died. I have to go see him at the hospital.”
The realization I could never talk to him again hit me with full force, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Julie has been my best friend since third grade. When I broke down crying, she lay next to me and stroked my hair.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?”
I buried my face into the pillow. “No,” I said, my voice muffled.
“Do you want me to go to the hospital with you?”
I turned my head to look at her teary-eyed, sympathetic face framed with wavy, auburn hair.
“No, I’ll be all right.”
Julie only lay in bed with me for a few minutes. I needed to be alone for a while, and she knew me well.
She sat up and said, “I’ll let you grieve, but call me if you need anything, sweetie.”
“Thanks,” I said, sniffling.
Once I heard my bedroom door close, I turned on the waterworks full-blast. Intense sobs racked my body as I thought about my father. He and I had a good relationship. Usually, he supported me, but sometimes during family conflicts, he would side with my mother. Reflecting on it, I think he did it to pacify her, because she and I always butted heads. He didn’t want her to feel we were both against her. I knew he loved her in his own way. Although he worked a lot, he never neglected me or hesitated to help me. He was the parent I went to whenever I needed advice. Now, he was gone. Losing my father felt like I lost a part of myself.
I flipped onto my back and stared at the ceiling. Tears leaked from my eyes and left wet droplets on my pillow. Soon, my thoughts turned to my job. When Nina said she wanted me to be the project leader for Vera Wang’s upcoming photo shoot, I knew I’d have to work hard and put in many overtime hours. The shoot was in three weeks and would involve an overwhelming amount of organizing and preparation—two of my weakest skills.
I remembered the promise I had given her. I hated to break it, but my father’s death put an unexpected halt on my career. There was no way I could arrange a funeral and still have enough time to get the project off the ground. As I dialed her cell number, I prepared myself for a demotion.
“Hello, Paige. Is there a reason you’re calling me at this hour?”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I needed to talk to you. It’s important.”
“What is it?”
“I know you wanted me to get started on the Vera Wang project, but I don’t think I can. You see…” My composure was slipping, so I took a deep breath. “My dad died tonight, so—”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I know you were close to him.”
My voice broke. I couldn’t get hold of my emotions. “I’m sorry to let you down. I don’t know how long it will take to bury my father, and I’m not sure when I’ll return to work.”
“I know I’m a bitch, but sometimes, I’m an understanding bitch. We have a benefit called bereavement leave. Please, take advantage of it. You need time to grieve. Your job will still be here when you get back. There’s no one else I want to be Creative Designer. Don’t worry about Vera. I’ll get Oliver on the project first thing in the morning.”
“Thanks, I appreciate you being so understanding about this.”
Her voice turned soft. “Death usually occurs spontaneously. You can’t plan for it. You can only adjust your other plans and work around it. Take your leave, and I’ll see you back here when you’re ready.”
I met my mother at the hospital later that night. When the nurse brought me into the room where my father lay, I tried not to break down into a hysterical, crying mess. I didn’t want to cause a scene. I tried to connect with him one last time by touching his face gently, smoothing his black hair, and kissing his forehead. His skin was pale and slightly cold. With his eyes closed, he looked like he was asleep.
I whispered in his ear, “Goodbye, Daddy,” and then I stepped away from the bed.
My mother moved to stand next to me. I felt her arm slip around my waist as I watched the nurse pull the sheet over my father’s seemingly sleeping face.
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Genre – Paranormal Romance
Rating – Adult
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.