Before I post the next chapter of Nine Lives, I would like to thank everyone for the support and helpful suggestions I have been receiving. All of which will help me make Nine Lives a much better book!
Danny watched his sister walk defiantly away. She was carrying extra weight but still agile. She didn’t look as if she was getting old, and by rights, she should have done. With all the crap she had stuffed into her life, she was lucky to be breathing.
He hadn’t expected her to make it through the night. They said some of her arteries were completely blocked and the surgeon had to work hard to restore the circulation to her heart.
And yet here she was, striding down the road, looking for a taxi. They must have been wrong or talking about someone else. He shouldn’t be surprised, after all that was Kate all over. Nothing fazed her for long and was just as well. Some of what life had thrown at her would have a lesser mortal reaching for the razor blades.
He watched her get smaller and smaller as she left the car park, wondering if she was all right. With Kate, it was hard to tell, one way or the other. She wouldn’t tell him, that’s for sure.
He tried to remember the last medical incident. Was it the gallstones or the hysterectomy? Neither was life-threatening and she sailed through with hardly a backward glance. Danny wasn’t there, of course, he kept a low profile when she was married to Jack, but he had his own way of keeping an eye on her.
He remembered the time she was rushed to the hospital when they were kids. She must have been about eleven years old. Kate nearly died that day when her appendix ruptured; it was touch and go there for a while. He also remembered how much he hated Matron for dragging Kate out of her bed that morning, thinking she just didn’t want to go to school.
He played up for weeks afterwards, trying to get some kind of childish revenge on the stupid woman, and ended up being thrashed with a coat hanger for his trouble. He often wondered if Kate ever loved him. She always said she never loved anyone. She certainly didn’t now and barely bothered to hide it.
As he slid behind the wheel of his car, he saw the state of it through Kate’s eyes. Christ, he was such a slob. He looked up in frustration and saw his reflection in the rearview mirror. Bloody hell, he looked like a slob. If he cleaned up his car (and his life too) he might stand a better chance with Kate. There was so much about his life that didn’t bear close inspection.
He sometimes thought Kate must be a sociopath, someone who couldn’t stand people, for she was never close to anyone. There were relationships in the past and none of them worked or lasted. There was her agent Samantha, and he would dearly love to know that story.
He tried over the years to forget the time when he was supposed to have hurt Kate when they were kids, but he couldn’t remember what happened. It was as if something had stolen all memory of that day. Did she remember? Was that why she didn’t like him? He did wonder if she just didn’t like him as a person, but weren’t you supposed to love your brother, warts and all?
Danny often wondered why he couldn’t remember what happened, was it that bad? He’d never been able to get Kate to tell him either so he always imagined it must have been dreadful. He felt guilty about something so there must be a reason.
He leant his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes, memories of when they were kids flooding back, like the incoming tide on a sandy beach. There were some good times, and those memories faded quickly along with the rest of their childhood.
It was a shame that other things didn’t, he thought sadly as he fought to stop himself drowning in the flood of recent pain and heartbreak. Why couldn’t he make himself forget it all?
The drug-ravaged face of the only other person he ever loved was never far away in his mind, haunting him and driving him insane with unspoken questions. Questions he tried hard to answer since that awful time when he lost both Angela, his wife and their baby son, and he never quite managed to come up with anything approaching a good enough reason.
He thought he must be to blame, or maybe there was something he should have done? More like something he hadn’t done, if the truth be known, that was usually the way of things. He had a complete catalogue of situations where he could either have salvaged something or simply avoided it if he thought to do something at the time.
He opened his eyes in a vain attempt to stop the images that were cramming themselves into his brain and making him giddy, but Angela’s face refused to move. Her face captured his soul that first day, a face both beautiful and incredibly sad, a face that pleaded with you to love her and save her from herself.
In seconds, the desire to rescue her from whatever bothered her outweighed caution of any kind. Angela was a slightly chubby, bubbly girl with a wild mane of multi-coloured hair and incredible eyes and being with her was like having a party every day. The signs were there, desperately waving red flags at him, and he chose to take no notice, confident he could carry her through anything even though he was far too busy trying to keep up with her.
The first time he found her collapsed on the floor of his bathroom, he should have realised she wasn’t just drunk but with one look at her mascara-streaked face and haunted eyes, all he wanted to do was take care of her and keep her safe. It never occurred to him until it was much too late she might have needed serious medical help.
So he dedicated himself to taking care of her, oblivious to the harm he was helping to hide and most of the time they were happy. He managed to keep his ‘angel’ as he called her, on the straight and narrow for long periods and didn’t condemn or accuse whenever she slipped from his care. He never knew why she needed the drugs or where she found them, despite following her everywhere.
For long periods, he completely forgot about his sister and this was probably a good thing, although he simply swapped one obsession for another. It didn’t matter, he found the one thing he always wanted, someone who needed him and wasn’t afraid to show it and for that alone, he would have forgiven her anything.
He smiled as he switched on the ignition, remembering how much he loved her. When it ended badly he never blamed her, not for a minute.
As he drove out of the car park, he tried again to think of a way he could establish a better relationship with Kate and knew he was wasting his time. She was the most stubborn person he ever met and today served to remind him of that fact.
He would keep an eye on her from a distance, as he always did, just in case she should ever need him. He could hope, couldn’t he?