Authors: Nicola Haken
Never Let Go
by Nicola Haken
Never Let Go
2014 Nicola Wall
book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events are created
from the author’s imagination, or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any
actual events or people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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are reading this then you have helped support me on the wonderful journey this
series has taken me on. Thank you for sticking with me. I love you.
“The best way out is always through.”
repeated the words over and over in my
mind – the words that knocked the air clean from my lungs.
“You’re…” I began but seemingly couldn’t finish.
A simple enough word, but one
that refused to come out of my mouth nonetheless.
“I don’t want Emily to know yet.”
“Chris, you can’t keep something this huge from her,” I
argued and I couldn’t prevent the slight tremble in my voice.
“I know,” he agreed. “I just want to know the specifics
first. I should find out at my appointment tomorrow.”
“By specifics you mean…”
“How long I’ve got left.”
I was sure if I lifted my shirt up there would be bruises on
“Jesus, Chris…” I breathed out. “I don’t know what the fuck
to say to you right now,” I admitted honestly, but then quickly thought of
something. “So… you have
word tasted bitter on my tongue.
Glioblastoma multiforme to be
“And they can’t treat it? Like
Chris shook his head and closed his eyes while he sucked in
a deep breath.
“It’s a brain stem glioma. Apparently they’re practically
impossible to treat. It’s the most sensitive and delicate part of the brain,
and on top of that it’s grade four.”
“It means I have the most aggressive kind of tumor. They
can’t remove it because of where it is, but chemotherapy might slow it down a
“Might?” I repeated, all but a whisper.
“Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.”
“What time’s your appointment at?”
“I’ll come with you.”
“No,” Chris said adamantly. “You’re not even supposed to
know about this. I don’t want fussing over.”
“Tough shit. I
and I’m not fussing – I’m being a friend. Fuck knows I owe you, man. You
had every right to want to beat my ass into next year, but you didn’t. You told
me to fight for Emily, and it was the greatest piece of advice I’ve ever been
I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand why he told me to
fight for his sister. After everything I’d become and everything I’d put her
through, I can only assume it’s because his time was running out and he needed
to see her settled before he…
Yep, still can’t say it.
“I wouldn’t have told you to fight if I thought for one
second you didn’t love her. Maybe I should blame you for ever being stupid
enough to turn to that shit in the first place, but a stronger part of me
thinks that’s the easy thing for me to do. I can’t imagine what you’ve been
through. I mean, how hard must things be to force a person down that road? I
could sit here on my high horse and tell you you’re a waste of a skin, that
Emily deserves better… but the truth is, suddenly I know the enormity of what a
second chance means. I think you deserve another shot, Dex, because fuck knows
I wish I had one.”
BAM! Another thump to the chest…
“But know if you
up that badly again, I will fucking haunt you. I swear I will be your very own
live in poltergeist.”
“Stop it,” I said regretfully, shaking my head. “Stop talking
like you’re already dead.” Chris sighed but before he could reply, his cell
rang in his pocket.
“Hey, Emmie,” he said chirpily – like everything was
completely fucking normal. He was expecting me to do that too, and I just
didn’t know if that was even possible. “Sure… no problem… see you in ten.”
After ending the call he turned in his seat to face me. “That was our
‘permission to come home’ call,” he told me. That must mean Emily had finished
blowing up my surprise balloons or whatever she was planning. “So… you’ll keep
this between me and you, yeah?”
“I don’t know, dude,” I groaned guilty. “After these last
few months… I swore there’d be no more lies. I can’t betray her, Chris. I just…
Honestly? I wished I’d never found that goddamn letter.
“Please, Dex,” he begged before sighing heavily. “Just until
tomorrow. Let me get this appointment out the way – know where I stand…
then I’ll…” Seeing the faint sparkle of a tear sitting precariously on the
brink of Chris’ left eye was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’d ever
seen. “Tell her I’m…
How was I supposed to say no to a dying man for Christ’s
sake? And it was only for
Surely if she found out I’d only known for
day, and she knew what Chris had asked of me, she’d understand right?
Fuck, I hope so.
reluctantly agreed. “I’m sorry, Chris but I can’t do any longer than that. I
promised her she could trust me and I’m not prepared to let her down again.”
“One day. That’s all I want. Thank you, Dex.”
“And I’m coming with you tomorrow.” Chris tried to interrupt
but I cut him off. “I’m coming or the deal’s off.” I was talking shit of
course. I wouldn’t have said anything to Emily, but he didn’t know that and I
didn’t want him going alone. Nobody should have to go through something like
this on their own.
“Fine. I’ll pick you up at nine. Tell Emmie we’re heading to
a car auction or something.”
I nodded as Chris twisted his key in the ignition. I looked
down and noticed that my pants were still damp from spilling the bottle of
Stupid fucking water.
what led to all this in the first place. If I hadn’t been looking for something
to clean myself up with I’d have never found that letter and now I wouldn’t be
heading home to spend the afternoon lying to my girlfriend with a fake smile on
Trouble was, I wasn’t sure how convincing that smile was
going to be.
Pausing outside the front door of Aunt Sarah’s house, I
dragged in a deep breath, rolled my shoulders, stretched my neck and then put
my game face on.
“Don’t forget to act surprised,” Chris reminded me from
behind. I wasn’t supposed to know about my ‘surprise party’, but seemingly
Chris couldn’t be bothered keeping the secret. I know ‘party’ is probably
stretching it a little but it didn’t matter. So what if I didn’t have a ton of
friends and family coming to celebrate? When I opened that door I was about to
be met by the two most important people in my life. I didn’t want or need
anything else on my birthday… or any other day.
I turned my key in the lock and couldn’t help smiling when I
heard the sound of shoes scurrying across the hardwood floor.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Emily and Aunt Sarah sang in unison,
stretching their arms away from their bodies and popping streamers. My face
melted into a smile as I walked briskly towards Emily, scooped her up in my
arms and twirled her around. “Stop!” she squealed. “You’re making me dizzy!”
“I fucking love you, doll,” I said, lowering her down and
clutching her to my chest like she might detonate if I dared let her go.
“I know it’s not much,” she said, shrugging gently in my
arms. “I just wanted you to have something to remember today by, that’s all.”
I cupped her chin and tilted her head so she was forced to
look at me.
“You still don’t get it, do you? Every single second I spend
with you makes me feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I don’t need, or
particularly want, huge parties or lavishing with gifts… I’ve got you, doll. In
my book that makes this my best birthday ever.”
“Well I’ll just head on out then, huh?” Aunt Sarah
interrupted, acting playfully insulted.
“Aw I’m sorry, sweet cheeks, am I leaving you out?” I
teased, giving Emily a final squeeze before letting her go and striding towards
Aunt Sarah. Just like Emily, I scooped her up and spun her around – only
instead of giggling, she got pissed.
“Put me down!” she shouted, swatting my shoulder. Laughing,
I did as I was told. “I’m too old for all that nonsense,” she argued, smoothing
her skirt with the palms of her hands.
“It’s my birthday. You can’t be mad at me on my birthday,” I
said, looking up through my eyelashes like chicks do to make you feel guilty
“So,” Chris chimed. I’d almost forgotten he was there and
the second I remembered my chest tightened. “Where’s the alcohol? This is a
party right?” I don’t know how cancer works but I didn’t think he should be
drinking, so I shot him a discreet warning glare. At least I
it was discreet until I caught
Emily following my gaze.
“Chris!” she scolded. “Seriously? After
?” Phew. Emily was blaming my addiction on the look of
distaste I gave Chris. “Insensitive much?”
“Shit yeah. Um, sorry, mate,” Chris uttered. The second
Emily turned away however he flashed me a wink and slapped his wrist. I had to
bite my lip to stop myself from laughing at him.
I understand why Emily worries, and I adore her for it
– but Chris ‘gets it’. He gets that addiction is
issue, and that I don’t want it hindering anyone else. If
someone wants a drink, they should have a drink. After all, alcohol is freely
available wherever you go in the world. If I wanted it, I would get it. Simple
as that. Yes, having that train of thought makes me a selfish bastard, but it’s
the thought process of an addict and one which I doubt I’ll ever overcome.
Thankfully though, every time I think of Emily I know in my
heart I will never risk losing her again. She’s my everything. I need her more
than any drink, any drug…and whenever I feel her lips against mine, I sometimes
think I need her more than oxygen.
We spent the afternoon popping balloons, pulling streamers
and eating Jell-O. Yeah you read that right – Emily made Jell-O! She’d
even laid out chips, mini sausages and other finger foods you find at kids
parties. It was as if she were trying to make up for all the birthdays I’d
missed as a kid, and impossibly I loved her even more for it.
Emily bought me another miniature Harley which I freakin’
. She felt bad because that’s all we
can afford right now but I wish I could get it through to her that
alone is enough.
“You know you’ve started a tradition right?” I said,
admiring the toy in my hand. “I expect one of these every year now.”
“You can collect them,” she agreed, her smile wide and
stunning. Fuck she’s beautiful. “Then when you’re old and wrinkly you can pass
them down to our grandbabies.”
Wow. That one word –
– set my heart fluttering and I couldn’t help
leaning into her and kissing those beautiful lips until my dick started to
“Jeez, you two! Wait until bedtime will you?” Aunt Sarah
piped up as she entered the living room with a tray of drinks –
milkshakes with whipped cream and sprinkles. I swear this was the best birthday
“I’m glad you liked your surprise,” Emily whispered in my
ear. Chris headed home after finishing his milkshake and now Emily was sitting
on my lap. I’d just removed her hair tie, letting her soft red curls spill down
“The surprises aren’t over yet, doll.”
“Eh?” she raised her head off my shoulder and looked up at
me with quizzical eyes. Jared texted me about five minutes ago saying he and Snickers
were just getting into a taxi at the train station.
“You’ll find out in about five minutes.”
“Dex, this is
What have you gone and done?”
She was sitting completely upright on my knee now –
too curiously agitated to settle back down.
“You’re right. Today
my birthday, but it’s also the first day of the rest of our lives. Things
are looking up for us, doll, and after today everything is going to be perfect.
Our life together is going to be perfect – better than perfect in fact.
Amazing.” I said that because that was the speech I’d had planned in my head
all day. So when the words left my lips I stared at her intently, absorbing
every second of her beautiful smile - because I knew after Chris’ revelation tomorrow, I might not get to
see it again for a long time.