The Brightest Sunset(2)By: Aly Martinez
“What if he dies before they find a donor?” she whispered into my neck.
My arm tensed around her. “Catherine, honey. He doesn’t even need the transplant yet. We still have options.”
Her breath shuddered. “I can’t lose him again, Porter.”
“Nobody is losing him,” I whispered adamantly. “I swear on my life Travis isn’t going anywhere. Let’s listen to the doctors and try to be optimistic before we worry about a transplant.”
“You don’t understand,” she cried. “If anything happens to him—”
I leaned away to catch her gaze. “Nothing is going to happen to him. You have to stop acting like the transplant is a death sentence. It could save his life.”
“It could also kill him. And then where would that leave me?”
Her. That was where all of these conversations went. How would his death affect her? Forget about the rest of us. Hell, forget about Travis actually losing his life.
It was always about Catherine.
Frustrated, I blew a ragged breath out and released her. “We’re all going to be fine.” Looking over her shoulder, I found Travis’s dark gaze aimed at us, so I shot him a placating smile and added a wink to sell it. Then I whispered to Catherine, “You need to get it together. He’s watching us. We can’t expect him to be strong if we’re breaking down.”
“Oh, God forbid he learn that his mother is imperfect.”
Grinding my teeth, I bit out, “That is not what I meant. No one is saying you have to be perfect.”
“I need to go,” she snipped, snatching the car door open.
Fuck. Now, she was pissed again and upset.
I didn’t dare say anything else as she climbed inside. I’d already set her off; there was no point exacerbating it.
Digging my keys out of my pocket, I walked to my car, the heavy weight of guilt settling over me. I hated that she was hurting, but it was virtually impossible to deal with her when she got like that.
Our relationship had changed so drastically over the years. I told myself that it was to be expected in marriage. Especially when you threw in the stresses of a sick child, an unplanned pregnancy, and then the exhaustion of having a new baby.
But, if I was being honest with myself, we’d been falling apart even before that.
I loved my wife, but it wasn’t like it used to be. Love was now a conscious decision rather than a feeling.
I climbed into my car with a sick sense of dread rumbling in my stomach.
I needed to go back to work, but my conscience wouldn’t allow it.
My family needed me.
My wife needed me.
So, when her car turned left out of the parking lot, mine did too.
Traffic was light, and it didn’t take more than ten minutes to get to our exit.
“Hey, Karen. It’s Porter. I’m not going to be back today,” I told my secretary as I followed Catherine off the highway.
“Oh no,” she said softly. “Doctor’s appointment didn’t go so well?”
“Not really, and I think it’s best if I take the rest of the day…”
The words died in my mouth as I watched in horror as Catherine’s car drifted to the shoulder. My skin tingled as I waited for her to correct it, figuring she’d only looked down for a moment or maybe turned to hand something to the baby.
But not even her brake lights flashed before she hit that guardrail. The sound of metal hitting metal was piercing, but knowing my family was inside that car made it deafening. My stomach clenched as I lost sight of them over the side of that bridge.
It all happened so fast I almost didn’t think it was real. I slammed on my brakes, my phone flying out of my hand as I came skidding to a halt.
Darting out of my car, I raced toward the cement railing. I’d driven over that bridge every day for over two years, but in that moment, I couldn’t remember what was beneath it. All I could imagine was my family careening into oncoming traffic or a bed of rock below. As messed up as it was, a blast of relief tore through me when I saw her car sinking. Water seemed like the best-case scenario.
Catherine could swim.
So could Travis.
I took off at a dead sprint, racing down the rocky embankment. I slipped about halfway down and slid the rest of the way on my ass, but I didn’t let it slow me.