Saved by the SEAL(6)By: Diana Gardin
“She was released this morning. It wasn’t anything she hasn’t been through before. With her cystic fibrosis, you know she’s no stranger to the inside of a hospital room.”
Mea nods, sympathy pooling in her deep brown eyes. “Bless her sweet little heart. I hate to see her sick.”
“Me, too. Mom takes good care of her, though. It just sucks that she doesn’t have two involved parents. A sick sixteen-year-old girl would really appreciate having her dad by her side sometimes.”
Mea folds her hands in her lap. I know she feels torn in two directions when I speak ill of my father. It’s not like I don’t love my dad. He’s always been good to me, in his own way. And my mom will never have to worry about my sister’s medical bills, because Jacob Owen has done more than well for himself. As Gemma would put it, he’s loaded. But at the end of the day, a kid just wants her dad to show her love by being there. And that’s where my dad gets it wrong every single time.
“Do we need to let Gemma spend the night here tonight so your mom can take care of Gabi?”
Shaking my head, I turn back to the grill. “No, Gabi’s just going to take it easy tonight. I’m sure Gemma won’t want to do anything besides get on Snapchat and talk to her friends, anyway.”
Mea giggles. “Oh, to be fifteen again.”
My insides melt when I think of my little sisters. They’re the reason I moved back to Lone Sands after college. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have moved away from the bigger city. But my mom needs help with my two teenage sisters a lot. Being there for them is as natural as breathing for me. It’s second nature.
“Mea…” I can’t hold it in any longer. I think if I try, my chest will explode. “I ran into Grisham today.”
I keep my back to Mea so she won’t see how thoroughly I blush at the mention of his name.
“Grisham? Grisham Abbot?” She sounds shocked.
I nod. “Yep.” My attempt at nonchalance is foiled by the extra octave my voice reaches.
“Does that have anything to do with the injury you haven’t mentioned on your forehead?”
Now she sounds suspicious.
I busy my hands with adding the smothering ingredients to the tops of the chicken breasts. This time, I leave the lid of the grill open. “It’s no big deal. I fell off my surfboard today and sort of ended up unconscious.”
She sounds agitated. Time to turn around.
“It’s fine, Mea. Really. I was just being clumsy.”
She frowns at me. “You’re not usually clumsy when you’re surfing.”
“Yeah, but I was just blowing off steam after seeing Gabi in the hospital one more time. You know? She’s got bronchitis again, and Mom brought her to the ER last night when she couldn’t catch her breath. It’s so hard to see her that way.”
Mea leaps off the couch and hurries over to wrap her arms around me. At five foot eight, I’m a good five inches taller than she is. But she wraps me up like a burrito in her embrace anyway, and I rest my head on her shoulder as I fight the tears back.
We stay that way for a few minutes until I pull away, swiping at my eyes. “I know, I know. She’s okay. But still…she’s the toughest kid on the planet. She never complains. It’s just not fair.”
Patting my arm as I turn back to the waiting chicken, she sighs. “I know.”
“So, anyway, there I am, lying on the beach when I came to, coughing up a lung like a beached whale. And there’s Grisham, leaning over me. He’d just given me mouth-to-mouth. He freaking saved my life, Mea.”
Her eyes widen. “You’re shitting me. For real? Are you okay now?”
She scrutinizes me with a careful gaze.
“Yes, I’m fine. Grisham took me to urgent care so I could get stiches. Then he bought me lunch at a drive-through. Then he brought me home. Then he got one of his buddies to meet him back at the beach so he could bring me my car.”
I shake my head in disbelief. I still can’t believe the events of today really happened. Grisham literally rode back into my life like a knight in shining armor. It’s enough to give a girl some kind of hero complex.