Home > Breaking Gravity (Fall Back #2)

Breaking Gravity (Fall Back #2)
Author: Autumn Grey

Two years ago. . .

 

IF I HAD KNOWN THE night would be ending this way, I’d have done everything in my power to stop it before it even began.

“Don’t leave me,” I beg, my gaze fixed on hers, watching as life floats in and out of her blue eyes.

She blinks and blankly stares at the starless dark sky. For just a second, I think I’ve lost her and my heart stops beating. And I can’t breathe.

I can’t imagine living without her.

Then she smiles. Air rushes into my lungs, and a sob bursts through my lips. Even looking like this, she’s just as stunning as the first time I laid eyes on her.

“Don’t you fucking leave me,” I plead again in a hoarse voice.

“Never,” she vows in a fading whisper. “I’ll always be with you.”

“God. Please don’t take her away from me,” I pray under my breath, muttering the words over and over, hoping someone will hear me. Hoping for some sign that everything will be okay.

I glance down at her neck.

Christ, the blood.

So much blood, and there’s more still trickling from the gaping neck wound.

I need to get to her.

I climb on my hands and knees and crawl to her but fail and fall flat on my face on the dirty snow, crippled by the pain slicing through my shoulder.

“Keep your eyes on me, OK?”

“So cold—,” she says. Her teeth chattering, then she coughs.

Through my blurred vision, I see her face has gone extremely pale, her breathing shallow.

“Baby, stay with me,” I plead. More hacking coughs and my desperation drives me forward. “Come on, fucking stay with me!” My voice is weak and hoarse from all the screaming I’ve done.

Sirens wail through the silent, chilly air. Snowflakes continue to fall like ashes after a volcano eruption.

Her chest rises once and then falls. I’m watching her now, waiting for her next breath to assure me that she’s still here with me.

Her eyes remain unfocused as life fades from their depths.

“No!” I scramble up but my feet are too weak, causing my body to slump back down. Darkness swirls in my vision, threatening to pull me under.

I can’t black out now, damn it. She needs me.

“You’ll always be my hero,” she once told me.

The last thought that fills my head before my world turns dark is that heroes are supposed to do everything to save lives.

I’ve let her down. All it took was three seconds to bring my world crashing down around me.

I’m no one’s hero.

 

 

Six months later

 

I STEP THROUGH THE DOORS of the place where I spent month after month of therapy to get my right shoulder and arm working properly again.

Just as my foot hits the sidewalk, my phone starts to ring. I shove my hand in my pants pocket to retrieve it, but the abrupt movement sends pain skittering from my right shoulder down my right arm. Holding still and feeling sweat form on my forehead, I grit my teeth waiting for the pain to pass. And just like that, the flashes of memories dance in my vision, taunting me with images of blood on white snow, blue eyes filled with trust.

The ringing stops, before it starts back up again. I retrieve it from the left pocket of my pants and answer the call without checking the screen for the caller.

“Rowe,” I grunt into the phone.

An intoxicating giggle reaches my ear, followed by, “Hello, Grumpy.”

My lips twitch, forming a smile at the voice that belongs to my sister and best friend. “Hello, Izzy.”

“Wow. I love your enthusiasm. Can’t you sound a bit friendlier when you answer your phone?” she asks, her voice amused.

I pull my car keys from my pants pocket and open the driver’s door. “That is my friendly voice,” I say, tossing the bag in the passenger seat.

“Do you sweet-talk girls with that voice? I can’t even imagine what your less-friendly voice sounds like.”

I chuckle. “Let’s hope you never find out.”

She snorts, and I know she rolled her eyes. “When will you be here?”

I still have a few things left to pack before moving from Chicago to Florida. I needed time to think about what I was going to do with my life, and being in this city only brought more pain, the memories too hard to handle sometimes. The first time I told Izzy about what I planned to do, she accused me of running into hiding. She challenged me to face my problems head-on.

I tried, but I didn’t like what I saw. Confronting my inabilities, knowing I’d never be able to play cello again day in, day out was like living in the fucking Seventh Circle of Hell.

I clear my throat. “I’ll be home on Saturday afternoon.”

Silence fills the space between us. Unspoken words heavy in the air.

“Are you okay?” she asks—no—whispers, as if she’s terrified of speaking those three words out loud. Guilt cuts through my chest. I put that uncertainty there two years ago when shit went to hell and I couldn’t handle the pain, disappointment, unfulfilled dreams. I couldn’t handle the kind of person I’d become.

I swallow, the bile rising in my throat. My mind flashes back over the past year. Months and days filled with pain, struggle and eventually acceptance. I’d spent years chasing my dream and finally, when I was living it, one single event destroyed everything, changing the entire course of my life.

“Nate?” Her soft voice interrupts the flash of painful memories.

“I’m fine,” I say much more curtly than I intended.

“Nate—”

“I said I’m fine,” I bite out. I sigh, rubbing a hand down my face. “Sorry. Can we not talk about this?”

“Sure. You know I’m always here if you need to talk.”

“I do.” She has always been there, even when I was being a dick. “Thank you.”

“So when—” she stops abruptly when a howl pierces the air through the phone. Izzy mumbles a curse and yells, “Matthew Thomas Reed. Stop pulling your sister’s hair.”

“But, Mama, Kaylie started it.”

Something clatters loudly on the other side of the phone, followed by a loud screech.

“Makayla! Leave your brother alone.”

She returns to the phone. “Sorry. I have to go. See you at Sunday brunch?”

The thought of being surrounded by my family warms me, but the thought of seeing pity in their eyes kills me.

“No, Izzy—”

“Sunday brunch, Nate,” she says in a sweet yet firm voice that tells me she won’t take no for an answer. I’m older than her by two years, but she’s had me wrapped around her little finger from the second my mom brought her home from the hospital. I’ve been such an ass lately; the least I can do is go for brunch. Besides, it’s been a while since I spent time with my niece and nephew, and I miss that.

I sigh. “Fine. But if you and Mom start with your coddling—”

“I promise no coddling,” she says hurriedly to the sound of yelling and screaming in the background. “I need to sort out these little monkeys. Love you.”

She ends the call before I can respond.

I toss the phone on the dashboard, turn the ignition, then twist around to look over my shoulder for traffic. A sharp pain shoots through my shoulder, searing down my spine.

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