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Authors: Nicole Salmond

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Blackbird

BOOK: Blackbird
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Blackbird

 

 

NICOLE SALMOND

 

 
 

 

Copyright © 2012 Nicole
Salmond

All rights reserved. No
part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from
the author, except in brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews
are permitted.

 

This is a work of
fiction. The names, character, places, and incidents are products of the
author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental
.

 

Cover design by Kerry
Ellis

Edited by Debra L.
Stang

 

 

This book is dedicated to all the people in the
world who have taken the time to read my books. You keep my dream alive and
without you they would only be stories in my head. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

First off I would like to start off my thanking all my
friends and family for supporting me through this journey. I know I can be
crazy sometimes, but you love me anyway!

Big thanks to my beautiful sisters Tiffany and Samantha who
helped me edit this book and keep me on track when my imagination got a little
out of hand sometimes! :)

Also huge thanks to my editor Debra! I couldn’t have
published it without you.

To my little nugget,
Evie
, you
are the best thing that ever happened in my life. You’ll always be my gorgeous
little girl.

To my husband, Darby, thanks for everything you do. You’re
the best dad in the world and I am so thankful for the moment we meant because
I couldn’t imagine life without you.

Lastly to the one and only
Jessi
.
One word:
Amazeballs
.
;) Love your beautiful face!

 

 
 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

Nate looked out at the sun setting
on the horizon, the water cooling his legs as he sat up tall on his surfboard and
waited for the next set of waves to come.

“It’s perfect out here, hey Nate?”

Nate quickly turned his head to the direction of
the familiar voice.

“Dad?”
Nate’s voice was
shaky. His dad had been gone for four years and now there he was, paddling
towards him on his surfboard. He knew he must be dreaming.

“Hey, kid. Mind if I join you?” Nate’s dad smiled
as he sat up on his board, pulling his hand through his wet hair.

Nate didn’t know what to say. Where was he? Part
of him knew in the back of his mind he should be freaking out. His dad was
dead. Yet he was here in front of him, exactly like he remembered him.

“How are you here? How am I seeing you right now?”
Nate asked unable to hold back his curiosity.

“Some things are better left unsaid, Nate. I see,
though, you’ve added more to your collection,” his dad said, eyeing Nate’s body
up and down.

Nate looked down at his chest and arms. Before his
dad had died, Nate’s body had been covered with small tattoos, mostly on his
arms, and a few small tribal ones on his back. After his dad’s death, his whole
life had changed. He had quit his business degree and decided to become a
tattoo artist. He now had full sleeves and several large tattoos on his front
and back.

Initially he thought in a screwed up way that the
pain he felt each time he got a tattoo would help him with the pain he felt
from his father’s death. But nothing he did, no matter how painful it was, made
him feel any better.

“Can’t imagine your mum’s too happy about them?”

Nate recalled the years that had passed after his
Dad’s death and his mum’s reaction to his growing tattoo hobby. She openly
showed her disgust for them, saying he looked like a thug. Nate knew she had a
point - the crowd he was hanging out with at the time wasn’t the best, and he also
hadn’t quit smoking then. If appearances were anything to go by, his wasn’t a
good one.

Nate smiled. “Well, you know Mum. She’s always
happy to let us know what she thinks.”

The sound of his Dad chuckling made Nate’s heart
clench. For so long he had wished he could hear that sound just one more time,
see him smile one last time.

“I’m sorry, Dad. For so long I wished I hadn’t
left things the way I did. I wished I didn’t say what I said…One day you were
there…and then you weren’t.”

“It’s water under the bridge, Nate. Don’t blame
yourself, please. I wish I hadn’t had to leave, but I’m always watching over
you guys. That’s why I’m here now. You have got to stop what you’re doing.
You’re on a downward spiral and it has to stop.”

Nate laughed and shook his head. “So you came all
the way here.” He looked around them, not even sure where ‘here’ was. “To come
and lecture me about my choices? Forget it, Dad, I’m doing just fine.”

His Dad rolled his eyes.
“Typical
Nate.
Even now you still won’t listen to anyone.” His dad lay back down
on his board and started slowly paddling away from Nate. “You’ve been given a
second chance at life. Stop letting life pass you by. Make something of
yourself. Be someone. Fall in love, do anything. But what you’re doing now –
you’re better than that, and you know it.”

Nate watch as his Dad started paddling faster. The
next set of waves was coming through. He didn’t want him to leave, not now, not
ever.

“Wait!
Dad!”
Nate called
as he quickly started paddling towards him, trying to catch up.

His dad looked back over his shoulder towards
Nate. “I love you, Nate. Always have, always will. Take care of your mum and
sister for me.”

Nate watched as his Dad paddled onto the wave and
jumped to his feet on his surfboard with his arms stretched. He watched his Dad
take the wave, a sight he had seen so many times before, and one he had longed
to see again after his death.

Before Nate could stare any longer he turned his
head to see the next set of waves bearing down on him.  A second later he
was met with the full force of the wave. He quickly took a breath as he was
pushed off his board into the depths of the ocean. He watched white wash turn
above him, using all the strength in his arms he propelled his arms, trying to
reach the surface. No matter how hard he kicked his legs and pushed the water
with his arms, he wasn’t getting anywhere, but he wasn’t about to give up now.
With one final kick he reached his hands up, finally breaking the water’s
surface. A bright white light surrounded him.

 

***

 

Thirst
was Nate’s first
thought.

He could hear a beeping sound in the background
and a muffled voice. His body felt heavy. He focused on his fingers, trying to
move the muscles. It felt strange, hard even. He slowly blinked his eyes,
trying to open them.

“Nate, honey?
Can you
hear me?”

The white light blinded his eyes as he tried to
register where he was.

At first his vision was blurry. He could make out
the outline of a woman leaning over him. Then with each slow breath, he started
to make out who she was.

“Mum?” Nate’s voice croaked.

“It’s okay, you’re okay. It’s all going to be
okay, Nate,” his mum said though her sobs.

His vision went to the machines next to him. He
knew in that moment where he was. He’d been here before.

He noticed the long clear tube running down to his
hand. He automatically tried to lift his arm to get a better look at the drip
running into his hand. It was then that his eyes focused on the thick cast on
his left leg.

Shit
, he thought.
I definitely fucked up
this time.

He turned his attention to his mum beside him.
“What…What
happened?”

“You were in a car accident.” His mum softly
spoke, squeezing his hand. “Witnesses say you ran a red light. You had alcohol
in your system when they brought you in. Why Nate? Why would you do such a
foolish thing?”

He could hear the pain in his mother’s voice. He
knew the heartache he would have caused her.

A man in a white shirt and navy suit pants entered
the room followed by a woman in a blue nurse outfit. The man came to his
bedside and looked down at Nate, while the nurse checked the machines.

“Nate Williams?” The man asked.

“Yes,” Nate replied softly, his voice hoarse.

“Do you know why you are here?” the man asked
while checking Nate’s pupils with a bright light.

“Mum said I was in an accident?”

“Do you remember anything about the accident?”

Nate tried to remember, remember anything, but he
couldn’t. He honestly had no idea why or how he got here.

“No…The last thing I remember is getting ready to
go to work and then it’s… blurry…” Nate said, struggling to put the fragments
of memory together.

“Memory loss is normal after trauma. As you can
see your injuries were quite substantial. It was touch and go there for a
while, but thankfully your body has been strong enough to help you through the
past few days.”

Few days?
Nate
thought. He looked at his mum now and saw the pained expression on her face as
she clutched a tissue to her nose.

“Is anyone else hurt?” Nate needed to know if his
stupidity had led to the unimaginable.

“No one was with you at the time. You lost control
and ran into a tree. Your mother can tell you more about the incident later.
Now I’d like us to go through the injuries you’ve sustained and the
physiotherapy involved for your recovery. The impact with the tree left you with
a ruptured spleen, causing significant internal bleeding, three broken ribs,
whiplash
, several factures to the tibia and fibula and also
head trauma. Thankfully the head trauma wasn’t life threatening and there
doesn’t appear to be any long term effects, although we will have to closely
monitor you for the next two weeks in hospital just to make sure.

“Unfortunately the hard part isn’t over for you
yet, but you’re lucky to be alive. Not many patients can walk away with the
injuries you’ve sustained, many never walk again.”

The last thing Nate wanted was a broken leg. He
knew he should feel lucky to be alive, but he couldn’t help but wonder if it
wouldn’t have been easier for everyone if he had just died. At least he wouldn’t
have had to live through this pain any more, the pain of knowing his Dad was
gone and there was nothing he could do to change it.

His life was shit and he was wasting it away. The
funny thing was
,
he didn’t even care. Nothing and no
one could convince him otherwise. He didn’t care for love, for happiness
anymore. The only happiness he found was in a bottle of Jack.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER
ONE

 

 

Claire couldn’t contain her excitement
any longer. She was so close to finishing her degree she could feel the weight
from her shoulders already disappearing.

This was her very last clinical placement and last
assessment before she could finally say she was finished University for good.

“I’ve never seen someone so excited with the
prospect of going to work.” Dave said to her while she finished off her
breakfast, shoving a piece of toast in her mouth.

“Are you kidding me?” Claire’s voice was muffled
with a mouthful of food. She jumped off the bar stool, putting her plate in the
sink and swallowing her food.

“In five weeks it’s over. All the assessments, the
exams, argh! I can finally have my life back!” Claire said excitedly as she
wrapped her arms around Dave’s neck.

“I love what I do. I’ve always loved it. There is
nothing better than seeing the look on someone’s face when they take their
first steps after being told they will never walk again, or write their name
for the first time. But after this prac I can relax, knowing I’m in control of
my future again.”

Dave kissed her forehead. “I admire your passion.
It’s one of the many, many things I love about you.”


Mmmm
.
I’d like to find out what other things you love about me,” Claire replied,
licking her lips. “But if I stay here any longer I’ll be late, and you know I
can never be late.”

BOOK: Blackbird
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