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Authors: Evan Purcell

Waking Up to Love

BOOK: Waking Up to Love
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Waking Up to Love
Evan Purcell

Avon, Massachusetts

Copyright © 2014 by Evan Purcell.

All rights reserved.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher; exceptions are made for brief excerpts used in published reviews.


Published by

Crimson Romance

an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.

10151 Carver Road, Suite 200

Blue Ash, OH 45242. U.S.A.

ISBN 10: 1-4405-8240-8

ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-8240-0

eISBN 10: 1-4405-8239-4

eISBN 13: 978-1-4405-8239-4

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author's imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.

Cover art © 123RF/ Graham Oliver


Chapter One

It had been eleven minutes, 900 heartbeats, and four sips of bottled water since Ramona Scapizi had crawled into bed, and sleep was more elusive than ever. This was just going to be one of those nights.

She thought about switching on the lamp and reading another chapter of
Anna Karenina
, but she knew that wasn't going to work. Like most English majors, reading didn't make her the least bit sleepy. If anything, reading another ten pages of that book would only make her more depressed.

Or angry.

Or glad she wasn't Russian.

Tree branches pounded against her window. Thunder rumbled the glass. Storms were always so much more unnerving when she was alone. It had been storming a lot lately. She had been alone a lot lately, too.

This was early May in Arizona. They weren't supposed to have storms like this, at least not now. In a way, it was almost like the weather matched her mood.

Ramona looked over at her end table, and in the flashes of lightning, she could see a single family photo looking back at her. The plain wooden frame needed a dusting. It was always there, just inches away from her head, but lately Ramona was finding it harder and harder to look at.

The picture was from about a year ago. It showed Ramona in a light blue shirt and white top. She was beaming ear to ear. There were no bags under her eyes, no frizz in her hair. And standing right next to her—in red, always in red—was her twin sister Vanessa. Nessa and Mona, the Scapizi daughters. Nessa was Ramona's identical twin, but everyone saw her as the prettier one. Maybe it was her makeup, or her hairstyle, or her expensive clothes. Maybe it was just the way she carried herself: with confidence, with passion.

Ramona, on the other hand, was 100 percent unglamorous. She had the same wavy hair, the same dusting of freckles, the same blue eyes. She was beautiful-ish, she thought, but she didn't have the poise and confidence of her sister.

Of course, Nessa had recently run away from her husband just weeks after their wedding, so it wasn't like her life was perfect, either.

Without realizing what she was doing, Ramona turned the picture around so it was facing the wall. She couldn't look at Nessa's smiling face, not after everything Nessa put her through.

The phone rang, cutting through the silence of her apartment. It seemed so much louder now, without any of the normal daytime noises to fight it for ear space—just the patter of rain. At first, she wanted to ignore it. No one should call this late. Then she realized that the phone call could be important. It could be Nessa, finally telling everybody where she was. Or at least it could be Nessa asking for money.

The phone kept ringing. It might have been her imagination, but Ramona could have sworn it was getting louder. Against that quivery feeling in the pit of her stomach, she picked up the phone.

“Hello?” She tried to make her voice sound sleepy and disgruntled. Instead, she sounded like a woozy Muppet.

“Ramona,” a male voice said. It sounded deep—and very familiar. Her brain flipped through an address book of potential late-night callers, but she couldn't quite place the voice.

When she didn't answer, the voice quickly added, “Mo?”

Only one man had the nerve to call her that childhood nickname.

“Scott,” she said. It sounded like an accusation. “Scott McInney.”

When he chuckled, she knew her hunch was correct. Only Scott McInney laughed like that. Only Scott McInney had a chuckle that made anyone else in the room feel like the butt of some unsaid joke. She hadn't heard that laugh in three months, not since the wedding.

Back in first grade, when Scott stole her stuffed dinosaur, she'd thought his chuckle was mean and obnoxious. In fifth grade, when he gave her a heart-shaped box of chocolates, she'd thought his chuckle was nervous and impossibly cute. In high school, when he wrecked her dad's old Chevy, she'd thought his chuckle was doofy and immature. Now, at the ripe old age of twenty-seven, she didn't know what she thought about his chuckle, except to know that it was certainly not a sound she wanted to hear right before what would hopefully be a nice, restful sleep.

“I see you recognize my voice,” Scott said. He chuckled again.

“Caller ID,” she lied. “Don't flatter yourself.”

“I'm actually not on my phone,” he said. “This is the hospital's.”

“Oh God,” she said. “Is something wrong?”

Was he hurt now, too? His family had been through so much during the last few months. No matter how she felt about Scott, she always had a soft spot for the McInney clan; they didn't deserve to face another accident or illness.

“Oh no, no,” he said. “Just the opposite. It's Mom!”

Debra McInney had been in a coma for the last two and a half months. It was a car accident on the way home from Harvey's Diner. She'd had a pancake craving, and she hadn't wanted to let her family know that she was cheating on her diet. The temporary lapse in will power had cost her three broken ribs, a sprained wrist, and eighty-four days of deep sleep.

“Scott,” Ramona said. “Is your Mom—?”

“Yes!” he said. “She's awake!”

She's awake.
Ramona had spent months waiting to hear those words. Now that she had, her heart swelled and her tear ducts puckered. Suddenly, her entire history with the McInney family flashed before her eyes. It was like a near-death experience, without the pesky dying part.

She saw all the mornings when she and her sister sneaked into their backyard to play pranks on Scott and his big brother, Rob. One summer alone, they'd managed to go through six rubber spiders, three packets of Halloween blood, and one surprisingly realistic pile of fake vomit.

She saw the Sunday dinners when Mrs. McInney invited Nessa and her over for some of the best home-cooked meals she'd ever had. Eating plateful after plateful of McInney mashed potatoes was so much better than dinners at home, back when her parents were constantly fighting and threatening divorce.

She saw the long nights she spent up in Scott's treehouse. Back then, it was just her and Scott, talking about life and love, talking about the future. There may have been a few rubber spiders, too.

She saw the night her dad left them. Rather than cry alone in her room, she went over to the McInney house and they cheered her up with charades. It was four in the morning.

She saw the afternoon Scott finally swallowed his pride, and asked out—Ramona's twin sister. Worse, she saw the moment exactly one month later, when he proposed.

She saw Nessa's and Scott's wedding by the beach. It was so perfect, so sickeningly perfect. No one expected Nessa to run off three weeks later.

All of the little flashes added up to an entire life of love, and anger, and frustration. No matter what happened between them, Ramona would always treasure her childhood memories with the McInneys. Sure, they hurt to think about, but life was meant to hurt sometimes, right? She didn't know exactly how she felt about Scott—never had—but she sure knew he was forever a part of her life, even if she hadn't had an argument-free conversation with him in forever.

“Ramona? Hello?” Scott's words finally brought her back into reality.

“I'm sorry,” she said. “I'm just … this is such wonderful news.”

“So?” he asked. “Can you come to the hospital?”

There were so many things Ramona didn't know. She didn't know why Scott had chosen her sister. She didn't know why her sister had decided to leave him. She didn't even know where her sister was anymore.

But despite all of her confusion about the past, there was one thing Ramona Scapizi knew for sure: She was definitely not going to get any sleep tonight.

Chapter Two

Scott couldn't stop staring at the beeping heart monitor. It didn't look like it was supposed to. It didn't look like the heart monitors that you see in the movies. The line was much too flat, and its spikes were irregular at best. Debra stirred in her bed, but her eyes didn't quite focus on anything.

After a few minutes, the hospital room had faded from his sight, and the only thing he could see or hear was that stupid beeping line. To him, it felt like a life, like his mother's life. If only he could push a few buttons and make it strong and steady again.

“What do you remember about the accident?”

Those words yanked Scott out of his haze. He looked around the room, at the white walls, at the posters of happy, healthy patients, at his brother Rob sitting on the other side of the hospital bed.

“Do you remember anything at all?” Rob asked again.

Their mother struggled to think. She rolled her head to look at Rob. “Pancakes,” she muttered.

Yes! She remembered the pancakes.

“Good,” Rob said. “That's good. Now, do you remember what happened after you left the restaurant?”

Debra McInney didn't answer. Scott couldn't tell if she was thinking, or if she didn't understand the question. Finally, she said, “I already told the doctor everything.”

“We know,” Rob said. “We just want to hear it, too. What happened after the restaurant?”

“I woke up,” she said. “Here.”

“Good,” Rob said. “That's good. That's very good.”

Scott wanted to scream. That wasn't good. That wasn't good at all. His mother was in a hospital bed, her heart monitor was barely moving, and she had no idea that she'd lost two and a half months of her life.

As a park ranger for the Bureau of Land Management, Scott McInney spent his more hectic days searching for lost campers or making sure drug smugglers didn't pass through his turf on their way up from the Mexican border. It was a tough job, but he was always in control. Even with last year's massive brush fire, he'd been the first man on the scene, giving orders and making decisions. Here, in this tiny hospital room, he couldn't make any decisions of his own. He couldn't just give an order and make his mother better again. He was helpless, as helpless as Debra McInney, and it scared him.

As if to respond to Scott's worries, Debra's voice became clearer and more lucid. She said, “I've been asleep a long time, haven't I?”

BOOK: Waking Up to Love
11.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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