“Go see your brother, baby girl. Go spend some time with him,” Ronnie said softly.

Cade took my hand in his and squeezed my fingers, but he didn’t say anything. Feeling a sense of urgency bubble up from deep within me, I pulled my hand free and pushed open the door to Bolt’s room.

Inside, Mama sat beside his bed, holding his hand, while my daddy stared out the window that looked out over the parking lot. Neither glanced up when I walked in, and Bolt looked like he was asleep.

A strange mood hung in the air.

They weren’t telling me something.

I cleared my throat and mama looked up at me.

“Hey, baby.” She forced a smile. She looked sad and tired, the type of tired where people look sick to their bones.

“You want me to get you some coffee, Mama?” I asked.

She shook her head. “No, sweetheart.”

“Well, I feel like one.” My daddy turned away from the window to look at mama. “Irish. Hold the caffeine.”

Mama looked weary. “Not today, Jack. Please, let’s just get through today without whisky.”

“I’ll do whatever the hell I want, woman,” my daddy replied darkly, and turned back to stare out the window. “I’ll do whatever I goddamn want to.”

My mama and daddy fought a lot lately. I remember how he used to touch her with such tenderness. A gentle stroke on the cheek. A small squeeze of her hand as he walked past. Now he barely looked at her.

“I can go get you something if you like, Daddy,” I said. But he just ignored me and kept staring out the window like I wasn’t even in the room.

Mama reached for my hand and squeezed it. “You’re a good girl, Indigo.”

I heard my daddy growl and then storm out. Mama looked worn out and sad.

“Sit with your brother, Indy. Maybe read him one of those books he likes.”

I nodded and Mama got up and went after Daddy.

I looked at Bolt. For the longest time. I just stared down at him lying in the hospital bed.

“Will you quit lookin’ at me like that, Indy.” He opened one eye. “Anyone would think you ain’t seen someone dyin’ before.”

“Is that what you call it, Bolt Parrish? I thought you was just lazyin’ around.” I sat on the edge of the bed. “Don’t think I ain’t noticed how I’ve been picking up your slack around home with chores and stuff.”

“You got me.” He forced a weak smile. “This is just some ploy to get outta chores.”

I chuckled. “I was figuring.”

“I would give anything to be home right now.”

“You’ll be home soon enough.”

His smile faded. “I’m never going home, Indy.”

My smile faded, too. “Don’t say that,” I whispered.

“It’s true. Why’d you think Mom and Dad are so upset. Why’d you think the Calley’s are here. I’m dying, Indy.”

“You’re fourteen, Bolt. Fourteen-year-old boys don’t die.”

“They think I don’t know. But I do. I hear stuff. They think I’m asleep or passed out on pain medication, but I hear their conversations. I know that it’s only a matter of days, maybe even hours—”

I stood up. “Don’t you speak like that! It’s not true. You hear me?”

“It is true.” He lifted his head off the pillow. But it must’ve been too much for him, because he grimaced and winced, and fell back into his pillow. He looked so weak. I felt a horrible tingling at the base of my stomach and looked away from my brother. I couldn’t let him see the truth in my eyes. That I was terrified for him. That I was terrified that he may be right.

“Where do you think we go when we die?” he asked, looking up at me from his pillow.

I didn’t want to have this conversation with him. But I knew he needed to talk.

“I don’t know. But I bet it’s real nice.”

Again, he smiled weakly. “When it’s time for me to go, I’m going to soar like an eagle. I’m going to fly over town and people will look up and go, ‘There goes Bolt Parrish, flying like an eagle, flying free at last’. And I will be free—free from this pain.” He sighed and his breath left him slowly. His lashes brushed his cheeks as his eyes closed. “How I want to be free.”

Tears spilled down my face. I didn’t want my brother to die. But he was dying, and no matter how much I didn’t want it to be true, he was ready to go.

“Bolt . . .”

He opened his eyes and reached for my hand. Then he gently shook it. “Don’t you go getting all soppy on me, girl.”

I smiled weakly and wiped the tears from my cheek. “As if! I was going to suggest I read you some more Harry Potter.”

He smiled up at me. “Please . . .”

I opened the book to where we last left it and began reading. Ten minutes in and I glanced over at Bolt. His eyes were closed and he looked still. Very still. I swallowed deep. My heart pounded in my chest.

Tags: Penny Dee Kings of Mayhem MC Romance
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