Home > Pause (Larsen Bros # 2)

Pause (Larsen Bros # 2)
Author: Kylie Scott





“What’s wrong?” I ask. Or try to ask. Only my throat is sore and dry, so my voice barely rises above a whisper. Not even swallowing seems to help. “Mom?”

She wipes away the tears in a rush. “Sweetheart.”

Everything in the strange white room seems hazy and insubstantial. I blink repeatedly, trying to clear my view. There’s a vase of fading pink roses sitting on a small side table and I’m hooked up to a drip along with an array of machines. My body is one long, dull, horrible ache. What the hell happened?

“You were in an accident,” says Dad, answering the question I hadn’t yet asked. He rises from a chair in the corner of the room. “Do you remember?”

Before I can answer, Mom’s there with her tremulous smile. “You’ve woken up before, but never for long. You keep going back to sleep.”

None of this makes sense. “What . . .”

“The doctor told us that we have to ask you how you’re feeling and what you can remember,” she says.

“W-wait,” I stutter. “Where’s Ryan?”

They share a worried glance.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“What do you remember?” Mom perches on the edge of the bed. “How do you feel?”

“Can you move your fingers and toes?” asks Dad.

“I feel confused and frustrated.” I stop to swallow again. Still not helping. “But yes, my fingers and toes are fine.”

Mom rushes to fetch a plastic cup full of water with a straw sticking out for me. I try to take it slow, try to just sip it, but it tastes so good.

“I don’t remember an accident,” I admit once I’m finished.

“Another car hit you and you lost control.”

They both wait for me to react. For recognition to strike. But I’ve got nothing. “When?”

“Let’s wait for the doctor,” says Mom, wringing her hands.

“Just tell me. Please.”

“It’s the fourteenth of February.” Dad straightens his tie in a rare show of nerves. “That’s the date today.”

I frown. “No. No, that can’t be.”

Mom nods, adamant.

“What?” I ask, incredulous.

“Seven Months. Yes,” says Dad.

“It’s a long time to be in a coma. No one thought you’d wake up.” Mom balls up a Kleenex in her hands. “The doctors said . . . it doesn’t matter what they said now. You’re a medical miracle. I knew you’d be okay. My daughter’s a fighter.”

Holy shit.

While none of this makes sense, it’s all too real to be a joke. Not that my parents have much of a sense of humor. But there’s nothing false in my mother’s pained eyes. The last thing I can remember was it being July and we were at home planning a barbeque. Only a summer storm hit on my way to the store, the first rain in over a month. Then nothing.

Seven months of my life just gone. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Summer, autumn, and winter. A whole half a year. It can’t be. It isn’t possible.

My brain won’t cooperate and even attempting to lift my hand is a strain. It doesn’t look any different, but I’m so damn weak and locked up. And where’s my engagement ring, my wedding band? Guess they took them off me for security reasons, but still. I don’t like it.

“Where’s Ryan?” I ask again.

Dad flinches.

Mom turns away.

“Where is my husband?” This time my voice is trembling. There was no one else in the car with me. Ryan stayed home to sweep the deck and clean the grill. To get everything ready. I don’t remember anyone being in the passenger seat. But then I don’t remember an accident either, just some vague shadowy dreams. This is hell.

“Oh, sweetheart,” says Mom, eyes glossy with unshed tears.

“He isn’t . . .” I can’t say the word dead. I don’t want to even think it. “What happened?”

“He’s on his way.” Dad slips his cell phone back into his pants pocket, all while avoiding my eyes. “Just try and stay calm, Anna. Getting all upset about the situation won’t help anything.”

Despite my father’s words, my breath comes faster. A full-on panic attack all of about two seconds away. Not easy to do from a prone position, but I’m giving it my best damn shot. “What the hell is going on?”







Leif Larsen lives in a big old brown brick building with a sprawling dogwood out front in a cool urban neighborhood. No one answers when I press the buzzer. But according to the details on the scrap of paper the nurse gave me, I’ve got the right place.

What to do?

The rational response would be to give up and go home. Because hiding out in my childhood bedroom has worked out great so far (and this would be sarcasm). It’s been months since I left the house for anything other than a medical appointment. Weeks since I’ve heard from any friends. Right on cue, my cell buzzes inside my tan Coach purse. I don’t bother to look. Mom requests proof of life every hour on the hour. Not even dinner at the country club can distract her, apparently. Her parental concern for me is well past claustrophobic.

My hand clenches the iron railing against a gust of unseasonably warm evening wind. It’s been a while since I stopped using a mobility aid, but things can still feel tricky. The whole damn world does, if I’m being honest. So many things I took for granted have now been turned upside down.

This is the problem with living the supposed dream. With having an airtight plan for your life. Meet Prince Charming and marry him. Find the perfect job. Only problem is, if something goes wrong, when reality smacks you upside the head and sends you reeling, then there’s no system for putting the pieces back together. There’s no Plan B because it never occurred to you that you’d need one. A lack of imagination on my part, perhaps.

A motorcycle pulls up to the curb and it’s like everything happens in slow motion. Something about this long, lean man just makes time want to stand still. A denim-clad leg is swung over the back of the iron beast. A helmet is removed and shoulder-length hair tumbles free. High cheekbones and perfect lips are framed by stubble and all I can do is stare.

I don’t know if I’m intimidated or turned on or what.

“Can I help y . . .” he begins. There’s the faintest spark of recognition in his eyes.

I continue to stand there frozen.

“Fuck me,” he mutters, stalking closer. His gaze slides over me from top to toe, lingering on the small scars on my left cheek from the glass. There’s no attempt made to hide his curiosity. “It’s really you.”

Nichelle the nurse described him as being a nice young man. Nothing more. Certainly nothing that would prepare me for this. And I dispute “nice.” Ripped denim, battered leather, and a Harley-Davidson motorbike are not nice.

“Never seen you conscious before,” he says, getting even closer.

I just blink.

From beneath the collar and cuffs of his leather jacket emerge colorful tattoos. Lots of them. Blue waves and black letters. Red flames and white flowers. The man is a walking, talking piece of art. My parents would be horrified. Ryan too, for that matter. Not that any of their opinions matter. I need to forge my own path. Go my own way.

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