A Tragic Wreck
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“Hey, buddy. Can I help you with something?” Cam bellowed to a figure slumped over, sitting on her deck and leaning against the railing. The figure jumped, startled, and raised his head to look at Cam. Shit, it’s him.
Pushing past him, Cam walked to the front door, not wanting to look into the face of someone who had damaged Olivia past repair.
“Hey! What are you doing here?!” Alexander roared, following Cam into Olivia’s house, Nepenthe stalking the front door, hissing at both men.
“What am I doing here?!” Cam shouted. “I’m taking care of my fucking friend! That’s what I’m doing. What the fuck are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be off on your honeymoon with your wife?!”
Alexander shuddered at the term.
Cam lowered his voice. “Please. You need to leave her alone. She doesn’t need someone like you in her life.” He walked toward Nepenthe’s food bowls and began filling them up, freshening his water before throwing some cat nip on the ground for him to roll around in.
“You barely know that fucking girl,” Alexander growled. “Who are you to tell me who she needs in her life? What is this? You want her for yourself?”
Cam exhaled, not wanting to tell Alexander what he thought he needed to hear, wondering if Olivia had told anyone about what happened the night she found out that Alexander had gotten engaged.
Lowering his voice, he turned to face Alexander. “Listen, when Olivia first got here, she was so sad. I knew she was depressed. All the signs were there. Then we started to spend some time together, and I got to know her.”
Alexander’s temper flared just thinking about someone else being able to spend time with his Olivia.
“She started to come out of her shell. Then she found out you were dating that girl and she broke down again. And I was stupid enough to give her space. I knew it was the last thing I should have been doing, but I fucked up. I pissed her off and then let her stew. Weeks later, my friend texted me, letting me know about your engagement, and I rushed over here. Olivia didn’t seem to know about it just yet, which was good. So I left her with the promise of coming back in an hour to take her to dinner. When I got here…” Cam trailed off, remembering the scene he saw when he kicked in the door.
“When you got here, what?” Alexander inquired, his voice shaky, unsure of whether he wanted to hear what Cam was about to tell him. He followed Cam’s eyes to Olivia’s front door, noticing the repaired door jam.
“When I got here, I knocked and no one answered.” Cam gulped, remembering the sinking he felt in his chest that night. “So I knocked again, but there was still no answer. Then I heard a scratching.”
“Nepenthe…” Alexander breathed, looking down at the cat.
“I knew something was wrong so I looked into the window…and she was lying on the floor over there, a pill bottle spilled out on the coffee table and an empty liquor bottle next to her. She was unconscious. She had taken four valium and drank far too much liquor…”
“If I arrived any later, I wouldn’t have been able to get those pills up. But I did. And then I pushed her out the door, thinking that if your love for her was as strong as it seems hers is for you, then maybe you’d forget about all this bullshit and take her back. It killed me to do it, but I knew she needed the closure at least. But now, I don’t know. She’s just so empty, as if she’s just going through the motions, waiting…”
Alexander sat down on the couch, trying to process everything Cam had told him. Olivia hadn’t mentioned any of that to him. “How is she? I mean now? Is she okay?”
“She’s pretty banged up, mentally and emotionally. But she’ll smile again one day. She’s stronger than this.”
“Why didn’t she tell me?” he asked, staring at the floor, unable to truly comprehend what he had done to Olivia.
“Would you have listened if she did? Please, you need to let her heal, and the only way she can is with you out of her life. I can’t bear the thought of walking in on her and seeing her like that again. Please. You need to leave. Go back to your wife. It will be too painful for her to see you now that you’re married.”
“I didn’t do it,” Alexander said quietly.
“Do what?” Cam asked.
“Get married,” he replied, still processing everything Cam had just told him. “I left her at the altar. Literally. We were about to say our vows and I left.”
Cam chuckled. “Seriously?”
Alexander simply nodded.
“Come on. Want a drink?” Cam asked, gesturing Alexander out of the house toward his Wrangler.
“I could definitely use one after the week I’ve had,” Alexander said, standing up and following Cam out the door.
Olivia woke up, unsure of where she was. Sun seeped in through large windows, illuminating pastel blue walls with beige trim. Inhaling deeply, she knew she was in Cam's bed. It smelled like him.
“Morning, beautiful,” Cam crooned, sitting on the foot of the bed and staring at Olivia’s resting body. “Sleep well?”
Olivia stretched. “Yeah,” she croaked. “I’m sorry I fell asleep on you yesterday. I was exhausted.”
He grinned. “That was Sunday. It’s Tuesday.”
She shot up. “It is? Fuck! Nepenthe! He needs to be fed.” She jumped out of bed, scrambling to pack her things and get back home.
“Relax, Libby. I found your keys and made sure he had food.” He smiled, watching her frantically run around the room wearing just a pair of boy shorts and tank top.
She stopped abruptly, turning to look at him. “You did?”
“Yeah. I didn’t want to wake you up. It looked like you needed sleep. Of course, every few hours or so you’d wake up and stumble into the bathroom, then stumble back to bed. I didn’t know if you were ever going to wake up. I tried to get you to eat, but you could barely open your eyes.” Olivia’s stomach grumbled loud enough for Cam to hear. “Get ready. I’ll take you out for breakfast and then back to your place, okay?”
“I’m sorry, Cam. I’ve made you miss work. I’m the worst friend.”
He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it, Libby. You needed me. I’d be a worse friend if I ditched you for my job.” He walked out of the room to let Olivia get ready in private, grabbing his cell phone and sending a quick text message to his new friend.