Forever Checking (Checked Series Book 3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

Forever Checking

Jennifer Jamelli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any likeness to actual people (living or dead) or events is entirely coincidental.

Forever Checking. Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Jamelli.

Cover design by Ravven.

Printed by CreateSpace.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any capacity without written permission.

ISBN-13: 978-1514280751

ISBN-10: 1514280752

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication…one last time (now it will officially count…)

Without these people, I never would have been able to

write this book…

1.) Max and Derek

2.) My family

3.) The creators of Zoloft

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

nine hours later

 

 

{IN MY HEAD RADIO, ELVIS Presley sings
“It’s Now or Never.”
}

It’s been nine hours. Three plus three plus three hours.

I still haven’t responded to his text.

I still don’t know what to say.

I’ve read his words over and over and over again. I’ve read them so many times that I have his text memorized. Completely memorized.

 

Day One starts tomorrow.

I need you to make me three promises before we start.

1.) Promise to stop calling me “Dr. Blake.”

2.) Promise not to go on any medication without talking to me first.

3.) Promise to tell me right away if you ever get the sensation that music is somehow trapped in your mind.

 

I haven’t stopped thinking about his words…about his three promises…about him…for the last nine hours. Not for a second. Not while I was at church. Not while I was finishing my
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
paper. Not while—

My phone is ringing. Vibrating on my dresser.

Great.
Now he’s going to want to talk about his three promises over the phone. And I’m going to have to tell him about the music. About my head radio. And then he’s—

CALLIE!

I jump off of my bed and grab the phone.

And it’s not him. It’s Mandy.

But she’s at study hours right now. She never calls during study hours. So something must be wrong. Something must be really—

I answer.

“Mandy, is everything all—”

“Callie. Don’t freak out.” She cuts me off.

And I freak out. “What do you mean ‘Don’t freak out’? What is—”

“CALLIE. Listen to me.”

I close my mouth. I stop my words. Mandy pauses, not saying anything right away.

My head starts to pound.
Please let Mandy be okay. Please don’t let her be trapped in a burning car. Or kidnapped. Or—

“Callie, it’s Melanie.” Mandy pauses again.

Head pounding.
Please let Melanie be okay. Please don’t let her be drowning. Or suffering from a gunshot wound. Or—

“She’s bleeding, Callie.”

She’s bleeding?
She’s—

I throw some words out of my mouth. “Did she cut herself? Or fall? Or—”

“Callie.” Mandy cuts me off again. Quietly, though, this time. “It’s the baby.”

Oh my God.
Heart beating faster. Head pounding more. “The baby? How much is she bleeding? Is she losing the—”

“Callie, Callie. Stop. Breathe. I don’t know. Melanie doesn’t know. She’s heading to the emergency room right now.”

“Okay. I’ll get ready to go, and we can—”

“Melanie doesn’t want us to come right now.”

“What? Why not? We would be able to help if Abby—”

“She doesn’t want Abby to know what’s going on. The babysitter is at the house with Abby now. Abby thinks that Mel and Doug are at an early dinner. If we show up unexpectedly, she will know something is up.”

But that’s not helping anything. We aren’t helping. We have to help. We have to—

Mouth back open. “But we could just go right to the hospital. Abby wouldn’t even—”

“Melanie doesn’t want us to do that until she knows what is going on. She figures they won’t even keep her at the hospital very long, that either everything is okay or…or…”

Or it’s all terribly not okay. Or Melanie is losing that tiny little innocent person inside of her for no reason, for no—

But there has to be a reason. Or a cause.

Like two unnecessary plane rides in the last, what, seventy-two hours? Like being needlessly nervous and worried about a sibling who is a complete mental case? Like—

“Callie? You still there?”

“Yeah. I’m here.”

“Okay. I’ll call you as soon as I hear anything. And if Melanie wants us to come, we’ll leave right away.”

If Melanie wants us to come, we’ll make the trip. If she wants us to. But I didn’t want them to travel for me. I didn’t want my sisters to come to Florida. They came anyway. So—

But it’s still my fault. They only came because they were THAT worried about me. Because I gave them reason to—

“Callie? Did you hear me?”

I push out an “mmmhmmm” sound.
Please let everything be okay. Please let—

“Okay, then I’ll call as soon as I hear anything else.”

“Okay, Mandy.” Okay. Okay. Okay.

We both say goodbye.

And now…now I have to wait. And wait. And wait.

And pray. And pray. And—

{Hozier floats in with
“Take Me to Church.”
}

Quick decision.

I blast through my thirty-three leaving-the-house checks. Three times.

Then I grab my purse and run out of the front door.

Handle twist. Handle twist. Handle twist.

And I leave.

 

 

HOURS LATER.

Thirty recitations of The Lord’s Prayer later.

Thirty recitations of the Hail Mary later.

Thirty recitations of the Act of Contrition later.

Each set repeated three times…later.

I’ve been praying for hours. It’s not enough, though. Because I still haven’t heard anything. I’ve checked my phone two hundred and seventy times. Once after each prayer.

And I know that I shouldn’t have my phone out at all here in church, but I’m sure that God understands extreme circumstances. I hope he understands. I pray he understands.

I start The Lord’s Prayer again.
{Hozier sings as I pray.}

End of prayer.

Phone check.

Nothing.

Please let Melanie be okay. Please let the baby be okay. I’m sorry that Melanie made the unnecessary trip to Florida for me. And I’m sorry that I lied to Dr. Gabriel yesterday to get out of riding home on the plane with him. I’m sorry that I said I had a family emergency…and I’m sorry that I’ve now jinxed us into a real family emergency.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

The Lord’s Prayer. Number two.

Phone check. Nothing.

The Lord’s Prayer. Number three.

Phone check. Nothing.

{George Michael strums in with
“Father Figure.”}

The Lord’s Prayer. Number Fo—

“Callie.” Low. Quiet voice.

Him
.

Dr. Blake.

Right behind me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

church

 

 

MY BODY GOES RIGID. KNEES pushing down hard into the kneeler. Arms glued to the top of the pew in front of me.

The text…his text…flies back into my head.

Oh my God.
He’s going to want to talk about the mus—

Wait.

How did he even know that I’d be here? How did he know that I was upset or—

Still kneeling, I turn my neck around so I face him.

Worried, crinkled blue eyes and a—

CALLIE!
No time for that right now.

Words start dropping out of my mouth in an almost church-acceptable whisper. “How did you know I was here? Did Mandy call you? What are you doing here? Is—”

“I guessed. Yes. And to give you some news.”

What?
What is he—

Wait. Wait. WAIT. He’s answering my questions. And he has news. Melanie news.

“How is she?” As I speak, my eyes close in one last attempt to pray her, them, better. I pray, the top half of my body still turned awkwardly in the pew. My knees still digging into the kneeler.

 
Please let it be good news. Please. Good news. Let it be good—

Wait. He’s breathing in. He’s going to tell—

“She’s okay, Callie. Melanie’s okay.”

Thank you, God.
She’s okay. She’s okay. She’s—

WAIT. Eyes open. “What about the baby?”
Please let the baby be—

“The baby is okay too. The heartbeat is strong and—”

“But what about the bleeding?”

He starts to nod. “The bleeding has slowed. Melanie was sent home. She just needs rest. Lots of rest.”

Eyes closed again. They’re okay. They’re okay. They’re okay.

My body turns back around to face the front of the church. My arms rest on the pew in front of me, my hands folded tightly.

Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Th—

“Callie?”

—ank you, God.

ThankyouGodThankyouGodThankyouGod.

“Callie? Are you okay?”

My head starts to nod. Eyes still closed.

Did I say thank you enough times? If I don’t say it more, will she lose the ba—

Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank—

“Callie? What’s going on? What are you doing?”

Head down in prayer.


you God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Th—

He’s—

He’s touching me.

His hand is pressing into my back. Warm fingers on my shoulder. Just the thin material of my grey sweater keeping his skin from mine.

Heat.

Him.

My legs start to shake. I try to crush my knees against the kneeler beneath me so I don’t fall.

I can’t feel the kneeler, though. Can’t feel my knees either.

Just him. I can just feel him.
{Well, and also the oh so familiar beat of Damien Rice’s
“The Blower’s Daughter”
as it pounds in—}

“Callie?”

Eyes still closed. Head still down.

His hand still on my back.

Everything still warm.

“Callie?”

{Damien still singing.}

His hand disappears from my back. I can breathe again. Think again. But all I can think about is him putting his hand back—

“Callie, you can’t stay at church all—”

Church. I’m at freaking church thinking about—

About—

Well, about stuff that I definitely shouldn’t be thinking about at church.

He’s still talking.

Listen, Callie!

“—and so you should let me drive you home.”

What?

My eyes open. I don’t turn around, though. My head stays down. As though I’m still praying.

I should be praying now.

But I can’t.

Because…because, he can’t drive me home. He’ll want to talk. About his text. His three promises.

And. I’m. Not. Ready.

So. Not. Ready.

Because him plus me plus a head radio conversation will most definitely equal his face minus any sort of happiness, which will then equal him running away again.

It’s like a complex math problem. And I hate math. Almost as much—

“Callie?”

He’s touching me again. My eyes close. And my body—

“Excuse me.” A new voice. Coming from the front of the church. Father Patrick’s voice.

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