* **********************RAY’S POV IN A DREAM SEQUENCE********************** “C’mon Apollonia, you can do it! Just one more push!” I cheered my beautiful wife on as she was in labor preparing to give birth to our first child. Apollonia screamed out in agony. I felt bad for all the pain she was going through. I read all those books about becoming a first time parent. We were expecting Apollonia to have a long labor but it started just a couple of hours ago and now the baby was almost here.
I had only graduated college earlier this year and now I was going to be a daddy, I couldn’t be happier. I was married to the most beautiful woman on this earth and now we were going to have family. Apollonia gave one last huge push and all of a sudden I could hear the cries of our baby. “It’s a girl!” the doctor said. My stomach was doing flip flops, a daughter! I couldn’t believe it. They cleaned the baby off and came over to Apollonia so she could hold her. Apollonia was still panting and looked as if she had just ran a marathon.
“Let Raymond hold her,” said Apollonia. I was overcome with so much emotion and joy feeling my baby girl in my arms for the first time. She had her mother’s green eyes and from what I can tell Apollonia’s mother’s red hair. She smelled so good, she was absolutely beautiful. “What is her name?” the doctor asked. “Reagan. We’re going to call her Reagan,” I said not even looking up. I was absolutely in love.
************************* **************REAGAN’S POV************************* ******** When we arrived to the hospital in Appaloosa, we were informed my father had just undergone surgery. His cardiologist Dr. Brown pulled us to the side once we reached the hospital. “I don’t understand, on the phone the nurse said Daddy had a heart attack and that he may need surgery. I mean, surgery isn’t necessary for all heart attacks unless it is serious right?” I asked Dr. Brown, trying to keep the tension out of my voice.
“In some cases, yes, Miss. Leeds, but upon your father’s arrival we performed a coronary angiography where we identified he had some blockage. In your father’s case, that meant we only needed to proceed with an angioplasty and placed stents to open up the vessel. He got through the procedure well and he is in recovery now. We need to monitor him over the next forty-eight hours to make sure he is responding well to the treatment,” replied Dr. Brown. He continued on for a little while longer telling us all this other medical jargon I had no clue about. I guess I should have paid closer attention in health class.
He was in recovery now. The nurses told us he needed a little rest after we were able to see him briefly. Kennedey and I went into hall. It was all too surreal. We slumped down next to the soda machine and didn’t say much to each other. He wasn’t out of the woods just yet. A heart attack? When Kennedey and I first heard the news we were in complete shock. How could our father have a heart attack at his age? He was so young and healthy. He had always been an athlete and he ran every day. How could this be? I had never been so scared in my life.
Later we were able to go back into his room. As I sat at his bedside, I did something I had not done since I was a child, I prayed. I prayed and prayed what seemed to be hours for my father to be okay. His doctor, Dr. Brown had told us the worst part of it was over, he was fortunate. My father looked so peaceful laying in his bed. I thought I could almost see a smile on his face. That was something considering the ordeal he had just went through.
I wondered what he was thinking or even dreaming about. All of the BS I had been dealing with in Starlight Shores the last several weeks didn’t even seem to matter. Because the storms had been so bad in this area, I was able to book a private jet for Kennedey and me and we drove an additional fifty miles into town. This was all my fault.
Why didn’t I listen to my dad when he warned me about my ex? Why did I allow myself to be put into that situation? Why didn’t I heed the warning signs that were staring me right in the face for all those months? I guess I could keep asking myself why, but the outcome would not be any different. I hated myself for this. I could never forgive myself if Daddy didn’t pull through.
“Reagan? Maybe you should get something to eat. Do you want me to get you anything?” Kennedey asked me, coming into the room. “No,” I said without looking up. I could hear her let out a sigh. Kennedey was very sensitive and I knew she was taking this hard. We slept in my father’s room.
There was no way I was going to leave his side. I tried to make myself comfortable on the little sofa, but I could not really sleep. Nurses came in and out of the room all night. Checking his vitals, a doctor doing his rounds. I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew there was a bit of sunlight starting to peak through the windows. I looked over at Kennedey who had slept at our father’s bedside all night.
I went and got a soda and when I came back into the room, Dr. Brown was in there. My heart skipped a beat. “Good morning, Reagan. I hope you slept well,” he smiled warmly at me. I nodded and didn’t say anything.
“Wait a minute? What blood pressure medication? Daddy never had any problems with his blood pressure?” I asked Dr. Brown totally confused and feeling more uneasy by the second. A puzzled look came across Dr. Brown’s face. “Well, your father has been treated for high blood pressure for nearly five years,” he replied. “How could that be? Daddy never said anything and we’ve never seen him take any medication for it,” Kennedey asked with worry on her face.
“Well, reviewing your father’s history, he has been seeing his regular doctor for it,” Dr. Brown replied. It had gotten a bit awkward for us to not have known our father was being treated for high blood pressure as well. Dr. Brown let us know he would check back in with us later and left the room. It had been further explained to us that his heart attack had more than likely been caused by the onset of severe emotional stress or pain. Finding the blockage was also a contributing factor. This made me feel even worse, I didn’t need any doctor to tell me this was all my fault. My father could have died and it would have been because of me. After a few more days my father was finally released from the hospital. We were so relieved he was able to go home. Those were the worst days of my life. Not knowing whether or not your father, the man you loved most in the world was going to live or die. I couldn’t bear the thought. I didn’t know what I would do if my father did not make it. How could I live? A hospital administrator had told us that Daddy would require therapy and at home care.
They let us know because Daddy was self employed and didn’t have the best insurance much of care would have to come out of pocket and it would be expensive. I told them I was not worried about the cost. I thought to myself that my profession was maybe going to do this family some good.
Daddy never took any money his father left him and the little money other than the house we inherited wasn’t very much. Thankfully, with my income the cost of his care would be taken care of. The hospital arranged for us to have a private nurse come and live with Daddy while he recovered at home.
Since we opted to have a live in and this was only a three bedroom house, Kennedey and I were back to bunking together for the time that we would be staying here. Marcia came highly recommended. She was a nice and warm person. When I first met her at the hospital before Daddy was released I liked her instantly and I didn’t really like people that much upon first meeting them.
We got Daddy settled into his bedroom making sure he felt comfortable. “Can I get you anything to eat or drink Daddy?” I asked him. “Oh, I‘m okay for now Ginger Baby. Maybe I will just have a little water if it’s not too much trouble,” replied Dad. “Of course it’s not too much trouble, Daddy,” I told him and went to get him a glass of water.
“Hey Marcia, I hope Kennedey’s old room is suitable for you. Sorry we have not been able to upgrade it yet. Dad left our rooms the same way when we left for college,” I said to Marcia. “Don’t worry about it Reagan. It is perfectly fine. I will probably have a couple more of my things sent from storage when I get the chance,” she answered.
“Okay. I do want to at least get a double bed or something in there for you instead of that old hideaway,” I said. “There is no rush, thank you very much,” she said.
Later on that night as I was lying in bed, I could hear crickets chirping outside. You never hear them in the city. Everything seemed all too familiar to me in my old bedroom. The first one I didn’t have to share with my sister and now here we were, sharing a bedroom again. “Reagan? Are you scared?” Kennedey asked me coming over to my bed. I was surprised by her question. I knew she had a lot on her mind and this had all been very frightening for her. It was frightening for me too, but
I did not want to show that side to my baby sister. Especially when we were in the hospital, if I was flipping out too much she would be too. I had to appear calm, showing her that everything was going to be alright. However much I wanted to protect her, I couldn’t lie in that moment.
“Yes, but not as much as I was when we first heard the news. I mean, I don’t like to think about what could have happened. I’m just happy Daddy is alright,” I told her. I heard her try to stifle a sniffle.
“I’m still scared. I’m going crazy right now. In my mind, I know Daddy is alright, that it could have been worse. I can’t help thinking about if he did not make it. What if it happens again? We don’t know for sure he will be okay! He was fine before, how do we know it won’t be worse next time around?” Kennedey said on the verge of tears. I didn’t want to think of those possibilities either.
I knew Kennedey just needed someone to talk to but honestly she was making me more upset. I had spent the last few days absolutely hating myself, my mind wracked with guilt over this. I blamed myself. Damn it Reagan! Why do you have to be so stupid? I thought. I took a deep breath before answering Kennedey.
“Kennedey, you can’t play the what if game. Believe me, I have and it’s a non ending vicious cycle. Just try to focus on Daddy being safe here at home. He’ll be okay. He is strong,” I told her.
“But what if he isn’t? What are we going to do?” Kennedey asked the question not seeming to direct it at anyone. I really didn’t know what else to say to her. “C’mon Ken, try to get some sleep. Tomorrow is a new day,” I said. “I’m not tired,” Kennedey said in a huff and left the room.
I switched off the light and turned over and waited for sleep to come.
A few days later we had to bring Daddy to his follow up appointment with Dr. Brown. The appointment went fairly well and his doctor was happy with his post-op recovery. That should of made me feel better, but for some reason it didn’t. I hated knowing my dad had to have all these follow up visits and would not have to start seeing a cardiologist from time to time.
Marcia, Kennedey and I brought Daddy back to the house so he could get some sleep. “Daddy, why don’t you take a nap while I fix lunch? I’ll bring it to you when it’s done,” I told him giving him a hug and kiss. He smiled and nodded his head. Marcia said she would give him is noon medication.
A very uncomfortable feeling came over me as I watched my father retreat into the living room. I realized I had never seen my dad so fragile, so weak. He had always been Superman in my eyes. That’s how it was over the next several days.
We all fell into a routine. Marcia helped my dad with his most physical needs and gave him his meds. She also gave us a lot of information on his condition and medication. I knew he was exhausted but at least he was looking much better than he had two weeks ago.
I had let Charlie and my new PR team know what was going on and that I didn’t when I expected to be back. If I would be back, I thought privately. I don’t know, but Starlight Shores was getting to be really old to me now. All the crap and plastic people. I knew I was a part of that lifestyle and I worked hard to get it, but did all that really matter now? I was proud of how far I had become in my career, but I didn’t feel happy. I’m not even sure when the last time I could honestly say I was truly happy.
With football season starting up, I ordered a brand new TV to put in my father’s room. He was a sports fanatic and I knew he would be happy to be able to watch his favorite teams in his own bed. “Hey Daddy, you watching the game?” I asked him coming into the room. He looked up at me and smiled.
“Yes, this is a wonderful TV you got me Rea Rea, thanks again,” he said happily. I looked over at him and smiled. It didn’t take a whole lot to make my father happy. He was satisfied with the smallest things in life. Too bad I couldn’t say the same about myself.
“Who’s winning?” I asked him. I admit, I didn’t know too much about football even though I had dated my fair share of football players in school. “Seattle is, they’re coming off their Super Bowl win. They look pretty good this year, they have a young team so we’ll see how it goes,” he said. He lost me after ‘Super Bowl win‘. I didn’t pay attention to football. I knew they won earlier this year being that I was at a Super Bowl party with Ra$hin at the time, but I had no idea about the dynamics of their team or anything else going on in the NFL.
“Oh,” I said simply nodding. I sat there with my dad while he watched the game. I pretended I was interested in what was going on, but I kept looking at him to see how he was feeling, trying to gauge if he was okay. Thinking about how much I loved this man and hating myself for what happened.
************** ************************RAY’S POV************************************
I knew Reagan was feeling afraid for me. She was such a good daughter, sitting up here trying to pretend to be interested in watching the game with me. My life had turned upside down in just a matter of weeks. I was going about my usual day trying to sale sports equipment. I was at home getting ready to go to bed when Reagan and Kennedey called me and told me that punk Ra$hin had hit my baby. I thought I was going to explode when Reagan told me.
I wanted to run to Starlight Shores. I wanted to kill that bastard for what he did. I couldn’t stand the thought of my little girl defenseless without me getting hit by some overgrown beast. This wasn’t over. Why couldn’t I protect her? I’m her father. I should have put my foot down months ago and told her to stop seeing him. I knew she was grown, but I could have tried harder.
Never again. This was all my fault. Maybe I didn’t teach my girls as much as I thought I did about men. Reagan had gone through a lot, I didn’t know why she often picked these losers. She sometimes had decent enough boyfriends, but usually it was the bad ones she seemed to fall for the hardest. I had prayed so much in the hospital and made a pact that if I made it through this I would do better as a father. I wouldn’t let my kids shut me out, especially if there was something I did not feel right about. I was always blunt, it was in my personality. I just figured maybe I was a bit too overbearing and overprotective at times and my girls needed their space to grow into responsible women.
Reagan and Kennedey had put their whole lives on hold for me. I knew they had a lot of business back in Starlight Shores. I was happy to have my babies here at home with me just not under these circumstances. Reagan didn’t want me to know, but I did find out eventually how expensive my care was and that my insurance and savings were not going to cover everything. I was grateful to Reagan for using her own money to cover the rest of the cost, but I couldn’t allow her to be responsible for my medical bills.
As soon as I was able I fully intended on paying her back, if I had to get a second mortgage on this house I would pay all her money back. I knew Reagan would have nothing of it, she was stubborn much like her mother, and like me as well.
Once the game was over I turned over in my bed and took a short nap thinking about my wife.
I started to dream about bringing Reagan home from the hospital to our small one bedroom apartment in Miami. I was happy being a brand new Dad, I just wished Apollonia had shown more enthusiasm. I remembered thinking maybe she was going through postpartum depression. I couldn’t be too sure, as Apollonia had seemed depressed throughout her entire pregnancy. I knew she wasn’t ready for children yet. We got pregnant and married so suddenly, it seemed like only yesterday.
“Welcome to your new home, Reagan,” I sang into Reagan’s ear as I brought her into the living room. “It’s not much right now, but I promise you, one of these days Daddy is going to buy you a really nice house and you’ll have your own room so you don’t have to share with your Mommy and me,” I told her.
Reagan looked up at me, seeming totally at ease, her eyes dancing across my face as she flashed me another smile. She was so beautiful, what a little star, my little star I thought at the time. Reagan’s little personality started to show up right away. She was clearly the boss of the house. She woke up a lot during the night, I didn’t mind. No, I wasn’t getting any sleep, but I was happy to see her as much as possible. I knew she wouldn’t stay this small for long. Everything wasn’t perfect during this time.
Apollonia didn’t really want to breastfeed, although it was good for Reagan. Apollonia didn’t want her breasts to start sagging. I encouraged her to anyway, as much as possible., but she wanted to make a fight about everything.
Unfortunately, because money was so tight I could not afford to take off too much from work. I had worried about Apollonia being at home with Reagan because she just seemed so out of it and I was doing most of the work pertaining to Reagan. I knew my mother-in-law Manique would come over, but she wasn’t as available because Apollonia’s parents were busy running all over the city trying to keep her little brother Alonzo out of trouble.
My mother would’ve come over more as well, but she and my wife could not stand each other. I really had no choice. Babies were expensive and I was trying to save some money for a down payment on a house. Who knew when that would happen, but hey a man could dream couldn’t he? Reagan and I bonded instantly. Over the next few months she definitely grew to be Daddy’s little girl. She demanded my attention and cried every time I left the room.
My mother said I was spoiling her by always picking her up every time she cried. I didn’t know what else to do, besides, I didn’t like seeing my baby upset. Reagan wasn’t a shy baby by any means. She was just weary of who picked her up. Some people she seemed to be okay with, others not so much. The whole family, both mines and Apollonia’s doted on her. We started calling her Diva Baby because she always got what she wanted and basically because everyone flipped in behind her. She was the most beautiful child in the family, in the world. I didn’t care how pompous that made me sound, it was true.
Nearly a month had gone by since my father had his heart attack. What should be one the best times of my life had quickly turned into the darkest time of my life. I hadn’t felt so afraid and alone since my mother left. I didn’t want to take my eyes off my dad. I’m not sure if Reagan knew it or not, but sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night and went to go sleep in my father’s room like I sometimes did when I was a little girl. I kept thinking what if this happens again and next time what if it’s worse? I didn’t want to think about that possibility. I wasn’t getting much sleep.
Nearly every night I woke up to a nightmare, dreaming my father had died so I would rush into his room to make sure if was still there. I hated that he lived so far away. I had always told him he should move to Starlight Shores with us, but for some reason he liked it here in Appaloosa.
Truthfully, I viewed Starlight Shores as a cultural wasteland, but it did have many opportunities for artists because it was a major city so I dealt with it. Sometimes when I was having trouble sleeping, I got on the computer and just surfed the net not looking for or at anything in particular. I had not really spoken to any of my friends and I had a ton of comments and questions on my blog “Rebel With A Just Cause” mostly people asking about my sister.
The news had gotten out that our father had a heart attack, I hated saying those words. There had been paparazzi lurking around hoping to get a shot of Reagan. They even had the nerve to show up to the hospital and the house. These people were lower than low. Thankfully, because this wasn’t Starlight Shores or New York there weren’t too many around. Reagan had been acting funny since all of this happened. She was unusually quite. I didn’t know how she managed to stay so calm.
She was basically acting like I do most of the time and I was flipping out like her. She almost seemed emotionless to me. I’m sure she had her moments but it was bugging me that she wasn’t showing any emotion. I didn’t know what was wrong with that girl sometimes. I didn’t even want to go back home. I wanted to, no I needed to stay here with my father for as long as it took even if that meant forever.
As I was looking around the internet one night and on my blog something occurred to me. It was bad enough what that coward Ra$hin did to Reagan, but the way the story came out never sat right with me. I partially blamed the leak for getting everyone into a frenzy. Maybe if Reagan had the opportunity to tell Daddy in person and everything was more at ease, he would not have had this kind of reaction. I started to dig deep into the web using my hacking skills, I was able to access the email account of the Page 5 reporter. After a lot of searching, I found an incriminating email. Upon opening it it gave me some detail about the night my sister was hit by Ra$hin.
I did not know what this person had to gain by going to the press, but people are scandalous. I clicked on the sender’s email address ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. I had no idea who this could be. After about an hour I had my answer, I tracked that address to another one, a main one that told me the identity of the sender and snitch. Barrington Diamond. Ra$hin’s so-called homeboy.
The one who claimed Reagan had hit on him last December when it was the other way around. That gutless, spineless piece of dog crap! It all of a sudden made sense. He must have really felt some kind of way about Ra$hin for him to hit on Reagan trying to convince her to sleep with him and he really hated Reagan once she rejected him. He must have also been quite jealous when Reagan broke up with Ra and started dating Kiyan, thus rejecting him yet again. That son of a bitch.
Now that I had this information, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. This was not the time or place. I just felt so strongly about it because I think it was part of the reason my father got sick. Reagan rushed to tell Daddy and our father knew it would become national news in a matter of hours. I shook my head and quietly turned off the computer. No, I would not tell Reagan right now, I didn’t see how it could help things, it certainly didn’t change the fact my father’s and our lives were forever changed. No, it didn’t help anything.
*********************** ******************REAGAN’S POV******************************
It had now been over a month since my father’s heart attack. He was doing a lot better and had even been able to resume some of his normal routines such as mild exercise. I was still apprehensive about him doing too much, but his doctor and Marcia assured us that he was doing great and as long as he did everything in moderation he should be fine. ‘Should be fine’, see there were no guarantees.
Kennedy and I were getting on each other’s nerves. She had been real testy, she acted as if she were the only one suffering. One day out of the blue she decided to get on my case thinking I should spend the rest of my life here or something. “You’re so selfish Reagan. You only think about Reagan. Daddy needs us right now and I know you are making plans to go back to Starlight Shores, because I heard you on the phone the other day!” Kennedey yelled.
“First of all, what the hell are you doing listening to my conversations? I would never leave my father if he still needed me and I am going to be here for a while longer. Do not tell me I am not a good daughter, who do you think is paying for Daddy’s care? All you want to do is bitch and moan!” I shouted back at her. I knew deep down being in this environment, constantly being reminded of what my father was going through was getting to me. I reasoned with myself that I would keep Marcia on as a live in, I mean she was a professional after all.
What good could I possibly do being here? I also knew it would eventually get on my dad’s nerves with Kennedey and me fighting so much, no matter how much we tried to hide it.
“Get off of it Reagan! I was wondering when the real Reagan Leeds would rear her ugly head again. So typical, everything that has happened and you act like you haven’t learned a damn thing!” Kennedey screeched, her face getting red. All of a sudden my father came into the living room to see what we were fighting about.
“What is going on you two? We’re really doing this again? I really have to get in between you two like you were fifteen years old again? Damn! You girls are too old for this? I am going through a lot, but I am getting better. It was nice having my girls under the same roof, but you two don’t know the meaning of being civilized. Everything our family has gone through and you act like you are three years old! Enough!” Daddy said sternly to us.
I hated seeing my father get upset, I didn’t want to make him worse. “Just calm down Daddy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you,” I said to him. “I’m sorry too Daddy, please just go get some rest,” Kennedey also said.
“I’m doing much better and you two will eventually have to get on with your own lives,” he said. My father looked at us and shook his head in disappointment and went upstairs.
I had to get out. I decided I needed some fresh air, something you can’t really enjoy in a city like Starlight Shores. Kennedey turned around mumbling something about calling our neighbor back home to check on the cats. The truth was I was too afraid to even leave my father’s side. Was he trying to get rid of us? I knew he was happy we were there, but maybe we were cramping his style now.
He was pretty much a bachelor. Maybe he was technically married, but he had been single for years. I felt bad for Daddy, I knew he got lonely sometimes. He probably wanted female companionship, but he was still hung up on my mother after all these years. I kept my phone on me so I could call home to check on Dad. I knew he was in good hands and he had not left my sight since I arrived in Appaloosa.
My jog ended up lasting a lot longer than I thought. I jogged up the hill behind our house into town and then back down the hill all the way to the waterfront.
The scenery out here was really breathtaking. I didn’t appreciate it when I lived here as a teen. I just hated having to move from my beloved Miami to country bumpkinland.
It was so peaceful out here, maybe too peaceful. It all of a sudden occurred to me that I felt as if no place really was home anymore. With all the drama and prying eyes of the media back home, I really had come to loathe the place. There were too many bad memories there now. All I could think about was Ra$hin when I thought of Starlight Shores. I needed a fresh start again, some place far from there, but not too out of the way. I loved the water, so did Kennedey.
Where could I go? Isla Paradiso suddenly popped into my head. Maybe a move to Isla Paradiso would be just what I needed. I stayed at the beach a little while longer, I would need to talk to Kennedey as soon as I got back home.