Missy looked at the window, at the bright sunshine peeking through the blinds. “There’s so much I want to do. So much I want to see and experience and I can’t do that if I’m dead. I can’t marry Raven if I’m dead. Can’t touch him and throw my arms around him and kiss him like mad if I’m dead. I definitely need to be alive for all that.”
“But what if things go wrong? I don’t want to be locked inside my own head again. Unable to talk. Unable to move. Only able to sleep and wait and wait and wait until I can somehow wake up.”
The sunlight was so inviting, so bright. “I wish I could reach out and touch it. But I’m too far away.” Missy looked back at Jeff. “I don’t want to die without a good fight. I want to go down like the XQ I am. I want to die burning hot instead of freezing cold.”
Hope came to life in his eyes. “Then, your choice is…”
“I want them to bring me back, even if I have to live out my days on some breathing machine. Not that I’m scared of dying. I’m not. But I don’t want to die young. I want to be alive a whole lot longer. Like a whole eternity longer with me and my Raven, minus the whole me getting turned into a vampire. I wouldn’t want that. I wonder, though, if I can be turned into a vampire. I remember what happened to Raven when he bit me. He got a whole mouthful of really hot blood. He rushed into the bathroom to cool himself down. His clothes got all wet and he had to take off ALL of his clothes to get them to dry.”
She paused. “Wait. How did I get on that tangent? Um, anyway. Yes. My answer is yes. Let them revive me no matter the risks. Are you okay with that?”
Jeff exhaled his relief. “Yeah. I was hoping you’d go with that choice, but I didn’t want you to feel pushed into it.”
“Did you really think I’d go with death?” She shuffled up into a more comfortable position.
“No.” He smiled. “You’re like your mom. A one hundred percent fighter.” His smile faltered a little. “She may not have been an XQ, but she fought all the way to the end.”
“Was I there when she died?”
He shook his head.
“Were you there?”
Jeff held her hand. He could feel every single bone. If he squeezed, he could easily crush them all. “Laura.”
Her eyes stayed closed. Her eyelids didn’t even flutter. Her eyes didn’t move under her eyelids.
His mouth twitched. “Laura girl. My Laura.” His voice wobbled. “I love you, darlin’. Look at me one more time. I love you. I love you.” He brought her hand up to his lips. Her skin was so dry and smelled strongly of antiseptic rubs and medical tape.
Jeff watched her breathe. “I’m here. I’m here. I’m here.”
Her breathing stopped.
There was no struggle. No final gasp.
Just a full and complete stop.
Her monitor blared a strong, steady tone.
“No. Laura, please. One more breath. Give me one more breath.”
Her chest remained motionless.
“Please. Don’t leave me.”
Her monitor held out its one flat note.
The nurses rushed into the room.
Jeff released her hand and dropped to his knees as the nurses tried to bring her back. He felt like someone had punched his gut at full strength. He couldn’t gasp, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even cry. He wrapped his arms across his chest, but she wasn’t in his embrace.