Thanks for all the great feedback that you've all left so far. Here's the next chapter. I'm working on the next chapter now, so it shouldn't be too long.
I break it all down so it will show to me clear
But all the while I'm wishing you were here
In my dreams I can see, and I feel your face
But next to me sits an empty space
Sometimes this life doesn't make any sense to me
I need some time to heal and some space to breathe
-Breathe by Seven Channels
Everything came back to Summer in a rush. Seth. The sailboat. The yacht. Memories of the entire incident flashed through her mind, eliciting a sob and a moan. At the sound of Summer's voice, Marissa's head snapped up. She saw that Summer's eyes were open and jumped to her feet, crossing the room in seconds. Her left hand went to Summer's head, tenderly stroking her raven locks. "Hey Sum. You're finally awake. How do you feel?"
The memory of Seth's voice screaming her name was still echoing through Summer's mind. She shut her eyes tightly, causing the tears that had welled up in her eyes to run down her cheeks. "Seth?" Her voice sounded rough and sandpapery. "Where is Seth?"
Marissa swallowed hard and turned to look behind her. Ryan came up and put his arm around her waist. "Do you remember anything at all?" he asked.
With great effort, Summer nodded. Her voice had faded to a whisper. "Yes. I remember it all." From behind Marissa and Ryan, Summer heard Kirsten sob again, her breath coming in tortured gasps. Summer's voice was more urgent as she spoke again. "Where is Seth? Why is Kirsten crying? What is happening?"
Ryan looked down at his shoes. Kirsten had degenerated into voiceless moaning. Ryan looked back at her and discreetly wiped a tear from his eye. He turned back to Summer and sighed. "He-he's in surgery. It's pretty bad."
Summer's eyes widened. "What's wrong?" Kirsten began to sob again. Ryan leaned over and placed a kiss on Marissa's cheek. She gave him a small hug and watched him walk over and put his arm around Kirsten. Marissa turned her attention back to Summer. She took Summer's hand and looked at her sadly.
"We're not really sure," she said. "He's got a lot of broken bones, and there was internal bleeding. A lot of it. They aren't sure, but they said there may be brain damage."
"Brain damage?" Summer spat the words from her mouth. Tears began to flow freely as she stared up at Marissa. "He's going to be okay, isn't he?" she whispered. "Tell me he is going to be okay."
Marissa smiled wanly and shook her head. "We...we're not sure. The doctor hasn't really told Kirsten and Sandy anything since they took Seth into surgery. He's been in there for like 11 hours now."
"Eleven hours?" A sinking feeling began to grip the pit of Summer's stomach. "That's not a good sign." She tried again to move her arms with no result. "Marissa...what is wrong with me? Why won't my arms move? Why is it so hard to turn my head?"
Marissa blinked away a few tears. "You . . . your neck is broken. The doctor said that you must have gotten hit by some stray debris. He's got a neck brace on you right now, and . . . " Marissa trailed off and began to weep.
"And? And what?"
Marissa sniffled and wiped her eyes. She stroked Summer's hair again as she looked down at her. "He said that you might . . . he said that you might be paralyzed for a while." Her hands gathered up Summer's. "It shouldn't be permanent though. It should just last a week or so."
"Paralyzed?" The word sounded alien to her. "I'm paralyzed? No wonder I can't move . . . "
Marissa nodded. "Yes. But, like I said, it won't last forever." She leaned down and touched her forehead to Summer's. "You'll be okay. I know it." She smoothed Summer's hair and kissed her on the forehead. "You know. Seth probably saved your life by pushing you off of the boat. You could have died if the yacht had hit you."
The familiar horrible feeling gripped Summer again. "Did the boat hit Seth? Is that why he's hurt so bad? Is it?" Marissa's eyes filled with tears again, and she turned her head. "It did, didn't it? He pushed me out of the way, and it hit him."
Marissa turned back to Summer and nodded. "Yes," she whispered. "The doctors think that is what happened. It would account for all his injuries." Marissa stepped back and looked at Summer. "It will be okay though. Everything will be okay. You will be okay, and Seth will be okay."
Summer nodded and tried to smile. "I know. Everything will be fine. And Seth will have to be all right, because I'll kick his ass if he doesn't." She could still hear Kirsten sobbing in the corner. "Is Seth's mom okay?"
Marissa glanced over at Kirsten and frowned. "I don't know. She's taking it pretty hard. She's been crying pretty much since she heard." She watched Ryan attempting to comfort Kirsten for a minute. "I feel so bad for her. I can't imagine what she must be going through."
"Me either." Summer slowly turned her head to stare at Kirsten. "I wish I could go hug her, but I can't even move my arms." Sandy noticed her looking over and smiled thinly before turning his attention back to Kirsten. "They blame me, don't they?"
"What?! Of course not. Why would they blame you?"
"Why wouldn't they? I do."
"None of this is your fault. You know that don't you?"
Summer shook her head. "Yes it is. If I hadn't asked to go sailing, we wouldn't have been there. He didn't want to go, but I nagged him."
Marissa shook her head. "No, Sum. You can't blame yourself for this. If you're going to blame someone, blame the captain of the yacht. The one that fell asleep."
Summer was crying fiercely now. "I do blame him, but I blame me too. I woke up before it hit us, but I didn't realize what was happening until too late. If I'd paid closer attention, this wouldn't have happened."
"No, sweetie, don't blame yourself." Summer was startled as Kirsten walked over to the bed. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she still had tears streaming down her face. Her voice broke as she continued. "This isn't your fault. It just happened."
Summer began to sob uncontrollably. "I'm sorry Mrs. Cohen. I'm so sorry."
Kirsten knelt beside the bed and laid her head against Summer's. "It's okay, sweetie. It's okay." She reached across Summer's body and hugged her gently, letting her cry for a moment. "Just focus on getting better, honey. You know that's what Seth would want you to do."
They stayed in that position several minutes before Sandy spoke up. "Summer, we haven't been able to get a hold of your father. Do you know where he is?"
Summer thought for a moment, struggling to bring up a memory of where her father could be. "Um, I think that he took my stepmother to Europe for some reason. I think there's a number for his hotel somewhere at home. . .I can't remember where though."
Sandy nodded. "That's okay. Ryan and Marissa will go over there when you can remember. They can bring back anything that you'll need."
Marissa nodded eagerly. "That's right Sum. We'll even bring your The Valley dvds if you want. Ryan can set your dvd player up here and everything."
Summer smiled. "Okay. That will definitely be better than regular network tv." She sighed and looked over at Kirsten. "Aren't you tired? Shouldn't you go home and get some rest? Or at least get some sleep here?"
Kirsten shook her head sadly. "I don't think I will be able to sleep until I find out about Seth."
"Neither will I," Summer responded. Tears began to well up in her eyes again. "I can't believe this is all happening. I'm so scared."
Kirsten patted Summer's hand and smoothed her hair. "It's okay, sweetie. We'll be here with you. Until your dad gets here, consider Sandy and me your parents."