Here's your final chapter.
To the readers of this story, thank you SO much for all your support, and me and Kattykins hope that you've liked it as much as we've loved writing it.
Coz if we do say so ourselves . . . this is a pretty cute story . . .
You're all gorgeous, and wonderful and splendid and fantastic and awesome and Kat is wicked and she is . . . um . . . offline.
Well, that put a dampener on things, DIDN'T IT?
Sincere, heterosexual love,
Lolly (and Kat.)
- 8 -
Dying wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. I mean . . . it scared the life out of me. Pun intended. But it didn't hurt. It just felt like someone had jammed a pillow across my mouth and nose, blocking my air.
And then it was just falling asleep.
And here I was . . . trapped in a world of black. I wasn't even dreaming. I guess I was just existing at the moment. I didn't even know.
This whole thing kind of sucked, though.
. . . I didn't feel sad. I just felt shocked.
I was dead.
. . . Was I going to come back as a ghost?
I still had the beautiful sensations of Adam kissing me . . .
I could still feel him, with his hands on my shoulders. Whispering my name. As I lay on my back. Feeling still rather bewildered that I'd lost my life so lamely.
'. . . CeeCee . . . '
Adam's voice sounded strange. He was dead too. I knew that.
Would we be ghosts together?
More kissing. Wow. I should have died a lot sooner, if I was going to get kissed by Adam like that.
For a dead woman, I felt alive, for some reason. Like, even as a ghost, or whatever, Adam's kiss was breathing new life into me. Making my clouded head clear. My dead heart pump again. My blood flow -
'CEECEE, come ON!'
. . . Um . . . that wasn't Adam.
Air . . .
I was getting oxygen. My mind was whirling . . . the only thing I could hear was the deadly pounding of my head, and this voice.
And that's when pain rushed in.
My whole body ACHED LIKE HELL. And my head. My head . . . oh man. I'd never had such a headache.
Was I a ghost? Was I gonna see Suze, and get her to meditate - I mean, mediate me?
But this ache . . .
If I was so dead, then why was I hurting like that?
I moaned. I was being touched. Shaken. Kissed.
. . . I was being given CPR . . .
Well, damn it.
Air began rushing in my lungs. Warm air. My body began functioning. I could still only see black. I'd died, seeing black. The last light I'd seen was that flash of blue.
But then it was just black.
I hadn't escaped the darkness.
CRAP. I WAS BLIND!
'CeeCee . . . Suze – she's moving.'
Aching more severely now, I began coughing. The numbness was subsiding gradually to reveal yet more pain.
I half moaned, and my heavy eyelids cracked open.
It took several seconds for the blackness to go away, to very slowly reveal a fuzzy figure above me.
' . . . God?' I breathed.
There was a laugh. It echoed way too loudly in my ears, and I winced. 'Suze, she's okay.'
Incoherent words of relief flooded from somewhere to my right. I didn't know where I was, what was happening. I tried focusing on this figure in front of me. But it was still too hard.
'CeeCee? Can you hear me?'
That DEFINITELY wasn't Adam.
My shoddy vision began sharpening, and very slowly, the perfection that was Paul Slater's face appeared above me.
I was breathing. Oh thank GOD, I was breathing.
I tried nodding, but my neck felt stiff.
'Yeah,' I muttered in a very raspy voice. 'Is Adam okay?'
Paul's face turned to my right, and he looked uneasy. 'Uh - yeah. Adam's . . . fine.'
THAT TONE WAS NOT VERY CONVINCING.
I made a frenzied movement to get up, but Paul held me down, and told me to calm down. 'Adam!' I yelled, 'Adam?'
'What happened?' I demanded hotly, more pain pumping silently throughout my body, poisoning my bloodstream. I struggled in his killer grip. 'Is he awake? Is he - '
'Just shut up,' he sighed, 'Keep breathing. I'm gonna sit you up in a second. But keep breathing, and calm down.'
I numbly did as I was told, and sure enough, a hand slid behind my back, and cautiously, my upper body was pulled to a sitting position. Blood was circulating in my head with thunderous hammerings, like a constant drum beat.
I felt really, really weak, and I ended up slipping to the side into Paul. 'Sorry,' I muttered, leaning on my hands, with arms that trembled under any weight that I applied.
I was able to keep my eyes open, now.
'Hey, de Silva,' Paul said, ignoring my deep, heartfelt apology - not - 'Go get Father Dominic.'
. . . De Silva?
'Jesse, please,' Suze's voice from somewhere groaned. 'Just do what he said.'
I pushed away from Paul, and looked around hurriedly. 'Where is he?' I snapped. 'Where'd he go?'
Paul just laughed again. 'Oh, so Suze told you, did she?'
I ignored him. So there.
I had sensation in my legs, at last. I could actually feel them. And then, I looked past Paul . . .
. . . Suze was still trying to bring Adam around.
'Oh my God,' I gasped, as my jaw dropped.
. . . Adam wasn't conscious.
Suze was looking very scared, too. 'Shit,' she said. 'Adam, come on - ' she tapped at his face. I gawked in horror.
I scrambled over to them on my hands and knees, scared out of my mind. 'Does he have a pulse?' I asked stiffly.
Adam . . . God, please no, please no, please -
'No,' Suze moaned, her hair curling around her face. She was panicking. She started shaking Adam more. 'Adam, please, wake up - '
My heart was pounding almost as loudly as my head.
And even more so than in that damned closet, I was afraid.
Afraid that, even after we'd been found, at last, that Adam wasn't going to make it.
HE WASN'T BREATHING.
'Get water,' I ordered at Suze in more of a bark than a voice. Then I practically pushed her out of the way, and began doing the stupid CPR myself. I pumped on his chest, and breathed long bouts of air into his mouth while pinching his nose. 'Adam, wake up,' I said. 'You promised. You promised that we'd be okay. Are you just going to GIVE UP, now?' Breath. 'Well? ARE YOU?' Breath.
'Because, if you are, I will NEVER have faith in ANYTHING again - ' breath ' - becayse you LIED, you asshole. You said it would be all right. And if everything's going to be all right - ' breath - 'then PROVE IT.' Breath. 'Prove it, and start breathing.'
Two small spots of water landed on his cold, sweaty, immobile face.
I was crying.
'Please,' I whispered. 'Please . . . '
Except . . . that was one wasn't my breath.
It was his.
. . . Adam just BREATHED.
And then, the most DELIGHTFUL sound filled the air.
Adam began coughing like mad, gasping for more precious air.
Me? I burst into tears and threw myself on him, probably killing him some more.
'CeeCee - ' Paul said, 'Get off of him.'
Crying harder, I did.
Suze came stumbling back, her hands cupping some water. She threw it across Adam's face, and then realized that, oh yeah, he was conscious. 'Oops,' she mumbled, standing there, still looking half hysterical. Paul aided Adam in sitting up.
Goodie. Yeah, I was a raving lunatic.
But oh my God.
I was so, SO happy.
That, you know, I wasn't dead. That Adam wasn't dead.
I could barely see him due to tears. When he was against the wall again, I squirmed back forward and hugged him so hard. 'Oh my God,' I breathed at him.
He was kind of quietish. I slid my hands to his face, and my heart leapt at the unruly smile that came to his face
He coughed violently again. And then he said, 'I didn't break my promise, did I?'
And I was laughing, hard. Laughing and crying. Shaking and hugging.
And thanking a God that I claimed not to believe in.
Thank you . . . thank you so much . . .
And that was when Suze joined me, resting her head against Adam's shoulder, her arms wrapped around the both of us. 'Don't you EVER do that again!' she shrilled at me. I saw that her eyes were also bright with tears. Whoops. I guess we really freaked her.
Oh, sorry Suze. We'll try not to nearly die ever again, so you don't worry about us.
I was alive.
I couldn't believe how insanely, profoundly, phenomenonally grateful I was for my life.
And how disgusted I was for acting the way I did.
Never, ever again would my glass be half empty.
Even if it wasn't full, I'd always choose to see my glass filled to the brim.
Adam was okay. He hadn't lied.
And that was when he actually ignored Suze hugging him for a moment, slid his arms around my back, and started kissing me in a silent prayer.
Oh yeah, that's right.
He loved me back, didn't he?
How the HELL could I have forgotten.
And believe me. If there's anything to ice the cake of getting a second chance at life, it was for the only guy you could ever love to be holding you tightly in his arms, kissing you like you were the only thing that mattered. Even OVER the life that he'd almost just lost.
Thank you God . . . thank you God, so much . . .
'So,' I said at Suze lazily, sipping my coke. We were lying on the beach. Adam was frolicking in the water with these little kids, who were giggling madly as he acted like a complete goof, 'Are you going to tell me how you found me?'
'So are you.'
'You smell more.'
'You smell most.'
'You sm - '
'TELL ME!' I whined, throwing my can of coke in the sand. Suze was smirking beneath her sunnies. Then she sighed. 'You're not going to believe it,' she warned me.
'Try me,' I replied stubbornly, grabbing another can. 'I almost died. I don't think that there's much I don't believe after that, considering the least likely thing I expected to happen was to be saved.'
She tossed her curling hair back. Why then hell did Suze have to look so good in a bikini? Because she totally did. This jet black one.
Only, you know, red was Adam's favourite colour. And I had a very nice one-piece on.
'Where do I start?' she asked. 'Oh, I know. Well. It was actually Paul who discovered you were missing - 'I choked on my coke. 'W-what?' I spluttered.
Paul? Someone like PAUL noticed I was missing?
. . . Wow. Paul Slater noticed that I just suddenly wasn't there . . .
I felt strange.
She rolled her eyes, and tucked her feet back beneath the shade of our huge beach umbrella. 'He was just trying to piss me off,' she explained boredly. 'He called you, wanting you to come over to start that Religion project on Juniperro Serra. Whatever.' She actually looked kind of doubtful that they were Paul's intentions. Okaaaaaaaay. 'But yeah. When he called up, your mum was kind of freaked.'
'Why do you think, blondie? You were a no show, like, anywhere. She'd rung like, Adam's, my place - even though mum hadn't actually INFORMED me, and yeah. Everywhere. So Paul then rang me and gave me the lowdown. One genius, one clown, missing. No clues . . . ' she did her best Carmen Sandiego impression. 'We were baffled . . . '
I smiled uncomfortably.
'So yeah, then Mr Slater graced me with his presence in my Carmel residence,' she went on. 'And we started arguing again. About . . . um . . . stuff. You got mentioned, and Adam, and - well, lets just say that Brad heard about that detail. He mentioned he'd seen you earlier. And he mentioned this in quite a humoured tone,' she added bitterly.
'So we - that is to say I - beat the fucking shit out of him till he told us where you both were, and how he knew you were still there.'
I stared at her in wonder. Looks like Brad got what he deserved. 'Did you get busted for kicking his ass?' I asked worriedly.
'Hell yes,' she muttered. 'That was when I got back home, though, after you were okay. I'm grounded. But then I mentioned the fact that Brad almost killed the two of you. Which is pretty hefty, no?' she sniggered. 'Andy. Was. Furious. You have no idea. You know, his son, being a near-murderer and all.'
It was kind of freaky. You know? The fact that Bradley Ackerman had almost killed Adam and I. Not killed, so much as not saved us. Well . . . actually, no. He locked the door UP again. So yeah. Almost killed pretty much covers it.
I sat up, looking out at Adam. He was getting chased by a swarm of two-foot-high hobbits. Aka, five year olds. Mothers of said children were looking on fondly.
'And?' I urged. I turned my head back to her, and saw that she looked hesitant. 'What?'
She mumbled, 'Well . . . ' still looking uber-reluctant. 'Then we sent Jesse to look for you while me and Paul drove over as fast as we could.'
. . . Flash of blue . . . rush of cold . . .
THAT'S what that was. Oh my GOD. JESSE had been there. Suze's dead honey had been in my presence.
'What?' she asked defensively.
'I just . . . I know when he came, that's all,' I said.
'Oh, all right. Because he's here now.'
I looked around. 'Where?'
She started laughing. 'Oh, he's only here, telling me how I should be at least wearing something like you that covers more skin, and how it's inappropriate for me to be showing myself this much in the presence of men. Tell him, Cee. Tell him that it's perfectly normal for a sixteen year old girl of the 21st century to be wearing a bikini.'
'Um . . . ' I stared in awe. 'It's . . . perfectly normal . . . ?'
Suze beamed. 'See?' she hissed. 'Now shut up about it already. And give her a magic trick, while you're at it.'
And that's when my coke can lifted up.
. . . Holy Christ.
I gawked at the floating soda.
'Oh my God,' I breathed. 'Suze . . . do you realize that Jesse is actually existing proof that ghost phenomena is actually real? That all claims of ghost sightings may actually be true? That hoaxes may be unfairly dismissed? Jesse could prove to scientists of - '
'CeeCee, shut up,' Suze smiled.
Science isn't everything, you know.
I smiled back at Suze, still feeling pretty STRANGE that there was apparently a ghost in my presence. Suze looked pretty at ease. Well, you know, other than any other time I'd seen her. Which was pretty much always around Paul Slater.
Now she was with the guy she actually liked.
Even if he was a little dead, and no one could see him, that is.
But you could tell that she was happy. She was glowing.
'He's going in a second,' she muttered at me.
And randomly, I was all, ' . . . Suze, really. Thanks.'
Because you have no idea how much I meant it. No idea.
She smiled at me prettily. 'If you have a near death experience again, you're so dead.'
Adam was giving one of the toddlers of the midget clan a piggy-back, and they were all giggling shrilly. The sun was bouncing off the ocean brightly, from its high, almighty position in the sky.
I guess that's where this God guy is. Getting a bird's eye view, and all.
Well, it seems he'd swooped down in time to save me and Adam after all.
So he couldn't be that bad.
Despite the albino thing.
Which, considering a lot . . . isn't as bad as I make out. I mean, I like being different, sometimes.
There's no other CeeCee Webb in this world.
I basked in the warmth that caressed me, and sighed.
After the swarm of peewees left the beach, Adam finally came over, making my stomach whoop in giddy thrills.
That guy was mine. After so long, he was actually mine.
Not that I owned him, or anything. Every man is his own, after all.
But Adam was "with me."
And he didn't want to be anywhere else but there.
Squidging his butt beside me, he gave me a bashful blush, and gave me an awkward little kiss on the cheek.
There was something in that that made me almost choke to death in happiness.
Because that was another promise that I knew he was going to keep.
Adam saw a bunch of our used coke cans, and was all, 'Hey, you want me to bin those for you?'
'Sure,' I said.
He picked them up –
'No,' Suze said quickly with a laugh, 'Those two in your hand are only half empty.'
'No they're not,' I said easily. 'They're half full.'
He promptly put them back down for our drinking pleasure, and walked to the bin, tripping clumsily over a sandcastle on the way.
God, I love this guy so much . . . I just love how imperfect he is . . .
And I think that I love how imperfect I am, too.