The Truth About Air & Water
(Truth in Lies, #2)
by Katherine Owen
Publication date: August 25th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: August 25th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
The Truth In Lies Series. READ This Much Is True, book 1 first, although it’s been written as a standalone. Readers say, don’t do that.
They share an epic love but one moment changes everything. A life together that seemed certain is shattered. One learns you never love the same way twice; the other learns what it means to come home. You only think you know how this love story goes, but do you really know how an epic love can end?
“There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
She is living color, and I’ve been in a black-and-white world for far too long without her.
Powerful stuff. It surrounds me. I’ve felt it since I first arrived. The forcefield of her. The magnetism of her. The power she wields over me. I’m alive again because of her, like a dying plant that finally gets some water. I’ve got it bad for this girl.
The light comes through the darkness and shines on me.
She’s my water.
The truth is I breathe with him. He is my air. Raison d’etre.
Author’s note: This novel is part of the Truth In Lies series. It can be read as standalone, however, fans of my fiction already are highly recommending that those new to my work, READ This Much Is True book 1 FIRST.
As Lincoln Presley would say, “do as you must, Princess.”
“There was this girl. She would have been brought in a few hours ago? She was in a car accident with her sister. Her sister…she didn’t…make it.”
I swallow hard as I’m all too familiar with how to damp down this kind of painful loss for myself, even though empathy attempts to wrestle with me now. I’m still shaken by what transpired on the 101 just three hours ago. It was horrific for everyone there but especially for the girl I swooped up in my arms and ran away with from the inferno. The image of her beautiful devastated face and haunting emerald green eyes stay with me.
The woman behind the information desk has this long mane of silver hair that’s gathered up in this huge gold clip and neatly pulled back from her surprisingly unlined face. I notice the fashionable style because my mom used to wear her hair that way, whenever my mom had a big interview with one of the entertainment shows or a big spread with Harper’s or Vogue. Cara Sanderson Presley said it made her feel young and fresh and put together. This woman looks like the same kind of regal queen as my mother as she sits there behind this huge computer monitor that makes it difficult to fully see her. This lady stares at me with her mouth half-open, as if she’s trying to place me but isn’t quite sure yet.
For my part, I pull my baseball cap forward because the last thing I need is someone to recognize me, although that might help with the situation. Seconds later, I decide to take off my cap and hold it in my hands and give her my best I-need-your-help look, complete with a charming smile. “There’s this girl. She has raven-black hair; well, it’s more the color of dark ground espresso, I guess. It’s long? She was in a car accident about three hours ago. And I was just wondering…”
“We can’t give out information about our patients, young man. And aren’t you that baseball player? The one the major leagues are clamoring to sign? Baseball pitcher. What’s your name? A President’s name. Something Presley. I remember it because I remember it was Elvis’s last name. The singer? Surely you know his songs. Young people these days not remembering Elvis Presley is just a crime. We watch American Idol sometimes, and I keep hoping one year they’ll feature his songs because if you really want to know who could sing and dance—well, it had to be Elvis Presley. Well, it’s a good way to remember your last name in any case. I’m sure you get that all the time.”
“All the time.”
“My husband would be thrilled at meeting you. I am, too, of course, but…well, I’m not much for baseball anymore.” She sighs. “We used to go all the time, but now it’s just so darned expensive. Our son will splurge for tickets every once in a while, and he takes Dickie—that’s my husband Richard, actually; but everyone’s called him Dickie since…well, since we met in the eleventh grade fifty years ago.” Her cheeks are flushed, and even her scalp that peaks through her thinning silver hair is tinged a faint pink.
I swoop in when she gives me a chance to speak. “My name is Lincoln Presley. Yes, I’m actually playing on the Stanford Cardinal baseball team again this year. First game next week. Now it’s practice pretty much all the time.”
“Oh. Well, good luck—although I personally think you should stay in school.”
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll finish up at Stanford this June. And the sports reporters are covering the stuff with major-league baseball’s interest in me. I can’t really comment about that. My publicist would have my head if I did.” Kimberley would be so proud. I actually try to smile. “My dad’s Davis Presley. He played for the Giants. Maybe your husband remembers him.”
“Oh, my goodness, yes. Your father is Davis Presley? Then your mom was Cara Sanderson? I remember when she up and married Davis Presley. I loved her films. I’m so sorry she died.”
She makes this sympathetic clucking sound while I hold my breath and strive for composure by hanging my head to hide my face before it betrays all these emotions that I don’t usually give into when people mention my mom.
“I don’t…I don’t talk about my mom. I’m sorry.”
There’s this awkward silence. She folds her hands into her lap and mumbles an apology and manages to look disappointed at the same time. In me?
I’m a little taken aback that even this woman demands I talk about my mother. I have to tell myself to forget it, even though I feel bad for a brief moment like I always do. I let the moment pass because, even though it’s been eight years, I still hold on tight to the notion that I don’t talk about my mom or my brother Elliott to anyone, least of all a stranger. My feelings about their loss are mine, and I don’t tell anyone how I feel about that. I sigh deeply and start again. “I’m looking for this girl. There was this girl. She was in a car accident, and I was just wondering if you had any way of looking up her information. I’d like to know if she’s okay. Her sister…” My voice shakes. The woman’s blue eyes alight on mine. She looks sympathetic again. “Her sister didn’t make it. I didn’t get her name.”
“Mr. Presley, I’d like to help you—I really would—but I can’t give out information about the patients.”
“What’s the information desk for, then?” I ask gently and flash her one of my most charming smiles as a last-ditch effort to disarm her enough to help me anyway.
“Oh, you know.” She gets this little smile. “We tell people how to find their way around. And when people know the patient’s name, we look up the room number for them and direct them from there. That kind of thing. I’m just a volunteer three days a week. It helps pass the time.”
“I’m sure it does.” I sigh again and fidget with the baseball cap in my hand.
The woman eyes me closer. “Were you there at the accident? It sounds like it was awful. It’s all over the news, and that girl—the other twin—she was too young to die such a horrible death. How sad. I just feel so sorry for the family. He’s one of the best…here.” Her eyes get teary. “But there was just nothing he could do. It was too late for his daughter.” She studies me for a few long seconds, clearly aware of the small tidbit of information she’s just given to me. “You really need to get the blood of out your clothes before it completely dries; otherwise, it will never come out. She’s not going to want to see you like this. You’ll scare her and remind her of the terrible tragedy she’s just been through. Poor girl.”
“I don’t think I’ll be wearing these again.”
“Why don’t you sign for a nice bouquet of flowers with the gift shop? I can make sure they get delivered. I can’t give you the room number, but I can deliver it after you leave.”
This seems the best I’ll be able to do. Charm isn’t working today, and my inexplicable quest for pursuing this whole thing begins to weigh upon me. There’s nothing I could have done. I did all I could, and clearly it wasn’t nearly enough. I push off the counter and head toward the gift shop. Within minutes, I pick out white roses and baby’s breath, and a nice little blue and white vase that I think my mother would have liked. I add a small teddy bear to my purchase as an afterthought once I reach the counter. I manage to spend a little over $120 on a girl whose name I don’t know and probably never will in less than ten minutes. And it still feels like it’s not nearly enough. But I have to do something. I lay out my Visa card, and the cashier runs it through with a slightly dazed smile.
Ten minutes later, I’m placing a nice little cardboard box containing the vase of flowers complete with a white ribbon tied around it—because pink seemed inappropriate, and red seemed too morbid—and the little teddy bear tucked in next to it back on Mrs. Trinity’s desk. Times ahead were going to be rough for this girl, and giving her some flowers is the least I can do.
Mrs. Trinity beams at me. Women really do like it when you do exactly what they’ve told you to do. It never ceases to amaze me even under these surreal circumstances.
I can’t even explain why I’m here. Why I felt compelled to check three hospitals in the general vicinity of San Francisco and basically got the same answers from the same kind of helpful women at each information desk I went to. This is the first one who suggested the flowers, so I know I am, at least, in the right place this time.
I flash her a little smile and give her a slight wave, and she nods with approval at my gifts. “She’ll be better tomorrow. Tonight, she’s just resting. Tomorrow, she’ll wake up and wonder where her sister is for a few minutes before she remembers.” The woman’s lips tremble as she says this. “It’s very kind of you to do this. I must say, I’m impressed. Now, if you just stay in school, Mr. Presley, and finish up at Stanford before you chase the money and that huge contract for baseball, you’ll really make me and your wonderful mother in Heaven both proud.”
Audacious. My smile falters a little because she’s mentioned my mom again and Heaven in the same sentence.
She waves her index finger at me. “Get those clothes washed. I’ll be here again tomorrow. Look for me then, and maybe she’ll be well enough to ask me about the flowers and who sent them, and I’ll tell her. Oh, you need to sign the card.”
She slides the little white card that the cashier placed in with the flowers over to me. Thinking of You is printed in black script across the top of the card. I’m not sure it’s the best thing to say, but it’s better than the other card choice that said With Sympathy.
I hate those cards.
Thinking of you. This much is true,
For some reason, the anonymity with the name Elvis seems appropriate. She probably won’t even remember that she called me by that name at the accident. I can’t be here tomorrow. I won’t be here tomorrow. I’ll be on my way to L.A. to see my dad. I don’t volunteer this bit of news to Mrs. Trinity because, for some reason, providing her with that easy excuse and garnering her general disapproval is too much. Truthfully, the idea of seeing the girl from the accident again scares the hell out of me because there was something about her that captivated me at a soul level. Somehow, I think this woman would pick up on that. The truth is this: I can’t afford any kind of distraction, not even for the beautiful broken girl with the amazing green eyes and long dark hair lying in a bed somewhere in this hospital.
My one and only focus is baseball. That’s the way it’s been for almost ten years, and every call from my dad about the upcoming season and major league baseball’s June draft serve as constant reminders of that singular focus and commitment to this one and only thing allowed in my life—baseball.
A penchant for angst, serious drama, and the unintentional complications of love began early on when she won a poetry contest at the age of fourteen and appears to be without end. Owen has an avid love of coffee, books, and writing, but not necessarily in that order. She lives in an old house near Seattle with her family where she is working on her next book.