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    Wayne Gray
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Broken - A Camp Refuge Story - 7. Broken

Some graphic content in this chapter. The squeamish among you may find it off-putting.

"I'm so sorry, Mrs. and Mr. Mercer." Jeremy hung his head. "I don't know how it happened, but Lee got his hands on some drugs. He must have pressured Avery into taking them."

"Which?" Bill Mercer's tone was clipped, barely controlled. "Which drugs?"

"OxyContin. It's a powerful opiate. Thanks to his habit, Lee has some resistance to its effects, but Avery doesn't." Jeremy’s forehead ran with nervous sweat. “That, and the doctors say Avery had an allergic reaction to the drug.”

Anna held Bill's arm as they stood in the hall outside the Emergency Room. They had just been in to see Avery, though he had been groggy. Luckily, the Narcan and antihistamines administered by the physician seemed to be working. "He's breathing on his own." Anna's relief was palpable. "He's going to be okay."

"How did this happen?" Bill's eyes landed on Greg. He sat in a hard, plastic chair, further down the hall with his husband, Clay. Joseph and Orson sat on his other side, speaking softly to one another. Greg stared down at his feet, unwilling to leave until they heard news concerning Avery's condition.

"We don't—"

"Well, I'm going to find out." Pulling his arm free, Bill marched down the hall to Greg.

⟽⟾

"'He'd be safe', you said." Greg closed his eyes as Bill began. "We trusted you with him. And now he's here."

Clay stood. "Mister Mercer, it's not Greg's fault."

"Yes," Greg pushed himself to his feet, "it is."

Bill worked his jaw. "I want him gone." He nodded as he stared at Greg. "I want Lee gone, out of that campground, or I will throw everything I can at suing that place off the map."

Jeremy had followed and cleared his throat. "Mister Mercer, the insurance for the Raven Project will cover all costs— "

"It's not about the cost!" Bill roared, his voice amplified by the hall. "It's about making sure this doesn't—" He took a breath. "It's about making sure this doesn't happen again."

"I understand," Greg said. "I broke a promise to you, and I'm sorry. But I won't break this one." His eyes hardened. "Lee no longer has a home at Camp Refuge."

⟽⟾

Lee stepped off the road when the headlights appeared. Hiding until the car had driven past, he wearily continued, barely able to see the rain-slicked roadway in the dark.

He had been walking for three hours, and Crescent City was still another five miles away. Shivering with the wet and chill, he misjudged a step and went down, his leg scraping the side of the asphalt as he did.

"Unnnn!" Sucking air, Lee rolled on his back holding the leg. The sound of another car coming didn't give him much time, and he managed to get out of the way before the lights illuminated him.

Resting a few more seconds on the wet grass beside the road, Lee grunted with effort and pushed to his feet. He tested the leg. Well, that hurts. He took a step. But it works.

Lee hobbled on. The pain in his leg gave his mind another place to be, and he strove to focus on that instead of the way his soul jerked in his chest like a wounded bird.

⟽⟾

After being reassured that Avery would recover, Greg and the rest of the crew from the campground headed back. As he drove, Clay reached for Greg's hand and silently held it the whole way.

Arriving, Greg got out and turned toward Cabin Seven.

"Hey." Clay stepped in front of him. "Just … cool off a bit."

Greg gazed at him. "I won't do anything stupid." Greg pushed by. "He's not worth it."

He strode to the cabin, opening the door without a knock. Greg stepped inside and looked about with a frown.

Stepping over to the coffee table, Greg bent. He picked up a tiny, familiar key.

"He's gone," Harlan said from behind Greg. Greg turned in the doorway of the cabin. "He left while you guys were at the hospital. A few hours ago." Harlan motioned toward the road. "He was headed toward Crescent City, and I bet you guys passed him on the way back. He's dressed in dark clothes, dangerous with the rain and the night. I'm sure you can catch him."

Greg stared at Harlan, then turned to look at the desk in the cabin. "He made his decision. It's good. I didn't have to make it for him."

Harlan cocked his head. "You ... you're not going for him. You're not bringing him back." It was less a question and more of a shocked realization.

Greg pocketed the key. "He made his choice."

Harlan was silent. Greg looked over his shoulder at his outline, framed by the light. "What?"

"Nothing." Harlan turned. "I've just never seen you make the wrong choice before." With that he strode away, the darkness closing behind him like a black cloak.

⟽⟾

"...be okay. The guys from the campground kept him oxygenated on the way. He's young and he'll completely recover."

Avery blinked, confused by the lights in the room.

"Hey, you're awake." A hand gripped his. Anna held on, while Bill continued to speak to a man in a lab coat. "How are you feeling?"

"Thirsty." Avery sat up, his head swimming. "Oh. Dizzy."

"That'll pass." The doctor gave Avery a pat on his shoulder, then he turned his attention to Anna and Bill. "I'll give you three some time, but I don't see a reason for Avery to stay overnight so long as he takes it easy."

"You can bet on that." Bill shook the doctor's hand, then sat on a stool beside the bed. Worry forced his face into lines and wrinkles.

His memory sparked, and Avery stared at Bill. They'll send me back.

"We found out what happened," Bill said. "I spoke to Greg, and we know you were pressured by Lee to take the OxyContin." He leaned forward. "We know it's not all your fault. Peer pressure can be really hard at your age."

Avery swallowed. Say something. They think Lee gave you the drugs.

"I … where's Lee?"

Bill clenched his jaw but Anna beat him to it. "Lee is gone. Greg let us know that he's no longer welcome at the camp."

"They threw him out?" Avery's lip quivered. "But he has nowhere to go."

"He should have thought of that before almost killing you with narcotics." Bill got up to pace beside the bed. "I talked to that cop, Joseph. If I want to have him dragged in for questions, then I can."

"No!" Avery shook his head. "No. No, please." He reached for Bill's hand, clutching it. "Please. Just leave him alone."

Bill drew in a shaky breath. "He's lucky you're okay."

"Yeah, I'm fine." Avery relaxed slightly. "Can we leave, please? I just wanna leave."

After a final set of vital signs, a nurse and Anna wheeled Avery out to the parking lot where Bill picked them up.

This time, Anna got in the backseat with him. "We're really glad you're okay, Avery."

Say something. Lee's in trouble because of you. Say something. Avery forced a smile. "Yeah. Me too." He looked into the night through the window. If they know, they'll send me back.

He'd just begun to feel as if he belonged with them. As they headed home, Avery struggled with the impossible task of how to make things right.

⟽⟾

31 October (Saturday, Early morning)

Staggering under the shelter of the abandoned Thai-food place at the edge of town, Lee pushed past the broken side door. It was almost pitch black outside, and the rain hadn't let up at all. Inside, the musty smell of mildew permeated everything, but at least it was dry.

Lee listened carefully before moving further. The throbbing in his leg distracted him, but he needed to be sure he was alone. It wouldn't do if someone else had claimed this spot. That could end … badly.

Hearing nothing but the rain and wind, Lee shut the door behind him. He cocked his head at a makeshift bar and brackets someone had put in place. Cobwebs hung from the bar. Not used in a while. Lee slid the piece of ripped plywood into the rough brackets. Now someone would make a hell of a lot of noise if they tried getting in.

Lee shivered. His wet clothes were worse than none, so he stripped. He hung the dripping clothing from the legs of an overturned table.

Next, he limped over to a pool of light from a streetlamp next to the building. He looked at the cut on his leg. "Fuck." The ragged injury was on the side of his right calf and had bits of dirt and asphalt in it. The skin lay open in a wound almost as long as his hand.

"Least it stopped bleedin'." Lee sucked air as he touched the area around it. He found a few somewhat clean tablecloths stored on shelves near what had used to be the kitchen. "Gotta cover it." Lee hissed through the process but managed to get the wound wrapped. He warily eyed the fresh blood on the cloth.

Could go to the hospital. Almost as soon as he thought it, Lee rejected the idea. He was sure law enforcement searched for him. Hospitals were no refuge from the law, and he had no insurance and no money. The little rural facility would see him only as a burden, one to offload to the police as soon as they could.

With nothing else to be done about the leg, he dressed in his only other clothes—sweatpants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. At least those were dry, protected by the plastic bag.

He searched through his remaining belongings. "Oh." Sitting on the floor, he knew what remained in the bag before he ever took it out. Slowly, he pulled the hand-crafted apron out of the garbage bag. Why'd I bring this? Lee stared down. 'Lee - Camp Cook' glittered in the fluorescent light from the streetlamp outside.

No longer in imminent danger, the enormity of his loss slammed into him. "Avery." Lee trembled as he ran his fingers over the words. "Greg." He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to focus on the physical pain. That sort he could handle. He gripped his leg, bringing a fresh spear of agony to the limb. He gritted his teeth. "No time to feel sorry for myself."

Scraping together what old cloth he could, he made a nest of sorts on the floor. Is he okay? Lee flinched. His last memory of Avery was Greg trying to help him breathe. Did I kill him by taking the OX with him?

"Stop." He shook his head. "Pl—please. Just stop."

Exhausted, Lee finally lay down, though it would be some time before sleep ended the way his mind circled around all he had lost in the span of a day.

⟽⟾

31 October (Saturday morning)

Footfalls on the path leading to Greg and Clay's house brought Mason's head around. Greg stepped next to the patio table. "Hey. Good morning, Greg."

Greg nodded. "Hey." His expression neutral, Greg looked at the Airstream. "I'm going to check a few things—make sure our guest didn't take anything not belonging to him on the way out.

"Okay." Mason stood. "Do you need help?"

"No." Greg entered the trailer, shutting the door behind him.

Mason sighed. He took his seat and resumed reading his textbook, though the history of California State Parks was not really on his mind.

⟽⟾

The little compartment in the Airstream hung open, and Greg stared at the contents. The key from Lee's cabin had opened it, and Greg took the fat, battered wallet.

With shaking fingers, he opened it.

It was crammed full of bills, and Greg carefully withdrew the wads of cash. He sat at the little table. Minutes later, the money separated into piles, he rubbed his face with both hands.

Lee had divided his money into one-hundred-twenty dollar portions. There were four of those, and some loose bills too. "Rent." A pang of anger and sadness twisted through Greg. "Setting aside the weekly rent for his cabin …"

Lee had left without getting his money. There was almost five hundred dollars on the table, most of it earned through his steady work cooking for the campground. "Why didn't he take this? He lived for cash. There was no one here to stop him—why'd he just leave it?"

It doesn't matter. Gathering it all up, Greg put it back into the wallet. It's his money. Maybe Joseph can get it back to him.

Resisting the urge to try and track Lee down himself, Greg left the Airstream and walked to Joseph and Orson's cabin, the wallet gripped tightly in his hand.

⟽⟾

"It's Halloween. What do you want to do, Avery?"

Avery blinked at Anna's question. He sat on a wide windowsill, staring out at the dewy grass in the yard. "I … I don't know." He hugged his knee. "Nothing."

"Nothing?" Anna sat beside him. "Halloween? The holiday of candy and sweets and you don't want to do anything?"

He closed his tired eyes. He'd not slept well. His worry for Lee and guilt over his part in his exile from the campground had made rest hard to find. Laying his head against his arm and knee, he shook it once.

Anna gently lay a hand on his back. "Avery, are you feeling all right?"

They'll send you back. If they know, they'll get rid of you. Squeezing his eyes, tears still leaked from him.

"Aww, you can talk to me." Anna hugged him. "Come on; talk to me."

Avery shook his head. "I can't."

"Yes. Yes, you can. More than that, you should." Anna wiped the tears on his face. "Avery, what's wrong? Are you worried about Lee? Is that it?"

That was part of it. Avery nodded.

She sighed. "Well, he made some bad choices. All that has happened, he brought on himself." She rubbed his back. "You can't help that."

He gritted his teeth as the tears continued. Avery sobbed in her arms. "I'm afraid."

"Afraid?" She squeezed him. "Why?"

"I …" You will lose everything. That voice in his head persisted. Avery drew in a shaky breath and pushed on. "I'm afraid you won't want me anymore. If you knew, you and Bill won't want me here."

Anna looked at him. "If we knew what? Nothing you can say will make us not want you, Avery." Her worried, patient gaze held him fast. "Tell me what's going on, and I'll prove it."

He stared back, still shedding tears. Then he lept into the abyss.

"It was me. I gave Lee the drugs."

⟽⟾

Greg smiled for the first time all day when he saw Avery in the back seat of the pick-up. Bill and Anna Mercer were both in the front, and Greg headed toward the vehicle from the camp kitchen where he'd been preparing their noon-time meal.

Getting out, Bill and Anna each put an arm around Avery, and walked him forward. Greg's smile slipped when he saw the grave expressions on the adults and Avery's tear-streaked face. "Avery? What's—"

Avery nearly fell into Greg's arms. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" The teen held on hard, and Greg patted his back, confused and concerned.

"Avery has something he needs to tell you." Bill nodded.

"It was me." Avery sniffed and breathed against Greg's chest. "Lee didn't give the oxy to me, I got it. I gave it to him. I took it on my own. It's not his fault. It's not his fault!"

Chills shot down Greg's spine. Getting a little room in Avery's embrace, he looked down at the tearful boy. "Avery, don't lie for him."

"I'm not!" Avery wiped his eyes. "He told me he missed it, and I … I wanted to do something nice for him. I got it from a kid at school." He shook his head. "It's my fault."

As Greg processed, Anna cleared her throat. "Bill and I talked, and … well, however you see fit to handle Lee, that's up to you. He wasn't an angel in this, and he still took the drugs." She gazed sadly at Avery. "And however you'd like to handle Avery, and if he can keep coming to camp, of course, that's up to you too."

"Let Lee come back." Avery looked up at Greg. "I'll give him my spot. Let him come back."

They all looked in wonder at him. "Avery, you love it here." Greg shook his head. "Why would you do that for him?"

Avery immediately replied, "He's my friend."

The simple statement echoed Lee's plea from the night before. Greg patted Avery then stepped back. "Thank you all. Thanks for telling me what happened."

"You're welcome. And we're sorry." Bill gripped Avery's shoulder firmly. "We'll respect whatever you decide, Greg. We're taking this one home, but we wanted to do this in person."

"I'm really sorry." Avery hung his head.

"I can tell you are." Greg straightened. "I need to talk this through with a few folks, and I'll let you know what I decide. Because you're right, Anna, Lee isn't blameless. He knew better."

She smiled. "Yes." Stepping forward, she rested a hand on Avery's other shoulder. "We just wanted you to have all the information, to decide if the punishment fit the crime."

Greg nodded.

Watching as they got back into the truck, Greg waved. He reentered the kitchen, continuing with his food prep.

He mechanically sliced the onion, then dropped it into the skillet. Crumbling the ground beef next, he then salted and peppered the mixture.

Spaghetti. The first dish Lee made here. The thought pushed into his mind. Greg looked over at the slowly warming pot of water on the other burner.

"Hey." Clay leaned against the kitchen counter. "How was Avery? I saw them, but they didn't stay long."

"He's okay." Greg stirred the contents of the skillet.

Clay walked around. He took the apron hanging from the hook, then tied it into place. "How are you doing?" Clay frowned at him. "Hey. What's wrong?"

Greg didn't know what Clay meant. Then he realized. He wiped his face, but tears continued. "I … I think I made a mistake." He looked at Clay, a haunted quality in his eyes. "I think I made a mistake, Clay."

⟽⟾

"I'll work hard." Lee evaded desperation in his tone, but only barely. "I'll do whatever needs doing. I can cook, clean, I'll take out the garbage." He stood by the counter of the little diner on Second street, trying to avoid too much weight on his right leg.

Mark, the large fellow managing the place, seemed sympathetic. "Sorry. We need a driver's license, or some kind of ID before you can apply." He hesitated. "But … if you stick around a little, I'll see if I can get a plate together for you."

Lee had changed back into his proper clothes, but they still dripped water, and no matter how hard he tried to hide it, his limp was painfully obvious. He also shook with hunger. Hanging his head, he nodded. "Thanks."

"Go have a seat in the corner booth. I'll bring you some breakfast."

Lee did as he was told. Sliding gingerly into the booth, he noticed a pair of men watching him.

Oh, shit.

The guys got up, tossed a few dollars down, then cast one more glance at him before leaving. A few months before, Eddie had loaned Lee to the men. Lee hadn't been paid for the encounter; instead, a couple of hours with Lee was payment Eddie had owed them.

Eddie will know I'm back. Lee stared down at his hands on the table. He worked his jaw. I hate this small ass town.

"Here you go." A plate with a steaming omelet, cold fruit, and crispy hashbrowns slid before him. Mark poured a cup of coffee too. "It's not a job, but it'll warm you up."

"Thank you." Lee wrapped chilled fingers around the mug.

"Sure. Let me know if you want more coffee. It's cheap, so you can have what you want of that." Mark leaned over. "And there are always orders the cooks mess up. Stuff we can't sell, but it's still good food." He smiled. "Come back tomorrow if you need to."

Kindness was a rarity on the street, and Lee felt immense gratitude as Mark walked away. He sipped his coffee, then cut into the omelet and took a bite.

Chewing his first bit of food in almost a day, Lee chuckled.

It's overdone. Nonetheless, Lee continued to eat.

⟽⟾

After breakfast, Lee thanked the manager of the cafe and hobbled outside. With nowhere else to go, he began walking toward his new home, the Thai-food place.

Two blocks and ten minutes later, he leaned against the corner of a building. Resting with his hands on his knees, the sound of a familiar car-door closing made his eyes widen.

"Well, well." Eddie leaned against the beater he'd just parked. Arms crossed over his chest, he sneered at Lee. "There's my little wayward whore." He nodded at Lee's leg. "What'd you do to my property?"

His skin prickling, Lee forced himself upright. Without a word, he spun on his heel.

Eddie's eyes widened. "You little bitch." Following, he grabbed Lee's shoulder. "Don't you walk away fr—"

"You abandoned me!" Lee whirled. "You gave me up, the second shit went south!" He smacked Eddie's hand away. "You left me there."

Eddie wet his lips. "I did what I had to do."

"Yeah? Well, me too." Lee turned away. He took two steps.

"I have candy. I have two tablets at home, courtesy of James, just waiting for you." Eddie slid up beside him. "It'd take the edge off whatever you did to that leg."

Lee closed his eyes. Need and revulsion swirled in a terrible dance.

"Come on," Eddie whispered. He rubbed Lee's lower back. "Come home and we'll get you flying again."

Lee opened his eyes. "Goodbye, Eddie." He took a step, then another.

"You … you'll die out here without me!" Eddie gritted his teeth, ignoring the looks from the few passersby on the sidewalk. "You hear me?"

Lee looked over his shoulder. "Better to die on my own than to owe you for another second."

Forcing himself to move, Lee left a stunned Eddie behind, along with all he knew of his old life.

⟽⟾

11 November (Wednesday Morning)

Mark watched the guy, Lee, in the corner booth. Over the last week and a half, his limp had worsened, and now he shook as he drank the warm coffee provided.

It had taken him a full hour to eat his meal. Lee had to be starving, and he'd lost weight, but for some reason, eating was a chore he had to fight to accomplish.

He approached, the full coffee pot in hand. "Hey, Lee." Mark smiled. "More coffee?"

Lee kept his head down and shook it. "No. Thanks."

Mark hesitated, then slid into the booth on the other side. "I'm off at three. If you wait around, I can take you to the hospital. Or we can call an ambulance."

Lee jerked. "No." A feral gleam in his eyes surprised Mark. "No hospitals. No police."

"Hey. Nobody said anything about the police. But you're hurt. You need help."

Blinking, Lee got up. "I have to go."

Mark sighed as Lee staggered out of the diner. He wiped the table, then frowned at the strange discolored spot on the floor underneath. Getting on his hands and knees, Mark's face fell. "Oh, god. Oh, man, this poor guy."

He stood up. "Rebecca." He motioned at one of his servers. She approached, and he pointed under the table, lowering his voice. "I want this floor cleaned. Wear gloves, and close the booth.

"Okay." She glanced at the booth. "What's going on?"

"Our coffee tester." That was the name his crew had assigned Lee, as he'd been by faithfully every morning for coffee and to eat any food they would give him. "I think whatever is wrong with his leg … well, it got worse." Mark whitened.

"Ahhh. Gotcha." Rebecca shrugged. "It can't be worse than my externship for RN school. I'll take care of it."

Mark exhaled in relief. "Thank you." She walked with him to the back. After gathering some cleaning supplies and a pair of industrial rubber gloves, she returned to the booth.

Mark got on with running the till and other duties. At a lull, he checked the booth. It smelled piney-fresh, looked spotless, and no one was there, so he walked to the back. Rebecca was at the sink, washing her hands.

"Well?"

"I got it done." She looked at him, her expression grave. "He needs help, Mark."

He grimaced. "I figured." Mark ran a hand through his thinning hair. "All we can do is see if we can get him to go to the hospital when he comes in tomorrow."

⟽⟾

14 November (Saturday Afternoon)

"Greg, maybe we're just not gonna find him." Clay tried to be gentle. He turned the van down the alley. "We've been looking for over a week. Joseph has had the department keep an eye out and they've not seen him. Maybe he left town."

"How? He left all his money at the campground." Greg looked critically at every door and anything that might hide a person trying to find shelter and warmth. "No, he's here. He's here somewhere."

"Well, he's not with Eddie," Clay said. In a last-ditch effort, Joseph had been by the squalid apartment Lee used to share with Eddie.

"Where was that cafe? Where Joseph said Eddie reported seeing him?"

"Greg, he's not going to be there. That was two weeks—" Clay cut off at Greg's stare. "Okay. Okay. It's the one on second." Exiting the alley, Clay drove to the light, then turned to head to the last place Lee Sloas had been reported.

⟽⟾

"Yeah. He's usually here every morning." Mark, the manager of the Second Street Cafe, leaned against the doorframe as he spoke to Greg and Clay. "We feed him, give him coffee, then he leaves. Never any trouble. Quiet guy."

"'Usually'? Has that changed?" Greg asked.

"Yeah. The last time we saw him was three days back." Mark grimaced. "He's hurt. His leg, it has to be torn up or something. He limps around, and last time he was at the cafe, we … ah, we had to clean up after him."

"Blood?"

"Blood, pus." Mark winced. "He has to be hurt bad."

Greg looked down the street. "This way, you said? He walks this way when he leaves?"

"Yeah."

"Okay. Thanks for your help."

"You're welcome." Greg and Clay turned to get into their van. "Hey." Mark smiled. "I'm glad he's got someone looking for him."

Greg nodded. "I hope we're not too late."

The men got into the van, then the vehicle turned to head North. Mark sighed. "Yeah, me too."

⟽⟾

Clay parked a block away from the cafe. "He can't go far. If he's limping around, then he's gotta be close."

"Yeah." Their instincts honed from years of police work, both men slipped back into the mode.

Greg got on his phone. "Joseph. Hey, we think we've narrowed it down to a few blocks." He looked out the window at the gray sky and still-wet streets from the last rains. "I know we're asking a lot, but can you get your hands on occupancy information? Maybe from the fire department?" Greg smiled as Joseph replied. "Yeah. Anything vacant to the north of, and within a five-block radius of the cafe. That should do it."

⟽⟾

Lee waited to die.

Sick with a fever from the infection in his leg, he lay on a filthy pile of bedding, unable and unwilling to move.

He'd not had water since yesterday, and food seemed a distant memory. Though the pain in his leg had finally let up a bit. The limb had swollen so much that Lee's nerves had stopped effectively transmitting pain signals, though any movement brought awareness of the injury right back.

So he lay there, fading in and out of consciousness.

Some horrible noise woke him with a sound like a great piece of cloth tearing. He couldn't force himself to sit up to see what it might be.

The rush of air from the door as it flung open flowed across the floor, and then Greg was there, kneeling next to him.

"Lee!" Greg looked worriedly over his body. "Hey. Hey, buddy. You're gonna be okay." The world swayed as Greg lifted Lee from the floor.

"You ... you came for me?" Lee stared, glassy-eyed up at Greg. "I'm dreaming. Dreaming."

Greg's eyes stung. "I came. I'm here." He stepped up into the van and laid Lee on the bench seat. "Rest. We're taking you to the ER, right now."

"Dreaming." Lee's eyes fluttered. "Hope I don't wake ..." Lee faltered, his eyes closing, head lolling to the side.

Tearing his gaze away from the feverish man, Greg cleared his throat. "Clay! Drive." He settled on the seat and pulled Lee's head into his lap. "Hurry."

I know the ending of this one is a bit cliffhangery too ... and I tried to fix that by adding the first scene from the next chapter here. But then the next chapter didn't flow as well as it should have. I'm just a terrible human being, and there's apparently no cure for it!
Let me know what you think of the chapter, please. I love hearing from you all. 🙂
Thanks for your interest in the work. I hope you enjoy the read.
Copyright © 2021 Wayne Gray; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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