Home > If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)(3)

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)(3)
Author: Courtney Cole

He’s very, very still, but I know he’s breathing because he’s making strange gurgling noises.  The tiny snorts vibrate through the cartilage of his nose, muffled by the vomit bubbling around his mouth.

That can’t be good.

I gag from the smell and shake his shoulder.  His head lolls loosely around and hangs to his chest.  I shake him again, but he doesn’t come to, his head just jerks limply from side to side, like a doll with a broken neck.

Holy crap.

I feel more panicky by the minute, my heart thrumming like a hummingbird trapped inside my ribcage.  I’m not sure what to do.  He could’ve just passed out from drinking too much. In fact, I see a bottle of whiskey on the floorboard that could attest to that.  But there’s something wrong.  Something that I can’t put my finger on, but my gut is screaming at me now.

So I do the first thing that I think of.

I pull out my phone and call 9-1-1.

They answer on the second ring and ask what my emergency is.  I stare at the young guy.

“I’m not sure,” I say uncertainly.  “But my name is Mila Hill and I’m down on Goose Beach in the parking lot.  There’s a guy here, passed out in his car.  I can’t wake him up.  I think something’s wrong with him.”

“Is he breathing?” the woman on the phone asks calmly.  I check again, then tell her yes. 

“That’s good,” she tells me.  “Do you feel comfortable waiting there until help arrives?”

“Yes,” I tell her.  “I’ll wait with him.”

Knowing that help is on the way calms me down.

I move a couple steps away and watch the unconscious man.

He still isn’t moving, except for the slow, ragged rise and fall of his chest.  I swallow hard as I glance over the rest of him.  He’s got tattoos on his toned bicep and a jagged scar in the shape of an X at the base of his thumb.  I know this, because his arm is now dangling outside of the car. Vomit runs down his forearm and drips onto the pavement.  I cringe and move back to him, lifting his hand and placing it on his stomach.

His stomach is hard and flat.  And covered in vomit.  If he weren’t lying in that vomit, he’d be handsome.  That much is certain, even in the dark.  He looks to be in his mid to late twenties.  He’s wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt and has brownish-blonde hair.  He’s got day old stubble and I find myself really wishing that he’d open his eyes.

“Wake up,” I tell him.  I don’t know him, but I definitely want him to be okay. I’ve seen friends pass out from drinking before. This isn’t that.  This is far worse.  The strange gurgling coming from his nose is proof of that.

I glance at his car again.  I’ve seen it around town, but I don’t know him.  I’ve never bumped into him before…until now. And this isn’t a great first impression.

I am trying to wake him again when I hear a woman’s angry voice.

“Pax, you f**king ass**le.  I’m not walking into town, so you’re going to take me.  I f**king mean it.”

I startle, then straighten up to come face-to-face with the owner of the less-than-pleasant words.

She’s as startled as I am.

I’ve seen her before.  She’s a rough-around-the-edges woman who hangs out all day in a bar on Main Street. Since my shop is only a few blocks away, I’ve seen her walking around.  Right now, she’s wearing a tight-tight mini skirt and a shirt that is so low cut, I can practically see her navel.  She’s covered in old, faded tattoos and her make-up is smeared.  Classy.

“Who the f**k are you?” she demands as she stomps up to the car.  Her brown hair is tousled and tangled.  She looks harsh. And then she starts screaming when she sees the guy in the car.

“Pax!” she screams, as she rushes to him. “Oh my god.  Wake up.  Wake up!  I shouldn’t have left you.  Holy f**k, holy f**k.”

“What’s wrong with him?” I ask her quickly.  “I called 9-1-1 because I couldn’t wake him.”

She yanks her face away from his.

“You called the police?” she snaps.  “Why would you do that?”

I’m incredulous.  Clearly, her way of thinking is much different than my own.  Her priorities are definitely in a different place.

“Because he needs help,” I tell her.  “Obviously. An ambulance is on the way.”

She starts to glare at me again, but the guy in the car, Pax, starts gurgling again. And then he abruptly stops. He is still, his chin buried in his chest which is no longer moving. 

The woman and I look at each other.

“He’s not breathing!” she cries as she grabs him.  “Pax!  Wake up!!”

She’s shaking him so hard now that his teeth are rattling.  I grab her arm.

“That’s not going to help,” I tell her urgently.

Holy crap.  She’s right though, he’s not breathing.  My mind is buzzing as I try to figure out what to do and before I can decide on a plan of action, my body is moving with a mind of its own.

I shove the woman out of the way and pull on Pax’s arm with all of my might.  He only comes partway out of the car, dangling half in, half out.  He slumps over, his head almost grazing the concrete.  His legs are firmly tangled beneath the steering wheel and we are now both covered in his smelly vomit.

“Help me,” I bark at the motionless woman.  She snaps out of her hysteria and between the two of us, we drag the man out of the car and onto the sandy pavement.  I kneel beside him and feel for a heartbeat.  He’s got one, but it’s faint and thready. And since he’s not breathing, I know it won’t last long.


I try to remember the details of CPR, fail and then just do the best I can.  I pinch his nose closed, tilt his head back and breathe into his mouth.  He tastes like ashes, Jack Daniels and vomit.  I fight the urge to gag, fail, and dry heave to the side.  Then I square my shoulders and give him a couple more breaths.

I gag again as I pause and listen at his chest.


He’s still not breathing.

“Do something,” the woman hisses.

I tune her out and breathe into Pax’s mouth again.

And again.

And again.


What the hell do I do now?  I am past being repulsed at the taste in his mouth.  I’m only focused on trying to keep his lungs filled with oxygen, trying to make him take his own breaths.  But it’s not working.

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