The family boat is trashed; sixteen-year-old Matt Mahony has a phone in his pocket that doesn’t belong to him; thirteen-year-old Sinclair Mahony is lying in a hospital bed refusing to tell what happened; their dad is sitting in the dark drinking whiskey; and someone is definitely lying. The only thing Matt knows for sure is that when a Mahony brother says, "Hit That and You’re Dead", it’s a guarantee.
Eventually, I work up the strength to walk down the hall and poke my head out the door to the waiting room. Brady, Dean, and Dad all sit up.
“Where’s Megan?” I ask.
Brady points to a spot behind the door. I step out further into the waiting room and peer around the door. “I need your help.”
She gets up and glances at my family then follows me into the corridor. I close the door behind us so they can’t hear us. “Do you have gum?”
Her eyebrows angle into a confused expression. She digs into her purse and gives me a mint. “Matt, you’re shaking.”
“The same thing happened to her that happened to you.”
“What are you talking about?” Her mouth drops open as she figures it out. “Oh.” She closes her eyes in a long blink and takes a heavy breath. “Oh no.”
“Do you think she would rather have someone with her when they do the tests and stuff, or do it alone?”
She exhales slowly. “Probably have someone with her, but you can just ask her what she would prefer.”
“If she wants me to stay with her, I don’t think I can do it.”
“I’ll do it if she’s okay with it,” Megan offers.
“No.” I run my hands through my hair. “I should. I just don’t know if I can.”
“I want to help. It’ll be fine.” She wraps her fingers around mine.
I lead her back to Sinclair’s cubicle and push the curtain to the side. Sinclair’s crying again.
“Clair Bear. They’re going to do those tests real quick. Do you want someone to stay with you?”
“Would you rather I stay or Megan?”
“I’ve gone through this before,” Megan jumps in.
“Yeah, they don’t take too long and then when it’s all over you’ll feel better. I promise.”
Sinclair is quiet as she thinks. Finally, she whispers, “I want Megan to stay, but Mattie just wait outside. Don’t leave.”
I can’t stand still, so I pace back and forth in the corridor while I wait. I think I’m making the other doctors and nurses edgy. The doctor comes back out, leaving the nurse and Megan inside with Sinclair. “Is your family out in the waiting room?’
“I’m going to fill them in now. Would you like to come?”
“No.” Hell, no. I don’t even want to be in the same country when she tells them. “I told Sinclair I would stay here.”
“Okay,” she says then walks towards the door that leads to the waiting room.
I hope my dad doesn’t go ballistic. I slide my back down the wall and sit on the floor then hug my knees and put my forehead down. Footsteps approach. I look up to see two police officers walking down the corridor. Brady probably knows them. I wonder if they’re here because of what happened to Sinclair. I can’t believe it happened. How did it happen? She was at the party dancing, then she was in her bed sleeping, and now she’s in the hospital.
Rage brews inside me. I take deep breaths because I don’t want to scare Megan, or Sinclair for that matter. I go over in my mind what could have happened. It could have been any one of those guys at the party who were scoping her out – Josh, Scott, Connor, Adam – maybe even more who I didn’t know about. Maybe I pissed off the wrong person and he did it just to get back at me. Oh my God. It’s totally my fault.
I rub my face with my hands trying to erase all of it from my mind. I want to go back in time. If I knew this was going to happen, I would have kept my mouth shut around those guys and passed on alone time with Megan. If I knew that Sinclair was going to get hurt, I would have never left her side. Why did I leave her side? I was being selfish. My dad’s probably losing it in the waiting room. I’m glad I’m not there to see that.
Megan appears through the slit in the curtain and steps across the corridor towards me. She crouches and puts her hands on my knees then leans forward and kisses me. “She wants you to go back in now. I’ll be out in the waiting room.”
“Thanks.” I get up and enter the cubicle.
Sinclair is curled up on her side staring at the wall. I stand next to the stretcher and hold her hand. If only I could stand beside her and keep her safe forever. My muscles flinch when the waiting room doors slam open.
“Where is she?” Crosby shouts.
“You can’t go in right now,” Brady warns.
I poke my head out of the crack in the curtain. Brady, Dean, and Dad are all chasing Crosby down the hall towards us. Dean jumps on Crosby’s back and tackles him to the ground. They smash into a trolley that has medical equipment on it. It flies across the corridor and tips over when it hits the wall. My dad yanks Dean off Crosby and pushes him up against the wall. Brady holds Crosby down on the ground with his knee to prevent him from getting near Sinclair.
Megan is standing near the door to the waiting room watching the chaos. Doctors and nurses start rushing around. One of them picks up a phone and asks for security.
“Get off of me. I want to see Clair,” Crosby chokes out.
“You can’t.” Brady pulls Crosby to his feet, but doesn’t release his hold on him.
“Why? She’s my sister too, and she’s hurt. I want to see her.”
Crosby tries to shove Brady, but Brady digs his hands into Crosby’s shoulders and smashes him up against the wall. He presses his forearm against Crosby’s throat and says, “Later. Just let the doctors and nurses do their jobs. Wait outside. You can see her when they say it’s okay.”
“Don’t tell me what to do.”
“You’re not going in,” Dad roars. “Now, cut it out.”
All three of my brothers look at our dad and stop fighting. Brady steps back. Crosby looks like he’s going to go back to the waiting room when Sinclair’s little girl voice comes floating out of her cubicle, “It’s okay. Crosby can come in.”
The security guards show up just as Crosby opens the yellow curtain. They don’t stop him from going into the cubicle, probably because Dean is the one wearing pyjama bottoms with no shirt and looks like an escaped patient from the psych ward.
“Clair Bear. Who hurt you?” Crosby asks.
She doesn’t say anything in response.
The security guards escort us all back into the waiting room. Crosby stays with Sinclair. Megan is trembling and her face has turned white.
“Sorry,” I whisper.
“I think I’m going to call my mom to come pick me up.”
“I understand. I’m sorry.”
Well, it was nice being her boyfriend while it lasted. I walk her out to the parking lot and wait with her. I wonder if my family will be the reason that all of my relationships end. I might have to start going out with girls like Piper who get off on the adrenaline. I don’t like girls like Piper. I like girls like Megan. I like nice girls who are always going to be afraid of my insane family.
In addition to being an author of Young Adult and New Adult novels, I am also a therapist in private practice.
The first time I helped a teenager tell her parents in a counselling session that she had been sexually assaulted, I saw a look of intense protective rage flash across her father’s face. It was only there for a brief moment before his expression melted into love and sadness for his daughter.
I have always wondered what that protective rage might have made him capable of doing. That’s why I wrote HIT THAT AND YOU’RE DEAD.