Chapter Thirteen

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Often, it seemed, Meghan forgot that her daughter was almost twenty-one. This wasn't strange for a mother. Many would profess that it was difficult for them to see their offspring as adults as the years rolled by and that, when they thought of them, they saw them as the small children who'd reached out to them for comfort and support in their early years.

When Meghan got a call that Cassidy had been taken to hospital after the incident in the sea, she was beside herself with worry. Without a car to convey her to the emergency room where she intended to fret and pace, she found herself stranded with nothing to reassure her but a disinterested cat and a radio that was always more static than music. It didn't matter that Oliver had called her from Cassidy's phone and promised that he'd bring her to the cottage as soon as she was finished with the doctor, or that he'd tried to tell her that everything would be fine. As far as Meghan was concerned, nothing would be fine until she had her daughter in her arms and the man who'd continually broke her heart as he'd periodically removed himself from Cassidy's life was gone.

Rather than wait for them to ring the bell, Meg hanwalked down the path and waited impatiently in the humid evening air and sticky drizzle which clung to her skin for the car to appear. Two pinpricks of light loomed through the dark, growing and drawing apart until they formed headlights which washed over the swaying tufts of dark grass and the pale, glowering woman who was ready to greet them.

Meghan had imagined the worst; blue lips, broken limbs, and horrific scars across her daughter's beautiful face. She hadn't expected to see the young woman remove herself from the passenger seat when the vehicle came to a halt, slamming the door angrily behind her as if furious the two young men inside had dragged her off to hospital in the first place. Cassidy faltered in the glow of the headlights which shone around her legs when she saw her mother. With a curious mix of anger and shame on her face, she stalked away from the car and into Meghan's waiting arms.

The men didn't leave the car. Instead, the engine which had ticked over roared back to life, and they turned awkwardly on the narrow path. Soon, Oliver and Finn had departed, leaving Meghan to wonder exactly what had come to pass to lead them to part in such a cold, unfeeling way.

'You smell like sea water,' Meghan told Cassidy as she fussed over her blonde hair which had begun to crisp and curl with the aid of the salt. 'What happened? Are you hurt? That stupid boy wouldn't –'

'Mum, can we not talk about it tonight?' Cassidy asked in a voice so drawn with fatigue that Meghan couldn't argue the point.

Resigned, she said, 'I'll bring you up some camomile tea while you get ready for bed, okay?'

Cassidy woke in the morning to find a mug of cold tea on her nightstand and the house deserted

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Cassidy woke in the morning to find a mug of cold tea on her nightstand and the house deserted. She'd slept far later than she'd intended, but after the hours spent in the hospital waiting to see someone and then being ferried back and forth to initial consultants, x-rays for the ribs Oliver may have broken in reviving her, follow up consultants, and then an on-site pharmacy for medication to deal with the pain, Cassidy knew she'd needed the extra rest. Oliver had promised to talk to Bill when he and Finn returned to his house for the night so that he'd know what happened down at the beach, and that she would be unable to return to work that day. When Cassidy descended the stairs in search of a fresh tea and a glass of water, she soon found a note from her mother indicating that her recuperation at home would last longer than she wanted.

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