A single tear slips from my eye and I brush it away before continuing.
Whatever happens, please know that I am with you. ALWAYS. Go love that hot man of yours, you lucky girl, you. You two are going to make some damn fine babies one day. And that makes me so happy.
At the bottom is the penis drawing and her name along with a heart. That's it. The whole letter. I read it twice more, then fold it neatly along the same creases and carry it across the room, tucking it into my purse for safe keeping.
My mom taps on the door and enters again. Her face is open and expectant. "Well? What did it say?"
I take my time, considering how to answer. "Everything."
She nods. "Good."
Crossing the room to sit beside me again, my mom reaches for my hand. "What are your plans after the funeral tomorrow?"
We're having a luncheon at the house after the funeral, but I know that's not what she means. I think we're all wondering the same thing – how do we go on living in a world where my bright, lovely sister no longer exists?
"I figured I'd stick around here for as long as you needed me. Colton probably has to get back to work, but…"
She shakes her head, stopping me. "Your dad and I will be okay. We've known this is a possibility for a long time."
Was I the only one so blind that I didn’t see what was going on, didn’t understand the risks? Becca continued wasting away while everyone fed me lines that the experimental treatment I'd miraculously funded did nothing. That word resonates far deeper than I'd like. Nothing. It'd all been for nothing. The auction, selling myself, meeting Colton...
No. As soon as I think that last part, I know it's not true. I'd be lost without him right now.
My mom continues, "Dad and I have each other. You don't need to stay here, Soph. You should go home with Colton. Becca was so happy you found him."
I pull in a deep breath and nod.
When we leave Northern California it feels so wrong driving away and knowing that my sister is in that cemetery. Part of my heart has been buried in the cold, hard earth. She doesn’t belong there. But then I remember her letter. She isn’t there. She is in every ray of sunshine that shines too bright, in the whisper of the wind against my skin as we board the plane. I know for certain that she is still with me. I see her in my mirrored reflection of the plane's window, in the stray thoughts that are too feisty to be entirely my own. I feel her presence in the squeeze of my heart and I feel whole again. Colton pulls me close and tells me he loves me, and I think maybe, just maybe I will have the strength to do this.
Against my better judgment, I returned to work. Sophie assured me that it was important that we both resume our normal schedules. But as one week turns into two and Sophie continues her descent into a woman I no longer recognize, I know I need to call in reinforcements.
There were a few days there that gave me hope she was getting better. She'd gone for a jog, had stopped by Kylie's to see the baby once, and had actually talked to the grief counselor I sent to the house. But as I arrive home from work tonight, my heart shatters at what I find.
Sophie is sitting on the balcony that extends from my office. The wind is whipping her hair wildly around her face and goosebumps cover her flesh. A storm is coming, but she seems oblivious to that fact.
Her skin is pale, and her expression hollow. She's merely a shell of the girl I fell in love with. Giant blue eyes are staring blankly at the ocean and she's taking huge sips of my bourbon straight from the bottle. And the way she no longer grimaces at the taste tells me that this is probably a regular occurrence. Fuck.
"Baby?" I ask, approaching her with caution.
Her head turns in my direction and she blinks several times. "I'm losing it, Colton."
I kneel down on the deck in front of her and cup her face in my hands. "Losing what, sweetness?"
"Everything. The sound of her voice. The way she smelled. How it felt when we were together…"
I sit there, speechless, holding her cheeks and watch her eyes fill with tears. Fuck, Colton, think.
She's completely fucking broken right now and I'm worried that the only one who'd know how to put her back together again is Becca, the sister she shared a womb with for nine months, the best friend she loved without question. I'm terrified that I'm not enough, that my love will never be enough.
"I have to pee," she says after several seconds, then rises unsteadily to her feet.
I walk her to the bathroom, helping to keep her stable. "How much bourbon did you have?" That shit is strong. Strong enough to knock me on my ass after one small glass.
"Not enough," she says, her feet twisting beneath her. I grab around her waist, keeping her face from smacking against the floor. Dammit.
When we reach the bathroom, I maneuver her into the room, pull her shorts and panties down to her ankles and then sit her down on the toilet. "I'll be right outside the door."
She nods and I close the door behind me.
I can hear the sound of her peeing and muttering something to herself. Something about pink Starbursts. What the hell?
Standing in the hall, I fish my cell phone from my pocket and dial Pace's number.
"I need your help."
"Sophie?" he asks.
"Yeah. She's drunk off her ass. Drank a whole bunch of that hundred-year old bourbon. I'm scared and I don't know what to do."