In a fit of rage, I called the hotel where my cheating wife was entertaining her AP. When I was…

Chapter One: The Call

The room feels colder than usual as I sit hunched over the old oak desk, my hands trembling slightly as I dial the number. It’s the kind of evening when the sky grows heavy with the threat of a storm, mirroring the turmoil brewing within me. Each ring of the phone echoes like a drumbeat in the tense silence of my study. Finally, there’s a click.

«Front desk, Grandview Hotel. How may I assist you?» The voice is chipper, oblivious to the gravity of my call.

«Room 1427, please. It’s urgent.» My voice cracks; I clear my throat, desperate to sound composed.

«One moment, sir.» There’s a soft clatter of keys and then another wait, longer this time, filled with muffled hotel noises and the distant sound of laughter. It’s almost too much to bear.

Then another click, a shift in the line. «Hello?» The voice is male, uncertain, definitely not my wife’s.

«Donnie, listen carefully,» I start, my voice low and steady. I can almost hear him stiffen at the sound of my threat. «If her son dies before I talk to her, I will find you and kill you with my bare hands.» The silence that follows is thick with shock and fear.

There’s a shuffle, a whispered exchange too faint to decipher, and then her voice, «Mark? What’s wrong?»

«When you’re done having fun with your boyfriend, please come to the hospital emergency room…» My words are ice-cold, clipped with a bitterness that I can taste on my tongue.

«What happened? Is it Jamie?» Her voice cracks, now laden with a sudden panic.

«He’s been in an accident. It’s bad, Lisa. They’re not sure if—» I can’t finish the sentence, my voice choked by a surge of emotion.

«Oh my God, I’m coming. I—I didn’t know, Mark. I swear I didn’t know it was this serious when I left—»

«Save it,» I snap, the anger bubbling up again, fierce and uncontrollable. «Just get here.»

The line goes dead. I sit back, the receiver still in my hand, staring at the darkening window as rain begins to pelt against the glass. The storm has arrived, both outside and within our lives. My heart races with a mix of dread for my son’s condition and fury towards the woman who vowed to forsake all others. Yet here I am, forsaken, in the deepest way a partner can be.

The drive to the hospital is a blur. Rain lashes against the windshield, blinding me not just physically but mentally, as my thoughts race from despair to rage and back again. I can’t lose Jamie. He’s the one good thing that came from this mess of a marriage. The one innocent.

I pull into the emergency room parking lot, the fluorescent lights stark and uninviting. As I rush through the sliding doors, the sterile smell of antiseptic hits me, grounding me back to reality. A nurse looks up, her expression softening as she sees the distress etched deep in my features.

«Can I help you?»

«My son, Jamie Roberts. He was brought in an accident.» My voice is steady now, fueled by the need to be strong for him.

She nods, typing quickly. «Just a moment, sir. I’ll find out where he is.»

As I wait, the lobby’s cold, hard benches offer no comfort. They’re just another reminder of how alone I feel at this moment. The entrance door swooshes open, and I look up, expecting to see Lisa, but it’s just another family, huddled together in worry and hope.

Each minute stretches out, a torture of waiting and wondering. My phone vibrates, a call from Lisa. I hesitate, then press ‘accept’.

«Mark, I’m on my way, just stuck in traffic. I—I’m sorry.» Her voice is a mix of fear and regret.

«Jamie needs you,» I say simply. That’s all that matters now.

As I hang up, the nurse returns, her face unreadable. «You can see him now. He’s stable, but the doctors would like to speak with you as soon as possible.»

Nodding, I follow her, each step heavy with the weight of a father’s love and a husband’s betrayal, into the uncertain future of my fractured family.

Chapter Two: Gathering Storms

The corridor to Jamie’s room is stark, the harsh fluorescent lighting casting long shadows that flicker like the doubts swirling in my mind. As I approach, the door swings open and a man steps out, his scrub-green attire marking him as a doctor. His expression is grave, but his eyes flicker with a kind of detached professionalism.

“Mr. Roberts? I’m Dr. Elman. Your son is stable, but he’s taken a serious hit. We’re monitoring him closely for any signs of brain trauma. He’s unconscious right now, but we’re doing everything we can.”

I nod, barely processing his words. “Can I see him?”

“Of course,” Dr. Elman gestures towards the door. “He may not respond, but it’s good for him to hear familiar voices.”

Inside, Jamie lies motionless, a bandage wrapped around his head, his breathing assisted by the quiet hiss of oxygen. The beep of the heart monitor punctuates the room’s silence, a relentless reminder of the thread holding my son’s life together. I take his hand, it’s cold, lifeless.

The door opens softly and Lisa rushes in, her eyes red, her usual impeccable appearance disheveled. She freezes at the sight of Jamie, a hand flying to her mouth, muffling a sob.

“Jamie, oh God, I’m so sorry,” she whispers, coming to his other side, tentatively reaching out to touch his arm.

“We need to talk, Lisa,” I say, my voice low, strained by the anger and pain clawing at my insides.

“Not here, Mark. Please, not in front of him,” she pleads, her eyes darting between me and our son.

I nod stiffly and lead the way to a small, vacant consultation room across the hall. Once inside, the dam breaks.

“How could you?” I hiss, slamming my palm against the door. “How long, Lisa?”

“It’s not what you think, Mark. It was a mistake—a terrible mistake,” she stammers, tears streaming down her face.

Before I can reply, my phone vibrates violently in my pocket. It’s Donnie, his name flashing ominously on the screen. My thumb hovers over the decline button, but a twisted curiosity forces me to answer.

“Mark? Look, I know you have every right to be angry, but I think there’s something you should know.” Donnie’s voice is cautious, almost fearful.

“Why should I listen to anything you have to say?” I growl into the phone, my gaze locked on Lisa’s, watching her reaction.

“Because it’s about who really hurt Jamie.” His words send a chill down my spine.

“What are you talking about?” I demand, my heart pounding with a mix of dread and anger.

“I can’t say more over the phone. Meet me at the old mill on Dawson Road in an hour. I’ll explain everything.”

The line goes dead, leaving a ringing silence. Lisa looks at me, confusion and fear etched into her features.

“Who was that?” she asks, her voice trembling.

“Donnie. He says he knows something about the accident,” I reply, the weight of the moment settling over us.

“Mark, you can’t possibly trust him—”

“I don’t,” I cut her off sharply. “But if there’s even a chance he knows something that could help Jamie, I have to find out.”

Leaving Lisa in the consultation room, I head back to Jamie’s side, kiss his forehead, and whisper a promise to uncover the truth. Then, with a heavy heart, I leave the hospital and drive toward the old mill, the gathering clouds reflecting the storm inside me.

Chapter Three: Unveiling Shadows

The old mill looms ahead, a decrepit structure that seems to groan with the weight of its own history. The sky has turned a steel gray, and the wind carries whispers of forgotten tales. As I park my car in the overgrown lot, the gravel crunches under my tires, a harsh sound in the surrounding stillness.

I step out, my eyes scanning the area for any sign of Donnie. The mill’s windows are broken, the frames jagged teeth in the dimming light. I feel exposed, the sensation of being watched prickling at the back of my neck.

«Donnie?» I call out, my voice drowned out by a sudden gust of wind.

From the shadow of the building, a figure emerges. It’s Donnie, his face drawn and pale. He glances around nervously before approaching me.

«Thanks for coming, Mark. I know you have no reason to trust me,» he says, his voice shaky.

«Cut to the chase, Donnie. What do you know about Jamie’s accident?» I demand, stepping closer, my fists clenched at my sides.

He takes a deep breath, looking back towards the dark interior of the mill. «It wasn’t an accident, Mark. Someone tampered with your car. Jamie just happened to be the one who drove it.»

I stagger back, shock mingling with my rising anger. «Who? Why?»

Donnie glances around again, lower his voice to a whisper. «I don’t know all the details. Lisa—she got mixed up with some dangerous people through me. I think they were trying to send a message.»

«Lisa knew about this?» My voice rises, incredulous and raw.

«She didn’t know they’d go this far, I swear. She was trying to get out, to fix things,» Donnie pleads, his eyes pleading for understanding.

Before I can respond, a rustle from the nearby bushes catches our attention. We both turn sharply, straining our eyes in the fading light. A moment later, two men step out, their faces grim, their intentions clear by the way they carry themselves.

«Donnie, you shouldn’t have come here,» one of the men says, his voice cold.

«I had to. I can’t let a kid pay for our mistakes,» Donnie fires back, his fear replaced by a sudden resolve.

«Mark, run!» Donnie shouts at me, just as a loud bang echoes through the air.

I dive behind a pile of old timber, heart hammering. Shots ring out, splintering the wood around me. I crawl, trying to make it back to my car, desperation giving strength to my limbs.

«Donnie!» I hear a grunt and a thud, my stomach twisting at the sound.

More shots, closer this time. I risk a glance back and see one of the men advancing, gun aimed. With no time to think, I spring up and tackle him, the gun going off wildly. We struggle on the ground, punches thrown, breaths ragged.

Using every ounce of strength, I manage to knock the gun away and pin the man beneath me. «Who sent you?» I growl, pressing him down.

«The less you know, the safer you’ll be!» he spits back, defiance in his eyes.

Police sirens wail in the distance, growing louder. The second man takes off running, disappearing into the woods surrounding the mill. I rise, panting, my body aching, and look around for Donnie. He’s lying a few feet away, motionless.

As the police arrive, flooding the scene with lights and urgent voices, I rush to Donnie’s side. He’s breathing, but unconscious, a dark stain spreading across his shirt.

«An ambulance is on the way!» an officer calls out, coming over to assess the situation.

I kneel beside Donnie, my mind reeling. Lisa’s involvement, the deliberate sabotage, the attack—it all merges into a nightmare that’s far from over. As paramedics take over, I stand back, the gravity of the situation settling on my shoulders.

I need answers. I need to protect Jamie. And I need to confront Lisa with the truth about the company she kept. The storm has broken, and now I must navigate through its destructive path.

Chapter Four: Revealed Truths

The hospital’s sterile corridors never felt more confining as I march towards Jamie’s room, each step fuelled by a maelstrom of betrayal and determination. As I approach, I see Lisa pacing outside the room, her posture tense, her eyes red-rimmed. She looks up as she hears my approach, her face crumpling with worry.

“Mark, how did it go? Is Jamie—”

“He’s the same. But we need to talk. Now.” My voice is iron, my resolve unyielding. I steer her to a nearby empty visitor’s lounge, ensuring privacy for what comes next.

“Mark, I’m so scared. Please, tell me Jamie will be okay,” Lisa pleads, her voice breaking.

“I don’t have answers about Jamie. But I have questions for you, Lisa. About your friends. About what Donnie told me.” I fix my gaze on her, watching as her face pales.

“What did he say?” Her voice is a whisper, barely audible over the distant sounds of the hospital.

“He told me it wasn’t an accident. That someone tampered with the car. He mentioned dangerous people you both knew.” I watch her closely, each word measured, each one a test.

Lisa sinks into a chair, her face in her hands. “It’s all a horrible mess, Mark. I got involved with some people through Donnie, yes. Loan sharks, Mark. We needed money, and… and I thought I could handle it. I never thought they’d go after Jamie. Never.”

I absorb her words, the betrayal stinging anew. “Why didn’t you come to me?”

“I was afraid,” she admits, her voice choked with tears. “Afraid you’d think less of me. That you’d leave…”

Her words hang in the air, a testament to the shattered trust between us. I’m about to speak when my phone buzzes. An unknown number. I answer it hesitantly.

“Mr. Roberts?” The voice is unfamiliar, cautious. “My name is Detective Harris. I think you should know—there’s been a development regarding your son’s case.”

“What kind of development?” My heart races, dread mingling with hope.

“We apprehended the two men who were at the mill. It seems there was a misunderstanding. The target was not your son. It was meant to be a warning to you.”

“Me? Why?” Confusion clouds my thoughts.

“Your investigations into city hall corruption? It seems you were getting too close to uncovering something someone very powerful wanted kept quiet. They tried to scare you off. It was all supposed to be a harmless threat, but something went wrong.”

The room spins as the implications hit me. My fight against corruption, a distant concern compared to my family’s immediate crisis, now intertwined and pulling us all under its dark wave.

“So, Jamie…” My voice trails off, unable to form the question lingering in my heart.

“He was never the target, Mr. Roberts. I’m sorry for what your family has gone through. We’ll ensure you have all the protection you need moving forward.”

As I hang up, the weight of the truth settles heavily on me. Lisa reaches out, her hand trembling. “Mark, I’m so sorry. For everything.”

I look at her, the woman I loved, entangled in a web of her own making, yet not responsible for the darkest turns our life had taken. It’s a bitter pill, laced with the faintest traces of relief.

“We’ll get through this, Lisa. For Jamie,” I say, my voice steady, forgiveness a distant shore we might one day reach.

As we return to Jamie’s side, watching him in his hospital bed, the pieces of our fractured lives slowly begin to reshape around this new reality. Together, yet apart, bound by our shared love for our son and the hope for his recovery.

Outside, the first clear dawn in days breaks, light streaming through the windows, promising a new start, however daunting it might be.

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