The Stepbrother Ch. 13


Author’s Note: Although the tone in this chapter is a large departure from the story thus far, I feel it is necessary to move the plot forward.

A woman with blonde hair, beautifully styled and long, down to her chest got out of a car and pulled out her phone.

“Thanks for the ride,” she said as she tapped into her phone. She put the slender device back into her purse.

“No problem, please leave a good review.”

She nodded and stepped into the hospital building. She was wearing large black sunglasses, a black knee length coat with fur lining and trim, a long white skirt, a gray sweater, and black boots. She followed signs to the ICU until she got to a line of people waiting to be checked in. She stood at the end, pulling her phone out again.

{Just got here. In a line to get inside} she texted her mother.

{It’s room 461} was the response.

It was a few minutes before she got to the front.

“Hello, how can I help you?” asked a man behind the desk. He had light brown skin, dark brown eyes, a blue jacket, a gray mustache and a clean shaven head.

“I’m here to see my grandmother,” she said.

“What is her name?”

“Addison Wyss.”

“Alright.” He typed into his computer. “And what is your name?”

“Courtney Savage,” she said, removing her sunglasses.

“Oh I recognize you now. My wife loves your show.”

“Thank you,” she replied with a wan smile.

“I need to take your photo for your sticker ID badge,” he said.


“Three, two, one.”

Courtney gave a small smile without showing her teeth.

“Ok just a second…” He reached for the printer. He ripped off the printed black and white ID sticker and handed it to her. “Put this on your clothing so it can be easily seen.”


“Go down the hall to the elevator. Take it to the fourth floor and follow the blue signs to the ICU double doors. Use the intercom to tell them who you’re visiting.”

“Alright,” she nodded. She left, pressing the ID sticker to her jacket and walking slowly as she followed his instructions. When she arrived at the ICU doors she pulled out her phone.

{I’m outside the ICU now} she texted her mother.

{I’ll go out and meet you} was the response.

A few minutes later the double-doors opened and Cara stepped through. Her champagne blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and her eyes looked a bit red and puffy. She was wearing a long green dress and a white coat. Cara walked to her daughter, the footfalls of her heels echoing on the hospital floor loudly until they met in an embrace. Courtney’s nostrils were filled with the scent of her mother’s hair as she fought back tears.

“How is she?” Courtney asked as they stepped back.

“She doesn’t look very well. I think you’ll be surprised how much she’s changed since the last time you saw her. She’s in septic shock and on dialysis because her kidneys aren’t functioning.”

“Is.. is she going to die?” Courtney said bravely.

“I think she’ll be ok,” Cara said. “They said 70% percent. If they can get rid of the infection, her organs might start working again.”

“I still don’t get how UTI can do this.”

“I know… but… I’m glad you came. She’s really been looking forward to seeing you. I think… I think it kept her going. Are you ready to go in?”

“Uh, yeah,” she said, breathing deeply.

“I’ll stay outside, they only allow three in at a time.”

“Who else is in there?”

“Marlon and Caitlyn. We’ve come every day since she was admitted.”

“Marlon too?”

“Yes. I think it’s hard for him because of how he lost his grandmother not too long ago.”

Courtney nodded.

“Go ahead honey,” Cara said, patting her daughter’s shoulder. “Room 461.”


She pressed the intercom button. There was a beep and a few seconds later a voice through the speaker.


“Hi, I’m here to see Addison Wyss.”

“Ok, come on in.”

The double doors opened with a click and she walked through, her own heels tapping on the floor.

She walked past open hospital rooms looking for room 461. She went past the nurses’ station, and then turned a corner where she saw the room numbers on the wall. She looked inside the room, the harsh lights shining over the bed. Standing on either side of her grandmother were Caitlyn and Marlon. Courtney walked in and put her arm around her little sister.

“Hey Caity.”

“Hi Courtney.”

Courtney took her grandmother’s withered hand. Her skin was yellow and wrinkled and her grip was very weak. Courtney grimaced slightly. She caught a faint odor of feces and urine mixed with something else she didn’t recognize.

“Hello gran. It’s Courtney.” She looked into her grandmother’s milky blue eyes. Her white hair was wispy and thin over her head. She had a nasal cannula feeding oxygen into her nose.

“Oh Courtney,” Addison smiled slowly. “My first grandchild. Your mother said you were coming.”

“I’m sorry it took me so long to get here.”

“Don’t worry… I know you’re busy working.”

“I’m going to leave so Cara can come in,” Marlon alsancak escort bayan said.

“That’s alright you can stay,” Addison said.

“I’ll be back to see you later.”

“Ok honey, thank you.”

Marlon was holding her hand gently. He looked at Courtney and nodded silently before he left.

“How have you been feeling Grandma Addy?” Courtney asked.

“Not very well, but I’m happy you are here.” She coughed a little and then groaned in pain.

“She’s been doing a little better,” Caitlyn said. “Mom fed her yesterday.” A nurse walked into the room.

“Excuse me,” he said, grabbing the machine displaying Addison’s vitals. Courtney stepped to the side a bit, giving the nurse some room while he typed down some notes in a rolling laptop station.

Courtney took a moment to look around the room. There was an IV drip, a dialysis machine for her blood, and a pulse oximeter was hooked up to her big toe. On the wall were several get well cards and a vase of flowers.

“I’m sorry to take you away from work,” Addison said.

“No it’s fine,” Courtney replied.

“I know how busy you are.” Courtney gave a small smile in response.

“Ok all done,” the nurse said, and then left. Courtney’s mother, Cara walked into the room and to the other side of the bed.

“Hello again,” she smiled to Addison.

“Hello,” she replied, and her eyes drifted closed.


Her eyes popped open.


“Can you stay awake a little longer?”

“I’m awake.”

“When she heard you’d be here today, she got her appetite back,” Cara said to Courtney. “She was getting a bit tired of hospital food, but they’ve had to monitor her diet more closely because of the infection.”

“I was excited to see my first grandchild,” Addison said with a cough. “You look so beautiful. You always do dear.”

“Thank you gran,” Courtney said.

“You both take after your mother. I’m lucky to have such a beautiful family.” They stood for a minute holding hands.

“Is Aiden coming too?”

“Remember I told you Aiden and Ashley are still visiting their father in Sweden? They’re coming back this weekend. They’ll see you then.”

“In a few days?”

“Yes. The doctor said that some of your organs are starting to function again. They just need to keep the infection under control.”

“She’s still having trouble with her memory?” Courtney asked softly.

“Yes, it’s only gotten worse,” Caitlyn whispered.

“Ok, can I leave today?”

“Maybe on Sunday,” Cara said. “The doctor said he’d check again on Sunday.”


Addison smiled. They were quiet for a while.

“How long did you plan on staying?” Cara asked Courtney.

“Just today and tomorrow, I need to prepare for shooting on Monday.”

Cara nodded.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Courtney’s grandmother smiled. She held her hand as tight as she could.

“Me too.”


The dinner table in the Glass Palace was set with plates and silverware. A woman in her fifties with an olive complexion brought out a roast chicken and set it in the center of plates of vegetables, salad, and potatoes.

“I’ll clean up in the kitchen ma’am before I leave. Just let me know if you need anything else.”

“I think we’ll be ok. You enjoy your days off,” she said.

“Thank you ma’am.”

“Thank you so much Sophia,” Caitlyn said with a smile.

“Goodbye Sophia,” Courtney said.

“It’s good to see you again dear. I hope to see you again next time.” Courtney hugged the housekeeper goodbye.

She walked back to the kitchen and they all sat down, Cara, Caitlyn, Courtney, and Marlon. They were all quiet at first, mostly just eating.

“Grandma looked so thin,” Courtney said, taking a sip of water with her food.

“Yes, but she’s doing so much better,” Cara said. “If you saw her when she was first admitted you’d know.”

“She looks so different than last time.”

“It got bad really fast,” Marlon said solemnly. Courtney looked over to her stepbrother, but he kept his eyes down to his food.

“Maybe we should change the subject,” Cara said. “How are things going with the movie?”

“So busy,” Cara said. “They were really understanding though. Giving me time to be with Grandma.”

“How many days do you have left?” Cara asked.

“We’re only a week in. We still have another two to three weeks.”

“What’s it about?” Marlon asked.

“It’s a coming-of-age story. I play a college student that struggles with addiction.”

“How is Pollari? She’s one of my favorite directors,” Caitlyn said with a smile. “She must be amazing right?”

“Oh she’s great. She understands what it’s like to be an actor. Sometimes I can hardly believe I get to make a movie with her. I feel like I’ve finally made it.”

“I’m glad you’re having so much fun Courtney,” Cara smiled.

“I really am mom. It’s been so much work, but I love it.”

“You’ve really been focused lately, I haven’t heard from you so much.”

“I.. I’m sorry, it’s just after… I really have been just working alsancak escort bayan as much as I can after Jim and I broke up.”

“You seemed so happy.”

“I thought we were, but we… I don’t think we were going anywhere. We were just complacent. I found us drifting apart. We both agreed to end it.”

“Alright,” Cara nodded.

“Umm, enough about me,” Courtney said. “How about you Marlon? Mom told me you’re modeling now?”


“For who?”

“A fitness thing,” he said.

“Philautia Fitness,” Cara said. “It’s a good break. It could lead to other jobs.”

“That’s cool.” Courtney nodded. “And you Caitlyn? Are you ready for college?”

“I’m excited to start, but a little scared.”

“When do you leave?”

“Classes start at the end of this month.”

“That’s soon.”

Yeah, in about two weeks.”

“We’re going to set up her apartment a few days before. Mateus will be back from Brazil by then.”

“Wow, college. Little sis is all grown up,” Courtney smiled.

“Oh stop,” Caitlyn laughed.

“What are you going to do with yourself?” Courtney said to her mother.

“It will be quiet around here.”

“I’m not that loud,” Caitlyn said.


“Don’t worry mom, I’ll come back every holiday break.”

“You better,” she smiled.

Caitlyn laughed.


Courtney’s eyes opened as her mother shook her shoulder, causing her to wake from her sleep.

“It’s your grandmother, we need to go to the hospital now.”

“What time is it?”

“Just after six.”

They all piled in Cara’s white SUV after quickly throwing on some clothing.

“What happened?” Courtney said as they pulled out of the garage.

“I got a call from the hospital about fifteen minutes ago saying that she threw up in her sleep. They had to put a tube down her throat, and wanted us there right away.”

“What?” Caitlyn said.

Courtney hugged her sister.

“So she’s not going to make it?”

“I don’t know,” Cara said.


Cara pressed the intercom button.

“Hello?” a voice said.

“We’re here to see Addison Wyss.”

“Come in,” the voice said.

Courtney grabbed her mother’s hand as they walked into the ICU. It was relatively quiet, just the sound of footsteps and machines as they walked towards their grandmother’s room. Courtney thought it was a bad sign they were letting all four of them inside, when previously they had limited the number of people.

There was a nurse there on the computer. Her grandmother had a large face mask on that was breathing for her, and her eyes were open wide staring up into the ceiling.

“Hello,” the nurse said as they entered.

“What happened?”

“There were some complications while she was sleeping. Sorry I just got here, I’ll get the doctor to explain it.”

“Thank you,” Cara said as the nurse left.

“Grandma?” Courtney said, moving to the other side and grabbing the old woman’s wrinkled hand. She squeezed gently and said, “Grandma?”

Courtney looked at her grandmother for a response, but there was none.

Cara went to the other side and held her mother’s hand.

“We’re here mom. We’re here.”

The machine kept working, filling her lungs with air. The beeping of the monitors were loud.

Marlon stood at the foot of the hospital bed, his face solemn. Courtney looked back to see Caitlyn with a dumbstruck face.


“I… is…” she started crying. Courtney comforted her. “I wanna go,” she said.

“Honey, you might not have a chance to say goodbye again,” Cara said, whispering softly.

“She’s right,” Marlon agreed.

“No I can’t… I don’t… I…” she started crying.

“I’ll stay with her outside,” Cara sighed.

“I can take her,” Maron said.

“I should be with my daughter,” Cara replied.

“No,” Marlon replied. “It’s ok. You stay with your mother. You need to be here.”

“Ok,” Cara said. “Thank you.”

Marlon nodded. He held Caity around the shoulder. She leaned against him as they walked out of the room.

A minute or so later, a woman with a white coat and a stethoscope around her neck walked in. She had black hair and a dark olive complexion.

“Hi there,” she said. “I’m Doctor Laghari.”

“Hello,” Courtney said softly.

“Can I answer any questions you might have?”

Cara was silent.

“What happened?” Courtney asked. “Why is she on oxygen? She seemed fine yesterday.”

“Just a few hours ago while she was sleeping she started coughing. It was enough that she threw up and then breathed some of her stomach contents into her lungs. The nurses used suction to get as much out as they could, but her body went into shock. Right now she’s on a machine that is breathing for her because she can’t do it herself.”

“Are there any options to get her better?” Courtney asked.

The doctor looked Courtney in the eyes and shook her head.

“Sorry there are no more options.”

“This is the end then?” Cara said.

“We have the tools to help her pass more peacefully if you’d escort alsancak like.” After a moment without a response, the doctor spoke again. “Would you like us to help her pass?”

“Um, yes.”

“Ok. I’ll let the nurses know. I’m sorry there’s not more we can do.” And she left the room.

A nurse came into the room with syringes of clear fluid a minute later.

“Have you decided to let her pass peacefully?” they asked.

Cara was silent.

Courtney looked to her mom.

“Yes we want her to not feel any pain,” Courtney said.

“We’ll do what we can,” she said.

“Thank you,” Cara said. Tears filled her eyes.

“Sorry I just need to get in here,” the nurse said to Courtney. They took the IV and injected the medicines into a port in the line. Then the nurse typed into the computer nearby.

“It’s time to rest now Mom. You don’t… you don’t have to fight anymore.”

Courtney went to her mother’s side, holding her close.

“We’re going to start removing more of these machines,” the nurse said. “But we’ll keep the IV in so we can give her more pain medication.”

They began by removing the blood pressure cuff. Next it was the pulse oximeter from her toe. They turned off the monitors and removed the heart sensors.

“Ok now the mask.”

They pulled off the air mask and the intubation tube. A soft wheezing came from Addison’s mouth. She was still breathing faintly.

“It’s reflexive breathing,” the nurse said. “Her body has given up, but her lungs and heart will keep going and slowly fade.”

“It’s good to see her without all those things on her body,” Cara said.

Courtney’s eyes filled with tears.

Her grandmother looked like a corpse already, gaunt and yellow, her eyes stared up while her open mouth gave hollow wheezing breaths.

“Rest now mom.”

“It’s ok gran… We… we love you. It’s… it’s time for you to go see grandpa. You don’t have to fight anymore.”

Courtney began to cry. Cara held her hand.

It was several minutes before Addy was silent.

“Is she gone?” Cara asked.

The nurse held her wrist for a minute.

“I can’t find a pulse.”

Her eyes remained open. The nurse put gloves on and closed Addison’s eyelids, but when she pulled back they opened again. She did it again, but held her fingers over Addison’s eyes for nearly a minute and slowly withdrew. Her eyes remained closed.

The nurse left them alone.

Cara dipped her head down and kissed her mother’s cheek.

Courtney did so as well. Her grandmother smelled so foreign to her, nothing like her usual sweet scent. The air was filled with the same putrid smell as yesterday, but it felt suffocating now.

“Goodbye grandmother,” she said.

“Goodbye,” Cara said.

A few moments later the nurse entered again.

“We are going to clean up the room, move all the machines out and organize everything. You can come back in about half an hour. Maybe you want to make a few calls to people or just rest for a bit in the waiting room?”


“The chaplain will meet you later.”

“Ok,” Cara nodded. Courtney took her mother’s hand and they walked out of the room.


Marlon was pacing down a hospital hall. “Is Hellen Richardson there? Hello I’m Marlon, Cara’s stepson. Sorry to bother you, but I have some important and very sad news. Your grandmother has passed away. Yes, it happened this morning. She had some complications after a bacteria infection. I’m sorry. Yes we’re already talking about a memorial. You’ll be contacted when we’ve decided the specifics. Yes, you’re welcome. Thank you. I’m sorry. Goodbye.”

Marlon sighed and walked back into the waiting room. Then he turned left into another room inside the waiting room. There was a short table and chairs all around the room. In the center was coffee and tea, along with a few biscuits.

“Thank you,” Cara said as he gave her phone back.

“Would you like me to call anyone else?” Marlon said softly, holding out the phone in his hand.

Cara took the phone and looked through her contacts.

Courtney walked into the waiting room, crying.

“Aunt Stella didn’t take… didn’t take it well.”

“I didn’t think she would. Thank you for calling,” Cara said. “I- I don’t think I could do it.” Cara said.

“I just need a minute…”

Caitlyn stood up and hugged her sister.

“Ok. Could you talk to Devon Stevens?” Cara asked Marlon. They are a good friend of the family,” she said as she held out the phone.


“Thank you. That should be the last call for now.”


Marlon tapped Devon’s name. He walked out of the room and into the hall. Cara took a sip of coffee. There was a knock on the door and a moment later a man with nametag clipped to his button up shirt stepped into the doorway.

“Hello I’m Eliot, the chaplain. Are you the family of Addison Wyss?”

“Yes,” Cara said.

“I just wanted to let you know that you can come back wherever you’re ready. The nursing staff has cleaned up the room.”


“Can I get you anything else?” He looked around the room at blank stares.

“Well, I’ll be back there in the room if you need anything.”


“Did Addison have faith?” the chaplain asked, looking to the hospital bed where the dead woman lay. Courtney looked to her mother.

“She was Christian,” Cara said.

“Did she have a specific church or denomination?”

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