This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. Each installment will be available for one week, and new installments will be posted every Friday. Miss one? Joining in late? Email me and I’ll send you the previous installments. Enjoy!
Live With Me
Candace gasped and yanked her hand away from his, lifting it to her mouth. She hadn’t even thought about it until just this second, but…
“Does your mom know what happened? How I got here, I mean?” She frowned, interrupting when Emmett started to speak. “No, not how. Why. Does she know why I’m here, Emmett?”
He made a show of rolling his eyes, recapturing her hand in his big warm paw. “She knows you fell in the shower – that’s all. I didn’t figure she needed any more details than that.”
“More details about what, dear? Something you’d like to share?”
They both turned to see Angela coming back in, a nurse holding couple of small plastic cups and a plastic spoon right behind her.
“Nothing, Mom. We were just chatting. I see you found a snack for Candy?”
“Candace,” Candace corrected automatically as the nurse set the cups down on a narrow table and rolled it to her side. “Thank you. I’m…pretty hungry, actually.”
The nurse gave her an indulgent smile. “I’m afraid you’ll have to make due with this for now – the cafeteria is closed, and the doctor will need to okay solid foods. How are you feeling? Any pain?” She tore the foil top off one of the cups and stuck the spoon in a slab of green jello. Candace took it gratefully.
“It hurts, but I can handle it. Much less than the last time I woke up.” She took a bite of slime, surprised that it actually tasted pretty good. “It’s been a really long time since I had jello.”
The nurse nodded. “We get that a lot.” She pointed out a button attached to a cable that was clipped to the sheet. “If you need anything, or if the pain gets worse, just press that and I’ll be in shortly, okay?”
“I will. Thanks.” She watched the nurse walk out while shoveling another spoonful into her mouth, glad there was another cup at the ready.
Angela sighed, and smiled, and looked from Candace to Emmett and back to Candace again. “Now that you’re feeling better, and eating, and have had a chance to wake up, I want to know exactly what your intentions are toward my son. Because you’ve spent years of your life avoiding him, and now he hasn’t left your side since he came into this room. So spill.”
Candace about choked on her green stuff, acutely aware that both Emmett and his mom were staring at her intently. When she could breathe again, she met Emmett’s gaze.
“You’re not going to say anything?”
He shrugged, mischief sparkling in his eyes. “I would, but I’m kind of interested in the answer myself.”
Candace put the empty cup on the table and set the spoon beside it, suddenly not hungry anymore. “Well, I don’t have an answer for either of you. I know that’s not what you want to hear, and you can be disappointed or offended, or feel sorry for me or whatever it is you want to feel, but that’s the truth. So if you don’t mind, I’d prefer to be alone for awhile.” She laid her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes, unable to physically escape, but intent on shutting the world out however she could.
“We’re not going anywhere, Candy, so you might as well open your eyes. I have something to say to you.”
She rolled her head side to side, wincing at the pain but refusing to look at him. “Just go, Emmett. We can talk later. Let me rest.” She reached up and pushed the call button for the nurse, hoping it wouldn’t be long, and thankful when the door opened almost immediately.
“What can I do for you? Is the pain worse?”
Candace opened her eyes. “I’d go for some ibuprofen, if you have it. I’d also like to be by myself for awhile. Is there somewhere these two can wait if they don’t want to go home?”
“I told you, we’re not leaving.” Emmett’s voice was nearly a growl, but Candace refused to look at him.
“Come on, Emmett,” Angela moved to his side. “You need to put your knee up anyway, and it’ll be good for Candace to rest. You can talk to her later, like she said.”
Candace met Angela’s stare. “Thank you.”
Angela nodded, and handed Emmett a set of crutches, staying at his side as they finally left.
The nurse pulled two pills out of her pocket and handed them to Candace. “Here you go. I’ll make sure they’re comfortable until you wake up.”
Candace shot her a grateful smile. When the nurse was gone, she tossed back the pills and reached for the second container of jello.
What were her intentions toward Emmett? As murky as they’d ever been, unfortunately. But whatever they were, it was between her and Emmett, and they weren’t going to have that talk in a damned hospital room, or with his mother present.