Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chapter Twenty-Four, Part Two

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**See Editor's notes
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
Part Two
 
A nurse wearing a Garfield uniform stood on her tiptoes as she pointed toward the doorway. Oliver Shields shook his head vehemently side to side while Dan snapped, "Dad, I don't care what big hotshot you invited here, if they need us out of the room, they need us out."

Bekah wasn't sure she'd ever seen Dan so angry- every vein in his neck would explode if he didn't chill out soon.  His demeanor contrasted strikingly with Jacob Davies.'  The rock-star-turned-priest stood in the corner with his hands in his pockets and his lips pursed. 

Ryan's clammy palm glided up and down Bekah's arm. "Can you believe the lengths my dad will go through to gain someone's affection?" he whispered into Bekah's ear.  "He doesn't have an effing clue what Allie's been going and thinks he can make it all better by summoning one of her favorite musicians."

Bekah had thought Jacob Davies' appearance in the waiting room a complete coincidence.  That is, until Oliver had approached him with his hand held out. "I see you've found the girl and I thank you for coming."

Davies' admirers began to scatter while muttering under their breaths about some old jerk who'd broken up their meeting with an ex rock star.  Their banter slowed her thinking enough that Oilver's words hadn't fully sunk in until Ryan appeared and they made it back to Allie's room.

Oliver had zeroed in on Bekah somehow in the waiting room and had told Davies to sit with her!  Why? What the hell kind of crap was he trying to pull with Bekah?  He could have met Davies anywhere in the hospital, and yet he'd chosen to guide him toward Bekah.

Ryan might have an explanation after things died down.  Right now, Oliver coolly eyed Dan from an opposite side of Allie's bed, but Dan apparently refused to blink or back down.

The nurse sighed loudly, shoving a tray to the side of the room. "Listen, this doesn't have to be a big deal. I'll come back in fifteen minutes."

"No you won't," Dan barked without so much as peeking at the woman. "My father is stubborn as hell and needs to learn a lesson."

"Disrespectful as usual," Oliver countered.

"You think you can control everything...and bringing this guy in here?" Dan pointed backwards with his thumb and Davies blanched.  "What are you trying to prove, Dad?"

"That I care about my daughter!"  Oliver's voice steadied and he pulled his tie in the same fashion Teacher always did in class.  Clearing his throat, he again cupped his hands behind his back and turned his attention to the blonde, chunky nurse. "Pardon me, Young Lady.  I simply hoped that a song from her favorite musician would offer some comfort. Please forgive my intrusion."

Dan rolled his eyes, which Oliver appeared oblivious to as he nodded to Jacob.  The priest waited until Oliver reached his side to disappear into the hallway. 

"Sir, I believe this may not have been a good idea," Davies was saying.  "Your family doesn't seem too fond of me."

"Don't mind Daniel. My eldest and most stubborn son has morphed into a religious nut." 
Bekah rolled her eyes.  What did he think Davies had become?  Though she wouldn't have classified either man as "nuts," both Dan and Davies had turned to a life most people would shun.

Ryan's hot breath descended down her neck as he whispered, "Allison loves Jacob Davies...so it wasn't such a bad idea. I just wish I'd thought of it first.  Dan would have taken it better from me."

Dan must have heard his whispered name because he raised his gaze from the left side of Allie's bed.  "This isn't what Rebekah needs to witness, Ryan."

Ryan argued that Bekah was fine and Bekah uttered, "Unless you want me to leave.  Which I...understand."

Heat filled her face as Dan studied her.  He thumbed his chin and then sat at the end of Allie's bed, discarding his navy blue tie on a nearby chair.  "This just can't be happening."

So did that mean he wanted Bekah there or not?

Ryan tugged her hand and led her further into the room.  Allice's boots clopped a bit loudly but Dan didn't seem to mind and Allie remained sleeping with the oxygen mask over her face.  The beeping of her heart monitor made her condition feel scarier than it might have been.  Ryan caressed his sister's pale forehead.

"We don't know how it happened, Bekah." 

She heard him swallow.

"She started to look thinner, " he continued, "then suddenly...this."

"What....exactly is...'this'?"

Dan's voice sounded muffled against his fist. "Ruptured esophagus, blood loss.  She nearly died, Rose."

It was Bekah's turn to swallow.  So Allie had shoved her finger down her throat so many times that her esophagus had ruptured.  Dear God, why would anyone do that to themselves?

Should the publishers of those stupid girlie magazines be held partially responsible for crap like this?  The thought, she knew for some reason, would be playing with her head for days to come.

Peer pressure was enough to make the weaker girls crack- they certainly needed less pressure from entities run by so-called adults.

Look at all the pain this condition had caused.

Allie had almost died.  Ryan looked like he might die any minute, he was so pale and Dan had never struck Bekah as anything but strong.  When it came to facing his father, weakness took a backseat, but as soon as the old man had left the room, Teacher had collapsed in pain.

Maybe Davies' music would help things a bit? She hadn't been a huge fan of his, but he'd a few good hits, hadn't he?  If he hadn't written a song suited to this situation, then he could fish another one from the sea of choices. His voice, like Allie's, was smooth enough to cover just about any slow-moving comfort song. 

The blond nurse rounded the bed, reminding them of their need to clear the room for a few moments, and so the three of them trickled into the hallway. Vaguely, she heard Ryan mumbling something about a beer and Dan paced to the opposite wall with his hand on the back of his neck.  He shook his head at the floor.

"I just don't understand it," he said huskily.  "She was doing so much better.  Why didn't I see this coming?"

"Knock it off, Dan." Ryan sounded slightly irritated. "You always blame yourself for shi- stuff and it's not your fault."

Bekah wanted to concur but wasn't sure that her voice needed to be heard.  Instead, she folded her arms, feeling a strange draft wrapping around her bare legs.  The skirt she'd chosen to wear had been a bad idea and she hadn't even brought her coat, she'd been in such a hurry to leave with Ryan.
He'd looked and sounded as panicked and miserable as his brother appeared now.

Mussed, shiny waves stared at her from across the hall as Dan kept his head down.  His chest heaving softly, he reached to loosen the top two buttons of his dress shirt...and Bekah nearly jumped at the feel of Ryan's fingers along her back.a

When Dan finally looked up, he kept his focus on Allie's room.  He peeked at Bekah, then stared again at Allie's door as though he could knock it down with sheer mental force.  But finally he looked to Bekah again. As he frowned lightly, the redness that tinged his eyes cleared more quickly than she would have expected. So, what did that mean?   That he felt stupid showing his weakness in her presence? 

"Come on," Ryan said softly.  "Let's get a drink."

"A drink?" Dan interrupted while he remained slumped against the wall.  "Ry-"

"Don't worry, Dan.  I'm not going to get your student plastered.  We'll be in the cafeteria."



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