Jerry, Fran, and Ian were in Kyle’s room the next night when they arrived to read. Kyle noticed Scott and Shane first. “I’m staying here! With Scott and Shane.”
“But Kyle….” Fran looked at her husband. “Tell him he can’t!”
Jerry glanced back at Scott and Shane.
Ian glared at them and then faced Kyle. “So you’d rather stay with the jerk who tried to kill you than be with your family.” He glanced at his father. “I told you he’d do something. He’s messed him up and turned him against us.”
Kyle’s hand flew up shakily. He swung it out, knocking over the water on the table beside him. “I’m not stupid!” He pounded the edge of the bed, his hand hitting the hard plastic railing with a plud.
“Oh, Ian, don’t get him upset!” Fran cried.
Kyle hit the bed rail again and again.
Jerry grabbed Kyle’s hand. “Stop. You must stop.”
“No! No! I’m staying.”
“Stop saying that,” Ian said, grabbing Kyle also.
“I’m not stupid.”
“No, you just beat your hand to a pulp as a science experiment. Quit fighting us.”
Kyle’s jerking increased, and his back stiffened. Scott wanted to rip both Jerry and Ian away from him.
Ian looked over to Jerry, shock written on his face. “What’s happening?”
“You need to all get out of here,” Shane said, loudly. “You’re upsetting him.” He tried to get to the side of the bed.
Fran and Ian blocked one side, and Jerry was on the other, ignoring him.
Shane rushed from the room. A few seconds later he returned with the nurse on duty. Then he pulled Scott into the hall. “Come on. Ian will never leave with us there.” He leaned against the hall wall and closed his eyes. His jaw muscles tensed and untensed.
Scott felt the same anguish. Why couldn’t they just leave Kyle alone? He leaned against the wall beside Shane and waited.
Fran and then Ian left the room. Jerry and the nurse remained with Kyle.
Ian came to Scott. He glared into his eyes, and then his fist slammed into Scott’s stomach.
Scott doubled over, unable to breath. He heard scuffling as he tried to force air into his lungs in short gasping breaths. Fran screamed. Scott looked up. Shane and Ian were exchanging blows. By the time Scott straightened and could take a deep breath, two men were holding Ian and Shane apart.
Shane’s suit hung haphazardly, ripped and wrinkled; his glasses were on the floor near Scott’s feet. Scott picked them up and straightened the gold wire frames before placing them in his pocket.
Jerry stood before Ian. “What’s wrong with you! Your brother is having a grand mal seizure, and you’re starting fights!”
“We’re going to have to ask you all to leave the hospital,” said the man beside Ian.
Jerry shook his head. “Go on,” he ordered Ian. “Go out to the courtyard until I’m ready to leave.”
“They’re not staying here!” Ian shouted.
Scott put his hand on Shane’s back. “Let’s go down to my office.” He gently guided him away from the others, taking the opposite way that Jerry had directed Ian to go, even though the walk would be twice as long that way.
When they reached a rest room in the next section he pulled Shane in and locked the door. Then they stood looking into each other’s face.
“Are you all right?”
“How are you?”
They spoke at the same time and then grinned. “Thanks. I wasn’t expecting that.”
Shane shook his head. “Who was?” He went to the sink and stared into the mirror. Grabbing a paper towel, he wet it and began washing his face.
Scott watched him clean the bruise near his eye. His throat tightened. “Why, Shane?”
“Why what? Ian’s just a jerk.” Shane turned away from the mirror to face him. “Isn’t it obvious? You didn’t deserve that. You hadn’t done anything.” He faced the mirror again to study the rest of his face.
“Shane, you’re the best.”
Shane spun around. “What?”
Scott gave a soft laugh. “You’re a great brother.”
Shane’s look of surprise softened. He smiled and shrugged. “I was getting him for Kyle, too. And for knocking you down the steps. He’s been asking for it. Don’t let jerks like him push you around. They’ll never let up if they think they can get away with it.” Shane looked into the mirror one last time and then straightened. “Shoot. I lost my glasses.”
Scott pulled them from his pocket. “Hope they’re not scratched.”
“Thanks.” He held them up to the light. “If I hadn’t had to work late, I would have been in jeans and not been held back by this stupid jacket.” He shook his head. “Probably ruined.”
“I’ll get you another one.”
“Scott….” Shane shook his head. “Just remember, you can’t be friends with everyone.”
Scott laughed because Shane had told him the same thing many times, but Scott usually managed to win most people into an amicable relationship. They left the rest room and walked toward Scott’s office.
“I’m serious, Mr. Charm. Lock your bedroom door tonight. No telling what the jerk will do.”
Scott promised he would.
As they stepped into the outer office of Scott’s department, Kayleigh looked up from her computer. “Oh, Scott. Pastor Prescott wants you to call.” She handed him a slip of paper with a phone number. “Hello, Mr. Lewis.”
“You can call him Shane like the rest of us, Kayleigh.”
Kayleigh barely smiled, and Shane didn’t speak.
“Back there, Prince Charming.” Scott pointed down the interior hallway toward his office. “We’ve had a slight altercation with Kyle’s brother, so we’re waiting until he’s gone to keep the peace.”
“Know the feeling,” Kayleigh muttered.
Scott stopped and looked back. “We’ll talk later.”
She barely looked up from her computer, but the wariness in her eyes bothered him. It was as if she didn’t trust him yet. He walked to his office.
When Scott sat behind his desk, Shane sat in the extra chair on the left side of the desk. “How’s it working with her now?” he whispered.
“Great to work with.” He shrugged.
“You still love her.” Shane studied him. “You do, don’t you?”
“Man, you’re letting yourself be torn apart. Fire her.”
“Are you crazy?” He kept his voice as low as he could. “I’d get a harassment suit for sure. Besides I want her here. There’s a chance I was wrong the other day. Maybe things will work out.”
“You gotta learn when to cut your losses on these things. I had to learn the hard way. If you hang on too long, you end up doing stupid things, trying to win them. You just gotta accept it and move on.”
Beneath Shane’s eye the bruise was growing darker. It reminded him just how much Shane cared. “Appreciate your concern for me,” he said. “But I’ve got to work this one out on my own.” He grinned. “Besides, didn’t you say I was Mr. Charm, and all the women just fell at my feet? I shouldn’t have any trouble at all.”
Shane gave a low laugh. “Maybe your ego does need taking down a notch, Honeydrops. Just be careful. You better call Pastor Joe.”
Scott reached for his phone and pushed in the number. “Hello? Pastor, this is Scott. You’ve talked to Eli?”
“Yes. He’s interested. But he’d like to meet with you three first.” He dictated Eli White’s phone number. “I hope you guys can work something out. Let me know if I can clarify anything.”
“Sure thing. Thanks.” He hung up. “Well, we got a second guy so Kyle will have a choice. Eli White from church. The dark-haired kid who rides the ten speed.”
Shane frowned briefly.
“Pastor thinks he’s a great guy.”
Shane shrugged. “After tonight, Kyle probably doesn’t have a choice.”
Scott had tried to block that possibility out and had succeeded fairly well until Shane mentioned it. He couldn’t face it now. “We go ahead with this until we have no choice.”
“I agree, but we better make sure they’re ready for the epilepsy.”
The epilepsy scared Scott, but he wouldn’t admit it. He just hoped he didn’t hurt Kyle learning to care for him. “We better spend the weekend studying.”
“Just what I was thinking.”
The phone buzzed, and Scott grabbed it. “Yes, Kayleigh?”
“Scott, there’s a man pounding on the door out here. I don’t know what he wants, but….”
But it was after hours. “Thanks, Kayleigh. I’ll come check it out.” He hung up. “Just a minute, Shane.” Scott went to the outer office. His first guess was Dr. Thorton, but he quickly discarded the idea. Making a lot of noise and fuss was not his style. As another set of knocks began, Scott opened the door a crack. He saw Jerry and opened it to admit him.
“We need to talk,” Jerry said, coming into the office. He glanced at Kayleigh. “Working late?”
“Yeah, I’m just getting caught up from being in the hospital. This is my secretary Kayleigh Edwards. Kayleigh this is Kyle’s father, Jerry Sloan. Kayleigh’s been praying with me every day for Kyle’s recovery.”
Kayleigh stood and briefly took the hand Jerry offered. “Nice meeting you,” she murmured.
“You, too. Thanks for your prayers.” Jerry faced Scott. “I don’t have much time, but we need to talk.”
Scott led him to his office. Shane stood as they entered, and then they settled into the seats around Scott’s desk.
“We’ll stay at a hotel while we’re here this time.” Jerry stared at Scott intently and then Shane. “You two can’t handle this.”
“Better than Fran and Ian,” Scott protested. “And we don’t get him upset. We don’t treat him like he’s a baby. He hates that.”
Jerry took a deep breath. “I have thought about your proposal a lot. I also looked into hiring care in my area and what’s available. And I thought about taking a leave of absence from my work.” He hesitated. “Unfortunately I can’t afford those options without forcing Ian out of college and moving to a smaller home. I talked to my insurance agent. I know there’s a caregiver allowance I’d get for three years, but it’s only enough to hire a professional for less than an hour and a half a day, and it definitely can’t replace my income. What about your excess medical? You’ll have to request that. You may need a lawyer to get it. Have you hired one?”
“Yes. But the excess medical is for expenses — a reimbursement type thing.”
“Give me the information for your insurance company, so I can take care of his expenses up north.”
“We haven’t even decided if Kyle is going back yet,” Shane pointed out. “Even without insurance or your help, we would find ways to help Kyle stay here, because it’s what’s best for Kyle.”
“Kyle is having trouble with abstractions. He can’t even add and subtract without difficulty. He won’t be able to manage his expenses or internship.”
“I can add and subtract,” Shane said evenly. “I’m a certified public accountant. I’m Kyle’s accountant.”
Jerry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I’m not trying to fight you, Shane. I want what’s best for Kyle, too.” Then he opened his eyes. “If I agree that he stays, then I want copies of all his records.”
“Anything,” Scott agreed quickly.
“Scott!” Shane shook his head. “Kyle hasn’t been declared legally incompetent. Until he is, the law is clear that I share his financial information with no one. Perhaps you should ask him for copies.”
Shane stood and paced, then he whirled around. “Let’s make sure he has every chance to recover. The best doctors and therapists, the best opportunities for retraining are here. He’s got friends and instructors in the hospital here, and a contract that hopefully they’ll give him the opportunity to fulfill. He needs to stay here.”
Scott grabbed the thought. “Yes. We’re letting him stay at our place — no rent, and we’re hiring this guy. We’re not asking you for anything. Just don’t force him back home against his wishes. You see how angry he gets when he’s treated like he can’t make his own decisions.”
“And how will you do differently than us,” Jerry asked, leaning back and folding his arms. “You’ve chosen his caregiver, his lawyer, his….”
“No we didn’t choose the caregiver. We’ve got two guys coming, and Kyle will choose. Kyle made the decision to have him share his room. Kyle told Pastor Prescott the guy didn’t have to have his own car. He was to drive Kyle around in his. Kyle made those decisions, Jerry! He is aware, and he knows what he wants. Let him make the few decisions he can right now, and save the fights for something really important, like if he refuses to take his medicine.”
They were silent. Shane slipped back into his chair and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he held his head.
Jerry watched him for a long while. Scott wanted answers, but he didn’t push, letting him think. Then Jerry met his eyes. “I want to meet those two guys before Kyle does. I want to talk to your lawyer before I leave him here. And Shane, keep track of things for me — how much you two spend, expenses, medical reports, everything.” He stood. “We’ll reevaluate the situation in December. I can stay until Wednesday. Scott, do you have a card for your lawyer?”
Scott pulled out his wallet and gave him the card. “Thanks, Jerry. I’ll let them know you’ll be contacting them. We’ll work on getting the guys in for interviews.”
Jerry told him which hotel they’d stay at and then left.
Shane sat in the chair a few more moments, and Scott let him think. Finally he looked up. “I hope we’re doing the right thing.” He stood and walked from the office, not giving Scott time to protest.
By the time Scott followed Shane was gone. He turned to Kayleigh. “About ready for home?”
“Yeah.” She shut down the machine and grabbed her purse.
They walked out to the parking garage and climbed into the SUV in silence. Halfway home, Scott turned into the parking lot of a family restaurant.
“Scott, I don’t think….”
“You don’t want to eat with me because I care for you?” He studied her face in the late dusk light.
“Because you want to have some kind of affair with me.”
“I want to marry you.”
Kayleigh shook her head. “Oh, that’s good, Scott. How often have you used that line? How do you break it off afterward? Guess we’re not compatible after all? Don’t even joke about marriage.”
“I’m not joking.”
“Right. Then where’s the ring?” She shook her head again and then stared out the window of the door, away from him. “Are you going to take me home?”
Scott started the Cherokee, and then pulled out onto the highway. He drove another mile before he spoke again. “How are things with your brother?”
Kayleigh didn’t speak. When he pulled up in front of her apartment, she jumped out without saying goodbye. Scott watched until she disappeared up the rickety steps. Then he drove toward home. Maybe he was a fool like Shane said. But she was right. That was not how he had planned to propose. Lord, please help clear this confusion. Was it just jangled nerves he had felt that day, or something real? Whenever he tried to get closer to her she ran away. But she’d been hurt really badly, and he needed to figure out how to help her get past that.
At home Shane was at the computer with the spreadsheet. “I called William. He’ll be up to the hospital at one tomorrow. Call Eli and see if he can meet at the same time.”
Scott took off his jacket and his shoes before he grabbed the phone. He settled in on the couch and opened the connection. Eli wasn’t home, but it sounded like a lot of other people were. Scott left a message for Eli to call and that they’d like to see him at one at the hospital. He also left his phone number, hoping the information didn’t get lost.
Go to Chapter 10
© 2014, 1998 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.