Monday, June 29, 2020


Chapter 21
LEARNING THE PREDICATES OF LOVE

Nick sucked in a huge breath, and an absolute panic took over. His face turned white, and for the first time that night, he realized that he had way more to worry about, than just his Teach not taking him back. He slammed his head back, hitting dead center the lump from the brick wall, and he closed his eyes. He wanted to try to contain his reaction. Annie noted the look of fear and panic in Nick’s eyes. She looked at him with suspicion. Before she could say anything, an orderly and a nurse came to transfer Nick to the floor. 
“Evie how’s Katie?” Nick asked. 
“Well, I’m not allowed to say, but since she was here, I can tell you that she is resting comfortably and getting IV fluids right now. Her boyfriend, or fiancĂ© is in there with her, I can’t remember which it is.” 
“It is neither,” Nick said, looking at Shawn. Annie noted the tone in his voice and so did the nurse. It was as if he was being possessive. “He’s her ex-fiancĂ©, and they are very close, but not involved.”   
“Since when did you become so knowledgeable in her life, and why do you even care?” Jeannie asked. 
“Andy, my wallet is in that bag, please take Mom to a hotel. She can’t stay here. Her back is too bad,”  Nick said, trying to change the subject. Annie glanced over at Nick with a twisted smile from one side of her mouth. She raised her eyebrows and chuckled as silently as she could. 
“I’m not leaving you.” Jeannie said.
“Mom, it’s too uncomfortable here, and you’ve been in that car for so long.  I’m sure with your back, you need to find a nice firm bed to rest. I can see in your face that you are in pain, again,” Nick said. 
“Mom, Nicky’s right. You get a room, and I’ll stay here tonight with him. Tomorrow if they don’t release him early, or at all, I’ll go rest in the hotel room.” 
“Nick, is the bus still here? I can stay there.” 
“Jeff is taking it back tonight with Shawn in it, right buddy?” Nick said, trying to spare his friend his annoying mother.
“Yep, that’s right. We are going back soon, now that your folks are here.”  
“Andy, will you take Mom to a hotel. I can tell that she’s in pain.” 
“Son, why are you trying to get rid of me?” Annie stepped over to her mother and put her arms around her from behind, giving her rounded body a tight squeeze. 
“Because Mom, you’re a pest. You’re always in everybody’s business,” Annie said, cackling.  
“Annie, must you be so blunt and disrespectful to your mother?” Andy asked. 
Her tone softened. “We love you, Mom, but you get too much in our business, asking questions all the time. Sometimes, we adult children would like to have a life without our mother knowing every vivid detail,” Annie said. 
“Well, Annie. I’m a mother, and I love my children. I just want to know that they are okay, and I like knowing what’s going on in their lives. Someday you’ll have that blessing, and you’ll know what that’s like.” 
“Mom, we love you,” Nick said. “We also know how uncomfortable you are with your arthritis and fibromyalgia. Just go rest. Come back tomorrow, okay? Annie will stay here with me if I need anything. Andy, take my Mom and make her comfortable. There are plenty of good hotels here in Lexington. I’m sure they can give you recommendations at the nurse’s station.”  
“Are you ready to go, Mr. Thomas?” The nurse asked when she came back into the room. Nick did not want to leave the floor with Katie so close.  “One second, Andy, are you going to take Mom to a hotel, please?” 
Jeannie took the hint, just shy of her son ordering her out of his room, which seemed to her to be the next step. Jeannie and Andy left right before Nick’s transfer to a private room on the third floor. 

In Nick's new hospital room, Annie pulled up a chair next to her brother, sat forward and put her hand on his arm, rubbing it for comfort. Shawn stood at the foot of his bed with his hand on the foot-board. 
“Thanks, bro, for helping me out there. I like your mother and all, but sometimes she can be just so—.”
“Much of a pain in the butt, yeah, we know. Okay, brother fess up, she’s your Teach, the teacher in the pink hat, your jolt-giver?” 
“Annie, where did you get that?” 
“I figured it out, the way you’ve been acting since I got here.”
“My wife blew it, didn’t she,” Shawn said. Nick and Annie laughed.
“All right, she didn’t tell me directly, she just let a couple of words slip, and then I figured it out. How the heck did that happen, and how stupid was I that I didn’t pick that up?”
“Why would you be that stupid by not picking it up?” Nick asked.
“Duh, little brother, I heard you talk about her for months and months, then I read her book three times. You’d think I’d have put two and two together. It was just that I hadn’t heard you talk about her so much the last six months, or so. I thought you gave up on your teacher ever returning.” 
“I did, in a way. Shawn, do you know what room she is in?”
“Yes, Scotty told me, and then threatened me within an inch of my life and felony charges for you if I told you.” Nick shook his head.
“I gotta see her, Shawn. I need to see her. I have to talk to her.”
“Scotty is hovering over her, there’s no way he’ll let you.” 
“So, this Scotty guy, is he the cop, right?” 
“Yes,” Nick answered.
“Would it help if I went to talk to him? What’s he like anyway, apparently a violent guy?” 
“No, he’s a cop. He thought your brother was hurting Katie. Your brother, in his drunken stupor with the whack job started a fight at her table, not knowing it was she. Man, I wish I were there when you realized who she was. What did you do?” 
“I literally stopped breathing, when it hit me. Then she came at me with both barrels.” Nick recalled the moment of truth, and he felt a little bit of that same panic. “I just couldn’t believe it. It was like I was living in a fog. When I heard all those names mentioned, Matthew, Becca, and Scotty, it was as if a light switched on, and the cloud went away. Then when she came at me, and I saw those eyes, I recognized in them as the same hurt  in them as when  she told me about her Michael and how he died in that bed with that groupie, Kimmie, whom Katie hated.  I chased her out onto the sidewalk and had her trapped between me and the wall. I don’t remember much, something about me falling on her and Scotty thinking I was hurting her. She said he had me up against the wall in a choke-hold, squeezing the air out of me. He could have killed me, and she got him to let go. She saved my life. Man, that guy is as strong as she said, back then.” He rubbed his neck, and Annie noticed the redness.” 
“Are you okay?” She asked. Nick nodded. 
“He may be stronger than you, bro, but he’s more afraid of you than you are of him. He knows it’s only a matter of time. I actually feel bad for the guy. His days are numbered with her, and he’s going to hold on with everything he has, until that day when she let’s go of him. Then he’ll die, because she is his life.” 
“Sounds like you’re on his side, Shawn?” Annie said.  
“I am, right now. He is the only one right now who can save her from herself. This bozo can’t. She doesn’t trust him.” 
Nick sighed. “She doesn’t trust me, and I’ve given her reason to feel that way.” 
“Yeah, she only trusts Scotty, right now. They have a strange relationship. I noticed something about it.”
“What?” Nick asked. 
Shawn grabbed a chair and sat near the end of Nick’s bed, opposite of Annie. He crossed his leg and rested his foot on his knee. “Well, it’s kind of weird but it’s more like a father daughter relationship. It’s like he’s her protection.” 
Nick nodded his head with his eyes darting back and forth, remembering how dependent on each other his Teach spoke of their relationship and how bonded they were with each other. 
“Yes, that’ makes perfect sense. He’s her safety net. He saved her life, and now he’s her safety net from me.”
“Well, bro. Your net has too many holes in it. Until she feels safe with you, she’ll cling to him,” Shawn said. 
“Shawn, how am I supposed to do that if I can’t be near her?” Shawn snorted a chuckle, knowing what was coming down the tracks that Scotty could not stop, her destiny to be with her Nicolas Paul. 
“Dude, be patient. Trust God. Work on getting your reputation fixed. Learn what the hell love means, and I mean not just below the belt. If you learn the predicates of love, trust, honor, admiration, respect, and self-sacrifice, then you’ll earn that from her. That’s how she feels about Scotty.” 
“Shawn, bro, what the hell was I thinking, pushing you away. I’m so sorry. You’re always there for me, even when I’ve been such a self-centered and selfish bastard when it came to our friendship, just like my Teach said. You are the better of the two of us.”
“Well, it’s about time you woke up, little brother. I’ll bet you don’t even know about Cathy’s miscarriage, do you?” Nick threw his head back, his mouth and eyes jetted open, as he took in a deep breath. He started breathing heavy, and his eyes started blinking rapidly at the dawn of this information and his ignorance to it. 
“I didn’t know. Oh God, I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you tell me? When did this happen?” 
“It was about the same time as mine, Nick.” 
“Why Shawn, why didn’t you tell me?”
“You had your head up your butt so far, no one else existed, and when Annie had hers right after Cath’s, well, I figured that was enough bad news.” 
“Nick, he didn’t even tell me. Cathy let it slip at Christmas time, at Gran’s. It was that Sunday before Christmas, wasn’t it, when she told you, right?” Annie nodded. “The two of us went out to the barn and talked and just cried, sharing our grief. We talked about Katie’s book. She knew then didn’t she?” Shawn nodded. 
“What the hell, Shawn? You knew as far back as Christmas, and you didn’t tell me? How long had you known?” 
“I found out about six months ago.” Nick sat straight up, with his eyebrows furrowed, and his lips tightened and pursed. His breathing rate increased as if he was about to hop out of that bed and choke the life out of his friend. 
“Are you fucking kidding me? You knew for six months, and you did not tell me? My Teach was right there all along within reach, and you didn’t tell me?” He pushed himself up in the bed and leaned forward, leaning on his fists. Shawn sat back in a defensive manner, taking his foot down off his knee. 
“The person you became, I wasn’t going to let you anywhere near her, and Cath’ agreed. Besides, the time never seemed right, and you were drunk all the time, screwing around with those groupies and Brooke. What the hell were you thinking?” 
“Oh my God, you gotta be kidding me, Nicolas Paul Thomas, you didn’t. How could you sleep with her? Are you out of your mind?”
“Thanks, buddy, thanks a bunch. Annie, I don’t’ remember it. I was drunk, very drunk.” Shawn stood and leaned back against the wall and put his hands in his pocket, regretting that decision. Nick looked at Shawn and got ready to fire some of the anger Katie had stored up and had let loose on him, earlier. 
“Dude, you let me go on and on, saying all that shit? What the hell, Shawn? Who are you to be my judge and jury deciding who or what I can know, or not know? What did you want, to see me fall flat on my face? Are you jealous? Is that it? I’m center stage, and you’re back in the wings? No one knows you, so you’re jealous. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe that you would betray me like this. Shawn, get the hell out of here, before I start saying shit I shouldn’t.” 
“What do you mean before? You already have, stupid,” Annie said, standing with her hands on her hips. “Now, stop it. A second ago, you were asking what was wrong with you for not appreciating him. If he didn’t tell you, I’m sure he had good reasons. If I had known, I wouldn’t have either.” 
Nick turned away from Shawn and looked out the darkened window. “I don’t give a shit, Annie. Don’t you realize what could have been prevented had I known my Teach was this close, don’t you realize all that I did since then?” 
“What, sleeping with the whack job was my fault, now? What else are you going to blame me for?” Shawn asked disgusted with Nick’s refusal to take responsibility. 
“You idiot, none of this is Shawn’s fault, and he’s surely not jealous of you, if anything he probably resents you for being such an ass all this time.” 
“It’s okay, Annie. I knew he’d react this way. I’m gonna get going. I hope you heal fast, pal.” Nick whipped his head toward Shawn.
“I’m not your pal. You screwed me. You fucked me over not telling me.” He then turned his head back to the window in fury at both himself and Shawn, but letting Shawn shoulder most of the blame. Shawn shook his head, lowered it and walked out of the room. 
“Nicolas Paul Thomas, you are being an ass. I am disgusted with you.” She chased Shawn to catch up with him. 
“Shawn, stop, wait, don’t go.” Shawn  looked at Annie with such defeat in his eyes. “You gotta ignore him. He has a brain injury obviously, and he’s being stupider than normal. Please don’t go.” Shawn hugged Annie. 
“I’m going up to check on Katie. I’ll see if he’s cooled off, later, if not, I’ll leave with Jeff.” Shawn pressed the elevator button. 
“Wait what floor is she on? Can I come?” 
“I don’t know Annie. I’m not sure that she should have visitors. If Scotty finds out you’re his sister, well, it may not go well. I’m walking egg shells around him, just from being your brother’s friend, if I still am.”  
“You are. Come back and let me know how she is, please. I’ll knock him up the other side of his head. Don’t hold his ignorance against him. I wouldn’t have told him either. He was being a complete jerk the whole time. He didn’t deserve to know. Honestly, sleeping with Brooke, that’s more whacked than the whack job. When did he do that? ” 
“I don’t know, I just found out tonight. I have no idea when, where, or how. We were going to discuss it later, but I’m not sure they’ll be a later for us. I doubt he’ll ever get over his mad. He put us through hell, and he’s mad at me. Annie, I don’t know why I put up with that ingrate.” Shawn hugged Annie, again and then stepped into the elevator. “She’s on the fifth floor, but really. I wouldn’t mess with Scotty. He won’t like you, just because you’re his sister for crying out loud.”
“Tell her I’m praying for her, Shawn. Tell her how much I like her, and how stupid my brother is.” Shawn nodded. 
“Sure, bye.”  
The elevator doors closed, and Annie headed back to Nick’s room to give him a piece of her mind. When she arrived back in the room, Nick was sleeping already. She knew that a concussion would make him sleepy, so she chose to remain seated and quiet. She pulled out her tablet and started reading on it.



 

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