“Look, kid, you can’t get drops inside the ear canal unless I clean it out, so—”
“Hey,” Sunday says, pushing the doctor away from me. “She said she needs drops and antibiotics. Just write the fucking prescriptions. The longer you stand here and argue about it, the longer she’s in pain.”
The doctor huffs. He looks young. I hate the young ones. They always have alternative ideas about why I get the infections and they always fuck it up even worse. “You’re gonna have to wait outside.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Sunday says, pushing the doctor in the chest. “She told you what the problem is, she told you she has a history of it, and if you don’t write those prescriptions, I’m gonna go out in that hallway and find someone who will.”
“They’re not free, you know. And she has no insurance,” the doctor says, glaring at Sunday. “We don’t take indigent cases here. You’re going to have to—”
Sunday takes out his wallet, opens it up, and shoves some bills into the doctor’s chest. “She’s not indigent, asshole. We’re just paying cash. So write the fucking prescriptions and we’ll leave you to your work.”
They have one of those manly stand-offs, eyes blazing, egos rising, and chests practically bumping.
But Sunday stands his ground and the doctor pulls out his prescription pad. “I’m just trying to help you, kid. Your boyfriend isn’t doing you any favors.” He scribbles as he talks, ripping the prescriptions off one at a time. “I’ll write you one for codeine too, to get you out of the pain.”
“Thank you,” I say. But I’m looking at Sunday when I say it.
Twenty minutes later I’m gulping pills outside the hospital pharmacy and Sunday is looking at me like I might die on him. “I’ll be OK, I swear. You can take me home.”
“I’m not dropping you at home. You’re coming to stay with me until someone who gives more fucks than I do shows up to take over.”
I don’t argue. I just want to sleep this whole thing off and I do not care where I do that. I rest my head against the window, the daylight fading away with me as I drift off.
“Open the fucking door!”
I jolt upright in bed at the sound of Jason’s voice. But then Danny is yelling back. There’s a scuffle outside, like they’re fighting. Someone gets knocked up against the door and it comes flying open.
Jason falls to the ground and looks at me. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he yells, getting to his feet and coming towards me. Danny grabs him by the shirt and throws him back to the ground.
“I told you to stay the fuck out of my house,” Danny says. “Now you’ve got three seconds to get your ass out before I break one of your legs.”
Jason gets back up, but his anger and glare are both directed at me. “You left me hanging, Shannon. You left me fucking hanging last night. As far as I’m concerned, you’re done. Don’t come home. And don’t ever plan on seeing your niece again.”
He pushes past Danny and we both stare at each other as Jason makes his way out of the house, slamming the door behind him.
“Fuck,” Danny says. “Your brother-in-law is an asshole.”
“I know,” I say, letting out a long sigh.
“How you feeling?”
“Better,” I say, touching my ear. “How long did I sleep?”
“About eighteen hours.” Danny laughs. “It was probably the pills.”
I look down at the bed, realize where I’m at, and then get up quickly, only to sit back down as my head spins.
“Hey,” Danny says, coming over to steady me. “Just relax, man. Jason is full of shit. He’s not kicking you out, he’s not taking your niece away. He’s just pissed off about his situation and he’s taking it out on you. But believe me, when Phil finds out about this, he’ll set him straight.”
“What’s Phil got to do with Jason?”
But before Danny can answer, Rocky is in the open doorway, knocking on the wall outside. “Sorry to interrupt, but Mateo Alesci is outside, Danny. And he’s looking for Shannon.”
Danny looks over at me, his eyes narrowing in understanding.
“OK,” Rocky says. “I’m out of here. But you better go talk to him, Dan, because if Phil gets home and sees him in the driveway, there’s gonna be blood.”
Rocky leaves, pounding down the stairs. When she opens the door I can hear Mateo’s voice, but then she closes it quickly and that fades.
“Please tell me Mateo Alesci is not the boyfriend.”
I just stare at him.
“Jesus fucking Christ, Shannon. You’re a goddamned mess. Do you even know who the fuck he is?”
I don’t even know where to begin with that. “I’m sorry. I’ll go.” I stand up again, but Danny places both hands on my shoulders and pushes me back.
“Just stay here. I’ll get rid of him. Unless you want to go down there, and then I’m out too and you’re on your own tonight.”
“No,” I say. “I don’t want to talk to anyone right now.”
He nods. “OK. BRB.” He pounds down the stairs too. The door down below opens and Mateo is immediately asking about me.
I get up and walk over to the window, looking out through the sheer white curtains. Mateo is mad, I can tell that much. But Danny stands his ground, shaking his head. They are about the same height, but Mateo has ten years on Danny and it shows in the bulk of his muscular body. Mateo’s not wearing his leather jacket and jeans, like he normally does. Instead he’s dressed in the remnants of a suit. White dress shirt, dark slacks, and a loose tie hanging around his neck.
Mateo glances up at the window, and I hold still, but he must not see me, because his attention goes back to Danny. He hands him something and then Mateo walks off and gets in his car. I watch him drive away as Danny thunders back up the stairs.
“He said to give you this.” I turn to look at Danny and he’s holding my phone in his hand. “Said you left it at home and to call him when you’re feeling better.”
“Thanks,” I say, taking the phone and stuffing it in my pocket. I guess Mateo went into my bedroom because I had to have left it next to my pillow when Danny took me to the ER. Why does he think he’s allowed to do that?
“I don’t even know what to say. I mean, Jason is bad enough, but you add Mateo Alesci into this and… What the fuck are you thinking?”
I have no good answer for that. I really don’t. I don’t see the connection between them and I can’t even begin to explain my relationship with Mateo, because not one thing we’ve done can be justified.
“Well, they’re both gone now. You wanna hide out here with me tonight?”
“Why are you so nice to me?”
“What?” He laughs.
“Nice to me. You have no good reason to be nice, and yet here you are.”
“That’s me, Daydreams. The guy who’s always there.”
“And thank you for the doctor. I’ll pay you back somehow.”
“No need, OK? I have plenty of money from my job with Phil, and you needed it. That’s all there is to it.”