Timing: Chapter 9

The trio left the restaurant and Michael helped Eva into Susan’s car. He kissed Susan and said, “Be safe. Keep an eye on her. Text me Dani’s parents’ number. I’ll call Daniel.” He pointed to Eva and said, “Keep an eye on her, I mean it. Love you.” He ran to his cruiser and left.

“Come on, chica. Let’s get over there and wait for them,” Susan insisted and started the car. Before leaving the curb she looked at Eva, who was staring straight ahead. She gently shook her friend and said, “Eva, you need to call Louis,” then pulled into traffic.

“What?” Eva asked. “Oh. Right, yeah.” She dug around in her bag and retrieved her phone, going through the motions. Once she had it, she hit Louis’ speed dial number and waited. It rang several times and went to voice-mail. She didn’t really think anything of it, he did say he had a dinner meeting. Dialing again, she put the phone on speaker. Suddenly the car was filled with a woman’s laughter.

“Hello?” the woman asked, still laughing. “Stop! I have a call!”

Susan’s eyes darted around, looking at everything in front of her. Looking at everything except Eva.

“Who is this?” Eva demanded.

“You called me, honey,” the woman stated, the laugh calmed to a light giggle.

“No…” Eva dragged out. “I called my husband’s phone!” she yelled and hung up. Screaming, she pounded her fists on the dashboard.

Susan let her get it out of her system until they arrived at the hospital. Eva was still yelling when Susan grabbed her by the wrist and yelled in her face, “Snap out of it! The ambulance will be here any minute. Pull yourself together, and we will deal,” she pointed to the phone, “with that later.” She took a breath. “Now, let’s get you cleaned up or there will be a lot of questions,” she said and pulled tissues out of her bag to wipe Eva’s face.

Eva calmed herself and looked at Susan, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy from crying. When she spoke, her voice was hoarse and crackling. “I’m glad you were with me for that,” she managed through the sniffles. “He will burn in hell. Nobody fucks with me.”

Susan nodded and used the last tissue on Eva’s nose. “Blow.” Eva complied, and Susan brushed the hair from Eva’s face. “We’ll deal with it later, okay? Later,” she stressed, and Eva nodded. “Okay, good,” Susan praised. “Now, let’s go inside and see about our girl.”

They unbuckled their seat belts and climbed out of the car just as an ambulance arrived, with Michael’s cruiser following closely. Eva broke into a run and headed for the covered entrance marked EMERGENCY. Michael caught her just as she was about to open the doors of the ambulance.

“No. No! Eva!” Michael yelled, holding back a bouncing and screaming Eva. Susan caught up to them, and he handed Eva off to her. “Take her inside and have her treated for shock, alright? A Valium should do nicely for a couple hours,” he directed Susan. “They need to check Sadie and Dani out, and in this condition, she isn’t going to let that happen.” Susan nodded and moved towards the entrance of the hospital, almost carrying a sobbing Eva beside her.

As they passed through the doors of the ER, a nurse rushed over and helped Eva into a chair. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

Susan nodded her head back towards the entrance. “That ambulance has her daughter in it. Can we get a Valium or something for her, please?” She smoothed Eva’s hair back and covered her with her jacket. “My husband is the officer coming in with them. He suggested the Valium,” Susan explained when the nurse looked at her with skepticism.

The nurse nodded. “I’ll be right back. Afterward, can you fill out everyone’s paperwork?” she asked. Susan tended to Eva and nodded. The nurse said, “Sit tight. I’ll be right back.”

Michael escorted the EMTs through the door as the pushed Sadie and Daniel on stretchers and down the hall. He stopped in front of Eva and Susan so Eva wouldn’t need to see the blood-stained clothes, or oxygen tubes and masks on their faces. Once they had passed through the doors, he sat with Eva and Susan.

“How is she,” he asked.

“Michael, part of this isn’t because of the accident. I’ll tell you about it later. For now, the nurse is getting her a Valium, and then I need to fill out paperwork,” Susan said. She looked around and asked why Daniel wasn’t there.

Michael held up his hand and said, “He’s on his way. Apparently, he had gone to talk to Vince. I don’t know. Should be here any minute.” As soon as he said that, Daniel came sprinting through the doors and rushed to Eva’s side.

He hugged her close and smoothed her hair. “Eva, baby, she’s gonna be fine.” He lifted her and set her in his lap, rocking her slowly. He looked between Susan and Michael and asked, “Has she been given anything? Have the doctors come out with news about Eva?”

Susan and Michael shook their heads. “The nurse has gone for a Valium for her, and the girls have just been wheeled into exam rooms. I’m not even sure they’ve been seen by the attending, yet,” Susan said. “We haven’t been here very long, either.”

The nurse arrived with a low-dose Valium and handed it and the cup of water to Susan. “I’ll be right back with forms for you to fill out.” She turned and walked away.

Daniel turned Eva in his lap a little bit and said, “Eva, Susan has a Tylenol for you. I know how you get headaches.” It was a lie, but he felt it was necessary. Susan held out her palm in front of Eva’s face and she flicked it into her mouth with her tongue, and took the sip of water Susan offered her. Daniel nodded and said to Michael, “That will help. Do we know what happened?”

Michael shook his head and said, “Not in front of her,” gesturing with his hand to Eva. “I’ll give you details once that ‘Tylenol’ takes effect.”

Daniel nodded, and sat quietly rocking Eva. Susan and Michael watched them with sadness for a moment before he took her hand and led her away. Once they were out of earshot, Michael prodded, “Okay, what the hell happened?”

Susan crossed her arms and said, “Louis happened.” When Michael didn’t respond, she continued. “We got in the car to come here and she called him to tell him about Sadie’s accident…only he didn’t answer the phone. Some laughing whore did.” Michael groaned and shifted on his feet. “Oh, I know. Then she had a breakdown on the way here.” She paused and hugged Michael. “I’ve never seen her like this, and that includes when she and Daniel split up.”

Michael wrapped his arms around her and held on tight. “One thing at a time. Right now, she needs to separate the two, the accident and the asshole, as it were,” he suggested. “We find out what we can about Sadie, get Eva home and in bed. Then, tomorrow, we deal with the Louis situation. How long is he gone for?” Michael asked.

Susan sniffled against Michael’s uniform. “Another week, I think. Eva said he was going to be gone for ten days, and that was, like, Wednesday.” She pulled her head back and tipped it up for a kiss. Michael leaned down and kissed her gently. “Why is Louis such a dickhead?” she asked.

Michael, trying not to chuckle, said, “I wish I knew.” He stepped to the side and peeked around the corner. Eva was sitting in her own seat, with Daniel filling out paperwork. “Okay, we should go back. The doctor might be out soon with some answers.” Susan nodded in agreement and they walked back to the waiting room to sit with Eva and Daniel.

It was more than an hour before the doctor had time to speak with Eva, Daniel and Dani’s parents.

“Sadie caught the brunt of the impact, so her injuries are more substantial,” the doctor began.  Eva started to cry, and turned into Daniel’s arms. The doctor held up his hand and continued, “I think she will be fine, but I want to keep her here for at least a few days to observe her and the extent of her injuries.” Daniel sighed in relief and held Eva to him.

The doctor turned his attention to Dani’s parents and said, “Dani’s injuries aren’t nearly as severe, but I want to keep her, too.” Dani’s parents nodded and whispered their gratitude. To both families he said, “For tonight, they’ll be in separate rooms. I want them to get used to the hospital noises and whatnot. Tomorrow we can put them in a room together.”

All four parents took their turns shaking the doctor’s hand and thanking him. After a few silent moments, Michael and Susan came around the corner with coffee.

Daniel took his and said, “Do they have a liquor store on campus? I think we could all use a drink right now.” Although he was trying to break the tension, he was serious. “Thanks, guys,” he said to Michael and Susan. They both nodded. Eva was still tucked under his arm.

Susan asked, “What about her car? It’s still at the restaurant.”

Michael put his arm around her. “I’ve taken care of that. It’s being towed to the house.”

Daniel frowned. “I brought my bike,” he said. “I can’t take her home on that.” Dani’s parents chose that moment to say their goodbyes.

Hilary, Dani’s mom, rubbed Eva’s arm and said, “The girls were lucky, Eva. They will be fine, right?” Eva nodded and sniffled, her nose a bright red. “We’re going to check on Dani, and will be back in the morning. There isn’t anything we can do here tonight.” Hilary and Joshua waved to the others and went looking for their daughter.

Susan stepped forward and said, “I can drive her home, but I do not think she should be alone tonight. Let me rearrange my schedule for tomorrow and I’ll stay with her.”

Daniel rubbed Eva’s back and said, “That would be great if you could drive her. I’ll stay with her in case anything happens.”

Susan sighed, “Alright. I can understand why you’d want to. She’d probably be safer with you, anyway.” She gently moved the hair out of Eva’s eyes and said, “Come on, chica. Let’s get you home.” She gave Daniel a quick kiss on the cheek and steered Eva towards the doors. She stopped and kissed Michael, and said, “I’ll see you at home.”

“Okay,” Michael responded and watched Susan take Eva outside. He waited a moment before turning to Daniel. “Eva called Louis tonight, to tell him about Sadie’s accident,” he said. “She caught him with another woman.” Daniel’s eyes squinted almost shut in anger, and his jaw muscles began to twitch. Michael put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “Listen, Eva doesn’t know we know. It happened on her way here with Susan. Apparently Eva put the phone on speaker, so Susan heard the whole thing.”

Daniel clenched his fists and started pacing the waiting room. After a moment he stopped and looked at Michael. “You do realize he’s lucky he isn’t in Ellsworth, right?” he asked. Michael nodded. “If he so much as sniffs in the direction of Eva and Sadie, I will hurt him.” Michael stared at him, his expression blank. “Yes, yes, I know you’re a cop,” he said, waving his hand at his friend.

Michael adjusted his stance and said, “Honestly, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m off-duty right now.”

Daniel smiled and couldn’t help but bark out a laugh. “You’re awesome, man.” He sobered and said, “I should be there when Susan and Eva get to the house. I don’t want her there alone, and I’m sure you want Susan home soon, too.” Michael shrugged. “Oh, stop,” he told Michael, who stood there with a wry smile. “Okay, I’m going,” Daniel said. He pulled Michael into a tight man-hug and banged his back. “Thanks, man. Seriously.”

“No worries. I’m just glad I was there when it went down, you know?” he asked. “Head out and I’ll check in with y’all later.”

Daniel thanked him again and watched Michael leave. He sat for a few minutes to compose himself. There was no way he could drive right now, judging by the amount of shaking his hands were doing. Instead, he drank the coffee Susan had given him and savored it, trying to think about anything other than Sadie laying in a bed not too far away. “I guess I need to go take care of my other baby first,” he said to the empty room. He stood and tossed his cup in the trash, and walked out into the darkness.

***

After they got home from the hospital, Susan and Michael settled in to bed. Neither was in the mood, and neither wanted to talk about the accident. Susan turned on her side to face him, taking a deep breath. Michael watched her expectantly.

“I think we should start contacting agencies,” she said slowly.

“Really?” he asked. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “It’s time. We’re not getting any younger, and obviously we aren’t going to make one on our own.” Susan let out a sigh. “Besides, tonight made me realize the level of love a parent has for her child.” Laying a hand on Michael’s chest, she said, “I want that. I want us to have what Eva and Daniel have with Sadie.”

Michael picked up her hand, and kissed it before holding it over his heart. “Me, too.” He leaned over and kissed Susan’s cheek. “I’ll call the lawyer tomorrow and have him start the process.”

She smiled and said, “Thank you,” a hint of sadness in her voice. “If we can’t adopt,” she sighed, “we can always have, like, five dogs.”

Michael barked out a laugh. “Yeah, as long as you don’t turn into Crazy Cat Lady, we’re all set.”

Susan slapped his chest playfully. “Shut up,” she laughed.

 

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