His Forbidden Bride: 50 Loving States, West Virginia

His Forbidden Bride: 50 Loving States, West Virginia by Theodora Taylor Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: His Forbidden Bride: 50 Loving States, West Virginia by Theodora Taylor Read Free Book Online
Authors: Theodora Taylor
    “Yeah, I’m okay,” he answers, his voice hoarse with emotion. “Now. You okay?”
    His reply has so many shades of wrong hidden within it, I’m afraid to answer.
    But eventually I manage to lie, “Yes, I’m fine. Totally fine.”
    He studies me, blue eyes sharp as an x-ray machine. “I scared you. With the episode and the kiss. I’m sorry about that, Doc.”
    “No, you didn’t,” I start to lie again.
    But he cuts me off, “Let’s not lie to each other, Doc. I don’t want lies between us.”
    “I’m just…”
    Finding it really hard to keep myself emotionally disconnected from you.
    I settle for, “I’m glad you’re okay. I was worried about you.”
    He tenses, as if my concern hurts him somehow. Then he taps a finger against the journal, “Don’t worry about me, Doc,” he says. “I don’t want you worrying about me.”
    But how can I not?
    I quietly leave the room, and try not to look back.
    John doesn’t come down to see the kids, and I don’t bring him any more lunches.
    Three days after his return to the eighth floor, I get a call from Ken. “Social worker found a shelter over near Washington, PA to take him,” he tells me. “They’re discharging him on Saturday.”
    Not my business. Not remotely, ethically, or medically any of my business.
    But on Saturday, it’s me, and not the usual taxi, who pulls up to the curb in front of UWV/Mercy to pick John up as Ken rolls him out of the hospital in a wheelchair.
    Yes, me. Clutching the wheel; wondering what the hell I’m doing, and why I’ve taken on this particular task when I’m supposed to be at home editing the next Chemo Kids Sing Broadway video. I watch as John stands up and shakes hands with Ken.
    Ken rushes to pull open the back door of my Prius C, but John shakes his head and opens the passenger door.
    In one smooth movement, he pushes his cane through the space between our seats before settling into the two-toned seat beside me, with the blue-and-white plastic bag the hospital gives discharge patients for belongings on his lap. The bag is huge, but it doesn’t look like there’s much inside. Just the imprint of one solitary rectangle I’m pretty sure is his journal.
    “Hi,” he says to me, after waving good-bye to Ken.
    “Hi,” I answer, still not quite sure why I’m doing this. “You ready to go?”
    A beat, two, three, during which it feels like he’s speaking volumes even though only a single word is uttered. “Sure.”
    “That’s new,” he says when I push the black button toward the right of the steering wheel to start the car. Then “Are we waiting for something?” when I don’t put the car in drive.
    “Seatbelt,” I answer, nodding toward his untouched strap.
    A small frown of disgust mars his face as he pulls the belt across his body. “I don’t think I like seatbelts,” he says, after he’s clicked it into place. “Feels like I’m trapped in a goddamn cage.”
    “You were riding around on a motorcycle without a secure helmet and you don’t like seatbelts,” I say as I pull away from the curb. “So what you’re trying to tell me is you’re either a very dumb bitch or suicidal.”
    He goes tense and very, very silent in the passenger seat.
    And I regret my words almost as soon as I say them.
    “I’m sorry,” I tell him. “That was unnecessary. I can be catty sometimes.”
    “You got nothing to be sorry about, Doc,” he answers.
    Yet I am sorry. For what I said. For the fact that we aren’t any closer to finding out who he really is. Also because I don’t love the idea of him having another episode like the one in the hospital in a place where there’s no trained medical personnel to sedate him.
    “So this men’s shelter I’m driving you to is run by a church,” I tell him, regurgitating what Ken told me on the phone in lieu of stewing in my anxious thoughts of what might happen to him going forward.
    It feels like I’m reassuring both him and me when I say, “I looked them

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