Here is the next installment to my story L is for Lifeguard, which was the favorite for the first two stories in May.
Within another 12 hours, the hospital was ready to send me home. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to go home, but they definitely wanted me gone. My nurse came in to go over discharge instructions with me. “Your fiancé is going to take you home, right?”
Wait, I didn’t say that. Who said that? Jack? Shit, Jack said it.
My mouth dropped open, and I started to protest when I got a sharp elbow to the ribs from Julie.
I shut my mouth and nodded in agreement.
When the nurse pushed my wheelchair into the sunlight, the first thing I saw was an old blue Subaru station wagon. “Sorry, my car isn’t anything special,” he said.
“No, it’s fine,” I said. “Thank you for taking us home.” He helped me get settled into the front seat and settled Julie in the back. I was surprised to see a booster seat in the back seat for her. “Why do you have a car seat?” I asked.
“I take my niece out a lot, so I picked one up a while back. I just haven’t taken it out of my car.”
“Well, that was fortuitous.”
“It was,” he agreed. He put the car in gear. “So, uh, where do you live?”
“Oh!” I laughed. I gave him the address, and he put it in the GPS app on his phone which he attached to the dashboard.
“I can’t wait to get home,” Julie said. She babbled on in the back seat about how she wanted to see her friend who lived next door and how she couldn’t wait to sleep in her own bed. I let her chatter, giving an occasional, “Oh!” or “Uh huh.” She did explain that we had to pretend that Jack and I were engaged so they wouldn’t give them a hard time about him staying there and taking care of Julie.
When we pulled up in front of the house, Julie practically leaped from the car and ran to the neighbor’s gate. I wanted to call her back and reprimand her for running off without permission, but I just didn’t have the energy.
“Thanks for taking us home,” I said again.
“It’s no problem.”
I didn’t know what else to say, and I started to get out of the car, but he said, “Marigold?” and I stopped dead.
No one called me Marigold. I went by Mari. Everyone I knew called me Mari. But Jack wouldn’t have known that. We had never spoken before. And he would have seen my name on the medical charts.
“Call me Mari,” I said stiffly.
“I’m sorry, Mari,” he said. A hush fell over the car, and we sat staring at each other for a moment. “I know that we really don’t know each other, but I feel like I know you after spending so much time with Julie.”
A flutter of fear went through me. He was good eye candy, but that’s all he was ever supposed to be. We weren’t supposed to be friends. And now he and Julie had become besties, apparently. I didn’t know how to take that.
“I want to get to know you for myself, Mari.”
My mouth was dry. I was more nervous than I had ever been. All I wanted was to get inside and take a shower and sleep in my own bed. But I couldn’t do that. I had to follow Julie and find out if the neighbors were home and make arrangements for her to play there or bring her home. And here was Jake… no Jack practically hitting on me. What was I ever going to do?
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