For someone so concerned with what I thought of her, she had no inhibitions with other people. The poor guy at the cash register at the clothing store was left in a terrible state.
“Ma’am, these panties are short a pair.” He thought he was being helpful by pointing out the missing merchandise.
“That’s because I’m wearing one.” She said it with a straight face, never offering any reason as to why. He was a little flustered but kept ringing up the other items. He ran through a couple of bras and then found an unattached bra tag.
“Ma’am, there’s no …” Mia just smiled and winked at him. He rang up the missing bra and continued through other missing items, never asking again. Mia was looking good in a new pair of khaki shorts and a light blue pullover shirt. She had on a nice pair of sneakers that made her look a bit energetic. I liked the new Mia. The clerk rattled off some total, and I handed him my card.
“Horrible suitcase accident.” I smiled at him. I think he believed me. Mia was snickering. We moved to the pharmacy down the street. Mia embarrassingly told me she was going to get me a new toothbrush too. Seems she had been secretly using mine. I laughed. It was kind of sexy to me. She thought she was being gross. I had no idea why sticking her tongue in my mouth was okay, but using my toothbrush was gross.
It took us two trips to bring all the booty inside the house. I was pleased when she started to put it all away in the master bedroom. I was afraid she might try and claim her own bedroom. I was relegated to the bottom shelf in the medicine cabinet. I just sat on the bed and watched her continue to mark her territory in the closet and dresser drawers. I remembered that she must had done it before with Carlos. It was just natural for her. I simply loved the idea of her becoming part of my life.
We ordered in Chinese and spent the evening watching movies. Mia ate a lot of rice, and I scarfed down most of the meat and veggies. I wanted to pop a bottle of wine but thought better of it. Any drug right now would be a bad drug. To me, Mia looked fully recovered, but I knew the effects of heroin would be with her for a long time.
When the last movie ended, Mia grabbed my hand and took me to the bedroom. I was grateful that she didn’t purchase any pajamas. She disrobed to all her glory. We cuddled ourselves to sleep again. She was my ocean.
The morning brought Dr. Wally Williams back. He examined Mia in the bedroom and returned with her about twenty minutes later. “I’ve got to say Dale, you’re a hell of a nurse.” He was smiling at me. “Mia is in much better shape than should be expected. Her vitals are back to normal, and she seems to have skipped of few days of ugliness.” Mia was obviously pleased with results. “I have to say Mia, you look a lot happier than most of my detox patients at this stage.”
“Dale has been taking good care of me.” Mia and I shared a smile that was not lost on the doctor.
“Mia was telling me about your beach. Mind taking me for tour?” I saw Mia fold her hands across her chest, and she seemed to lose a bit of confidence. She sensed she wasn’t invited. The doctor was already heading toward the sliding glass door, not waiting for my agreement.
“Sure Doc, it’s a quick walk.” I gave Mia a reassuring look and followed the doctor to the door. He waited until he was sure he was out of earshot of Mia.
“Dale, it looks like you two are living together.” He made it sound like it was bad thing. I wasn’t really concerned about his moral opinions. I just wanted him to make sure Mia was physically okay.
“And it’s done both of us a world of good.” I was sporting a relaxed smile. I was committed to my course of action and I wasn’t even sure convincing him was worth the time. He paused for a moment considering my response.
“How smitten are you?” He wasn’t beating around the bush. I could almost hear the gears moving in his head as he analyzed the situation. I saw no need to hide the obvious since he suspected anyway.
“Fully and completely.” I gave him the same confident smile.
“How do you think she feels?” I didn’t expect that question. I thought he was going to just lecture me on how foolish I was. I had to think a second.
“She’s terrified I will find out about her past.” I didn’t add that I thought she was falling in love with me albeit a bit slower than I was. He stopped walking and thought deeply.
“This can go badly for her. All though she doesn’t look it, she’s fragile right now. If for any reason she thinks you are rejecting her, she will return to her old habits.” He sounded like he didn’t like the whole situation. “You don’t even really know Mia. What if you don’t like what’s in her past?”
“I’m pretty sure I won’t like it. I won’t let it stop us though.” I stopped smiling as the doctor tried to put doubts in my head. “In fact, I think me knowing is absolutely necessary.” I had already started on this train of thought. This conversation was just solidifying it. Wally shook his head and smiled.
“This was not what I was expecting at all.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “You are an insane man, Dale. I truly hope this works out for the both of you.” We started walking again down towards the beach. “She’s not going to want to tell you everything, you know.”
“I’m working on finding out myself. I have some people looking into things.” I wasn’t sure why I was confiding in him, but he seemed to have Mia’s health and well being on top of his list. He just chuckled.
“Damn you live dangerously.” He was shaking his head again. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near her when she finds out. You really love her, don’t you?”
“With all my heart.” I stopped walking. I just admitted it out loud again.
“I did not expect this at all.” He looked at me. “You know a lot of people aren’t going to understand this.” I laughed.
“Wally, I am very practiced at ignoring people. I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about Mia and me. They will just have to get over it.” It felt good to think that my past isolation had a purpose. We continued down to the beach.
“This is actually pretty nice. Kind of peaceful.” Wally was admiring the view as the waves gently crashed at the breakers. “You’re going to have to find out why she tried to kill herself.” I didn’t like hearing it put that way. I knew it was true, but I wished he would use more tactful language.
“I know, and I will.” I wasn’t looking forward to that part. I didn’t want to think about it right now. I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I didn’t have any friends, so it could only be one reason. I pulled it out and saw a text from Bob Farring that contained only a phone number. “I have to make a phone call, Wally. Meet you back at the house?” He agreed and headed back up. I tapped the number.
A gruff voice I didn’t recognize answered the phone. “This is Dale Tomlinson; I’m looking for Bob Farring.” I kind of expected a receptionist or Bob.
“Mr. Tomlinson, I’m Frank Talbot. I was hired by Bob to look into some issues for you. Due to the direction the investigation took, I felt I should talk to you directly.” He was speaking rather quickly. “I felt some discretion may be required. Are you related to Ms. Perez?”
“Ah, no, Frank. I am just concerned about her.” I was quite sure I wanted him ignorant of my desired relationship.
“I want to warn you that you may not like what you hear. If she means anything to you, you can’t un-hear it later.” What the hell is he preparing me for?
“Just give me the report Frank.” I braced myself.
“Ms. Perez was an RN about 3 years ago at St. Vincent’s. She was the sole survivor of a car accident that killed her family on March 23rd, 3 years ago.” Survivor? I thought she said she was at home. I interrupted.
“She was in the car?” I had to know everything.
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