Chapter 27, Part 2
After Mariah had showered and dressed in some borrowed clothes which were on the big side, she convinced Cassie to show her where the med center was. She needed to check on Kyle. Cassie’s reluctance was obvious but Mariah would work on that once she saw that Kyle was still breathing. There had been so much blood. She suppressed a shudder and quickened her pace to match Cassie’s, tuning into the architecture of the building so she could retrace her steps. She could have found the way there herself, but she kind of didn’t want to freak everyone out by acting like she knew the place after having been there for only a few hours.
The med center took up half the first floor, through some impressive sliding glass doors. Twenty beds were evenly spaced in their own glass cubicle. The black kid was talking with a doctor outside one of the rooms that had curtains drawn. Cassie caught his attention and he waved them over.
“Hi again.” He smiled at Mariah. She smiled back and desperately tried to remember his name.
“Hey, Luke.” Cassie unknowingly helped her out. “Where’s the…guy she was with?”
“Over here.” Luke led them down to the last room.
“How is he?” Mariah asked.
“They got the bullet out without any further damage. They said I saved his life.” He directed this last part at Cassie, eyes a little wide. Cassie smiled and rested a hand on his shoulder.
“How you feel about that?” she asked.
“Pretty good. Guess it’s not as terrible as I thought.” A smile appeared. Mariah got the feeling the expression was a near permanent fixture. “You can go in and see him if you want,” he told Mariah.
She smiled her thanks and tiptoed over to the room. She peeked around the corner, half afraid of what she’d see. She’d never like hospitals.
Kyle was lying in a wide bed, a clean white shirt on. An IV was tucked into the crease of his left arm, replenishing lost blood from a bag hanging beside him. She didn’t know what bothered her more, the blood or his handcuffed wrist resting on top of the blankets.
“Hey, Noodle.” His voice startled her. She stepped up to his side, taking in his pale face.
“Hey. How you feeling?” she asked.
“Kind of crappy.”
She stifled a small giggle and leaned on the bedrail. “I’m just glad you’re not dead.”
“Me too, I guess.” A faint smile appeared.
“Hey, um…thanks for pushing me out of the way. It would probably be me laying there if you hadn’t.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “You convinced them to help me, so we might just be even.”
“They would have helped you,” Mariah didn’t really think Cassie would have just left him there. “You want me to get you out of these?” She tapped the handcuffs.
“No,” he said, but he flexed his wrist inside their confines.
“Come on, you’re not a criminal or anything!”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. “There’s a reason your friend Cassie doesn’t trust me.”
“Amelli’s the freak who made you go after her,” Mariah said. “You said you didn’t want to.”
“Yeah well, you seem to be forgetting that I was there to help kidnap you too. I’m the reason all of this got started.” He didn’t really look at her.
“I know better now,” she said. “I know you.”
“Don’t be stupid, Mariah…”
“Yeah, cause you’re being such a smarty pants right now,” Mariah shot back.
He rolled his eyes and she stuck her tongue out at him.
“Well, I’m on your side and I’m very good at convincing, so we’ll have you out of here in no time,” she said. He half chuckled and shook his head.
“Fine, I’m not going to argue.”
“You’d lose anyway.”
“Mariah?” She turned at the sound of Cassie’s cautious voice. Cassie stood in the doorway, arms crossed, her stance the one she adopted when she was confronting something threatening. Mariah glanced back and forth between Cassie and Kyle. He had much the same expression on his face, though mixed with a good amount of uncertainty.
“Cassie, this is Kyle. Kyle, Cassie.” She made the introduction as she pulled Cassie further into the room. They both broke off their stare down to glance her way. She raised her eyebrows and waited for someone to break the sudden awkward silence. Kyle cleared his throat.
“I’m…sorry for…what I did,” he said. Cassie crossed her arms tighter across her chest.
“Mariah said you didn’t want to. Maybe she’s right, but that doesn’t mean I have to trust you,” she said.
“I know,” Kyle said. “And thanks for getting Luke to help me.”
Cassie jerked her head in a nod. “Captain Santos will decide what to do regarding you. I’m sure Mariah will speak for you.” A smile almost appeared. “You may have helped her, but do anything remotely suspicious, and I’ll take you out myself.” She turned on her heel and left.
Dang. Mariah thought. Cassie had occasionally had some momma bear moments, but this went way beyond that. We’ve all changed.
She turned to Kyle who had something like regret in his expression.
“I’ll talk with her,” she promised.
“Don’t know that it’ll do much good. If they’ll let me go, it might just be better that I leave,” he said.
“Don’t think like that. Friends look out for each other. I’ll bring her around.”
Kyle half smiled and didn’t argue. As Mariah took her leave she wondered if he’d ever really had a friend.