Chapter 26

Cass sat on the couch in the surgical waiting room.  Her emotions were jumbled and raw.  Kevin sat next to her reading an outdated issue of Cosmopolitan.

Last night had been her mistake, not his.  She woke early out of habit.  Her head nestled in the crook of his arm, his arm wrapped around her holding her close to him.  A strange mix of feelings came washing over her.  One of comfort and one of trepidation. 

Cass slipped from the bed and the room.  The last thing Annie needed to see was the two of them sharing a bed.

Both of the adults were at a loss for words.  They went about getting ready and then waking Annie at the last minute.  The three of them made the journey to the hospital.  Once checked in, they stayed together as long as possible.  At the last minute, Annie became afraid, she didn’t want to leave them.  The staff let both Kevin and Cass go to the pre-op room and wait with her until she fell asleep. 

Kevin was moved at what a trooper his daughter was, she was doing fine until the pre-op anesthetic.  She was truly brave in his eyes.  Once Annie dropped off, Kevin and Cass were ushered out into the Surgical-Waiting suite.

Now Kevin’s stomach rumbling was hard to overlook as they waited.  The first few she ignored, but then it became increasingly louder.  “Will you go get something to eat...   You’re driving me crazy.”

“Nah, I’ll eat later,” Kevin turned the page of the magazine.  Another rumble and a few people turned to look at him.  Kevin was used to people staring at him but not for this reason.  Clearing his throat to control his embarrassment, he set the magazine down.  “Um, maybe I’ll go get a bagel or something.  What do you want?”

“Nothing,” as Cass leaned back into the couch. 

“You need to have something, it’s going to be awhile.”  A hand rested on her knee.

A hand picked Kevin’s hand off Cass’s knee.  Both of them looked up to see A.J. standing in front of them with a McDonald’s bag in his hand.  “Egg McMuffin, Your favorite.”  His smile could have lit up the room as he balanced the drink tray in his other hand.

“Bone what are you doing here?”  Kevin’s eyes narrowed as his hand settled back on Cass’s thigh this time.

“Annie is having surgery, Cass is my friend.... you’re my friend.  Why wouldn’t I be here?”  A.J. sat down on the other side of Cass.  A smile a mile wide plastered on his face.  Kevin wasn’t pleased.  Kevin could get over it as far as A.J. was concerned. 

Leaning forward, Cass rubbed her face with both hands.  This was getting more and more complicated by the minute.  The more she tried to pull away from the men that flanked her the more they held on, tightly.  Now they were leaning way back into the couch having a silent argument between each other.  It couldn’t been any more obvious if they were five years old.  Kevin didn’t want A.J. there and A.J. wasn’t leaving.

“Someday you two will grow up and understand that I don’t want either of you.”  Cass spoke only loud enough for both of them to hear.  Standing, up she left the room for a little walk up and down the corridor.

“What the hell are you doing here?  I told everyone to stay away from here,” Kevin began dressing down A.J. as soon as Cass had the left room.

“I think Cass needs me,” A.J. stretched his legs out.

“Cass doesn’t need you, she has me,” Kevin hissed at him as he leaned in very close.

“Cass doesn’t want you,” A.J. smirked.

“She might if you would back off, give us some space,” Kevin’s words were growled rather than spoken.

A.J.’s head bobbed up and down as his leg’s crossed.  “Oh I see now, you’re waiting for the right time to move in.”

Kevin slid closer to A.J., “FYI junior, I made my move last night.  She was more than willing.”

“That’s low Kev, that’s really low, even for you.  Taking advantage of Cass when she is upset.”  A.J. thought Kevin had much more respect for Cass than that.

“She came to me, not the other way around.”  Kevin poked him the shoulder with his finger.  A.J. didn’t need the details that the entire episode was born out of emotional excess, it was none of his business but he did need to be set straight.  “I won’t hurt her again, not like before.  I’m here if she needs me for anything.  Can you say that?”

A.J. began to laugh; Kevin was insulted.  The pissing match was abruptly ended when Cass re-entered the room.

Sitting down again between them she smiled, “Are we done now children?”

“Yes,” they both grunted quietly. 

Cass looked into the bag, there was only one sandwich.  Pulling it from the bag, she unwrapped the greasy glob.  Tearing meal in what she deemed to be half she handed part of it to Kevin.  “Eat this, I want you to stay here in case they come back.”

Kevin beamed a mega-watt smile.  When he thought Cass wasn’t looking, he stuck his tongue out at A.J.  The words, ‘Grow up Kevin’ from Cass forced his tongue back in his mouth quickly.

An hour and half later the surgeon’s nurse came to tell them that they were almost done and that the doctor would be out to speak with them soon.  A collective sigh of relief came from the three of them when the nurse gave them a genuine smile and told them, “It’s look good.”

A heavy arm dropped around her shoulder and squeezed her almost to the point of pain.  Casually she turned her head to look at the person.  Kevin’s eyes were now misty with tears, he had been just as worried and upset as she was, now he just as relieved.  Reaching up she squeezed his arm back.  “She’s going to be just fine, Dad.” 

Cass watched the tears dry up and the look of pride that came over him.  She didn’t know what had told her to use that particular word, but she had a gut instinct that Kevin needed to be re-assured, at least between them.  This morning could have been disastrous had Kevin brought up what took place between them.  He hadn’t uttered one word about it as he made her a cup of coffee and announced that he was going to wake up Annie.  He could have taken that opportunity to push and shove her but he hadn’t.  He could have showed her the door afterwards, but he hadn’t.  Instead, he tenderly wrapped his arms around her and told her he was just as scared as she was but he was sure that things would work out.

A.J.’s ears perked up when he heard her use the ‘D’ word.  He was cocky as hell on the inside.  After the time they had spent together at the ranch, A.J. had no doubt that if these two people could just drop the past and move on, they had a shot at having a decent relationship.  Finding out that they had ‘got it on’ last night just proved to him that Cass was beginning to let go.  Kevin needed to slow down though; he was looking for everything that he hadn’t gotten in his last relationship.  If he continued to move at this pace, there would be nothing for him to salvage.  Cass would leave and take Annie with her.  A.J.’s mind began to spin out all the awful things that could happen.  Kevin would get a lawyer; everything would be blown up in the public eye.  It would get nasty and uncontrollable for all of them.  Annie would be stuck in the middle and still not know who her real father was.  A.J. had a plan to slow things down just a little.  “Yep, I guess it’s up to me.”

Two people turned to look at him, both of them asked the same question.  “What is up to you?”

A.J. surveyed the two of them as they waited for the doctor to come back.  All the signs were there, they were actually holding hands.  Well Kevin was holding Cass’s and bouncing it up and down on her knee.  Cass didn’t seem to mind and welcomed the security of it.  “Hmm oh, nothing, just thinking.”

“That’s scary,” Kevin snorted.

A.J. remained seated as he watched Kevin and Cass jump up like soldiers.  A man came out wearing green scrubs.  “No doubt who that is,” A.J. whispered to himself.

“Miss Collins, Mr. Richardson,” the man offered his hand.  “It went great, I can’t say much more that that.  Everything went smoothly and as planned.”  The doctor ushered both of them out to the hall. 

Kevin stood giving the man his full attention and listened, as well as Cass.

“We’ll see Annie in two days for a post-op appointment in my office.  She’ll have two weeks off, no swimming, no water around the incisions.  Part of the headset and speech processor is fitted then.  We have come to find out that if we wait two weeks instead of doing it immediately we have a better success.  The swelling has gone down by then and the children are much more comfortable with the magnets. “

“When do we see the audiologist?”  Kevin was mentally running his schedule in his mind, he knew he would encounter some snags but they could be worked around.  Cass didn’t like driving in Los Angeles, his white knuckle ride with her yesterday, proved it beyond a doubt.

”After two weeks the audiologist will obtain soft and comfortable listening levels for each of the electrodes and uses this information to create a MAP or program.  The fitting is done over several days.  Annie will be seen two to three times a week for the first month and one or two times a week for the next two months to obtain a stable MAP.

“Okay,” Kevin nodded.  This was a long haul, his eyes darted to Cass, wondering if she would balk and then run.

“We will be in your office in two days,” Cass smiled warmly.  She had some thinking to do but not here and not now.

“What about pain?”  Kevin didn’t care for the fact that it hadn’t been mentioned. 

The surgeon gave him a nod, “There’s a prescription for pain in her discharge packet.  If you need anything else call my office.”  Shaking the parents hands he walked away. 

A.J. watched from the sidelines.  His take was that the doctor was animated and happy, that was good sign.  A nurse joined them with paperwork, which Kevin signed.  The doctor left and while the nurse continued going over the paperwork.  She was handing sheets and slips of paper to both parties involved. 





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