Cass and Kevin trudged back to the couch as they waited some more. The nurse wanted Annie settled in a post-op room before they could see her... The nurse glanced at the documents, she had known who Kevin was, but she was here to work, not to gossip or speculate. “Well Mr. Richardson, it seems that you do have a child. That’s your business, obviously you don’t want anyone to know.” A second nurse reached for the batch of papers. She didn’t relinquish the folder to the nurse, “I’ll take care of this one...”
“More power to you, I hate the paperwork anyway,” The nurse sputtered as she left the room.
She retrieved a sleeping Annie from the operating room and wheeled her into a private room. “You stay here, I’m going to get your folks.” The folder was still clutched in her hands and wouldn’t leave her possession until she returned them to the records department after she did the transcription for the surgery. The less eyes, the better. She had handled many sensitive cases like this in the past, this was nothing new to her.
Kevin jumped off the couch as the same nurse came back. She waved both of them to follow. Cass looked at A.J., “Come on,” she mumbled.
Kevin again shot A.J. another pissy look.
“I’m going to head home Cass. Call me when you get back to the house.” A.J. began to walk away.
“He’s your friend, stop this. If it wasn’t for him...” Cass’s words were showing signs of her emotional state.
“Aje!” Kevin called him. “Come on man, I’m sorry.”
A.J. stopped, smiled, and followed the two of them and the nurse to Annie’s room.
Cass entered the room slowly not quite sure what to expect. Immediately she went to the side of the bed. She frowned when she saw the white four by four behind her daughter’s ear. Annie was fast asleep, even snoring slightly.
“She snores like you Kev,” A.J. looked at the tiny child in the huge bed.
Kevin corrected him, “I do not snore.”
“Yes you do,” Cass corrected Kevin.
The nurse interrupted all of them. “Ring the buzzer if you need me. When she wakes up, you can take her home, everything is all set.”
Once the door closed, Cass climbed on the bed next to Annie. She wrapped her arms around her and stroked her hair as she slept. “I hope this works baby. I don’t want to see you go through this and it doesn’t work for you.”
Kevin pulled a chair to the other side of the bed. A.J. stood at the bottom of the bed not sure what to say or do for either of them.
“They cut her hair,” Kevin remarked as his long fingers stroked the other side of Annie’s head.
“Kevin, I’ve been thinking...” Cass cradled Annie close.
“’Bout what?” as he scooted his chair closer. He wanted to be as close as possible to her when she woke up.
“We have a break before all of this starts after Annie’s next doctors visit... I was wondering...” Cass stopped as Annie began to stir and murmur in her sleep. Cass softly stroked her hair but it didn’t seem to settle Annie any.
Kevin’s hand now rested on Annie’s tiny one. Gently his fingers rubbed the top of her hand, Annie smiled in her sleep and settled.
That one, small, unplanned interaction between the two had reinforced Cass’s idea. “Kevin, if it is okay with the doctor, I think we should take Annie to Lexington to meet your family and tell her the truth.”
A.J. beamed when she said it, but he was watching Kevin. After all these years, he knew Kevin. He was waiting for the standard ‘Richardson Reaction’. “There he blows,” A.J. laughed as the rapid blinking of Kevin’s eyes was replaced with tears streaming down his face.
Cass dropped her head; ashamed that after all these years she hadn’t seen the real Kevin. Bitterness and anger had fueled her for so long. “If it’s okay with you, that is?”
“Okay?” Kevin croaked deeply. “More than okay Cass... More than okay...”
“I just want her to find out from us and not here, this isn’t home for either of us.” Cass whispered.
“Cass you couldn’t have made me any happier,” Kevin wiped his closed eyes with a tissue. When he opened them, Annie was frowning at him.
“Hey you,” he sniffed and smiled.
Annie signed, ‘why cry?’
A.J. tweaked her toe to get her attention. She watched him through heavy lids. “Because big bad Kevin is a wussy.”
“Is not,” Annie half barked back at him.
“Someone is feeling better,” Cass tapped her cheek. Annie turned her head. “Do you want to go home and sleep or do you want to sleep here?”
“I hurt,” Annie’s harsh voice filled the room. “Go home and sleep in my new room.”
Kevin was two steps short of whistling Dixie, but he knew better. It was finally coming together for him. Everything he had wanted was being set before him. All of if within his grasp.
A.J. tapped his shoulder, “Can I see you outside?”
Cass had begun to help Annie out of bed. She was still woozy from the medicine and Cass was hoping it would stay that way until they reached the home.
“Cass?” Kevin asked.
“Go ahead, we’re fine,” Cass helped Annie sit on the edge of the bed.
“It hurts Mommy...” Annie began to cry.
“I know baby and we’re going to get home as fast as we can,” Cass began to bite her bottom lip. She hated to see her child in pain; no parent ever enjoyed seeing their child in pain.
“It’ll wait, get her home,” A.J. shoved Kevin towards Cass and Annie.
“Thanks Bone, I’ll call you later,” Kevin stepped in to help Cass. Annie had begun to fuss as the nurse walked in.
“Mr. McLean says your ready to go?” She smiled.
“Oh shit,” Kevin whispered under his breath. A look of panic crossed Kevin’s face as he glanced from Annie to Cass. Quickly he stepped in front of Annie before the nurse could speak again.
“It’s fine Mr. Richardson,” she paused. “I have the file right here and I promise you it will go straight to billing and then the records department. Not many people will get the opportunity to read its contents.” The nurse had the instinct and when she was pulled aside by A.J. in the hall, her suspicions were confirmed.
Blowing out a long breath he nodded, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, now you must get moving. Mr. McLean said that he still had the keys to your truck and it would be waiting... double parked of course,” she laughed.
“Aww damn, I thought I got all my keys back from him. Cass remind me to get my...”
“Let’s go Kevin,” Cass poked him in the back.
“Right... right, let’s go baby,” Kevin picked Annie up in his arms as the nurse stood with a wheelchair. Bending down to set her in the chair, she locked her little legs, which barely fit, around his waist. “Annie...” Kevin tried to pull her free.
“Forget it Kevin, just carry her out, you can’t beat that leg lock if you tried, trust me.” Cass shook her head as she walked behind Kevin and Annie. Annie was well aware of what she was doing as she smiled to her Mom. Cass winked at her and Annie squeezed Kevin’s neck even tighter.
Kevin sort of danced down the hall with Annie in his arms. He loved the feeling of holding his baby in his arms. He squeezed her back every time she squeezed him.
Cass more than once caught a fishy smirk from her daughter on the way home. It made her wonder if maybe somehow Annie knew the truth without anyone telling her.
Kevin dropped them off at home and headed to the pharmacy. While she waited for him to return, she began to fix something for them to eat. For Annie, just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she wouldn’t eat anything else when she wasn’t feeling well so there was no sense in trying. Scouring the contents of Kevin’s kitchen Cass came up with the makings of a decent stir-fry once Annie was settled in.
The phone rang, Cass answered it, it was her brother, Gary. “I’m sorry, we just got back.” Cass began to apologize for not calling sooner. They were still talking when Kevin came back. Annie sat in the chair as Kevin proceeded to slip the prescription from the bag. Little Annie was no fool and the gig was up. She was ready to run. Cass smirked and whispered into the phone. She laughed loudly, said goodbye and hung up.
Annie shot from the chair only to be cut off at the kitchen doorway by her Mom. “Turn around, you’re taking it and you won’t give us a hard time.”
Annie’s head shook furiously back and forth.
“Yes you are,” Cass walked towards her. “You need it, you’re going to take it until it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
Again, Annie’s head did the same action.
A tap on her shoulder made Annie turn around. “Don’t give your Mom a hard time or me. Open up.” Kevin stood there with the spoon fully loaded.
Annie didn’t budge.
Kevin smiled, “I’ll make a deal, you take it and when you’re all better. We’ll have a tea party, get dressed up, the whole enchilada.”
Cass couldn’t believe it when Annie’s mouth opened wide enough to fly a 747 into it.
“Good girl,” Kevin patted her head as he walked over to the sink. Rinsing the spoon off he set it in the drain. “Now let’s go read a story and you can get some sleep.”
Off they went leaving Cass standing in the kitchen with her mouth hanging open. “I’ll be damned... a tea party... all the ear infections... antibiotics... steroids... tubes... and he gets off with a freakin’ tea party.”
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