Scarlett stared blankly at her computer screen, willing the numbers to make sense. As usual, when her stress level reached its zenith, she found solace behind her desk at work. Losing herself in the predictability and unchanging world of formulas and equations. Two plus two would always equal four, seven times three would always equal twenty-one. Today, she sat in front of them, comprehending nothing and relaxing in the mundane simplicity of the neatly placed black numbers that lay unmoving on her screen.
Her office had grown stuffy in her absence. Had it always smelled this way, she questioned. The potted azalea that one of her clients had given her was dead. Its brown leaves added a wilting sense of despondency to her already depressed mood. She was surprised that it lived this long.
Suddenly, the dead plant took on new meaning to her. She walked to the window sill where the plant was housed and felt the soil in the pot. Dry. Bone dry. No one had watered it in weeks and in the few times she came to the office herself, she had forgotten as well. She ran her fingers over that ceramic lip of the pot. She was responsible for its care and as with so many things in her life, she couldn't count on anyone else to help her carry the load. Once again, she was left solely responsible - the one who had to do the dirty work, the one who had to buoy others' spirits by ignoring what she felt. She was dying inside. Crumbling under the state of her marriage, Wade and Ella's relationship with Rhett, Phillipe being in Atlanta and trying to contact her. Her fake dimpled smile led them all to believe that everything was fine; that she was okay, that everything would be okay. She brought the dead plant into her lap as she sat in the nearby chair and cried.
There was a soft knock on her door. "Aunt Scarlett?"
She ran her index finger underneath her eyes to remove any mascara residue that had become entwined with her tears. She sniffed back her remaining sobs. "Yes"
"Here are the proposals. I hope they're okay." Beau handed her three documents, all professional in their prestation, with a blue background and the company logo emblazed on the covers. Scarlett flipped through them, checking the boxes in her head to see that they contained everything needed. "You are worth your weight in gold, Beau. These are perfect." Scarlett was never one to bestow compliments without them being earned. Beau, knowing this about his aunt, beamed with pride.
"You're sure you don't want me to sit in on the meeting with you?" Since his mother's death, his Aunt Scarlett had been like a mother to him. And like her other, biological children, he monitored her closely- now even closer than usual after what happened with Rhett. "No, the state has been hounding us to speak with me. If I put them off any longer, I'm afraid they'll chose another company and we honestly can't afford to lose their business."
"Are we in financial trouble, Aunt Scarlett?"
She looked at his young and handsome face, so eager to please, such a determined worker. Financial trouble? Money was only the start of her troubles. No. I just need to enough for a life on my own with three kids left to raise. Your Uncle Rhett is packing his things as we speak.
" No, honey. We're fine. But one thing I've learned to be true 100% of time is that it's always good to have a nice stockpile stored away. Supply and demand can fluctuate. One minute you're up, the next you're down. Never count on future investments or earnings. If the money's not in the bank, it doesn't exist. Remember that, Beau."
The speaker on her office phone crackled with life. There was no voice coming through, only static-filled white noise. Hugh. After all this time, he still didn't know how to work the damn phones. She had even placed sticky notes on the intercom buttons that said things like: PUSH ME FIRST and PUNCH IN EXTENSION HERE.
"What, Hugh?" Her voice was flat as she questioned his need.
"There's someone out here to see you and I even remembered to ask his name this time." There was a period of silence.
"Do you intend on sharing this information with me or do you plan on keeping it for your own personal use?" She lifted her green eyes to Beau in frustration, who in turn, tried to stifle his laughter.
Since coming to work here, he had a hard time comprehending how his Aunt Scarlett had never fired Hugh. He was a complete moron. Just last week he had come into Beau's office proudly displaying his new lower back tattoo. He said that it was a Chinese symbol meaning warrior.
"Hugh! Where did you get this tattoo? It's infected!"
"No, it's okay. They said this would happen and to just keep it clean and dry."
"No. That's not normal. "
Beau pulled Hugh into Scarlett's office for a second opinion. "Aunt Scarlett, look at this.", he said as he turned Hugh around and lifted his shirt to expose the puss- oozing ink. "Oh! "she said, leaning as far back in her desk chair as she could. "You need to go to urgent care right now. That's really infected."
Very few people knew that she had her own "tramp-stamp"- a four leaf clover resulting from a drunken night with her sisters. They each had one.
Hugh winced as his shirt was lowered. "No. Not necessary. My tattoo means warrior. What kind of warrior goes to the hospital for a little infection?" Scarlett removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. "The kind that doesn't want to die. Go. Now. Or you're fired." Hugh reluctantly left; headed to urgent care and the inevitable prescription of high dosage anti-biotics.
"What would posses him to get a lower back tattoo anyway?", Beau asked as he watched Hugh collect his things and head to the elevator. Scarlett rested her elbows on her deck and laid her forehead in the hollow of her palm. "Who knows. I've stopped looking for meaning when it comes to Hugh a long time ago. He said it means warrior?" She shook her head. "That tattoo probably means: insert below."
"It's the developer for the state. Should I send him in?"
"You're sure you don't want me to stay?" Beau asked again. Scarlett shook her head no and gave her nephew a kiss on his cheek. "I'll be fine. I know where to find you if I need you." Beau lingered a minute longer. He wanted to ask her about Bonnie. Ask her if she had said anything to her about him, about them.
She had refused to speak to him for weeks after her conversation with Anne. She blocked him from her on all the social media sites. Every time he went to the house she wasn't there or refused to come down. He tried to talk to her at the stables, meeting her there as he had before - only to have him escorted off the property for trespassing. "You're disturbing the riders and they need to concentrate.", the man had said as he pushed him toward the exit. Beau could see Bonnie in the distance. Her chin was raised in defiance and superiority as she sat, perfectly poised, atop a glistening thoroughbred.
As a last ditch effort, he asked his Aunt if he could help her out by picking up the kids from school. It wasn't an ideal situation of course. He'd have Cat and Gerry in the car too, but it was the only way he could think of to talk to her. Plus, he knew her school day ended about thirty minutes before her siblings, so at least there was some time for them to speak privately.
He sat in his truck, feeling like a sleaze-ball, waiting outside her high school. His breath caught as he saw her walk out of the bright, blue doors. She was as beautiful as ever and incredibly sexy in the private school uniform she wore. "Bonnie!", he yelled out of his open window to get her attention. She looked in the direction of the sound and scowled as she noticed him. For the rest of his life, Beau would consider the walk Bonnie sulkily made to his truck that day one of the most erotic moments he had ever experienced. She leaned into the open window, smelling of vanilla and mint. "Are you stalking me now?"
"Your mom asked if I could bring you home. Get in."
She slammed the door as she flopped down in the front seat. "This truck still stinks. I suggest you get one of those car clips with air-freshener before you pick up your girlfriend." She turned to look out of the window and fingered the hem of her skirt. She didn't look at him once. She couldn't. She wouldn't let him see her cry.
Beau wanted to pull her into his arms, to kiss her, to tell her he was crazy about her and only her, but he knew that her response would not be one he welcomed. As much as Bonnie hated to hear it, she was her mother made over. And Beau knew, better than most, that his aunt's typical reaction to emotional hurt was violence. He pulled the truck into gear and merged onto the coming traffic. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Anne isn't my girlfriend. I don't know why she said that."
"Whatever. It's immaterial to me what she is to you." She knew she didn't sound convincing, but this was the best she could do. Beau let out a frustrated huff of air and pulled the truck over onto the side of the road and faced her. "Look at me. I am not in a relationship with Anne or with anyone else for that matter."
Her brows were furrowed in anger. The sloping black arches brought up the tips of her eyes even more than usual.
"How could I be, when I'm in love with you? "
She blinked in rapid succession. Her thick eyelashes fluttering before him. "In love with me?", she questioned in disbelief as her blue eyes began spilling over with tears.
"Believe me, I've tried to talk myself out of it, but I can't. I love you, Bonnie. You and your vain, spoiled, selfish, temperamental, hard-headed ways. I know this isn't going to be easy. We're practically related and I'm five years older than you, not to mention what Wade or your father will think or say, but I love you. I really love you."
She was silent at his admission.
"Say something.", he begged her.
She unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned toward him. "Kiss me. Before you try and talk yourself out of it."
Their lips meet in urgent fervor; quickly increasing in passion and need. Their breath was intermingling in loud gasps for air interspersed with whimpers and moans. Beau gently pushed back her shoulders to separate them. This was leading somewhere else – somewhere he was not willing to go with her, not for some time. Her eyes were bright, her lips swollen, as she repeated those three little words back to him.
"I love you too; you red-necked, hillbilly kidnapper. More than I ever thought was possible."
Scarlett ran her fingers through her hair and smoothed the strands into pace. She did a quick check of her makeup and pinched her cheeks. "Send him in, Hugh."
As soon as he walked through her door, she froze. A huge smile spread across his handsome face. It was so infectious that she couldn't keep from smiling too. "Is this a joke?"
He walked toward her, his gait as regal as his accent, and brought her hand to his lips. "Good morning. My name's Richard Fenton. I'm the developer of the new housing units for the state." He smiled at her again. He was living proof that men could be beautiful." And you are?", he questioned her playfully.
"Very surprised." She was so glad she decided to get properly dressed today. For the last few days, weeks almost, she barely had enough energy to change out of her yoga pants and brush her teeth. Grief does that to you. But today, she looked like her normal, gorgeous self. Never let them see you sweat.
"It's nice to meet you, Miss very surprised. May I sit down?"
"Please. I believe we have some proposals for you to consider, Mr. Fenton."
"With pleasure, madame."
She like this little game they were playing. It felt flirty and even a bit sexy to pretend that they didn't know one another. A type of role-playing.
Rhett had tried to suggest role-playing a few times throughout their marriage. He'd come up with elaborate scenarios for them to act out. Usually Scarlett listened, never intending to actually do any of them. Some of them included things that she was sure were illegal, not to mention immoral.
"You want to role play?" she asked him after a long oration about a fantasy he wanted them to enact." Okay. I'll play the exhausted wife who goes to sleep after working for 12 hours straight today, and you'll be the idiot husband who suggests role-playing to her at 10:30 on a Tuesday night."
"That's a very elaborate scenario, but I guess it'll work."
"Rhett, I swear, if you try and wake me up to have sex, I'm going to attach a pair of jumper cables to your testicles."
He never asked her to role-play again.
Suddenly, the memory turned sour. Did he role-play with those other women? Is that the reason he cheated on her so often and with so many women? Because she didn't meet his needs?
After the discovery of his relationships with Orset and Castellion, she demanded that he inform her of any other sexual skeletons he had hiding in his closet. Her Uncle Henry had been there with her. "It's for the best, Rhett. We want to be prepared to handle it in case any other women come forward. Be proactive so to speak."
There were five. One even occurring after Cat was born. After they gave their marriage a second shot. And these were the only ones she had proof of. There could be more. There probably were. Rhett swore there weren't, but she didn't believe him. She no longer believed anything that came out of his mouth.
There was no elevation or emotion in her voice when she told him to pack his things and to get out of her house.
Richard had noticed the change in her mood. Damn her expressive face! "Are you okay, Scarlett? If you'd rather I work with someone else, just tell me. It'd be fine."
"Don't be silly. I'm fine. It's just been a long morning."
She spread the three proposals across her desk for him. This was a tactic she always used with clients. She would quote them one price, a low one, always undercutting the competition. Once they had signed the contract with the builder, she would have them in to view three proposals at varying levels of cost. There would be the initial quote-a bare-boned approach to the job, the moderate one – with a more than moderate increase in price, and the premium one that spared no expense and included all the bells and whistles. Almost everyone chose the moderate one. More than expected, she was even able to get customers to go premium. A little flash of cleavage and a sultry narrowing of her eyes was typically all it took.
She noticed her engagement ring as she shifted the documents and felt a sob rising in her throat. She berated herself for this inopportune display of emotion. Stop this, Scarlett O' Hara! Pull yourself together. This is no time to lose your shit. Even her inward debasement of self wasn't strong enough to stop it. She gripped the edge of her desk with one hand and brought the other up to cover her face and cried. "I'm sorry, Richard. I'm just not in a good place right now."
"Here", he said softly while handing her his handkerchief.
"I'm usually not like this.", she cried into the soft cotton as she sat down. "I'm sure you've seen the news about my husband's infidelity." He gave a slight nod. "Thank you for not pretending you hadn't seen it.
"Well, I just found out that there were five other women he slept with. Five! And this is not including the full-on mistress that I knew about." Richard remained silent as she continued. "We're separating. I told him this morning that I wanted him out of my house before I get home from work today.
Five other women." She whispered as she wiped her nose and lifted her tear stained face up at Richard.
"I'm so sorry, I don't know why I told you all of this. I'm turning into a lunatic. I'll completely understand if you want to go with another lumber supplier, Richard."
"It's fine. Really. I'm sorry you're going through this. "He lifted his palm to indicate that she keep the soiled handkerchief as she tried to hand it back to him. "Luke's mother, my ex-wife Charlotte, was… is…. an addict. I came home from work one day to find her in bed with a man. One of many, whom I later found out, paid her with drugs for sex. She was high as a kite. They both were. They didn't even stop having sex when I came in the room. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was when she told me that she had no idea where she had left Luke. He was four months old at the time. He wasn't in the flat and she couldn't remember where she had been earlier so that we could retrace her steps. I was sure he was dead. It was the middle of December and it had been raining off and on all day. I found him - three hour later, asleep in his pram, in only a nappy and covered by a towel, which was left under a tree in St. James' park. She refused to get help and after we divorced, she skipped town and we haven't seen or heard from her ever since. I know it's not the same of course, but I do think I partially understand your heartbreak. I know how devastating it is when the person you love more than anything turns into a complete stranger."
Scarlett reached across her desk and took his hand in hers. "Thank you for telling me this, Richard. I think that more than anything right now, I just need someone to understand and to talk to."
He smiled at her; his own eyes beginning to glisten. "Anytime. And for your information, Miss very surprised, I will not be taking my, or more accurately – the states', business elsewhere."
"Well then," she smiled, "let's get down to business, shall we?"
At her insistence, he decided on the moderate plan. "The basic one is really crap and the premium one is just silly little things included to drive up the price. Pick the moderate one. It's the best.", she told him honestly. They began discussing the details of project, how much lumber would be needed and the difference in the types of pre-treatment they could do and established a time-line for completion.
Neither of them seemed to notice that throughout the entire time, they were still holding hands.
She felt lighter when Richard left. Not whole by any means, but a little more put together. She felt as if she were now able to talk to her son. She knew that he would not handle her tears well. He had arrived with his fiancé a week earlier and came at Rhett with so much anger that she thought it best that he and Aimee stay with Aunt Pitty and Uncle Peter until things calmed down. "Siri, call Wade."
Wade answered immediately. He had once-again assumed the role of her protector and was available to her at a moment's notice.
"Hi, honey. Can you do me a big favor? Ella has Bonnie, Cat, and Gerry with her today, but she has to go somewhere with Taz tonight, so I was wondering if she could drop them off to you around six and then Aimee and you could maybe take them out to dinner or something before bringing them back home around ten?" He agreed but questioned her need to have his younger siblings out of the house all day. She didn't want to lie to him, but neither did she want to go into the details. "I just do. Please, Wade. We'll talk about this later, okay?" He ended the conversation the way he always did. I love you, mama.
She glanced up at the ceiling, and speaking to heaven said, "We have created a wonderful man, Charlie."
She hated the idea of having to go home. She didn't know which would hurt worse, seeing Rhett leaving or seeing all his belongings gone. She turned off her laptop and shoved it into her bag. She called out to Beau that she was leaving for the day before noticing a man sitting alone in the lobby. He was walking up to her; slightly smiling and determined. He was young, probably around the same age as Wade.
"Katie Scarlett O' Hara Butler?"
He thrust a document towards her. "Consider yourself served."
"Unbelievable". She mouthed the word to herself as she drove. She wanted to call Michael and tell what a piece of shit she thought he was and question his motives. It wasn't as though Mammy had millions stowed away. Yes, she had a sizeable amount of cash left due to her assets, but nothing that would justify taking them to court. "Do not call him, Scarlett. Leave this to me." Henry had said.
"You told me that all we had to do was file some paperwork and this would over because Georgia does not follow the Probate Code! Simple and done with, you said! This," she waved the summons in her hand in the air "is not simple and done with, Uncle Henry!"
"Call Sue." She said the words clearly and with the smallest amount of accent that she could muster. She couldn't believe that with all the technological advances out there in the world, they still hadn't created computers capable of deciphering the southern accent.
"Hellllo" Will answered with his typical sing-song voice.
She was so grateful for Will. Just hearing his voice made her feel calmer. He was so much more than a brother in law. Sue really didn't deserve him.
"Will, I was just served court papers at work. Michael is fucking suing us. He's suing us! This imbecile is taking us to court over Mammy's will. He's claiming that we, that I especially, placed her under undue distress and made her leave us everything in her will. He's even saying that my actions were racially motivated. RACIALLY MOTIVATED! Can you fucking believe this !?"
She could hear Will shifting the tobacco around in his mouth and spitting the juice out. As much as she loved Will, she was disgusted with his "dipping" habit and always told him so.
"He's suin' us all? As a group or as in'vduals?"
If her car had trouble understanding her, there was no way it would ever be able to decipher anything that came out of Will's mouth.
"It says", she began reading the document while taking furtive glances at the road. "In the superior court of Fulton county, state of Georgia: Michael James McDaniel, plaintiff, versus Katie Scarlett O' Hara Butler, Susan Elinor O' Hara Benteen, and Caroline Irene O' Hara Tarleton, defendants. Where's Sue? I need to talk to her."
"She taken' a lil' reast. She's bin a lil' green unner the gills dis mornin'."
"What does she have now, Ebola?" Suellen was a well known hypochondriac.
Will laughed a nervous chuckle. " Not par-tic-u-lar-ly sick. It's jus that… Well…..She's in a fix again."
"Again?! I swear, you two are like freaking rabbits."
"But it mite be a boy this tyme, Scarlett!"
Fabulous. Sue and Will could barely stay afloat as it is. And that was with Scarlett paying almost half their bills. Plus, they lived FOR FREE in Tara. Rhett paid off its mortgage for her as a wedding present. Now they would have seven kids. Not to mention that the baby would probably be another girl. She knew Suellen would want her to tell Careen too. "It's just too upsetting for me.", she'd say to Scarlett. "Please do this for me, Sissy."- resorting back to calling her Sissy again. Manipulative bitch- she only did it when she wanted something. She knew Scarlett refused her nothing when she did that. It reminded her of when they were little and she'd look at her with her big, scared eyes. "What do we do now, Sissy?" She'd be the one to tell Careen and watch her pretend to be happy for Sue and Will- be her usual sweet self. Inwardly though, she would be dying. And Scarlett would have to be the one to get her through it. As usual.
"Congratulations, Will. Tell 'Michelle Duggar' over there to call me when she feels better."
Scarlett pulled the sun visor down to shield her eyes from the piercing Georgia sun. She had an epic migraine. The kind that would get so intense that she could only find relief in a freezing dark room, losing touch with reality with the help of a Percocet. She started feeling sick; her stomach lurching at each stab pain to her temples.
What a fitting end to the day, she thought. Separating from her husband, crying like a fool in front of a client, getting sued, Sue pregnant again, having to tell Careen about it, and now – vomiting in the car. Wonderful. She lowered her window, hoping that the cool air would settle her stomach. As she turned toward the entry to the front gate of her neighborhood, she felt and heard the sound of her wheels scrapping the curb.
"You okay there, Miz Butler?", the attendant asked as she pulled up to the gatehouse. She tried to say she was fine; that all she needed was to lie down. She could hear herself mumbling to him, making incoherent sounds as the sunlight and noise overtook her. She was having trouble seeing him. He looked blurry all of a sudden- almost as if she were viewing him through a haze. Her head suddenly felt very heavy. She could barely keep her eyes open. The last thing she remembered was the attendant yelling her name and reaching into her car to grab her.
"Scarlett. Scarlett can you hear me?" Her eyes fluttered open to see Gordon Meade standing before her. "You're in the ER. You fainted.", he said as he shone a pen light into her eyes. "When was the last time you ate something. You're way too thin."
She blinked to regain her bearings against the blindingly bright, overhead florescent light. He repeated his question to her.
"Are you starving yourself?"
When was the last time she ate something? Food was the last thing on her mind. Looking back, the last thing she remembered eating was a package of fruit snacks … two days ago. And Gordon was right. She was too thin. She had always been slender, but now, she was downright skinny. Ugly skinny. The kind that makes you look emaciated, your hair and skin dull, your eyes hollowed- out. Complete despair is really the best diet known to mankind, she thought. She could picture the ads: Want to shed a few pounds? Catch your husband cheating on you! Get sued! The weight will fly off!
"I've had a lot on my mind, Gordon, that's all."
"Lean forward." He said as he reached under her shirt and pressed the cold stethoscope to her back. "Breathe in. Again. One more time. "He made a grunt-like, humming sound. "Does it hurt when I do this?" He pressed at her side. She winced at the sharp pain. She laid back after enduring more poking and prodding and embarrassing questions about her last menstrual cycle and the possibility of her being pregnant. Gordon put his hands in his pocket and gave her a stern look. His hair and beard were now completely white. He reminded her of Colonel Sanders.
She was certain that Gordon had heard all the juicy gossip about her and Rhett from his wife. One of the biggest problems living in the south was that everyone knew each other's business. And now he would give her some ridiculous lecture on fidelity in marriage and proper nutrition.
"I know you're going through a lot right now, but you need to take better care of yourself. What if you'd passed out while driving on the highway and crashed into a bunch of kids walking home from school? What if you had your own kids in the car? You need to think, Scarlett. Your actions affect other people."
She nodded her head in understanding. He was right.
"And I don't like the way your lungs sound. Has it been hurting to breathe?"
Gordon ran his hand through his hair as he sat on the end of the stiff hospital bed. "Look at me, young lady." She shamefully obliged. "Your left lung has never fully healed. You suffered a severe traumatic pneumothorax in your accident. There is still a big chance your lung could all of a sudden collapse. You know what happens if it does?"
"That's right, you die. You also have a stent in your aorta. What happens if your stress level causes your blood pressure to sky-rocket and completely tears it?"
"You have no spleen. Which means you are ten times more likely to get extremely sick and are highly susceptible to infectious diseases. What happens if you contract a serious illness like viral pneumonia or even a bad case of the flu and don't get immediate treatment?"
"I die." She looked down the circular wet dots that formed on the blanket as her tears fell from her cheeks.
"You almost died in your accident. Died. That's how bad it was. I honestly did not think you'd make it. I told Melanie and Ruth that they needed to prepare for the worst. It was a miracle you came through it. "
Gordon Meade, being an ER doctor, had begged that day to be allowed to scrub in for her surgery- if only to watch. He'd known Scarlett since she was a baby. He couldn't send her in there alone. When they cracked open her chest, he had to steady himself for what he saw. Her ribs were not just broken, they were crushed; piercing into both her lungs and heart. The internal bleeding alone was enough to kill her. They had to put her on bypass. He stood in the back of the operating room and prayed harder than he had ever prayed in his life.
When he walked into the waiting room filled with people to let them know that the baby had been delivered and was being rushed to the NICU, they all could see it in his face; the graveness of the situation. He clenched his jaw as he handed Rhett her wedding rings and earrings – the gold and precious stones not allowed in surgery.
"I killed her." he kept repeating. Melanie had been trying to comfort him, telling him that it was an accident, that he didn't kill her. That it was no one's fault. Gordon Meade, known to be one of the kindest and most empathetic doctors in Atlanta, simply glared at him.
"You know, Rhett, even if she makes it, which I honestly doubt she will, she'll never be the same. These injuries will follow her for the rest of her life."
"I want you to hear this and remember." He lowered himself to be near Rhett's ear. "You – and you alone, have destroyed her."
He squeezed her hand in support. "There are limits to what you can do. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for those kids. Where would they be without you?" She shook her head; she didn't even with to think about that. Gerry and Cat were still practically babies.
"I know. I will, Gordon. I'll do better. For them, I'll do whatever I need to do."
"Good girl. Now, Julia is going to come in and give you a shot of Ceftriaxone and I'm sending over a prescription for Rocephin. That should also help to increase your appetite. You need to gain weight. You barely meet the BMI index for a fourteen year old girl. Are you out of your Lisinopril?" She nodded. "I'm sending that over too. I want you to follow up with Dr. Fontaine in five days, understand?"
She smiled and thanked him as he gathered up his chart and papers.
"Gordon?" she stopped him." Was I brought here in an ambulance? Do you know what happened to my car?"
"No. Some man brought you in. "He flipped the papers on his clipboard. "A Phillipe Robillard? Said he was a friend of the family. He was behind you the entire time. Saw the whole thing. He's still out there in the waiting room. Do you want me to send him in?"
She leaned back against the raised part of the bed and took in a deep breath. "Yeah, you can send him in."