“Afternoon. I’d like to see Ms. Blough.”
“Please print and sign your name on the Visitor’s Log Mr. McGregor.”
“Ye remember me from somewhere?”
“Aye. Here. You stopped by once before to visit our patient, Ms. Blough.”
“Ye have a sharp memory.”
“I do. In any case, you’ll have aboot a thirty minute wait until visiting time begins.”
“Thank you. I’ll wait in the lobby. By the way, what’s yer name?”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you Ms. McKenna. It is miss?”
Settling in a cushioned chair, he waited in silence, occasionally flipping through old magazines. Resting his head against the wall, he closed his eyes for just a beat. When he opened them, he saw Annabelle striding toward him. Immediately he shot up from his rest, closing the gap between he and Annabelle.
“What are ye doing here Annabelle?”
“I stopped by the cabin but you weren’t there, so I came here.”
“Because we need to talk.”
“No is not the time.”
“It’s the perfect time time!”
“Lower yer voice.”
“Don’t tell me to lower my voice!”
“Excuse me, Mr. McGregor?”
“Aye. Cloughda, how’s Rachel?”
“The receptionist asked me to come get ye. Follow me.” Cloughda eyed Annabelle, she knew her all to well. Annabelle fell in step with Brody but was stopped in her tracks. “Only Mr. McGregor is allowed.”
“Excuse me? Cloughda, you know me.”
“Aye, I do. I also ken yer no on the Visitor’s Log. You’d best wait right here.”
Annabelle stood wide-eyed, fuming. How dare she treat her this way?!
“No thanks necessary. But I’ll warn ye this, Annabelle is a rotten soul, rotten to the core. It’s best to part ways with her sooner than later.”
Brody’s brow hitched in surprise but mostly curiosity.
“How do you know Annabelle?”
“I helped raise her. When her ma and da separated, I helped with the bills, made sure Belle got into a good college. I know very well her temperament, and how sneaky she is. Her ma never beat her enough in my opinion. But heed my words aboot her.”
“Now, Ms. Blough’s recently had ‘nother round of treatments so she will be a bit groggy. She really does need her rest so try not to be too long.”
“I’ll make certain not to overextend my visit.”
“Alright. I best be on my way. I’ve other patients to greets.”
Brody pushed open the door and slid inside. Rachel’s was turned away from him, curled in a ball. He could only imagine what she was going through.
“You came again.”
If the room hadn’t been quiet, he’d have missed her faint statement.
“Aye. How’d you know it was me?”
“I just know.”
Turning over to see him made her head swim, and her nauseousness returned.
“Don’t move too much. Cloughda told me you’ve had your treatments. I won’t stay long, I know ye need yer rest.”
He walked over to her bed rails to take a look at her. She’d lost more weight. The white hospital sheets are covering every sharp and jagged bone of her body. He couldn’t stand seeing her this way. What’s more, he could stand seeing tears in her eyes.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“Nah, I’m right where I need to be.”
“How can you bare looking at me? I’m hideous.”
“No yer no. You’re beautiful. You’re the most beautiful woman I know.”
Rachel laughed through her tears wondering if he’d used that line before.
“I’m not, and I don’t want to talk about me anymore. Tell me about you. Are you still teaching these days?”
“I am, yes. I’ve no complaints there.”
Before she could complete her question, Annabelle stormed through the door and into the room.
“McGregor, we need to talk!”
“Annabelle! What the hell are ye doing? Ye can’t just bust in here!”
“This the woman you’ve been visiting, huh?”
Rachel pulled herself to a sitting position and shakily climbed out of bed.
“No Rachel, get back in bed!”
“I’m fine. You could have told me you invited your girlfriend.”
“I didn’t invite her.” he ground out harshly.
“Is this the woman you’ve been two timing me on?”
Both Rachel and Brody looked horrified.
“I’m sorry but you have the wrong idea.”
Brody carefully placed Rachel back in bed and apologized. While settling the sheets and blanket over Rachel, Annabelle pounded Brody’s back with several blows. She grabbed a fist full of his hair and tugged as hard as she could.
“Stop it!” Rachel shouted.
Annabelle kicked Brody’s shin and watched him momentarily hobble around. Approaching Rachel, Annabelle lifted her hand to strike Rachel’s gaunt face but was caught by a hairs breadth. Brody snatched her away and headed for the door when he heard something wet hit the floor. Nurses flooded the room to settle the commotion. They restrained the intruder and seconds later Cloughda walked in surveying the scene. She ran over to check on her patient, wiped her forehead and mouth clean. She asked Rachel to wait just a spell while she took care of Annabelle.
With fire in her eyes, Cloughda turned her attention to their little troublemaker. Brody stepped aside and Cloughda stalked toward Annabelle. Still restrained by two nurses, Annabelle spilled obscenity after obscenity until head nurse Cloughda struck her across the face.
“Dinnae I tell ye to stay outside! You’ve upset my patient! Ye better not show yer face here again, or there will be hell to pay. Get her out of here! Now!”
“Aye head nurse.” both nurses replied in unison.
“I’m sorry. I never imagined Annabelle would do such a thing.”
“I told ye, she’s rotten to the core.”
“I’ll help you clean up here.”
“No. This is my job. I’ll do it. And it’d be best if you take yer leave now.”
“I understand. My I ask a favor?”
“I already know. I’ll keep you informed.”
Brody stood a beat, listening to Rachel’s ragged breathe, then exited the room. It was time to settle things between he and Annabelle and come clean with Rachel.