Free to a Good Home, Book 2 of the Heartbeat Series

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17. Aftermath

Voices in the CICU hallway woke Maia from the drug-induced conspiracy to chill her out so her heart could slip into a resting rhythm. With her middle finger, the one that wasn’t as swollen and sensitive as the rest, she pressed the button on the bed and adjusted it to move it from an incline to a sitting position. Peering out into the hallway, she still did not see or hear Joey there. If he wasn’t in here, he was out there, chatting with the nurses. He seemed like he was in his element here. She wondered if he was still a nurse somewhere other than just on Paul’s tour. He’d seem like he would be good at it. Maia sighed. Still, no Joey.

She stared at the nurse’s station, wishing Joey would just walk in here with a Coke and that silly smirk on his face after being with them. Maia just watched them working out there, not saying anything. Right now, Maia just had to lie there and do nothing. She could hear Jimmy tell her to focus on her breathing, grateful for breath. As Maia tried to concentrate with the rhythm of the monitors, she attempted to focus on the sounds of the chromatic scales in her head, concentrate on the fingerings, refuse to give in to self-pity. She was going to be successful. Famous, a classical recording artist who toured the world and played with the greatest symphonies on the globe. She couldn’t be any of that dead. She would heal herself. Force her body to recuperate. Somehow, she would figure out how to recalibrate her whole system.

How she needed to recalibrate. She hadn’t been able to do it since they left. Maia wished she could, but she couldn’t do it on her own. Not without his guidance. Every day since they left her had all been too much for her. Way too much, and every day she fought a way to balance but recalibrate herself, she just couldn’t do it. Chaos would stand in her way of success and she couldn’t stand this disturbance of her chi. Resenting their departure and absence only made it worse. Thoughts of Jimmy pushing his way onto her piano bench, he’d envelop both of her hands in his long thin ones, he would talk her through her frustration. Recalibrate with him there, hearing her breath, winding up the metronome and establishing the meter of the rudiment and making her visualize it before she attempted it again. She never told Jimmy, but it did more than recalibrate her music. Maybe, if she told him how much it meant to her, how much of a difference it made, he wouldn’t have wanted to go to France. He’d work the Renaissance circuit once again that Summer. Once more, she tried to focus on her breath and the rhythm of the monitors as a lullaby until she slipped into a brief catnap.

Hearing a call bell in an adjacent room woke her with a start as a medical assistant’s shoes squeaked on the tile floor as she crossed in front of Maia’s doorway to go to the next room. The ward seemed to have calmed down since “IT” happened. Almost as calm as it was before that morning.

She wondered how Paul was faring with the press, now that his mother tried to off the little media sensation that burst into his life less than a week ago. The brother she always wanted would forever resent her for sending his mother to prison. There would be no hope now of them ever having the relationship she had dreamed of all those years.

After that morning, all she really wanted was for Jimmy and Jonny to walk through the door and put a halt to all of this. That door. Right there, that one. She could only hope to have a front row seat to Jonny and Paul going toe-to-toe over her. When Jonny hears what Rosa did to her...that would be all she wrote. He’d be marching into court for a protection order to keep all of them away from her. The sperm donor, Rosa, probably even Paul and Joey. He’d go to court and argue for her the same way he did with Cat. Those were dark days. Cat’s only recourse was mandatory inpatient treatment for her bipolar disorder. Finally, then she got put on a real med regiment and she was better until breast cancer hit for the first time. Why did four years seem so long ago now?

She should have gone to France, told Mrs. Strong and Cat to fuck off and got on the plane with them. Maia wished there was a phone in here that she could dial. She repeated the digits to Jonny’s cell phone in her head and with her fingers, she dialed the imaginary keypad. Where was her knight in shining armor now? How she missed his deep blue eyes with the crow’s feet at his temples from years of reading and scrutinizing written words of authors and students alike. His stories of students’ excuses and especially at dinner the ‘best line of the day.’ How she missed her Jonny.

Jimmy was wonderful in his own right. Couldn’t boil water without burning it, but he loved like no other. Her stage dad always, he’d primp her and stay with her in the wings, walk out on stage with her when she got awards because she’d forget to breathe if she wasn’t seated at the piano. Cat didn’t do so well the last time. Maia was holding her up more than the other way around. She just wanted them. Maybe they were over her. Maybe they went to find their own life without a kid in it. She had always been in it. Maybe they needed a break from her. Maybe they broke up. Maybe they each found someone else and stayed in France. The thought made Maia panic and her heart palpitate again.

“Hey, Maia,” said Carma, entering the room, hitting the hand sanitizer as she did so.

“When did you get here?”

“About a half hour ago. I’m covering for someone. You’ve had quite the day.”

“You work too much.”

Carma smiled.

“I’m hungry.”

“I’ll bet you are.”

“Think I can have more than Jell-O?”

“I will ask. Are you doing okay otherwise?”

Maia slowly shook her head. “I didn’t expect that she’d want to kill me. Hate me, bitch at me, but kill me?”

Carma pulled the stool over and reached for the Kleenex box. Maia took one.

“Joey and Paul aren’t back yet. Maybe they are over me? Maybe they just want me to get well and leave too?”

“Whoa, whoa...” said Carma. “Listen, those guys are into you. Joey wouldn’t leave here. He still hasn’t left here. He’s being questioned and has to do a statement. He’ll be back. Paul is probably in it deeper than Joey. I know this much, he couldn’t wait for you to wake up.”


“Oh yes, I walked in here once and he was talking to you, trying to get you to wake up because he had 14 years of teasing to catch up on.”

“Really?” she asked with a laugh.

“Yes, and on TV today, they had him on camera coming into QMC and he was telling a reporter how excited he was that you finally woke up and he couldn’t wait to meet you finally. He was genuinely happy.”

“How happy?”

“Grammy award acceptance happy.”

“Oh wow.”

“No one is over you. Paul might be over other people, but I don’t think you are listed among them. How about I get a menu and see what I can dig up for you to munch on until we get food up here to you?”

“Okay, and maybe a Coke?”

“Dr. Adamson says decaf Coke from now on. Your heart rate is too high.”

“Okay okay...if I gotta.”

Maia sighed and watched Carma leave the room. She pressed her head into the pillow and watched them at the nurse’s station talking about her. Adamson looked up from the desk and smiled at Maia, so she waved at him. He replied with a smile and a returned wave and a finger in the air like asking her to wait.

Maia didn’t want him to come in here and hassle her, put his cold stethoscope on her back or her chest.

And there it was, she saw it in his hand as he walked to her room.

“Hey there, how are you doing?” he asked with a smile.

“I’m okay,” she said. “Do you know where Joey is?”

“I haven’t seen him since he went with the officers earlier.”

Maia’s doe eyes fell with worry.

“It’s going to be okay, Maia,” he said, pressing on the bp cuff start.

“Are they coming up to talk to me?”

“Probably not. Joey told them enough of the story. They’ll be around if they want to hear it.”

“It’s not okay what she did to me.”

“We agree. It’s not. I was really afraid for you, and I don’t spook easily. I want to take a listen,” he said, putting on the stethoscope. She rubbed the end with her hand before he got it.

“What are you doing?” he asked with a laugh.

“Warming it up,she said.

Dr. Adamson smiled. “Are you done yet?”

“Okay, okay,” she said, releasing it. He put it on her chest.


“It will do.”

He smirked and listened to her heart. He nodded and took it out of the gown and removed it from his ears.

“You sound good,” he said, “we are going to send you down to pediatrics after you eat.”

“If I gave you a phone number, could you call it and see if someone answers?”


“There are two numbers, actually.”

He took his cell phone from his pocket and turned it on. Maia recited the phone number. “If you get a voicemail, tell them where I am and what room number.”

“This is Dr. Jonathan Reardon. I’m sorry I missed your call...” When the doctor went to leave a message, the mailbox was full.

“Mailbox full, Maia. I can’t leave a message.”

“Can you text?”


“Tell Jonny where I am. Please.”

Dr. Abramson texted Jonny, identifying himself as her cardiologist and her room number on CICUand the phone number to the hospital.

She likewise gave him Jimmy’s number.

“This is Jimmy Wilkins, I’m sorry I missed your call. Please leave me your name, number and the dates of the production in your message.”

“Dates of the production?”

“He’s an actor.”

“Oh, gotcha.”

Hi Jimmy, this is Dr. Neil Abramson, I’m Maia’s cardiologist at Queens Medical Center. She’s in room 610 and has been looking for you. Could you please call her here so she can talk to you? The hospital number is 212-555-1212. She doesn’t have a phone in her room, so please call the nurse’s station. She will have one when she goes to the Pediatrics floor tonight.

Maia thanked him as he shut off the phone.

“Why didn’t you have Joey do that for you?”

“We didn’t have time. It was late last night and then all of this today...”

“Listen, I have a psychiatrist who is going to check in on you. You went through a lot of trauma today, not to mention all you endured before you even got here. I think it’s a good idea for us to get you on some meds to take the emotional edge off until you are more stabilized. You getting upset is not helping your heart, you know?”

She nodded. “It’s hard, because my heart is broken, and my physical heart is not much better.”

“I can only imagine how it is, Maia.”

“When can I eat?”

“Soon, Carma just called them for a low sodium meal. Let’s try something easy for dinner, okay?”

“Sure,” she replied, “thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Everything will work out just fine, Maia. Keep positive thoughts.”

Maia nodded and watched him leave her again.

Carma returned with a decaf Coke and a straw.

So you are getting real food here in a few minutes. Chicken breast and rice pilaf and broccoli. “

“And for dessert?”

“A chocolate chip cookie.”

“Yum. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Maia took a sip of the Coke and set it down.

“This is a lot, isn’t it?” Carma asked her.

Maia thought that was a dumb question, but nodded anyway. “I wish I had never come here now. I just—always wanted to know him. Not the rest of them, well, except Joey, he’s awesome, but the rest of them can go fuck themselves. I just wanted to know Paul. I knew he would get me. Cat, my mom, could never understand how music just took over my life. He would get it.”

“I’m sure he would.”

“He would get me. Now, he won’t even be able to look at me without seeing her in jail or whatever they do to her.”

“He really wants to know you, Maia. I think Paul is a very genuine person. From what I could see, he has a big heart. Even as sick as he was, he has been here. He belonged in bed and he was here. He wanted to stay last night and Joey sent him back to where he was staying to rest. Paul was too tired.”

Maia sipped the coke and reached for the tv remote.

“No news, kiddo,” said Carma.

“I know, I’m just really bored and there are no books here.” Maia found a documentary on the History Channel to watch on JFK, and its narrator lulled her back to sleep.

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