26. Nurse Paulie
When Paul and Mack entered the hotel suite, the track lighting throughout was off and the lamp in the living room was on low and offered little light to those that entered. They could see that the bedroom was dark, which meant a migraine, and that Joey would be in no mood for noise. For a hotel suite, it was nice, comfortable, clean, but not home. The modern fixtures and impeccable furniture he appreciated as well as the view from the deck, but the only view Paul wanted to see was the mountain range of the Allegheny mountains. That’s all Paul wanted and he knew all Joey wanted was to be back on the mountain, his skis on his feet and his stethoscope around his neck. This is more nursing in a hospital than his partner ever wanted to do again, but when it came to Maia, Paul knew that Joey would do it forever if it meant that girl was going home with him to spoil.
“He’s probably in bed,” said Paul at a whisper as Mack put away the food in the refrigerator, getting a plate out to reheat his own dinner.
“Finish off the wine, Mack, Joey won’t drink the merlot with a migraine.”
“Thanks, Mr. Lenci.”
Mack poured himself a glass of the Bordeaux and waited on the microwave to ring as Paul went into the bedroom to find Joey.
“Hey Babe,” whispered Paul, entering the room, waking Joey who had his eyes covered under a washcloth cold compress.
“Shhh,” said Joey. “What’s going on? Did you talk to him?”
“She’s staying with us. Her tests came back negative for pregnancy and the big diseases, but she has chlamydia and gonorrhea.”
“As far as living arrangements, she’s staying with us, but they want us to work out a custody schedule.”
“How are you working this out?”
“The attorneys will work this out. He thinks he’s got leverage with my mother and my closet. When I offered to help, he accused me of trying to buy Maia for you.”
Joey laughed. “That’s absurd.”
“I think he finally figured that out,” said Paul, taking his wallet out of his pocket and putting it on the dresser with his cell phone that he plugged into the charger next to Joey’s phone. “How could you let her just tell them that we are partners?”
“I wasn’t there when she did,” defended Joey. Every time Paul’s closet was in jeopardy, Paul tended to blame Joey rather than himself and after the first few times, it got old and lately, drove a larger wedge between them with each accusation.
Sensing his tone and where this was going, and hopefully not back into session with Ruby, Paul retreated. “It’s not on you, babe. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to blame you.”
“And her. Your closet is your problem, not ours.”
“You mean to continue, don't you?”
“This ruse! It’s hard enough for me to keep up and I’ve gotten used to it after a dozen years. How are you expecting Maia to keep this secret when she’s outed you twice in 12 hours?”
“I’ll talk with her tomorrow. Do you want to eat? I brought you your Chicken Piccata. Juliette made it just for you.”
“Love that girl. I will probably eat it for breakfast. I’m hungry but the salt would just make this headache worse.”
“How about your cheesecake?”
“Ooh, with a cup of tea?”
Paul sat on the side of the bed and rubbed Joey’s temples with his thumbs and Joey closed his eyes and sighed. “Want another compress while I go make your tea?”
“That would be great. Thank you,” said Joey handing it to Paul who kissed his partner sweetly on the lips before getting up to soak the washcloth under cold water and squeeze it out for him.
“Is this a stress-induced headache, baby?”
“Sleep too. Last night was not nearly enough. Then I got to the hospital and met Jimmy Wilkins.”
“I get it. I want to have cheesecake, tea and climb in bed with you.”
“I’m down for all of the above.”
“Me too,” said Paul, bending over and placing the folded washcloth over his lover’s eyes again then kissing his lips in a sweet interlude. “Would you like to go home for a couple days?”
“Wilkins is here. Let him babysit Maia, while we go home for a couple days and come back Monday to put him on the plane for Chicago.”
“I’d love to go home and check on things.”
“I’d love to sleep in our bed.”
“I’d love to make love to you all day in our bed. Not leave it for at least eighteen hours.”
“You want to spend two days home with a day in bed?”
“I’d rather spend both days in bed, but I will settle for one.”
Joey laughed and Paul kissed him sweetly on the lips then got up to get their tea and dessert.