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

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30. Moving Day

When Mack arrived an hour and a half later, he had a keyboard and stands in his hands. Joey opened the door and Mack gloved and gowned up so he could set up the keyboard for her.

“Where do you think we should put it, Mr. Cravens?”

“I think here, by the plug would be okay,” said Joey, moving the table over to give them more room. Mack set it up and Joey plugged it in and checked that it turned on.

“Good,” said Joey, moving a chair over to it.

“I think the piano stand needs to be lowered some, Mack, It’s going to be too tall for her,” said Paul.

“Like a notch or two?”

“Try one, we might need to lower it more when she goes to play.”

“How is she doing?”

“She’s calmer now.”

“Mr. Wilkins was crying on the way to the airport. He’s totally torn up.”

“I can only imagine,” said Joey. “He should be on the plane by now.”

“It was to take off ten minutes ago,” said Mack.

“Hey Maia,” said Paul, stirring her. She rubbed her eye and settled her head back on his shoulder. “I brought you something.”

“What?” she asked.

“Sit up and look over there.”


“There, by the table.”

She sat up and saw the keyboard and popped up off his lap. Stunned, she said nothing but moved her body just so she could touch it.

Joey pulled her IV stand behind her so she didn’t yank it and the oxygen tubing from herself in her glee to get to the piano. She found the ON switch and adjusted her chair.

“How’s that for height?” he asked as she had already begun to play Pachabel’s Canon in D.

“It’s okay for now.”

“Hey Mack, maybe you should lower it. I think she’s going to be on there for a while and I don’t want her getting tingly fingers.”

She giggled at him and got up from the chair. Joey held the keyboard again while Mack lowered the stand and Maia tried it again once it was set up again and she nodded and began to play the remainder of it.

“That was easy,” he said. “I thought you said you played better than me.”

“Oh I do,” she said, with a laugh. “Could I call Jonny first?”

“Sure,” said Paul, handing her the phone. She dialed Jonny’s number and Xavier answered.


“He’s right here, I’ll put you on speaker,” said Xavier. Maia handed Paul the phone. “Will you put it on speaker?”

“Sure,” he said.

“My … ahh,” said Jonny.

“Are you okay?”


“Close your eyes,” she said. “Recalibrate.”

Jonny let out a ragged breath and closed his eyes and Maia began to play the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, his favorite piece that she learned just for him, and later took first for it at a competition a couple of years later.

Paul and Joey expected Maia to be talented, but not this advanced in her ability. Joey grabbed his phone and started taking a video of her to send to Alex and Megan. When she lifted the chord to the final fermata, Jonny said loudly, “My…ahh, Brav—Ahh!”

“Wow,” said Joey.

“Incredible,” said Paul, kissing her.

“May I have my books?” she asked Joey. He got them from her backpack and she picked up the Chopin score to the Grand Waltz and paged through it. She stopped on a page and looked it over and then kept paging through it. Then she handed it to Paulie.

“What do you want me to do with this?”

“ follow the score. C’mon Paulie, you got to step up if you're going to be a stage parent, " she said, making Jonny laugh on the other end.

Maia took off with the Grand Waltz and Joey videotaped her again as Paul followed with the score, keeping up with her somewhat before shutting the book and giving up.

“Wow,” said Xavier. “She’s so talented.”

Dr. Shahere had come in without their knowledge and had stood near the door listening to Maia play, in awe of her ability.

“Bravo Maia,” she said, when Maia finished, surprising her.

“Who that?” asked Jonny.

“That’s Dr. Shahere, my doctor. Dr. Shahere, this is Jonny, my other dad.”

“Hello, Jonny. Your daughter is very talented.”

"Th…thank you,” he said.

“Maia is improving, and I wanted her to get another chest x-ray today to see what progress has been made with this new round of antibiotics.”

“Jonny’s doctor is here. I will have Jimmy call you.”

Xavier ended the call before the I love you's and the good-byes were exchanged.

Dr. Shahere got out her stethoscope and put it to Maia’s chest and after some deep breaths and listening to the breath sounds from her back, Dr. Shahere smiled. “I think you sound much clearer than you did on Friday.”

“I feel better, and I’m able to keep down food.”

“That’s good. So let’s get your chest x-ray, and I understand that Dr. Amira was here over the weekend to meet you?”

“Yeah, she’s cool.”

“She and Dr. Thompson, who is a child psychiatrist, have consulted on some medication for you, so we’re going to start a low level of Zoloft today and see how that works. You won’t feel a difference for a few days and probably won’t notice it much.”

“Okay,” Maia replied, remembering the agreement she and Paul made about the medication.

“And lastly, the impetigo is gone, the pneumonia is under control and we are going to need this room this afternoon, so we are going to move you into a private room on the ward today.”

“Yes!” exclaimed Maia. “I am free!”

“But security-wise—” said Paul.

“The ward is still locked, and you have to have a pass to get inside. I think you should try it out and see how it goes.”

“And if it doesn’t? I mean, how are you going to guard her privacy?” ’

“Paul, I cannot keep parents from having their phones out around their children.”

“They can’t be taking pictures of her without permission,” said Joey.

“We are going to let parents and families on the ward know this,” said Dr. Shahere. “If anyone takes a picture or video of her, let us know immediately who did it, and we will handle it.”

Maia nodded and Paul seemed more than concerned about her going onto the ward.

“I say let’s see how it goes and if it is not working out and there are privacy concerns, then you should discharge her and send Maia home with us. I’m a registered nurse and can manage her care or we can move her up to Shenango Valley Children’s Hospital, nearer to our home.”

"I will take that into consideration. I'm going to order the chest x-ray and the orders to move you onto the ward today."

Paul waited for the door to shut before he looked to Joey. “I think we should push her to discharge Maia in the next couple of days and do that anyway.”

“I’m down with that,” Maia said, opening another book and playing another song until an orderly came to take her down to x-ray.

“That will keep her busy for a while, " said Paul as Maia began to play.

The orderly came for Maia and took her for her x-ray and Mack went with her while Paul and Joey stayed behind to pack and move her over to the private room. It was near the end of the ward, near to where she was quarantined, so they didn’t have far to go. Once the children saw Paul, Joey had to move the rest of her things over to the room as Paul was busy with the children.

When Maia returned, Joey was plugging in the keyboard for her.

“Did you smile pretty for the camera?”

Maia rolled her eyes at him and giggled. “Yes. Please Joey, can you pitch a fit and get me out of here?”

“Ohmygod, I cannot believe you just asked me to do that.”

“C’mon, this room is lamer than the last one.”

“At least you are in the ward and not on lockdown, and you have a piano.”

“I know,” she said.

“Won't be long now. But if anyone comes in here taking pictures or videos of you, tell us or a nurse. Whoever you can get to quicker.”

“Right,” she said. “I saw Paul is busy with the kids,” said Maia, playing one of his songs.

“None of that,” said Joey. “I hear that all the time, and he always gets it stuck in my head.”

“Bet I can get him away from the kids if I keep playing it,” she said. Maia turned up the keyboard and before she finished the chorus there was Paul with some other kids singing with him.

“You’re welcome,” she said to Joey.

“You rang?” he asked.

“She said she could get you here by playing your song.”

"Play another!”

“Which song?” asked Maia.

“Solitaire,” said one boy.

“Oooh, good choice,” said Maia, “one of my favorites.” Maia began to play and Joey just stood there watching Paul with the kids and Maia. Before they were over, Wanda delivered the lunch tray and almost dropped it when she heard Paul singing.

“Don’t drop my lunch,” said Maia, making Joey laugh and take it from her. The kids dispersed and went to their rooms to eat and be with their siblings who were visiting.

“Are you hungry?” asked Paul, after he took a selfie with Wanda.

“In a minute,” said Maia, playing chords on the keyboard. “I want to play something for you.”

“What’s that?”

She began to play "Journey to You," a song by Heartbeat that he had written and was a hit the Spring she was born.

“Wait, what is that?” asked Joey.

“One of mine,” said Paul with a smirk.

“You should cover it.”

“You can’t cover your own song, Joe,” said Paul.

“A reprise then?” asked Maia.

“A reprise, eh?” asked Paul.

“Reunion album song?” asked Joey.

“Do not put those three words together in the same sentence because the word will always be no…rather Hell no.”

“Why not?” asked Maia.

“I like my friends. I don’t want to battle with them again over the music. Our reunion is every February over cigars, steaks, and skis.”

“Which is getting moved because of the Grammies,” said Joey.

“Yeah, mid-February this year.”

“I think it's really cool, Maia. You arranged that?”


“Play it again, " said Paul, setting his phone to record. He pressed play and set it near the piano on the bed table. "I’ll send it to my producer Sam.”

Maia said out loud, “Journey to You," words and music by Paul Lenci, arrangement by Maia Lenci.” Paul laughed and she began to play it. He sent the audio file to Sam who called him while Maia was eating her lunch.

“I like it,” said Sam. “Write it up, put it on the next album. I’ll get Alex, Andy, and Mitch to sign off on it.”

"We will make a composer out of you yet, " said Paul, kissing the top of her head. "But there's more than just the piano, we have to figure out the rest. I won't do it as an instrumental."

"Ah, a project, " said Joey. "Another reason to get well. You two will be spending a lot of time in the studio."

"I've waited for my whole life for this moment," said Maia, her gaze meeting Paul's as they shared a smile.

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