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

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34. Discharge

34. Discharge

As Joey dozed on the couch and Paul in the recliner, Maia had read herself to sleep in her bed, the nearly finished book on her chest. Quietly, Ruby entered with Mick, startling Maia awake, hearing someone in her room.

“I’m so sorry to startle you, Maia,” said Ruby. Maia, seeing who it was, rolled on her other side and went back to sleep, tucking her face into her Papa Bear.

Paul shook himself awake, hearing voices. “Hey Ruby,” he yawned.

“Most of the press has gone to bed, and the staff is ready to process her discharge whenever you are. I told the nurse to come in, and let’s get you guys home soon.”

“Thanks, Ruby,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “Hey, Joey, it’s go time,” said Paul, tapping Joey’s knee, waking him.

“Hi Ruby,” said Joey, slipping his socked feet into his loafers. “Thanks for coming.”

“No worries, I’m glad I could help.”

“What’s it like out there, Mick?”

“They were really hanging on tonight. There’s still a couple paparazzi out there, but security says they are going to tell them to move along.”

“Doesn’t mean they will obey,” said Paul, standing up and kissing Maia on the forehead. Her eyes fluttered open, feeling the stubble of his beard.

“You are scratchy,” she said, brushing his cheek with her thumb.

“Sorry, shaving kit is in the car. Are you ready to go home?”

“Is it snowing there?”

“Probably. It’s what it does in Poconos.”

Joey went out to the nurse’s station to see what their plan was for discharge. Moments later, he returned with the nurse, carrying two boxes for her while she carried a bag with medication and expectorants as well as a packet of information and a clipboard for Paul to sign.

“Miss Maia, are you ready to blow this popsicle stand?” asked Carmen as she entered and hit the hand sanitizer, grabbing a pair of gloves.

“Hell yeah,” said Maia as Paul shot her a look. “I mean, yes, I am.”

He nodded and cleared his throat.

Maia slowly blinked her eyes instead of rolling them, then spit out, “I apologize for my harsh language.”

“I accept your apology, Maia,” said Carmen with a wink. “Let’s get that IV port out of you and those leads off.”

“Awesome,” said Maia, proffering her arm to the nurse before she even had her gloves pulled on.

“She’s ready to go,” said Ruby with a laugh.

Dr. Brown entered and hit the hand sanitizer. Under his arm was a Pendaflex for Ruby. She walked over to him and he handed it to her. “This is for Alleghany. One report is for the psychiatrist and the other for the cardiologist. When are the appointments?”

“Monday,” said Ruby. “Joey already has a medical record number for her, and they want vitals three times a day. He can call them if she rebounds and they will see her sooner.” Joey stepped over to them to see the pendaflex full of paperwork.

Once the last lead was off, Maia reached for her teddy bear and handed him to Paul.

“Don’t forget Papa Bear,” he said to her, before putting it with her backpack on the pull out.

“Can I get dressed now?”

“Of course,” said Carmen. As Maia stood up, she surprised Carmen with a hug. “Thank you so much.”

“I’m glad you are better, you found your family, and you are going to be all right, Maia. Keep your oxygen on until after you dress. I need to put your portable oxygenator together yet.”

She handed the box to Paul who opened it. “I’m not good at some assembly required,” he said, making her laugh. Joey stepped over and Paul handed him the box. Dr. Brown came over to wish Maia well and she hugged him, thanking him for taking care of her as sick as she was.

“You scared us, for sure,” he said, “More than once. I hope you have a happy and healthy life, Maia.”

“Thank you, I do too.”

Joey put the oxygenator together with Carmen and turned it on. Carmen showed him how to set the output and it was flowing. “Do you want Matilda to go into the bathroom to change or do you want your new one?”

“It looks like a jetpack,” she said, taking her oxygen tubing off her face. Joey handed her the new tubing and she slid it on under her nose and around her ears.

“How’s that feel?” asked Carmen.

“It’s got that new tubing smell,” she said, making them laugh. Maia lifted the oxygenator to put its strap on her shoulder and felt how heavy it was.

“Let me help you in with that,” said Joey, handing her the bag with her clothes inside. He walked her into the bathroom and set it on the floor for her before closing the door and leaving her to dress.

“This is the nebulizer,” said Carmen, handing Joey another box. The ampoules are in the medication bag. “Maia said she’s always had one, so she’s a pro at it and knows how to assemble and clean it. She had a treatment right before bed so she should be good until morning. It’s better to give her the treatment before breakfast.”

“Cool,” said Joey as Carmen opened a reusable shopping bag for him to put it and the medication inside. Mick and Ruby began gathering up the bags to go down to her Jaguar. Maia opened the bathroom door in street clothes and saw Mick, not dressed as formally as he usually was when accompanying Paul anywhere, but in an ivory velour track suit and a beanie.

“Look at you,” he said, “looking all fly there in that track suit.”

Maia laughed. “We’re twinning. Is Mack around?”

“He’s with the limo, why?”

“Could you ask him if he has this book? I didn’t get to read the last two chapters.”

“Haha, I will ask the bookworm. I’m sure he does. He loves Grisham.”

“Cool. My eyes needed a nap, or I would have read it all. It’s so good.”

“When I get back, its go time. Keep that bear with you,” he said handing it to her. “I’ll bring up a wheelchair, if that’s all right, Carmen.”

“Absolutely, saves me from chasing one down.”

Mick and Ruby took the bags down to her Jaguar while they were finishing up with the medical staff, so not to attract the paparazzi’s attention that anything was going inside the limo other than Paul and Joey at departure.

“I’ll be back, Maia,” said Mick. “Dr. Amira will heat up the Jag and meet us at the door.” Before he left the room, his cell phone rang. He set the bag on the counter and shut the room’s door. It was Mack.

“Ok dog, I’m taking the bags to Dr. Amira’s car now. I gonna call you, and you are going to meet me at the main door to pick up Mr. Lenci and Mr. Cravens only. Maia is going out emergency room's door with me and Dr. Amira, and I am driving Mr. Lenci’s Landrover home. All of Maia’s stuff and meds are in Dr. Amira’s Jag. Don’t forget it. Right, good.”

When Mick and Ruby left, Paul sat down in the recliner again. Maia sat on the side of her bed and rubbed her eyes.

“Hey, come here,” said Paul, opening his arms to her. She grabbed Papa Bear and climbed into his lap as comfortably as if he was Jonny. She stayed there, listening to his heartbeat as he hummed to her. “It won’t be long now,” he said, stroking her arm. Joey snapped a picture of them with his phone.

“Are you ready?” he asked her. She nodded with her head on his chest. He kissed her forehead. “Rest, I got you.”

“So much excitement,” said Joey, covering her with a light blanket from the bed. He dimmed the lights for her and sat on the bed where she had sat before. His eyes met Paul’s and they shared a smile.

“I’m so ready to leave.”

“Me too,” Paul said. “I hope she stays well. Jimmy said she has issues when she gets home.”

“Rebounds happen. We’ll be okay. I’m staying home for a few more days, a week if I need to.”

“I can’t wait to sleep in our bed,” said Paul.

“Shower and a sauna,” said Joey.

“Elly’s cooking.”

“The fireplace and a glass of wine.”

“My studio.”

Joey laughed. “Already?”

“Yeah, there’s a melody that’s been in my head since I met her.”

“Lyrics yet?”

“Nah. You know how that is. Always comes later.”

Joey nodded and yawned.

Paul kissed the top of Maia’s head. “I still can’t believe I have a little sister, and I’m in charge of her. So parental.”

Joey laughed. “Who would have thought the man who always tells me no for a baby is a parent now?”

“Thanks Dad,” he said, as they shared a quiet laugh so not to disturb her.

“Look at her snuggled up with you. I never thought you two would ever warm up at first.”

“She’s really chilled out this last week.”

“Getting her out of quarantine helped. She said it was the room. Kids die there.”

“Oh,” said Paul. “I didn’t realize.”

“She’s spent a lot of time on peds wards.”

“Too much.”

“Not like they could have helped it. Genetics, you know? We will have our fun with her. This isn’t the first or last hospitalization, Paulie. Welcome to life of a child with asthma.”

“I take it cigarettes are out of the question.”

“For both of you. Your stash, it needs tossed when we get home. Probably cigarettes on the street only added to this issue of hers.”

“Probably kept her going, kept her safe, her wits about her.”

“No more, for either of you.”

Paul said nothing in return, just their eyes met, and the pair said nothing, hearing the elevator ring and hearing a wheelchair and Mick shaking hands with the security guard who stayed by the door in his absence.

“Are you ready, Mr. Lenci? It’s you guys turn. Mack will be pulling up in a few minutes. You are going out the main door. Paul kissed Maia and Joey helped him move her onto the bed with her oxygenator nearby on the floor.

“See you in a few minutes,” said Paul, as her arms reached for him. “It’s okay, we’ll see you soon. Mick will be right up for you and Papa Bear.” He kissed her cheek.

“So scratchy,” she said, making him laugh as she was half asleep.

“You tell him, Maia,” said Joey. “He hasn’t shaved in two days.”

“I promise to shave in the morning,” he said with a laugh as he slid his arms through his coat sleeves. Joey picked up his backpack and handed Maia her Papa Bear, that she hooked under her arm.

“Shh,” she said.

“She’ll be all right, Mr. Cravens. Dr. Amira and I got her. She’s just catnapping and dreaming of music.”

“Just like her brother,” Joey said, checking the room once more for the fifth time that hour.

“C’mon, Joey,” said Paul. “See you soon, Maia.”

“We got paparazzi down there at the main door. I didn’t see any at the side door though. Smile for the camera. We’re done with those idiots tonight.”

When they approached the lobby, Joey left them behind and put the collar up on his pea coat so not to be in a photo’s frame or draw attention to the paparazzi. He walked behind the limo and Mack held the door for him to enter through the driver’s side door.

“He’s in,” said Mack in Mick’s ear.

“Let’s go Boss, last time.”

“We’ll see you there, Mick. Take care of my girl.”

“No one will touch her on my watch, Boss.”

“Thanks Mick,” Paul said, as the automatic doors opened, and cameras flashed. “Paul! Paul!” They called as Paul looked up and waved at them, smiling wryly in their direction.

Maia, realizing she was alone, sat up in the bed and realized she would be leaving soon. She put the teddy bear and her backpack on the wheelchair and picked up the oxygenator and went into the bathroom to pee one more time before starting the three-hour journey upstate. She dried her hands on the paper towel and saw the dry erase board on her wall. She picked up one of the pens and the eraser and erased all the information on it, and drew a large heart. In it, she wrote Thank You and signed it, “Maia Lenci”

“Hey, that’s nice,” said Mick, pointing to the dry erase board. “You got everything?”

“Hey Mick,” she said, as he fist-bumped with her.

“Hey that’s new,” he said about the oxygen tank.

“My new jet pack,” she said.

“It’s not light,” he said picking it up and walking her to the wheelchair. He kept the oxygenator with him, putting the strap on his shoulder.

“I’ll be okay. It won’t be long now,” she said, moving the backpack and the bear and putting them on her lap.

“Ready girl?”

“Let’s go.”

As Mick wheeled her out of the hallway, both Maia and Mick said thanks to the security guard and the nurses came around the nursing station to hug her and say good-bye to Maia while she waited for the elevator.

“Thank you, Carmen,” said Maia. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

“‎You’re welcome. I want you to have a happy life. No matter what happens, Maia, you have four men who love you very much.”

“Six, you forgot Mack and me. We will take good care of you, Miss Maia.”

‎Carmen bent down to her. “You are going to be great. Paul’s got a good medical team there, you got Ruby, and Angie. I think you are on your way to a happy life.”

‎Ruby called Mick on her cell phone. “I’m here in the parking lot by the emergency room entrance.”

“Waiting on the elevator and we will be there within five minutes. Do you see any paparazzi?”

“No, they aren’t out here. Maybe security shooed them away.”

“I bet they are in the lobby. Be ready, we’re going to put her and her stuff in the front seat, so don’t pop the trunk. Elevator’s here,” he said, “See you in a few.”

Once they were in the elevator, Mick arranged her stuff on her lap.

“Shield yourself with your bag and your bear. “This will help,” he said, transferring the beanie from his head to hers. When they got to the lobby floor, he grabbed a children’s face mask from the stand and handed it to her.

“Put this one, don’t look at them, pay them no mind. Yep. There they are. Hide some with that bear,” he said. Maia did as he said, but she didn’t want to close her eyes because she was too excited to see what was going on.

‎Ruby, seeing the reporters, pulledd into the emergency room loop and unlocked the passenger side door. Mick helped Maia up and put her backpack in the back with her bear and her jetpack at her feet. He shut the door rather abruptly seeing that the paparazzi figured them out and were rushing out for a photo. Mick knocked twice on the hood of the car.

“Put on your seatbelt, and smile for the camera if they come to the window,” said Ruby, as Maia shed the mask.

‎Before Ruby put the car in gear, the reporters reached it and cameras flashed in the passenger window. Maia smiled and waved as Ruby pulled away from the curb, laughing at them.

“Wow I’m out,” said Maia.

“Yes, you are,” she said, as they pulled out of the lot and onto the street.

Maia sighed and pressed her head back into the heated seats.

“OMG, this is heaven,” she said, checking out the beautiful black leather interior of Ruby’s Jaguar.

“‎What is?” asked Ruby.

“Heated seats, but this is a real sweet ride, Ruby.”

‎Ruby laughed as Maia yawned.

“Now don’t be starting that.”

‎ “Sorry!”

‎Maia called Angie, waking her. “I’m on my way to Paulie’s right now!”

Angie yawned. “Okay, ‎good. I’ll call you when I’m on the subway tomorrow. Good night, Maia.”

“Good night, Angie, sorry I woke you.”

“It’s all good, I told you to call me. Byes.”

‎Maia called Joey next.

“Okay we are on the road,”

“Good, we are just getting to Ruby’s now. What took so long?”

“The elevator took forever. Probably doing morgue runs.”

“Maia!” said Joey, “stop being so morbid.”

“That’s when they move bodies around, Joey. You know that. You worked in a hospital.”

“Were there any paparazzi?”

“Yes, Mick got me into the car before they caught us. They flashed their cameras at me, so I smiled and waved at them.”

“Jesus Mary and Joseph,” he said, alerting Paul.

“They snapped some pics of her in Ruby’s car.”

“Eh, it’s all good, Joey,” said Paul. “They were going to get one sooner or later.”

“Okay, I’m going to enjoy my heated seat and Ruby’s awesome Jag. Maybe she’ll floor it on the highway for me.”

“No, I won’t,” said Ruby, loud enough for Joey to hear.

“Thank you, Ruby,” he said loudly. “Maia, behave.”

Maia laughed and hung up. She was silent for a few minutes and stared out the passenger window at what New York looked like.

“Are you okay over there?” asked Ruby.

“Yeah, my heart feels like the bandana on the tug of war rope.”

“Wow, that’s deep for three o’clock in the morning,” said Ruby.

“I know, it’s just that I want so badly to be in two places at once. I’ve waited years to know Paulie and Papa, but I love Jimmy and Jonny and want to be there. My Jonny is so unhealthy. I just want to be there. I want to climb in his lap and tell him about my teenage existence.”

Ruby smirked. “Tell me about that.”

“Jonny would pick some arbitrary literary character that would have absolutely nothing to do with my angst and ask me, what would Ishmael do?

‎Ruby laughed. “This I have to hear. What would you say?”

“Of course, I had read them all before I was ten, so I had to compare my issue with that of Ishmael. By thinking of his character traits and with Ishmael, perseverance was a big deal, but also haughty judgment based on his pride. I had to decide if what I wanted was really the best option for me or my ego.”

“And if it’s your ego?”

“Ego is not altogether bad. Teamed with id it’s a perfect combination if they are nearly equal and symbiotic.”

“Why thank you, Dr. Freud. Y‎ou are very wise, Maia.”

“Thanks. I had good parents.”

“Maia, I want to ask you something.”


“Do you ever resent them for going to France?”

“OMG yes. But I never would’ve met Paul.”

“Sure you would.”

“I don’t think so.”

“He has fans approach him all the time. You could have walked up to him one day and said, Hi Paul, I’m your baby sister Maia.”

“I didn’t know he was that way.”

“What I’m getting at Maia, is that you are allowed to be upset with Jimmy and Jonny.”

“No, I can’t. Jonny couldn’t help it. Being angry at them was also being angry at him. He was always healthy. He ran every day. He meditated. If I’m mad at them, I’m mad at him and I just can’t be.”

“I’m saying, its ok to be.”

“Anger is vile. Resentment is worse. I can’t harbor that.”


“It fucks up my chi.”


“Energy. If my chi is fucked, I can’t play well.”

“You haven’t played much lately.”

“Who tattled?”


Maia sighed. Too much stress and steroids. My fingerings have been all fucked up and I didn’t want to hear Joey and Paul give me a hard time for swearing around the children. Now I just have to worry about swearing around them at their house.”

“Your brother has a Steinway.”

“He said he had a tuner in this week.”

“All ready for you.”

“Yep. They will get tired of it before long.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’m a perfectionist. I make them all crazy. The downstairs neighbors hated me.”

Ruby chuckled. Maia coughed and cleared her throat.

“You okay there?”

“Yes, I’m fine. How are you?”

“I’m fine. I think we will all sleep a bit late tomorrow.”

Maia nodded. “Jimmy and Jonny used to be upset with me for wanting papa in my life.”

“I can imagine. He paid very little to support you. Your mother could’ve taken him to court for child support.”

“She wouldn’t. A deal is a deal.”

“It’s not when it’s unfair or someone is being taken advantage of.”

“Paulie would’ve known and resented me.”

“Do you think he resents you now?”

“I don’t know. I can’t tell. Can we talk with him about it?”


“You and me.”

“Sure. What else do you want us to talk to him about?”

“Jimmy and Jonny.”

“What about them?”

“I want to be with them.”

“I think Maia, you need to give Paul and Joey a chance. I think this discussion needs to be tabled.”

“How long?”

“Give it six months.”

“That’s too long.”

“No, it’s not. I think a year is better, but I think six months is a good enough time for you to decide.”

Maia coughed again harder and started to wheeze towards the end.”

“Do you have your inhaler?”

“Maybe it’s in my backpack.” Maia reached for it and wheezed.

“Maia, I need you to breathe easy. Slow down your breath.” Ruby hit the button on her cell phone.

She called Joey at the stop light and put the phone on speaker.

“We are near an asthma attack, and we can’t fund the inhaler.”

“Open the window,” said Joey. She needs cold air.

Ruby opened the window and cold air rushed in on Maia, making her gasp.

“Where are you?”

“Getting off my exit. I’m six minutes out.”

“I got the new one in my bag. Hers is in the small front pocket of the backpack.” As he said it, Maia found it and put it to her lips.

“There we go,” she said to Maia as she puffed it.

“She found it. We will see you guys in a minute.”

Maia put up the window. “Sorry I got your car wet,” said Maia, wiping off the arm rest and the door interior with her jacket sleeve.

“It’s fine. Are you okay?”

“I’m good now.”

Joey and Mack stood outside the limo watching for them.

He opened Maia’s door and bent down to her, reaching for her wrist and watched his watch.

“I’m fine, Joey.”

“Shht!” He admonished, counting the pulse rate. “Okay, into the limo with you.”

Maia grabbed Papa Bear and her backpack and handed them to him. Mack came over and took the jet pack and walked Maia to the car after Joey got inside. Maia stopped in the doorway of the limo, incredulous of the opulent sight of white leather, a bar, large bench seats that lined the walls and a large wooden flat cabinet on the back wall.

“Come inside so we can close the door, Maia,” said Joey. She moved closer inside and saw where the driver’s cockpit was and the window that separated them.

“Hey Maia, you okay?” asked Paul.

“Yep. I’m good,” she said, her eyes wide.

“C’mon, let’s get you set up here,” he said, where Joey had made her a bed on a bench seat. Maia moved towards Paul. He reached for the jetpack before it toppled her. “You can take your shoes off, and tuck them over there, under that table.”

“Ruby will be out in a minute,” said Joey. “Mack is putting their bags in the trunk.” He reached for her wrist and checked her pulse again. He kissed her forehead.

“Too much excitement.”

“Paulie, what is that?” asked Maia, pointing to a cabinet hanging on the back wall of the limo.

“That’s a television.”

“OMG, Paulie, you watch too much television,” she said. “Where’s the book light?”

Joey laughed at her. “Would you like something to drink? We got water, apple juice and Coke.”

“Apple juice would be great. If I have a Coke this late, I won’t fall back asleep.”

Paulie handed her a little round Martinelli apple juice bottle, and Maia screwed off the top and took a swig. “Ooh, this is good, what snacks do you got?

“How about a peanut butter bar?” asked Paul.

“Oooh yes,” she said, excited.

“Your papa loves those. There are a couple more left in here.”

“Papa has excellent taste,” she said, opening the cellophane, taking a bite off each one at the same time.

“Did you see that?” asked Joey as Paul laughed.

“What?” asked Maia.

“Our dad eats them the same way.”

Maia swallowed her bite. “If you eat them one at a time—"

“--you get it all over your hands,” Joey replied as Paulie said it in Italian making Maia laugh.

Ruby handed Mack her briefcase that he put in the trunk. She had a turban on and a comfier outfit.

“Sounds like a party in here,” said Ruby, entering.

“Hi Ruby,” said Maia.

“Hi yourself.”

“That is your seat,” said Joey, pointing to the short love seat with the pillow and blanket on the rear wall of the limo.

“Now where will you two—"

“Right here,” said Paul, pointing to the large bench seat near the front, on it was two bed pillows and folded blankets. “It pulls down. Ruby will be next to you on that seat,” he said, pointing to the longer seat across from the bar, which like the rest had a fuzzy navy blue blanket still folded and a fresh bed pillow set on top of it.

“OMG, you could have a slumber party in here,” she said.

“We are it seems,” said Ruby, sitting on her couch.

“Can I get you a glass of wine? Joey asked Ruby. I just uncorked a chardonnay.”

“That sounds nice, thank you.”

Joey poured her a glass and topped off his and Paulie’s glasses. When Mack flashed the above lights, Maia almost jumped from her seat, making Paul smirk at her. He shook his head and pressed the intercom.

“We are all set here. Go easy, Mack, Little Orphan Annie is real skittish.”

“All right Mr Lenci. No worries there, Miss Maia. I got you. Mick is on his way up the interstate, Mr. Lenci. Do you want him to wait for us at your house or do you want him to just put the Land Rover away and go home?”

“That’s fine, tell him to put her away and lock up. We’ll be in touch tomorrow. Tell him I said thanks for helping out and taking care of Maia, and to go home and get some sleep.”

“Yes sir.”

“Where did you get that beanie?” asked Joey, seeing it still on Maia’s head. She loved how soft and warm it was.

“It’s Mick’s. There were reporters so he put it on my head and had me hold Papa Bear close. He’s very cool isn’t he Ruby?”

“He sure is.”

Maia coughed again. Joey handed her a Kleenex box. She blew her nose. He put the little trashcan near the foot of her couch.

“What do you watch on the TV?”

“Movies typically. I do keep some television shows boxed sets though.”

Maia yawned. Joey handed Paul his glass while so he could help Maia maneuver her tubing and helped her lay down then covered her up with the soft fleece blanket.

Ruby sipped her wine as Joey sat on the floor near Maia. Paulie handed him his glass. “Why don’t you sit up here with me?” she asked him.

“Go on Joe,” said Paul, reaching for his glass again.

Maia moved her pillow and sat up. Joey sat down in her seat and she reached for his arm and put it around her shoulder so she could snuggle close to him and rest sleeping more upright. He covered her up. “Is this better?” he asked her.

“Much better, I love you Joey,” she replied, putting her forearm about his waist.

Joey beamed as Paul handed him the stemware glass. “I love you too, Maia.”

Paul and Ruby’s eyes met. Maia’s eyes were still open like she was thinking as Paul dimmed the lights some more, hoping that would coax her to sleep.

“Paulie, do you have a garage for this?”

He laughed, “Of course I do. That and the tour bus.”

“You have a tour bus?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“Is it really cool?”

“Very cool.”

“Can I go on tour with you next time?”

“Sure, kiddo.”

“This limo is really big. I never saw the inside of one before.” They laughed at her.



“Do you ride this to work?”

Joey chuckled. “No, I have my own rig.”

“A what?”

“I have a Suburban.”

“Oh. Is it big?”

“Big enough. We take it skiing, snowboarding, and camping,” said Paul.

“Wait, hold up, you go camping?”

“Glamp is more like it,” said Joey. “We get a cabin in a state park usually. We take it to put all our gear inside.”

“I’ve never been camping.”

“Really?” asked Paul. “So why no camping?”

“I just did other things. Lessons mostly.”

“Even in the Summer?” asked Ruby.

“Four days a week. An hour a day.”

“Wow, that had to cost a pretty penny,” said Paul, watching how heavy her eyes were getting, but she kept fighting sleep, so excited for this journey.

“It was at UC, so Jonny got a better rate.”

“I want to meet Jonny,” said Joey.

“Jimmy put him in a rehab center, and Jonny’s so mad that he’s not talking to him.”

“He can’t do it alone, Maia.”

“I know, I just wish I could help them.”

“You are in no condition either,” said Ruby.

Maia sighed and wheezed.

“Jonny’s books, they line the walls of the apartment. You can’t see the walls for the books.”

“Jesus,” said Paul. “Does he have bookshelves for them all?”

“Of course, he does, although he’s got a box of textbooks on the floor because he ran out of room last semester. They were going to get a new one before they left for France, but they ran out of time.”

Maia wheezed again.

“Where’s your inhaler?” asked Paul.

Maia took it from her jacket pocket and held it outside of the blanket. “I’m ok yet,” she said. “I just need to chill with my Joey.”

“Paulie, would you please turn down the heat?” asked Joey. Paulie reached back for the thermostat and turned the blower down. Joey sipped his wine and she sighed. They were quiet for a few minutes.

“Is she out?” asked Paul.

“Almost,” whispered Joey.

Maia sighed a little as Joey pulled up the blanket to her shoulders.

“She’s out,” said Joey as Maia sighed. He handed his empty glass to Ruby, then gently moved her down on the seat with the pillow ultimately sandwiching himself there amid the cord and the pillow and Maia. Paul took the empty glasses from Ruby and set them in the bar basin, then stepped over to untangle Joey so he could move to their seat. Paul covered up Maia and kissed her on the head. The three adults sat close and whispered.

“She will be okay,” whispered Ruby. “When do we take her to see the team at Children's Hospital?"

“Monday. She has a nine o’clock with the pediatric cardiologist.”

“Good, I have a consult with the pediatric psychiatrist that’s taking over at eleven. He’s going to meet with all of us after.”

“How is she, Ruby?” asked Paul.

“She’s stressed over Jonny.”

“Let’s get some rest,” said Joey, standing and stretching his lower back.

He pressed on the little button lights over their heads to shut them off as Paul collapsed the bench seat into its futon and set the pillows at its head towards the cockpit. In the wall was a small built in shelf with a small night light. Paul waited for Joey to move in towards the wall and his little shelf that he put the light on while Paul shut off the track lights. Ruby got comfortable on her seat and they did likewise on theirs.

“Good night,” they said to each other. Paul pressed the intercom. “How far out are we, Mack?”

“About ninety minutes, Mr. Lenci.”

“We’re going to rest for a little while. Flash the light when we are close.”

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