Jay Takes Mia Home
I got rid of this scene when my critique partner said she didn’t think Mia would need quite this much pain relief after cutting her hand. It’s the only deleted scene from this book, because everything else was revised or rewritten, not completely removed.
“She’s totally out of it,” Brooke comments from behind me, where she’s cleaning up the equipment for the IV she clearly removed not that long ago. “I managed to get her to sign her discharge papers, but then she conked out again right away.”
Huh. I give Mia’s shoulder a squeeze, and when that doesn’t help, I shake her a little— and get rewarded with a slight fluttering of her eyelids.
“I don’t think she’s handling the morphine very well.”
“How much did you give her?” I ask sharply.
Most other nurses would bristle at that, but not Brooke. She’s doesn’t take stuff personally. With a shrug, she says, “Three milligrams?”
What the hell? I swallow a sigh. So much for getting out of here at a reasonable time. “I guess we’re staying then.”
“Nah,” Brooke says with a wry smile, rolling her eyes. “You know our policy. If she can walk, she can go home.”
After tossing the IV equipment in the trash, she pats my arm and walks away. Okay, then. This isn’t entirely unfamiliar territory for me. Mia’s kind of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, and every now and then that fact slips her mind. There have been some bar hops and parties in the past where I’ve had to take her home while she was halfway unconscious.
“Mia.” I start patting her cheek, and her forehead creases, so I make it more of a slap instead, and finally she starts to open her eyes. Or tries to, anyway.
“Hey,” I say, “it’s time to go. Can you get up?”
She blinks at me, her eyelids just barely parting, and her voice sounds dry as she manages to mumble, “Dunno.”
“Let’s try.” Pushing aside her blankets, I hook an arm under her and help her up to a seated position. Then I move her legs off the bed. There’s a plastic bag next to her, and I fish her flip-flops out and put them on her before pulling her forward until her feet hit the floor. She falls into me, and her whole body is flush against me, and yeah, I notice the soft pressure of her breasts against my ribs.
I’d have to be dead not to notice that.
Her hair smells good, some kind of spicy and oily scent. I like having her weight in my arms. It’s like time slows down and I stand there holding her for an eternity, aware of every one of my pounding heartbeats.
“I have to let you go,” I’m telling her, and as the words do an instant replay in my mind, a voice in there snorts, No shit, buddy. “You need to be able to walk out of here on your own, or you’re staying until the morphine wears off. You think you can do that?”
“Mmm,” she says, and I have no idea what that means, but when she starts to move away from me, I hold her back.
“Hang on. Your gown.” I untie the strings and pull the gown off, tossing it on the bed. “There.”
She shuffles ahead of me, and I’m not sure if she’s actually lifting her feet off the ground. I grab her papers and the plastic bag—which is kind of heavy, so her purse must be in there—and with a couple of long strides, I reach her side and take hold of her elbow, a light touch only, to steer her in the right direction.
We catch some stares on the way out and more than a few raised eyebrows. I ignore it and give everyone nods and waves goodbye as usual. Gossip is pretty rampant around here, and I guess I know what the topic will be for the next few days. Whatever.
I lead Mia to the staff entrance, and from there it’s not that far to the employee parking lot. Figuring I won’t get an intelligible response out of her anyway, I don’t bother asking before shrugging out of my jacket and wrapping it around her shoulders. She doesn’t even seem to notice as she continues her zombie-like walk next to me.
When we get to where my truck is parked, I help her into the passenger seat. She collapses against the seat back and closes her eyes again, her head lolling. So then I have to strap on her seatbelt too, and I’m starting to look forward to getting her home, dumping her in her bed, and taking off.
Before I can do that though, I need to take her to the pharmacy to fill the Vicodin prescription Yamada wrote her. She’s gonna need it in the morning. Fortunately I know which pharmacy she uses, so once behind the steering wheel, I head in that direction.
At least I don’t have to work tomorrow. I suppose at some point I’ll head over to her apartment and check on her. And then we’re going to talk until we figure out how to move forward. Because between working up to a hundred hours a week, trying to find enough time for sleep and exercise and eating healthy, and my uncle’s visit—and the reason for his visit, which I have no idea how I’m going to deal with—I can’t do this thing with Mia right now.
This awkward, angry, exhausting thing that she started.
She broke it. She’d better fix it, sooner rather than later.