Home > With Malice(9)

With Malice(9)
Eileen Cook

“Jill Charron, isn’t it?”

Was this someone else I’d met and forgotten? How those dimples could have disappeared from my mind was a mystery. I smiled at him and tucked a lank piece of hair behind my ear.

“How are you feeling?” He leaned against the wall.

“Getting . . .” The word vanished. “Getting improved.” I winced. That was the wrong word. What were the odds he was into dirty hair, stitches, and someone who was inarticulate?

“Glad to hear it.” He graciously ignored my screwup. “Are you game to answering a few questions?”

“I’m not really supposed to be out of bed,” I admitted.

“C’mon. I’ll buy you a Mountain Dew,” he offered, motioning to the vending machine.

“How about a Mounds bar?” I countered. My mouth started to water.

“Done.” He reached into his pockets and pulled out some change.

Good-looking and willing to buy chocolate. Simone would die when she saw him. If he was the promised physiotherapist, she would make a crack about how he could lay hands on her anytime he wanted. He was totally her type, with the dark hair and smoldering eyes. Simone had a thing for good boys who acted like they were bad. Ryan, her last conquest, was always quoting the poet Kahlil Gibran because he thought it made him sound deep, but he spelled the guy’s name wrong and he wore Lands’ End polo shirts. The vending machine whirred and dropped the candy. He passed me the chocolate.

“I want to ask you about the accident,” he said.

“Are you the physiotherapist?” I asked. I tore the wrapper open. The smell of the chocolate was enough to make me sigh with pleasure. I took a big bite.

“I’m your lawyer, Evan Stanley.”

The bite of candy bar stuck in my throat and seemed to swell. I forced it down. “Lawyer?”

“I want to get your statement about what happened. While things are still fresh in your mind.”

“I don’t know,” I hedged. The hair on the back of my neck lifted like antennae reading the signals in the air.

“I know it’s hard, but this situation isn’t going to go away on its own. We’ll have to talk sometime.”

I stared at him blankly. What situation was he talking about?

“What are you doing?” Tish said, grabbing the handles of my wheelchair and lurching me back so that I almost fell forward. She glared at Evan. “She’s barely twenty-four hours postsurgery. She is not up to answering questions, and she certainly shouldn’t be doing it without her mother present.”

He raised both hands as if he were surrendering. “I just took a chance stopping by and ran into Miss Charron. I thought I’d see if she was ready to talk. I’m not the enemy here. Her father hired me to watch out for her interests.”

Tish pushed me back toward my room. She was mad at him, but I felt like I was the one who had screwed up. “That’s fine, but I still don’t think you should be talking to her without one of her parents with her.”

“The young lady is eighteen,” Mr. Stanley said.

I decided he was no longer good-looking. Now I wanted to get far away from him. I wished I’d never left my room. The chocolate bar in my hand was starting to melt. The smell of the waxy chocolate with sticky-sweet coconut was making me nauseated. I didn’t want it anymore, but there was no place to put it. Dropping it on the floor seemed rude, so I was stuck holding it as it began to ooze.

“We don’t have a lot of time to waste. That girl’s parents are demanding answers, and we’re going to want to get in front of the story,” Mr. Stanley said.

My hands grabbed the wheels of the chair and brought it to a hard stop. The muscles in my shoulder felt as though they were tearing free from the bone. I stared up at him. His face was expressionless. I told myself I was being ridiculous—the accident had happened in Italy.

“What girl?” I whispered.

He raised his eyebrows as if he couldn’t figure out why I was playing dumb. “You know anyone else who died in the accident? Who else would it be? Simone McIvory.”

Chapter Four

Everyone was treating me as if at any moment I might explode into a thousand shards. Evan Stanley kept apologizing over and over, but I ignored him. I couldn’t believe I’d thought he was attractive, even for an instant. The sight of him made me want to hurl. After Tish banished him from my room, she tipped the blinds so it was half lit and tucked me back into bed. The hospital staff slipped in and out of my room to do what they had to, but mostly they left me alone. I knew everyone expected me to be crushed and crying my eyes out.

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