“Kai, she’s shaking and crying like crazy. She’s already thrown up once.”
Kai went to the restroom, tapping on the door. Paisley answered. He could hear his mother sobbing and gasping. She was hyperventilating.
“Temp, get me a paper popcorn bag. Fast.”
She ran to the snack bar and was back in seconds. He took the bag to his mother. Paisley and Tempy gave them some space.
Kai opened the bag and handed it to his mother. “Breathe into this. Deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.”
She tried to talk, but gulped instead, hiccuping and gagging.
“Nina, breathe into this bag, or I’ll have to slap you. I don’t want to hit my mother, but I will if you don’t stop that this instant.” Kai took as harsh a tone with her as he could muster, frowning his concern.
Nina dutifully put the bag over her face, and started breathing as instructed. Slowly, her breathing returned to normal. She slumped forward, nearly passing out. Kai caught her, holding her upright.
Brad burst through the door without knocking. Fortunately, it was only them in there. He took Kai’s place, holding Nina. “You okay, baby doll?”
She nodded feebly, clinging to him. “Oh, Brad!” She started crying again.
“I’m gonna call Thad,” Kai said softly.
It turned out he didn’t have to. His boss was walking across the street with his bag in hand. Cherise trotted in his wake.
“You okay over here?” Thad asked when Kai opened the door.
Kai told him about his mom. Cherise went to check on her. Thad followed him to the gym. Everyone was fine, though a couple of the teachers were slightly on edge. Neither of them felt the need for medication, so Thad and Kai went to check on Nina.
Brad carried her out of the restroom. She was almost asleep. He’d parked directly in front of the doors. Kai helped him load his mother into the car and the long process of calling parents began. With the facility running on generators, they couldn’t stay open.
“This weather is crazy,” Kai said to Thad. “Any clue what’s causing it?”
“Storm in the Gulf. Not that bad a one, but it’s close to the coast, so it’s setting off all kinda shit. Probably won’t clear until sometime tomorrow. It’s moving slowly. Probably be a class two by the time it hits the Alabama coast, maybe a three.”
“No fun for any of us. Thanks for coming by. I was about to come get you. Mom was freaking. Which reminds me, I need to check the pool house. Brad said he’d call the insurance guy.”
“He’s coming by tomorrow,” Paisley said. “There was damage all over town. He can’t get here until ten.”
“Works for me. We need to put up the hurricane shutters,” Kai told Cody.
Thad and Cherise said goodbye and left. Paisley and Tempest helped with the parental phone calls while the boys went out to the pool. Marianna followed them.
“You don’t have to help,” Cody said. “We’ve got it.”
“I can help pick up. That glass is dangerous,” she said pointing to the floor, desk and chair. “I’ve got leather gloves, a broom and dustpan. You do shutters, I’ll do this. Your mom doesn’t need to come back to that.”
“Thanks,” Cody said, grinning. “That’s really thoughtful.”
Marianna flashed a sparkling smile, tossing her long, black hair over her shoulder. Cody watched her hungrily as she walked into the office. He and Kai went to the storage room to get the shutters.
“Holy shit, that girl’s amazing! She and I have the same birthday. Is that cool? She’ll be seventeen the same day I will.”
“Fantastic. You can celebrate by grabbing your end of the damn shutter!”
Cody laughed, lifting his end of the heavy wooden piece. They walked it awkwardly to the broken window. They were surprised to find two Mexican men there, wearing heavy gloves, lifting the guard tower out of the window. Kai recognized one of them, it was Javier Constance.
“Hey, Kai!” They exchanged a complicated handshake. “My cousin, Eduardo.”
“Oh, right. Hey man, didn’t recognize you. You fking cut your hair!”
Eduardo rubbed his hand over his scalp. “Yeah. My new lady likes it short. Go figure. It’s a hell of a lot cooler without it.”
“Thinking of doing the same thing. What brings you by?”
“Marianna called for a ride. Told us what happened. Javier was over, so we dropped by and she put us to work.”
“We can use the help. Thanks. I want to get this taken care of so we don’t get water damage or stolen equipment.”
“Eddie, I want you to meet Cody,” Marianna said, taking his arm. “He asked me out for Friday. Is it okay if I go?”
Eduardo eyed Cody, squinting. “This guy cool, Kai?”
“He’s my kid brother. He’s no worse than the rest of us, Ed. He’s a good guy.”
“I gotta worry about you with my baby sister?” Ed asked, glaring at Cody.
“Dude, I will treat her with the greatest respect!” Cody held up his hands like Ed was holding him at gunpoint.
Ed frowned more, then started laughing. “Relax, kid. Don’t freak so, man. I’m fking with you. Mari’s told me a lot about you already. You’re like all she talks about.”
“Eddie!” his sister squealed, swatting him with the broom.
Eduardo laughed, ducking. “I know you’ve got a little sister. So I expect you to behave with my sister, the way you’d want a man to behave with yours.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes