“I can’t believe you asked him about that!” Kacy giggled nervously, blushing furiously.
Deacon took her hand, drawing her to him. “Do you think I’m going to wait for you any longer than I have to? It was bad enough having the bruise on my leg. This is torture! I don’t know if I can go another week!”
“You will if I have to chain you to the bed and douse you with cold water.” She giggled at the thought. “If it’s any consolation it’s no easier on me than on you.”
His hand traced her face, her neck and down her body. A sharp knock at the door startled them both. Karmina walked in to give him a care package.
“Doc says you’re leaving, so I brought this by early instead of waiting for dinner. I hope they feed you good at home, I’d hate to make that trip three times a day!”
“Karmina, you’re the best there is. Why if I weren’t a married man, I believe I’d give you a big kiss.”
“Oooh, listen to you! You bad thing you! You are one feisty, bad boy and that’s for damn sure! Ms. Stewart, you got to keep this boy on a leash!” But she loved the attention and allowed Deacon to give her a kiss on her cheek. “I declare, I will miss you.” She left, singing happily.
All that was left to do was wait until the nurse came in with the papers to sign. It annoyed Deacon how long the process took but he couldn’t speed it up, so he did his best to be patient.
Finally, he was being wheeled out to Dino’s car, lifted in and settled. His gifts and flowers were carried down and put carefully in the back by Karmina and the orderly.
“I’ve hired a nurse to take care of you until you’re self sufficient. I rented you a wheel chair and a walker. The doctor said you could use that or crutches. This is going to be fun!”
Deacon laughed, exchanging a look with Kacy over the back seat. “It’s gonna be great,” he concurred, not wanting to hurt Dino’s feelings.
He hadn’t realized how much just coming home was going to take out of him. By the time he got in the door and settled on the recliner in front of the TV, he was exhausted. His eyes drifted shut until he fell into a light doze. He roused some time later to a light tapping on the door. When no one came to answer it, he called out, “Come in!”
Hesitantly, the door opened and Nancy poked her head around the door expectantly.
“Kacy asked me to look in on you, she had to go out. I made you something.” She carried a basket with a cloth napkin over it and set it down on the couch next to him with a happy smile on her face.
“I realize that all the comparisons to Peter must be awkward for you, but I’m afraid for a time it will be inevitable. That being said, I’ve brought you a little goody basket of his favorite treats. I’ll understand if you don’t like them all, but it would please me for you to try them.”
Deacon picked up the basket, peering inside. Some of the treats he didn’t recognize, others he did, and liked all of them. He had miniature pecan pies, meringue cookies, double chocolate chip bars, all of them homemade. She must have been working for hours. He made grateful comments and sampled one treat after another. At the bottom, he found a package of peanut butter fudge.
“Oh, I love this stuff! My last foster mother used to make this at Christmas, and I’d get in trouble for sneaking pieces behind her back.”
Nancy’s eyes filled with happy tears. “I can’t tell you the number of scoldings Peter got for exactly the same thing! He was positively addicted to that stuff.”
While Deacon nibbled one treat after another, she went to the kitchen and made them each a cup of coffee. She brought cups, cream and sugar to the living room and set it on the low table in front of them. Handing Deacon a cup, she offered the tray to him so he could prepare his coffee himself.
“Peter always made terrible coffee. It was like drinking dirty water. He could never get it right. I like a cup of coffee so strong, it will put hair on a man’s chest.”
Deacon laughed, spewing a few crumbs on his lap. “I make my coffee black as I can get it. I can’t stand weak coffee.”
“Do you mind telling me a little about your life? I really want to get to know you, Deacon. Not as Pete’s shadow, but as an individual man. I think that’s very important, don’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am, I do.”
“Don’t think too badly of Ev for not being too forthcoming. He and Peter were always so close, as if they knew what the other was thinking. This has been quite a shock to him, and he feels almost betrayed by Kacy’s obvious affection for you.”
“Things just sort of happened between us, Nancy. As a matter of fact, she didn’t even like me when we met. She called me a grungy flunky and a buffoon.” He grinned over his coffee cup.
Nancy’s laugh was light, silvery, like chimes ringing in a breeze. “She’s never been shy, that girl! Tell me how you met.”
She listened attentively to his description. One thing Deacon prided himself on was being able to tell a story well. It helped having an appreciative audience. Nancy hung on every word, laughing in all the right places.
She asked him some very pointed and penetrating questions about himself as a child. She was so full of regret after a while, that he edited much of the early years and dwelt mostly on the happier years while he was in high school.
“How did you happen to come down here?”
Feeling at ease with this woman who had only recently been a stranger, he unburdened to her all the problems he’d had. He was candid with her, even giving a detailed description of his drug induced episode. Her face grew pale as he told her what had happened to him and when.
©2021 Dellani Oakes