two months later
The fall seasoncomes with its share of highs and lows. I spend the first half of September as a patient at Northam General. I’m given a private room on the top floor overlooking the city. Two armed security guards stand post outside at all times. A special accommodation made just for me.
I suspect Salvatore bribed the hospital administrators to make it happen.
It takes a two-hour long surgery to remove the piece of shrapnel that impaled me. The surgeon says if it had been another few inches over, it would’ve pierced an organ. If I had been left to bleed out any longer on the sidewalk, I would’ve lost too much blood and died.
The bomb had exploded out of nowhere. After Salvatore had left to go confront the fight downstairs, I stayed put in the restroom. I clutched the gun he gave me, aiming at the door should any of Hector Belini’s men make it through, and listened to the chaotic sounds of errant bullets a floor below.
As it turns out, the present that was delivered by the imposter server was a bomb. It ticked out of time and exploded a mere thirty feet away from where I was. The gun dropped from my hand as I rushed to cover my head and turn away from the sudden torrent of debris. I didn’t realize I had been struck by anything until moments later.
The door had been blasted open, and the glass mirror above the sink had shattered. Some of the tiles had been ripped off the floor and dust rained down from the ceiling. The ringing was incessant and nauseating. I stumbled out of the restroom, unable to make sense of what was happening around me.
It was as I staggered forward that a severe stabbing pain consumed me. I pushed on, trying to find my way, feeling myself grow weaker with each step.
I don’t remember much after that. Only that Salvatore appeared out of the dusty haze and my heart skipped several beats. As dizzied and pained as I was, relief began to chase away the deep fear that I was dying. Even if I wasn’t going to make it, at least he was with me. His face was going to be the last one I saw as my heavy eyelids won the fight and I succumbed to my injuries.
I was out for hours. I came to post-surgery, lying warm and safe in my hospital bed. Salvatore leapt up from the chair he was sitting in, his eyes rimmed red and his clothes dried with blood. Except for surgery, he hadn’t left my side. Intense relief swept over his features when our gazes met.
He’s refused to leave my room for more than a couple hours at a time, obsessed with ensuring my hospital stay is as comfortable as possible. When I’m finally discharged, I’m restless and desperate to see something more than the inside of hospital walls.
I choose to stay with Salvatore at his loft, where I spend the rest of the month in at-home recovery. I’m still not at one hundred percent, though my physical therapy appointments help. So do the daily walks Stitches takes me on.
My close brush with death puts things in perspective in a way I haven’t experienced before. I lived each day clinging to a structured existence that’s so easily crumbled. I thought if I mapped out my life then my future was locked in.
I see now that no future is guaranteed no matter how many detailed plans are made. Tomorrow can always change. It can always be taken away. While it can be a bleak outlook, I choose to interpret it differently—if tomorrow’s not guaranteed, then I’ll make today the best moment it can possibly be.
I publicly announce the end of my campaign for district attorney. I resign as ADA. I begin toying with the idea of spending the next year doing things I never made time for, like vacations and new hobbies, and learning myself as an individual outside of my father’s image and society’s expectations.
“I’m going to miss working with you, Delphine,” Medjine says late one afternoon. She’s joined Stitches and I on one of our daily walks. Even her athletic wear is a fashion statement as she sports a trendy two-piece bralette and leggings set complete with neon-bright sneakers. “But I understand you’re going with what feels right. It’s a shame, because you really could’ve whooped Polk’s behind.”
“Whooped?” Stitches interjects. “She was going to destroy the guy! Psycho had me dig up some good dirt on him—”
I clear my throat. “Stitches, give us a moment?”
“Oh, right. Sometimes I forget not everyone is asunlaw-abiding as we are.” He aims a toothy grin at Medjine and then drops a couple paces behind us.
Medjine hooks my arm with hers and lowers her voice. “Since when do you have private security?”
“Since a couple attempts on my life have been made.”
“As good an excuse as any. I’m guessing now that you’re stepping away from public office you don’t care about public perception? He’s cute, but those Harry Potter glasses and that leather have got to go.”
I smirk. “I couldn’t give less of a damn about what anyone thinks.”
“Fair enough. I have a feeling you’ll go on to do something amazing, even if it’s not DA. Stay in touch.” Medjine reaches into the armband strapped to her arm and pulls out a business card. “Actually, here’s an extra one for Mr. Leather Lover over there. Call me sometime. Either of you.”
Stitches waits until Medjine has power-walked her way ahead of us and crossed the street to her car before falling back into step with me.
“What’s wrong with leather? I happen to like this jacket.”
“In eighty-degree weather?”
He shrugs. “But she was right about one thing. I’m sure whatever you decide to do next, you’ll knock it out of the park. Maybe you could be Psycho’s personal attorney. As much legal trouble as he gets into, you could help him out.”
“I think I’m done practicing law for now.”
“Whatever you decide, we’ve got your back. And your front too. And whatever other part of you ‘cause we’re loyal as fuck like that.”