I look up from my phone to find Brenda watching me.
“You knew him?” she guesses.
I nod, unable to sort out how I feel about this latest turn of events. Brenda begins openly speculating about the situation. Much of what she says goes in one ear and out the other.
I don’t care to hear silly speculation from Brenda about what happened. I need to figure out how NorthamNeptune123 knew Gannon would do what he did.
“Hello,” I say the second my phone rings in my hand. I’m half expecting for it to be NorthamNeptune himself. He had mentioned we’d chat after the news broke to set a meet up date. I couldn’t be more wrong.
“Miss ADA,” Stitches says. “I normally wouldn’t call you.”
I sigh and make a mental note to add Stitches’ number to the growing list of blocked numbers. “He made you do it, didn’t he? I’ve told him to leave me alone.”
Before I can hang up, Stitches rushes to tell me his news. “Nobody made me do anything. Just wanted to call you ‘cuz I figured you’d want to know. Psycho’s been in an accident.”
Salvatore suffers two broken ribs,a sprained shoulder, and a concussion from his collision. The ER nurses refuse to let us through until Stitches goes into mafia mode—he warns the nurses if they don’t let us through, they shouldn’t be surprised if they encounter some ‘trouble’ later in the day. The two share a glance before stepping aside.
I’m in disguise. A baseball cap and shades that cover half my face. I don’t speak and I don’t draw attention to myself. Flanked by Stitches, we slip through the curtained hospital bay where Salvatore’s being kept.
He’s sitting up on the bed, his arm in a sling, his wallet and keys in hand. A few bruises and scrapes decorate his face, including a nasty one purpling his jaw. His expression couldn’t be drier, a composed slate of no real emotion.
Only Salvatore would look unfazed, sitting bruised and bandaged up after a serious car accident.
“Psycho!” Stitches says as we make it through the curtain. “If this is what you look like, what does the other guy look like?”
Salvatore ignores him. His gaze shoots straight to me, a couple steps behind Stitches. The first hint of emotion flashes across his face—a touch of resentment mixed with a dash of ridicule.
“Look who it is,” he says with mock warmth. “So much for being out of your life.”
I glare. “More like I didn’t want you to lose yours for doing something stupid.”
“Orlike you just can’t help yourself, Phi. For the big game you talk, you give in so quickly.”
“Whoa, Mom and Dad, how about we cool it?” Stitches interjects in between us. He holds his arms out as if refereeing a sports match and about to blow on an imaginary whistle. “You’re giving me flashbacks of a very tumultuous time in my childhood—that’s right. I was a child of divorce. Dad cheated. So Mom set fire to his shit on the lawn. Then he took a piss in all her designer shoes and handbags. You know my mom, she’s not taking that lying down. She put a whole bottle of laxatives in his food and sent him to the ER! You can see why this is giving me flashbacks.”
Salvatore turns his heavy gaze on his righthand man. “Francis, shut up and get me out of here before I walk out myself.”
The next fifteen minutes consist of Salvatore signing himself out of the ER and ignoring the nurse’s reminder about his at-home care. He doesn’t even take his prescribed medication—as Stitches chases after him to ensure he doesn’t leave by himself, I grab the paper bag of medications and then follow in their wake.
The car ride is even more awkward.
I sit up front with Stitches while Salvatore opts for the backseat. Most questions we ask him go unanswered.
The ER doctor ran a CT scan and determined Salvatore has a mild concussion. Apparently, he’d been thrown twenty feet off his bike after a vehicle had smashed into him. He’s been advised to take it easy for the next few weeks due to the possibility of dizziness, headaches, and sensitivity to lights and sounds.
I sneak quick glances at him from the front seat. At one point he closes his eyes and rests his head against the headrest. He’d never admit it aloud, but he feels terrible. He’s not nearly as unaffected as he was putting on in the ER.
A man like Salvatore would rather suffer in silence than let anyone know he’s hurting.
He needs someone to look after him. He needsmeto take care of him.
Yet another confounding blend of feelings fill me up—the anger I’ve held toward him clashes with the strong urge to make sure he’s okay.
I owe him.
When I was assaulted, he had insisted his physician examine me. He took me under his protection the moment he learned the sickening details of what had happened. Over the course of several months, anytime I was even remotely upset or unwell, he was there for me, making sure I had whatever I needed.