When I woke up, Devon had come back into the room and was texting on his phone. I felt bad about asking him to leave earlier, but I hadn’t known what else to say after being hit with the news.
“How you feeling, man?” Devon asked in response to my groan when I tried to move.
“Like I ran into a mountain. Sorry I put you out before.”
“Hey, it’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.” Devon’s understanding laugh filled the room. “Listen, V, I know all of this is probably hard to digest, but if you’re up to it, we need to talk about your plans. Since tomorrow is my last day here, I want to do what I can to make sure you’re settled.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about you coming back to L.A. According to the doctor and the physical therapist, it wouldn’t just cost a fortune, but it might be dangerous.”
She said we’d talk about it later, and I want to hear what she has to say for myself.” The idea of being stuck in a hospital was bad enough, but being stranded in Telluride was enough to make me lose it. “For one thing, I don’t want a woman for my physical therapist.”
Devon’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding me? You, the lover of all things female?” He snickered.
“Not when I’m incapacitated.”
“I just met her. You’d change your mind if you saw her. She’s beautiful. If I was single, I wouldn’t need to be convinced to let her massage me.” That got a snort from me. “Since when have you ever had a problem with a beautiful woman?”
“Look at me, Dev. I can’t even take a piss by myself, and for all I know, I might look like Freddy Krueger under these bandages. Not very sexy.”
“Oh, that legendary Breland pride is getting in the way. Tell me why you need to be sexy with your therapist. You wouldn’t start working with her until you’re on your feet anyway. Think about it, V. Don’t make any hasty decisions you’ll regret. You’ll need every penny you have to pay this hospital bill.”
“I have insurance with the studio.”
“That’ll cover a portion of it, but spending a small fortune to have them move you is crazy. Take some time to think about it. In the meantime, I’ll call the police department to find out where your car is, so I can take some pictures and e-mail them to your insurance company.”
“Appreciate it, man, but if the car was totaled like they said, you might not be able to get the papers from the glove box. Grab anything else that might still be in there.”
“No problem. Who’s your insurer?”
“Republic Mutual, the office on Alvern Street in L.A.”
Devon typed the information into his phone. “I don’t think word has gotten to the press about the accident yet, but sooner or later you’ll probably get a visit from someone claiming to be your cousin. I remember when Q Edwards attacked Kinnik Bradley, the press tried all kinds of crazy stuff to get pictures of her in the hospital. If you want, I can alert the hospital about the possibility of that happening.”
“How’d she stop them?”
“Jerome Bradley hired private security to stand guard at her door.”
“Not an option. I don’t have that kind of cash.” I cringed, gritted my teeth and groaned when a lightning pain shot up my leg. “The meds are wearing off.”
“You want me to get a nurse?”
“They can’t do anything. The drip is timed. Just have to wait for the next hit. Do me a favor. Call my cell. I’ll give you the code, so I can listen to my messages.”
Devon did as I asked. After he dialed the code, he carefully put the phone up to my ear. There were a couple of messages from my business manager. Reese was the only woman who’d called, but what did I expect? Only a handful of women had my private cell number. The only reason she had it was because we worked together. I didn’t give the number out to the women I dated in general, because I didn’t want the harassing, “Why didn’t you call? When will I see you again,” etc. questions. That kind of possessiveness made me gag. So, how did I expect any of them to call and show concern for me when I hadn’t been interested enough to share my contact information with them. I thought of it as protecting my freedom when actually all I’d done was wall myself off from any real contact other than strictly sexual.
Just as the messages ended, the door opened and a woman poked her head in. A black woman – something I hadn’t seen since waking up in this God-forsaken place.
“Is this a bad time, Mr. Breland?”
“There hasn’t been a good time since I got here,” I grumbled. “Who are you?”
“Trenyce Clark, the physical therapist assigned to your case. Mr. Burke asked me to talk to you about a possible transport to a hospital in California.”
I sent Devon a questioning glance. “Come in.” She approached the bed, and I tried to focus my one unbandaged eye on her. Devon hadn’t lied. Her body was hidden under typical hospital scrubs, but she appeared to be slender but not skinny. Her long reddish hair was pulled back into a bushy ponytail. From what I could tell, she seemed quite attractive. And tall. I liked tall women. She could have been a model or an actress. Her choice of this profession seemed to be a waste of such beauty.
“First of all, I’m so sorry about your accident. Since you’ll be with us for a little while, it will be my job to help you regain your strength and muscle function once you’re mobile again.”
I blinked and strained to focus on her face. “I have to go back to California.”
Now she and Devon exchanged a glance.
“My recommendation is that you give your body time to heal. In order for the bones in your legs to mend properly, you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the process. Devon said you might be able to stay in Telluride for your recovery. A local move wouldn’t be quite as traumatic. If I were you, I’d seriously consider that option.”
“Well, you’re not me, are you?” I snapped when another pain hit. “You’re not the one stuck in this thing. How long do I have to be in this anyway?”
“Six to seven weeks. During that time, the doctor will put you on a diet that’s high in iron and calcium to aid healing. After you have the surgery to remove the rods, physical therapy would begin. The plan starts with range of motion exercises, stretching and massage. From there we will work on rebuilding muscle tone then muscle strength. You’ll be on crutches and won’t be able to take the stairs.”
I recalled Devon’s earlier words. “You’re not a doctor, are you, Miss Clark?”
A muscle in her jaw ticked. “No, Mr. Breland. I am a licensed clinician. I graduated with honors from a one-year orthopedic physical therapy residency program accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. After graduation, I provided care to patients under the guidance of a senior mentor.”
“Whoa! Whoa!” I held up my hand to stop her lecture. “It wasn’t meant as an insult. I just don’t particularly care for doctors. They think they know everything.”
That brought a smile to her smooth cocoa-colored face. “It’s an occupational hazard. Do you have any questions you want to ask me?”
“Yeah, can you see what you can do about getting this morphine increased?”
She sighed. “You’re on the maximum dosage allowed. Did they inform you that the morphine drip is only for three days?”
My mouth fell open at the prospect. “Hell no. Nobody told me anything. Why?”
“That’s the limit allowed in order to avoid dependency.”
“What happens then?” I despised the panic in my voice but couldn’t disguise it.
“You’ll be switched to another pain medication. Have you ever had addiction issues?”
My gaze again shot to Devon’s. “Not recently. It was at least ten years ago.”
“Hmm. I’ll make a note of that, so Dr. Liu is aware,” she said without any hint of judgment in her voice.
Actually, it had only been seven years since I’d done a stint in a Los Angeles rehab center for cocaine addiction, but ten sounded better. That was before I’d met Devon, but he knew about my thirty days in the voluntary rehabilitation program. That was a period in my life I would rather forget. At the time, I was new to Hollywood. It hadn’t taken me long to discover how bountiful and easily accessible drugs were and how well they numbed the rejection and near poverty experienced by struggling young actors. But all it took was one traffic stop and a short stint in the LA/Orange County jail to make me see that I had a problem I couldn’t control. Immediately, I checked into the center. Since then I hadn’t touched the white powder or any other illegal substance, but Devon often told me it seemed as though I had substituted sex for cocaine. Maybe there was some truth to his accusation, but at least I could control the who, when and where of that habit. Most of the time, anyway.
“Any other questions?” The statuesque therapist asked.
“No.” She smiled, and I could have sworn I felt a familiar stirring, if it hadn’t been for the pain pushing it away. I studied her face with my good eye. She’s definitely attractive. Could even be beautiful with her hair and makeup done. And she smells like good perfume. Wonder what she looks like with her hair loose. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.”
“We can talk about this another time. I don’t want to tire you out. If you need ask me anything else, just have one of the nurses contact me. My office is just upstairs. Please give serious consideration to putting off the move to California.”
She left the room, and as soon as the door closed, Devon said, “I’m with her, V. Craig was serious about his offer. It would be cheaper and safer. I know the idea of staying here Ski-ville doesn’t thrill you, but you’d be living in luxury.”
“I guess I’d need a nurse,” I thought aloud, finally giving the option consideration for the first time.
“Yeah, until you can get around by yourself. I’m sure the hospital can arrange private duty. Do you want me to check into it?”
“I’d appreciate it, man.” I hesitated. “And I don’t want that woman as my physical therapist. You got me?”
“Maybe they can find you another PT. One that’s less attractive.” Devon snickered. “That’s up to you, V. Just tell me what you need me to do.”
“Get Dr. Liu for me. He can tell give Ms. Clark my decision.”
“All right, I’m going to the nurses’ station to see if someone knows where to find him. You’re such a punk, you know that?”
Devon exited the room, and I blew out a long sigh. The expense of transport back to LA had made the decision for me. Although it had been years since I’d lived under someone else’s roof, I decided to take Craig up on his offer.
Coming in December 2012 to Kindle, Nook and Kobo!