Thirty-Six and a Half Motives Page 105

“I don’t know. I didn’t open it. Technically, they’re your results. You’re supposed to be the one to open them.”

I took the envelope, looking at the seal. “You didn’t peek.”

“No.”

I grinned. “Wonders never cease.” The old Violet wouldn’t have hesitated to check it out.

“I was too scared.”

I chuckled, then winced as pain shot through my head. So maybe she hadn’t completely changed, and I was okay with that.

“Will your face scar?” Violet asked.

I gingerly touched a swollen cheek. “Neely Kate says they took X-rays while I was out and nothing’s broken. It’s just swelling. They told her it will go down.”

She grabbed my hand, looking serious. “I just want you to know that no matter what the results say, you’re still my sister. And I will love you even if you look like Quasimodo. I might even allow myself to be seen in public with you every once in a while.” Then she cracked a grin. “But only at Walmart. Or the Chuck and Cluck. And only after dark.”

I burst out laughing, then instantly regretted it. I closed my eyes and waited for the room to stop spinning. “Why, Violet Beauregard, you just made a joke.”

“A bad one, but I’m trying.”

I cracked my eyes open.

“Life’s too short to waste it,” she said. “I know you learned that lesson last June.” She grinned. “But we both know I’m slow to catch on.”

I handed the envelope back to her. “Open it. I can’t read anything with my double vision. You read it and tell me what it says.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

I tried to watch her, but I was getting nauseated from the effort of keeping an eye on the both of her. I closed my eyes for a moment to let them rest, then forced them open when I heard her gasp.

“What?” I asked, watching her through cracked eyelids. “What does it say?”

Tears streamed down her face. “We’re sisters.”

“I know that already,” I said impatiently. “I want to know if we’re a match.”

She nodded, her chin quivering. “Yes. We’re a match. It’s truly a miracle.”

“Oh, thank God,” I said, dangerously close to tears again. “When can I donate?”

“Obviously not now. Even if you were ready,” she said. “I need to go through several rounds of chemo and radiation. You can donate once they’ve killed everything off.”

I wished she hadn’t used the words killed off, but I focused on the positive. “So a few months?”

She nodded.

“I’ll be waiting.”

My eyes drifted shut again, but I heard Violet whisper in my ear, “I love you, Rose.”

The sun was setting when I woke up next. Skeeter was sitting in the chair beside my bed, balancing his laptop on his leg. He glanced up, his eyes softening when he saw me staring back.

“Hey,” he said, closing the lid and setting his computer on the nightstand as he stood.

“Hey, yourself,” I said groggily. “You look all legit with your laptop.”

He chuckled. “I don’t keep my books in old ledgers you know.”

“What about spiral notebooks?” I asked.

“Try QuickBooks.”

“Hey, me too,” I said, forcing my eyes to stay open. “Did you get in trouble with the state police?” While Carter has assured me that wasn’t the case, I wanted to hear it from Skeeter himself.

“I’m just fine,” he said softly. “Don’t you be worryin’ about me.”

“Carter said they’re gonna be watchin’ you.”

“Which was part of the reason I was on my laptop. I already told you the above-board businesses have been outperforming the under-the-table ones, especially with all the turmoil the last few months. Jed and I are going to make a bigger push on the ones approved by Uncle Sam.”

“So you’d give up bein’ king?”

“No.” He paused. “Remember when I told you someone has to be in charge, and I’m a better alternative than a lot of men? I still believe that to be true. Things are too shaky for me to just abdicate. So I’ll do as much as I can legit and work on keepin’ the peace in the underworld.”

“Sounds like you’re doin’ something selfless, James Malcolm,” I teased.

“God, no,” he said in disgust. “Say that in public, and I’ll call you a dirty liar.”

“I suppose I owe you another six months,” I said, turning serious. “For savin’ Mason’s life.”

He lifted a shoulder and grimaced. “That was a freebie.”

“You were right,” I said, fighting to keep my eyes open. “When you told J.R. you had changed. You have. You care about people.”

He leaned over and tenderly kissed a spot on my forehead. “That was all you, Rose.”

I grinned. “I might have pointed a thing or two out to you, but the rest was all you.”

He quickly changed the subject, then called Jed to bring us hamburgers and fries. Jed and Neely Kate ate with us, and I managed to keep down a few fries.

The room was dark when I awoke, but Jonah was dozing in the chair beside me. A tablet and his bible sat on the nightstand—he’d clearing been working on his sermon.

I watched him sleep for a few minutes, not wanting to disturb him, but once again, I realized how lucky I was to be blessed. My entire life, I’d struggled with being alone. Now my cup overflowed with friends.

I fell back asleep, surprised to find myself alone when I woke up again. To my surprise, I was also hungry. Sunlight streamed in through the window. I pushed the button to call for the nurse.

When Neely Kate showed up, she was happy to see the nurse had removed my IV and that I’d had few bites of toast and Jell-O.

“She said I could go home in a few hours. After the doctor makes rounds.”

“That’s good news,” she said. “Muffy is stayin’ with your brother-in-law. We can pick her up on the way.”

“I want to see Mason.”

Neely Kate studied me for a moment, then nodded. “Fine, but you have to ride in a wheelchair this time. Jed’s not here to carry you back.”

My head felt better, but I nodded in acceptance. I wasn’t sure how strong I’d be coming back. I had a feeling the guilt from seeing him would tear me apart.

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