IMPORTANT NOTE: Take a Bite Cafe will continue here until 18th October when it will transfer to my new site.
Jimmy makes a suggestion
In the middle of the hospital carpark Nan was giving Bella as piece of her mind big enough to cause a mass extinction event on impact. The carpark was packed with cars and yet there seemed to be no-one around, as if the cars had been abandoned to their fate in the grey October morning.
I was sitting on the hood of Jimmy’s car with him beside me, his arm pressed warm and reassuring to mine.
‘I get the feeling Nan is more annoyed with herself than Bella,’ I said.
He put his arm across my back and rested his hand on the metal beside my hip. ‘Your nan said you had an argument and walked out. She said she thought you were heading over to mine.’
I shrugged and winced at my ribs’ protest. ‘I took a drive to cool off.’
‘She’s probably blaming herself.’
‘It was a bloody fox, being vegetarian is surprisingly dangerous.’
He chuckled and pressed closer. ‘If I’d know I would’ve been there holding your hand.’
‘I know.’ I put my hand over his. ‘It scares me to ask, sometimes.’
He put his thumb over the tips of my fingers. ‘I know. That’s why I want you to know it’s alright and I understand. I’ll always be there when you need me, I promise.’
I smiled faintly at him. That was a dangerous promise to make, so difficult to keep and easily broken by accident. I trusted him but a little voice kept reminding me I’d trusted Rick too. Jimmy wasn’t Rick, I knew it and yet the voice wouldn’t rest.
The middle of a carpark watching an argument didn’t seem the moment to discuss my anxieties so I sighed and said, ‘It wasn’t serious.’ Thanks to my body armour and a heavy dose of luck most of my injuries were bruises, bad bruises like I was an apple someone had played football with but it could’ve been much worse. Even Bessie was alright, except some paintwork damage.
‘It doesn’t need to be serious for you to call me,’ he said. ‘Anything. Any time.’
I squeezed his hand.
He looked back at the one-sided argument. ‘I was going to say you can come and stay with me, if you want.’
‘I won’t a be boinking for a bit.’
His lips brushed my temple. ‘I can give you cuddles, and soup, and bed baths…’
‘That is tempting…’ I leaned into him and my bruises voiced disagreement. ‘What would people say?’
‘If I know you, and I think I do, you won’t be taking time off work. We’ll argue and I’ll insist but you won’t have it but, oh dear, you can’t get into work by yourself on the bus. As it happens I have a spare room right there, at work.’
‘That’s very cunning. Did it take you long to think of?’
‘Only between the ward and here.’ He cleared his throat. ‘I don’t want to be possessive but I’d like to take care of you.’ He half-smiled. ‘And it sounds like you might be on the brink of beating your nan to death with your crutch if you’re stuck in the house all day.’
I turned slightly to look at him. ‘Ah, but what about the stairs.’
‘I suppose I’ll just have to carry you up and down them.’
I grinned. ‘I’m much heavier than I look. All that muscle.’
I laughed, wheezed, and coughed. ‘You do realise if we did that it could turn into unofficially moving in together, which could turn into…’
He took a breath. ‘Big step.’
‘I was looking for my own place,’ I said. ‘I’ll keep looking.’
‘It could be like a trial run.’
‘Try before you buy.’ I curled my fingers around his.
He smiled. ‘You’re more than welcome to a free sample.’
‘In all seriousness,’ I said, frowning at the collar of his jacket. ‘After… I might need a get out of jail free card. Not because…’ I sucked my teeth. ‘I just need to be able to see an escape route if I need it.’
‘I know and I understand.’ He moved as if he was going to kiss my cheek then remembered we were a secret. ‘You’re worth waiting for, Megan Donovan.’
I touched my nose to his shoulder then looked over at Nan and Bella, who’d taken her hearing aids out but Nan didn’t appear to have noticed.
‘What do you mean you thought it would be less stressful?’ Nan shouted at Bella. ‘Do I look less stressed?’ She stopped pacing and took a deep breath, complete with inhaling hand gestures. ‘My blood pressure is about to blow my head off like a stress geyser. If I was anymore stressed it would be the fucking Exorcist.’
‘I think she might be stressed,’ I said.
Jimmy snorted and covered his mouth with the back of his hand. ‘You get that impression. No idea why.’
I chuckled and rested my head against his shoulder. It was really comfortable and I quite fancied a nap.
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