Nick looked up at three of his brothers. He was not amused by their
presence, or their comments. Damon had come on the scene just as Morgan had
started her tirade at him. He had rushed around the curtain in time to see her
beat it to the bathroom to be sick. Then when Jamie and Byron had come in,
Damon told them the story in great detail and with lots of embellishments.
“She did not call me a self-righteous prig. If you are going to tell the story, at
least tell it without lying,” Nick told Damon. “Where is she anyway? Mom said
she was having issues with her and she’d be right back.” He was in a room now,
and his head was hurting a whole lot less now that they had given him
something for the intense pain shooting from his temple to his eyeball. He
rubbed his chest again, and noticed that Damon was starting at him intently.
“You gonna get that checked? Or am I gonna have to have Mom haul your
ass in my office again?” Damon, the second oldest, was a doctor. He’d been a
great surgeon until a few years ago, when he’d quit the hospital without a
backward glance and opened his own practice in the same building as Nick
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve had a really shitty day, in case
you hadn’t noticed.” He leaned back against the bed and tried not to think about
the burning in his chest. He needed to focus on something besides the pain. He
thought instead of the girl who had disrupted his otherwise...okay, boring life.
“Mom said that she doesn’t know where she is and she’s trying to find her.
She seemed pretty upset when I saw her before I came in here. Who is this chick
anyway?” Spencer said as he came in the door with his youngest brother, Devin.
Great! Just friggin great! All five of them. Could this day get any worse? Nick
groaned loudly when Damon started the story over yet again, with even more
elaborate details from Jamie and Byron who weren’t even in the room when it
“You all had better have a kiss for your poor old mother, or I’m going to get
really mad.” Margaret Parker always made a grand entrance. “Chick? I’ll have
you know she is a grown woman. And if I hear that derogatory word from your
mouth again without referring to a baby chicken, I will wash it out with a bar of
lye soap, young man. She’s my friend still, no thanks to your brother. I’m trying
to find her a steady job and now housing, if I can locate the little nitwit.” She
simply stood by the only chair in the room and Nick watched as his brother
Byron nearly fell over getting up for her to sit down.
He smiled at her grouse. His mother was, by and far, the most loved mother
of all time, he was sure. She had her six sons wrapped quite tightly around her
little finger. And she knew it.
After the lavish compliments, hugs and kisses, they settled down on any
available place they could in Nick’s private room. He had had to move his legs
twice to make room for two of his brothers. Devin ordered pizzas for them, plus
the nursing staff, and had bribed one of the delivery people stop and get a six
pack of his favorite dark beer. It helped that he owned the shop, he supposed.
They were all successful, men of worth, as their grandfather had called them.
Each of them had gone to college on an academic scholarship, despite the fact
that they could afford any university they wanted to go to.
Spencer and Jamie were university professors, Spencer with tenure. Devin
had his own practice, and also a tenant in his building as a criminal lawyer.
Damon, too, had a practice in the Grant building. Byron had an office there, as
well, but was seldom in residence. He was a famous artist and potter. His staff
worked from the third and fourth floors, taking orders, setting up shows and
keeping track of Byron, who needed a keeper more than any kid would.
“Wait! She was staying at the halfway house where I was ... where that ...
where I was hurt.” He so did not want his brothers to find out that he had nearly
been Big Martha’s lover in a house of recently released prisoners. Women
“Well, that’s where she was until she had to rescue you today. Apparently,
while she was here, a few of Big Martha’s crew went in and tore all of her things
up, and what they couldn’t destroy, they set fire to. And because of the
‘disruptions’ she caused, she’s been told she can’t stay there any longer. And
now ... now I can’t find her.” Nick felt his mother’s pointed glare at him and
flushed. He was rubbing his chest again before he knew it.
“When was the last time you saw her, and where?” Damon was speaking to
his mother, but watching him. Nick put his hand under the blanket. Damon’s
penetrating stare was starting to make him uncomfortable, and before he knew
it, he was back to rubbing again. Well, fuck.
“She was in the hall with that cop, Denty. I really despise that man—
arrogant asshole. I sent her back to Nicky to wait so that I could give him a piece
of my mind, but when I got there, she wasn’t. Did either of you see her?” Nick
looked at his brother when his mother asked him.
“She was with him when I got here, but took off to the ladies room seconds
later. She was sick, she said. She’d been browbeating this one here and suddenly
needed to throw up. That pretty nurse came in just after, and we got busy
moving Nick up here. I didn’t think to check on her since then. You?” Damon
nodded toward him.
Nick hated to admit it, but he hadn’t thought of her either. “She couldn’t
have gotten far. I mean, didn’t you say she was beaten up, too? I still don’t
understand why you didn’t just make her get checked out—you have no
problem telling us what to do on a daily basis.” He started to glare at her, but decided that wasn’t such a smart move. He loved his mom very much, but
frankly, she still frightened him a tad.
“She isn’t my son, and, by far, more than a little—” She stopped when his
room door was thrown open.
“Ms. Parker? That woman you were asking about? They just found her down
in x-ray. Somebody knocked her out with something. They’re taking her to ER
now. I don’t know any more than that.” The obviously flustered nurse came in
and took Nick’s blood pressure, then tsk, tsked at the elevation.
After a few seconds of noisy silence, his mom slapped Damon on the arm to
get him moving. “Don’t just stand there. Go to ER and see to her!” And he took