I flung the cell phone down as if it was a living creature, about to bite me.
Caught by the LAW!
I giggled a little – this was ridiculous, but still... now I felt bad about having pried into Kiddo's (it's a fucking diary, Portman!) notebook. I shouldn't have done that. I put it back into the backpack and stuffed the hoodie on top of it, when I suddenly remembered my bath.
I hurried into the bathroom and quickly turned off the water at the last minute. The tub was filled to the edge; hot enough to boil eggs, and the whole room was heated and damp. I stripped off my clothes, which was a relief, and slipped into my heavy terrycloth bathrobe. Since the water would have to cool down a little, I decided to go to part two of my earlier plan: a hot tea.
When I entered the living room, Kiddo's cell came to life again, this time with music. Wonderingly, I recognized Jeff Buckley's 'I Want Someone Badly'. Interesting choice for a ringtone.
A quick check showed it was LAW again. It drove me nuts. Who or what the fuck was LAW? The knowledge that Kiddo had told LAW about us, was unnerving. I wished I hadn't read his (Diary!) notebook.
I wished LAW would hang the fuck up!
But my curiosity was stronger. I pressed the connect button, held the phone to my ear and said, "Hello?"
There was a long moment of silence.
"Hello... I wanted to talk to Edward Grey?" A male voice.
"Uhm... yes, this is Edward's number. But he isn't here. May I ask who is calling?"
Another pause. Then the voice said, "Lawrence Newton. I am Edward's uncle. And you are...?"
So it's the grannies' home groundskeeper. Hi, pops!
"Ok... Mrs. Portman, where is Edward? I would really like to talk to him."
I would like to talk to him too, now that you've said it.
"I don't know, Mr. Newton, isn't he home yet? It's been almost three hours, since he left – I thought he..."
Pops cut me off, "Wait, wait – he left? Where is 'here', and why do you have his cell? Did something happen to him?" He sounded anxious now.
"Yes, he left," I answered. "He just forgot his backpack at my place, and when you called, I thought it was him, so..."
"...Edward Never. Forgets. His backpack."
"Oh? Well, I'm afraid, this time he did."
There was another moment of silence. I could hear Kiddo's uncle breathe; he seemed to be quite agitated.
"Are you 'The Woman' Edward met on Friday night?" he asked without premonition.
I could literally hear the capitals. A page of a small red notebook flipped open before my inner eyes... "Today I told Law about The Woman..." Shit, yes – I was 'The Woman'!
"Yes, I am."
"What happened?" There was a constant reproval in his voice which started to piss me off. The question had sounded rather like he was asking, 'What did you do him?' – and I wasn't going to have that.
"Nothing happened, Mr. Newton. I ran into Edward at the train station, I invited him to my place, we got to talking, he left. That's it."
...apart from the foot massage, my neighbor's bleeding nose, and the fact that I wished your nephew would have fucked me senseless on the carpet.
"Without his backpack?"
"Without his backpack."
Christ – what's the fuzz about this bloody backpack all the time?
"I don't believe you," Pops said bluntly.
I said nothing. After a few moments I heard him sigh and he continued,
"When Edward comes back, would you please tell him to call me?"
When? Not if?
"I don't think he will come back, Mr. Newton."
Another sigh. "He will. But if I don't hear from him in the next two hours, I'll call the cops."
"Thank you, Mrs. Portman," he said and hung up.
"Fuck you, grandpa!" I hissed at the phone in my hand, pointlessly.
He had acted as if we were talking about a six year old and I was a child molester or something. Call the cops? Jesus...
I tucked the cell phone back into its pink and yellow fold. "If anyone else should mention you to me once more tonight, someone will die!" I promised the damned backpack and tossed it back on the couch, a second before my door bell rang.
God... will this day ever end?
If this was Tom, someone would die right now, if he said 'backpack' or not!
But no, Tom would have knocked...
When. Not if.
Kiddo? My heartbeat accelerated with the mere thought that it might be him. Like I was a silly teenage girl, I hurried to the door and pressed the button of the intercom, "Yes?"
"It's me. I need my backpack."
It took him so long to come upstairs that I was already wondering if he had changed his mind. When I checked the door for the third time, he was finally there – one hand on the door frame as if he needed leverage, his shoes in a small puddle of water. He was soaking wet from the rain. His shirt was glued to his body, and the sight of his defined chest and abs made me instantly remember my dream on the roof, and I wanted to...
This is Annie's brain calling +++ Message to hands: 'Don't!' +++ Over and out.
Water was running from his hair and dripping from his nose, and his tongue slid out to lick it away. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. "Annie, I know it's late, and you're mad at me, but..."
Oh, shut up!
Without a second thought, I interrupted his apology by flinging my arms around his neck and holding him tight. He staggered a little and moaned briefly in surprise, before he reluctantly put his arm around my waist.
"I'm not mad at you," I whispered in his neck. "I'm glad you came back."
He lowered his head and breathed into my hair, "Annie..."
It was only then that I noticed his entire body was shaking with cold. I reached down for his arm to remove it from me, and took a step back.
"God, you are completely drenched, you must be freezing! Where the hell were you... have you been outside in the rain for the last three hours?"
Not waiting for an answer, I pulled him inside.
When the door clicked shut, I had just enough time to turn around before Kiddo lurched into me, nailing me to the door with his body. His trembling hands delicately cupped my face, and he leaned his forehead against mine. It was not only the cold water, which leaked from his hair and dropped onto my breasts, that made me gasp. Our lips were just an inch apart. I held my breath.
"Annie..." he murmured, "How can you not be mad at me?" He slurred a little, as if he were drunk.
"We'll discuss that later," I answered weakly, "First of all, we must get you dry and warm, ok?"
But in spite of myself I slung my arms around his middle, pulling him closer to me. His hands wandered down from my face to my neck, both his thumbs tenderly stroking my jaw, his lips brushed along my cheek. This was pure bliss. I closed my eyes.
Are you going to kiss me now? Uh yes, please...
When he continued, his voice was so low that it was almost inaudible.
"No, Annie. First of all I need... I really need..."
God, yes – I need that too!
"... my backpack," he finished.
And then his knees gave way.
Instinctively, my arms tensed under his shoulders, trying to support him. But of course, once gone limp, he was way too heavy for me to hold him up. He sank down as if shot with a dart gun; I still held him in my arms when we both landed on the floor with a loud thud.
Utterly shocked, I repeatedly yelled his name, in different combinations with all kinds of profanities. His weight pinned me down, and I struggled to squirm free. To my great relief, he hadn't passed out completely; I noticed he was trying to help me. Eventually I could get on my knees, and with some effort, manage to make him sit up and lean against the wall.
"Fuck, Edward, what's wrong? Are you sick? You're scaring the shit out of me!"
He was shaking violently now. His eyelids fluttered open, and he whispered one single word, "Backpack."
I hurried to the couch and grabbed the dotted thing – my recent oath to kill completely forgotten. Kneeling down by Kiddo's side, I threw it onto his lap. Anxiously, I watched him trying to unbuckle the flap with his shaking hands – I was dead scared by now, and this took much too long for my liking.
"Let me help you," I pushed his hands aside and tore into the backpack on my knees. "What is it, Kiddo, tell me what you need." In one corner of my mind, I noticed I had called him by the wrong name, but I didn't care.
"Dextrose... tawlets... adde boddom..." he was really slurring now, and I could see how hard he was struggling to stay conscious.
I pulled out the hoodie and turned the backpack upside down to empty it completely. There was a pack of dextro energy. I tore it open, and the square tablets, all individually wrapped, fell to the floor. I picked up one of them and cussed when I tried to remove the cellophane; my fingers couldn't get a grip on the small pull tab.
"What kind of idiot invented this fucking crap?" I yelled hysterically, tears welling up. "How in hell are you supposed to get that shit inside your body without help, shaking like that...? Shit! Fuck!"
Kiddo made a feeble noise which sounded like a giggle. How could he still giggle? I sobbed, when the wrapping finally came off. Useless as his hands were by now, I didn't try to hand it to him.
"Open your mouth," I ordered. He obeyed. I put the tablet on his tongue, and started to unwrap the next one. "How much do you need?" He mumbled something that sounded like six, and closed his eyes, chewing.
"Don't you dare blackout in my hallway, do you hear me? I'll be so mad at you!"
He nodded with closed eyes, "Promise."
One after the other, I fed him five more tablets before he held up one shaky hand to indicate he had enough. I watched him apprehensively. After a while the tremor ceased, and he opened his eyes.
"Sorry," he said, still a little fuzzy. And then he frowned.
Yes, that's my boy – welcome back!
He slowly reached out to wipe a single tear off my cheek with his thumb. "Why... cry?" he muttered.
I angrily rubbed my face with both hands, and his arm fell back on the floor next to him.
"Because you scared the living daylight out of me! God...! Are you sure you don't need a doctor?"
He shook his head. "Sure. Better in a minute. Promise."
"You're a diabetic," I stated. He closed his eyes again and nodded yes.
"Fuck! And when were you going to tell me about it? Before or after you planned to bite the dust in my hallway?" I was pretty agitated, only slowly recovering from my... adrenaline rush.
It's very common – you can google it!
He giggled again, and looked at me.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he said, much more clearly now. "And you were doing great, by the way. Thank you, Annie."
"This isn't funny, Edward, not at all," I reproved. "And we still have to get you out of these wet clothes, or else you will catch your death. Do you think you're able to get up and walk a few steps?"
"In a bit. Give me one more minute."
I sighed and reached for the backpack to fetch his cell phone.
"You should call your uncle, by the way. Before he sends in a fucking swat team."
He raised his brows but didn't say anything, just took the phone from my hand and pressed the speed dial button. I went to my bedroom to give him some privacy. And to find something Kiddo could wear while his clothes were in the dryer.
But I left the door ajar, and when I heard his voice, I just sat down on the bed, perfectly still and big-eared.
"Yeah, it's me ... I know, sorry ... no, I'm fine ... yes ... yes, it's her ... you did, really? … because I kinda screwed things up again, ok? ... no, it was black ... no idea, Law, can we talk about that tomorrow? ... no, I was walking, and then I felt a hypo coming when I wasn't halfway there yet, so I turned and walked back ... yes … Law! … I really don't think ... oh, come on! … ok … ok ... I said ok, Law! ... Annie?"
I winced, surprised. "Yes?"
"He wants to talk to you."
Reluctantly, I walked over and took the phone. Kiddo looked up warily as I held it to my ear.
"Annie," I offered for the second time.
"Annie... I would come and pick Edward up, but he doesn't want me to. He's grown-up, so it's his decision. He seems to think that it is all right with you if he stays?"
It sounded like a question and he paused. So I answered, "Yes. If he wants to stay... sure."
"Ok. There are a few things you need to know then. Important things. Do I have your attention?"
Grandpa Law was already pissing me off again, but I kept my composure. "I'm listening."
"First off, Edward hasn't slept since last Friday, not at all, and I'm not using a metaphor here, ok? That's quite a while to go without sleep, you can do the math. Second – he hasn't eaten much either. And from all I know, I can tell without a doubt, he's on the verge of a breakdown, and that's to be taken literally too. Is that understood?"
I looked down at Kiddo, who had closed his eyes again. His arms slung around his knees, he was slightly rocking back and forth.
"I see," I answered, and it was true. I definitely could see his fatigue now. Why hadn't I noticed the dark shades under Kiddo's eyes before?
Because you were too much occupied with lusting after his other features, Portman!
"Good. He needs to eat something. Soon. The dextrose is just an emergency measure, the effect won't last long. He needs something high in carbs. After that, he must stay awake for at least 30 minutes, and then he must check his blood sugar and have an injection. He tends to be sloppy with that, so he needs someone to keep an eye on it. And last, he needs to sleep. Sedate him, if necessary – there are drops in his backpack, he will take them willingly. But he must sleep! Do you think you can cope with that?"
"I will take care of him, Mr. Newton, don't worry."
At my words, Kiddo looked up and rolled his eyes.
"Thank you, Annie. I'm counting on you." Pops paused and cleared his throat. "And I apologize, if I appeared a little rude earlier. I was just worried. Edward is my only family and he is... special."
"It's all fine, Mr. Newton, I understand that."
"My friends call me Law. Oh, and please tell Edward I give him a day off tomorrow."
"I will. Good night, Law."
I handed the cell back to Kiddo. He smiled wryly. "Was it very bad?"
"Yes," I answered, smiling back. "But it was worth it. You have no idea how much I just learned about you."
He buried his face in his hands and moaned in mock exasperation.
Meanwhile, his hair had half dried and started to curl in the cutest of ways. I remembered how it had felt under my hand when Kiddo had laid his head on my thigh, the memory like an echo of the overwhelming tenderness which had overcome me in that moment.
I would care for him.
Food. Meds. Sleep. In that order.
"Come on, Edward, take your clothes off."