A scene from Breaking Bread, Book 5 in the Bucks County Series by Margaret Sorick. Find all the excerpts here.
Time moves so much more slowly when you are waiting. The minutes dragged by. About an hour into our wait, Brad and Olivia’s Mom and Aunt Gigi burst through the Emergency Room doors. Della Samuels and her sister Giannara Kennard lived in South Philadelphia so the ride had taken the better part of an hour. They hurried over to where we were sitting and Olivia jumped up to hug them both.
“Is there any news?” Della asked. “Oh my poor boy…”
“Not yet, Mom,” Liv told her. “He was awake and we talked to him earlier, though. That’s a good sign, right?”
“Yes. Usually… You never know, though.” She turned to me with open arms. “Maya, sweetheart…” she said, pulling me in for a hug. “How are you? Livi said this is just one more in a whole host of trouble you’ve had at the cafe. I’m so sorry, my dear.”
“Oh Della, I should be the one apologizing. Brad just got in the way of whoever is targeting my business.”
“But Maya, that’s not your fault. And besides, Brad is the building owner. He had a duty to check out any potential problems on the property,” she said, patting my hand. “But good heavens, why on earth would someone target your business?”
“I don’t know…” I raised a hand and let it drop. “We suspect that there may be a rival cafe going into the building across the street. But after this… I can’t imagine anyone going to these lengths over a competing business.”
“You wouldn’t think so, no…”
“So I don’t know what to think,” I said. “It would be nice if they left some convincing evidence back at the scene…”
“Well, let’s hope so, dear.”
One of the ER nurses came out to the lobby and approached us. “You can come back now. We’re waiting for the radiologist to take a look at the films and the CT scan.”
We followed her back to one of the treatment bays, where we found Brad propped up in bed. His mother rushed to his side. He patiently reassured her that he was alright, despite having a massive headache, then he smiled wanly at the rest of us. “I don’t suppose there’s any news?”
“Not yet,” Leo said. “Jack said he would be over when they finished at the cafe. It seems to be taking a while. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad sign.”
Brad looked at me. “Are you ok, Maya?’
I nodded, choking back tears. How could he be thinking of me at a time like this? I took his hand. “I’m so sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” he asked. “For me being careless? For walking blindly into a dangerous situation? I should’ve turned around as soon as I realized the camera had been smashed.”
“You remember?” Olivia asked.
“Yeah, it’s starting to come back.” He adjusted his pillow to sit up further. “I was upstairs watching TV and I heard a thud and glass breaking. It was hard to tell where it was coming from, so I went outside. Everything looked fine out front, so I went around the side. The light above the door lit up the sidewalk but the back patio area was all dark. Maya, don’t you have a light out there?”
“I do. There’s a dusk to dawn light on the rear of the building.”
“So whoever did this must have taken the light out as well as the camera… Anyway, I had my phone out…. Hey, did anyone find my phone?”
Leo said, “Not that I know of. But Jack will find it if it’s out there.”
Brad nodded, then winced in pain. “Ok, so anyway, I took my phone out to use the flashlight app. I had just come to the corner of the building and shone the light out onto the courtyard… I saw the tables and chairs, the spray paint… And that’s the last thing I remember.” He turned to me again. “I’m sorry Maya. The vandals have struck again.”
“I just can’t understand it. Even if it is Kiki opening another cafe. Why would she be so ruthless? God… It’s not like she needs the money…”
“Let’s not jump to any conclusions until we confirm what she’s doing over there,” Leo said. “I’ll go to the borough office tomorrow, first thing and see what permits she applied for.”
“And sweetie,” Olivia continued, “you need to let Jack know what you suspect.”
“But Liv, all I have is a vague suspicion. There is no real reason to think she’s behind this. Seriously, can you see Miss Almost Pennsylvania getting her hands dirty?”
“No. But maybe she had help.” She squeezed my hand. “Just promise me you’ll tell Jack.”
The ER doctor came in shortly after to let Brad know his tests were all negative and that beyond suffering a concussion, everything was alright. After filling out his discharge paperwork, he was free to go.
Leo and Liv went back home to relieve Kerry of babysitting duty, Della and Gigi offered to stay overnight and Brad tried to argue.
“You really shouldn’t be alone, dear. Not after a concussion,” Della objected. “I insist.”
“Fine,” Brad said with a sigh. “Hey, um…” he went on, “can I have a minute with Maya? Alone?”
She and Gigi exchanged glances, but cleared out of the treatment bay, leaving Brad and me alone. He reached for my hand. “Maya.”
“Hey.” Tears spilled over and ran down my cheeks.
“Oh, honey…” he said, squeezing my hand tight. “Don’t cry. I’m ok. Are you ok? Are … we ok?”
I nodded. “We’re good. We should talk, but … it can wait. Just know that we’re good.”
“Ok. That’s all I needed to hear.”
I leaned down and kissed him. “I’ve never been so scared in my life as I was tonight.”
He reached up and swiped the tears from my cheek. He smiled. “Which time? When you ran out on me? Or when you came back later?”
I laughed. “Hmm. Both I guess.”
“And are you still scared?”
“Just a little,” I said. “But I’m feeling braver every minute.”
“That’s good. I’m going to be ok, Maya. And we’re going to figure this out. All of it. Together.” He pulled me down and kissed me deeply.
Just then Della walked back in. “Sweetheart, they said…” She gasped. “Whoops! Bradford! Maya!” Della said, laughing, now. “Well! When were you two going to tell me…?”
“We’re telling you now, Mom,” Brad said with a grin.
She smirked. “All right. You’re off the hook for now, but only because you’re injured.” She hugged me tight. “I’m so happy, dear. You have no idea!”