Charisse had kicked her black sneakers off long ago and had her knees pulled up to her chest. She’d spent the drive talking to Raul about moving in with Conor instead of about Gianna as she’d planned. Moving arrangements were a far easier discussion to have than her long lost mother giving her dad a heart attack by returning unannounced.
Marie had texted her a couple of times to hurry because Daddy was awake and asking for her. At least he wasn’t in ICU. It sounded like he was expected to make a full recovery.
Raul pulled the car in front of the hospital. He said, “Would you like to wait for me to park, and I’ll come in with you? You’ve lost color in your face again.”
Charisse flipped down the mirror and pinched her cheeks in an attempt to give herself color, but the red faded quickly. She’d considered going to her apartment first to change out of her t-shirt and jeans into something nice, but she was coming for Daddy and not to impress her mother.
She flipped the mirror back up. The fatigue would most likely hit her as soon as she got out of the car. She’d felt her limbs growing heavy for the last few miles even though she’d done nothing but sit all afternoon. She dropped her legs and bent to put her shoes on. The pregnancy was taking all her energy—worth it if it meant she carried to full term this time.
Anger over her mother returning erupted without warning. She turned to Raul and nearly shouted, “Why did she come back now? Why didn’t she call first? Didn’t she know this would be a shock?”
Raul’s cheeks drooped. His dark hair had looked greyer to her the past week. He placed a gentle hand on hers and said, “I’m sure it’s very difficult for her to approach you. I’m sorry, but I’m guessing she’s doing it the easiest way for her. Easier to just show up out of the blue than pick up the phone and call. What if Mr. LaRouche had said he didn’t want her to come? Easier not to give the option.”
Charisse took a deep breath. “Well, I’m here for Daddy. Maybe she won’t even be in the room when I arrive. I should’ve asked Conor to stay.” She blinked back tears. She needed to be calm. She needed to be solid and unruffled.
“At least wait for me in the lobby. I’ll ride with you in the elevator but not go into the room with you.”
She squeezed his hand. “Thanks, but I’ll be okay. Sorry for yelling. I’m still out of sorts from Josh and now this. I’ll text you when I’m ready to leave.”
Raul nodded, his eyes still filled with concern.
He came around and opened the door, and she stepped out into a cool but humid day. A head rush hit, but she steadied herself on the door, hoping Raul hadn’t noticed her wobble. She stepped onto the sidewalk, determined to be strong. Clouds hung in the sky with no air moving them around.