CHAPTER SIX Disaster in the form of a honeybee
On impulse, he slipped his arm around her. When Jill leaned into him, their eyes caught with a jolt of electricity. She lifted her chin and his mouth made an easy journey toward her luscious lips. Their lips were almost touching when they heard:
“Stupid bee. You won’t hurt me again. I’ll squish you and ….”
“KATY! NO!” Jacob and Jill screamed at the same moment.
They were too late. As Katy’s fingers closed to squash the honey bee, the bee stung her. Clamping her hand closed, Katy screamed in terror and pain.
“Oh my God.” Jill dropped to hold her daughter. “She’s hyper-allergic to bees.”
“Show me your hand. Katy, show me your hand. Katy, show me your hand,” Jacob screamed.
He knelt next to the shrieking girl and pried her tight fist open. Using his zoo pass, he flicked the stinger from her hand.
“We have to get to the hospital,” Jacob said. “JILL!”
Jill looked up at him. Her worst nightmare unfolding, Jill went completely blank. Horror overwhelmed her. Katy was going to die!
Jacob wrestled Katy from her arms.
“Hold my hand.” He commanded Jill.
He grabbed Jill’s hand. While Katy howled in his arms, Jacob hauled Jill through the zoo. The balloon, tied to Katy’s wrist, trailed behind them like a green beacon. Running past Edward, the volunteer, he yelled for Edward to call Children’s hospital at St. Joseph’s. Katy was heading toward anaphylactic shock. Several people dialed their cell phones at once. The crowd stepped aside and Jacob raced through the zoo.
In his arms, Jacob felt Katy get ever warmer. Somewhere near the front gate, she stopped crying. Her throat closing, his tiny burden began to gasp for air. Her skin burned under his hands. He picked up the pace while dragging Jill behind. From the edge of the parking lot, he unlocked the Lexus. Flying to the front passenger seat, he lay Katy on his lap.
With great effort, Katy pulled in breath. Ripping an inhaler from a plastic Wallgreen’s bag, he shot the Primatene Mist into Katy’s mouth and counted down one minute. He was about to spray the inhaler again when Katy coughed and took a clear breath.
“Oh thank God,” he said.
Moving quickly, he strapped Katy into her car seat then buckled Jill in the passenger seat.
The message that ‘Celia’s granddaughter was in trouble’ had gone out over the zoo airwaves. Elderly volunteers appeared from nowhere to help. The volunteers blocked the road so that Jacob had a clear shot.
Jacob, Jill and a wheezing Katy, sped out of the parking lot. The tires squealed as they turned left onto Twenty-Third Avenue. For once in his Denver life, Jacob hit every green light and missed any road construction.
The emergency staff waited at the curb. Yelling orders, the doctor began treating Katy in her car seat. As if in a trance, Jill stood watching the emergency team. Jacob came around the car to wrap himself around her. Nestled in his tight embrace, Jill began to sob. He covered her face when the nurses carried Katy from the car and onto a stretcher. A nurse cut the forgotten balloon from Katy’s wrist. With Jill in his arms, Jacob watch the green balloon disappear into the bright sky.
“Mr. Marlowe?” An official looking woman stood next to him. She held a clipboard jammed with forms.
“I need to move the car,” he said. He set a credit card on her clipboard. “Can I fill those out when I get back?”
“Sure,” she said. Pointing to the man standing next to Jacob, “We have a valet.”
Still shielding Jill in his arms, Jacob gave the man his keys.
“We’ve had a horrible shock. Is there a place we can….” Jacob asked.
“Of course,” the woman smiled. “I’ll take you to a quiet place where you can talk. But I do need….”
“Sure,” Jacob said. “You’ll let them know that we are back here.”
They followed the woman through the hospital to a small empty waiting room. Jacob settled Jill on his lap. While he held her, stroking her hair and back, Jill cried her heart out. When her tears evened and her breath was deep, he got her some water.
“I’m going to call Mike,” Jacob said. “I have a friend who works Emergency at Denver General. I’m going to call him as well. He might be able to help. Is it all right to get my friend’s help?”
Jill nodded her head. Watching Jacob on the phone, she felt almost drunk from the release of emotions. She was so used to being in control, so used to having to be in control, that she felt ungrounded. When Jacob slipped his arm around her, she tucked herself into him. Surrounded by his warmth and scent, she was safe.
She only let go of Jacob when Megan peeled her from his embrace.
Mike arrived not long after Megan. Her two oldest siblings were all set to take over when Jacob’s doctor friend, John Drayson, came into the room. Tall with dark curly hair, he shook Jacob’s hand then spoke with Mike. Mike introduced him to Jill as the husband of an old Army friend.
“It’s very unusual for a child to have this kind of reaction,” Dr. Drayson said. His accent was foreign, British she thought. His cobalt blue eyes were present, clear and kind.
“I was stung when I was pregnant,” Jill said. “I… I’m allergic to bees… I didn’t have insurance… I mean for the baby… what the state gives you… but not for an allergic reaction. I got really sick.”
“What about Kathleen? Has she ever been stung?” Dr. Drayson asked.
“About a year ago,” Jill said. “We were at the Botanic Gardens. Trevor wanted to take a family break. He was… studying for finals. She likes to run out ahead and just ran into the bee. Trevor wouldn’t let me take her to the Emergency room because he… he didn’t want the disruption or… the expense, I guess. I was horrified that she would die… but Trevor said it was my fault for not watching her. I’m not a very good mother. I took her to Wallgreen’s. It’s across the street from Pete’s and I know some of the pharmacists… from Pete’s…. It was the only thing I could think of…. The pharmacist was very kind. He told me to give her Benedryl. He made a place for us by the pharmacy so he could make sure she was all right. It took a while, but the Benedryl eventually worked. He told me she might die the next time she was stung.”
“Her reaction makes more sense. Without treatment, any allergic reaction can get stronger with each event,” Dr. Drayson said. “This is the Trevor from the engagement party?”
Jill’s head jerked up to look at the doctor.
“My wife and I were there as Jacob’s guests. You put on quite a show. My best-friend was the lawyer who kept shouting from the back. You’ve traded up, my dear.” Dr. Drayson nodded his head toward Jacob. “Is there anything else you can tell me?”
Jill shook her head. Biting her lip, she whispered, “Trevor said… I… Is Katy going to die?”
Dr. Drayson smiled, “She’s very sick. The allergic reaction went through her body. They’re working to keep her body from getting too hot… kind of like a bad fever. She’s responding well and seems very healthy. They gave her steroids to fight the allergic reaction. It will be a while before we know for sure. For now, they’re cautious but very hopeful.”
Jill nodded her head. “Is she in pain?”
“The doctor put her to sleep in her car seat. She won’t remember any of this,” Dr. Drayson said. “She’s well loved and strong, the kind of strong that comes from great mothering. You got her here quickly. These doctors are very best. She has every chance.”
“John?” A doctor stuck his head in the waiting room. “I heard you were here. Do you mind….”
“One minute,” John said to the doctor. Returning to Jill, he said, “If it’s all right with you, I’ll remain as your liaison. At this point, there isn’t anything for you to do. You can stay here with your family. I’ll let you know when I know anything.”
Jill nodded. “Thanks.”
“It’s my pleasure. Jacob has help us with a number of quandaries. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to return a favor,” Dr. Drayson said. He and the other doctor walked from the room.
At the same moment, Jill’s sister Candy came into the room. Candy hugged Jill. The two sisters joined Mike and Megan near the back of the waiting room.
Jacob stood near the door watching the siblings all talk at once. Overwhelmed by the sound of everyone talking, he was grateful when a hospital staff clerk came to the door. He tried to flag Jill, but she was absorbed in her family. Slipping out of the waiting room, Jacob followed the clerk to a cubical where he began filling out Katy’s admission forms.
Yes, he would be responsible. No, Katy didn’t have insurance. Of course, he understood that the bill might be thousands of dollars. The woman sneered at him when he said he would pay cash. Of course, feel free to run my credit.
The clerk ran his social security number, then it was ‘Thank you, Mr. Marlowe. Credit card is fine. Is there anything else I can do for you?’ He was just about to leave when she asked him to autograph her copy of 5280. He shook his head as if he didn’t understand what she asked and left the cubicle.
Standing near the door of the waiting room, Jacob watched Jill and her family interact. Their voices would get loud, as if they were arguing, then someone would laugh. Once one sibling laughed, the rest of them followed.
Intimidated, Jacob convinced himself that he should probably just go home.
Jill could call him if she wanted to see him again. He was passing through the outer door when Steve, Jill’s middle brother came walking in.
“Hey,” Steve said. “Running away?”
Trying to come up with a lie, Jacob stalled for time with a smile.
“Megan and Mike are at it, huh?” Steve said. “God, they drive me crazy. I thought they would be over their bossy brigade by now. Not yet?”
Jacob shook his head.
“Yeah, well. That guy’s looking for you.”
Jacob turned to see Dr. John Drayson flagging him.
“How’s Katy?” Jacob asked.
“She’s improving. Are you leaving?”
“Nah,” Steve said. “We’re just going to get a beer.”
“Being involved with a woman from a huge Catholic families can be a nightmare.” Dr. Drayson’s intelligent eyes laughed at Jacob. “Listen, they need to keep Katy overnight. They wanted me to ask because you are paying cash. She’ll also need some follow up treatment. A lot of follow up treatment. Are you all right with that?”
“Of course,” Jacob said. “Whatever she needs.”
“Good,” Dr. Drayson said. “I take Irish Breakfast tea with a spot of steamed milk. And a sweet.”
“Anything chocolate works. This hospital’s food is particularly bad. I know because I’ve picked up call at every hospital around Denver. Have to pay my historic restoration contractor.”
“Your contractor has large hospital bills and appreciates your diligence in payment.”
Dr. Drayson laughed, “You might want to get dinner.”
Jacob and Steve watched Dr. Drayson walk into the hospital. Turning to Steve, Jacob said, “Beer?”
“Pasquini’s is close. You paying?”
“Sure,” Jacob said.
“Then let’s take the Brits suggestion and have dinner,” Steve said. “They won’t miss us. By the time we get back, they should have settled down a little bit.”
“We’ll get them dinner too?” Jacob asked.
“Shit, you’re paying,” Steve said.
Jill noticed Jacob leave with the administrative woman. She kept one eye on the door hoping to see him come back. But he hadn’t come back. After an hour passed, she knew he had left her.
“I’m going to use the restroom,” Jill said.
“I’ll go with you, Jilly,” Candy said.
“I think I need to be alone,” Jill said. “Thanks.”
“You sure?” Candy’s worried face said more than she would ever speak.
Jill nodded. Jill found a single toilet restroom and locked herself inside. Sitting on the toilet, she reviewed the day. She can’t remember when she’d had a better time - at the zoo or anywhere. She bit her lip wishing she had kissed Jacob earlier. She wanted to… thought about it… but it was… what did he call it? Right. A non-date.
Then all of this.
She would leave too. God.
Pulling up her underwear, she noticed that she was wearing the pretty slip of lace Tanisha gave her for the engagement party. Sandy was right. She hoped Jacob would take the beautiful panties off her. Not after all of this….
Jill was brushing her hair when she realized that she hadn’t thought about paying for Katy’s care. Her usual focus on the bottom line slipped in her distress of Katy. Leaning forward to wipe the mascara smudges from under her eyes, Jill made a face.
Did Jacob give that woman a credit card? Why would he do that? Katy wasn’t his child and he certainly didn’t owe Jill anything. She nodded to herself in the mirror. Time to face the music.
Squaring her shoulders, Jill washed her hands and went to find that administrative woman. Jill clutched her chest when she heard that Jacob had settled everything and taken full responsibility for Katy. The woman looked Jill up and down. With a raised eyebrow to speak her opinion, the woman asked Jill exactly what was her financial arrangement with Mr. Marlowe. Flushing at the woman’s implication that she was a prostitute, Jill backed into Dr. Drayson.
“Katy would like to see you,” he said.
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