Adam comes to Kyle to report on Emily’s condition. He reveals that there is a faith healer in Cozumel, a priest who’s said to be able to cure terminally ill patients. Emily isn’t in remission as she said. She plans to visit this priest and see if he can heal her.
They shook hands and walked opposite directions. Kyle found himself at the dining room without realizing he’d arrived. Emily’s place was empty, but his family greeted him as if he’d been gone for years instead of five minutes.
After lunch, Cindy took Mindy to the singing and Randy went back to the pool. Carmelita and Kyle sat in one of the lounges having a few drinks, watching the ocean float by.
“What did he tell you?”
“She’s not in remission,” he mumbled. “She wants to see a faith healer in Cozumel.”
“Any port in a storm, I guess.”
“But a faith healer, Lita?”
“If you’d heard about it when Margo was sick, you’d have leaped at that chance too. Don’t you destroy that girl’s belief because you feel cheated!”
“You figure your faith wasn’t enough to keep Margo alive. You prayed and prayed for her to get better, not leave you, not leave your kids…. It was her time, but you wouldn’t accept that. I saw that girl’s face every time you left her room. She didn’t want to leave you, but she knew she couldn’t fight it anymore. Why do you think she lingered so long? She did that for you. Wasn’t nothing you could do about it, so you let it eat you up. Now you’ve took up with another sick woman. What is it inside you that makes you want to make things better?”
“My father left us when I was seven and my brother was three. Mom fell apart and I had to make it better. She was a dancer before she married, so I gave her the idea of opening a dance studio. She borrowed the money from friends and built one in our backyard. It grew from there.”
“And you got in the habit of always fixing everything after that, huh?”
Kyle shrugged, nodding. “There was always something broken, so I learned how to be a handyman. We never had quite enough money, so I took up mowing yards. We needed customers, so I made up fliers and took them around town on my bike.”
“And she let you do all that? I always thought your mama had a selfish streak. That just proves it.”
“She’s not as bad as Margo’s. That woman wrote the book on selfish, taking it to a whole new level.”
“Well, she ain’t in this conversation. But you’re right.”
They sat in silence several minutes while Kyle tried to put his thoughts together. Finding it impossible, he put his glass against his forehead, closing his eyes.
“What am I doing, Lita?”
Her fingers wrapped around his. “Falling in love, baby.”
* * *
Emily wasn’t at dinner, so Kyle went to see her in the infirmary afterward. The nurse didn’t want to let him in, but he heard Emily’s imperious voice telling her to let him through. She looked incredibly pale, like a porcelain doll. Her eyes were hot and feverish, her skin drawn tightly over her bones. Her dark hair stood out in bold contrast against her pallor.
She held out her hand to him, smiling. “I told them earlier to let you in. I guess she forgot.”
“How are you feeling?”
“How do I look?”
“Rather like hell.”
“Funny, I feel like that too. I’m sorry. I should have been honest with you. Adam told me what you talked about. The kid can’t keep anything from me. I see into his soul.”
“Yeah, I’d have made a great inquisitor, don’t you think?” Emily closed her eyes, sighing.
“Do you really think this priest can help you, Emily?”
“I have to try, Kyle. I’ve tried conventional means. I’ve done the homeopathic route. I’m grasping at straws, unwilling to let go. This life isn’t all that great, but it’s the only one I’ve got.”
“And you keep hoping there can be something better.”
She nodded slowly. “I know there can. But I’m waiting and it doesn’t get any better. I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t wait forever.”
He kissed her fingers. They felt cold to his lips. “You don’t have to, Emily. I’m here now.”
Her green eyes fluttered open. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I’ve waited for you my entire life. Now that I’ve found you, I’m dying.” She started giggling rather hysterically, tears flowing down her cheeks. “God, the irony!”
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