As if I didn’t have enough to worry about. But not my taxi-driver who drove sensibly to the hospital, not like that other lunatic who often or not hovered around the Manor. Gave me time to think what I would say to Mary — if she was compos-mentis — although I doubted whether she’d listen to me.
Too bad. I wanted — needed — my life back. And proper nutrition at meal-times.
I laughed out loud, saw the driver staring at me through his mirror, but hell, it released a few pent-up emotions, and I felt a lot better for it. I mended my mascara, added a touch of lip gloss, and was ready to face the world.
Including Beatriz. But she wasn’t in reception and she wasn’t guarding the ICU.
I walked further down the corridor to Hamish’s office. The door was closed. After trying the handle, I turned away, but turned back when I heard the door open and Beatriz came out, looking a bit flustered. Her face reddened when she saw me.
‘Oh, it’s you,’ she said.
‘Who is it?’ said a voice inside.
I folded my arms and stood glaring at that woman, until he showed himself. When he saw me, he rubbed his eyes and beamed his bedside smile.
‘Delcie. How good to see you again.’ His gaze switched back to her. ‘We were wondering when you’d visit Mary, weren’t we Beatriz?’
What’s he been up to?
She didn’t answer, just smirked at me, and walked away.
If he had been playing doctors and nurses, I’d take no notice, even if he stunk of her cheap perfume. My lips tightened, but I forced a smile.
‘No need to wonder anymore. I’m here now. How is she?’
He took a step closer — stale cologne, definitely male — and touched my arm.
‘No cause for alarm. She’s recovering well.’
‘Oh good,’ I said, with an inward sigh of relief. The daunting prospect of tending to her, to Jane’s funeral, and caring for Junior — never mind the paternity threat hanging over the boys — had been lightened.
Hamish explained as we walked back to ICU. ‘Mary gave us quite a scare at first, but the scans showed no damage to her heart. We now think she collapsed through a stress-related attack, which, in layman’s terms, caused her body to shut down for a while.’
‘Oh,’ I said.
Hamish opened the door. ‘And we’re moving her into a general ward later today.’
‘Ah,’ I said. ‘Good.’ To be honest, now she was off the danger list, I was more concerned about my troubles then hers.
Hamish waved me inside. ‘You go ahead, I’m due in surgery soon.’ He rubbed at the designer stubble on his chin. ‘Maybe I’ll see you later.’
Perhaps I’d been imagining his romantic liaison with Beatriz, although I remained puzzled by her reaction when she saw me. I wondered if it had anything to do with Mary.
I’d soon find out.
I pulled aside the curtain around Mary’s bed. She was laying plumped up by pillows, and looking vacant. A jug of water, an empty glass, and a few packet of pills sat on her bedside table. Two chairs at either side; the one nearest her had clothes strewn across it. I moved across to the empty one and sat down.
‘Ah,’ she said, when her eyes focused on me. ‘Another visitor.’
‘Hello,’ I said. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Empty,’ she said gesturing to the pills. ‘A Prozac diet.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Aren’t they feeding you?’
She coughed and cackled. ‘What? Here? In a fucking foreign hospital full of sodding brownies and brownie fodder? A bowl of rice and rat soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’ Her eyes lit up. ‘I don’t suppose…’
‘No alcohol,’ I said. ‘Not until you’re off the medication.’
Her eyes closed. ‘Fat lot of good you are.’ She opened them again. ‘My other visitor was much better.’
‘Who was that?’
‘Oh, that man from NEMO.’
She nodded. ‘He had good news. Said he’d pay to repatriate Jane back to the UK and cover the funeral expenses.’
Really? Conflicting emotions went through me. I had wanted to say goodbye to Jane here, but I was happy Mary’s costs would be covered.
By NEMO — or Rod?
Mary was talking. ‘And that’s not all. My grandson will be flown to Jakarta for specialist treatment. I’ll decide on his future later.’
After the paternity tests? Or something else? ‘I see,’ I said. ‘Looks like it’s all under control.’
‘It will be,’ she said, closing her eyes. ‘If I can get out of here before my flight.’
Her eyes remained closed, and I reckoned my visit had tired her out. I waited a good half-hour, but she didn’t stir. I stood up, and whispered goodbye. She didn’t answer.
I backtracked past Hamish’s office and down the corridor back to reception. There I stopped, and sat down by a table full of old magazines, deep in thought.
Two things were bugging me. Rod’s visit and that woman. I pushed Beatriz to the back-burner while focusing on Rod. I was sure that Mary hadn’t told me everything. Would she be so keen to catch her flight with outstanding matters here?
I should have raised the paternity issue — what had happened? Had Rod told her about Amir? Or something else?
It didn’t make sense. Mary was not the sort of woman to leave that dangling.
A shadow fell across me, and I started. Beatriz. Her lip gloss was smudged, and I smelt stale cologne.
Bitch. How could she?
I faked disinterest, an expression I had perfected at my Swiss finishing school. ‘Well?’ I said. ‘How can I help you?’
‘Hamish mentioned it.’
‘About your friend, Mrs. Parrington.’
‘Oh, did he? I thought her history was private.’
Beatriz lowered her eyes, and then looked back up. ‘It was an intimate moment,’ she said, licking her lips.
I wanted to slap her into ICU, but my breeding stopped me. Instead, I countered with as much indifference I could muster. ‘I’m still waiting.’
She sneered at me. ‘You’ll find out.’ With that, she turned and swanned off.
And that bastard, Hamish. A damn sight worse than sodding Charles.
Men. Bid them goodbye, try not to cry.
I closed my eyes, took several deep breaths, and waited for my heart to cease pounding my ribs. I was disturbed by a cough. A polite one. I opened my eyes. Hamish was smiling at me.
‘I’ve got something to tell you,’ he said.