Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

I love the internet and technology. I set this to post 4 weeks ago from home. I’m currently in Maui. And I’m sure I’m enjoying every minute of it!
Chapter Sixteen
Cami started and sat straight up in bed. The shadowy outline of her dresser and the gray beyond the window meant it was early, earlier than she usually got up. What woke her? Oh yeah. The alarm. She flopped back onto the bed and rolled over with a groan to turn it off. While eating nachos with Grant the previous evening, she’d had the bright idea of surprising him with a ride to the hospital. Forgetting how early she’d have to get up.
She rolled out of bed. Have to keep moving to stay awake. Don’t let the brain know the body is up.
She quickly showered and dressed, smiling with anticipation. The look on Grant’s face when she showed up on his porch would be worth getting up before the birds.
An hour later, the sun was peeking over the San Gabriel Mountains as she parked in front of Grant’s house. She’d wanted to bring bagels as he had done for her, but he couldn’t eat before surgery. She sat in her car for a moment, watching an orange globe inch its way above the horizon. No matter what was going on in the world, you could always be sure the sun would come up the next day.
“God, I wish I knew how to get through to Grant that you are in control. Help him to trust you instead of himself and the doctors. Give me wise words to say and caring things to do.”
She finished the Irish Breakfast tea in her travel mug and put it in the back seat so it wouldn’t remind Grant of his inability to eat or drink.
She rang the doorbell and listened for his step inside. Silence. After a moment, she rang again. His Volvo wagon was in the driveway, pulled up close to the garage, so the Corvette had to be still inside.
She glanced at her watch, wondering. It was not quite seven; he had to be at the hospital by seven-thirty. She’d been sure she would be in time to catch him before he drove himself. One more peal of the bell. Still quiet.
She returned to her Tahoe and sat for a moment, considering what to do. She could go back to Agua Vida. But she’d already arranged to take the day off. It was too early to go put the clear coat on the insurance office mural. She could call Paige and go to breakfast.
But she wanted to be with Grant. His house key, hanging with the others from her ignition, beckoned her. She could poke her head in, call his name, make sure he was gone, not oversleeping.
A minute later she returned to the car, her hands shaking. No one had answered her “Yoo hoo,” when she unlocked the door. Orca sat in the middle of the foyer, tail lashing behind him, obviously trying to scare her.
It worked.
She started the car and headed to Anaheim Hills Medical Center.
“Can I help you, miss?” The blue-haired volunteer addressed Cami from behind a low desk.
“I’m looking for Grant Andrews, he’s having arthroscopic surgery today. I’m a friend of his. I was going to bring him, but I guess I got there too late….” Her voice trailed off.
The woman’s fingers flew over the keyboard in front of her. “Ride the elevator to the third floor, turn right and there’s a waiting room for friends and family at the end of the hall up there. There should be a volunteer nearby, tell her who you’re waiting for.”
Cami entered the waiting room a few minutes later and stopped. Heat crept up her neck.
Delia sat leafing through a glossy magazine. She glanced up and a look of triumph spread across her face.
“Hi. Cami, isn’t it? It’s so great that you could come. I’ll be sure and tell Grant you stopped by. He was saying on the ride here that he didn’t think anyone except me would be able to come. It’s so sad, isn’t it, when people have to go through things like this with no friends or family to support them? That’s why I rearranged my schedule for today, so I could be here for Grant.”
“You …” Cami cleared her throat. “You rode here with Grant this morning?”
“I sure did. He was so cute when I got to his house. I was a little early and he had just gotten out of the shower.”
“I have to go.” Cami turned and hurried down the hall. Now what? She stabbed the elevator call button. Taking a deep breath, she stared up at the arrows over the double doors, willing the one pointing down to light up.
Did he really want Delia here? She couldn’t exactly stop the surgery to ask Grant himself. And she couldn’t wait with Delia, she couldn’t.
Two bells rang signaling elevator arrivals. Cami stepped into one as Peg Andrews got off the other.
“Cami!” Peg saw her. “I’m so glad you’re - ” The elevator door shut, cutting off the rest of her sentence. Cami caught a glimpse of Peg’s confused expression, a reflection of her own look in the elevator door.
Once in her car and headed back to Agua Vida, the hot tears came. “What is going on?” she yelled at Grant in her imagination, seeing his smug expression. “I thought we… I can’t believe you… and Delia.” Her cell phone interrupted her rant.
“Hello?” She didn’t take her eyes off the road to read the calling number.
“Cami, it’s Peg.”
“Hi.” She kept her voice cool.
“Oh, honey. I couldn’t believe it when I walked into the waiting room and saw Delia there. I know what a shock that must have been for you.”
“I was a little surprised of course, but Grant is free to have whomever he pleases at the hospital. It was foolish of me to think I should be there.”
“I know Grant would rather have you here. I can’t get a straight answer from Delia about how she ended up bringing him. I’m sure it wasn’t his idea. Where are you?”
“On my way home.” To smother the embarrassment with a big serving of french toast.
“Can you come back?”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Will you promise to not be angry at Grant until we find out what’s going on?”
“I feel humiliated.” Saying it out loud didn’t help.
“I’ll talk to Grant as soon as I can. I know he’ll want to call you. But if he can’t, I will. We’ll get to the truth.”
“Okay. I won’t be mad until I’ve heard from you or him.” Even saying the words was tough, keeping the promise would take some work. She raised her hand to shield her eyes from the sun glaring into the car as she drove south on the 73.
“Thank you. The doctor rang up to the waiting room before I called to say they were getting started. It’s not a long procedure, so we should know something soon.”
“Call me when you can.”
After disconnecting, Cami changed lanes and considered getting off the freeway. She let her foot off the gas. But remembering Delia’s victorious smirk, she pressed the accelerator instead.
After a quick stop at home to change and pick up Petey, Cami headed to the beach. Since she already planned to take the day off it would be nice to soak up some sun and just think. She had a lot of that to do. And as enticing as the thought of eggs with chiles was, this would be more productive. Hopefully.
She spread a beach towel out and flipped open a folding chair. Dropping into it, she stared into the horizon, watching the ocean fade in brilliance as it got closer to the sky. It was still early enough that she had the beach to herself except for an occasional jogger. She pulled her journal out of her tote bag, opened it, and began writing.
I’m sitting on the beach wondering what God is up to. Why would He bring Grant into my life when I was doing okay without him? Things are complicated in a way they never were before. I knew what I was doing and why. I’m a painter, a Christian, a daughter, a friend. Now, I’m confused and am having feelings I’ve never had before.
And weird things are happening. It all started when Grant came back into my life. Is a relationship with him worth the changes? I was happy and content. Though, I’m even happier when I know I’m going to be seeing him. Okay, the pros and cons of having him in my life. Pro’s: He’s great. He’s fun, thoughtful, kind. He’s a nice guy and I don’t know many nice guys any more. He cares for me. He cares for his family. He knows how to change flat tires. He says he can cook, though I haven’t yet experienced it myself. Cons: He has a cat.
Cami looked up from her writing to smile at Petey. He stretched in the sun, buried his nose in the sand, and inhaled deeply. Contentment showed in his shoulders as he wiggled to make a niche.
But he likes Petey. And Petey likes him. That’s a definite pro. Okay, more cons: he has a public life that attracts more women than a two-for-one sale at Nordstroms. And women like Delia are hard for me to deal with. If I choose to be involved with him, that public life comes with expectations of me. Like appearance and where I work. Teaching and painting are okay, but only as a volunteer, and if I concentrate on something like literacy. I might be exaggerating that. I’ll have to ask some more questions. Another con is he’s not as interested in spiritual matters as I am. But I do see God working in him. I may be a little further along in my spiritual life than he is. But, if I were talking to a student, I’d tell her to not get involved with anyone who wasn’t on the same spiritual path. And Grant and I are definitely not. Am I being hypocritical if I don’t do what I tell others to do?
Her ringing cell phone interrupted Cami’s thoughts.
“It’s Peg. Grant is out of surgery. It went well, the doctor is happy with it.”
“That’s great. How is he feeling?”
“What? Was there more damage? Or did something go wrong?”
“No, it’s not that. One thing you should know about my son: he’s a wimp when it comes to pain.”
“What are you talking about? He’s a professional athlete. He throws his body around for fun.”
“I know. He’ll dive into the field after grounders, then whine about a splinter.”
Cami laughed. “I don’t believe it.”
“Just wait. Anyway, he’s taken some pretty strong pain medication and I didn’t have a chance to ask him about Delia.”
“Is she still there?”
“Oh, yes. But I insisted she stay in the waiting room, so she hasn’t seen him. I’ll tell her he’s fine, he’s sleeping, and I’ll be taking him home, so she might as well leave.”
“Should I call him later? At home?”
“Why don’t you come by early this evening? He should be feeling more like himself by then.”
“Okay. I’ll see you later.”
Cami pushed the button to end the call and tossed the phone into her bag.
“Come on, Petey. We need some exercise.” She snapped a leash onto the dog’s collar and they started down the shore at a brisk pace, her heart lightening with each stride.
A mile down the coast, she turned around and began the walk back to her chair. Petey’s tongue dragged but he’d easily kept up with her. As she got closer to her spot, she noticed she had company. There had been no one around when she left, but a few groups had now settled near her.
She narrowed her eyes, trying to bring her chair into focus.
She broke into a run.
Someone sat on her towel.

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