“Ease up on her. The lady has a business to run.” Nick wiggled his brows in a valiant attempt to lighten the mood. “I’m sure she’d like time alone with your dad . . . to make some noise.”
Mary poked him with the toe of her tennis shoe. To Blossom, she said, “I’ll return before you wake up tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry about it. If you have to go, who cares?”
“Don’t be angry. Everything’s okay.”
“It’s not okay. Look, Mary. Just look.” Tears rolled down Blossom’s cheeks. Tipping her head forward, she pointed at her crown. “My hair’s falling out and I’m scared.”
Sorrow gripped Mary. She’s losing her beautiful hair.
She forced a smile on her lips. “Dr. Lash said this would happen. Remember?” With the lightest touch, she skimmed her palm over the crown of curls. Her stomach lurched when a couple of strands came free. “Your hair will grow back. You’ll see. When you’re better, you’ll grow your hair all the way to your toes.”
Throwing herself against the pillows, Blossom stared dejectedly at the ceiling. “My hair won’t grow back. I’ll lose it and I’ll die. No one sneaks past leukemia twice. I’m in deep shit.”
“You shouldn’t swear,” Nick said, his voice catching.
Tears streamed down Blossom’s face. “What are you going to do? Ground me?”
“Naw. Seems like you’ve had enough punishment.”
Rising, he strode quickly from the room. The sound of muffled tears drifted in from the corridor, and Mary’s heart went out to him.
Taking the place on the bed he’d warmed, she said, “I won’t go back to work tonight, okay? I’ll stay all night.”
Suspicion gathered in Blossom’s eyes. “Really?”
“You bet, muchacha. But if I stay, we’ll let your father leave at ten o’clock. He hasn’t enjoyed a full night’s sleep in weeks. Comprendo?”
Brightening, Blossom gulped down tears. “No problemo.”
“We’re not playing games until midnight. You’ll sleep until you get sick.”
“You aren’t sucking me into hours of late night TV. If I’m forced to watch another cartoon, my brains will melt.”
Nick returned and she asked him, “How long are you staying?”
His mouth curved wryly. “You tell me.”
“Plan on two more hours.” She rummaged through her purse for her cell phone. “I have to call Finney and walk her through Payroll 101. Why don’t you set up the Risk board so all three of us can play?”
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