And that was that.
Kash and I went to visit Matt the next hour.
Kash had gone earlier in the day, giving me time with Chrissy, and I knew he was checking up on the Bonham situation. He didn’t share details when he took me with him later, and seeing how weak Matt was feeling, I didn’t say anything to add stress to what he was already going through. Instead, I told him all about my mother’s arrival, and he was grinning by the end.
Coughing, he rasped out, “I can’t wait to meet her. Seems like I’ll love her.”
He probably would, and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing. “The two of you will be like two peas in a pod. Troublemakers.”
He barked out a laugh, then winced. “Don’t make me laugh.” He looked to Kash, his lip lifting. “Can you imagine me taking Bailey’s mom to an orgy night?”
I was horrified. “God, no! Please no.”
Matt started laughing again, then began coughing, and a nurse came in to make sure he was okay. Kash thought it was time we headed back, and Matt was already closing his eyes by the time we were to the door.
There were conversations we didn’t have, and I felt the weight of them heavy.
They were with us almost as soon as we left the estate for the hospital, including how Kash was handling that he was firmly in the press.
The attention he got at the hospital affirmed all of the media.
I hadn’t looked online or watched television, so it was easy to forget. Not when we got to the hospital. All eyes turned to him. His face was on the television, even, and what was worse, no one stood to turn it off. They kept it running as we checked in to see Matt. Kash didn’t really need to; he had checked in earlier. They knew his name. But the new day staff needed my name for the visiting sheet. All the while, total silence in the lobby, except for a baby crying and the reporter discussing the rift in Kash’s family and how Peter Francis had taken him as a son.
I felt the pinch of tension in my shoulders as we left. Kash’s hand went there, smoothing over me, like he could feel it. I was thankful, once we were past the prying eyes back there, but it hadn’t really gotten better. Nurses quieted, watching us as we walked past. One nurse was coming out of a room as we walked by. She startled, saw Kash, and startled again, saying loudly, “Oh my God!” Her colleague hushed her, and both retreated back into the room they’d been leaving. The door was slammed shut behind us.
Then it was the elevators.
Waiting, we heard the whispers.
Getting on, we heard the looks. Yes, heard the looks. They were speaking volumes. A few business guys stood taller. A nurse was blushing. Another was eyeing Kash like he was candy. An elderly couple looked stricken to be in the same elevator as us.
It was like that going up to see Matt, and like that leaving, except word got out.
As soon as we hit the front lounge, press were outside.
Kash sighed, the first time I had heard it that day, and touched my arm. “Hold up.” He was on his phone, having a car service brought around.
“Where are the guards?”
“I thought there’d be an even bigger spectacle if they came with us today.” He was regretting that decision, I could tell.
A hospital staff member came over. “We were sent for you. You have a car waiting by a side exit.”
Kash frowned but confirmed with his phone, and a moment later he nodded to her. She led us through that lobby, through those hallways, past the nursing desk again, and through a whole other department. We were taken out to the emergency room drive-up. A black sedan was waiting for us, pulled up so an ambulance could park behind.
“We’ll get it later. I can send someone for it.”
“The estate, sir?” the guard in the passenger seat turned to ask, the driver already pulling out into traffic.
Kash nodded, his eyes closing. “Yes, please.”
He looked so tired, the reason having nothing to do with sleeping. I ached for him, and so, reaching for his hand, I laced our fingers together.
He let out a sigh and squeezed my hand once. We rode back home that way.
We were a public relations nightmare.
That much was obvious from how the publicist looked stressed. Instead of worrying about Cyclone and Seraphina sneaking in to eavesdrop, the entire group had transferred to a Phoenix Tech building downtown a few days later. Matt was deemed healthy enough to travel, and so here we were. We were around a conference table. My father. Kash. Matt. My mother. Even Marie. The only adult not present was Quinn. Peter was there to speak for her, and she had a luncheon to attend.
I’d started to zone out anytime someone mentioned where Quinn went. She was either doing charities or she was at a luncheon about a charity.
I honestly felt it was an excuse for wealthy socialite women to socialize, gossip, and wine.
I mean, I would have, if I was built that way.
I wasn’t. I was glad where I was, and in that moment, I was sitting between Matt on my right and Chrissy on my left.
When we came into the room, Kash had gone somewhere else to speak with someone. He’d slipped in just moments after the publicist team marched in.
The head lady was a shorter woman, blond hair in a blow-out framing a round face, eyeglasses perched high on her nose, and makeup on point. She was maybe around five three, with a more muscular build. She wasn’t petite, but she wasn’t overweight. She was solid, and as she went right to the front of the conference table, I saw her calf muscles.
The woman worked out in her spare time.
I was inspired by her. Slightly.
The rest of her team followed at a more sedate pace. A lanky guy with glasses, brown hair. Another two younger women, maybe a few years older than me. They were eyeing Matt, but also sending a few furtive looks to Peter as well. Matt was the only one who winked back, getting a sly grin in return. An older woman was with them, but she stood in the back with a stern face. Matt accidentally included her in his wink, and I swear he got a small growl back from the woman.
I liked her already.
I was also scared of her.
The older woman gave Kash an evil side-eye when he came in, but he gave her no attention. He walked to the end of the table and took a seat. He and Peter sat on the other side, three chairs between them. Just after, introductions were made. The head publicist was named Martha. The guy was Colin. Sly-grin girl was Coral. The other one was named Mia. Older publicist woman was named Poppy.