Arlyn threw open the door to her apartment before Cordel even had a chance to knock.
“I am so sorry about yesterday,” she said. “That was totally my fault and it will never happen again.”
“It’s okay,” said Cordel as he walked in the door, “well it will be as soon as you tell me why.”
“Why?” Arlyn cocked her head as she closed the door.
“Yes, I would like to know why you refused to answer the door after making such a fuss about me coming here and not changing the schedule,” answered Cordel. “I did what you asked.”
“You did,” admitted Arlyn, “and I appreciate that more than you know.”
“Then show me your appreciation by telling me why,” he said.
“All you need to know is that it won’t happen again,” stated Arlyn. She could feel her blood pressuring rising at Cordel’s insistence. Why couldn’t the mana just accept the apology?
She gave him a smile. “I would have brought your favorite food, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t carrots and I had no idea what it would be, so you’ll just have to take my apology.”
“Or I could terminate the contract,” said Cordel as he sat on the couch.
“You wouldn’t.” Arlyn crossed her arms.
“I would,” he said putting his feet on her coffee table.
Arlyn walked over and slapped his feet down. “It’s none of your business.”
“We’re working together,” said Cordel. “I need to know you’re reliable.”
“I’m telling you I am,” said Arlyn as a tingle started to assault her arms. She took in a deep breath and tried to steady her nerves. If she went into a cataplexic state now, she’s have to tell Cordel and that was the last thing she wanted. “The fact that I’ve authored over thirty books as a ghost writer should also tell you I am. I will also add that ten of those hit the best seller lists.”
“Why don’t you have any existence on the internet?” Crodel asked. “I had my assistant do a back ground check and nothing came up.”
“I’m a private person,” said Arlyn. “My whole career is to be listen, write, and never been seen.”
Cordel shook his head. “I think it’s more than that. I think you’re hiding something from me.”
“Because I am and it’s none of your business!”
“I’m making it my business,” said Cordel as he stood. “I don’t work with people who are keeping secrets from me. That’s a good way to get hurt.”
“We’re not on location,” said Arlyn, her legs starting to grow heavy. “We’re in my apartment. Now I need you to stop.” She paused taking another deep breath. “Please.”
“You need to think of Molly,” said Cordel. “What will happen to her if I terminate this deal?”
Her thoughts turned to how devastated Molly would be if she lost her job. A job Molly loved and it would be all Arlyn’s fault, just because she refused to tell Cordel about her condition.
Arlyn’s body started to go numb as she sat on the couch. Cataplexy was happening and she wasn’t going to be able to stop it. “Don’t call an ambulance.”
Cordel watched as Arlyn wilted onto the couch and appeared to pass out.
“What the …” he walked over to her and took her pulse. It was high so he pulled out his phone to dial 911, when he remembered her last words and put his phone back into his pocket.
“Don’t call the ambulance?” he mused out loud. “I don’t even …” He stood and started to pace, thrusting his hands through his hair. “I mean any normal person would call an ambulance.”
He thought about the way she moved to the couch before she passed out. She knew she was going to, he decided and that’s why she told him not to call an ambulance. He paced some more and tried to think of what to do. He grabbed a throw pillow and placed it behind her head.
“Okay, now what?” to the unresponsive Arlyn. Again he raked his hands through his hair and then bit his fingernail, a nervous habit he had shed back in junior high. “She’s breathing, so that’s good. Maybe I should elevate her feet?” he mused out loud. “I wonder if she needs a spoon in her mouth so she doesn’t bite her tongue.” He slapped his forehead. “That is a seizure, not ...” he guestered to the sleeping Arlyn. “…whatever this is.”
He rubbed his hands over his face. “Think Cordel, you’ve had field training in first aide. You know what to do.” He shook his head. “No, you have a medic on staff for these things telling you what to do.”
“You’re talking to yourself, Cordel,” he said. “You sound like a raving lunatic.” Maybe he was a lunatic? Maybe he had caused this? “You just had to push. Molly told you not to.” He snapped his fingers. “Molly!”
Arlyn had said nothing about calling Molly. He tapping in the number and waited. “This is Molly.”
“Molly, thank God, this is Cordel Foster.”
“Mr. Foster, I hope everything is okay,” said Molly.
“No, it isn’t … far from it,” replied Cordel. “I came over to Arlyn’s apartment for our interview and I was trying to get to the bottom of why she ditched me yesterday and she just passed out on the couch, but not before … and get this … she told me not to call an ambulance.”
“Is she breathing?” asked Molly, calmly.
“Yes, but her blood pressure is high,” said Cordel.
“It always is during one of these attacks,” said Molly.
“So this happens often?” asked Cordel.
“More than she’d like,” said Molly. “Did she bump her head on anything?”
“No, she was near the couch,” answered Cordel.
“Good. She’ll wake up, just give her time.”
“Wake up? Molly, what is going on?”
“She’ll tell you when she wakes up,” answered Molly. “She’ll have no other choice. I would tell you if I could, but I really can’t. Trust me when I say it’s not life threatening, but if she quits breathing, call an ambulance.”
“Well that is all totally reassuring,” said Cordel, knowing the sarcasm was thick in his voice.
“This is why I asked you to let it go,” said Molly. “I practically begged you yesterday, you didn’t and now this has happened.”
“So this is my fault?” asked Cordel, all bravado gone from his voice.
“I’m sure your questions certainly didn’t help,” said Molly. “Now, you wait there. I don’t care how long she sleeps, you stay. Understand?”
Molly’s tone was that of a mother and Cordel couldn’t help but say. “Of course.”
“Any changes in her breathing you call 911 and then me. Text me when she wakes up,” she ordered and then hung up.
“This is crazy,” Cordel said out loud, but he grabbed a chair from the dining room table and sat it directly in front of Arlyn. He sat, with his elbows resting on his knees and watched.
Arlyn woke up and stared into the clover green eyes of Cordel Foster.
“Take it easy,” he said gently. “Something happened, but you’re okay.”
Arlyn let out a groan. She knew exactly what had happened. She had let Cordel work her into a state of cataplexy.
“You okay? What do you need? Water? I can take you to the doctor. Do you have meds somewhere you need?”
All of his questions were making her head spin. Of course she couldn’t blame him. “Water, please.”
He hurried from his chair and rushed to the kitchen. As he opened various cabinets looking for a glass, she slowly sat up and stretched her aching muscles.
Cordel came back with a glass of water in one hand and ice cubes in his other. “Ice? My hands are clean, I promise. I washed them about a dozen times in case I had to CPR.”
Arlyn nodded and forced a smile. “Yes, please. Thank you.”
She took the glass after he put the ice in and took a long drink.
“Easy,” he said, “maybe you should sip?”
She used the time drinking not only to quench her thirst but to think of what to say next. She had told very few people about her condition and never someone who was a practical stranger, like Cordel. The fact remained he deserved an explanation and the best course of action was to tell him the truth.
“Carrots!” he said, making her jump from her thoughts. “Do you need your carrots? I’ll get them.”“Actually,” said Arlyn, with a light laugh. “I’m starving, do you like Chinese food?”
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