Reaper's Fire

Page 101

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That was one part of north Idaho that I didn’t like.

So far it was the only part.

We’d had some incredible things happen over the past week, that was for sure. For one, the Reaper women were really nice. I don’t know what I’d expected—probably older versions of Talia or Sadie. But these women formed a strong sisterhood that’d wrapped around me like a welcoming blanket. They’d pounced as soon as we’d pulled in, handing over bags of clean clothing, toiletries, and gift cards to buy anything else we might need. Yes, they were tough and some of them looked a little dangerous. But they were also sweet and smart and funny, and so welcoming it made my heart hurt.

And they loved Gage.

When he’d called the club his family, I hadn’t quite understood what he meant. I’d grown up with my mom and dad, and some distant cousins who lived down south in Utah. Every other year we got together for friendly but subdued campouts halfway between the two homes. The Reapers were a loud, outgoing swarm of familial love that’d built a protective a fortress around everyone who belonged to them, and I realized fast that so far as they were concerned, that included me. It also included my dad and Mary Webbly.

Maybe they were really that nice, or maybe natural disasters just bring out the best in people, but either way, I’d never experienced such hospitality in my life.

The north Idaho landscape was beautiful, too, although even this far from home the air was full of smoke. I’d seen the satellite images on TV—it looked like a bomb had hit Washington State. Hellish pictures filled the news, and several young firefighters lost their lives when their truck broke down, the flames overtaking them.

As for Hallies Falls, we knew about half the town had burned, but we didn’t know which half. Darren had tried going back to assess the damage, but he got turned back by the state patrol. Even now, more firefighters from around the world were arriving to help, some coming all the way from Australia and New Zealand.

Tomorrow would be a big day.

They’d be opening the town for residents to return and check on their property, although we weren’t supposed to stay overnight. After a week of uncertainty, we’d finally learn whether the apartment building still stood.

Whether I had a home.

“You ready?” Gage asked, coming out to sit next to me on the lounger. He lived in a two-bedroom condo above the river, furnished entirely in bachelor. Giant TV, comfy couches, no plants. It was nicer than the apartment I’d given him—a lot nicer. I felt kind of sheepish about that.

“For tomorrow, you mean?”

“Yeah,” he said, nuzzling my neck.

“I’m scared,” I admitted. “Of what we’ll find. Or won’t find, for that matter. I’m so appreciative, though, to you and your club. For everything. Dad’s in heaven, by the way. I know I thought it was a bad idea at the time, but he loves his room at the clubhouse. I’m starting to wonder if there’s something going on with him and Mary Webbly. I don’t think she’s left his side since we pulled into town.”

Gage grinned. “There’s something. Not sure what to call it, but it’s definitely there. I know it hasn’t been that long since your mom passed, but—”

“If he’s happy, I’m happy,” I said, sighing as I leaned back into him. “He’ll always love my mother, there’s no question of that. But life is short, and she wouldn’t want him to be alone. You have to make the most of what you’re given, because none of us know how much time we have left.”

“That’s definitely true,” he said. I had just turned my head to kiss him when the phone rang.

“Ignore it,” Gage said.

“I can’t,” I replied, laughing. “I’m waiting on a call from the doctor. In all the confusion we left Dad’s medications behind. It’s been a challenge, because our family doctor is displaced and the specialist in Seattle won’t prescribe without seeing him. At least we had a good record of everything on my email, thanks to all that paperwork. The doctor we saw here was fine renewing most of the scrips, but there was one Dad had been taking that was actually my mother’s. Apparently it’s fairly specialized, not what they’d usually recommend.”

Reaching down, I grabbed the phone and slid my finger across the surface to answer.

“Ms. Garrett?” a woman asked. “This is Brenda Gottlieb. I’m a nurse at Dr. Taylor’s practice, and he asked me to follow up about your father’s medications.”

“Thanks for calling,” I said. “What’s the story?”

“The drug he’d been taking—amitriptyline. You said your mother was using it for depression.”

“That’s what Dad told me.”

“And you’d been planning to bring him to a specialist in Seattle, to talk about his cognitive function?”

“Yes.”

“Dr. Taylor is concerned that the medicine may be related to that,” she said. “You see, in a very small percentage of patients—less than one percent, actually—amitriptyline can cause confusion and even memory loss. He’d like you to talk to a local specialist and get your father fully evaluated. You’d said that his mental state got worse after your mother’s death, when he started the meds?”

“Yes,” I whispered sitting up slowly. “And he’s been doing really well this week, even though he hasn’t been taking it. Clearer.”

“I’ve got a referral for you to a specialist in Spokane,” she told me. “The sooner you get that evaluation done, the better. Dr. Taylor made some calls. They can get him in on Friday at eleven.”

“Thank you,” I said, feeling dazed.

“You’re welcome,” she replied. “Watch your dad and see how he’s doing. The medication should be mostly out of his system by now, although it varies by person. If he continues to clear up, that’s important information his doctor needs to know. It could’ve been causing a lot of his symptoms.”

“Thank you,” I repeated as she hung up the phone, stunned. Gage looked at me.

“You okay?” he asked. I nodded slowly.

“I think they just told me that Dad’s memory problems might be caused by medication,” I said, feeling stunned. “I mean, consider how well he’s done since we got here. You’d expect him to be more confused, seeing as we evacuated so fast and nothing is familiar. But he’s done really well, even in a strange place.”

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