MacKenzie reached for the ringing phone, trying to drag herself from sleep, but her hand encountered only the empty base of the phone, the wireless handset missing.
She pried her eyes open while feeling for it on the bedside table, knocking off keys and a glass and an empty bottle and other detritus. She swore and blinked and tried to focus. Where had she left the handset and who was calling her so early in the morning? The phone rang five times and went to her voicemail. Too late to answer it. She sank back down onto her pillow and closed her eyes. Whoever it was would have to wait.
But no sooner had it gone to voicemail than it started ringing again. MacKenzie groaned. “Are you serious? Come on!”
She turned her head and squinted at the glowing red display of the clock next to her. It was hard to see the red LED display in the bright sunlight. It was almost eleven o’clock. Certainly not too early for a caller, even one who knew that she would sleep in after a party the night before. She rubbed her temples and scanned the room for the wireless handset.
There was a man in the bed next to her, but she ignored him for the time being. He wasn’t moving at the sound of the phone, so he’d probably had more to drink than she had. She slid her legs out of the bed and grabbed a silk kimono housecoat to wrap around herself. The caller was sent to voicemail a second time. MacKenzie took another look around the bedroom without spotting the phone, then went out to her living room, also bright with sunlight streaming in the big windows. Outside, the pretty Vermont scenery was covered with a fresh layer of snow, which reflected back the sunlight even more brilliantly. MacKenzie groaned and looked around. The newspaper was on the floor in a messy, well-read heap. The remains of some late-night snack were spread over the coffee table. Some of their clothing had been left there, scattered across the floor, but no phone.
It started ringing again. Now that she was out of the bedroom and away from the base, she could hear the ringing of the handset, and she kicked at the newspaper to uncover it. She bent down and scooped up the handset. She glanced at the caller ID before pressing the answer button and pressing it to her ear, but she knew very well who it was going to be.
No one else would be so annoying and call over and over again first thing in the morning. She couldn’t just leave a message and wait for MacKenzie to get back to her, she had to keep calling, forcing MacKenzie to get up and answer it. Her mother didn’t care how late MacKenzie might have been up the night before or how she might be feeling upon rising. It was a natural consequence of MacKenzie’s own choices. MacKenzie dropped into the white couch.
“MacKenzie. Thank goodness I got you. Where have you been?”
Her mother had been calling for all of two minutes. Where had MacKenzie been? She could have been in the bathroom, having a shower, talking to someone else on the phone, or at some event. Granted, she didn’t go to a lot of events at eleven o’clock in the morning, but it could happen. Mrs. Lisa Cole Kirsch had a pretty good idea where MacKenzie had been. In bed, like most any other morning.
“What is it, Mother?”
“It’s Amanda. She’s sick.”
MacKenzie nodded to herself and scratched the back of her head. One of the things that would definitely set Lisa into a tizzy was Amanda being sick. She worried over every little cough or twinge that Amanda suffered. She had good reason, but it still made MacKenzie roll her eyes.
“What’s wrong with Amanda?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the flu, but I’m really worried, MacKenzie. The doctors said to just wait and see, but they don’t understand how frail Amanda is. They think that I’m just overreacting and being a hypochondriac. You know that I’m not just a hypochondriac.”
“I know. So how is she?”
MacKenzie had to admit that even though her mother worried about Amanda, her worry was well-justified. Amanda’s health could get worse very quickly, and with the anti-rejection drugs suppressing her immune system, she was prone to picking up anything that went around.
“She’s not good. She was up all night, throwing up, high fever, she’s just not herself. I called an ambulance at eight o’clock. She just can’t keep anything down and I don’t like the way she’s acting. So… weak and listless.”
MacKenzie felt the first twinge of worry herself. Amanda had spent much of her life sick, but she was a fighter. She usually did her best to look like nothing was wrong, not letting on unless she was feeling really badly. She would laugh and brush it off as just a bug and smile and encourage MacKenzie to tell her about what was going on in her far-more-interesting life.
Excerpt from Unlawful Harvest by P.D. Workman
No Longer Available
Do No Harm