My eyes fluttered open. Where am I? I though, dazed. I stared up at a beautiful green canopy and four posters. I sat up and threw my feet over the side of my bed. That’s when I remembered. I had stayed the night at my grandparents.
Nonna’s maid had neatly folded a blue bathrobe for me over the nightstand. I appreciatively slipped into the sleeves and tightened the tie around my waist. I had forgotten pajamas and slept in my underwear.
Now that I had my bearings, I looked around for my purse and phone. Right as I located my phone next to the television, it rang. I picked up.
“Is this Kassio-peh-ya Full-bright?” the voice asked.
“It’s Kassio-pee-ah,” I corrected. “And yes this is she.”
“This is the Sun Valley Clinic. Would you mind holding for Dr. Bachelor?” the nurse said.
My test results!?! I thought anxiously.
“Absolutely,” I replied, licking my lips.
I waited for what felt like an eternity. Finally I heard Dr. Bachelor’s voice flowing through the speaker.
“Hello Kassiopeia, this is Dr. Bachelor, I’m calling about your test results.”
“Yes?” I waited with bated breath.
“I wanted to tell you the results came back negative,” she exclaimed.
“Hallelujah!” I exclaimed excitedly.
“I thought you’d be pleased,” Dr. Bachelor said, and I could almost hear the smile in her voice. “I do want to warn you though that the symptoms could manifest later.”
My face fell. I wasn’t in the clear?
“In fact, I’d recommend coming back every year to be tested. Symptoms often manifest after the age of eighteen, though typically we see it before twenty-one, but it could be as late as twenty-six,” Dr. Bachelor explained. “The fact that it hasn’t manifested yet is a very good sign, so don’t misunderstand me. This is a good sign. I would just like to err on the side of caution.”
“So I should have the blood work done every year, then?” I asked slowly. “Until when?”
“I’d recommend at least until twenty-six, unless you exhibit symptoms before then,” Dr. Bachelor answered. “But you are very healthy right now. I wouldn’t be too worried about it.”
“Easy for you to say,” I chuckled weakly.
“The odds are very good, and they’re in your favor,” Dr. Bachelor reassured. “Your father is the only one diagnosed with the condition, correct?”
“Only 1 in 10 children develop the disease when only a single parent is diagnosed. 90% of patients who test negative the first time don’t develop EXCES at all.”
“That’s still 10%.”
“Has your mother been tested as a carrier? Do you have siblings?”
“Two sisters. Younger.”
“If they aren’t eighteen yet and they haven’t exhibited symptoms, then I wouldn’t be too worried. Are they aware?”
“Uh… no… I… my father hasn’t told them yet. They don’t have… uh… contact…”
“Well, I’d encourage you or your father to let them know since it is a medical condition that runs in families,” Dr. Bachelor said. “But that is entirely up to your discretion.”
“Is that all I should know?” I asked nervously.
“If you’d like to stop by the office, you can pick up some reading material on it,” Dr. Bachelor offered. ” I can also email you some information. There’s also a support group for those living with EXCES and who have family with EXCES in Bay City if you’re interested…”
“I don’t know,” I swallowed hard. “It’s a lot… to… process.”
“I’d recommend the support group for the psychological side of things and the emotional support alone and it’d be good for you to talk with others in your situation, but that’s entirely up to you,” Dr. Bachelor said gently. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Okay…” I said shakily. “I’ll let you know. Thank you for calling.”
“You’re welcome. Have a lovely day, Kassiopeia. Feel free to call my office,” Dr. Bachelor said before hanging up.
I tried to process everything she said. This is good. It’s going to be okay. I’m fine. I don’t have it. I probably won’t get it. I’m okay. It’s okay. Oh! I sank onto the bed and dropped the phone by my side. This was so much to think about… I needed my friend. I needed Gage.
He didn’t pick up. It went straight to voicemail. I felt so torn. I wanted to cry and tell him everything. I also wanted to scream at him for not answering and for complicating things by telling me he loved me and for… No, I want to scream at my dad for everything… for leaving in the first place… for having EXCES… for contacting me… I would still be living in blissful ignorance if he hadn’t come back into my life. But I could’ve developed it later and would’ve had no idea. This is for the better.
I couldn’t dwell on it any longer so I headed downstairs. Nonna had made French toast and I sat down and began devouring the plate. I hadn’t realized how hungry I had been.
“Did you sleep okay, bambina?” Nonna asked as she took a seat. “I asked the maid to leave you a bathrobe this morning.”
“Is it still Miss Mata?” I asked. “And yes, she did.”
“Kristina Mata, yes, we’re very pleased with her,” Nonna said as she sat down to eat. “She’s still our morning maid and we’ve hired some extra help for the evenings as needed… a Mr. Lamar.”
I dropped my fork, startled. Why is Davis’ name rattling you? I chided myself. Nonna looked at me with concern, but thankfully Nonno entered the room distracting her.
“Good morning, bella mia,” Nonno said cheerily, kissing my grandmother on the cheek. She blushed with pleasure. “Good morning, Kassio. How’d you sleep?”
“Good morning, Nonno. I slept well; the bed was very comfortable,” I smiled.
“I’m glad you came for a visit. We don’t see you very often,” Nonno said, scooping some French toast onto his plate.
“I am too. I hope to visit more this summer,” I nodded appreciatively.
“We’d love to have you,” Nonno smiled as he began eating.
Nonno talked for a few moments with Nonna about the stock market, the weather, and his invitation to lecture at Sun U.
“You must be hungry, Kassiopeia,” Nonna observed. “You’re on your second plate.”
“Oh,” I flushed, in between bites of my fifth piece. “I..uh… didn’t have a big dinner last night.”
“I’m sorry, sweetie, I hope you know you can help yourself to anything in the refrigerator when we’re not here,” Nonna replied apologetically.
“I didn’t eat dinner here,” I said.
“Oh where did you eat?” Nonna asked curiously.
“We’re sorry you couldn’t come with us to the symphony fundraiser but we only had tickets for the two of us,” Nonno interjected, much to my relief.
I didn’t particularly want to discuss my date gone wrong… if it even was a date.
“The music was fantastic. The Bay City Symphony is top notch,” Nonno whistled.
“Oh yes!” Nonna exclaimed, waving her hands. “The piccolo player was divine. Such a tiny instrument…” she motioned with her hands. “And such powerful sound. It soared above the rest. We’ll have to take you sometime. What was his name?”
“The piccolo player?”
“No, the director… you would’ve loved him, Kass. Such flair.”
“I would like to go with you sometime,” I nodded appreciatively.
“So what’s on the agenda for you ladies today?” Nonno asked, changing the subject. “Did you know the summer festival’s in town?”
“It is!?” Nonna exclaimed, clasping her hands together. “Oh! I’d love to go, Marino.”
“We can go today, bella mia,” Nonno agreed.
I smiled. Nonno often called my grandmother, “my beauty.” My grandparents were still in love, and you could tell that, even after nearly fifty years of marriage. It’s nice. I’d like that someday.
“I wonder if I still have my skates,” Nonna’s voice pulled me out of my thoughts.
“You think it’s a good idea for us to get on skates?” Nonno asked skeptically. “Perhaps I’ll just watch you.”
“Would you like to go?” Nonna inquired. “I probably have an extra pair of roller skates in the garage.”
“Oh… I… I’m not sure,” I said as I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket.
I looked down slightly to see who it was. Ayesha. I decided to let it go to voicemail as I didn’t want to be rude to my grandparents. I felt a twinge of disappointment that it wasn’t Gage.
“I might,” I replied, looking back up. “I appreciate the offer. I might be doing something with a friend today.”
“Okay, well before you leave,” Nonno leaned over toward me and put his arm around my shoulders. “Be sure to get a bubble bath. I know how you love the guest bathroom.”
“Yes Ms. Mata just put a whole tray of bath salts and bubbles in your bathroom,” Nonna smiled. “Please take advantage of them. Feel free to use the pool too. I had Mr. Lamar clean it out yesterday evening.”
I swallowed hard at Davis’ name again.
“Have you met him?” Nonno asked.
“Who?” I frowned.
“Mr. Lamar… if you’re around this evening, you should meet him,” Nonna suggested.
“Not tonight,” Nonno shook his head. “He is working at his other job, remember, dear?”
“Oh that’s right…” Nonna smiled and looked at me. “He works at that coffee shop you patronize frequently. He is the owner’s grandson.”
“Oh okay,” I shrugged, trying to appear disinterested as I leaned over my plate.
This is going to be awkward.
“Oh and you owe me a chess match,” Nonno grinned. “Last time you were here you promised me a rematch.”
“Yes I did,” I grinned, relaxing again. “I think I’ll go take that bubble bath.”
I stood up to follow Nonno out of the room. Nonna began clearing our plates and I thanked her for the breakfast. Nonno turned around and pulled me into a warm embrace.
“I’m glad you’re here, Kass,” Nonno said as I closed my eyes and leaned into his hug. “You need to come and stay more often.”
“I will, Nonno,” I said softly. “I will.”
Chapter 11 Coming Soon!
- Will Kass speak to Davis again?
- Will she tell her sisters about EXCES and her visit with her dad?
- What will she say to Gage the next time she sees him?
Author Changes: What’s different?
- Picture size was edited.
- The support group in Oakland was changed to Bay City.