Numbers Page 40

’’It\s horrible.’’ Her mother pointed at the mirror on the ceiling. ’’I\m terrified that\s going to fall on me when I sleep.’’

’’I warned you this place was bad. You should have stayed in a nice hotel a few more miles away. I said that too. Do you want us to move you?’’ Paul waited for an answer.

Their mother ignored him, fixating on Dana. ’’This is what I do for you. Do you see this shithole? I\ll probably be mugged, raped and murdered by morning. My headstone will read that it\s all your fault.’’

’’Mom,’’ Paul chastised. ’’That isn\ funny.’’

Their mother threw up her hand to silence him. ’’You can\ run away from your problems, Dana. This is just another way you\ e hiding from living. Do you think your poor brother and his wife want you hanging around their place? They don\ .’’

’’Mom,’’ Paul raised his voice. ’’That\s not ’’

’’Stay out of this!’’ Their mother stepped closer to Dana. ’’I brought Dirk Hass with me. He\s going to drop by in about fifteen minutes and talk to you. I also bought us tickets to leave on the first flight home in the morning.’’

Dana\s temper finally exploded. ’’You brought your gynecologist with you? To talk to me? What is wrong with you?’’

’’Dirk likes you. You really need to give him a chance, Dana. He makes good money, has his own practice, and took time away from work to fly out here because I told him you\ e having difficulties. What other man would do that? It shows how caring and concerned he is for you.’’

’’You manipulated him, in other words.’’ Dana was tempted to leave.

’’Don\ talk to me like that,’’ their mother hissed. ’’How dare you.’’

Dana took a step back. ’’What? It\s the truth. You probably told Dr. Hass I\m interested in him when you know damn well I\m not. He\s seen you naked from the waist down. Don\ you think that\s a little f*ked up? I do. Talk about a dysfunctional family. And stop setting me up with men. I\ve told you that. I\m done.’’

’’Don\ cuss. It\s not the way I raised you.’’

Dana opened her mouth but Paul moved fast, stepping between them. ’’Mom, you need to calm down.’’

’’Your sister is so rude.’’

’’Pot, meet kettle.’’ Dana stepped to the side so she could glare at her mom. ’’I came to see Paul. I told you I needed some space. You drive me crazy. Thank you for taking care of me after Tommy\s death, but I\m trying to get on with my life now. Why can\ you just let me?’’

’’You said you\d be gone three days. I had to come out here to get you.’’

’’I\m not some wayward runaway teen.’’ Dana clenched her teeth.

’’You\ e acting like one.’’

’’Shit,’’ Paul muttered. ’’Do you fight like this all the time?’’

’’No,’’ their mother answered.

’’Yes,’’ Dana said at the same time.

Paul removed his cap and scratched his head. ’’This is going to be a long evening.’’

’’No. It\s not.’’ Dana put her hands on her hips. ’’I\m not coming home yet, Mom. I won\ until I\m ready. You bringing your gynecologist with you...’’ She shook her head. ’’I don\ even know what to say except I feel bad that you talked him into it. I won\ even mention that he\s twenty years older than I am. You date him if he\s such a great catch. Go home.’’

Someone knocked on the door and Dana gritted her teeth as her mother sailed toward it and opened it to let Dirk Hass inside. He held flowers and smiled when he spotted Dana.

’’Hello.’’ He offered them to her.

Dana felt guilty. She knew her mother must have lied to him to get him to take a flight across the country. She accepted the flowers. ’’Thank you.’’

Paul saved her by introducing himself and taking the attention off her. Dana shoved the flowers at her mother and backed away.

Her mother beamed, obviously pleased with the mess she\d created. Dana wanted to strangle her.

Dirk turned to Dana. ’’How are you feeling?’’

’’I\m fine.’’ It wasn\ his fault that he\d been pulled into this mess, but someone needed to be honest with him. ’’I am so sorry about this but the truth is, I\m not interested in dating you.’’

’’Dana!’’

She ignored her mother. ’’I\m seeing someone. My mother didn\ know. I haven\ told her yet. I\ll pay you back for the money you spent coming all this way.’’

Dirk appeared taken aback.

’’She\s lying.’’ Her mother rushed forward and gripped his arm. ’’I told you she\s having issues. She is inventing a make-believe boyfriend.’’

Dana was about to scream. ’’I am not. I just didn\ want to tell you because he lives in this area, and I knew you\d blow your stack when I told you that I\m relocating here. It\s serious.’’

’’You\ e lying.’’ Her mother\s face turned an angry shade of red.

’’She\s actually not.’’ Paul shot Dana a hooded look as he ripped off his sunglasses. ’’He works security. She met him when she arrived, and they\ve been spending almost every moment together when he\s not at work.’’

’’You\ e not going to date a security guard.’’ Their mother shook her head. ’’I won\ allow it. Dirk is a doctor.’’

Dana threw up her hands. ’’I\m done. I\m not going to fight with you anymore. I\m moving here, and that\s something you\ e just going to have to deal with.’’ She looked at Dirk Hass. ’’You should ask my mom out. She\s about your age, and she thinks you\d make someone a wonderful husband.’’ She pushed her sunglasses back on and added the cap. ’’Paul, I\ll wait for you outside. I\m stick-a-fork-in-me done.’’

Dana stormed to the door and yanked it open.

’’Dana,’’ Paul called. ’’Don\ go out there alone.’’

She turned. ’’I\d rather face off against drug dealers and hookers than stay in here.’’ She stormed out, slamming the door.

She almost bumped into a large body and backed up, her chin lifting. The guy wore a black hoodie with matching black sweatpants. He was a really large man and the dim lighting hid his face. ’’Sorry.’’ She tried to step around him


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