Music City Madness: Chapter 59

Leland met up with Sid in the emergency room at Vanderbilt Hospital. Slightly winded from his jaunt through the parking garage, Leland caught his breath and asked, “How is she?”
Sid motioned for Leland to follow him. “This way.”
“What happened?”
“The doctor said Melissa suffered a small myocardial infarction.”
“How?”
Sid moved aside for a team of paramedics to wheel a gurney past him. “They’re running tests.”
“What about her boys?”
“They’re with her now. She’s been asking for you.”
“Is she okay?”
“She’s stable.”
“Thank God.”
“Thank Adam. He found her on the floor at home and called for help.”
Leland rubbed a knot in his shoulder. He could only imagine what Melissa’s boys were going through. “This is crazy.”
“She’s behind the last curtain on the left. Go see her. I have another call to make.”
Leland stood alone for a moment to compose himself before he ventured through the ER and opened the privacy curtain to find Melissa’s boys half asleep standing up. He gave a curious nod to the tall, slender man with sandy blond hair and glasses who stood between them. He approached Melissa slowly. “Sid told me you were here.”
Melissa touched her face. “I look like crap.”
“I got here as soon as I could.”
“No worries,” Melissa assured him. She laid on her back with her head propped up on pillows. A bevy of medical equipment monitored her heart rate and pulse oximetry. “Where’s Abby?”
“At home with a friend.”
Melissa pointed to the man with her boys. “This is Martin. The boys’ father.”
Leland extended a handshake and received a vice grip from Martin’s bear paw in return. “Leland Presley.”
“Martin Hamilton, the Third.” He gripped Leland’s hand for several seconds before he finally let go.
“Good to meet you,” Leland offered.
“Likewise. What brings you here?”
“Why don’t you take the boys for a soda,” Melissa intervened.
“You sure?” asked Martin.
“It’s okay.”
Martin looked at Leland through pinched eyes. “I appreciate what you did for my boy. Mel told me what happened in the storm.”
“It was nothing.”
“I’m glad my boat was there to help.”
“Me too.”
“I heard you went to Vanderbilt?”
“Long time ago.”
“So did I,” Martin added. “What year did you graduate?”
“Ninety-eight.”
“What was your major?”
“Music.”
“Same here. You ever have Doctor Blackman?”
“I don’t recall.”
“You don’t remember your professors?”
“It was a long time ago.”
Martin nudged his glasses on his nose. “So you said.”
“Give us a minute,” Melissa prompted.
Martin diverted his attention from Leland in the three-way conversation. “I’ll take the boys to the cafeteria.”
Leland waited for the room to clear before he leaned over to kiss Melissa’s head. “I was worried about you.”
“Don’t be. I’m fine.”
“You had a heart attack.”
“More like bad indigestion.”
“Sid told me you passed out.”
“For a couple seconds. No big deal. Sid exaggerates.”
“What happened?”
“Nothing.” Melissa swallowed. “My prescription ran out for my pain meds. My doctor wouldn’t sign another refill, so I had Sid explore alternative options.”
“You could have died.”
“But I didn’t.” Melissa reached for the pink water pitcher by her bed. “I’m out of here tomorrow morning.”
“Let’s see what your doctor says.”
“I have a hair appointment.”
“Your hair can wait.”
“You’re sweet. No guitar?”
“Not this time.”
“I was hoping you might play for me,” Melissa quipped, her sense of humor tapered by the buprenorphine in her system. She held Leland’s hand for comfort. “Thank you for coming. It means a lot to me. You mean a lot to me.”
“Wait ’till the drugs wear off.”
“I’m not delusional, Leland Presley. I know exactly how I feel.” She kissed his hand. “Do I scare you?”
“I see I’ve got some competition.”
“Martin is an ass. I’m sorry you had to meet him like this.”
“Don’t be. He’s part of your life.”
“Was part of my life. He wants to buy my house.”
“Why?”
“Martin doesn’t know how to live alone. His girlfriend left him, so he’s decided he misses his boys.” Melissa let go of Leland’s hand and brushed her hair back with her fingers. “My boys barely know him anymore. He was a very different man before I married him. Before he went to law school and decided music wasn’t his thing anymore.”
“Does he play?”
“He used to play guitar. At least he thought he did. He was never much of a singer. Tried to start his own band.”
“What happened?”
“He bombed.” Melissa sipped water from her plastic cup. “I don’t regret my boys for one second, but if I could do it over again, I would.” She touched her hair again. “I didn’t want you to see me like this, but I’m glad you’re here.”
Leland helped her adjust a pillow. “I think you’re an amazing woman.”
“Your concert’s coming up.”
“Three days.”
“Are you ready?”
“I’m good.”
“What about the band?”
“Brad Siegel has a lot of faith in them.”
“Well I have a lot of faith in you! This is a great opportunity.”
“I suppose.”
“What does Abby think about you singing live in front of millions?”
“She doesn’t know yet.”
“Why not?”
“She never asked.”
“She’s your daughter.”
“She’s driving me nuts.”
“She’s a teenager girl. That’s part of her job description.”
Leland refilled her water cup. “Does your back hurt?”
“I’ll deal. I’m not spending the night in here. This place is a germ factory.”
Leland studied her expression. He could tell something bothered her, a deeper pain, more emotional than physical. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
Melissa glanced at Martin when he entered the room. “I’m tired.”
Leland acknowledged the boys’ father again. “It was nice to meet you.”
Martin typed a message on his phone. “Likewise,” he said without looking up.
“Take good care of her.”
“I will.”

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