“That’s what I want to do.”
“I want to drive a Maserati on a race track. No.”
“I can arrange that, y’know.”
“Dad, listen to him.”
“It’s what I want to do.”
Allen was stalling. For the past ten minutes he’d been insisting that they go down to Cliff Walk for his last diagnostic. He wanted to go up and down those stairs. Afterwards they could pop a bottle of champagne.
Allen was about to reply when Jonathan said, “I’m not arguing this. I’m your nurse. It’s not safe. If you have an accident on those steps we’re going to have a hell of a time getting an ambulance to you.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Since when do the Scots not know how to celebrate?”
“Since this one became a nurse, and I celebrate with whisky or beer, not champagne.”
Caroline shook her head. “You need to learn a thing or two about celebrating.”
Allen said, “Honest to God. No pratfalls this time.”
“Allen, I can’t encourage you to do things that are unsafe while your body’s recovering from a surgery. What the hell kind of nurse would I be if I did that?”
“Ugh.” Allen threw up his hands. That was a good sign. Jonathan, Caroline, Allen, Zeus and Apollo all looked at each other. Jonathan was waiting for Allen to make the next move. He would either throw his next excuse back at him, or accept his defeat. There wasn’t going to be a halfway.
Allen said, “All right. But I’m getting piss drunk on the champagne after we’re done our test.”
“As long as you don’t go walking on the cliffs, I approve.”
Allen walked one hundred steps around the foyer without support, with Jonathan alongside him just in case, and Caroline for company. Check. He walked up and down twenty stairs, three times. Check. Very carefully, he squatted while holding a ten-pound weight, ten times. Check.
Allen made some notes on his evaluation form. He’ d have to write a full report later, but it would be a very simple summary. He held out his hand. “Congratulations, mate. You’re healthy again.”
Caroline applauded as they shook hands. Allen suffered through a hug and kiss from her. He seemed more embarrassed than angry, and Jonathan thought it was from having his crusty exterior softened more than not liking it.
Allen and Caroline drank champagne, while Jonathan drank 18-year-old Talisker and made hot dogs on a barbecue that overlooked the ocean. The dogs seemed to know it was a special night, too, and were chilling out nearby. The three of them watched the sun go down over the island, turning the sky orange, then scarlet. Jonathan reflected that his next apartment certainly wouldn’t have a view like this, though it might be a while before then.
Caroline tapped Jonathan’s glass with the stem of her own. Jonathan caught a look from Allen. “So. Are you going home, then?”
“Eventually,” Jonathan said. “We had a long talk this morning.”
Allen suppressed a chuckle. Caroline looked from him back to Jonathan. She eyed him like a hostile witness. “And?”
“I would feel more comfortable if Allen had a stronger support network here. I’d like for him to get more social interaction. You. Mark. Jess. Other things around town.”
“I’m thinking of therapeutic horseback riding first,” Allen added.
She sipped her glass. “Go on.”
“I can help with that better from here than I can from Scotland.”
“Meet my new roommate,” Allen said.
Caroline coughed, spitting champagne. “What?”
Allen laughed, slapping his knee. His other knee, not the one that just recovered. Thank God. Allen wasn’t going to get off that easy now that Jonathan had just given him a clean bill of health. Jonathan said, “My agency can find me work here for nursing. No rent, I won’t have to cook his meals anymore, and I get a stipend as his personal assistant.”
Caroline’s mouth hung open. She looked at her father. Allen rolled his eyes. “Bastard drives a hard bargain.” He grinned. “So you kids haven’t heard the last of me.”
Caroline looked at Jonathan. He shrugged. “It was a great offer. See the States for free? Get to see what happens when treatment’s finished? How could I say no?”
Caroline held up her glass. “Well then. I suppose we’ll have to make the best of it.”
The three of them clinked glasses. “That we will,” Jonathan said.