Marriage Of Convenience

By: Cher Etan

Jonathon laughed wryly, “Actually you’re not the first person to tell me that.”

“Really?” she asked mostly to make up for being rude.

“Yeah. My grandfather says that all the time. Not in those exact words of course but…” he shrugged self-deprecatingly.

Leila didn’t know whether to commiserate or laugh. The sounds emanating from the room changed. Her mother’s breathing got quieter; Leila turned around to see what was up.

“Leila?” her mother said hoarsely.

“Yes mom, I’m here,” Leila said limping forward.

“What happened to you?” she asked faintly.

“We hit her with our car but she’s okay,” Jonathon piped up with the answer. Not that anybody asked him.

“You hit –“ Raychelle Masters began to struggle up on her elbow but Leila hurried forward and pushed her back down, ignoring the pain in her leg.

“Lay down mama, I’m fine. I’m just gonna fix you some soup okay. Would you like some?” Leila said striving like hell to distract her mother who was still looking distressed.

“Are you sure you’re okay Leila?” she asked.

“I’m fine. I promise mama. Now lie back so I can get you that soup,” she said straightening up to glare at Jonathon before striving to walk out without limping. She was concentrating so hard she didn’t realize that Jonathon was not with her until she was halfway down the hall. She looked back at the open door of her mother’s room, expecting that he would appear at any moment but nobody did. She hesitated between going to the kitchen to warm up some soup or going back and dragging Jonathon out of her mother’s room. In the end, she went with the soup; she didn’t think Jonathon would hurt her mother…


Jonathon sat down on the chair next to Leila’s mother, taking in the oxygen tank and the labored breathing and the general weakness of the woman before him.

“Is it lung cancer?” he asked.

She glared at him as if he’d done something really wrong so Jonathon went over his words, searching for the faux pas.

“What?” he said at last when he couldn’t find it. Leila’s mother dislodged her oxygen mask.

“You go around asking total strangers what’s ailing them all the time boy?” she asked.

Jonathon straightened up. “I’m sorry. You’re right. Hi. My name is Jonathon Leary. Pleasure to meet you. And you are?”

“Raychelle Masters. What are you doing here boy?” she asked and then put her mask back on so she could breath.

“Hello Raychelle. I thought I’d sit here with you since your daughter seems more worried about your health than her own. We hit her bike, not hard, but she did fall down. We wanted to take her to the hospital but she insisted on coming here instead…to see you I guess. Do you have a nurse or something? Or are you all alone?”

Raychelle glared, moving her oxygen mask. “What would I need a nurse for? I can take perfectly good care of myself!”

Jonathon smiled, “I see where your daughter gets it.”

Raychelle gave him the thousand yard stare but chose to save her breath rather than ask the obvious question. They sat in curiously companionable silence until Leila limped back into the room with a tray of soup and bread as well as a cup of fresh juice. She glared at Jonathon just on principle before setting the tray down on the bedside table and perching on the side of the bed.

“Can you eat a little?” she asked her mother.

Raychelle moved the mask off her face and nodded, reaching out for the bowl. Leila beat her to it. She spooned some of the soup up and held it out to her mom who glared at her before opening her mouth.

“I can feed myself,” she growled raspily.

“Sure you can mama; still it’d really make me feel better if you let me feed you,” Leila said soothingly as she cut a piece of bread off and dipped it in the soup until it was nice and soggy. She held it out to her mother who opened her mouth obediently.

When the meal was finished, Leila glanced at Jonathon who was still sitting in the chair, staring at them. She lifted her brow inquiringly, wondering why he was still here.

“Can we take you to the hospital now?” he asked. Leila sighed tiredly as her mother turned to glare at her.

“Go Leila,” she whispered.

“I can’t leave you alone like this,” Leila said.

“Call Sheila then; or Carlyle from next door. I’m sure I heard him playing his loud music this morning. He must be back from touring.”

Leila hesitated; Carlyle was friendly enough; he worked as a roadie for a rock band and when they weren’t on tour he was a bartender at a club. Which meant he was home during the day. Still Leila hated to disturb him; he would come if asked and sit with Raychelle but that meant he wasn’t resting or whatever he did before work.

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