I shut my laptop, slid off my bed and headed out to see what was going on in the living room just in time to see Luna opening the front door for Rissa. Luna seemed to be expecting her and gave her a squeezy hug and said, “You are welcome to stay here as long as you want.”
“Why are you staying here?” I said, “I mean, that’s awesome, but is something wrong?” Then I saw her cut lip and the first thing I thought was that Jake did it. Then I realized that was crazy. “Were you with Jake when this happened?” I said, gently touching her terribly bruised cheek.
“I wasn’t with Jake, but it was because of Jake. My dad kind of freaked out when he came to check on me in the morning and Jake was asleep in my bed with me. I thought I had locked the door but he has a way of opening it in like, 2 seconds.”
“Your father did this to you?”
“He’s got a temper. I didn’t have to deal with it for a while because he was in jail for 3 years. But he got out, so I’m living at his house again. I thought he might have mellowed out but I guess I pushed him too far.”
“How old are you, Rissa?”
As we all stood there at Luna’s front door I was shocked that I was so off. I thought she was close to my age, but she was a baby. “But all of your friends are in their mid-twenties. You were drinking with them. I had no idea.”
“Most people don’t know” she shrugged. “They are all my work friends, we all wait tables together…which is pretty much, you know, what everyone does in St. Augustine. We don’t talk about our ages. We just hang. Anyway, next week I’m 18 and will be able to get my own place. I just need to crash here for a few nights if that is OK. There is a lot of legal junk that goes along with not having a mom, and your dad being in jail.”
I looked at her in a completely different way. “OK,” I said.
“I probably could stay somewhere else but Chris called and said that Luna pretty much had a room waiting for me, so…here I am.”
“Chris said….why did Chris tell you to stay here? Why aren’t you with Jake?”
“He’s at the hosptial still probably.”
I slipped my arm into hers and brought her over to my room. The next couple of hours we chatted about her growing up in foster care and her sisters who already fled her dad and were now in California. As we talked I rummaged around my drawers and found and gave her some of my clothes that I don’t wear that often, so she wouldn’t have to go back to her dad’s anytime in the near future. All Rissa had with her was a little Stussy wallet that she had stuffed in her shorts pocket. She said she learned young to live and travel light. When I asked her for her phone number, just to have it, she said she had a phone when she was with her foster family but then her dad took it away from her. That’s when she casually mentioned she had Jake’s phone right now.
I said, “You have his phone?”
“Yes. And his truck.”
I stared at her for a for a few seconds in disbelief as we sat on my bedroom floor with my clothes all over the place. “Let me get this straight you have Jake’s truck and his phone and he’s at the hospital by himself is that right?”
She nodded at me.
“What’s the plan for when he gets out of there? Is he going to call you from the front desk?”
“I was supposed to be in the parking lot.” She stared at me like a doe in headlights as she held a chiffon shirt and tank top I had just given her.
“But you’re not…in the parking lot. You’re here.”
“Well, she said, looking uncomfortable, “Chris told me to turn off Jake’s phone, come here and stay here and he would take care of everything. He said Jake is bad news and that I need to stay away. I trust you guys, I thought I should just listen to him and do what he said.”
I suddenly pictured Jake walking out to the parking lot all bandaged up, all alone, realizing he had been totally screwed over. “What if Chris doesn’t give him a ride from the hospital, Rissa? I mean why would he? What’s he gonna do, take him to his show? You saw them beating the crap out of each other last night. They’re not friends! You know what I think? I think Jake is stranded at the hospital right now and Chris probably thinks that’s funny.”
“I don’t think Chris would do that” Rissa said, suddenly turning her back on me and standing up with my clothes.
She turned and handed them back to me. God, why does everyone like and trust Chris so much more than me?
“Rissa, go get Jake” I said.
“I don’t want to. He made me mad today. He wasn’t very nice to my dad.”
“Your dad who hits you in the face?”
“He pulled a fucking gun on my Dad OK. I mean, I know the guy is an asshole but I don’t want him dead. Jake is such an idiot. I don’t want to go and get him.”
“Jake risked his life to help you get out of a terrible situation. Don’t you see how stupidly brave and amazing that is?” I gasped.
“He could have killed my father.” she said.
“Give me the keys” I said.
“If you won’t pick him up, I will. And while I’m gone, think about why you are the dumbest girl in the world to not completely adore him for everything he has done for you for absolutely no reason except for that he is gold at the core.”
She handed me the keys and I rushed off out the door. I saw his truck parked out there on the street and just hoped that he hadn’t been discharged yet.