The three friends returned to the house to find Timber asleep in a wing back chair she had pulled to the back window wall to look out over the lake, the bottle of Black Label in the corner of the chair now with a serious dent in it and Puck eating pizza in the kitchen. Remy tried to rouse Timber, but other than a whine and a kick to his bad knee, Timber was down for the count.
“Good work there Puck.” Scott goaded him. “Really stellar.”
“Bite me Avila.” Puck snapped back. “It’s guys like you who make women like that.”
“Women like what? Multi-millionaire PhDs?”
“No, multi-millionaire PhDs who believe they don’t deserve to be loved.”
“Jordie loved her, Puck.” Scott’s voice rose. “She was the only woman he ever gave a fuck about.”
“Well maybe he did, but he sure as hell didn’t respect her, did he? And you guys were all enablers. Now you’re going to help her? Give me a break.”
“We don’t have time for this!” Remy got between them. “I’m going to stay here,” he informed the group. “We have that pilot waiting, and I’m sure he’d like to get home to his family, so you guys should get going.”
“Why you, Robicheaux,?” Puck demanded. Remy pushed open the swinging kitchen door and pointed to Timber passed out in the chair. “How about this for reason one?”
Coop, never one to involve himself in trash talk or tit for tat arguments ignored the sniping.
“Remy,” he pleaded. “I know you think you are doing the right thing here, but you have to think about this. If you take her into the ER and they suspect abuse, they are legally bound to report it, and you are going to be suspect number one.”
“I’m a big boy,” Remy said, “And I can stand a hard look.”
“Maybe, but trying to change things by staying here won’t work either. Visualize this Remy. What are you going to do, tear down her pool house bed and demand she sleep upstairs where she and Jordie slept? Pack away all his things while she begs you not to? Force feed her? And we still don’t know anything about this Jack. Is jealousy his trigger? If he finds you here, he might kill you, or Timber or both.”
“Then what?” Remy demanded obviously frustrated.
“I think we need to get her away from here,” Coop suggested. “That’s part of the reason rehabs work. They get the person out of their normal environment. I think we should take her back with us. We can put her up in a hotel, and tomorrow, we can ask Sam Chen if he’ll see her. This is over our heads Remy. But maybe Chen will have an idea of what we should do.”
“You think he’d see her?” Remy asked Coop.
“I do. At least for an evaluation. We’ve done lots of favors for him and the families he counsels. Tickets and jackets. We had that kid whose dad was shot on the ferry down in the locker room, plus he knew Jordie. Yeah, I think he’d do us a favor.”
“My brother’s a doctor.” Scott volunteered. “An internist. He’s got a practice on the East Side.”
“Would he see her tomorrow?” Remy inquired, a plan beginning to coalesce in his mind.
“I think he would. Do you want me to call him?”
Remy thought about it for a few seconds. “Yes. Call him. And Coop, see if you can get hold of Dr. Chen. We’ll take her back with us. But not a hotel. No more leaving her alone. One of us has to be with her at all times. She can stay in my guest room.”
“Uh Remy,” Scott reminded him. “You have Samantha coming in town tomorrow.”
“So let her come.” Remy snapped. “Samantha doesn’t stay in the guest room, so I don’t see a problem.”
“Well let me know when you plan on telling her Remy, because I would prefer to be out of the fallout zone.” Scott told him.
“I let Timber down Scott. I let Jordie down. I have to fix this. Samantha can’t be a consideration.”
“Is kidnapping across state lines a consideration?” Puck spoke up. “Because I believe it’s a 20 year stretch in a federal prison.”
“If YOU took her home it might be kidnapping, Puck.” Remy dismissed him. “We’re just taking our sick friend to the best doctor we know. She’ll be free to leave if that’s what she wants, but I am fairly sure I’ll be able to talk her into staying.”
Remy turned to Coop. “Are you down with bringing Timber to New York?”
“Absolutely” Coop answered. “I’ll do whatever I can to help Remy. I think it’s our best shot.”
“Scotty?” Remy asked. “Have any thoughts?”
“Yeah. I do.” He replied. “I know you guys aren’t into this sort of shit, but I’ve been thinking about this ever since we found Timber asleep back there. How weird this all is. We get these strange emails. Not the whole team, just us, and it’s for a date we’d never normally consider, yet we came, we stole a car, and we found her like this. I think this is Jordie. I think he somehow sent us here to help his woman. So yeah, I’m in. I’ll take her to see my brother myself.”
“Then let’s do it.” Remy decided.
“So should we get her dressed? Should we pack some clothes for her? Try to find her purse?” Scott asked.
“No. Remy answered. “This is an emergency, so I think we wrap her in a blanket and take her as is. It will be much harder to run back home if she has no ID, no money, and no shoes. We’ll buy her whatever she needs.”
“What about these drugs, should we take them to show Chen?”
“No” Remy decided. “Trash them, but get photos of them first, and of the poolhouse bedroom too. And make sure to take her phone. We still need to find out who this Jack is. Puck, why don’t you see if you can find a couple of blankets and a pillow?”
“Because I’m not going to let you do this.” Puck brought them all up short.
“You don’t think she needs help, Puck?” Remy spun the chair Timber was sleeping in so it no longer faced the window but gave all of them a close up view of what had become of Timberlain Lilley.
“Of course she needs help,” Puck agreed, “But maybe not your help.” She’s a person Remy. She’s not just Jordan Lilley’s wife. You can’t just decide her life for her because you don’t like the way she’s handling it. If you want to take her back to New York with us, get her to say it’s ok with her. That’s the only way I’m going to go along with it.”
“Why are you such an asshole Puck?” Scott was immediately in his face, but Remy flagged him down.
“No. When he’s right he’s right.” Remy told Scott. “I’ll get Timber to say yes. Get your video camera ready and when I give you the high sign, start taping.”
“Remy, she just threw us out of her house man, she is not going to agree to come back with us.”
“Sure she is.” Remy insisted, pausing to do his best Brando as Godfather impression. “I’m going to make her an offer she can’t refuse.”
“Seriously Remy?” Scott was still skeptical. “Timber can be stubborn even when she’s in a good mood.
“Seriously? I’m going to bully her into it.” Remy answered.
“You’re going to bully her?” Scott repeated.
“I am,” Remy confirmed as he swung Timber around in the chair to face him, twisting her so that she sat up at least marginally straighter and her feet dangled toward the floor. Remy stood up and addressed his friends over Timber’s sleeping form.
“First time I met Timber was at a ski weekend. “The girl I was with was “bunny hill” followed by hot toddies in the hot tub, but Timber was a pretty decent skier, not Jordie’s league, but better than Intermediate. So at the end of the first day Jordie convinces Timber she’s ready to come up with us and ski her first Black Diamond run. They’d only been dating a couple of months at the time, Timber was still a little star struck by the whole Yankee thing, and you could see she was trying to impress him, so she says she’s up for it.
“We get off the ski lift, and someone has let it out that Jordan Lilley is there, and he gets mobbed up at the top with autograph seekers, most of them of the ski bunny persuasion, and because he always thought that it was a funny thing to do, every autograph Jordie signs he points at me and says, “Do you know my catcher. That’s him right there, Remy Robicheaux, you should get his autograph too.
“Timber never liked standing around watching Jordie interact with his fans of the female variety, so she starts down without him. And I managed to find a hole in the crowd to slip through and start down a couple minutes later. I get halfway down the run, just above where the moguls begin and there’s Timber, sitting on the ground in a yard sale with her skis planted in the snow next to her and her poles and hat and her goggles and gloves laying all around, and she’s crying.
“So I ski up and ask her if she’s hurt, and she’s all “He shouldn’t have made me do this. I’ve never done a mogul run before and he said we’d practice first and we never did. I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared.’ So I collect her equipment and spend the next five minutes trying to convince her the moguls look scarier than they are and that she can do it, I’ve been watching her ski all day and I am sure she has what it takes, but it just seems to make her cry harder.
“Then finally, up skis Jordie, and he’s not showing any sympathy at all. He says, ‘Whatcha doin’ down there Timber?’ And she starts in with the ‘You shouldn’t have made me do this run, I’m not ready for a Black Diamond’ and turns on the water faucets.
So Jordie pulls her skis out of the snow and puts them down next to her, picks her up one handed by the back of her jacket. puts her on her feet, and tells her to step in, but she’s still crying. So he gets right in her face and says real quietly, ‘Timberlain. I love you, and I would never put you on a hill you weren’t safe on. Now click in.’ And she does. Then he hands her her hat and gloves and tells her ‘put you equipment on’ and when she’s done with that he hands her her poles, and she’s trying to stop sniffling but she gives it one last, “Please Jordie I can’t do this.”
Then Jordie, in that same quiet tone says, “Here are your choices Timber. I will find you a line through the moguls, and you can follow me down, or you can sit up here and cry and I will send the ski patrol up for you when I get down, in which case I will be the guy waiting for you at the bottom with a mug of beer, laughing my ass off. But I am not going to let you embarrass me or my friend Remy by sidestepping you down the mountain while every yahoo with a cell phone records us. Your choice darlin’.
“Then Remy pulls his goggles back down and tells her in a normal voice, ‘Keep your knees bent, keep your butt parallel to the ground, look down the mountain not at your skis and follow my line.’ And he skis away.
“So I figure now I’m going to have to not only walk his crying woman down the mountain, I’m going to be driving her to the airport that night when she leaves the s.o.b. But then I look at her, and she’s breathing fire. She’s screaming down the mountain at his back, ‘You freeping cockolorum dustbag’ – first time I ever heard Timber Trash by the way – but then she realizes he can’t hear her, so she looks at me, and I swear her eyes left burn marks on my ski jacket and she growls, ‘I am going to bury that arrogant mighty python balker’ – whatever that means – pulls the goggles down and off she goes on a line straight down the mountain and God help any tree that might get in her way.
“So Timber ignores Jordie’s line and goes straight down the mogul run, and she’s looking like Hannah Kearney, boom, boom, boom, boom, and it seems like she’s airborne more than she’s on the snow, and when she gets to the bottom steep, she spies Jordie, who was taking his time, snowplowing, waiting to see if Timber was going to try to come down.
“So I come through the moguls just in time to see Timber change her line, and now she is headed directly for Jordie, down in a tight little tuck so low her bottom kept dipping into the snow, and her poles are tucked up under her pits, and at the last second, he sees her coming, and tries to change course, and I thought for a minute, oh my god I’m watching a murder suicide in progress. But just before she would have hit him, she pulls up, turns sideways, and buries him in the snow coming off her skis. They must have traveled a good 30 feet with him trying to stay on his feet while she sprayed him til he finally fell. The ski patrol banned her from the hill for the weekend and she and Jordie had to drive over to Deer Valley to ski the next day.
“I still thought I’d be driving her to the airport that night, but when I saw them that evening she was all smiles, telling everyone about her first Black Diamond run with no mention of her crisis of confidence in the middle. So I asked Jordie about the whole drama, and he told me Timber has a character flaw. She’s a quitter. For some reason she’ll get to the goal line and fold, and you can’t sweet talk her, you have to kick her butt. So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to kick her butt, I’ve had to do it before, and it works.”
Puck looked ready to jump Remy. “She’s a quitter so you have to bully her? That is such utter bullshit! But I suppose that is what I should expect from you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean Puck?” Remy demanded.
“It means that I heard a different version of that story, the one Timber told to Dana Metzger. Crisis of confidence. What bullshit. And they didn’t go to Deer Valley because she got thrown off the mountain. They went because she threatened to leave him, and Jordie was working his way back into her good graces by taking her somewhere he promised no one would recognize him and need their butt massaged. Because that’s what happened up top. Timber took off because Jordie was whispering in the ear of some autograph seeker while his hand was squeezing her ass. Crisis of confidence bullshit! She sat down and cried because he humiliated her with the ski bunny, he didn’t live up to his promise to take her down her first Black Diamond, and then he sent you down to fix it.”
“He didn’t send me down.” Remy objected.
“No?” Puck sneered, “I suppose he didn’t have to. That was just a natural thing for you wasn’t it, taking up Jordie’s slack. You just said YOU were going to have to drive her to the airport. She was his date. Why would YOU be involved, Robicheaux? Whenever he fucked up, you were the fixer. Hell, you cut his baby’s cord, and to this day she thinks Jordie was some American hero, off serving his country flying jets for his National Guard weekend when that baby was born, and everybody in this room knows that isn’t true. Everybody but Timber.”
“That’s right Puck,” Remy growled. “She doesn’t know, and she’s never going to know, the only thing that information does now is hurt her more than she already is. Is that what you want?”
Coop stepped into the fray. “She’s sitting right there,” he warned them, “so why don’t you both shut the fuck up before you wake her?”
Puck stuck his hands in his pockets and walked back toward the kitchen kicking the swinging door angrily in front of him hard enough for it to bang against the wall and make Timber jump in her sleep.
Remy took a calming breath, got down on his knees in front of her and raised her chin.
“Timberlain.” He took a stern tone. “Timberlain wake up. Come on, wake up, I need to talk to you.”
Timber whined in her sleep, attempting to adjust to a more comfortable position, but Remy held her chin up until she opened her eyes, and then closed them again. “Come on Timber, wake up. I have to ask you a question and you can go right back to sleep.”
“Mmmmm” Timber growled shaking her head to rid herself of Remy’s hand that gripped her chin.
“Timberlain. Open your eyes and look at me and I’ll let go.” Remy tried again, but Timber only growled more insistently, trying to shake off the hand that was annoying her. Remy let her escape, put his hands under her armpits, lifted her until she sat up straighter. Timber grunted when her cheek with the sore hit the chair and her eyes opened. “Whaaaaat?” she whined “I want… sleep.”
“You can go back to sleep as soon as you answer a question for me Timber, I have to know what you want to do.”
“Whaaaat?” Timber whined again and Remy nodded at Scott to start taping.
“Timber. This is Remy.” he began, are you listening?
“Hmmph” answered Timber but her eyes were still open, six inches from Remy’s own. “Who am I Timber? Who are you talking to?”
“Ummmph Remy.” Timber repeated, though none too happily.
“That’s right Timber, it’s Remy, and I have to leave now to go back to New York.”
“New York,” Timber said nodding as if that made sense to her.
“That’s right Timber, I have to go back to New York, but I can’t leave you here alone…”
“Yes!” Timber whined beginning to show some distress.
“No Timber, you can’t stay here. That is not on the menu. But I need you to tell me what you want to do. I can call EMS and have them come here to the house…”
“No,” her eyes opened wider and her hand came up to push his face away, but Remy caught it.
“Ok then, if you don’t want EMS I won’t call them. I won’t call them ok?” Remy’s promised. “But that means I either have to take you to the hospital now here in Michigan, or I can take you home with me and I will take care of you.”
Timber started crying but didn’t respond.
“Come on Timber, I need an answer. Do you want to go to the hospital or home with me?”
Remy raised her chin again so that the two of them were nose to nose and softened his tone. “Timber, we’re either going to the hospital, or we’re going home to New York, what do you want to do?”
Nothing from Timber.
“Timber” Remy tried again. “Hospital or home with Remy?”
And this time Timber very clearly answered “Remy.”
Remy gave the cut sign to Scott who clicked off his cell.
“I would say we have consent.” Coop said quietly. “Let’s take our girl home. I’ll get Puck and warm up the car and let the pilot know we’re on our way.”
Scott found a thermal blanket and a thick patchwork quilt in the linen closet and laid them out of the sofa, then told Remy he’d do a check of the doors and windows and meet him outside. Remy lifted Timber and gently laid her on the blankets, wrapping her up for the trip.
“Remy?” Timber’s eyes were open.
“Shh. I’m just taking you home Sweetie, go back to sleep and next time you open your eyes you’ll be in New York with me.”
To his surprise, Timber had an intelligible response, and her eyes he saw comprehension. “It’s too late,” she whispered.
“What’s too late Timber?” He whispered back.
“I’m in a deep black hole Remy.” Timber told him with eyes filled with tears. “A deep deep black hole and the water keeps rushing in and I can’t breathe anymore, so I’m just breathing in the water waiting to drown.”
“No, Timber, no. I’m not going to let you drown. I didn’t know you were in the black hole, Timmie. I should have known, but I didn’t and that’s my fault. That’s all my fault. But I’ve found you now. And Scotty and Coop are here too, and we’re going to throw you down a rope, and all you have to do is hang on.”
With a wan smile Timber held out her hands. “It’s too late Remy. I can’t hold onto the rope anymore.”
Remy took her hands in his and kissed the knuckles on each of them. “Then I’ll come down and get you Timmie. And I’ll hold you tight, tight, tight while Scott and Coop pull us both up. We’re family Timber. We’re going to fix you. We’re going to make things right. Now just go to sleep Sweetie, and dream sweet dreams.”
“Sweet dreams.” Timber smiled, and closed her eyes.