“I’m going to give him fist-to-mouth resuscitation if you don’t get out of this car right now.” I giggled as I got out of the car before he could say any more.

 

Dr. Jennings was already sitting at a desk in the training room when we got there, looking at what I assumed were Viper’s X-rays on the computer screen.

“Morning, Dr. J,” Viper exclaimed as we walked through the door.

Dr. Jennings looked up and squinted at us before pulling his glasses down from his head. “Good morning, Mr. Finkle.” He stood and crossed the room, offering Viper his hand.

Viper shook it and motioned toward me. “I think you’ve met Michelle before, right?”

I felt my face flush as I gave Dr. Jennings a tight smile. The last time I stood in this office, I was still Mike’s wife, and now being there as Viper’s girlfriend made me feel a little awkward.

“Yes, I have.” He smiled warmly and cupped my hand in both of his. “Nice to see you again, Michelle.” Dr. Jennings was a tall man with gray hair and years of wrinkles and laugh lines built into his face. His voice was low and comforting, his demeanor so gentle that he made my tension disappear instantly.

“Good to see you, too, Dr. Jennings.”

“So, what do you think, doc?” Viper asked as he leaned his crutches against the wall and took a few slow steps without them. “It doesn’t hurt too much and nothing is broken. So what . . . ice it today, maybe schedule some physical therapy for next week, and get on a plane tonight?”

Dr. Jennings let out a low laugh. “I know you’re anxious, Viper, but I’d like to actually see your knee before I clear you, okay? Onto the table, please.”

I sat down on a chair in the corner as Viper hopped up on the dark green leather-covered exam table. He shot me a quick wink before he lay down and lifted his legs up.

Dr. Jennings carefully removed Viper’s leg brace and started examining his knee while rapid-firing question after question at him. He stepped down the side of Viper’s leg a little bit, blocking me from seeing—or hearing—much else. As they exam went on, I chewed on my fingernails as my foot tapped nervously against the metal legs of the chair.

As quickly as we got there, we were right back out the door. Dr. Jennings wasted no time in sending Viper straight to the hospital for an MRI on his knee, just as we’d expected. Well, I’d expected.

In the car on the way over, I could feel how tense Viper was. Gone was the playful good mood he’d carried into the rink.

“Don’t worry too much, okay? Everything will be fine. Whatever happens, it’ll be fine.” I said, trying to peek at him and the road at the same time.

His elbow rested on the window and his hand was near his mouth, picking at his lip like a scared little kid.

“Did you hear me?” I asked when he said nothing.

“I heard you. You’re wrong, but I heard you.”

“Wrong about what?”

“Everything being fine. If my knee is fucked up, nothing will be fine.” His tone cut through me like a knife.

“Viper, don’t talk like that, okay? I know you were hoping Dr. Jennings was going to send you home with an ice pack and it would be fine, and maybe it still will be, but of course they are going to do an MRI to be safe. You knew this was probably going to happen last night. So let’s not freak out until there’s something to actually freak out about, okay?”

“Fine,” he agreed dryly, looking down at his lap at his MRI script for the tenth time.

“Good,” I said triumphantly, a little surprised that he’d agreed so fast. “Now hold my hand and take a deep breath. We’re almost there.”

Could the timing of all of this be any worse?

 

 

“Four hours!” I shouted angrily. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Viper! Shhh!” Michelle scolded, grabbing my arm gently as the technician’s eyes grew as big as the glasses on her face.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Finkle, but the results take a little while and then they need to be read,” she said with an attitude. “Dr. Jennings asked that we send him the images as soon as we have them. He said that he’d contact you.”

“I can’t believe this can’t be done sooner.” I shook my head incredulously, beyond pissed that I wasn’t getting answers. “This is seriously fucking ridiculous.”

The technician rolled her tongue between her top lip and her teeth. “Sir—”

Michelle raised her hand, stopping her. “Let me talk to him. I’ll handle this.” She turned back to me and placed both hands flat against my chest. “Hey, look at me.”

My eyes were fixated off to my right at a picture of a bunch of flowers on the wall, and it took all of my self-control not to rip that picture off the wall and throw it across the room.

“I said look at me,” Michelle said as she took a hold of my chin and lowered my face to hers. “Calm down. It’s four hours, not four years. Let’s grab the kids, go have some lunch with Gam, and then when we hear from Dr. Jennings, we’ll come back. Okay?”

I wiggled my twitching fingers, desperately trying to keep a lid on my temper before I punched a hole in the wall of the radiology waiting room.

“Viper, please. You’re scaring me.” Michelle blinked up at me, her eyes darting back and forth between mine.

Staring into her eyes brought me out of my rage as I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Sorry,” I grumbled quietly, feeling guilty that I’d scared her. I gripped the sides of her face with my hands and pulled her close, kissing her forehead. “Let’s get outta here.”

 

We walked to the car in silence, and then drove to Kacie’s in silence. She ran in to grab the kids while I waited in the car, going over every possible outcome in my head for the hundredth time. My phone vibrated in my pocket and I fished it out. I had a bunch of texts from Brody that I hadn’t opened yet, and a new one from Andy, my agent.

Andy: Finkle. What’s going on? I saw the game last night and talked to Brody today, but he said he hasn’t heard from you. Are you okay? What did the doctors say? Answer me now so I can brag to Brody that you answered me before him.

 

I was lucky to have Andy as an agent. He wasn’t stuffy and obnoxious like ninety-nine percent of sports agents out there. He was your best friend all the time and your pitbull agent when he needed to be.