“But I don’t know if I want to sue people, and you should have discussed—”
“Guys, time-out.” Dr. Davidow signaled a football time-out, but he wasn’t smiling, and both Christine and Marcus fell silent. “Marcus, this is a major step, if you’re serious.”
Dr. Davidow frowned. “I find it very hard to believe that a lawyer like Gary Leonardo would advise you to file a suit against Homestead and not against Families First.” He sucked his cheeks in slightly, his gaze hardening. “Are you going to sue us, too?”
“I hadn’t decided that yet,” Marcus answered, his tone equally firm.
“What?” Christine swallowed, mortified. “Don’t I have a say in this? Marcus, we’re not suing Families First. I won’t let you do that, not in my name.”
Marcus snapped his head around to her. “Honey, you’re not thinking about this the right way. It’s not like we’d be suing Homestead or Families First. It’s only a way of formally asking them to tell us something that we have every right to know.”
Dr. Davidow stood up behind his desk. “Beg to differ, Marcus. It’s suing us. I know about Gary Leonardo and how he operates. If you’re suing Homestead, then you’ll be joining Families First as a codefendant. You might even end up suing me, personally.”
“No, never,” Christine rushed to say. “You didn’t do anything wrong!”
Dr. Davidow seemed not to hear her, walking around his desk and opening his office door. “I’m sure my lawyer would advise me to call my malpractice carrier, right now. I’m sorry, folks, but this conversation is over.”
“So be it.” Marcus rose quickly, walking out the open door.
“Marcus? No!” Christine jumped to her feet, heartsick. She had just lost Michelle and she didn’t want to lose Dr. Davidow, too. She stopped in the threshold, where Dr. Davidow was standing. “We’re not going to sue you, Dr. Davidow.”
“I’m sorry, Christine.” Dr. Davidow edged backwards, and a tech in the hall spotted Christine and started to wave to her, then stopped.
“Dr. Davidow, please. Don’t worry. I’ll talk to him.”
“It’s best for you to go, Christine. And I don’t think you and Marcus should come back.”
Christine followed Marcus through the clinic’s waiting room, feeling the curious stares of the staff behind the counter. They must have figured out that something was wrong, especially because Christine always made a point to say good-bye before she left. A young couple waiting to be seen glanced up from their smartphones but quickly averted their eyes. It wasn’t uncommon that couples left Families First unhappy, angry, or even teary, but Christine knew they couldn’t have guessed what was going on. She followed Marcus to the exit door, which he held open for her because he had excellent manners, even if he could be a total jerk.
“My car is closer than yours,” Marcus said, closing the door behind her. “Let’s go to mine. I’ll drive you to yours.”
“Fine.” Christine barely looked at him as she went through the door, which led to a vast, glass-walled entrance hall of the east wing of Pilgrim Point General Hospital, which was the new addition, built only last year. Families and visitors crisscrossed the modern lobby, some carrying balloons and others using walkers or pushing wheelchairs. Christine and Marcus passed the circular reception desk and walked to the exit together, and she could barely wait until they were alone to start the conversation.
“What the hell?” Christine said under her breath. “What were you thinking?”
“I’d ask you the same question. What were you thinking?” Marcus looked down at her stiffly as they walked through the automatic doors, stepping outside into the warm, humid air.
A couple whom Christine recognized from the clinic passed them, and she and Marcus fell silent. The sun was turning a coppery color, low in a cloudless June sky, and out front was a fancy courtyard of Belgian block, where people stood talking in groups or waiting to be picked up. Beyond that was a large outdoor parking lot that had an area designated for Families First, and they both walked in that direction. Usually they held hands, but not today. Christine ignored an acrid cloud of cigarette smoke that wafted their way from someone lighting up on the way to his car. She was much more sensitive to smells since her pregnancy, but she was too angry to let it bother her right now.
“Marcus, you’re the one. You’ve lost your damn mind. I’m so mad at you, I don’t know where to begin.” Christine didn’t raise her voice because she wasn’t a big yeller, even when they fought. They had two ground rules: no yelling and no name-calling. That was why whenever she called Marcus a jerk or a total asshole, she had to do it in her mind.
“How? Why?” Marcus walked along, his pace quicker than usual. “Because I’m trying to get an answer to a question we have every right to know? Because I’m trying to do what’s best for us?”
“How is it best for us if you antagonize all those people who are our friends—or were our friends?”
“They’re not our friends, honey. They’re professionals we hired.”
“They’re more than that. Dr. Davidow is, for sure. So’s Michelle.” Christine felt a wrench in her chest, thinking of how Dr. Davidow’s face had fallen in his office.
“No, they’re not.” Marcus took the lead between the parked cars. “If they were our friends, they’d tell us what we have a right to know. If they were our friends, they wouldn’t withhold information that’s our information.”
“They don’t know it. Homestead knows it.”
“Then they’d find it out. They’d move mountains to find it out. That’s what a friend would do.” Marcus shook his head, as they walked. “Lauren is a friend. Lauren would pick up the phone and call Homestead. Lauren would read them the riot act. She would be outside their building, picketing, until they told you. That’s what a friend would do. They’re not acting like friends, so they’re not friends.”
“Dr. Davidow tried to get the information.” Christine spotted Marcus’s Audi two cars away. He did have a better space. He always got the best space. It drove her crazy. Today, it made her want to kill him.