The three months at the facility turned into a year and a half because Charisse’s attempts to kill herself, her resistance to connect with anyone including anyone in the facility and her constant fits when people would look like they were about to touch her. From starving herself, cutting herself or being difficult to the staff, she was put in solitude so many times, her room became her sanctuary. On her twenty-eighth birthday, she was released on the condition that for three months, she had to have someone watching her twenty-four hours a day.
The money her mother had left her was enough to cover the cost. Charisse could care less. Getting out meant she could really do some damage to herself once all guard was taken off her of.
The staff packed up her room early that morning. After she took a bath, she was placed handcuffed at the wrist to a chair in the lobby with a small box of her possessions by her feet to wait for pickup.
After two hours with boredom sinking in, she was about to figure a way to get to the bathroom by herself and swallow as much liquid soap as possible, but a light gold Benz pulled up to the door in the no parking zone and Parker jumped out looking freshly done again. This time he had on a teal suit with matching shoes, an emerald green shirt, tie and shoes.
Did he have a personal designer dress him daily? No man looked so well put together all the time.
“I’m so sorry,” he said as soon as he came up to her.
She hadn’t even stood up when he approached and not because she was strapped down, but because she wanted to stress that nothing he did could affect her.
“My meeting ran over,” he explained.
With the most placid look on her face, she stared up at him. He waved his hands in front of her face to see if she was respondent to that, but she didn’t move, blink or speak.
The annoyed clerk who had been assigned with keeping an eye on Charisse, came over with the discharge paperwork, quickly explaining to Parker the attention Charisse needed and making him sign over for her like she was some kind of pet.
“Did you drug her?” he asked concerned because her expression had not changed, nor had she moved since he’d approached her.
The clerk snorted. “We wish we could, but her doctor has always insisted that she is not supposed to be given any kind of medication.”
“Where are the rest of her things?” Parker asked. “My wife said she sent boxes items here.”
“This is it,” the clerk said. “If anything we sent them back.”
“She’s been here a year and a half,” he protested. “And I never saw any of those items my wife had come back to us. She should have more things.”
Seeing Parker getting upset was something new for Charisse. Seeing anyone actually get upset over something that was an injustice for her was new too. No one had fought for her in a long time. It was hard to force herself not to look at Parker’s upset and revel in it.
“Most times,” the clerk explained, “She was locked in her room and wouldn’t keep her clothes on to avoid anyone talking to her and because of her restrictions, items sent to her was most likely sent back due to possible danger she wanted to do to herself or damage she had done to herself.”
Charisse sniggered at the reminder.
The clerk cut their eyes at her sharply, but then returned them back to Parker. “Remember, Mr. Mills. No metal objects can be in her room. Only cotton clothes, no zippers, no heels, no jewelry-“
He cut the clerk off. “I can read. Can you please uncuff her, so we can go? I have better things to do.”
The clerk huffed as she put on cotton gloves, got the keys out and then reached down slowly as if trying not to scare Charisse to unlock the leather cuff around her wrist.
Parker didn’t look pleased or amused, but took the box and started to reach to help her up.
She cringed away and he stopped coming closer.
After a moment, she stood up when she was sure he wouldn’t touch her and walked to the car. He walked ahead of her and opened the front passenger door.
Charisse deliberately moved pass him and sat herself in the back seat.
Parker gave her this strange look, placing the box on the front and then getting in the driver’s seat. By that time, Charisse had secured her seat belt and looked out the window to show that she wasn’t going to speak to him.
He played an easy listening jazz station and did not say a word to her. She was glad. No conversation meant she didn’t have to enjoy the sound of his voice.
This cell phone rung and he pushed a button on the steering wheel. The music lowered considerably and the voice of Chyna over a phone came on the front speaker system.
“You cancelled the driver to pick Charisse up?” she asked incredulously. “I just called them to confirm their pick up and drop off and they said you canceled the credit transaction. How could you be so selfish, Parker?”
“The nurse called my office and informed me because you scheduled late, they couldn’t assign anyone until this afternoon, so no one would have been at the home to… assist your sister. You didn’t answer your phone and I had to take initiatives. Plus I thought it was a rather cold way to greet your sister back to reality and on her birthday, Chyna.”
“How could you remember her birthday?”
“Because mine is tomorrow.”
“Oh… yeah. You couldn’t leave a message about all this?”
“Why should I, when you never listen to your voicemail anyway, Chyna? I handled it. I just didn’t feel comfortable with her being dumped at our house like that.”
“It wasn’t a cold way, Parker,” Chyna said defensively. “I couldn’t miss my hair appointment. You know how difficult it is to get in Shawn’s chair and you said you had an important meeting. Who else was going to get her? You know I couldn’t send Cheyenne, plus she’s refusing to even answer her phone. I think she moved and didn’t tell us. Can you believe that shit? Although I can’t blame her in not wanting this burden anymore.”
He didn’t respond to her because Chyna obviously didn’t remember he used his interior intercom in the car when answering the phone and anyone could hear his conversation if they were driving with him. “I cut my meeting short and picked her up myself. She’s in the car now.”
There was a moment’s pause as his wife realized what she had said out loud, before she asked, “You cut your meeting? But I thought this was your biggest client? So you didn’t get the deal?”
“Actually I did, Chyna. I told him how important it was for me to leave to pick up my sister in law and he cut the check personally. He said any man dedicated to family like that was a man who would be dedicated to making sure his company look good.”
“Oh goodie! So we can go out and celebrate tonight?!” Chyna asked excitedly. “I just bought the most gorgeous dress and I’m just dying to check out that new Wolfgang Puck restaurant-“
He cut her off uncomfortably, “Since it’s Charisse’s first day home, I was thinking we’d spend an evening with her.”
“We got that nurse for her,” Chyna said obviously. “She minds any attention. She hates interaction with people.”
He glanced back at Charisse, who was playing possum again. Her chest was expanding and retracting at a normal rate and her pupils stayed steady. He could tell, but he didn’t point it out. “Fine, Chyna, we’ll go.”
She squealed in delight.
He changed the subject. “Did the doctor call about your results?”
“No, but I’ve got to go,” she said abruptly. “I’ll see you tonight darling. Kisses.”
The line clicked and Parker glanced back at Charisse, who was still playing possum. He took his time perusing her as they drove home.
Unlike Cheyenne and Chyna, who were twins, Charisse must have looked more like her father. Strong model features to her face, but thick features on her body. Although this last bout in the facility and her constant hunger strikes – according to the doctor who had consulted them for her discharge – had cost Charisse’s body weight, moving her from an eighteen to a lush twelve, which was the size Chyna had been when he married her.
Yet, for the past seven years she had been in competition with Cheyenne to see how small they could get without going bulimic.
Charisse possessed thick short hair, which she just combed back. No curls not even a ponytail, she had a band about the front, but the one she wore was old and barely on her head. She wore this calf length dull gray dress that showed nothing of her figure – if she had one –some thick black stockings, and awful dirty brown penny loafers, minus the pennies, that he hadn’t seen on a woman since the eighties. Over her ugly dress, she had this red worn sweater that was filled with holes and looked like it belonged on his dead grandmother.
Opening up her dark burnt brown large eyes, she cut them to the front of the windshield.
Parker looked forward with a serious expression on the road, hoping she had not seen him studying her.
His Substitute Wife…My Sister Chapter 2 (c) 2008 Sylvia Hubbard