Dr. Degas followed Cleo out of the house as they heard the sound of Noah’s truck pulling up to the sidewalk. He was already parking as they got out there, opening the door and stepping out. Cleo briefly noticed how terrible he looked as she ran past him and over to the passenger side where her mother was sitting still, curled into Noah’s brown jacket.
“I found her by the river,” Noah said through chattering teeth as he came around the car and stood next to them. Cleo was restraining herself from gripping onto her mother as Dr. Degas checked her over.
“I already called an ambulance,” she said as she pulled her stethoscope away from her ears. “They’re on their way, should be just a few more minutes. I want her in the hospital. It’s definitely hypothermia but I’m not sure what else yet.”
“She was walking,” Noah said.
He was hopping up and down on his feet and Cleo realized he was only in a thin shirt. She scrambled out of her jacket and put it over his shoulders. For a second she thought he’d protest, and it’d be a fight. But then he just wrapped it around himself.
“Inside,” Dr. Degas ordered him as she began to help Cleo’s mom out of the truck. “Don’t go anywhere. I want you inside to warm up, but don’t get in any hot water. You’re next once she’s taken care of.”
“I’m fine,” Noah said.
She ignored him as she turned back to Cleo’s mom, who was looking up at Cleo with tears on her grayish face. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
“It’s okay,” Cleo said.
She wrapped her arms around her mom, taking some of her weight onto herself. “It’s okay,” she repeated. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
Cleo and Dr. Degas gently brought her toward the house, with Noah coming in behind them. As they got inside, Olivia, Andrew, and Edie rose from where they were sitting at the kitchen table.
“I called the cops,” Olivia said. “There’s an officer on her way, but they’ve let everyone know she’s safe.”
Cleo nodded her thanks as they brought her mother to an empty chair. The ambulance pulled up moments later and two paramedics loaded her mom onto it. Cleo hugged all the others before following her. She got to Noah, paused, then gripped him.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
He didn’t answer. He still felt cold as she held him and she squeezed him tighter.
“I’ll see you soon,” she said.
He nodded and she let go, then hurried out after the ambulance.
Andrew watched Cleo leave with a staggering amount of relief. Everything was fine. Her mom was safe. She was going to be okay.
He glanced over at Edie, who was at the kitchen table, watching Noah with a strange look on their face. “What is it?” he asked.
“Where do I…”
Noah looked over from where he was now buried under a huge blanket as they waited for Dr. Degas to return. He also narrowed his eyes as he looked at Edie, then his face lit up in recognition at the exact same time theirs did.
“It’s you!” Edie said. “You’re the guy with the truck!”
He nodded, teeth still chattering. “Thanks for the directions,” they said. “I started heading here as soon as Cleo told me and realized I had no idea what to do once I got here. I’m Edie.”
The door opened and Dr. Degas walked back in. “She’s all set,” she said. “Cleo went with her to the hospital. If I had to guess, they’ll keep her for a night or two for observation. Definite hypothermia and some injuries.”
She was carrying Noah’s jacket and set it down on the counter as she came into the room. Then she turned toward the counter to get her bag of supplies as Noah set down the blanket and stood up. “Noah,” he responded to Edie, who was watching him expectantly.
They held out a hand to shake, and Noah reached over to shake back. Then, as Andrew watched, Edie gripped his hand and Noah’s face went completely white. He let out an involuntary yelp of pain and Edie let go like his hand was on fire. Noah dropped back in his chair, hunched over his injured wrist as he held it tightly to his chest.
Dr. Degas was there in less than a second. “Let me see,” she said softly.
She took Noah’s injured wrist and looked at it. “It looks broken,” she said. “But there’s…was it injured before tonight?”
He nodded sheepishly, avoiding her eyes. “How long?”
Andrew watched as Dr. Degas looked at Noah with a mix of frustration and compassion. “Come on,” she said. “I wanted to examine you anyway. I can set it at the clinic, but it isn’t going to be fun.”
She looked at the rest of them. “Can one of you follow behind us?” she asked. “He’s going to need a ride home.”
“If you say it’s fine one more time,” Dr. Degas warned, shaking her head.
“I’ll be there shortly,” Andrew said.
Noah caught his eye and Andrew nodded at him. “Let me drop Liv and Edie off at Liv’s house and I’ll head over to the clinic from there.”
“Perfect,” Dr. Degas said. “Noah, I can give you a sling for the car ride, but no meds yet. As soon as we get to the clinic, I need to take some x-rays. If it’s been that way since February…”
She trailed off, clearly planning things out in her head as she helped Noah to his feet. The others all started to get up. “I’ll see you in a bit,” Andrew said to Noah, laying his hand briefly on a shoulder that was still shaking from the cold.
Noah gave him a grim smile, then Andrew hurried out the door toward the car.