Mina has never had a lot, but that suits her just fine. All she's ever needed is her mom and a warm place to call home. But when both of those things are taken away in one swift and heartbreaking moment, she finds herself alone and broke on the streets of New York City—the last place a cute 19-year-old girl should be. When a stranger offers to take care of her, she’s more than tempted, but what exactly does this handsome and mysterious man have in mind?
Age Rating: 18+
For as long as I can remember, it had always been just me and my mom. We lived in a tiny apartment in New York.
I’ve never met my father, but it didn’t bother me. Mom had always done everything to make sure I was taken care of. I didn’t realize until I was older that she barely made ends meet. She did her best and I never suffered.
I looked a lot like her, long black hair, small frame, and blue eyes. Except my breasts were smaller than hers. I wasn’t flat chested or anything, just an average C.
“You should really go to school for this.” She moaned slightly as she ate what started as chicken marsala and had morphed into something else. What, I don’t know.
“Mom,” I said while in the midst of rinsing the pan, “I don’t even know what I made.”
“But it’s delicious, Mina.”
I did love to cook, but going to culinary school was out of the question. There was no way I could ever afford it. I’d been working the last few months since I graduated from high school, trying to save, but helping Mom more. She hadn’t been feeling well as of late.
She started coughing.
“Mom, I really wish you’d go to the doctor.”
“I’ll be fine, dear,” she assured, covering her mouth with a tissue.
She yanked it away and I saw blood. “That’s it!” I got my purse. “We’re going to the hospital.”
“You know we can’t afford that!”
“I don’t care. You need to go.”
Finally, after three hours and two tests, the doctor returned. “Ms.… ” He gave her chart a quick once-over. “Ms. Walker, your results are back and I’m afraid it’s more than a cold. Your X-rays show a mass on your lung.”
“Is it pneumonia?” she asked.
“I want to run more tests and admit you to find out for sure.”
I chased after the doctor as he left the room. “Could that be why she sleeps a lot and seems weaker?”
He looked right at me. “It could be, yes. We’ll know more once all of the results come back.”
It was nearly three in the morning by the time they finished all of the tests and she finally got to a room. The nurses gave me a pillow and blanket so I could stay with her.
“Mina, go home and get some rest,” she said, pulling up her blanket. She was tired. So was I.
I settled into the sofa. “I want to be here in the morning when the doctor comes in.”
She nodded her head. The pain medicine they gave her must be working.
I had one of the worst night’s sleeps ever, between the nurses coming in and out to check her and this terribly uncomfortable couch. One of the nurses had come in carrying a cup of coffee and I was so thankful. “Do you know when the doctor will be in?”
She glanced at her watch. “About an hour. Dr. Linden likes to do rounds before he goes to the office.”
I couldn’t recall the doctor’s name from last night. Surely, he didn’t just work all night in the emergency room before going into the office for the entire day. That can't be safe, can it?
The door opened and in walked a man that looked nearly sixty. Not the same one from last night.
“Good morning, ladies. I’m Dr. Linden. Ms. Walker, I have your test results back.” His eyes shifted from me to my mother.
—He doesn’t expect me to leave the room, does he?—
Slightly nodding her head, “Yes, Doctor.”
He let out a subtle sigh. “I'm afraid there’s no easy way to tell you this, but you have stage four cancer. Which means it has metastasized.”
“It has spread from your lungs to your bones.”
I shook my head, still in shock. "So, what’s our next step?”
He glanced back and forth between us, settling on Mom. “That’s up to you. You can stay here, try chemotherapy treatments or you can go home and we’ll keep you as comfortable as possible.”
Mom squeezed my hand. “Dear, would you go and get me a cup of coffee?”
"Sure." I didn’t want to leave her, but I knew she didn’t want to have this discussion in front of me either.
I took my time on my way back from the cafeteria, trying to process the words I’d just heard.
—Cancer? My mom has cancer?—
I didn’t know a lot about medicine, but I did know that stage four is as bad as it gets. She had no health insurance, and we couldn’t afford the treatments, we couldn’t even afford this stay.
I hoped she’d decide to fight. She was the strongest woman I knew and I didn’t know what I’d do without her. We could figure out the money part later.
I wiped a tear away as I walked back into her room. “Mom!! What are you doing?!”