Nineteen and Change [Fiction]

His behavior was no longer acceptable. Sheridan had done everything she could to give Alexander space after Lore’s death, but he needed to come out of his room and deal with the world. Things needed his touch, plus the Magnus called every day and she didn’t have a better answer for him than she didn’t know how his grandson was faring. Standing on the bottom stair, she knocked on the trap door leading into Alexander’s private attic space.

“Alex,” she called. “Come talk to me.” No sound came from beyond the door, not even the dragging of the chair over it to keep her from coming in. Seeing that as an invitation, she pushed the trapdoor open and immediately regretted it. “Damn.”

His entire liquor cabinet lay bare with the doors ripped off the hinges. Empty bottles sat in militant rows on the floor. The room reeked of ganja and Alexander lay on his bed at the end of the room, eyes glazed. Sheridan strode over to him and plopped down on the bed.

“Alex?” He didn’t stir. Whatever he’d taken, and if the liquor cabinet looked like that she could only guess what kind of hit his drug stash had sustained, kept him well awake but unaware. She pressed her face to his. “Alex, I need you to wake up.”

A few moments later, his breathing changed going from the deep breaths of calm to the rapid inhalations of a panicked runner. Sheridan had just enough time to clear away before he shot to the sitting position and every object in the room, including her, shifted away from him several inches. The bottles clinked and clattered to the floor. Without thinking, he began to reset them from where he sat.

“Sherri,” he said and his voice cracked. “Sherri, I–.”

She didn’t make him finish the statement.

“I know, but you’ve gotta. Magnus is calling every day and he wants to talk to you. Your accountant won’t give me the details but something isn’t right with the books at the club. You’ve gotta surface, my friend.”

“I can’t.”

“You can. Lore would never accept that as an answer and neither do I.” She tossed her streaked blond hair over her shoulder. “You’ve been drunk or drugged for weeks. Wake up, wash up, get dressed. I’ll order lunch and you’re going to go behave like you’ve got it together even if you have to sit in your BMW and cry between meetings.”

One hand went over the stubble on his chin.

“I need to shave.”

“You’ve got twenty minutes. If you’re not out of the shower and putting on clothes by then, I’m coming in after you. Do you want the meeting with Magnus first or the accountant?”

“Oh god, the accountant. Magnus is going to rip me apart, put me back together, and then pretend like my recovery was the whole point of the matter.”

“Maybe it is. You’ve been out of it more than usual. I mean, seriously, your ENTIRE liquor cabinet is empty. You apparently even drank the cheap shitty shit you buy for when you’re chasing tail.” She gestured at the damage the room had taken. “Then, when you couldn’t find more, instead of calling downstairs like a normal person, you ripped the doors off the hinges. Smart move.”

“Sheridan, get out.”

“Nineteen and change.”

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