Animal Rage:Devil Dogs MC, Volume 3(5)

By: Kathryn Thomas

“You got a raise! Oh my God, Jamie, that’s so great.” Isabel stands up and hugs her friend tightly. “I’m so proud of you!” Immediately she feels bad for monopolizing the conversation with her own problems when her friend had such exciting news.

Jamie makes a ‘settle down’ motion with her hand. “It’s not like I’m earning the Wall Street bucks yet. It’s still peanuts, but I’m doing what I love, so I don’t mind. I’d probably work for free if I could pay my landlord in smiles!” Jamie gives Isabel a serious look as they start walking down the busy street filled with Saturday morning shoppers.

“What, Jamie?” Isabel doesn’t even have to make eye contact with her friend. “What are you thinking? I can hear the little cogs turning around in your mind.” Isabel makes a motion like she’s winding up a wheel.

“Little cogs?” Jamie expertly tosses her mane of golden hair, catching the eye of every guy on the street. “I’m not sure if that’s not an insult to my intelligence. But we’re such good friends that I won’t get mad.” She gives Isabel a pointed look.

“All right, hit me with it. What are you about to say that I’m going to get mad about?” Isabel stops in her tracks, watching her friend cautiously.

“Nothing, because as I just pointed out, best friends don’t get mad at each other.” Jamie says the words so sweetly and innocently, someone who doesn’t know her would think she has both of those attributes in spades.

Isabel knew better; her friend was no stranger to the sneak attack. “Go on.” Isabel makes ‘continue’ gestures with her hands, eyeing her friend suspiciously at the same time.

“So when are you going to start doing what you love?” Jamie focuses her attention on Isabel, who just stands there looking nonplussed. “Med school. When are you going back? You can’t hide out here the rest of your life, Issy.”

“I’m not hiding!” Isabel bristles at the suggestion, though she’s not sure if it’s all that inaccurate anymore.

“Well, whatever you want to call it, then: mourning, grieving. I get that your mom left you the boarding house but you and I both know this was never your dream; it was hers. And she wouldn’t have wanted you to give up everything because of it.” Jamie places a comforting hand on her friend’s shoulder. Isabel remains silent, scuffing at the sidewalk with the toe of her converse, feeling like a teenager getting told off for teepeeing someone’s house. “Ever since we were little kids, Issy, a doctor is all you’ve ever wanted to be. That hasn’t changed, has it?”

Isabel shakes her head. “No. But it’s not that simple, Jamie. What am I supposed to do about the house?”

Jamie throws her hands up in frustration. “Do what your mom told you to do with it: sell it!”

“I can’t!” Isabel’s voice is rising in anger now.

“Why the hell not? People do it all the time.” Jamie spreads her hands as if to say that she doesn’t have any other way to say what she’s saying.

“Because it’s the only thing I have left of her, Jamie!” The words burst out of Isabel like she can’t hold them back. “And if I get rid of the house, she’s really gone.” The pleading look in her voice is matched in her eyes. You will not cry, Bishop, she tells herself.

Understanding dawns in Jamie’s face and she reaches out to hold Isabel’s hand. “I know, honey. I know that’s how you feel. But it’s not true. The house is just a thing. It’s not who your mom was.” She sighs, clearly seeing that she’s not getting anywhere with this conversation. “I didn’t want to say anything over the phone; it’s something I thought we should talk about face to face. But I’m not going to push you.” She backs off, hands held up in surrender as if to illustrate the point. “I just want you to think about it, to really think about it. Promise me you’ll at least do that.”

Isabel swallows her anger and her pain. She knows Jamie is just telling her this for her own good and the kick of it is that she’s not wrong. Since Wesley had left, Isabel’s been thinking more and more about going back to school, though she hasn’t quite figured out the ‘how’ part yet. She had given up on one thing that she loved; she doesn’t want to be two for two.