“Secret Service let me in,” he announced cheerfully, looking around the bedroom, his eyes lighting on the television set. “Is that your TV? Sweet.”
“Hi, to you, too, Matt,” Sharon said, chiding and chuckling at the same time.
“Hey, Aunt June, you’re here!” He bounded over and hugged his aunt, lifting her off her feet.
June yelped and laughed. “Okay, Matt. We get it. You’re a big boy now.”
“What? I can’t give my favorite aunt a big ol’ hug?” Matt teased. He started toward the bed where Sharon was, but sat down gently next to it. “I mean, I’d hug my second-favorite aunt, here, but you know, she’s got a concussion.”
Sharon sighed. “I’m not an invalid, folks!”
“Close enough,” teased Matt. “Hey, the Secret Service guy said they’re bringing lunch in a couple. Think they’re trying to make up for flattening you, Aunt Sharon?”
“Possibly,” Sharon said.
“Aunt June, you gonna stay and have lunch with us?”
“Can’t. I’ve got to go,” June said quickly.
“I thought you were going to spend the afternoon,” Sharon asked.
“Oh. Forgot to tell you. There’s a meeting in New York. In fact, I’d better take off now if I’m going to get there in time.”
“At least you get to go to work,” Sharon grumbled. “Have fun.”
“I’ll try,” June said. “I’ll call tomorrow to see how you’re getting on.”
She bustled out. Matt frowned at her as she left. He finally turned to Sharon.
“Something’s up,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
Matt got up and paced. “It’s Aunt June. It’s like she’s avoiding me or Uncle Mark or something. Especially around meal times. It’s like we’ll ask if she’s having dinner with us and all of a sudden she’s got to go to New York.”
“Have you talked to your uncle about it?”
“He just said there’s nothing we can do and to not bug her about food.”
Sharon nodded. “Yeah. That sounds about right.”
Matt looked at her. “Do you know what’s going on?”
“Not really,” Sharon said, fidgeting with a corner of the sheet. She debated briefly how much to say. “I can guess, but I don’t really know.”
“Uncle Mark looked pretty worried last night.”
“I’m sure he is.” Sharon looked down at her fingers. “Damn.”
Matt sat down next to her, anxiety rolling off him. “Aunt Sharon, what’s wrong with Aunt June?”
“It’s probably an eating disorder. I’m guessing anorexia. And she’s having a flare up. She’s probably eating some, which is how she’s fooling herself into believing she has it under control. But your uncle’s right. There isn’t much we can do. In fact, bugging her about it could make it worse. Intervention usually helps, but it has to be done the right way.”
“But anorexia, that can, like, kill you, can’t it?”
Sharon sighed. “I’m afraid it can. But June doesn’t look that sick yet. Given that anorexia usually starts in high school, and what your uncle said about it, I’m guessing she’s been through this before and gotten out of it.”
“But what if she doesn’t?”
“I’ll do the research and we’ll stage an intervention before then. I’ll even ask your uncle. He and your aunt are pretty close. He may even know what her triggers are and how we can overcome them.”
Matt nodded. “Maybe I should do some research, too.”
“Good idea. Just don’t get your hopes up. I’ve known other women with eating disorders and they’re tough to deal with. Ultimately, what June needs is professional help.”
“Then we’ll get her to it,” Matt said as his phone rang. “There’s Jodi. Wanna say hi?”
Smiling, Sharon took the phone and said hello to her niece. But in the back of her head, she couldn’t stop worrying about June.