Numb, Vickie hardly noticed the squeak of the green vinyl chairs in the hospital waiting room. She closed her eyes, tired of staring at the gray sterile walls. Her father’s big hand engulfed her smaller one.
The clicking of her mother’s heels on the laminated floor broke through the muted hospital sounds. Elizabeth stopped in front of her and pushed a tall cup of steaming coffee into Vickie’s hands. After a minute of silence, her mother sat beside her.
Vickie took an obligatory sip. The warm liquid—without any flavor—slid down her throat to a turbulent stomach. Pulling the steam in through her nose, she let the rich latte aroma wash out the antiseptic smell.
Sighing, she added thanks for her parents to her silent prayers for her son. There was a comfort in having them on each side of her as they waited for word on Seth. Her sisters, Annie and Di, sat across from them. She shook her head whenever she thought of her mother’s strong sense of self-importance. The names she chose for her daughters all had royal connections. It never even occurred to her mother that two of them had tragic endings. She dropped her head and covered her eyes with her hand. Please, God, keep Seth whole and healthy.
Right now she knew Seth was alive, but that was all anyone would tell her. With a head injury, his condition could change in a matter of minutes.
Her father had prayed with her, and now they sat in silence. Her mother played with her bracelet, a sure sign she was nervous. Vickie laid a hand on her mother’s arm.
“It’s going to be okay, Mamma. No news is good news right?”
Elizabeth patted Vickie’s arm and nodded. “Have you heard from Tommy?”
She bit back a groan. “Mother, he made it clear not to call him until two tomorrow. After two o’clock.” She glanced at her watch. It wasn’t there. Wrapping her fingers around the bare wrist, Vickie sighed. “Now it’s today. Anyway, he’s busy.”
“Busy? But his son needs him.” True confusion creased her mother’s forehead.
Vickie stopped short of an adolescent eye-roll. Her mother refused to see the real Tommy. “Mamma, Tommy has his own life and decided the kids and I are an inconvenience.” Her father patted her hand. Vickie managed to give him a weak but grateful smile.
Elizabeth crossed her arms and glared at her daughter. “Well, I called. Someone needed to let him know Seth’s in the hospital.”
A new knot formed in Vickie already upset stomach. “What did he say?”
Elizabeth pursed her lips and looked off to the side. “He didn’t answer, so I left a message.” She cut her glare back to Vicki, lifting one disapproving eyebrow. “But you should be prepared to greet him, in case he shows up. I’m sure he will. Did you really have to wear that out in public?” Her mother’s gaze dropped to the dirt-covered Crocs, up the Coke-a-Cola pajama bottoms, over the two sizes too big Baylor t-shirt and stopped at Vickie’s hair. The perfectly shaped brows seemed insulted to be in the same room as the mess that was Vickie. Elizabeth crossed her arms and glared at her daughter’s tangled mess of curls surrounding Vickie’s face.
“Sorry, Mother. I didn’t stop to think about how I looked.” Why couldn’t her mother ever be on her side? She turned her head and took a deep breath, pulling the scent of Jake from his coat. The room wasn’t cold, but she needed him close and his coat was all she had for now.
“Victoria, that’s not what I meant. You could have at least combed your hair.” Her blue eyes narrowed. “Why are you still wearing that trooper’s jacket?”
“You know his name, Mother.” She burrowed deeper into the jacket and leaned on her father’s shoulder.
The door opened and Pastor John walked in with Lorrie Ann Ortega and his daughter, Rachel. Vickie leaped to her feet and crushed Lorrie Ann in a death-grip hug. She didn’t care how unladylike the action looked.
“Thank you, oh, thank you.” Despite her mother’s best training about public outbursts, Vickie started to sob. This woman, who had every reason to hate her, saved her son’s life. “They said you saved him. If not for you, I would’ve lost him.”
Lorrie Ann kept her face turned to Pastor John while patting Vickie on the shoulder. “Uhm…It was…I’m glad I could help.”
Rachel’s father, Pastor John gently pulled Vickie’s attention to him with a hand on her shoulder. “How is Seth? We’ve been praying. Celeste wanted you to know she’s praying, too.”
Vickie sniffed and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Then she saw Rachel. Anxiety filled the girl’s young eyes. “Oh, Rachel.”
She cupped the girl’s face, cradling the soft cheeks in her hands before pulling Rachel into her arms. The fresh smell of apple shampoo tore at her heart. Rachel and Seth were so young and innocent.
“How is he?” Rachel’s timid voice could barely be heard.
“He’s alive.” Vickie smiled and tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind Rachel’s ear. “Thanks to you and Lorrie Ann, he made it here.” She pulled the girl back against her chest and looked at Pastor John. “They’re running tests on his brain and spine.”
“Is there anything we can do?” Pastor John asked.
“No.” Vickie shook her head. “Other than pray. We need all the prayers we can get.”
Her mother approached. “Vickie, the doctor needs to talk to you.”
With a quick scan of the room, she saw the doctor standing by the double doors next to her father. Her mother took her hand and together they rushed over. She prayed for good news.
“Seth is very fortunate. There does not appear to be any permanent brain injury, no swelling. He does have a concussion. We want to keep him twenty-four hours, but you should be able to take him home tomorrow. He will require a quiet environment, no stimulation. It might be hard, but he needs to stay away from video games, loud music or TV.
The blood left her knees. She could take Seth home. The urge to hug the doctor overwhelmed her. Instead she threw an arm around her father. Biting her bottom lip, she nodded as the doctor kept talking. At this point most of what he said buzzed right over her head. She just wanted to touch her baby.
“Can I see him?” She’d have tons of questions in the morning, but for right now, she just wanted to hold him and hear his voice.
“Of course, we want to keep his room quiet and lights low. The visit needs to stay brief.”
What if he was still mad at her? What if he didn’t want to see her?
He would want to see Rachel, make sure she was safe. She looked behind her and found Rachel leaning against Pastor John.
With fast steps, she had Rachel by the hand. As they headed to Seth’s room, she continued to thank God for granting her a second chance to make things right.
If you want to read Jake and Vickie’s story you can find Walmart next week or buy it online at Amazon, Barns & Noble or online Walmart. The ebook will be available for download August 1st.