Wife by Design(7)

By: Tara Taylor Quinn


And she was adamant about nurturing Lynn and Kara most of all.

They were lucky to be so loved.

* * *

FOR THE UMPTEENTH time Grant looked at his watch—and pulled his cell phone out of the holster on his belt, just to verify that the time he’d read on his wrist piece was accurate. He’d hoped to get to Darin by suppertime. To make certain that his brother ate. And did it sitting in his chair, not lying in bed.

The doctor had said Darin could get up as soon as he was ready. And he didn’t need his left hand to feed himself. Or to chew and swallow, either.

Almost as soon as he’d returned his phone to its holster, he felt it vibrate. Darin, wondering where he was?

Pulling the cell phone out, he was already answering when he saw the caller ID. Luke Stellar, his right-hand man.

“This is Grant,” he answered as he always did.

“Fountain’s in and running.”

A rock edifice he’d designed to the homeowner’s specification. “What was the problem?”

When he’d had to leave at four-thirty to make his appointment at The Lemonade Stand before getting back to Darin, they’d had a water flow issue.

“A twist in the main line as it came around the first bend.”

“The PVC track should have prevented that from happening.”

“Craig missed a piece of the track when he installed it.”

How did one miss a piece of a piping apparatus that fit together to make a whole?

“I’m not sure he’s going to work out.” And Grant didn’t have time to hire another new guy. Craig had been with them six months and Grant had had high hopes for the kid.

“He just found out his wife’s having a baby,” Luke told him.

Luke had two little kids. And he was late getting home to dinner with them. Again.

The guy never complained. And Grant had ridden both of his full-time employees hard that day.

“I should have known that,” he said aloud, keeping his voice down as he paced the empty hallway—a twenty-by-ten-foot tiled area that was clearly separate and apart from the mysterious inner sanctum of The Lemonade Stand’s main building. “I owe you, man,” he told Luke now.

“Buy me a beer sometime,” Luke shot back at him.

He’d have to make that a twelve-pack. At the very least. If Grant didn’t have Darin… If he’d been able to give the business all of the time and energy Luke brought to it, they could have grown Bishop Landscaping into a lucrative company instead of a highly sought-after, well-booked, small-time operation that supported three families instead of dozens.

Telling Luke that he’d be at the job site at five-thirty the next morning to sign off on the work that had been done and to lay out the next phase of the waterfall garden’s installation, Grant rang off. He paced, and then came to rest in front of the glass door leading out to a small, nondescript visitor parking lot that needed shrubbery around it, some perennials for color….

“Mr. Bishop?”

Turning, he recognized the woman approaching him at once. Her long hair was pulled back tightly from her face, but the warm glow in her eyes was just as he’d remembered.

He’d told himself he’d imagined the woman’s effect on him the last time Darin had been in the hospital—four years before.

She’d had a wedding ring on back then. She didn’t now.

“Lynn,” he said, because back then that’s all that had been written on her name tag—and that’s what he’d called her. She held out her hand. He took it.

And didn’t want to let go.

“You don’t remember me,” he said, quickly shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans as he faced her in the empty, fluorescent-lit hallway. He’d heard that The Lemonade Stand was beautiful, a haven, resortlike. The commercial beige tile and white walls didn’t give him that impression at all.

“I do, actually,” she said. “Now that I see you. I recognized your name when you called, but I wasn’t sure why. You’re the one with the brother. Darin, right?”

“I’m impressed.” Grant smiled, in spite of how late he was for his visit with Darin. How late she’d made him. “You were his nurse for one day of a three-day stay, and have to have had hundreds of patients in your years as a nurse. You’ve got a good memory.”

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