The Sergeant's Unexpected Family(3)

By: Carrie Nichols

His thoughts scattered at the sound of Jan’s voice in his ear. “Sorry. What sort of injuries did they sustain?”

“ Even Tavie can’t get me to break HIPAA laws,” the nurse chided. “I can say they’ve been treated and are ready to be discharged. The doctor suggested she not go home alone. He wanted a responsible party picking her up.”

Brody slouched against the counter and released the breath he’d been holding. The fact Mary and her son were being released after such a short time had to be good news, even if he didn’t know what any of this had to do with him. He was acutely aware of Tavie listening to his end of the conversation, so he tried to make light of this, even if it felt the opposite. “Responsible? Ha, then I guess that lets me off the hook.”

“Nice try, but sorry, tag, you’re it...unless of course you want me to bundle an injured woman and her poor infant into a cab and send them off to God knows where.”

How did the women of Loon Lake see past the badass special forces persona he’d been cultivating so people would leave him alone? He learned explaining why he’d left the army led to undeserved sympathy. The guys whose lives he’d endangered on that mission were the ones who mattered.

He sighed. Jan could’ve saved her manipulative breath because he was already halfway out the door. “Tell them I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

* * *

Mary Carter shoved her arms into the sleeves of a red plaid flannel shirt someone had scrounged up. The crisp white blouse she’d cut the price tag off this morning was now covered in blood, so a nurse had brought her a shirt from a lost and found box. Except the nurse had failed to mention Paul Bunyan had lost the shirt. Mary struggled to get her hands free of the endless sleeves so she could button the hideous thing.

“It’s a bit big, but better than the one you were wearing, or going home in a disposable gown.” The nurse bustled around the treatment area. “Head wounds are such notorious bleeders. On the plus side, they glued yours, so no stitches to remove.”

The sleeve flopped around as Mary reached up to touch the skin glue patch above her eyebrow. Memories flashed in her mind like slides in a PowerPoint presentation. A car in front of her spinning out of control...she’d braked...swerved...had no place to go. The screeching of brakes. The crunching of metal. A crying baby. Elliott! She choked on the bile rising in her throat. How could she not have asked for him before this? What was wrong with her? “Please. Where’s my baby?”

“I assure you, he’s fine, dear.” The trim fortysomething nurse, whose name tag identified her as Jan, gave Mary’s hand a sympathetic squeeze. “He’s charming the nurses at the triage desk.”

Mary’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t understand why I didn’t already ask you that.”

“But you have, dear. Several times in fact.” She squeezed Mary’s hand again before letting go. “It’s the concussion. Even a minor one can cause some confusion. That’s why you need someone to check on you. Plus some good, old-fashioned rest.”

“Concussion” explained the jackhammers in her head. “If he’s not hurt, where is he? When can I see him?”

“Soon. We wanted to get you situated before we brought him in. No need to stress yourself. Elliott was snug and safe. Good job with the car seat, Mom.” The nurse grinned. “Everyone here is quite taken with him. Such a doll.”

It was easy for someone else to say don’t stress, but at seven months, Elliott was her whole world, and she ached to hold him. “Can you bring him to me? Please.”

“We’ll have him brought to you in a jiff.” The nurse checked her watch. “Now, let’s get you ready to leave before Brody gets here.”

“Brody?” Mary gasped. “You mean... Brody Wilson? He’s coming here?”

“Why, yes, dear, I let him know you’re being discharged,” the nurse said.

“But I...” Good Lord, what had she started? She’d met Roger’s half brother, Brody Wilson, once before. What would he think of her barging into his life with her son? This was not how it was supposed to go. Without any family of her own, she’d come to Loon Lake to get to know Brody, let him get to know Elliott, but not like this. Since Roger had refused to acknowledge Elliott as his son, chances were he hadn’t told Brody about his nephew.

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