The Sergeant's Unexpected Family(4)

By: Carrie Nichols

“You were very insistent when they brought you in that he be notified about Elliott.”

After the accident...the police, the paramedics...the ambulance ride. She’d been petrified about Elliott’s future if her injuries proved fatal, so she’d grabbed the hand of anyone close to her and insisted they tell Brody Wilson he had a nephew. She remembered wondering if fate would be so cruel as to rip her out of this world before she could introduce Brody to Elliott, before they could form a bond that would reassure her that her son would never be alone should anything happen to her.

She pivoted and swung her legs off the narrow gurney, but, still feeling a bit shaky, she remained seated, not wanting to do anything that might delay being reunited with her son.

“I’m sorry but your jeans are covered in blood.” The nurse held them up, and Mary wrinkled her nose at the blood-spattered denim. The nurse laughed. “Yeah, if Brody was picking me up I’d want to look my best, too. He may be a decade and a half younger, but—Oh, dear, listen to me babbling on.”

“You know Brody?”

Jan nodded. “I met Brody when he agreed to pasture my dad’s old Holstein on his farm. After Dad’s stroke, we sold off the herd but no one wanted Gertie. Dad had a soft spot for her and I’d heard Brody might let her stay on his farm. But enough about cows, let me see if I can find some scrub pants for you to wear.”

“I’d rather you find Elliott for me.” Was there something they weren’t telling her?

“I will. I promise.” The nurse patted her leg and gave her an appraising glance as if judging her size, then left, the curtain fluttering in her wake.

Mary straightened her shoulders and tried not to think about being in a strange place in borrowed, ill-fitting clothing. She was no longer at the mercy of others, no longer that forlorn little girl. If Brody wanted to find fault with her that was on him because all she cared about was holding her son.

But she did have to admit that Brody coming to the hospital for a virtual stranger was proof he was different from Roger. After she and Roger’s breakup, acquaintances of the family had told her Brody was the most respectable one—too bad that information had come too late for her to see through Roger’s charming lies.

She may have met Brody only once, but she’d witnessed his kindness firsthand. During the calling hours before his father’s funeral, he’d feigned interest as a confused elderly woman clutched his arm and told him a story—for the fifth time.

Unemployment had given Mary the time to search Brody out, something she’d planned to do after she was diagnosed with a blood clot that could’ve killed her. Elliott had been in danger of being orphaned, as she had been. She’d had no relatives willing to take her into their home. A motherless child caseworkers had to pick up and transport to another set of frowning foster parents who couldn’t see past her shyness or unfortunate overbite.

Elliott was an adorable baby and she’d been a withdrawn pre-teen. Still, she wanted Elliott to have relationships with his blood relatives and Roger had made it plain he didn’t want to be a father. She backed down from requesting child support when Roger threatened to seek full custody. Call her a coward, but she could support them and wasn’t taking a chance on losing Elliott. Instead, she’d conceived of a plan to seek out Elliott’s uncle, possibly even finding a legal guardian in Brody Wilson, should something happen to her.

The untimely death of a colleague had convinced her not to put off finding Brody and losing her job had sealed the deal.

Sighing, she held up the jeans, sticky with blood and who knew what else, and folded them. Those were her best ones, so she would try to salvage them. A childhood spent in the foster-care system had taught her to appreciate and take care of her possessions. Maybe the nurse would come back with pants that fit better than this shirt.

Someone with a purposeful stride approached and Mary sat up straighter, pushing her shoulders back. She didn’t want to give the doctor any reason to change his mind about releasing her. She ached to hold Elliott close and reassure him—and herself—everything would be okay.

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