Repairing the Legacy--Chapter Twelve, Part Three
With this segment of Chapter Twelve of Repairing the Legacy, we continue the serialization of Repairing the Legacy. This is a rough draft work in progress and may not reflect the final form. Time period: set after the ending of The Martiniere Legacy main trilogy. I’m breaking longer chapters into sections for readability. This is the third part of Chapter Twelve. There will be four parts to this chapter.
New to the series? Chapter order:
Return of the Prodigal Son (2 parts)
Conversations and a Dinner (2 parts)
Dancing into Change (2 parts)
Sisterly Compromises (3 parts)
Conspiracies at the Rodeo (3 parts)
Passing the Baton (4 parts)
Research Complications (3 parts)
Chasing After Shadows (3 parts)
Fifth Anniversary Present (3 parts)
Mariah (5 parts)
Shadows, Redux (3 parts)
Lakeside Memorial separated them, even though his chest pain eased enough that he could argue again. It took Dr. Sheri’s arrival and her stern glare for him to calm down.
“Ruby’s in surgery, Gabe,” she snapped.
“Then I want to be with her once she’s out,” he insisted.
Dr. Sheri shook her head. “We’ll see. I don’t like the look of your vitals.”
“Put us in the same room, damn it.”
“You want Ruby crawling out of bed to find me once she hears I’m down?”
That comment got results, mainly because his beloved was still remembered at Lakeside Memorial for dragging herself to Brandon’s side when they were both so sick with that damn killer flu all those years ago. His bed was wheeled into a double occupancy room.
No Ruby yet.
The door opened. Mike burst in. “Dad—Gabe—oh not you too!”
Brandon followed, his jaw set hard as Mike flung himself on the bed.
“Hey, hey,” Gabe said, trying to soothe Mike as he buried his head in Gabe’s chest.
Mike never called him Dad. Never. It spoke of the young clone’s fear.
He looked up at Brandon. His son’s expression had softened, now just worried instead of tight.
Brandon exhaled. “I swear, the two of you….” He shook his head. “Mom’s still in surgery, Dad. She lost a lot of blood.”
Gabe’s throat tightened.
God. No. Not Ruby!
“And when I heard you had been admitted as well….” Bran shook his head again. After a moment, he continued. “Mike was frantic when he called me. Didn’t know anything, couldn’t reach you, and he was the only one who could keep Boomer calm while the vet worked on him.”
Gabe nodded. “Mike. Mikey.” He ruffled Mike’s hair.
“Yes?” Mike sniffled as he raised his head.
“Everything’s going to be all right. You did good. How’s Boomer?”
Mike gulped. He sat up slowly and slid off of the bed. “Deep wire cuts on all four legs. He banged his forelegs around pretty bad, like he stumbled over a rock pile or something. Bruising and a bone chip on one knee. M—might be permanent tendon damage. Too early to tell.”
Damn it. Fucking wire.
He would make damn sure that every bit of that fence wire was gone, along with whatever had spooked Boomer and caused this degree of damage to both Ruby and the colt.
“And how are you doing?” Gabe’s voice went softer and he held onto one of Mike’s hands. God. Mike was twelve, the same age Gabe had been when he’d lost his entire family. True, Mike had Bran and Kris, Justine and Donald—which was more than Gabe had when the plane went down with Saul, his mother, and his sister. All the same, he knew what Mike was going through right now.
Had to be strong for the kid.
“Scared.” Mike’s voice trembled as he whispered. “Medic said you were having a heart attack. And Ruby’s hurt so bad—so much blood—”
Gabe tightened his hand on Mike’s. “They’re keeping me for observation, Mikey. I felt good enough to pitch a fit so that Ruby will be in here with me when they’re done with her. I’m not gonna die right now and neither is Ruby, all right?”
“I don’t want you to worry. We’ll get through this.”
“Mike,” Bran said. “You’d better wait in the hallway like you promised Dr. Sheri.” He glanced at Gabe. “Dr. Sheri gave him five minutes with you. Sneaking, because he’s too young to be in here. He had a meltdown in the waiting room until she allowed it.”
“C’mere.” Gabe pulled Mike close and kissed his head. “You listen to Brandon and the other adults you know are safe. It’s up to you to keep track of the ranch for us. We’ll all be back home together before you know it. No more meltdowns, all right?”
Mike sniffled. “All right.” He hugged Gabe, then slowly left the room.
“You did have a mild heart attack, Dad,” Brandon said once the door closed behind Mike. “I’ve talked to Dr. Sheri. Luckily it happened right there with the MedicFlight crew, so they gave you a shot.”
Gabe exhaled. “I thought as much. Went blank for a bit. Any word on your mother?”
“Multiple breaks of that leg. The thigh fracture isn’t the worst one.” Brandon winced. “And blood loss. She’ll be down for a while.” He paused. “I shouldn’t leave Mike alone for too long. He’s fretting now that he doesn’t have anything to keep his mind occupied—building up to that meltdown. No self-mutilation—yet. Justine’s on her way; she’ll stay with Mike at the ranch. Donald may be coming as well.”
“So plenty of support. Good. And Mike will be around the horses and dogs at home. Best for him.”
“Mike really did good, Dad. Held it together until he called me from the field, then collected himself to help with Boomer.”
“Good,” Gabe repeated. “Especially given his anxiety issues.”
A quick smile flitted across Brandon’s face. “He’s a Martiniere, Dad. He’ll rise to the occasion.”
“Yeah.” Gabe closed his eyes for a moment, suddenly weary. “Any idea what set Boomer off?”
“Not yet.” Brandon patted his hand. “I’ll let you rest.”
“You’d better keep Mike company. I’m not going anywhere. And I’ll have your mother with me soon enough.”
Gabe woke when they rolled Ruby into their room. Her leg was elevated and rigged up with some complicated device he was too tired to figure out, her face pale against the sheets, even her freckles washed out and faded, eyelids fluttering. And her head was bandaged, too—he hadn’t noticed a head injury.
Brandon trailed after the nurses and moved to the side of Ruby’s bed as the attendants set her up. She glanced around.
“Gabe?” A frantic note came into Ruby’s voice. “Gabe!”
Oh God, she sounded so frail and frightened. Not her normal self. Not like his warrior wife.
“I’m here, hon.” He wrestled his bed rail down and rolled off toward her, staggering and almost falling in the short distance between their beds.
“Damn it, Dad!” Brandon snapped, hurrying to Gabe’s side and supporting him. Gabe slumped on Ruby’s bed. Brandon huffed an exasperated sigh. “You’d better move their beds close enough together so they can at least touch fingertips, preferably hold hands,” he said to the attendants. “Otherwise, you’re gonna have issues with both of them.”
Gabe ignored the commotion, focusing on Ruby.
“I’m here, Rubes,” he said. “Right here.”
She blinked blearily at him. “Why are you wearing a hospital gown?”
No way to avoid it; he’d better tell her now rather than pay the consequences later.
“I may have had a small heart attack while rescuing you,” he admitted. “Dr. Sheri wants me here overnight for observation.”
“Gabriel Marcus Martiniere.” Ruby squinted, her focus sharpening. Oh, it was so good to hear that scolding tone in her voice, feeble as it was. “What am I going to do with you?”
He grinned at her. “Hard to get rid of me, Rubes. I’m tough as nails and meaner than a rattlesnake. How about you?”
She closed her eyes. “Everything’s fuzzy and I ache. I can’t remember what happened. One minute Boomer was getting antsy, the next—hurting and cold. Wet. Grabbing at the willows so I wouldn’t get sucked into the creek. Then your face, hovering over me.”
“Oh Rubes.” He stroked her face gently, avoiding the bandages.
Something bumped against him.
“Come on, Dad, let’s get you back into bed,” Brandon said. “We’re putting it close enough so you can hold Mom’s hand. All right?”
“All right.” He was tired.
Gabe allowed Brandon and the aides to get him back in the bed, then finish pushing their beds together. Once he was able, he turned on his side and took Ruby’s hand. She couldn’t move her body, but shifted her head so she could see him.
Alive. She was alive, and while it might take some time, she was going to get better.
Gabe watched Ruby as she closed her eyes.
“Wish I could turn on my side,” she mumbled.
“It’ll be all right, hon. I’m here.”
Could he stretch far enough to stroke her cheek? He tried. Not quite. But he had enough reach to lift her hand to his lips and kiss it.
She smiled and slid a couple of inches toward him, still not enough for him to touch her face. The smile lingered as her breathing steadied into sleep.
Watching Ruby sleep made him drowsy, but Gabe wasn’t quite ready to join her, reluctant to drowse off because—because—
So close, so close.
He had almost lost his Ruby today. That sudden jolt of fear was enough to make him wakeful again.
All the same, soon enough, he felt sleepy. He drowsed off, still holding her hand tight.