General Fiction posted June 9, 2014 Chapters:  ...6 7 -8- 9... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Sarah joins Paul as he rushes to his injured son's side.

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Timmy Takes a tumble

by Fridayauthor

Sarah has feelings for Paul but his wealth makes their lives worlds apart. Two children complicate matters further but Sarah continues to cautiously continue the relationship.
            Paul saw the look on my face at the distraction but smiled as he pulled the phone from his pocket. “It’s only Karen or Mrs. Doberchek. No other people can call this number.” When the first words were spoken and I saw the look on his face I knew the news spelled disaster to our evening plans.
            We stepped off the elevator with the phone at Paul’s ear as he spoke of a hospital and an ambulance. He held the instrument aside long enough to tell me it was Timmy. He opened the door to our room and continued his conversation in an anxious voice. When the call ended, he began to pace.
            “Timmy fell down the stairs and struck his head on a corner stem. Mrs. D was crying so much it was difficult to get details but he was unconscious. It was Karen who called 911and by the time the ambulance arrived Timmy was awake but didn’t know where he was. There was a lot of blood. They’re on the way to the hospital.”  He sat down and put his hands to his head. “I could hear the siren in the background.”
            “You have to go,” I said.
            He looked up. “I’m so sorry.”
            “Don’t be. They will be another time.”
            “I’ll call Herb; he’s my pilot. I can be in Boston in a couple of hours or less.”  He rummaged in a suitcase for a second cell phone. “My business phone.” He smiled. “It was turned off.”  He added, “I want to leave the other one open for the hospital.” He began dialing as he paced the room which I was noticing for the first time. It was not a suite but sumptuous in decor, and I felt a wave of regret in leaving it. Paul’s first cell phone began ringing.  He remained on his other phone making travel arrangements with a hand to his ear to block out honking sounds from the street. I picked up the ringing phone.
            “Is this Sarah?” Karen’s frightened voice answered my greeting.
            I spoke without hesitation. “Your father is making arrangements to fly home. I’m so sorry, Honey. I know Timmy will be fine.”
            “Mrs. Doberchek collapsed. They carried her inside on a stretcher, like Timmy.”
            “Oh, God!” I said. “Are you at the hospital now?”
            “I’m outside. They’re both in the emergency room.”
            “Are you alone out there?”
            “Sort of. There are lots of people around. A nurse too.”
            “Shouldn’t you go inside?” Before Karen could answer, Paul noticed I was on the phone and I handed it to him. I stepped away to give him privacy, guilty at injecting myself into a private a family matter. I sat by the window as he talked to his daughter. The conversation was brief.
            “I spoke to an attendant. Timmy is in observation. Mrs. Doberchek suffered some sort of seizure; maybe a heart attack. I have to get up there.  Herb will be ready to go in twenty minutes.  He was still at the airport.”
            I rose. “Look, I’ll catch a cab and get out of your hair. You have too much on your mind to have me under foot.  Call as soon as you know something. I’ll camp by the phone.”
            “Come with me,” he said. “They won’t allow cell phones in the hospital. This waiting to hear what’s happening is driving me nutty.” He took my hand and pulled me toward the door. “Please come.”
            “I can’t, Paul.  I don’t have anything with me.”
            “We’ll buy it.” He turned with near pleading eyes. “Please. I need you there. Karen hates hospitals; they freak her out--because of her mother.”
            “There’s no one to stay with her?  There must be a person you can call.”
            “There’s no one I want to call. There’s only an attendant or nurse with her now.”
            Given any other circumstances, I’d have declined, if only to preserve some iota of control in my life, but Paul’s sincerity overwhelmed me. I salvaged a promise to be returned home by Sunday night. While I disliked my job, I felt an obligation to my commitment. Besides, I was scheduled for a week-long training session. Instead of a night in the arms of a lover, I would be experiencing my first trip in the luxury of a private jet.
            Communications from the hospital were limited but as we cabbed back to the airport we learned Timmy remained disoriented. He was being monitored and now slept. Mrs. Doberchek was in intensive care, the victim of a heart attack, as Paul suspected. Paul insisted to speak with a doctor who reported Timmy had sustained a serious concussion. He’d be hospitalized a day or two for observation but he was not in immediate danger. The boy’s responses were not yet acceptable and a neurologist was due to examine him. Yes, there remained concern.
            Paul and I discussed little on the flight which of itself was beyond anything I’d ever imagined. We were hardly aboard before I was pinned against my overstuffed seat with an incredible thrust upward. When we leveled out, I uncurled my fingers and looked around in awe. An attendant hovered nearby, ready to address our every need. I was supposed to relax in a seat that seemed designed for a plush living room and bore no resemblance to where we commoners usually stowed our cramped, airborne butts.
            The flight seemed to take no time and a limo met us at the gate. Minutes later we were at the hospital. Karen met us at the front door and hugged her father while trying not to cry. A nurse attendant stood nearby. Paul looked back to me ready to rush in to see his son.
            “You go,” I said. “I’ll stay here with Karen.”  He hesitated but entered the building in conversation with the woman. The look on Karen’s face spoke of uncertainty as I took her hand.
            “Don’t you want to step inside?” I asked. “It’s chilly out here.”
            “I’m okay.” She added, “you go. I don’t need a baby sitter.”
            “I do,” I said as I continued to hold her hand. She tried to pull away but I wouldn’t let go. She ceased trying. We began to stroll around the building. It was April and chilly. I was dressed for a climate four hundred miles further south and tried to hide my shiver. Karen wore a lovely fur trimmed coat, obviously expensive but inappropriate for the times or her age. I commented the coat was beautiful.
            “I don’t like it. They have to kill them to make it.”
            I changed the subject. “What a scary evening for you; first Timmy falling, then Mrs. Doberchek collapsing.”
            Karen shrugged. I thought she wouldn’t answer but she said, “She just fell down on the sidewalk with her mouth open. The ambulance men rushed up so I couldn’t see. I went back to Timmy. He was still sleeping on the stretcher.”
            I wasn’t sure if Karen lacked understanding of what happened or was blocking it out. “You’re a brave girl.”
            “No, I’m not!”  I was startled by the firmness of her response. “I wouldn’t even go inside,” she added.
            “Your father says you don’t like hospitals. I don’t like them either.”
            “Because your husband died in one.” It was a statement, not a question.
            “No,” I answered. “He died in an automobile accident. I don’t like hospitals on general principals.” Karen didn’t answer nor did I pursue the conversation. I was content to hold her hand and let her talk if she wished. We circled the building before she spoke again.
            “My father wants to marry you,” she said without a preamble.
            “Did he tell you that?”
            “He didn’t have to. I know what he’s thinking most of the time. He thinks you don’t like him, at least as much as he likes you.”
            I wasn’t sure how to answer but I gave it a try. “We don’t know each other very well; only a few days in total but I do like him, a lot.”
            Before Karen could respond, we arrived at the front entrance where Paul was waiting. An elderly man with white hair stood next to him. Paul introduced him as Dr. Graham, an old family physician. I shook his hand but Karen rudely turned her back on him. Paul waved off the obvious snub saying Karen was upset.  Dr. Graham nodded and returned to the hospital.
            “Timmy has a gigantic lump and a cut on his head,” Paul explained. “He’s still sleeping but the doctor says his vital signs are improving.  He’s in ICU, just in case. It isn’t a fracture but there was concern with some bleeding from the ears. It’s now stopped.  Do you want to peek in on him while I stay here with Karen?”
            “No,” I said. “This is a family matter. You go back. You should be there when Timmy wakes. Spend the night if you feel it’s necessary. I’ll stay with Karen.”
            Paul hesitated but knew my suggestion was sound. “I’ll only call if there’s an emergency.” He noticed how lightly I was dressed. “Thatcher is coming,” he said to Karen. “Have him drive both of you back to the house. You’ll freeze to death out here.”  Before he could explain his plans, a nurse waved from the doorway. She gave a thumbs-up sign.
            “Go,” both Karen and I said in unison and Paul retreated to the building.
            “Who is Thatcher?” I asked.
            “Thatcher Wright. He works for Daddy and fixes things.”
            “Can Thatcher fix me a hotel room?  I’d really rather not stay at your house.”  I spoke without thinking. Did I selfishly hope Paul would slip into my hotel room after news of Timmy’s recovery?  No, I didn’t want to sleep with the ghost of my almost-lover’s dead wife.
            Karen nodded. “Thatcher can fix anything.”
            I opened my purse and wallet. Eighteen dollars, but I carried a credit card, albeit with a suspect balance.
            “Why do you carry underwear in there?” Karen asked peeking into my purse as I tried to stuff the lavender panties deeper.
            “Just in case,” I answered lamely as another white-haired gentleman drove up and alighted from the now familiar limousine. He gave Karen a hug and extended his hand.
            “Miss Blanding. I’m pleased to meet you.” He held the rear door for us and sat up in front. “Home,” he said to the chauffeur and we were off.
            “Mrs. Blanding wants a hotel,” Karen said in a voice that offered no room for discussion. Just a room, I thought to myself, not the entire facility.
            “Call me Sarah, please,” I said but Karen continued to address Thatcher.
            “To the house first,” Karen said as Thatcher nodded. He whispered something to the driver and dialed his cell phone. When we arrived at the Newton mansion, I bent over to hug Karen good-bye but she hopped out of the car with the single command, “wait.” She returned after several minutes carrying a small overnight bag. She offered no explanation. Neither Thatcher nor I questioned her. When we alighted from the limo at the front of the hotel Karen’s only comment to Thatcher was not to book a suite. It caused me to smile and aroused my curiosity.  How much had Paul told his daughter about our brief time together?
            Thatcher returned minutes later with a separate room keys and a bag of toiletries for each of us. Karen said something to Thatcher I couldn’t hear. He moved away as if dismissed. Before he left, Karen informed him I needed some clothes. It was after midnight. I waved him off, saying I’d be fine until morning. The poor man turned to Karen who nodded her approval.  He looked relieved and I had little doubt he’d bully some boutique into opening if this perhaps-girlfriend of his employer so demanded it. He shook my hand and after giving Karen a hug, left us at the elevator door.
            My room was eerily similar to the quarters now standing vacant hundreds of miles south in Washington. As I turned to bid Karen good night, she scooted by me and ducked into my bathroom calling, “I’ll take the bed by the window, Mrs. Blanding.” Any farfetched dreams of spending the night with Paul vanished in a puff.
            She emerged in pajamas, slippers and a bathrobe which she modestly clutched at the throat. She held a book in her other hand.
            “Please call me Sarah,” I repeated. “I don’t want to call you Miss North. Besides, I’m not Mrs. Blanding. That’s my maiden name; I dropped my married name Jacobson.”
            Karen gave me a look of surprise, as if not used to someone telling her what to do. Instead of responding, she changed the subject. “I guess you’ll have to sleep in your clothes,” she said as she opened a book.
            “No. I’ll just strip to my underwear,” I answered as I began to unbutton my blouse. Karen immediately turned away, embarrassed. Out of consideration to her, not my barely existent modesty, I retreated to the bathroom to finish disrobing. In my growing-up household, we were anything but discreet so this young lady’s attitude amused me.
            “You should have told Thatcher one room was enough,” I called from behind the closed door.
            “That one’s for my father,” she answered, “in case he comes by; to make sure I’m okay.”
            I wondered if this was the truth or a subtle way for Karen to keep her father out of my bed. No, I was being silly, but I still wondered why she hadn’t remained in her own house. Perhaps the absence of both Mrs. Doberchek and her father made her uncomfortable but surely there were other people on site. Was Karen just a nervous child or a young adult attempting to control her father’s social life?
            When I returned to the room ensconced in a hotel bathrobe over my skivvies, Karen was propped up in her bed with the covers up to her chin, reading a book.
            “It’s late. Aren’t you tired?” I was exhausted, physically and mentally. Tired as I was, I felt guilty trundling off to sleep and abandoning this child who had undergone such a traumatic evening. “Keep your cell phone handy in case Paul . . . your father calls.”  Karen didn’t answer so I turned over and faced her. “Do you want to talk about what happened?  You must be sick with worry over Timmy, and Mrs. Doberchek.”  When she didn’t reply, I pushed on. “I’m sure they’re both in good hands.”  Then I remembered the snub. “You didn’t seem to like Dr. Graham.  Do you have a problem with him?”
            “He was my mother’s doctor but that’s none of your business.”  She switched out the light thereby ending my one-sided conversation.
            I lay awake for an hour or more, listening for Karen’s breathing but only heard silence and muffled street noises. I must have dozed because sometime later I woke up to the sound of Karen thrashing and rolling in her bed. She was obviously in the midst of a nightmare. I rose and shook her gently. She woke with a start and pulled away. I returned to my bed and listened until I heard the telltale rhythm of her undisturbed sleep. Later, after a brief nap, I once again awoke, this time to sobbing. I strained to make certain I wasn’t dreaming. The sound was repeated. Turning on the light and blinking back the glare, I tossed off the covers. Karen was turned from me and feigned sleep, in spite of the lighted room.
            “Karen, honey, what’s wrong?” She didn’t answer so I shook her shoulder. “It’s all right to cry. You had a terrible evening.”
            “You woke me up,” she managed to mumble. “Go away.”
            “No, you weren’t sleeping and no, I won’t go away.”  I lay next to her on top of the covers and reached over her to wipe away the tears with a corner of the coverlet. “Sit up and talk to me.” I pulled her upright. When she opened her eyes, she saw I was only in bra and panties and tightened her eyes and tried to turn away. “Sorry,” I said pulling the spread over me, “but I’m not going away.” While she wouldn’t open her eyes, she relaxed and let me hold her.
            “I told you I wasn’t brave,” she muttered. “Don’t tell Dad.”
            “You don’t have to be brave anymore. Timmy is in the best of hands and I’m sure he will be fine. Your father hasn’t called; that’s a good sign. Say a prayer for him, and one for Mrs. Doberchek.”
            “The last time I prayed it didn’t work.”
            I chastised myself for failing to see how troubled Karen felt about the evening’s happenings. She seemed blasé as we strolled around the hospital. Now that I witnessed her repressed feelings my heart went out to her.
            “It’s natural for you to feel concern. You love Timmy but he’s not going to die,” I spoke the words as firmly as I could muster.
            “You can’t promise that!”
            “You’re right. There are some promises no one can make but sometimes you have a feeling so strong it’s almost the same thing.” Karen tried to pull away but I held her tightly. “Listen to me. Timmy’s injury isn’t life-threatening and although the doctor is concerned just as we are, his treatment is precautionary. They’re on top of the situation.” She began to sob with abandon and I nearly did so myself I was so distressed by her reaction.
            “Don’t tell my father,” she managed to say once the worse of her sobbing subsided.
            “Karen, honey, there’s nothing wrong with having emotions. Your Dad will understand. He’s worried too.”
            “Don’t tell him,” she repeated as she buried her head against my shoulder. Before long she slipped into a deep sleep.
            I tried unsuccessfully to squirm to a semi-comfortable position. Nevertheless, there was a pleasant sensation of giving a small measure of comfort to this troubled child in spite of my numbing arm and a cramped body tangled awkwardly in and out of the covers. A long time passed before I finally slept.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Enough to Miss Christmas is a family love story, about sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children. But mostly it tells the story of a stepmom and a precocious young lady and how they bonded in spite of overwhelming odds.
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