5I’m so happy to have Shannon Vannatter back on my blog today as part of her Blog Tour!
Enjoy this excerpt from her latest Love Inspired book, out now:
On her way out, Lexie Parker glanced toward the ER.
Audrey Rawlins paced the waiting room.
Stopping Lexie in her tracks. A knot developed in her stomach and sank. Gathering her courage, she sat the goodbye plant from her coworkers on a bench, pushed the red button to open the door and hurried to the woman she’d let down two and a half years ago.
“Oh, Lexie.” Audrey hugged her, sobs deep, shaken to her core.
“It’s my son, Clint,” the other woman squeaked out. “Bull wreck.”
Still riding bulls? After what happened to his dad? How could he be so selfish to put his mom through this?
“Here. Sit down.” Lexie eased Audrey back to a chair. “I’ll go see what I can find out.”
“Oh, would you?” Audrey sank down in the seat, pulling her coat tighter around her shoulders.
“Of course.” She gave the distraught woman’s hands a squeeze. “I’ll be right back.” With leaden legs, she hurried to the nurses’ window. “Clint Rawlins is a friend.” Though she’d never actually met him. “Could you let me back?”
The nurse nodded and the automatic door crept open. As soon as the opening was wide enough to slip past, Lexie darted through. And almost took out Mandy Hopkins.
“Girl, where’s the fire? I thought you were out of here. It’s midnight on Saturday. Go have some fun.”
At midnight, Lexie’s idea of fun was her warm bed. “The bull wreck patient, Clint Rawlins—do you know anything about his condition?”
“You know him?”
“I know his mom.” And his dad had been her favorite patient. “She’s currently beside herself.”
“I’ll see what I can find out.”
“Thanks. I’ll be with her in the waiting room.” Lexie retraced her steps, pushed the red button to open the door and waited until it was fully open this time.
Audrey rushed her. “Is he okay?”
“I sent one of my nurse friends to get details. We should know something soon.”
“The last time I was here was with his father.” She shuddered.
“I know.” Lexie clasped the woman’s shoulder and uttered a silent prayer, Please God, let Clint be okay. History can’t repeat itself.
“I thought he quit after his dad got sick. But he’s so stubborn. Like father, like son.” Audrey mopped her face, a stoic strength settling the lines in her face.
The ER door opened and Mandy popped out. “He’s stable. And awake for the moment. He has a severe concussion, but there’s no brain swelling and no bleeds, so that’s good. Dr. Arnett ordered more tests, but y’all can come back and see him for a few minutes if you’d like.”
“Oh, thank you, Jesus.” Audrey hugged Lexie.
Relief whooshed through her, leaving her weak and sagging as she managed to land uncoordinated pats on Audrey’s back. Her son was alive.
“Are you coming?” Clint’s mom stood. “I always wanted the two of you to meet.”
“I doubt he feels much like making new acquaintances right now.” But Audrey shouldn’t face this alone. “You go on, I’ll be there in a minute.” Lexie snagged Mandy’s wrist as another nurse escorted Clint’s mom to his room. “Any brain damage?” Her question came out hesitant, as she feared the answer.
“The preliminary tests show frontal lobe damage. He’ll probably need rehab. It’s a shame this was your last day.”
“Any other injuries? Broken bones?”
“The only part of him the bull stepped on was his head.”
Her knees almost buckled; nausea threatened.
“Whoa.” Mandy grabbed her hands and pulled her toward a waiting room chair. “Who is this guy to you?”
“No one. I mean—I never met him. But his dad was my patient. The first one I—”
“You lost.” Mandy patted her back. “I think you missed the day when your instructor went over keeping a professional distance. But your compassion is what makes you a great occupational therapist.”
Yes, she’d gotten too close to him, and to Audrey. She ducked her head. “Levi had a degenerative brain disease from too many bulls stepping on his head. I helped him learn to feed himself and walk again, but within six months, he was gone.” Her mouth went dry. She just didn’t want to see Audrey relive it all again. She’d been through enough already.
“Mr. Rawlins was wearing a helmet. If he hadn’t been, he wouldn’t be here. But the helmet cracked. We’ll know more once all the tests are done.”
“You’ll keep me posted?”
“Of course.” Mandy motioned the nurse on duty to open the door for her.
Lexie took several deep breaths, straightened her spine, eyed her plant. So much packing to do. But even with her impending move, Audrey needed her.
Frontal lobe injury could mean a whole host of things. Impaired speech, trouble with fine motor skills, balance, memory, mood swings, personality changes—the list went on. Who would Clint be when he woke up?
She scooped up her plant, set it in the nurses’ window. “Can you watch this for me and let me back again?”
“Sure.” The duty nurse let her through and she quickly found Audrey camped by her son’s bed in a curtained cubicle.
Clint was still unconscious, his face slack and relaxed. Unmarred, handsome, amazingly unscathed. How did a person even survive a bull stepping on their head? She scanned the monitors as they beeped and pulsed. Good readings. No intubation. All positive signs.
“The nurse said he was awake, but he was out again by the time I got here,” Audrey whispered. “When do you think he’ll wake up again?”
“It could be any time.”
“Aren’t they supposed to keep you awake when there’s a concussion?”
“That’s if you leave the hospital. He’s in good hands here.” Lexie stood. “I should go. Some stranger isn’t the first thing he should see when he wakes. I can meet him once he’s feeling better.”
“I saw your mom at church and she told me this is your last week here. It’s a shame you’re not in the rehabilitation center anymore.” Audrey turned sad eyes on her. “The doctor said he’ll probably have to spend some time there.”
“The new therapist is really good. You’ll like him.” She’d keep tabs on Clint’s recovery, even though she wouldn’t be his OT.
“It won’t be the same, though.” Audrey sighed, then stood to give her a hug. “So you’re moving back to Medina? With your parents?”
“Until I can find a place of my own.” With a much-needed, month-long sabbatical before she’d go to work at the rehab center close to her hometown. No more apartment in San Antonio. With the savings she’d put aside, and the dent she’d put in her student loans, she’d be able to afford her own rental house.
“At least we’ll be neighbors.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing you outside of this place.” Lexie checked Clint’s monitors for the umpteenth time, then studied his features.. The man’s sun-bronzed complexion showed through his pallor, and his strong jaw bristled with dark stubble.
His eyes popped open. She froze. Vivid green eyes, so like his dad’s, latched onto her.
I’m giving away five print copies of The Cowboy’s Missing Memory and five print copies of my Western Collection two in one with Jill Lynn – Counting on the Cowboy and Her Texas Cowboy will be split among commentators. Winner’s will be revealed on Shannon’s Blog on July 15th.
LEAVE A COMMENT HERE ON LAURIE’S BLOG TO BE ENTERED TO WIN A COPY!
Follow my blog tour to enter:
June 25: Laurie Wood’s Blog: https://www.lauriewoodauthor.com/author-my-blog
June 25: Reading is My Superpower Blog: https://readingismysuperpower.org
June 30: Catherine Castle’s Blog: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/
July 3: Inkslinger Blog: https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/inkslinger-blog/
July 6: Amy Anguish’s Blog: https://abitofanguish.weebly.com/blog
July 7: Inkslinger Blog:
July 10: Linda Rondeau’s Blog: https://lindarondeau.com/snarksensibility
Thanks so much for being a part of Shannon’s Blog Tour!