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Authors: Amy Lillard

Just Plain Sadie (19 page)

BOOK: Just Plain Sadie
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Sadie felt like she'd been punched in the stomach. “It's beautiful.”
“But?” he asked.
She had a decision to make, and she had to make it right here. Right now. She and Ezra had so many differences, ones that they would have to see through to the end of their relationship.
“Do you love me?”
He stared at her for so long she wasn't sure that he would answer. It was on the tip of her tongue to take back her question when he sighed. “Yes.”
She hadn't realized how thick the tension hung in the air until he said that one word and effectively dispelled it.
“I love you too,” she breathed. They loved each other—surely that meant something. “I'm sorry,” she said. “Sometimes I get confused and lose sight of what's important.”
Ezra nodded. “It happens to all of us.”
Sadie smiled. “Tell me it's going to be okay.”
“It's going to be okay,” Ezra said. He reached out a hand and touched her cheek.
Sadie closed her eyes, absorbing every detail of his skin against hers.
“Does this mean you accept my gift?” He seemed to be holding his breath as he waited for her answer.
Sadie nodded.
His smile was wobbly, but filled with hope. He reached up and tucked the beautiful silver chain and its charming little elephant under the neckline of her dress. Despite the February temperatures, the pendent felt hot against her skin.
“No one has to know it's there.”
She wanted to nod, know that it was all going to be okay, and despite his words from a few moments ago, her own confidence was waning. “I have to go.”
Confusion wrinkled his brow, but he didn't protest.
“Next week?”
Sadie swallowed hard, then gave a quick nod. “Next week.” She reached for the door handle, fumbling as she tried to get out of his truck. She wasn't sure what she was going to do with the nightshirt as she walked to the restaurant. She supposed she could tuck it under her coat. Hide it away like she had that tiny elephant necklace.
She slid to the ground, suddenly needing to be away from him and all the churning emotions that he brought out in her.
She turned to face him, shaking her head to stay his words. “Thanks for a lovely day, Ezra.” Then she slammed the door on anything else he might've said.
Chapter Eighteen
One more week and it would be March.
Chris dusted off his hands and climbed down from the hayloft. One more week and he had three months to figure out how to tell his parents that he was going to Europe. That he had been secretly squirreling away money to make a trip of a lifetime, one that no Amish man had ever made before. At least not that he had ever heard.
The secret was tearing him in two. But he couldn't tell them yet. No doubt his father would toss him out on his ear. For all the talk of the Amish being forgiving, there were some things a man couldn't come back from. And Chris was certain this was one of those, as far as his father was concerned.
He had to tell them now or start baptism classes. He crossed to the wall where all the tools were hung and grabbed up the pitchfork. He stabbed one of the big bales of hay and dragged it down to the stables. As much as he would like to unburden his heart and tell his parents of his plans, the best thing to do was carry on like everything was the same. Even when it wasn't.
He stopped spreading the hay as a weird sound came from above him. Was that . . . ?
He leaned the pitchfork against the wall and headed out into the yard. Shielding his eyes from the noonday sun, he peered up at the roof of the two-story barn.
“Yeah?” His brother's voice drifted down from somewhere on the back side of the barn.
Chris started through the double Dutch doors, 'round to the other side. He stepped into the corral and peered up at the roof once more.
Johnny was crawling around like some
superhero, nailing down pieces of the corrugated tin.
“I thought you were going to wait for me to help you,” Chris hollered up to his brother.
Johnny finished pounding down the nail, then hollered back. “You were busy.”
Chris shook his head. “Never too busy for you.”
Though the sun was to his back, Chris saw Johnny shrug. “No worries.”
“Want me to come up and help?”
“That's all right. I'm almost done. I'll be down in a minute.” Without another word he went back to work.
Chris shook his head and started back to the barn. His brother was one of the hardest-working people that Chris knew, and he admired him for his dedication to this piece of dirt. He was glad Johnny liked the farm, because he wouldn't be able to get away from it fast enough.
From outside the barn he heard the sound of an angry dog barking. He recognized one of the dogs as his own blue heeler, Beau. But the other dog did not sound familiar. He hustled through the barn, wondering if the stray had come up and Beau was simply defending his turf or if something else was afoot.
When he came out on the yard side of the barn, Beau had definitely proven ownership of the property. The black and tan mutt that had wandered up was on the run as Beau chased him through the yard and toward the road. Before they got to the narrow driveway lane, another dog rushed up. This pooch had short tan fur and a vicious growl.
The mutt rushed the dogs from the side, hurtling them toward the side of the barn. Chris took his hat off and headed toward them, thinking he would wave them away.
Before he got there, they crashed into the ladder Johnny had set up against the side of the barn.
And everything happened at once. Beau managed to get the upper hand on both dogs and chased them clear to the road. Chris barely registered his dog's victory as a strangled cry rent the air. A dull thud sounded and Chris whirled around as the tall aluminum ladder crashed into the yard with a metallic crunch, missing his brother's broken and crumpled body by inches.
* * *
Sadie rushed through the swooshing glass doors at Pryor Medical Center. She had to find Chris, and she had to find him now.
Tears ran in hot trails down her cheeks as she searched the waiting area and the drawn faces of the patients and loved ones sitting there. In her frantic state, she had to survey the room twice before she saw him, sitting in a dogleg corner all by himself. His hat was gone and one of his suspender galluses had fallen off his shoulder. But he was there, her Chris.
She rushed over to him, nearly falling in her haste to reach him as quickly as possible. She dropped to her knees before him, grabbing his hands.
His eyes fluttered open, and he appeared to be in some type of daze. Surely he hadn't been asleep, not with what just happened. He blinked a couple of times as if to clear his thoughts.
“Sadie?” The word was tentative, unsure and testing.
She nodded, and the gesture seemed to put him into motion once more.
He gathered her in his arms and held her close.
“Shush,” she said, trying to calm him.
Deep sobs racked his body, and his hot tears burned her neck as he held her as if she was the lifeline to the world.
Sadie couldn't stop her own tears. But more than anything, she let Chris cry it out. She simply held him while he sobbed, uncaring about the staring eyes and frowns they received.
After a few moments, he pulled himself together and pulled away.
Sadie wiped one hand against his face, whisking away the last of his tears. “What happened?”
“It's all my fault. If I'd been helping him . . .”
Sadie shook her head. “You can't blame yourself.” She said the words even though she didn't know the entire story. Whatever happened, she couldn't believe that Chris was to blame. He loved his brother more than anything and would have done everything in his power to keep him safe.
Chris recounted the tale of how Johnny had climbed up onto the barn to repair the roof. How the dogs had unsettled Johnny's ladder and he fell to the ground.
“Where is he?” She said the words as gently as possible. No one in Wells Landing knew exactly what had happened or how Johnny was. She had grabbed the first person she knew who had a car, demanded and begged they take her to Pryor to be with Chris, instinctively knowing he needed her now more than ever.
“They took him in a helicopter to Tulsa.” Chris squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. “But I don't know what good it will do.”
Sadie squeezed his hands. “Don't say that.”
“He was bad, Sadie. He was out for a while. Then he kept saying ‘I can't move. I can't move.'” Chris's tears started again. “It's all my fault.”
Sadie squeezed his hands tighter. “Quit saying that. There was nothing you could have done to make this different.”
“I don't know what I'll do, Sadie. I don't know what I'll do if he dies.”
* * *
Sadie managed to talk Chris into going back to Wells Landing with her. His parents had taken a driver to Tulsa to follow Johnny to the hospital there.
Sadie didn't bother to ask if Chris had left the hospital at all; his shock and grief was enough of an answer.
He was uncharacteristically quiet all the way back to town. He leaned against the door and stared out the window, watching the world pass by.
Sadie directed the driver to take them out to the Flaud farm. From there, she should find somebody to come and stay with Chris so he wouldn't have to be alone.
She managed to get Chris into the house and seated at the kitchen table, though he still appeared to be in deep shock.
She made a couple cups of coffee though she knew he wouldn't drink it, then set out to the barn and the phone the Flauds had there to find someone to stay with him.
She made several calls, left messages, then decided to ring Abe Fitch's furniture store.
Andrew Fitch answered on the second ring.
“Andrew,” Sadie started. “There's been an accident. Johnny Flaud fell. I don't know how bad he is. They've taken him to Tulsa. His parents went with him, but Chris is here by himself.”
“I'll be right there,” Andrew said without wavering. She didn't even have to ask. That was the kind of person Andrew Fitch was. Two little kids at home, and he was willing to drop everything and help out a friend.
“Thank you so much, Andrew. I would stay but . . .” She didn't bother to finish. Andrew knew how inappropriate it would be for her to stay with Chris past dark alone in his parents' house.
“You'll stay until I get there?” Andrew asked.
“Of course,” Sadie said. “I'll see you in a few.” She hung up the phone and headed back into the house.
* * *
She wasn't even sure if Chris knew that she had left. Other than the first initial reaction he had when she'd seen him in the hospital, he appeared stoic and in some sort of weird trance. She knew that eventually he would get back to being closer to the Chris she knew, but she had a feeling it wouldn't happen until after he knew that his brother was okay.
Sadie called the restaurant to talk to Cora Ann, who promised to call Melanie to come out and get her, but she would only leave after Andrew promised to let her know as soon as they got word on Johnny.
Lord, please . . .
she started, but the words for her prayer wouldn't come.
Just please.
God knew they were hurting. He knew who needed help. She trusted that even without a full prayer, He would see them all through.
, she said, hoping her words hit their mark. One thing was certain, Johnny and his family were going to need all the prayers that they could get.
* * *
Sadie knocked on the door of the Flaud house the very next day. It was Thursday, and she was off from the restaurant, but she wasn't sure what was worse: sitting at home waiting for word about Johnny or being at work and worrying about the same thing.
She packed up a basket of bread and headed over to check on Chris and Andrew. She scanned the front room looking for him.
Andrew shook his head. “He's still in bed. I can't get him out. I figure he'll probably come around in a bit.”
“That's not acceptable,” Sadie said. “I'll call Lorie. Maybe she can help us find out something quicker.” If she remembered right, Zach Calhoun's sister was a trauma nurse. They had explained that she helped people who had traumatic injuries. What was more traumatic than falling off the barn?
“Can you stay a bit longer?” she asked Andrew. “I'll go out to the barn and call to see what I can find out about Johnny.”
Andrew shook his head and fished his cell phone out of his pants pocket. “Let me call Danny to come get me,” he said, referring to his cousin who helped him at the furniture store. “Then you can keep my phone. That way you don't have to keep running back out to the barn.”
Foolish tears rose into Sadie's eyes, but she blinked them back. “Thank you so much, Andrew.”
He shook his head again as if it was nothing, then made the call to his cousin.
It took four calls, but Sadie finally found out that Johnny was in stable condition. She had to ask and make sure that it was a good thing, but Zach's sister, Ashtyn, assured her that it was better than a lot of the people they had treated that very same night.
They would have to do some more testing to find out the extent of Johnny's paralysis, but it was widely thought among the doctors and nurses who had treated him the night before that the fall would definitely leave its mark on him.
Sadie thanked Ashtyn, then ended the call. Despite the bold and forward action, she headed up the stairs to Chris's bedroom. She knocked on the door and waited a moment for some type of response. Getting none, she eased her way in, hesitantly glancing around to make sure that it was okay for her to continue into the room.
Sometime between when Andrew had checked on Chris and now, he had managed to get up and get dressed. Sadie hadn't thought to ask about the farm chores, but she was sure Andrew had taken care of most of those for Chris. Still, him being up and dressed was at least a baby step in the right direction.
“Chris?” She eased into the room. “I just got off the phone with the hospital. Johnny's going to be okay. He's stable. They said that was good.”
Her words appeared to hit some chord within him. He looked up. “He's going to be okay?”

“Can he move now?” The haunted look in Chris's eyes was nearly her undoing.
“They don't know yet. It'll be awhile. They explained it to me, but I didn't understand all of it. As best as I can tell, when a person falls it can take the body awhile to recover and for any lasting injuries to turn up. But for now he's alive and safe, and he's not in any pain.”
“It's all my fault, Sadie.”
“Would you stop saying that?”
Chris shook his head. “You don't understand. I hate this farm. I hate everything about it, and all I wanted to do was leave. This is God's way of punishing me.”
Sadie sucked in a sharp breath. “That's not true. God wouldn't give you those dreams, then punish you for having them.”
“What if my dreams aren't of God?”
“Chris! Would you listen to yourself? This was an accident. God's not trying to punish you. The devil has not taken over your life. It was merely an accident.”
“I wish I could be that certain.”
Sadie reached out and grabbed his hand, tugging him reluctantly to his feet. “Come on,” she said. “You can't stay in here all day. The last thing your brother would want would be for you to hide yourself away.”
* * *
Chris swung himself down from his buggy and took a deep breath. The bishop's house. This was the first step.
His heart had almost stopped in his chest when they told him that his brother would most likely be paralyzed from the neck down. Over time, he might gain back some of the use of his arms, but most likely his legs would never work again.
BOOK: Just Plain Sadie
9.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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