Hearts of Sacrifice

Hearts of Sacrifice

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him. Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie. Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him.

Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie.

Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Chapter29 (v.1) - In Times of Need

Author Chapter Note

Sophie receives a shock.<br /> <br /> “Honor and vigilance are what our nation’s armed forces represent. <br /> An act of valor…their willingness to answer our country’s call <br /> is a constant reminder of duty, honor, and sacrifice.”<br /> --Unknown <br />

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 02, 2018

Reads: 541

Comments: 5

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 02, 2018

A A A

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CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE – In Times of Need

 

Moderately uncomfortable with the proximity she kept next to Hunter who appeared very comfortable in the back seat of his plush silver Mercedes E-Class sedan, Sophie focused her energies on prayers for her mother.  She could not remember the last time she saw Mommy.  What if she lost her?  What would Sophie do?

When she opened her teary eyes, Sophie stared out of the passenger window at the rain trying not to sniffle.  It fell harder around them, making her believe it sought to blur their journey to Southwestern Memorial Hospital in Crescent Beach.  Seapoint wept outside as she did inside.

Everyone knew Southwestern stood the better of the two hospitals in the area.  Due to its association with Southwestern Community College and Oregon State University, it served as one of the best teaching facilities in the immediate area.  The unfortunate circumstance arose in the hospital not achieving a rank amongst the best in the state much less the nation for any specialty clinics. 

Sophie hoped that they would be able to help her mother survive just the same.  The best hospitals in the state laid further north primarily in Portland more than a four-hour drive away and an hour tops by plane.  Sophie knew little about the medical condition that her mother suffered, but worried that Seapoint General was not equipped to deal with it.  It gnawed at her like her teeth worked on her nails.  The prelim diagnosis Dr. McIntyre relayed sounded scary but took little comfort that the unknown always did. 

The Crescent Beach Bridge emerged before them as gray as the day became.  It held light traffic at that hour since rush hour was not due to begin for another fifteen minutes--thank God.  Irritation with her unwanted companion remained because Sophie desired very much to drive herself after telling Hunter off at his staunch bossiness.  He ignored her insults while making his business calls from his cell and sending emails with the speed of thumb that would make any kid envious.

Sophie eventually followed his example and pulled out her Samsung in an attempt to reach Evan, but was stunned when it went instantly to voicemail.  That almost never happened unless he was pissed at her because of some argument they had.  Things lately were going well with them.  No fights on the horizon stood in their way either since he stopped asking her about moving in together. 

Leaving a message after two more attempts, Sophie asked Evan to please to come to Southwestern Memorial as soon as he could.  Next, she dialed up his motherly assistant Paula who indicated her sorrow over her mother’s condition and swore to keep Mommy in her prayers.  Isaiah already informed her about what happened, and Paula tried her best to locate Evan to get a message to him about heading to the hospital to meet Sophie. 

With her thumb and forefinger, Sophie pinched the tears from her eyes in worry for her mother.  Her hand trembled over the speed dial number programmed for her father.  Like Evan’s phone, his phone also shuffled her off to voicemail.  She understood that since Daddy argued one of his significant criminal cases from the Portland law office before the Court of Appeals in Salem today.  He left last night and intended to fly back tomorrow morning.  Sophie hated to leave such a poor message by phone but had no choice really.  Daddy needed to come back home tonight.  She left the same message with Jude, his assistant at work just in case she happened to reach Daddy before Sophie did. 

The last person she attempted to raise was her best friend Michelle, the closest person she had to a sister.  Michelle’s chipper voice told her that she yakked on another call but informed her to leave a message anyhow.  Knowing at least that her friend was on the phone, Sophie sent her a text asking her to call back right away.

Yavin wasted no time in getting them safely to Southwestern Memorial in record time.  It must have taken him no less than 10 minutes, and they hit almost every green light.  He pulled in front of the hospital, and Sophie popped out of the back seat before the driver could open the door for her.  She jogged inside looking for the admissions sign and went to the front desk asking for her mother.  The elderly candy-stripper looked up the information on her computer with hesitant two-finger keystrokes.  Sophie tried not to sigh with her impatience at the old woman who asked for the third time for her to identify herself.  When directed to the waiting area for critical patients, Hunter finally reached her side and followed her to the second floor. 

At the nurse’s station, they encountered a kind nurse with a doughy face but warm smile that met her sepia eyes. “Can I help you?” she questioned pleasantly.

“Can you tell me what’s happening with my mother Anita Vanderpool please?”

“Mrs. Vanderpool undergoes an MRI at the moment.”  The woman read from the screen as her face turned grim and then looked up at Sophie’s eager face.

“Who is the doctor looking after her?” Hunter asked with his piercing pale green eyes arresting her the moment she stared up at them.

The nurse’s gaze finally registered that there was a man with the young black woman.  Both appeared like professionals and carried the air of rich privilege in the manner they spoke to her.  Especially the young man with the dark good looks who gazed at her thoughtfully with his light eyes, and phone still glued to his ear. 

The nurse answered only after seeing the nod from Sophie, “Her attending is Dr. Jim Miller, one of our top neurosurgeons.”

“She’ll need surgery?!”  Sophie gripped the counter when she felt her legs would give from beneath her. 

The nurse shook her dark sandy head.  “I cannot say for now, but I’m sure the doctor runs tests so that he may make a determination.”

“Any other tests apart from the MRI?” Hunter questioned with his frown.

The nurse’s expression turned grave for a moment.  “The doctor will be able to explain that better than I can.  I’m sorry.”

“When can I talk to him?” Sophie asked eagerly, panning around the hall.  The floor appeared tranquil without much activity.

The nurse pointed across the hall.  “If you will wait in the waiting room over there, I’ll be sure to inform the doctor where you are so that he can let you know what’s going on with your mother.”

“I can’t see him now?” Sophie asked with a frown of disappointment.

The nurse shook her head slowly in sympathy.  “I promise to let him know you’re looking for him and pass along any news as I learn of it.”

“What’s your name?” Sophie asked as her frown deepened.

“Nora,” she said with a sympathetic smile.

“Thank you, Nora.” 

Sophie pushed herself away from the counter and walked on numb legs toward the waiting room Nora indicated.  Another older couple, who were casually dressed, already sat in there.  One looked to be a middle-aged Asian woman reading a People magazine with Jennifer Lopez on the cover, and the other was a balding white man slouched down in his chair with his long legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles.  His head fell back with his mouth open as he snored softly.  Both looked weary and crumpled as if they had been waiting for a while.  The woman smiled up at Sophie politely with a nod. 

When she tried to return the kind smile, it faltered in the same moment her legs did.  Hunter quickly caught her by the elbow with the shake of his head and settled the stubborn woman in the nearest seat he could find.  The Asian woman immediately sprang toward them with a Styrofoam cup of water.

“Drink,” the Asian woman ordered shoving the cup in Sophie’s face.  Talk about bossy!  Sophie tried to shake her head in denial, but the woman insisted.  “Drink.”

“Okay.  Thank you.”  Sophie drank from the offered cup until no cool water remained. 

“Good.  It’ll be okay, honey.  You want some more?” the Asian woman asked with concern as she reviewed Sophie’s ashen face.

“No.  I’m good.  Thanks again, ma’am.”  The woman looked from Sophie to Hunter who still stood over her and then nodded.  She retook her seat next to the man who had not moved and looked again at her People magazine.

Closing her eyes, Sophie leaned her head against the wall and felt her heart racing.  Mommy… would she live?  Why wouldn’t they tell her anything?  What was taking so long?  She hated not knowing more than what she learned from the other doctor at Seapoint General.  Where the hell was this Dr. Miller?  An eternity passed her by while she focused on breathing slow and easy.  Sophie realized that she worked herself up into a frenzy of anxiety, which would not help.  No matter how much her rational mind said this, it failed to encourage her to follow her own wise counsel.

“Sophie, she’s going to be okay.  This hospital … it has a descent neuroscience department with some of the latest medical equipment out there to handle any situation.”

She peeled her eyes open and glared at Hunter.  She forgot he was there and saw he sat beside her.  He pried her hand that gripped her chair and held it between his.  It was cold, but she did not pull away from his surprising action.  She gasped instead at his warmth.  He stared at her hand with his scowl and rubbed it gently to warm it further.  She shook with the chill of her fear running through her.  Wordlessly, he removed his jacket and draped it over her, too.

“How do you know this?” she asked through chattering teeth.

“CI donated an endowment to the hospital to improve the surgery unit overall when the schools that run it approached the company concerning this need last year.”

She blinked at his knowledge.  He seemed well learned about all aspects of the company as he should have been.  Why did that still surprise her?  “I suppose I should be grateful your family’s company is so generous?”

A smile curled only one side of his full mouth at her sarcasm.  “Believe that Auntie Anita is in good hands here and will pull through this with the excellent care she’s being given.”

“But an aneurysm sounds ominous, Hunter.”  Sophie stood up suddenly but draped his warm suit jacket around her shoulders as it did seem to chase away the chills she felt in waves like the nausea that tied her stomach in wicked knots.  Her mouth was dry yet again, and her hands altered into clammy ice cubes.  She wanted to do something, yet there was nothing to do but wait.  She loathed waiting.

“You must have faith.”

Sophie took a shuddering breath and paced before Hunter.  She tried to raise Michelle on her cell phone again. 

“Hello?” questioned her cheery sister from another mother.

“Chelle?  Where are you?” Sophie asked with a tremor in her voice.

“Meeting with the convention center reps on the kind of décor we’ll need for the masquerade party Cartwright Charities will be throwing late October.  Why?  What’s wrong?”

“It’s my mom.  She’s had an accident and is having some tests run at Southwestern Memorial.The prelim test show she has an aneurysm in her brain.  I don’t know anything more than that.”

“Oh, no, Soph!  I’m on my way.”

“Okay,” Michelle said after a sigh of relief.

Sophie ended the call and looked at Hunter only briefly before taking a seat next to him again.  She put her head in her hands when they heard the door to the room open.  A nurse in scrubs approached the other couple and bid that they come with her.  The Asian woman roused her husband and then left quickly as they asked their questions about their daughter by the sound.

Tears formed in Sophie’s eyes for she was on her feet again in the same moment Hunter was.  They looked to one another in the frustration that crashed upon them.  Still, no word surfaced from the doctor.

“Sophie, it’ll be okay,” he reassured gently.

Shaking all over, Sophie did not feel okay.  She felt as if someone gut punched her.  Barely she could catch her breath even though she had not put in a hard run on a treadmill.  She was not one prone to panic attacks either, but then again her mother was never fighting for her life before.  Their last conversation ironically had been about when Sophie thought she might ever settle down and give her and Daddy grandchildren of all things!  Now it looked like Mommy might never see them even if Sophie decided that she was ready to be a mother. 

Her bottom lip trembled as the hot tears rushed to her eyes demanding to be emptied at the thought of all the things she and her mother had yet to do.  Sophie would not allow it.  She couldn’t let her despair at the thought of losing Mommy to overtake her.

“Come here,” Hunter beckoned with a frown and pulled her into his strong arms.  She fell into his firmness without a fight though her pouty mouth trembled defiantly.  In her struggle with her tears still, she breathed hard.  Hitching at her throat, the tears felt to be winning.  “You cry if you want to.  I won’t tell,” he whispered in her ear like a secret.

Sophie chuckled at the last of his words and hugged the taut muscles of his back tentatively.  Hunter sighed, closed his eyes and felt the weight of her tears at last on his shoulder.  His warm hand stroked the back of her neck gently to calm her while she sobbed all her weariness and fear of the unknown her mother faced.  Not knowing was the worst for her he knew for he would feel the same in her place.  Not having her father or anyone she wanted there to soothe her save him did not help matters either.  While speaking to each other on business matters, she and Hunter were far from being on friendly terms.

“You are not alone,” he soothed still holding her in his arms.  “I’m here for you.”

When she looked up at him suddenly, with tears streaming down her face, she saw Hunter’s concerned little smile.  A frown marred her delicate features.  She shook her head wondering what the hell she was doing with the likes of him.  Hunter E. Cartwright did not console someone unless there was some motive for his personal gain.  Because he was a user, the wheels of his mind twisted in such a fashion.  A selfish man stood before her placing on a magnificent act truly cared for nothing and no one but himself, right?  Why treat her with such deliberate compassion with what appeared to be genuine empathy meeting his pale green eyes?

Sophie backed away from his tender touch even as his warmth soothed her.  In the bewilderment she felt over Hunter’s behavior, she turned her back on him.  The last thing she wished consideration of were his motives.  Her real concern and focus lay with her mother who could be dying. 

Shivering again, and pinching her tears away, they fell fast and furious still.  She no longer sobbed her worry over Mommy.  Worry instead made Sophie’s legs pace back and forth and rubbed her cold hands.  Again, she prayed for Mommy’s life and the wisdom of the doctor attending her.  With swiftness, she hoped they discerned what was wrong with Mommy and offered knowledgeable solutions that would keep her mother around to see Sophie walk down the aisle one day or see the faces of her grandchildren.

Hunter offered her a napkin he found and another cup of water when he dared to stand in the path where she paced.  She said nothing but took what he offered in her mild appreciation.  She wiped her face and drank the water wishing she could settle her nerves.  Nothing short of her father’s arrival and news of Mommy coming through the dark unknown unharmed and living could do the trick. 

“Thank you,” she offered distractedly.

“You’re welcome.”

They stared at one another for a spell before the buzz of a cell phone sounded around them.  She pulled his phone from his vibrating inside pocket.  She could not help but glance at the screen that flashed Yavin’s name.  She handed it to him.

“Yes?” he asked when he answered.  “They just touched down?  Did you arrange a car?”  He nodded as he still stared at Sophie.  “Excellent.  Let me know when they arrive.”  He ended the call as she looked at him curiously.

Before Sophie could begin to ask what the call was about, someone burst into the waiting room.  Evan immediately rushed to her and enfolded her in his arms.  She sighed in relief.

“Oh, Sophie, are you okay?” he asked as he held her face in his hands.  She nodded as he kissed her forehead and then hugged her again.

Hunter turned his back on them sighing with difficulty controlling his expression at the affection between them and how a pang around his heart festered without cause.  When he turned back to them, he inhaled deeply before he released it.  He hoped that his face remained concerned but otherwise neutral of any of his other brewing feelings he dared not give voice or name.

“What do we know?” Evan asked as he stared from his girlfriend to his brother.

“Not much,” Sophie confessed with another sigh.

“I’ll go check with the nurse’s station and see if there’s any word,” Hunter said as he left them alone.  Momma and Dad walked hand in hand down the hall and approached the nurse’s station when he did.  He embraced each before turning to Nurse Nora who smiled at them pleasantly.

“Have you been able to contact Dr. Miller?” Hunter inquired with the curious lift of his brow.

Nora responded politely, “Are you related to the patient, sir?”

“Yes, she’s my aunt,” Hunter said flatly. 

“And my sister-in-law,” Dad piped in.

Nora frowned at the stern looks she received from everyone at the counter and said, “I’m sorry, but we have strict HIPPA rules.”

“Right.  And all we want is to know about Auntie Anita,” Hunter said drily.

“The tests are nearly concluded, and he should have the results soon.  He’ll be done with their review and inform Ms. Vanderpool of what needs to be done for her mother shortly.”

“So I take it the aneurysm has not burst because she was not rushed into surgery?” Hunter asked now with the lift of only one eyebrow.

Nora nodded.  “Yes, that much I think can be inferred, but I could only speculate at this point.  I would again differ to Dr. Miller.”

“And, he’ll come soon?”

“Yes, sir.”

Hunter turned away from the desk as they saw Michelle jog down the hall shadowed by Scully in his familiar black suit.  The security guard nodded to him, and Hunter nodded back.  He watched his sister hug each of their parents before she turned to him for a hug.  He kissed her cheek.

“How did this happen, Hunter?” Dad asked with concern. 

His mother agreed with worry, “Yes, son, your message did not say much.”

He walked them toward the waiting room with Michelle on his arm.  “Auntie was at work returning from lunch when she complained of dizziness and passed out.”

They gasped, and Hunter nodded with compassion.

“Yeah, fortunately, she was at Seapoint General when this happened.  They did a CT scan and discovered the brain aneurysm.  So knowing that they were not a facility equipped to handle such an injury, they airlifted her here.  She’s been undergoing further tests as far as we can tell from Nurse Nora.  Now you know as much as rest of us do.  We’re waiting on feedback from the attending doc.”

“Are there specialists of this kind here?  This sounds like treatment that should be taken up in one of the Portland hospitals,” Momma said with a frown.

Hunter was about answer, but they entered the waiting room where Evan still held Sophie.  When she saw her whole extended family with her, it seemed the waterworks flowed all over again.  Evan released her as Michelle, and she immediately embraced followed by Momma and Dad.  When Hunter’s phone began to buzz with life again, he left the waiting room to take the call.


© Copyright 2020 Amy F. Turner. All rights reserved.

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