So, here I will post the next two chapters of my second book.
Saturday morning she woke up early and called Franklin. They decided on a few tourist spots to hit that morning and afternoon. Then she called Scott. He answered and still sounded upset and tired. “Um, I just wanted to tell you about my plans with Franklin today and to see if you wanted to come with us,” she told him. His voice perked up, “Actually, that would be awesome. I’m going to have to sneak out of here, but I’ll meet you down at his hotel in less than half an hour.” She was relieved to hear him happy about something, but a little worried about the “sneaking out” part. She put on some comfortable tourist clothes and went to find a taxi. Scott arrived only five minutes after she did and was thrilled to finally meet Franklin. They went on a Hudson River tour for the whole morning. Scott was his old, happy self until his phone started ringing repeatedly. Every time, he would glance at the screen and ignore the call. Finally he just turned his phone off. “Who is that?” Rachel asked. “My stalker brother who is dying to meet you,” he answered. He put his phone away and wrapped his arms around her. It felt good since it was a very chilly morning. Franklin just smiled and was glad to see that his girl was taken care of. They ate a hearty deli lunch before seeing a couple more sites on the must see tourist list. They were strolling through Central Park when Rachel’s phone rang; and because everyone she would normally talk to was right there with her, she checked the caller ID. It was just a number, so she showed it to Scott. “Is this Danny?” she asked. He sighed and rolled his eyes, “Yep.” She pressed the ignore button and dropped her phone in her purse. He liked that and pulled her in for a kiss. When the afternoon was nearly gone and the time came to part from Franklin, they walked him to his hotel. Rachel promised to see him off the following day since he was leaving for the airport mid-morning.
She stood in front of her closet for some time pondering her clothes selection for the evening. She wanted to be dressed up enough for Spencer, but not draw attention from Danny. She looked down at her engagement ring and smiled. “Scott will be my protector,” she thought. She finally chose a navy blue dress with a matching cardigan and blue and white pumps. She showered and fixed her hair. Her makeup skills were still rudimentary, but she did her best. She had just had her ears pierced a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t change them yet. She found a bracelet that would coordinate with her trainer earrings and declared herself ready. She pulled out an extra shawl in case it was too cool for just the cardigan and went to wait for Scott in her living room. He was early and had the same upset, tired tone that was becoming familiar to her. “Scott, what is wrong? You seem so upset,” she asked. He sighed and put his hand on his forehead, “I was just getting along great with Dad until Danny came back. He makes everything difficult for me. He wants to constantly pummel me with stories of the army. I respect what he did for our country, really, but he doesn’t need to boast about it twenty-four hours a day. I don’t brag about HtW to him. He has asked me about it a couple of times, but the way he asks I know he doesn’t really want me to answer. I have absolutely begged Dad not to let him work with us in our office. Dad says he will give him some time to pursue his photography and journalism dreams and then he will have to offer him a job somewhere. On top of that, I am dreading this dinner tonight; because I know this will be the beginning of his mission to steal you from me.” When he finished speaking, he had tears coming from his eyes. She wiped his tears away and held him close. “Remember,” she said, “I promised you I would not let him do that. Do you see this gorgeous ring on my finger? It means that I am promised to you and only you. No one else in the world can have me. Property of Scott.” He smiled and thanked her. He glanced at his watch and told her they should be getting down to the car. He held her and kissed her in the elevator all the way down.
The car took them to a very fancy hotel and Scott ushered her to an exclusive restaurant. She fussed with her shawl when they were being shown their table. It had been lovely to have on outside, but inside it made her feel stifled. She managed to wrestle it off and drape it neatly over her arm before they reached the table. She felt very clumsy and undignified in places like this. It was going to be a challenge to not embarrass Spencer. She saw that he and a tall, broad shouldered, blonde were already sitting at the table with half empty champagne glasses. They both stood as she and Scott arrived. “Hello, Dahling! Allow me to present my elder son, Daniel. Daniel, this is Rachel. Your brother’s fiancé,” he said with great emphasis on the last part. Danny just gave her a smirk and walked around the table. She extended her hand for a proper hand shake, but he whirled her into a full bear hug. “Ya gotta give hugs to family,” he said as he released her. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said in her polite voice. She was already completely uncomfortable with him. He was much too pushy and arrogant. She gripped Scott’s hand and was loathe to part with it when the waiter brought her a menu. She was still agonizing over the menu selection when the waiter returned to take their order. “Ah, don’t mess with that, Rachel. I’ll be ordering for her today. She wants the roast duck with pineapple sauce,” Danny said confidently. Rachel didn’t lower her menu for fear of revealing the shock on her face. Duck was the last thing she would have ordered, but as usual her polite side took over. She looked over at Scott and his face was red. She suddenly found her voice and said, “Waiter, I would actually really love the New York strip steak with mushroom sauce instead.” She felt very proud of herself and could see by Scott’s grin that he was pleased. Danny just smiled and winked at her. This annoyed her, but she tried to just think about something else. “Your girl has got an appetite, eh Scott?” he said. Scott glared at him and went back to looking at his own menu. When they had all ordered Rachel was sorry to lose her menu shield, but was soon occupied with bread and salad. She was artistically buttering her bread when she heard Danny say loudly, “Rachel! I just ask you how the classes are going.” “Oh, sorry, I’m enjoying the bread. Well, they are fine,” she said. She knew this would not satisfy his curiosity about her, but she hoped someone else would speak. Spencer seemed to sense her uneasiness and started talking about business. She did her best to only look at Spencer and Scott, but once in a while she caught Danny staring at her. She finally thought about the Lisa soap opera of old, and leaned over to plant a kiss on Scott’s cheek. She whispered, “Lisa,” in his ear and he grinned. He kissed her on the mouth, perhaps inappropriately for this class of restaurant, but they had an objective. Danny cooled off for the rest of the meal and Rachel was glad their show of public affection was effective. What she didn’t know was that he had just become challenged; like a red cape to a bull in the ring, he was going for the prize. He was just going to have to be more cunning about it. She was obviously not like most of the girls he was used to. After Rachel had finished her exquisite triple chocolate mousse cake, she found that everyone else was already finished and ready to leave. Spencer turned to her at the door of the hotel, “Rachel, I don’t suppose you would like to come watch us play tennis tomorrow at the club?” She shook her head, “Oh, I’m sorry, but I have some homework I need to get done before Monday. Thank you, though.” He actually looked relieved that she had been unable to attend, but Rachel convinced herself she was misreading him. He and Danny wished her a good night and then Scott led her to the second family car that would take her home. “Please tell me you need help with your homework!” Scott said when they were in the car. “Not up to ultra competitive tennis?” she asked. He nodded and laid his head on her shoulder. “How about you and I have a date tomorrow night?” she suggested. He felt that would be some consolation for having to endure brutal tennis with his brother and father. She walked herself up to her apartment since it was late. She drew a hot bath to soak her achy feet. She knew her shoes had looked lovely, but did nothing for comfort.
The next morning she woke late and had to race to meet Franklin before his departure for the airport. “Hey girlie, I was beginning to think you were standing me up,” he joked. “No, I just slept in. Stressful night last night. I have really enjoyed having you here. Sure you don’t want to move to New York?” she asked. He chuckled, “No way! I want my small town back! But, I will miss you, Rachel. You call me as often as you can, ok?” He tried to hug her enough to last him a while, but he knew he would miss her anyway. She cried as he sat in the taxi. He was the most like a father to her. Before he closed the door she called out, “I love you, Dad!” He closed the door, but she could see him start to cry as the taxi drove away. She got a text on her phone a moment later, “I love you too, daughter.”
She went back to her apartment and attempted to do her homework. She couldn’t stop thinking about the message from Franklin. “I have family. I have a father. I am not alone,” she thought. She finally shook herself to reality and the work in front of her. She worked on it the whole day and was just finishing up algebra homework when Scott called. “Hey sweetheart, I’m downstairs. Are you ready?” “Uh, no. I just finished my homework and I’m still sitting here in sloppy clothes. Just give me a minute,” she said. She hurried through a spruce up and was presentable in five minutes. She raced to the elevator and thought it was slower than usual as it carried her to her fiancé. Scott took her to a relaxed pizza restaurant and Rachel fell in love with it. She had not had a lot of pizza in her lifetime, but this stuff was just good, warming food. They were enjoying each other’s company for most of the meal; until Rachel spotted Danny at a table facing hers. She gasped and asked, “What on earth is HE doing here?” Scott leaned over so he could see what she was talking about. He scooted out of his chair, threw down his napkin, and said, “Excuse me one moment.” He marched over to Danny and began an argument that she couldn’t hear, but she could only imagine that it included, “What on earth are you doing here?” At length, Danny stood up, put his hands in the air, and left. Scott came back still rattled from his verbal tussle. He tried to regain his composure for the rest of the evening, but it had been ruined by his brother’s outright disregard for boundaries. She rubbed his neck and stroked his hair, but nothing seemed to work. Later, he told her good night at the elevator and didn’t even try to go upstairs with her. She knew there would be a full on family feud when he got home. She said a prayer that this would all go away soon, but felt in her heart that it might take a while to resolve.
The next week was fairly calm and Rachel hoped that Scott’s stand had produced good results. The week after that, however, her hopes were dashed. She was reading a book required by her English class over a turkey sandwich at the university’s café. A voice across the table startled her. “Well, well, look at our diligent student,” Danny said. She nearly spilled her drink trying to put her book away and compose herself. “What…..How….Why are you here?” she said. He smiled a Cheshire cat grin and said, “Well, I wanted to see you in action.” “I mean how did you know I was here? That is so very creepy, you know,” she said. “Oh, I just waited around here until I saw you. I figured you would have to eat at some point,” he answered. His response did not satisfy her in the least. “Well, I’m busy,” she said as she raised her book and took a bite of her sandwich. “I see that,” he replied. She kept hoping that she would look up and he would be gone, but he actually stayed until after she got up to go to her next class. She thought about calling Scott, but decided not to. He would be so angry. “Gosh I hope he doesn’t start showing up here all of the time,” she thought.
But that is exactly what he did. Every day he appeared at lunch time and sat staring at her while she studied and ate. After two weeks of his stalking, she told him, “Please don’t come back. I don’t want to see you here again. It’s weird and creepy and I don’t like it.” He laughed and said, “Alright, I’ll just have to find other ways to see you.” She decided it was time to call Scott. She asked him to come over so she could talk to him in person. “What’s up?” he asked. “Please don’t get angry with me. I thought about telling you this sooner, but I really don’t like to see you angry. The thing is; Danny has been showing up at the university café every day. I don’t talk to him, but he just sits there and stares at me. I told him today to quit; that it was creepy and I didn’t like it. He said something about finding another way to see me and that’s when I knew I needed to talk to you. Scott, he scares me. I don’t want to be alone. What if he comes here and you aren’t here? He could probably get a key from your dad; or something.” She paused to see what he had to say. He stared at the floor for a moment before responding. “Well, I wish you had told me sooner. I know he will think that the fact that you didn’t tell me for two weeks is because you wanted him to come. But, it’s ok. We will get this sorted out eventually. You should probably change up your routine as much as possible. Don’t eat lunch at the café; take a different route to and from your apartment, that sort of thing. I’ll talk to Dad. Don’t worry, sweetheart. I won’t let anything happen to you.” He held her tight for a long time and she began to feel more at ease. She knew that he was inwardly boiling, but was maintaining a calm exterior for her. That night she set all of the locks on her door and also locked her bedroom door before going to bed. She could imagine Danny standing over her with a camera in the middle of the night.
The next day she wondered about the fireworks that had exploded in the Fillman house the night before. She didn’t have much time to think about it, though, since she had to get to class. She had signed up for an extra credit course on anthropology in South America that met for the next three Saturdays. The classes were six hours a day with a thirty minute break in the middle. It was intense, but she enjoyed it. She felt as though she were removed from the Fillman issues for six and a half hours a week. She was transported to ancient civilizations that were brilliant and unique. Scott didn’t like her being gone on Saturdays, since that was one of the few days that he could come see her. Although she loved Scott and desperately wanted to marry him, she found herself enjoying the separation.
Eventually Danny became more creative with his plot to see her. He began organizing family activities, which Spencer loved and supported. She had excuses for many absences, but could not get out of all of them. Danny would hover over her and find every reason imaginable to be near her. She was so annoyed. With each family time Scott grew angrier and cross, and she grew more fed up with the whole family. She pondered what escape could possibly bear her away from this antagonizing situation. She had a light bulb moment as she entered her apartment following one such torturous affair. The phone rang twice and then, “Rachel? What brings you to call me?” Rachel cleared her throat and began to tell Kathryn the whole ordeal. “Look I know it’s probably selfish for me to call you like this, but I can’t tolerate another moment with Scott angry and Danny flirting! I figured you know that family better than anyone else and might have some ideas.” Kathryn laughed and replied, “Oh, I’ve got all sorts of tricks up my sleeve. Leave it to me; I’ll get Danny off your back. Let me make a call and then next family gathering you can see if it has made a difference.” She thanked Kathryn and they hung up. She wondered what in the world could she have up her sleeve, but she trusted her to be honest.
The following Sunday Danny had organized a lunch at a modern art gallery. Rachel dressed up and crossed her fingers that Kathryn had come through. She was surprised to see Kathryn at the door of the gallery. She leaned over to whisper in Rachel’s ear, “Our solution is now mingling stage left.” Rachel strained to see who or what was on the left side of the gallery. She saw a woman who looked like she had just come off the catwalk of a major designer. Her hair and makeup were professional and she carried a purse and shoes worth thousands. Rachel looked back at Kathryn with a gaped mouth. “She will do the trick,” Kathryn whispered and then walked to her car. She went into the gallery and introduced herself to the top model woman. She wanted to know exactly why this was the answer to her Danny dilemma. “Hi, I’m Rachel, Scott Fillman’s fiancé. Who are you?” The statuesque woman turned around abruptly and replied, “Everyone in New York knows who I am, or they should. I am Kimberly Morgan. I’ve known the Fillmans since I was a little girl and someday I will marry Danny, because I always get what I want. I can’t believe he didn’t call me when he got back,” she chattered on. Rachel then saw crystal clear what Kathryn’s plan had been. “Well, Kimberly, you must join us for lunch then. I believe we are back in the New Impressionism wing,” she said as she took Kimberly by the arm and led her back to the waiting family. Danny’s expression was priceless when he saw Kimberly. He began sweating and blushing and stuttering. Scott was suppressing a huge guffaw. The sight of Danny being so overwhelmed by this woman was too good to forget. “Danny! Why haven’t you called me?” Kimberly said as she walked over to him. She lambasted him with a barrage of questions and he could not answer a single one. She made herself comfy next to him and seemed to forgive him in spite of his bumbling. Scott leaned over and whispered, “Where did you find her?” Rachel replied, “Let’s just say your dad’s assistant is a miracle worker.” Danny actually scowled when he looked over at Rachel during the meal. She just smiled and enjoyed herself. She asked Kimberly lots of questions to keep her talking. Spencer seemed oblivious to the whole business; he was just thankful to have the family together. She was feeling very good about her accomplishment until Scott called her that night. “Look, sweetie, I know you thought you were doing a good thing, but I think it only made him angry. When he gets angry he is even more competitive. He yelled at me for an hour after we got home. Kim’s perfect for him, but he can’t see it. He still thinks he needs to have everybody else’s women. Anyway, you need to still be careful, ok?” he said. She was crushed. She thought she had done such a good thing. It was getting close to Christmas vacation and she couldn’t bear the thought of all of the family gatherings. She called Scott back. “Scott, I want to go stay with Franklin for the holidays. I just can’t stand the thought of all the family stuff with Danny making our lives miserable. I haven’t spent even close to my monthly allowance, so I can buy the tickets. Is that ok with you?” she asked. He sighed and said, “Yeah, fine, go ahead and get your tickets and I’ll try to keep it from dad and Danny until you are gone.” Rachel thought that he had agreed rather quickly to her plan to be separated from him for a month, but she was feeling like a June bug in the middle of ducks and had to go. She called Franklin and told him about her plans. She had him find her tickets since she had never purchased tickets in her life. He was thrilled that she would be spending nearly a month with him.
After that was all settled she turned her attention back to studying for finals. She had to do well to keep her scholarship and so far she had made perfect grades. Finals, however, were a bit daunting. By Friday of finals week her brain was so tired. Copious amounts of coffee didn’t seem to pick her up at all. She tried to call David at the set time, but Smitty informed her that the rabbits weren’t producing and he wouldn’t be coming in for a few weeks. She was disappointed, but asked him to tell David that she would be in town for the holidays. After her last exam she went to her apartment and slept the rest of the day. She woke up very early and started packing for her trip to Tennessee. “I can’t believe I’m excited about going to Morristown,” she thought. Scott came to see her late in the morning and was surprised that she was already packed. “So, you’re going to leave me, huh?” he said. She told him she would miss him. “So, any word from Kimberly?” she asked. “Oh yeah, she calls about ten times a day, but he isn’t answering the phone anymore. Knowing her, she will start showing up at his door,” he replied. They talked about the time they would be apart. He reluctantly left close to midnight.
The next morning she woke up early and got ready to go to the airport. She decided to check her email before she headed out the door. She was shocked to see an email from Anna.
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your letter. My life has been so crazy for the past year. I am married to a British man and have a sweet baby girl. I couldn’t believe it when I got your email. I’m truly glad that you found a way out and that you are getting an education. We should Skype sometime. I actually live in Italy! I’m so relieved that you weren’t offended with my book. I’ve written three of them. I have found it to be the best way to deal with what I went through with Roy. Congratulations on being engaged! When is your wedding?
Well, I should go. The baby is calling for me.
Talk to you soon, Anna
Rachel read her letter through several times before packing away her laptop in her carryon bag. She decided to think about how to reply while on her flight to Tennessee. She grabbed her suitcase and headed for the elevator. She hailed a cab and made the slow journey out to the airport. The flight was long and Rachel had a lot to think about with Anna’s email and everything going on with Scott. She was starting to feel like they would never get married. She didn’t like who he was with his brother around. She tried to put that out of her mind as the plane approached her destination. She was determined to enjoy her visit with Franklin.
He picked her up at the airport and Rachel was nearly overwhelmed by the memories of escaping there. How far she had come in a year. “Guess what, Anna wrote me this morning,” she told him after they got in his car. They drove through town and to Franklin’s house. He had fixed up the guest bedroom just for her. She wasn’t sure how they would spend the next month, but anything was better than being with the Fillmans. After a couple of days she sat down to write Anna.
Guess where I am right now! Morristown! I am visiting my adopted father. He is the one who got me out of here. Some crazy stuff is going on in my life, too. That’s why I am here for Christmas break. I would love to Skype sometime. Scott and I haven’t set a date for our wedding.
Thanks for writing, Rachel
She clicked send and closed her laptop. She went out to sit with Franklin. It wasn’t ultra exciting or busy staying with him, but she was glad for the rest. She needed a slow down after a semester at NYU, not to mention the family drama.
After she had been with Franklin for over two weeks, Rachel’s phone rang late in the morning. “Hey, is this Rachel?” the voice on the line asked. When she replied that it was, he said, “This is Smitty. Your brother is here, come on by if you want to see him.” She told him she would be there as soon as possible. Franklin drove her to Smitty’s shop and dropped her off. “I’ll be down at the café getting some coffee. Call me when you’re ready to go,” he said. She nodded and went into the shop. David was leaning against the counter at the back of the shop. He didn’t even recognize her when she stepped up to him. “David, it’s me, Rachel!” she said. His mouth dropped open and he stood up straight. She pulled him into a hug and said, “I’ve missed you so much.” When he finally found his voice he said, “You’ve changed an awful lot. Yeah, I guess I miss you, too. Ain’t nobody to talk to at home.” They sat and visited for half an hour, then he looked up at the clock on the wall. “I gotta go. Dad will get mad if I take too long here. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll get out of here, too. It was good to see you, Rachel,” he said. He hugged her and left. She called Franklin and walked down to the café to meet him. She sat down across from him at a booth in the café. She ordered a cappuccino and began to tell Franklin about her visit with David.
The day after Christmas she and Franklin were enjoying a big breakfast at a local diner. She had just taken a big bite of pancake when her phone rang. She swallowed as quickly as possible and washed it down with coffee. Her phone was hiding at the bottom of her purse, but she managed to answer before it went to voicemail. Scott was on the line. “Rachel, I need you to come home. Danny was in a terrible accident last night. He is in a coma and has multiple injuries. Dad and I just can’t be with him all the time and we need you to fill in when we can’t be there. It was bad, really bad. I don’t know what else to say. He’s at St. Mary’s. Will you come?” She didn’t hesitate, “Yes, of course, I’ll come. I’ll see if I can get on a flight today. Don’t worry.” She quickly filled Franklin in on the details. They went back to his house and while she packed, he worked on getting her flight changed. He yelled out, “Girlie, I’ve got you a flight today, but we’ve got to leave right now to make it!” They raced with her things out to the car and he drove faster than usual on the way to the airport. “Franklin, I’m so sorry I have to leave you like this. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or not that Scott called me. Ugh. I hope all of this uncertainty is resolved soon,” she said. They said good bye at the drop off door and she raced to get her boarding pass and through security check on time.
She arrived in the afternoon and went to her apartment first to drop off her things. She changed into a comfortable dress and sweater and then left for the hospital. She found out from the information desk where Danny’s room was, but since it was in ICU she wasn’t allowed in without a family member. She called Scott and told him she was there, but they wouldn’t let her in. He went to the nurse’s station and told them about her. After a few minutes they came to get her. She was completely unprepared for what Danny looked like. As if all his cuts and bruises were not bad enough on their own, he was hooked to all manner of tubes and wires. There were large machines on the left side of his bed and behind the head of it. Beeps and strange sounds of sucking air filled the silence of the room. Spencer sat against the wall with his head in his hands. She had never seen him look so disheveled. Scott had obviously been crying and was doing his best to hold himself together. She took it all in quietly and then sat next to Spencer and held his hand.
Later that evening she told Spencer and Scott to go home to rest and eat. She would stay with him as long as necessary. Her classes didn’t start for another week, so she could at least devote a week to his care. They reluctantly agreed and left for some much needed rest. The nurses showed her how to apply Vaseline to Danny’s lips and other small chores that needed to be done while he was on all the machines. She stroked his hand and spoke to him, hoping something would help to wake him from his trip to the in between. The next day, Spencer came for the morning shift with Danny. Rachel went to a café and ate a big breakfast. Then, she went home for a nap. That evening she went back to the hospital and Scott was there. “Scott,” she whispered, “can you tell me more about what happened?” He sighed and said, “He decided to get drunk and have a party for Christmas. He said he didn’t want to spend it with Dad and me because we are boring. So, he got drunk and went for a crazy drive through town. He was in the wrong lane and hit a garbage truck head on. We got the call about 11:30 at night that he’d been in an accident and the EMT’s weren’t sure if he was going to make it. Poor Dad about had a heart attack. He hasn’t spoken much since it happened. I know I’ve told you how much I can’t stand Danny, but he is my brother, and I don’t wish this on anybody.” She held his hand tightly and stroked his hair. “Since you are here now,” he continued, ”I’ll go check on Dad.” She nodded and he kissed her on the forehead as he left. She stared at Danny for a long time. She began to think about her experiences with his family. “Why is there such animosity between you all?”she wondered. Suddenly a picture formed in her mind and she knew why this man had spent his whole life in competition with his little brother. She scooted her chair over to his side and spoke to him. “Danny, this is Rachel. I’m just going to visit with you for a while. I’m thinking that you can hear me and maybe some of this will stick in your hard head. Well, I was thinking about you and Scott and why you give him such fits. I’ve come to the conclusion that somewhere, sometime; you thought that your father loved him more. Scott is a smart, quiet guy who acquiesces to everything your dad says. Now you…..you aren’t like Scott at all. You are loud and daring and adventurous. You will try anything, but at the end of it all you just want your dad’s love. Let me just tell you that he does love you. He loves you so much and he wants you to just be yourself. You don’t need to be anything like Scott. You can use your crazy personality to become the best journalist or photographer or anything else you want to be. Personally, I would love to have you be my brother. We just need to get your brother to set a date. You can talk to him about that, right? Never mind, we’ll just stick to your issues, ok?” She spoke to him until a nurse came in to do her hourly check. “If his eyes are moving under his eyelids, does that mean there is brain activity?” she asked the nurse. “Well, it could be. Hard to tell with this severe of an accident,” the nurse answered. Rachel chose to cling to hope.
Spencer came the next morning to relieve her and she went home. The three of them settled into a routine so that there would be someone with Danny all the time. She kept telling Danny the same things every time she was with him and his eyes would move as she spoke. At the end of the week they changed the schedule since Rachel would be starting classes. She came directly after her 2:00 class and spent the afternoon and evening with Danny. Scott spent the night and Spencer still came in the mornings. After several weeks, Rachel was sitting in her World History II class when her phone vibrated. She checked it discretely and saw that it was the hospital. She put her book and papers away quickly and dashed out into the hall. “Hello?” she said trying to catch her breath. “Hi, this is Grace from St. Mary’s. I can’t get a hold of Danny’s family, so I called you. He is waking up.” Rachel ran toward the exit, “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” The taxi driver had to endure her constant urging for him to go faster. Finally they arrived and she threw the cab fare at him while she ran out the door. She got up to Danny’s room in record time and saw that they had removed his breathing tube and a lot of the wires. He was his old handsome self; with the exception of a nasty scar on his forehead. She went to his side and the nurse encouraged her to talk to him. “Danny, it’s Rachel. Have you decided to open your sleepy eyes? We would be so happy to see that.” She looked up at the nurse who told her, “His father and brother are on their way. Keep talking to him.” Tears started flowing out of her eyes. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to see Danny look at her. Rachel spoke to him for ten more minutes, and finally his eyes started to blink, and then open. “Danny!” she exclaimed. He smiled a weak smile and she grabbed his hand. “Hey buddy, you’ve been through quite an ordeal. It’s good to see you awake,” she said. He tried to speak, “Rach…I…,” but nothing else came out. She sat with him quietly as he closed his eyes to rest again. In a few moments Spencer and Scott came dashing into the room. Spencer was asking, “Is it true? Did he wake up?” Rachel nodded and as if on cue, Danny opened his eyes again. She moved out of the way so Spencer could talk to his son. “Oh god, Danny, I was so worried about you. Please get well so we can take you home.” Danny gave him a smile and said, “trying.” They let him rest and didn’t make him speak or wake on demand until the next day. The nurses sat him up for a while. In the afternoon, they wheeled him off to do lots of tests and scans. They hadn’t thoroughly checked him the night of his accident because they weren’t sure he would make it. His legs were badly injured, but seemed to be healing well with the exception of one place. They rolled him into surgery and put a pin in his leg. He came out fine and the following week was able to ride around the ICU in a wheel chair. He flirted with all the nurses and seemed to be his old self. After two months in the hospital, he was ready to go home. Spencer set up Danny’s room with a remote control bed so they could elevate his legs. They hired a nurse to watch him around the clock; thus relieving the three of them permanently. Rachel went to visit him one day and overheard Danny and Scott talking. She stopped at the door and listened. “Scott, I owe you a huge apology. I have not been a good brother to you. I promise you from now on, no more competition. You can marry Rachel without a worry. She’s yours. Can you forgive me for being such a bully?” Danny said. Scott stayed true to his giving nature, “Yes, of course. I love you bro.” She heard them hug and then felt it was safe to enter the room. “Hey guys! How is the convalescent today?” she asked. Danny showed her that he could now walk on one leg with the help of a crutch. She chatted with them for a little while and then said, “I’ve got to go study. Mid terms are next week!” She kissed Scott on the cheek and was surprised when he didn’t try to kiss her back. Things were worse, not better, with him. Drastic measures needed to be taken.
After mid terms were under her belt, Rachel began to plot her big test for Scott. She called Kathryn and asked if she could meet with her. Kathryn said, “Well, I can come about four. Is that alright?” Rachel told her it was and then waited impatiently until the appointed hour. Kathryn was prompt and Rachel was excited to tell her everything right away. They sat on the couch and she began her speech. “Ok, I’ve been engaged to Scott for nearly a year and we still haven’t set a date. I’m beginning to feel like he doesn’t want to marry me at all. I wish he would just tell me, but you know you cannot force anything out of him if he isn’t ready. Anyway, I’ve devised a test. Look at this program NYU has in Madrid. It’s perfect for my major and I already speak Spanish. I want you to help me get into this program. If Scott wants me, he will protest and tell me to stay here, and perhaps set a date for our wedding. If not, I will just go and enjoy Madrid and work on my degree. Can we do that?” Kathryn looked over the page on Rachel’s screen and nodded. “That seems entirely plausible. I’ll get to work on enrolling you in the program tomorrow,” she replied. She asked Kathryn not to tell anyone. Rachel was excited. This proposition had two good outcomes. The hard part would be waiting to hear if she had gotten into the program. Near the end of her second semester, she got a call from Kathryn. “Rachel, you got in! You will have to leave for Madrid the first of July, though. I hope this is what you want, dear,” she informed Rachel.
Rachel went over to Spencer’s house for dinner that same week. When they were all gathered at the table she cleared her throat and said, “I have an announcement to make. I’ll be doing NYU’s student abroad program in Madrid for my next year of study. It is a fantastic opportunity to study my field and will be great for my transcript. I will leave the first of July.” There was silence around the table until Spencer said, “Oh, that sounds wonderful, dear. What an opportunity!” Scott’s face was red and he was jabbing at his food as though it were alive. However, he said nothing. She wished he would say something, anything. Perhaps he was angry that she hadn’t told him first, but then he hardly called her these days. She decided to just eat and act normally. Danny, embarrassed by his brother’s lack of response, said, “Rachel, that’s awesome, but we will really miss you here.” He glanced over at Scott again, but he was just angrily attacking his food as before. Danny rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. He mouthed, “Sorry,” to Rachel before going back to his own plate. After dinner she sat with Scott on the sofa. She tried to hold his hand but he withdrew it and feigned an itch on his temple. She wanted to cry, but decided she should just make up an excuse and leave. “Um, I’ve got to go do some homework. Lovely meal, Spencer, thanks. I’ll see ya’ll soon,” she said. She left and hailed a cab. She decided to go to her favorite bookstore instead of going to her apartment. She bought Anna’s other books and settled into an overstuffed chair with a chocolate shake. She read for an hour and then walked slowly to her apartment. She flopped on the couch and finally allowed herself to cry. “I don’t know why crying helps; it’s not accomplishing anything,” she thought. She wiped her tears away and tried to think about Madrid. It would be a new adventure and give her exposure to a whole new culture and continent. She called Kathryn. “Hi, sorry to bother you so late, but I have a question. Do you think it would be alright for me to buy some new clothes and shoes for Madrid?” Kathryn told her it was more than fine since she had hardly even spent one month’s allowance in the whole time she had been there. Rachel decided she wouldn’t worry about it anymore and planned a shopping trip for the next Saturday. She went to a large department store and asked the saleswoman to help her with a European student look. She came out with numerous packages and a style that she liked. She registered for two short classes in June so that she could knock out six more credits. She thought it would be better to be busy before she had to leave for Madrid. Scott was broody and impossible to talk to. She wanted to avoid him as much as possible in the weeks leading up to her departure.
The week before her departure, she was busy sorting things for storage and for taking. Kathryn would arrange for her things to be stored at Spencer’s home while she was in Madrid so that he could rent out the apartment. She was on the floor of her closet when her phone rang. She pulled herself up and went on a hunt for her phone. She was surprised to see that it was Danny. “Hey Rach, um, I’ve got something I really want to show you. Can I come over now? I mean, you can say no, if you want. I know I’ve been ‘super creepy’ in the past, but I’ll try to behave,” he said. She laughed and said, “Sure, come on. I need a distraction from sorting clothes anyway.” He was probably downstairs when he called; because he was at her door in less than five minutes. She was thinking about what a different person he had become since his accident. She actually liked being with him. She let him in and he went to the couch and pulled out his laptop. “Look at this, I started my own blog. It’s called Green Spots and it’s all about conservation of the green areas in New York City. I got out my camera and I’ve been riding around the city taking pictures and learning about each site. I’m getting thousands of hits already! I’m so excited.” She looked through the site and all of his colorful pictures and thoughtful articles. “This is fantastic, Danny! I’m so proud of you. You’re a big boy now,” she laughed. He laughed and then said seriously, “I feel like I should thank you for encouraging me toward this.” She blushed and then tried hard to think of a time when she had spoken to him about it; other than when he was in a coma. She hadn’t spoken to him about it. “Danny, did you hear everything I told you when you were in the coma?” He thought for a moment and said, “I think so, I kept having the same dreams over and over. You were the only one in my dreams and you kept telling me the same things. It was like we were both in heaven and you were trying to help me figure out how to live on earth. A little weird, I know, but I kept dreaming that same thing all the time.” They chatted a little more about his health. He got quiet and walked over to the window. He turned and faced her. “Rachel, I feel like I should apologize for Scott. He’s been treating you like….like….I don’t want to say what. Anyway, I feel so bad. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but you don’t deserve it. You are the sweetest person I’ve ever known; don’t let him walk on you, ok?” She nodded, but had no idea how to protect herself from the emotional battering she was enduring from Scott. “Well, I’ll be gone soon and hopefully he’ll make up his mind,” she said. After he left she found herself thinking that she really enjoyed being with Danny. She really, really enjoyed being with him.