The Bracelet [Secure]
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by Karen Rose Smith
Description: The bond between them was instant: Laura a flower-power antiwar protester, Brady a duty-bound soldier heading off to Vietnam. He'd returned a changed man, and she'd saved his sanity. They'd always been there for each other. They'd raised two wonderful children and weathered the ups and downs that are inevitably part of a life together, a life that stretched over three decades. And they'd stuck to the deal they made on their wedding day: never talk about the past. But the past has a way of catching up....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Everlasting Love,
eBookwise Release Date: August 2007
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [378 KB]
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Brady's heart attack was her fault. Her fault.
As guilt ate at Laura, she knew she had to be strong for Sean and Kat. She couldn't cry. But her abhorrence of hospitals had her trembling inside. This waiting room for the cardiac intensive care unit was supposed to be an oasis in the midst of mayhem. Outside of its walls there were shiny tile floors, glass cubicles, nurses clad in scrubs and patients the staff couldn't save.
Her first encounter with York General Hospital had come when she was twelve. Her parents had suffered a terrible automobile accident and they'd been brought here. They'd both died a few days apart. Early in her marriage to Brady, three miscarriages had been confirmed here. Their child who'd died of SIDS had been autopsied here.
She'd thought she'd learned to steel herself when she walked into the bright atrium lobby, trying to wrap a protective layer around herself—some kind of barrier that would remove her from everything that was going on behind the doors, on upper floors, in operating rooms. But even as recently as last year, when she'd brought Kat to the E.R. after a skateboarding accident, she'd known she could never protect herself from what happened in this building. It had only taken her fifty-eight years to learn that.
Worried sick about Brady, waiting to hear from the cardiologist, she glanced at Sean and Kat, who were seated on the long sofa, still in shock and silent.
A white-coated doctor finally strode into the room. "Mrs. Malone?"
She realized so many of the doctors she saw in this time of her life were younger than she was. This one appeared to be in his forties. His brown hair, parted to one side, dipped boyishly over his brow. However, when she looked into his gray eyes, she saw the maturity he needed to do what he did.
"Yes, I'm Laura Malone." She extended her arm to Kat and Sean. "These are my children. Brady's children." She and Brady had gone to great lengths to make sure Sean and Kat never felt adopted, always understood they'd been specially chosen. Kat had believed them. Sean…
"Why don't we sit down," the doctor suggested as he extended his hand to her. "I'm your husband's cardiologist, Dominic Gregano."
Laura gave his hand a quick shake, then followed him to the love seat perpendicular to the sofa.
He waited until she was seated, then lowered himself on the cushion next to her. "Your husband had a myocardial infarction—a heart attack. We're going to do a catheterization at 7:00 a.m."
"To find out if there's blockage?"
His brow furrowed. "And how much damage. The cath will tell us."
He was watching her, and she wondered if he thought she might collapse. She couldn't with two children to think of, not with Brady and her kids depending on her.
There was only one thing she was concerned about now. "Is he conscious?"
"Your husband is on meds, but he's probably conscious enough to realize you're present when you talk to him."
"I want to see him."
"I know you do." His face reddened. "I mean, I imagine that you do. But I'm going to monitor him another half hour or so before you come in."
With Sean and Kat right beside her, she had to be careful with what she said and how she said it. "What if something happens in the meantime?"
"If it does, our staff needs to be with him, rather than you."
Regrets pushed at her. "I have to tell him I love him. I have to let him know we're here."
"It's amazing what our patients know without our telling them. Were you with him when this happened?"
"Then I'm sure he knows you're here. A half hour seems like forever right now, but I'll be back for you as soon as I can." The kindness in this lean, tall doctor was evident, and she was grateful for it.
He was no sooner out the door than Kat turned to her mother and questions tumbled out. "Why did Daddy have a heart attack? And why were those vans in front of our house? I didn't see them until you yelled and I ran downstairs."
Laura was attempting to find the right words, when Sean responded first. "There was an article about him in the newspaper."
Kat focused on her mother again for an explanation.
How could she say she had caused Brady's heart attack? How could she explain the impetus behind their argument and the stress that had caught up to her husband after all these years?
"A reporter wrote an article about something that happened when your dad was in the service," Laura replied carefully.
"It said he killed people." Sean ran his hand through his spiked brown hair, looking miserable. "Women. And maybe even kids."
So Sean had read the article already. She couldn't talk about this without Brady. She simply couldn't. "We're not going to discuss the article or your dad's experiences now."
"Is it true?" Sean persisted in spite of what she'd said.
When she didn't answer immediately, deciding what to tell him, Sean asked, "Have you known all these years?"
She took a steadying breath. "I knew about what happened. But that article isn't the whole story."
That didn't seem to matter to Sean. He looked at her as if he didn't know her…as if she was some type of co-conspirator. Oh, to be eighteen again. To be full of idealism and passion and to be able to separate black from white. Yet she noticed something else on her son's face. Fear? Was he afraid his dad would die?
Copyright © 2007 by Karen Rose Smith.