Read His Bundle of Love / the Color of Courage Online

Authors: Patricia Davids

Tags: #Fiction, #Religious, #Romance, #General

His Bundle of Love / the Color of Courage (32 page)

BOOK: His Bundle of Love / the Color of Courage
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Chapter Fourteen

W
ork had always been Brian’s answer to keeping his innermost pain locked away. Today should have been no different, except nothing helped erase the memory of the disappointment on Lindsey’s face when she had walked out of his office two days ago.

He glanced at the clock above his desk. It was only a few minutes after nine. The unit’s horses would be almost to Washington, D.C., by now. Except for Dakota. Lindsey and the other soldiers would be flying out in a few hours. The Inaugural parade would take place tomorrow at noon.

“And my conference is less than forty-eight hours away,” he muttered.

What he needed now was to concentrate on his presentation, to make sure he had enough hard facts to impress the United Jockey Club representatives and ensure substantial grant monies for his research. He needed to focus. Reaching for a pencil, he paused with it in his hand. The memory of Lindsey grinning at him with one between her teeth made him smile. Remembering the kiss he had shared with her in this office erased all thoughts of work from him mind.

“You’re a fool, Brian Cutter,” he stated forcefully. “What right did you have to fall in love again?”

It was a question to which he already knew the answer. He had no right to love another woman. His carelessness had cost Emily her life. She had loved him with all her heart and trusted him to care for her always. He never should have survived the crash. He should have died with her and the baby.

Passing through what was left of his days without love had seemed a fitting punishment for living. Until Lindsey.

Lindsey had made him think about a future and not about the past.

He heard a timid knock at the door. An irrational hope rose that it might be her, but it was quickly dashed when Jennifer peeked in.

“I thought I made it plain that I didn’t want to be disturbed.” He turned away before she could read the disappointment he knew must be written on his face.

“Someone is in a sour mood today.”

“What do you want?”

“Wow, the list is so long. A new car, a diamond tennis bracelet, a trip to Jamaica...”

“If you think you can get all of those things with your first unemployment check, keep making jokes.”

The sudden silence told him he had made his point. After a moment, she cleared her throat and said meekly, “I wanted to inform you that your ambulance has arrived.”

“Thank you, I’ve been informed. Is that all?” When she didn’t reply, he turned around. She was standing in the doorway tapping her cheek with one finger as she stared at the ceiling. She sighed as if she had come to an important decision.

“The unemployment check might make a down payment on the tennis bracelet, so I’m going to go ahead and tell you that you are an abject idiot.”

The last thing he needed was one of her scoldings. “Jen, please. Not today.”

“You let your friend down. Even if there was nothing romantic between you and Lindsey, and I don’t believe that for a minute, but even if there wasn’t, she was your friend.”

“I had no way of proving that Dakota’s leg would be strong enough for the journey.”

“You mean you don’t have enough data to make that assumption.”

He threw his hands up. “Exactly. Finally, someone understands.”

“But you believe in your work, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. Dakota will be as sound as ever.”

She crossed her arms and asked, “How much proof would you need?”

“I don’t understand.”

“How much proof of his soundness would you need to let him go to Washington?”

“Perhaps another month without any signs of lameness.”

“Was he sound before?”

“Before the accident? I assume so.”

“He was sound and he broke his pastern anyway.”

“Jennifer, what are you getting at?”

She stepped forward and laid a hand on his arm. “What I’m getting at is that we never get a guarantee in life. All we get are opportunities. In life and in love there are no guarantees. We get hurt, we lose, we cry and then we get up and keep going because God made us this way. The only guarantee of failure is in not trying.”

Why did what she was saying suddenly make so much sense?

She crossed her arms over her chest again and stared at him. Arching one eyebrow, she asked, “So, am I fired?”

Her cheeky question pulled a wry smile from him. “I’ll let you know by the end of the day.”

“I’d like to know now. Stylish Gems jewelry shop is having a sale. My bracelet is twenty percent off if I put it on layaway by noon.”

“You aren’t fired.”

She sighed. “It’s just as well. I never learned to play tennis. Okay, come outside and show me your new toy.”

It beat trying to work surrounded by memories he couldn’t forget. The horses had already left. Even if he did change his decision it wouldn’t change the outcome for Dakota. Grabbing his cane, he accompanied Jennifer out the main doors.

In the parking lot beside the clinic, the equine ambulance sat looking like a white, overly tall and extra-wide horse trailer.

“This is it? This is what you’ve been begging for?” Jennifer didn’t look impressed.

“Don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you. This is the best they make.” Brian had spent long hours poring over the features of this particular model. He pressed a switch on the front. A muffled hiss filled the air as the hydraulic system allowed the entire trailer to sink to ground level.

A second switch lowered one whole wall of the vehicle and turned it into a gentle ramp. “This will keep an injured horse from having to step up.”

“Cool.” Apparently intrigued, she ventured closer. “What’s that?” She pointed inside.

“Those are hydraulic padded sides that move in and hold the animal still so he doesn’t have to shift his weight. There is a sling, too, if one is needed, and a winch to pull the horse in if it can’t stand.”

“So a horse could ride in this thing and never put a hoof on the floor?”

“I guess that’s true.”

“If the army had something like this, then Dakota could travel to Washington, D.C., and not risk injuring his leg.”

“The Army doesn’t have anything like this, believe me.”

“No, because we have it. For how long?”

“Two weeks.”

She patted his shoulder. “I knew you’d think of something.”

He followed her sudden shift in logic way too easily. “No. No! I’m not giving this vehicle to the army.”

“Loan, not give. Loan for a few days. Calm down.”

He rubbed his chin as he considered what she was suggesting. It was crazy. Unthinkable. “The unit is leaving today. There isn’t time to get over there.”

“Avery said they aren’t leaving until noon. It’s only ten-thirty. You’ve got plenty of time.”

“This is insane. They wouldn’t even know how to operate it.”

“You know how.”

“Me? I can’t go to Washington, D.C. I’ve got to present a lecture at the conference the day after tomorrow.”

“What will you lose by missing one lecture?”

“Funding, respect, a chance to prove my work is making a difference.”

“Fair enough. What will you gain by missing it?”

What would he gain? A chance to make things right with Lindsey? A chance to make amends for his cruel behavior? A chance to let a brave man see that his sacrifice meant something to this nation?

He turned to walk away. “No. I’ll get fired.”

She raced to stand in front of him, blocking his retreat. “You have tenure. They won’t fire you.”

He stepped to the side, but she moved to match him. “I’ll end up teaching the first year’s bone lab.”

“So what? You’ll be great at it.”

He shook his head. “No, I can’t do it.”

“Dr. Cutter, look at me.” When he did, she said quietly. “Tell me that you don’t love her.”

The words couldn’t come out of his mouth, because he knew they weren’t true. He did love Lindsey. He would always love her. God had blessed him and he had turned his back on that blessing. He had been too scared of coming alive again, of risking more heartache, and because of that he had pushed Lindsey away. Would this wild scheme give him another chance? Or was it already too late?

Like a gentle whisper in his ear, he heard Lindsey’s voice saying, “We use our head to make a lot of decisions in life, but some decisions have to be made with the heart. This is one of them. Do what your heart tells you is right.”

Lord, I know it’s been a long time since You’ve heard a prayer from me, but please let this be the right decision.

* * *

Lindsey stood apart from the rest of the unit as they waited beside the barn for the bus that would take them to the airport. She didn’t want to dampen the excitement of the others. Attired in their sharply pressed dress uniforms, the men were laughing and joking and bursting with pride. This was the most prestigious event many of them would ever attend in their entire lives. Tomorrow, families from across the nation would be glued to their televisions hoping for a glimpse of their sons, grandsons or fathers as this unit rode proudly down Pennsylvania Avenue—without her.

Lindsey blew on her hands and wished she hadn’t packed her gloves away. The air was cold and crisp enough to frost the windows of the office with lacy patterns. Karen sat beside her on an overstuffed suitcase bundled up to her ears with a thick red-white-and-blue scarf over her heavy quilted blue parka. The Captain had managed to secure a seat for her on the military flight and for that Lindsey was grateful. When the bus rolled into sight at last, Lindsey said, “I’m just going to run in and say goodbye to Dakota. I know he wonders why he was left behind.”

Karen pulled down her scarf enough to say, “I won’t let them leave without you.”

“I almost wish they would.”

“No, you don’t. Danny, Abigail and Dad all want to see you.”

“I let them down. I let Danny down.”

“Did he take it badly when you called last night?”

“It almost broke my heart to tell him that Dakota and I were going to have to sit this one out.” Her heart was already in so many pieces that Lindsey wondered if it would ever be whole again.

“I’m sure he understands that it wasn’t your fault.”

“He tried to be cheerful and upbeat, but I could tell he was so disappointed.”

“Our brother is a strong guy.”

“He is. He tried to make me feel better by telling me he was glad he didn’t have to get out in the cold tomorrow. I let him down. I don’t know how I’m going to face him.”

“You did your best. You can feel sorry for yourself all you want, but your family still loves you, so get over it.” She covered her nose again.

Lindsey couldn’t help but smile. “When we were little I used to ask God over and over again why He gave me such a pain in the neck for a sister. Little did I know what a favor He did me and how much I would come to cherish you.”

“What a sweet thing to say. But for the record, I thought you were a pain in the neck, too,” came her muffled reply.

Lindsey’s giggles mingled with her sister’s. It felt good to laugh again.

The bus pulled into the parking lot, but a second vehicle pulled in behind it. Lindsey looked on in amazement as Brian got out of his truck and started toward her. The laughter and voices of the men grew silent as they watched him approach. Shane, Lee and Avery stepped in front of her, blocking Brian’s way.

* * *

Facing the men with their arms crossed over their chests and scowls on their faces, Brian knew it wouldn’t be easy to persuade Lindsey’s friends to let him speak to her.

Captain Watson stepped out in front of the group. “Dr. Cutter, what brings you here today?”

Brian decided his best chance would be to make this offer seem professional instead of personal. “I’ve come to put a proposal to you, Captain.”

“What type of proposal?”

“I’d like to transport Dakota to Washington for you.”

He saw Lindsey’s eyes widen in surprise. A murmur ran through the group until the Captain held up his hand for silence. “I don’t think I understand. You said it wouldn’t be safe for him to make such a long trailer ride.”

“I now have a special ambulance that can transport Dakota in complete safety without placing any undue stress on his leg. I’m willing to take him if I can have another man go with me to share the driving.”

Lindsey spoke at last. “I thought the ambulance was going to be on display for the conference. How did you get permission to take it across the country?”

Since he didn’t exactly have permission, he chose his words carefully. “The vehicle is on loan to the clinic for two weeks. There is no stipulation that it stays in our parking lot. In fact, we especially asked that we be allowed to use it for patient transports.” He shrugged. “No mention was made about how far those transports might be.”

He watched as the possibility of seeing her dream come true brightened her eyes, replacing the coolness she had regarded him with. He hoped she could read the regret on his face as easily as he read her growing excitement.

The Captain looked at his watch. “You would be cutting it close to make D.C. by assembly time tomorrow.”

“I know that.”

“I wouldn’t feel right sending one of my men with you knowing they might miss riding in the parade.”

Lindsey stepped between her friends and addressed Captain Watson. “Sir, I respectfully request that I be allowed to accompany Dakota since I won’t be riding.”

“Me, too,” Karen added, wiggling between Shane and Lee.

Captain Watson rubbed a hand over his jaw. “This is highly irregular, but I do have orders for
all
our horses to travel to Washington, D.C., by independent contractor.”

Karen looked around. “Does that mean he can go?”

“Corporal Ross,” the Captain barked.

“Sir.” Shane stepped forward.

“Get the forge fired up and get those special shoes on Dakota.”

“Yes, sir.” He replied with a bright grin.

Karen’s shriek of joy was echoed in Brian’s heart. Now he would have twenty-four hours to try to set things right with Lindsey.

With the help of all the unit members, they soon had Dakota shod and secured in the trailer along with enough feed and water to last the trip. Lindsey and Karen stowed their suitcases behind the seat of the truck and then came to stand beside Brian.

BOOK: His Bundle of Love / the Color of Courage
9.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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