After beginning the tweaking process for the final draft of The Farmer’s Daughter (still rewriting, etc.), I now know it will not be a full 37 chapters. That seems like too many chapters to me somehow, but I guess it doesn’t matter if those chapters are short. Who knows!
I have ideas rolling around in my head for the next installment in the Tanner family’s saga, mainly about Jason, which I know some of you wanted to know the outcome of.
For those who have been reading along, how do you think the book should end? I have ideas, have already written an ending, but I’m not sure I’ll keep it or not. I want it to lead into the other books, but I’m not really sure how to do that yet. Let me know of ideas on how to, or of some good book series you’ve read that do so!
Annie’s eyes were red-rimmed, her face streaked with tears. Alex had never seen Annie in such rough shape, and it rattled him. She was trembling as he helped her to her feet.
“What happened?” He heard the fear in Molly’s voice.
“I — Robert — your dad —”
Annie shook her head. She couldn’t seem to form words. Alex wanted to shake her out of it and hug her at the same time. Thankfully Molly was there so he didn’t have to figure out how to handle the situation his own.
She quickly pulled her mother into an embrace.
“Your dad was having a seizure and they rushed me out. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Alex looked at the closed hospital room door, turning his gaze away from the heart wrenching scene in the hallway. His limbs had gone cold and his chest was constricting with panic. He listened to the sound of Annie crying and silently cursed the direction this was all taking. Robert was supposed to be getting better, not worse.
He leaned back against the hallway wall and slid his hands in his pockets, unsure what he could do to help comfort the women holding each other in front of him. He wasn’t good at comforting. He never had been.
It seemed like hours before the hospital room door opened, but really it had only been fifteen minutes since he and Molly had arrived.
A disheveled looking doctor with graying hair stepped out of the room and dragged a hand across the back of his neck. “Mrs. Tanner?”
Annie had pulled out of Molly’s arms. She nodded weakly.
“Your husband has had a scare, but he’s stable now. We think he had a reaction to one of the medications we were using to keep his blood from clotting. We’ve stopped that medication and will see how he is in a couple of hours. For now, though, he’s not seizing, and his breathing and heart rate are normal. The only not so good news is that although his brain waves are normal, we won’t know for sure how the stroke affected him cognitively until he comes out of the coma.”
Annie pressed her hand to her mouth, tears flowing freely.
“So, this wasn’t another stroke?” Molly asked.
The doctor shook his head. “No. Thankfully, not.” He gestured toward the door. “You’re welcome to go back in. I’ll be back to check on him before I leave for the day.”
Annie nodded, her face streaked with tears. “Thank you.”
The doctor nodded in return, his smile slight, revealing exhaustion.
Alex waited until Molly and Annie walked inside and then followed them, sitting on the other side of the room as they approached the bed. Annie slid her hand under one of Robert’s and Molly held the other. A half an hour later, after the women talked, cried, and talked some more, Alex decided they needed a break. He stood, laying his hand against Molly’s back.
“You two need some lunch. Go. I’ll stay with Robert.”
“I appreciate that but —”
He interrupted Annie. “Go. You’ll be no good to him if you collapse.”
She nodded, a faint smile crossing her worn expression. Her hand against his face was warm. “Thank you, Alex. I’m so glad you’re here.”
She hugged him briefly before she and Molly walked into the hallway. Her tenderness toward him was something foreign to him in some ways, after growing up in a family that rarely showed affection, but it was also familiar in that it was how Annie had always shown him love.
Alex pulled the chair closer to the bed, sitting and leaning back. He stretched his legs out in front of him, pulling his hat down across his face, and folding his hands across his stomach. He didn’t feel like praying again. He wasn’t sure prayers worked. Instead, he was going to take the time to at least try to calm his racing thoughts and hope that Robert would pull through all of this and be the same, good man he’d been before.
The sound of choking, coughing, and gagging woke Alex. He hadn’t expected to fall asleep in the chair, but he also hadn’t expected to wake up to find three nurses around the bed, leaning over Robert, comforting him.
“It’s okay, Mr. Tanner.”
“You’re in the hospital.”
“You’ve been in a coma.”
“You might feel funny because we’ve had you on some medicine.”
“Your throat might be sore because we had you intubated part of the time.”
“Don’t try to get up, sir.”
Alex stood, looking over one of the nurse’s shoulders so Robert could see him. Robert’s body stilled, his breathing slowing. The nurse stepped aside so Alex could stand closer to the bed.
He looked down into glazed eyes not sure if they were seeing anything or not.
Robert swallowed hard, closed his eyes briefly, opened them again.
Robert’s voice was raw, barely above a whisper.
Emotion clutched at Alex’s throat and moisture spread across his eyes.
“You would pick a time when Annie isn’t here to wake up, wouldn’t you?”
A faint smile tilted one corner of Robert’s mouth upward.
“You —” He swallowed hard. Tried again. “You . . .take . . care of . . .” His voice was halting. “My girls?”
“As much as they would let me, sir. You have some stubborn, independent women in your life.”
The faint smile again, eyes drifting closed again. “Take care of Annie and Molly.”
Alex scoffed. “You’re going to take care of them. You’re awake. That’s a good sign.”
Robert closed his eyes and then opened them again. Alex could tell he was fighting to keep them open.
“I’ll take care of Annie,” he whispered, reaching out and grasping Alex’s forearm. His grasp was stronger than Alex expected. “You take care of Molly.”
As emotion threatened to spill over, Alex knew he had to pull his gaze away, get one of the nurse’s attention, break the moment. “His wife and daughter are in the cafeteria – they need to know he’s awake. Can you stay with him while I —”
“I’ll find them,” the nurse said. “I’m sure he’d rather have his son here with him.”
Alex shook his head. “No, I’m not his son. I’m just —”
“Like a son.” Alex looked back at Robert saw him watching him, felt his hand squeezing his forearm. He managed a slight nod of his head. “Like a son.”
Alex pinched the bridge of his nose between his finger and thumb and closed his eyes tight against the tears. He fought the emotion hard, but a tear managed to slip through, down his cheek and dripped on to his coat sleeve.
He glanced at Robert, saw his eyes were still open, still watching him, his smile faint but widening.