The beeping was the only noise in the room as Rachel sat next to the bed staring down at Justin and holding his hand. The boys eyes were closed and there were bandages wrapped around his head, face and neck along with braces and stitches. Her son looked horrible with the swelling and bruising. The covers had been drawn up to his neck to keep him warm and hopefully keep the fever away. She lightly kissed his hands and sobbed deeply for her sons pain.
A light knock on the hospital door caught her attention and the nurse, Melinda, peeked her head in. I know youve restricted all visitors, but there is someone here that asked specifically for you. She was a kind young woman and had been deeply understanding since Rachels arrival. Melinda had been present with Rachel when the officers explained everything.
Rachel went into the waiting area and was so glad to see Tonya standing there. They hugged tightly and Tonya whispered words of comfort and support in Rachels ear.
What happened? Tonya asked.
Robert was trying to leave town, she explained. What Rachel had been told, had been relayed to her through doctors, witnesses at the scene, the police and nurses. According to witnesses, a hit and run accident resulted in someone nicking the back of the Toyota and flipping it over. Fighting the sobs encompassing her, she continued, Robert didnt have them strapped in. Jessica told the doctors that her brother strapped her in. It seems that Justin must have seen the accident coming or had a premonition and secured his sister before everything happened. Wiping her eyes with a Kleenex, she took a moment to gather herself.
Tonya rubbed Rachels shoulder trying to console her. Whats Jessica condition? Is she in intensive care too?
Rachel shook her head. No, only Justin, but shes going to have to stay for a while. The front driver seat dislodged and crushed her left leg. Theyre predicting she might not be able to fully recover. She could have a limp for life.
Jesus! Tonya gasped. And Justin?
Hes in a coma. They said if he doesnt awake in seventy-two hours it could be permanent and theres no telling what percentage of the brain could be damage with long term effects.
Tonya gasped some more. What about Robert?
Seething, Rachel said, He was strapped down and all hes suffering from are some nicks and bruises. How could he do this to them, Tonya? He knew the consequences if he tried to leave.
Keeping her voice low, because there was one other person in the waiting area over in a corner sleep, Tonya asked, Do you think Carne had something to do with this?
Shrugging, Rachel said, I dont know what to think, but either way Robert shouldnt have been trying to leave town. She didnt add especially without her, because she had intentions of doing the same thing, just not so public.
Elizabeth Herlong entered the waiting room looking highly upset. Why wont they let me in to see my babies? she demanded to Rachel almost shoving Tonya out her way to get to Rachel.
Because they arent your babies, Rachel said matter-of-factly. She really had no patience to deal with Elizabeth. I told the nurse and staff that I wanted them to have no visitors. That included any family and especially their father until the police can get to the bottom of it all about the accident. They need their rest, Elizabeth.
Is that the same for Robert? Is that why you havent gone over to see your husband? Elizabeth accused. He is just as troubled as you are. He needs his wifes support.
Rachel had enough of this tyrannical old lady and at this point she was tired of being nice. Obviously, Elizabeth didnt know the real deal and Rachel wasnt about to tell the old bat. Get out of here, before I forget my manners and assault you, Elizabeth, she warned.
Elizabeth must have understood the menace in Rachels eyes, but she still huffed, Youll be sorry about this. I told Robert to leave them kids with me when he brought them without you. They were much happier and theyd be much safer because you dont know anything about being a mother.
Tonya interjected, Whats that supposed to mean?
The old womans cold black eyes never veered from Rachels as she sneered, It means what does a motherless bastard know about raising good children.
Rachel couldnt stop herself as she reached out and slapped Elizabeth across the cheek. The words had cut deeper than any wound her son had ever given done to her. Barely able to control the fury, she seethed, Get the hell out my face and dont you ever come near my children again.
Elizabeth held her face shocked that Rachel would lash out that way. Ill get my babies if its the last thing I do and you can guarantee that I wont need you permission to get them. Robert will be most glad to help his mother rather than some stupid cow he used to keep his American citizenship. She stalked out the room
Tonya shook her head in disbelief, appalled at Elizabeths selfishness and heartlessness. I take it that was your mother-in-law?
Unfortunately. Rachel rubbed her hand from the sting of the slap.
What are you gong to do now?
I dont know. The money is due today and I havent the slightest idea what I can do.
Why dont you go home and get some rest, first and let me think of something, Tonya suggested. I think we can at least find a way to stall.
Rachel shook her head. Im not going to drag you into this, Tonya. This man is very dangerous and I dont want you to even try to get involved into something like this.
But youre my friend and I wont do anything without consulting you first, Tonya promised and gathered her coat. Promise me youll get some rest.
Nodding reluctantly, Rachel said, Ill do my best. I need a change of clothes and they said maybe some of Justins things that he likes would be best to put in the room.
Keep my car and do whatever you have to do. Ill let everyone know how things are with the children and Ill see if I can get Jessicas class work so she wont get behind at school too much.
Rachel hugged Tonya dearly. Thank you so much, Tonya. You dont know how much this means to me.
When Tonya was gone, Rachel returned to Justins room to see him before she left.
Melinda came in the room to check on his chart. Hows everything?
No change, Rachel said, but she knew the nurse knew that already.
I was speaking about yourself, Mrs. Herlong.
Rachel, please…call me Rachel. Im as well as can be expected given the situation. Im going to take everyones suggestion and go home to get some of his things, but Ill be right back after I grab something to eat.
Thats no problem. The rest will do you good and Justins going to be just fine. Melinda promised.
Rachel knew this was a lie, but Melinda was trying to say anything to make her feel better. She appreciated the nurses sentiments. Before leaving the hospital she stopped in to see Jessica, but her daughter was still sleeping and Rachel didnt want to bother he. She let the head nurse know she would be right back.
By the time she arrived home, she had a plan in mind for what to do about Robert. She found some old locks in the basement of the home and changed the locks, secured all the windows and took all the important papers out of the basement where she had stashed them. She called the restraining order office in the Coleman A. Young building to find out how to go about obtaining and order. Gathering everything she would need for Jessica, Justin and a changed of clothes for her, she drove downtown to speak with Legal Aide and to get the process going for a personal protection order against her self and her property.
After paying to have someone serve Robert the papers in the hospital, she also used the money she had on her to start the separation process. As she walked out the Penobscot Building and went to Henry Ford Hospital in time to get to Roberts personal items before the papers were served. He had been given a sedative and all she had to do was tell the hospital staff she was his wife.
They allowed her access to his room. Peaking around the curtains to look at him, she knew the actions she had taken today would change things for them. Going into the closet, she took his keys and his wallet. There wasnt any money in there; she didnt take it for that.
Rachel went over to Childrens Hospital and visited Jessica. She was still a bit groggy from the medicine, but was very glad to see her mother.
Justin? she asked faintly. He wouldnt wake up.
Rachel quickly reassured her daughter. The doctor is taking good care of him, Jessica. You get better, okay so you can help me read to him his favorite books.
Jessica nodded and closed her eyes still holding Rachels hand tightly. Rachel let grief come to the surface, yet relief also because her daughter was going to be fine.
* * *
She spent three days in the hospital tending to the children never leaving their sides. If she wasnt at Justins bed, she was with Jessica. Robert was released on the second day and he disappeared from sight, not even bothering to try to see the children. There was no sign of Carne or his men around the hospital and Rachel rested on a small sigh of hope that maybe just maybe Robert took care of his own problems or Carne decided she was just too innocent and would leave her and the children alone. That still didnt make her stop sleeping with one eye open ready to be confronted by the exotic, dark looking, dangerous gangster.
Justins condition was unchanged, but hope still lingered for her only son. By the fourth day, good news came Rachels way. Jessica was feeling well enough to go home.
Tonya more than welcomed them into her apartment on the Westside of Detroit, Rachel decided to stay there that night instead of staying in the hospital. She didnt want to even go by the house and her other residents told her that her place was fine. Summer vacation had begun and Rachel had to decline teaching summer school. Tonya was able to stay home all day though so it was nice to spend time with her friend.
As they settled in Tonyas king size bed that night, Jessica snuggled to her mother and fell instantly asleep. Tonya lovingly rubbed Jessicas hair Ive been checking on your house, too. The bars were installed two days ago and I told the precinct you wanted special attention.
Thank you, Tonya, Rachel said yawning. I dont know what I would do without you.
I spoke to your health insurance company, Tonya stated.
Why would you do that?
Bashfully, Tonya said, I was putting in for your family leave and I started thinking of all the ways you could come up with some money and sometimes theres money for disabilities.
Aghast, Rachel said, I wouldnt use my own children to get the money for that animal if its still owed.
But if its the only way, Rachel, you have to use that option, Tonya said. I found out you also have supplemental insurance and I was going to call them tomorrow soon as you told me how critical things are with the kids. If you dont get that money, whos to say Robert wont try and take it without paying Carne or worse gamble it all away again.
Rachel knew Tonya could be right. Robert had problem and his problem had now affected his family in the worst way, but that was probably still not going to make him quit. Elizabeth wasnt going to give anyone the money. She was very aware of her sons problem, but she was so frugal Rachel was positive no matter what danger her babies were in, Elizabeth wouldnt give up a dime.
Fine, Tonya, find that out for me and let me know, she said reluctantly, feeling disgusted and helpless by the whole thing.
Teach Me To Love Chapter 18 Part 2 (c) 2005 Sylvia Hubbard
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