Derek’s phone was ringing and was too busy to answer it. He had a sick horse and was pissed off. He ignored it and it stopped, not thinking anymore about it. A few minutes later the phone rang again, he threw his glove down pissed off and answered it.
“Derek, this is Officer Steven Wilkes. You are listed as the emergency contact for Samantha Hills. Do you know her?”
“Oh shit! What’s wrong?”
“There has been an accident. Ms. Hills is at County Hospital-“
“I am on my way!!”
Derek hung up, ran out yelling at the ranch hands that Sammy was hurt. He got in his truck and sped off to the hospital, calling Lynn as he went.
Jake was sitting on the couch reading, when his dad came in and they started talking. It was almost 4 o’clock, when his phone rang. Not recognizing the number he answered it.
“Can I speak to Mr. Doogan please?”
“This is Jake Doogan.”
“This April Bell, Gracie’s teacher. Sammy said she was picking up today and she hasn’t come. I can’t get a hold of Derek either. That isn’t like either of them and Gracie is starting to panic a little…”
Jake stood up not noticing that his dad was on his phone with a worried look on his face.
“Have you tried calling Sammy?” he asked as he was putting on his shoes and looking for his keys.
“Yes and it goes straight to voicemail. Derek’s number is just ringing with no answer.”
“I am on my way. Please tell her I will be right there!”
And he hung up with his heart in his throat with worry. Where was Sammy?!
He was almost out the door when his dad yelled, “Jake! Wait!!”
“Dad, I have to go! Sammy didn’t pick up Gracie and she is sacred at school! I have to go!”
“Jake, I know where Sammy is! Lynn just called me, Sammy was in an accident, and she is in county hospital. We don’t know how bad yet…”
“Fuck! Dad, can you go there? I will meet you after I get Gracie!”
Mike grabbed his keys and ran to his car and followed Jake out of the neighborhood. They each went a different direction. Mike got to the hospital and found Lynn and Derek waiting. Lynn was crying and Derek was as white as a ghost. They hadn’t heard anything yet. Mike told him that Jake was getting Gracie.
“Oh shit! I forgot about Gracie!” Derek yelled.
Lynn put a hand on his leg, “It’s ok, and she is safe. Let’s just wait to hear about Sammy.”
An officer came out and talked to them, telling them that a truck ran a red light and hit the passenger side of the car, totaling it. She had only had it for one month, not even the permanent license plates were on it yet. The officer said the doctors would be out shortly for an update. They waited tensely for that to happen.
Jake stopped in front of the school and ran inside. He flew in the office and saw Gracie sitting in a chair with tears on her face. His heart dropped.
“Baby girl, are you ok?”
“Daddy!” she sobbed as she saw him.
Her little arms wrapped around his neck in a desperate need to feel safe. He squeezed and held her tight. He signed the sheet and nodded to them as he walked outside rubbing her back, trying to get her to calm down. He sat on the bench rocking her and kissing her head.
“Baby girl, it’s ok…I’m here now…Shhhhh…”
She finally calmed down and looked at him, “Where is Mommy? Why didn’t she get me?”
He took a deep breath and looked at her, “Baby girl, listen. Auntie Lynn called and Mommy had a little accident and the doctor is checking her at the hospital. We are going to go see her ok?”
She hugged him again as he stood up and walked to the car. He buckled her in and drove to the hospital. They arrived and found the family still in the waiting room. Gracie never unwrapped her arms from Jake’s neck and kept her head on his shoulder. Mike kissed her head and told her he loved her. Lynn and Derek did the same thing. Just then a doctor came out asking the family of Samantha Hills. They all rose and he came over.
“She is ok and very lucky. She is pretty banged up and bruised, but no broken bones. She does have a concussion and some stitches on her arm and on her face from the flying glass. The plastic surgeon did the stitches so she should have no scars. We are going to keep her overnight for observation since she was unconscious for a few minutes. She will be sore for a couple of weeks. They are moving her to a room and you can see her in a few minutes. The nurse will call you with the room number.”
They thanked him as relief washed over them. Jake felt a little lighter, but just needed her to see her to fully believe it.
“Baby girl, do you want some juice or a snack until we see Mommy?”
“No, I just want to see Mommy.”
“I know, but why don’t you let me take you to just go look at the machines,” Mike said as he rubbed her back.
She looked at him then finally went to him. She put her arms around him and they went to the vending machines.
“You ok, Lynn? You holding up? Baby ok?” Jake asked.
Lynn smiled and nodded, “He is active, but ok. I am doing ok too, thanks Jake.”
They waited a few minutes when Mike and Gracie came back with animal cookies and cranberry juice. The nurse came up and told them she was moved and in room 1056 on the 10th floor. Gracie went back to Jake and they all went up to the 10th floor. The nurse on the floor told them she was groggy from the pain meds so they should only stay for a few minutes. They understood and went in.
Jake’s heart broke when he saw her. She was varying shades of red, green and black. She was lying with her eyes closed with a bad headache. They said she would have them for several days and it could continue for several months. She turned to them when she heard her daughter call for her.
She started crying as Jake brought her over and let them hug. Jake whispered in her ear to be easy and gentle, Mommy had lost of boo-boos. Gracie sat on the bed and hugged her mother as she looked at Jake with tears in his eyes. He tried to hold them in and took a few deep breaths. Mike could see that this was going to get very emotional very fast and he didn’t want to upset Gracie even more so he started cracking jokes to lighten the mood. Lynn and Derek also came and gave her a hug. Mike asked what had happened and the only thing that she could remember was seeing the intersection, and then waking up to some woman yelling for her to open her eyes.
Sammy was really tired from the medication and the shock of the day. The adults noticed and decided to leave and they would see her tomorrow.
“Gracie why don’t you come home with me and Auntie Lynn to sleep?”
“NO!! I wanna stay with my Daddy!” She yelled and glued herself to his neck again.
“Are you ok with that Jake?” Sammy asked tiredly.
“Of course, I will take her home with me and -”
“I want to go to my house, not Grampy’s. Please Daddy…”
He sighed and agreed. Derek was shocked at how Gracie had reacted. He knew then that he had been replaced as the father figure in Gracie’s life and it bothered him. He wasn’t going to let it show, but he had heartache about it. He had been there since day one and now she was clinging to Jake as a lifeline. It was a shocking turn of events and one he didn’t particularly like.
“Ok, Gracie, That’s fine. You can go to our house. I want you to go to school tomorrow and make me a picture and by the time you get home, I will be home too. Ok?” Sammy replied exhausted.
She nodded then, leaned down to give her mom a kiss.
“Can you guys watch Gracie for a minute in the hallway; I would like to talk to Jake.”
They agreed and left the room. Jake went over to the bed and pulled a chair over to her and. He looked at her and grabbed her hand, kissing it gently.
“I am sorry…” she started.
“For what?” Jake asked confused.
“For wrecking that great car you got me. For scaring you and everyone else...for basically forcing you to my house tonight to watch Gracie…”
“STOP! None of this is your fault! A man was on his phone and ran a red light, you couldn’t have helped it! You will have to pay for scaring everyone, so beware. But as far as Gracie is concerned, I am her dad. I don’t mind and no one is forcing me. She has been very clingy since I picked her up from school. I promise I won’t break her. I can’t promise that her hair will be like when you do it, but it will at least be brushed!”
She smiled, not having the energy to laugh.
“I love you Samantha, I was so scared when I heard...so scared… I thought I was going to lose you again…” and he let the tears fall.
“I was scared too. I am not going anywhere, Jake. I love you too…”
He looked at her with tears falling from her eyes as he leaned in and gave her a soft, gentle kiss, realizing that was the first time she had said those words to him since he had been back.
“I will see you tomorrow, get some sleep and I will be here after I drop Gracie off.”
She nodded as he gently kissed her again. He wiped his eyes and went out to get his daughter to take her home. Gracie saw him and immediately went from her grandfather to her father, clinging to him again. They all said they would keep in touch with Jake letting everyone know when she was home. Lynn said she would call Kate and have her bring Gracie home since they had no idea when Sammy would be released. He nodded and thanked her. Sammy picked up the phone in her room and made a call after they had left, thankful that she had the number memorized. She had to make some changes right away.
They all went to their cars and drove away. Jake went to a drive thru to grab dinner for him and Gracie. They went to Sammy’s home and ate at the kitchen island together. She actually wouldn’t leave his lap and sat there while she ate. They finished and he couldn’t believe how emotionally drained he was. Gracie was wiped out and he somehow got her to change into her pajamas. It was still early, but when they sat on the couch to watch a princess movie, she was out in minutes. He carried her to bed and tucked her in with her bear. He kissed her and whispered that he loved her.
He went back downstairs, grabbed a beer and called Kevin. He lost it when he heard his best friends’ voice and told him the whole thing wiping away tears. Kevin was shocked as he listened and knew that this was the real deal for his best friend based on the way he was reacting. He listened and reassured him that everything was going to be ok. He repeated that Ashley was doing great and was starting rehab from her broken ankle and everyone would be fine. They hung up as Kevin sat back down with his wife, telling him the story.
“I think it might be time we went to Colorado to check out this situation,” Ashley said, “I have to see Jake Doogan as a dad for myself!”
Kevin laughed and said that they would get it planned. He had a week off after minicamp before full training camp started in July.