In Between Shadows

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Chapter 15

He was shaking with fear! But he closed his eyes tightly, gasping rapidly against the excruciating pain in his calf muscles. Ian and Mark kept hold of his arms, but Carrie released her grip, and reached back to tug his hands apart.

“I’m going to massage your legs again, Brad. Just relax. You won’t fall.”

He opened his eyes, and nodded his consent, but he gasped through gritted teeth, “I - can feel my legs! I’m - standing! I’m standing Carrie!”

She smiled gently up at him as she took up the position on her knees again. “Yes, you are. Now let’s get rid of those muscle spasms!”

Ian and Mark looked at each other as Carrie massaged Brad’s legs. Mark was the first to lighten his grip, very gradually, watching his brother for any reaction. Then Ian followed suit, unable to hide his grin, until Brad was standing almost unaided, their hands just resting under his elbows with the gentlest touch. As the pain in his calves receded, Brad took a deep breath of relief, swaying slightly. The brothers caught him, easing him back into the wheelchair, as Max came back into the lounge.

Max stood for a moment, trying to take in the situation, as Carrie. rose to her feet.

Mark patted Brad’s arm. “Well done!” He smiled at Max. “Your patient had muscle cramps. We had him on his feet.”

Brad was breathing heavily, as if he’d run a race, but he was no longer in pain. He looked around at the anxious faces, and panted, “Sorry everyone. I’m fine now. Thanks for your concern.” He met Max’s eyes and told him, “I can feel my legs, Max! I still can’t move them - but the feeling is there!”

Max nodded knowingly. “It’s always been there. Do you still say your miracle’s over?”

“Well, - I can’t walk!” he replied stubbornly. He saw Carrie’s raised eyebrows, and added, “yet!” with a sheepish grin.

Max smiled. “If I remember correctly, it took you a few months to walk unaided after the accident. However, it was a miracle when you did! Maybe God is trying to tell you that it’s His timing that is the best. Don’t try to argue with Him, Brad. You know you won’t win! Just thank Him.”

“Didn’t Sarah come back with you?” Carrie asked, successfully drawing the subject away from Brad’s legs. She watched her uncle shake two white capsules from a brown bottle, into Brad’s hand.

“Ellen is letting her decorate the trifles. That takes precedence over her daddy’s headache, I’m afraid.” He poured water into a glass and handed it to Brad. “Here. I presume you ate well at tea-time?”

“I had enough! I think I ate two brownies and a piece of that fruit tart. It was jolly nice.” He frowned at the capsules. “These are not what Jim prescribed, are they?”

Max grinned. “Same stuff, just in capsule form. Don’t worry. I’m not trying to poison you! Ellen would kill me if I let anything happen to her darling boy!” He glanced at his niece, and added, “Carrie too!”

Brad swallowed the capsules with a mouthful of water, then he caught Carrie’s hand and tugged her onto his lap.

“No, Brad!” she cried, trying to get up. “You might get cramps again!”

But he held on to her waist. “You’re as light as a feather. I want you close to me!”

“Oh, for goodness’ sake, Carrie!” Max laughed. “Just humour him! He can’t do without you for more than a few minutes!”

“I can actually feel you on my lap now,” Brad muttered, kissing the back of her neck. “Stay here, love. Please.”

Edmund chuckled. “I really love watching you two together! I used to think Joseph was a hopeless romantic, but you’re certainly a chip off the old block! Although, I don’t believe he kissed your mother - or even your stepmother - quite as often, or as passionately, as you do your lovely wife! At least, not in public!”

“I can’t help myself,” Brad said with a grin. “I’m obsessed! Everyone tells me how wrong it is, but I really don’t give a damn! My wife was given to me by God and He expects me….” He stopped speaking very abruptly, as if he realised what he’d just said.

Max broke the sudden silence in the room. “So, you do realise that He’s still here? You still want to please Him, don’t you?”

A red flush spread over Brad’s face, but he answered at once. “He gave Carrie back to me, twice, and I made Him a promise about her that I never want to break. I think I’ve always known that He’s here, but - but I lost the feeling of His Presence.” He paused, then muttered, “The truth is that I’m terrified of being crippled. He knows that, - so I couldn’t understand why He took away my pain if it meant that I was never going to walk again!”

Edmund spoke up suddenly. “God never told us to understand Him, Brad! He told us to trust Him! I believe it was you who once said that to me, many years ago when I was on the verge of bankruptcy! One of the only times you ever dared speak to me at all, and only then because you were defending your God whom I thought was letting me down! Your love for Him, even at that young age, was unshakeable. Very commendable.”

The flush deepened, and Brad lowered his eyes. He remembered that time very clearly. He’d been seventeen years old, and had walked in on a conversation Edmund was having with his father, to hear that booming voice complaining about the raw deal God was giving his company.

“I will never understand why a God who is supposed to love us, could let this happen!” Edmund had yelled. “We did everything right! But now it seems that God is on the side of the crooks that are embezzling the funds we worked so hard for. How can I understand a God who is letting us down like this, not only me, but my staff too?”

Brad’s words had been bold, and he had spoken without considering that it was a private conversation and he was being rude in interrupting. “God didn’t say that we must understand Him. He said we must trust Him. We will never understand His ways, but He will come through for you, if you learn to trust Him.” He’d seen his father’s scowl, and had immediately apologised for voicing his opinions. He remembered how quickly he had disappeared to his room to wait for the sharp reprimand, and had been surprised, and relieved, when it had never come. In fact, the incident had appeared to have been ignored completely.

It was Ian who laughed now. He was shaking his head as he moved back to the table to continue the game. “My brother, the preacher! I’ve always wondered how he can write such outrageously unspiritual books!”

Brad took a deep beath. “I don’t write smut! You said so yourself! In any case, I haven’t written anything for so long now that maybe when I finally do start writing again, I’ll leave all the murder and mayhem out and concentrate on heavy religious stuff!”

“Heaven forbid! I wonder what all your fans would say about that!”

“I don’t write to gain fans. I write for myself!” He frowned. “At least, I thought I did. Now I’m not sure anymore. I’m really not sure about anything anymore!” He kissed Carrie’s neck again, and added, “except that I love my wife! That’s one thing I’m certain of.” He grinned and corrected, “Of which I’m certain.”

Even the twins laughed, and Ian quipped, “You must be getting better. We better be careful with our English grammar!”

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