Jesse’s deep brown eyes rose from his computer screen slowly to survey his office. The white walls were covered in framed certificates and pictures; his favorites to see though, were the pictures kids had colored for him as gifts.
Though his brothers gave him shit about framing the papers colored in crayon, due to it not being manly, he valued them over the money. Children were honest and he loved when they were excited to come see him. There were, of course, those scared of the doctor’s office. This made it his purpose to put them at ease.
He couldn’t count the number of crazy looks he had gotten during physicals. Jesse did the exercises with the kids, unlike other doctors, making it a game. The children loved it. He often let them listen to their own hearts or use the reflex hammer to make him kick. In thanks, he occasionally got handwritten thank you notes. These letters meant the world to him. Next to them were pictures of his family and his PhD certificate for graduating college.
In his favorite picture, the faces of him, his three brothers, and one sister smiled over the fence of his parent’s ranch. Jesse on the far left, then twenty-five-year-old Tucker, and the twenty-two-year-old twins named Bethany and Chance. Lastly Noah, twenty-seven years old, was on the far right. The picture had been taken when Noah came home for a visit a month ago. Noah had become a Marine by enlisting at sixteen with our father’s consent. We were all worried, but we knew it was what he wanted.
Jesse sighed as he glanced over the pictures again. While he wanted a family of his own, he had been ruined for anything other the true love when he lost the one woman who had ever stolen his heart. He closed his eyes promising once again that if he ever felt that way again, he would never let her go.
Jesse ran his fingers through his short black hair as he leaned back in his desk chair. The clock on the wall seemed to slow near the end of the day. As one of the two doctors in the small town where he grew up, some days were crazy. However, there were always days, like today, when there were not enough tasks to do to fill up the hours.
“Hey, Jess.” Jesse’s younger brother, Chance, poked his head in through the office door. “Mom’s trying to contact you. She wants us to go over after closing.”
“What for?” Jesse asked, watching as Chance fidgeted with his blue scrubs.
Chance had just graduated himself and started working as a nurse for Jesse and Dr. Makay, a month ago. He still looked - and clearly felt - strange in the clothes. He was so accustomed to blue jeans, T-shirt, and his black Stetson. He was good at his job, though. Jesse knew he would get used to it.
The only thing to do now is figure out a quick, and effective way, to convince people the brothers weren’t one person switching clothes. The locals had known the brothers their whole lives and could tell them apart. However, the rest of the world tended to have trouble.
Tucker stood out due to his bright blue eyes, as opposed to brown, like the rest of the family. Jesse and Chance were almost identical, despite being six years apart. Still, people often did a double take if he walked into a patient’s room shortly after Chance left.
“Dinner.” Chance shrugged passively.
“Of course. Do you know what’s up?” Jesse asked, frowning.
Their mother loved to have all her kids home for dinner almost weekly. However, she rarely did this during the week. She knew they all had work.
Even Chance’s twin, Bethany, always had odd jobs to do. She went between nannying and part-time jobs, as they were available. Bethany had left for college but came back two years later. She refused to talk about those years and shut down if they pushed. Everyone worried about her, but we hoped she would tell us if she needed us.
“Nope. She said she has something to talk to us about.” Chance sighed, leaning against the door frame.
“Great.” Jesse mumbled, running his hand over his face. “What kind of stray do you think she took in now?”
Chance shrugged but chuckled in good humor. They were both aware their mother’s determination to save anyone who wandered into her life was unstoppable. She brought in ducks, cats, dogs, horses, and any other animal she felt she could help.
Her generosity reached beyond just animals, though. She gave money, food, and everything else, to anybody who needed help. She wasn’t a push-over, but she got satisfaction from helping the less fortunate. She often called in her kids, “the troops,” to help her save the next desperate case.
“Thirty minutes ’till closing. Are you going to be ready to go?” Jesse asked, taking a swig of his coffee.
“Yep.” Chance eyed the cup. “You know, that’s not going to help with your sleeping problems.”
Jesse shrugged, “But it helps with my staying awake problems.”
Chance nodded before turning to leave without another word. Jesse knew he was right. His insomnia had been bad the last month and coffee this late in the day was bad. What Chance didn’t get was he wouldn’t sleep anyway. But at least it helped him function for now.
Jesse also knew the insomnia would be bad for at least another month. In one week, it will have been exactly five years since the accident. The survivors’ guilt was always bad around this time of year.
Pulling out his cell phone, he realized he had two missed calls from his mother. Knowing she would still want a response, he quickly hit redial. Staring at the thin gray carpet, he listened to her phone ringing.
“Hello?” Mom answered, “Jesse is that you?”
His mom was young for her age and smart as could be. But lord knew, she still never remembered to check the caller ID. Jesse rolled his eyes but couldn’t help grinning.
“Yes, ma’am. Chance just told me about your calls. We’ll be heading your way in about twenty minutes.” He assured her, calmly.
“Oh, good. I really need all you boys here, as soon as possible.” She sounded relieved, as if any of them would tell her no.
“We’ll be there, mom. I love you.” He assured her.
“Oh, I love you too, dear. And I greatly appreciate you doing this! Your father is getting too old to be climbing up and down a ladder.” she said, piquing his interest.
“Thank you so much for letting us stay on your property, Mrs. Davis.” Emily said, nervously, as she ran her fingers through her long, blonde hair. “I’m so sorry about showing up here last minute. Devon said he had called you and you were expecting us.”
Rage consumed Emily again, at the thought of her older brother. Just as the flush reached her cheeks, though, the feeling dissipated. She was far too tired to remain angry for long.
“Oh, pish posh. You know you have always been like a daughter to me. I’m always willing to help you, and yours.” Amanda Davis smiled at Emily, sweetly.
Biting back tears, Emily nodded, with her thanks. It had been so long since anyone had looked at her with love in their eyes, as Amanda did now. Even longer since someone had stood by her, even knowing the possible consequences.