Day by day I sat by Cal’s bedside. I would answer his phone and direct people to his secretary, Carol, who helped me keep his status a secret. The hardest was when his mother would call. She was offended that I would dare answer her son’s phone and not let him talk to her. The polite veneer slid from her frosty tongue.
“I don’t know who you think you are and how you have bewitched my son, but know this, Miss Reid, I can destroy you. Do not hesitate to think I won’t. If Cal doesn’t return my call, I’ll be calling the police to report you have kidnapped him.”
The click in my ear signaled doom. I called Mr. Coomes to inform him and let the machine behind Calvin’s company work to protect its owner while he healed.
I shed tears. I never wanted to come between Calvin and his family. I had lost mine and had only close friends and my church. Family was precious and not to be despised, yet Cal had to fight to be his own man in his and forge his own path in spite of the resistance they gave and the greedy demands they made. I had admired him all the more for his strength in being who he believed God had called him to be.
Right now, I missed Calvin more than I ever thought I would, even though he was resting beside me, fighting to live. My love for him had never died but now my desire to protect him from his family’s demands, strengthened my resolve to do what he had asked, regardless of the cost to me. I might have lost my home and my job. I wouldn’t lose him too.
“Cal, please come back to me. I miss you and your little gifts. I love you and if you can get better, and still want me, I will marry you.”
“Don’t make promises you won’t keep,” a soft raspy whisper came from the bed.
I looked to see his eyes were open, gazing at me. “Cal?”
“Last time I checked. Ally, what happened? Everything hurts.”
“You were hit by a car. I’ve been here since they called. I have kept your family away as you wished.”
“I knew I could count on you. Did you go shopping?”
“Why would I do that at a time like this? You know I hate shopping.”
“No retail therapy for you, huh?”
I shook my head.
“I knew I could trust you. So about that marriage. When?”
“Whenever you want. I cannot imagine my life without you in it.”
“Me either. As soon as I get out of here we’ll take care of that, but for now I think a kiss would be the best medicine.”
I grinned. “I happen to have one with your name on it.” I leaned over and our lips met in a tender liplock. I pulled back and looked down at him. “Do you have any problems with getting married in the hospital if I can get the paperwork figured out?”
“That eager, huh?”
I picked up the little kitty, nodded its head and purred. He grinned and drifted back to sleep. The attorney helped me get the license and our pastor was willing to come and meet with us several times for counseling. We wanted to do this right. The meetings were hard on Cal. He was tired with trying to recover.
The doctor sat me down a few weeks later.
“Allyssa, we do not know the full extent of his brain injury yet. Are you sure you want to take this step?”
“Is he competent to make his own decisions now? Would you deem him mentally capable of that?”
The doctor frowned but nodded. “He is competent.”
“Then I am not taking advantage of the Power of Attorney to gain access to anything.”
“I wasn’t hinting that you were doing anything improper with regards to that. My concern is that sometimes brain injuries can have a negative impact on emotional functioning. Lower frustration tolerance. Increased anger. We don’t know yet how he will be as he heals. It is too soon to know that.”
“He has all his body functions, and his bones are healing. When a person marries it is for ‘in sickness and in health’, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “I wanted you to go in with your eyes wide open. You are not getting the fairy tale wedding or life that women want.”
“His family hates me. I know that this path will be fraught with struggle. I almost lost him, Doctor. I don’t know that I can walk away and pretend I never loved him. I tried that once.”
He sighed and nodded his head. “May God be with you both. It sounds like even if his brain heals completely, your real battles exist elsewhere.”
I fought the tears until I could get to my cot in the room I had occupied as his guardian. He really didn’t need me here anymore though. Was I marrying him to avoid my problems?
“Allyssa?” Cal called from the other room.
I wiped my tears and blew my nose. He probably heard me. Whatever problems he might have, his hearing was sharp. I fluffed my hair and walked to the other room and stood by his side. I couldn’t hide my distress.
“Why are you sad? Shouldn’t a bride be happy?”
“I’m not sure wedding quickly is wise.”
He scowled. “Why not?”
“Maybe I’m taking advantage of you?”
“How could that be? You’ve been here, caring for me. You’ve not spent my money on yourself when you could have.”
The tears came unchecked.
“Allyssa. What happened? Something happened.”
“It doesn’t matter. You do not need my troubles heaped on you as you heal. I think it is best to wait. Your family . . .”
“If my family loved me like they proclaim, they would want me happy. You make me happy, Ally.”
“I can’t be the one to come between you and them. They already accused me of kidnapping you.”
Calvin laughed and winced. “Ow, my ribs.” He took a few slow breaths before speaking again. “I give you full permission to kidnap me any time you like. But it’s not kidnapping then is it? Did you ask for ransom?”
“This isn’t funny Calvin. I don’t want to take advantage of you and I’m in a position to be accused of that.”
“Why would you be? You have your own home and job and are financially responsible. You don’t need me to rescue you from poverty.”
I couldn’t speak. I sunk to the chair by his side.
I rose and left the room to cry on the hospital bed there.
Stay tuned . . . part 3 tomorrow!