Sorry to take so long with this chapter. Funny how regular life sometimes overwhelms. Thanks for continuing to follow the story. Don't hesitate to send questions or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please donate to nifty if you have the means.
The wait for Marcus to wake up from surgery seemed to take forever. Nick and Jamie were coming to the hospital together, without their families. While we waited for them to arrive and for Marcus to wake up, George and I had a brief but interesting conversation in the cafeteria.
After some small talk, George suddenly changed the subject.
"I'm guessing you and I might be the only ones really concerned about my ex-wife's return." He smiled.
I grinned back at him. "Yeah, I had the feeling at her announcement we would be commiserating together. I think Marjorie and I are much better than when we first met, but you never know when she and I will disagree again. On the other hand... I hope she doesn't make it to all the Taylor family dinners. I really love the time with your family; she will definitely have an effect on those moments."
"I never made that leap. I'm not sure if I want Carolyn to spend any time with Marjorie. It could get ugly very quickly. She enjoys the family dinners too."
"I noticed you hadn't introduced them to each other yet."
"Well I'm not entirely sure I want to put Carolyn through that hell."
I burst out laughing.
"I know Marjorie will be fairly blunt with her thoughts. Does Carolyn give as good as she gets?"
"I think so, but I don't think I care to find out. The last thing I want is to be in the middle of something along those lines."
"Hopefully, everyone will be on their best behavior at the wedding. I can't imagine Marjorie making a scene that day, can you?"
"No, you don't need to worry. My ex-wife will save her scathing observations for private moments, never in public."
"I absolutely believe that... Oh look, Jamie and Nick. Thanks for the laugh, George. I guess we shall see how this move works out. Thanks for taking my mind off Marcus."
"You never stopped thinking about him for a second. You just distracted yourself slightly."
I smiled at him and then got up to give Jamie and Nick a hug.
"Thanks for coming down. I hope we will be able to see him soon. He looked okay when they were moving him to his room."
Jamie spoke up, "How does something like this happen? This is completely insane. Do you know the story?"
I nodded my head, "Somewhat... Your father and I talked with Marcus' client briefly. Apparently, his wife was drugged out when she went after him with a knife. Marcus grabbed the knife and prevented her from stabbing the client. I guess when she failed in her attempt, she tried to kill herself. He stopped that too."
Nick sighed, "Unbelievable... "
Just then my phone began to ring.
"He's settled into his room and drinking some juice. I think if you and his family were to come up to the fifth floor you could hang with Marcus."
"Thanks... Nick and Jamie just got here. We'll be right up. I owe you another one."
"Don't even think about it. Just get up here. Someone is anxious to see you."
"We are on the way."
Marcus was sitting up in bed when we got to his room. He smiled at us. I walked over to him and gave him a kiss. He tried to move his left hand to my chin, but grimaced and put it back down. I briefly rested my forehead against his and whispered in his ear.
"You need to stop being a hero. I'm not sure my heart can take much more of this... "
"Sorry, I guess I keep ending up in the wrong place at the right time. I don't mean for it to happen, but I think I may need to take it easy for a couple of days."
He started to laugh, but pulled a pillow against his side and scowled.
"Don't make me laugh. Oh God, it hurts."
I whispered, "Talk to your family. I need to thank Jen for doing her best to keep me informed."
I moved to the side and let the Taylor men say hello and hang out together for a few minutes. I gave Jen a hug.
"Thank you. You aren't going to get in trouble for letting me know what was going on and hanging around Marcus are you?"
"No, I'm on my time. I didn't interfere with his treatment, not to worry. I stayed in the background and kept quiet as a mouse. Don't give me that look it's completely true." She grinned.
"On the other hand, I have every intention of reprimanding Annie in triage. Her attitude needs to go. I know if you had been a distraught woman she would have been given you all the information she had. She needs to leave her personal prejudices at home. It's bad enough she throws attitude at staff, but to fuck around with an upset loved one is too much."
"Don't stir up a hornet's nest on my account, but I'd be happy to let the powers that be know about her attitude. Frankly, if I had been thinking a little more clearly, I would have throttled her to get any information possible."
"There is no excuse for it." She sighed. "I just don't understand...
"Anyway, Marcus is going to get dinner soon. I ordered him a meal. Did you guys eat when you were in the cafeteria?"
"No, I wasn't thinking about food."
"I'm sure. Let me get you guys some sandwiches. I'll be back in a few."
"You don't need to do that. You've done enough already. I'll get some food. He's visiting with his family right now."
I walked to the bed.
"I'm going to grab sandwiches for everyone. I'll be right back, Hon."
"Okay, but hurry back. I'm starting to fade a little."
"Jen ordered you supper. Hopefully, it will perk you up a bit."
Marcus smiled. Jen and I walked towards the elevators.
"I'm coming with you. Sarah is due to finish her shift at eight, so I'm just going to hang out until she gets done with work. We can go rescue my car afterwards."
"Oh shit, I forgot you were trapped here. Why don't you take my car and go get your car? One of Marcus's brothers can then take me to my car."
"Don't worry. Sarah knows what's going on. I'm good. We start nights tomorrow so we will be on the same schedule for a week."
"If you say so... You know, we still need to find a dress, for you, for the wedding. We found one for Mom when we were there over the weekend. Here look."
"Oh Tony, it is the perfect dress for your mother. Oh my God, She looks beautiful, absolutely incredible."
"I know; Right?"
"Let's get Marcus on the mend then we can go shopping. I'm not really worried about the dress. You guys have a solid vision of what you want. It should be easy enough."
After getting food for the Taylor men, Jen and I went back upstairs. Jen gave me a kiss and told me she'd text when she was leaving the hospital.
After the rest of his family left, Marcus and I talked for a few minutes but he was fading in and out. Visiting hours were just about over when a doctor walked into his room.
"Mr. Taylor, how are we feeling tonight?"
"I'm really tired and the hand is starting to throb."
"Well, it's just about time for a round of antibiotics and some pain meds; they should help with the hand. l will be back to check on you in the morning. We will be sending you home tomorrow.
"I will have a set of instructions for you both at discharge. Right now, my biggest concern is the chance of infection. The torso laceration has a smaller risk of infection. The thoracic cavity area tends to bleed, keeping it cleaner. On the other hand, the hand is much more susceptible. Also, the laceration was deeper on your palm and fingers. As a precaution, you will continue a regimen of antibiotics and the dressing on the hand will need to be changed daily. But you will get all that information at discharge.
"The pain meds will cause some major drowsiness tonight so I'd finish up your conversation. I will see you both in the morning."
"What time should I be here tomorrow? I want to be here for Marcus's discharge instructions."
"I usually start rounds about six. If you make it here at seven or so, that would be early enough."
"Thank you, Doctor. I will be here."
"Good night, gentlemen."
After the doctor left, the nurse changed Marcus's IV bag and added a couple of smaller bags.
"I'll check on you in a couple of minutes. You need to wrap up your conversation. Visiting hours were over half an hour ago, I would let you stay but I think the pain meds are going to knock our patient out."
"Please give us a few more minutes. We haven't had any chance to be by ourselves."
"I'm not throwing you out. You can stay, but I think you'll be talking to yourself soon." She grinned.
"Okay, I'll say good night, I promise."
She left the room smiling and shaking her head.
"You're killing me you know. I was wicked worried about you."
"Sorry, Babe, I really didn't mean for this to happen. Trust me."
"I know. I just hope your hand is okay. You are going to take it easy for a few days, aren't you?"
"I'll take it under advisement."
"No, you'll follow doctor's orders. I mean it." I scowled at him. "But, I don't want to argue tonight."
Marcus smiled. I grabbed his good hand and kissed it.
"I was at the house with Jen when I got the call from James. Ethan seems to be slightly ahead of schedule. He and the crew are almost finished with the closet expansion in the middle room. It looks pretty awesome. Jen really liked the color we choose for the guest room."
I glanced back at Marcus to find him asleep. I smiled and just looked at him for a moment. I was relieved he was okay. I looked to the ceiling and whispered a thank you. After another moment or two, I gave him a kiss on the forehead and brushed my hand across his cheek.
"Goodnight, Hon. I will see you in the morning. I love you."
The doctor was in Marcus's room when I arrived. Marcus was smiling and his eyes lit up when he saw me.
"Babe, Doctor Martin just got here. Come over and sit on the bed."
The instructions were fairly simple. I was given a lesson on how to change Marcus's dressing both on his hand and his side. A nurse came in and also showed me how to rewrap the hand to protect the dressing.
"Now, you need to wrap the hand for the next week. I will order waterproof bandages for the side so you can shower. The hand needs to be put in a protector, like a cast protector. However, I want you to wait until Monday to shower. The prescription for pain killers is there with the instructions, as well as scripts for an antibiotic cream, an oral antibiotic, and a steroid. You need to stay on schedule with the pain meds through the weekend. Your hand has undergone some severe trauma; there is no need to suffer. It won't help with the healing.
"I will want to see you in the office a week from today and again a week later. The only real restrictions are no swimming or driving until I see you next week. I don't want either site exposed to water long term. You should be able to decrease the pain meds starting on Monday.
"Do you have any questions?"
"The appointment in two weeks... Could we put that off for a week? Tony and I have a vacation planned on the Cape."
"No, the first appointment will mostly be to check for infection and to look at how the healing is progressing. The second appointment will give us a better idea about the kind of PT necessary for complete recovery. The hand is tricky. It's all nerve and muscle and tendons. I don't want to postpone any steps in the recovery process. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it Doctor Martin. The Cape and P-Town will still be there. Marcus' hand is more important than a stupid vacation."
"But Babe... "
"Don't start. Don't argue. There will be no debate. Am I clear?"
"I'm sorry. I know you were looking forward to going to P-Town."
"Absolutely, and I'm still looking forward to it... sometime in the future. But in the greater scheme of things, I need you to heal correctly... whatever it takes. We will call your friend Richard and explain what's going on. Maybe he can find someone else to take the week.
"We can always make a trip to New Hampshire after your appointment that week. We have our whole lives to get to P-Town. You need to make sure you do everything necessary to heal properly."
"Okay, I give up. I'm not going to fight with you."
"So, when can I take Marcus home?"
"Give it about thirty minutes. I want him to finish the IV antibiotic and then he should be all set."
"Thank you, Doctor. I guess we will see you in a week."
I finally got Marcus home about ten that morning. I called the family while Marcus napped and let them all know he was home. I also insisted the Taylor family dinner would still be at our place on Sunday. I was sure I could manage to put together a meal with a little help. I told the twins Uncle M and I would be at their baseball game the next day, if he felt up to it.
Marcus woke from his nap and called me over to the couch.
"Babe, come over and sit next to me. Just be careful of my side. I really am sorry about P-Town."
"Marcus Lucas Taylor... put it out of your mind this minute. I told you what I thought. Seriously, drop it."
"Okay, but... "
"No. No buts. Change the subject. There is no reason to worry about something we can't change.
"I know, let's talk about the marriage license. I think I'm ready to talk about our name change or no change. Do you feel up to a serious conversation?"
"Sure... What were you thinking?"
"I'm going to just come right out and tell you. You need to do the same. We are too good together; this needs to be a discussion between us. No matter what, we can talk this out. So here it goes.
"I decided if you feel you need to keep your name the same because of professional reasons I totally understand. I could be on board with that. I mean it. I would be good with keeping our names the way they are right now.
"On the other hand, I would love for us to change our names to Taylor-Wallace. I think it sounds better than Wallace-Taylor. If I was completely honest, it's my first choice, but again I could be on board with no change. I'm not sure how you feel about it, but that's what I think."
Marcus sat quietly for a moment. He seemed deep in thought. I began to get a little anxious about his reaction. Slowly a smile crept across his face. He was grinning when he started.
"I love you. You are fucking amazing sometimes. I've been a little concerned about the name thing, too. I thought about just keeping Taylor; I thought it might be a good idea professionally." He took a deep breath.
"I understand. I'm good with it. You don't have to explain." I smiled.
"Just wait. Let me finish. I said I thought initially it might be a good idea for me to keep the name. But the more I considered it, the less necessary it seemed. Most of my clients are referred to me by friends or other clients. So professionally, it makes no difference. There really is no reason to keep it.
"I love the sound of Taylor–Wallace. It's always been my first choice. I think it sounds fucking amazing. I don't know why it means so much to me that we have the same name, but I'm thrilled it's what you want as well.
"Babe, we should go get the license soon. Let's do it on Monday."
Marcus reached to draw me into a hug, but grimaced. I smiled and shook my head.
"You're going to hurt yourself if you don't take it easy."
"I'm okay. I just need to slow down a little. I want you in my arms right now."
Carefully, I put my arms around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss. The kiss began to intensify. Marcus lifted his hand to my cheek.
"I do love you so very much. I can't wait for us to be married."
"Me too, I honestly didn't expect this to be so easy. I thought we might have different ideas and need to talk it out. Sometimes, I get worried this all seems too perfect."
"Too perfect..." Marcus smiled, "I don't think there is any such thing. You worry too much. We are perfect together, so of course we agree. If we hadn't agreed, we would have worked it out.
"You know these moments get me so fucking excited. I just hope my hand is completely healed by the ceremony."
"Well, you know I'll marry you anyway." I chucked.
"Hell, that's a load off my mind. I wasn't sure you loved me enough to marry me one-handed." Marcus was grinning from ear to ear.
"With that attitude, I might change my mind. But now is not the time to discuss it. You need to take meds. We are not messing around today."
"What do you mean no messing around? I thought we might still be able to... "
"Marcus Lucas Taylor, I meant no messing around with your medicines. You need to relax. Geez, you can barely hug me without being in pain."
The grinning was back. You could tell he was barely able to keep from laughing.
"If you laugh, you will seriously regret it. A little chuckle just about killed you in the hospital. If you aren't careful I will make you laugh, even if I have to tickle you."
"You wouldn't dare."
"Oh wouldn't I? With that attitude, I bet I could find it in me to get you going."
"That would be cruel and unusual punishment."
"But deserved... So I recommend taking your meds and chilling out on the couch. I need to make lunch."
"Okay, if you insist. I honestly don't think I could handle laughing. You're right, that little chuckle in the hospital was excruciating. On the other hand, I really don't believe you'd actually tickle me... "
I gave him my best evil look and then cocked one of my eyebrows. He started to smile and then grabbed a pillow and tucked it against his side. A couple of chortles and a grimace spread across his face. I dashed to him with meds.
"I'm sorry. I really didn't mean for you to laugh. I would never hurt you on purpose."
"I'm fine. I know. I'm just going to lie back on the couch." He smiled. "Don't think twice about it. It's my own damn fault. But I must say that look was completely priceless."
"I was saving that one up for a special moment. Are you sure you're going to be okay?"
"I'm fine. Look, just give me some yogurt and fruit for lunch. Better yet make a smoothie; I think that's all I want."
"Sounds good... relax, I'll take care of it."
After lunch, Marcus spent most of the afternoon napping. I used the time tidying up the condo and getting dinner ready. I also spent a few minutes trying to finish up the seating chart for the wedding. Most of the tables were easy to arrange. I had groups of friends sitting together, family sharing tables, and workmates joining each other, but I still had about twenty to thirty people I was so afraid wouldn't mesh together.
Every time I felt as though I fit the puzzle pieces together, I'd find a table that just made no sense to me. I got up from the dining room table to check on the chicken. Dinner was still about thirty minutes from finishing; I sat back down and stared at the chart. Suddenly, I had a brainstorm.
What seemed like seconds later, the timer on the oven sounded. I jumped up to pull the chicken and rice out. I returned to the seating chart and finished up the last two tables. I looked at everything and yelled, "Yes!"
Marcus had stirred when the timer sounded, but practically jumped off the couch when I yelled.
"Babe, what's up?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you. Give me just a minute; I have dinner ready to go. I just need to plate things."
"I'm guessing dinner is not why you are so excited."
"No, but I can show you what I've done after we eat. I think I finally finished the seating chart. You'll have to let me know what you think, but I finally got the pieces to fit together."
"Wow, I can't wait to see. Sorry, I guess I slept most of the afternoon."
"I'm sure you needed it. Stay where you are. We can eat out here and then look at the chart."
I set a towel in Marcus' lap, and put his meds next to his drink.
"This is really good, Babe. Although, eating with my left hand is going to get old really fast. I feel like a complete klutz here."
"You're doing okay. You've hardly got anything on the towel." I grinned. "I was going to make a bib out of another towel, but you really haven't dribbled much."
"You are nothing short of a pain in the ass. Seriously; a bib?"
"Well, I thought maybe you'd need one. But, you are doing much better than I expected. Almost everything is going in the mouth, and only a small dribble now and then in the lap." I burst out laughing.
"I'll give you a dribble... "
He moved to get off the couch and grunted. He clutched at his side and quickly sat back down.
"I'll stop teasing you now. Please just relax."
"I need a kiss to make it a real apology."
He got one.
"Babe, now show me what has you so excited about the seating chart. That whoop woke me right up."
"Well, I changed a few things around and threw a couple of odd tables together, but I think it works."
We talked for a little while about my `eureka' moment, but the meds were having an effect on Marcus. He was fading fast and asleep in minutes.
The weekend was spent with family. The twins won their baseball game with Stephen pitching, and Josh batting in most of the team's runs. After the game, the coach talked to Jamie about moving the boys up to play with older kids.
As we walked to the car, we ran into James and Jon as they watched Matthew play on an adjacent field.
"I'm surprised to see you up and about." James smiled at Marcus. "How are you doing?"
"I'm good. The pain meds help but make me a little loopy. The hand throbs some, and the side limits my mobility, but it's better than expected. I just need to go slow."
Marcus and James continued to chat while I pulled Jon aside.
"How's fatherhood going? Are you guys doing okay?"
"Honestly, it's not easy. I never thought my patience could be so tested on a regular basis. I mean think about some of the kids I work with, but Matthew is more difficult. Fortunately, I've seen my share of behavioral problems, just not in my own house... "
Screaming, our conversation was interrupted by blood curdling screaming. We quickly turned. Jon saw Matthew and ran towards the field. I followed him onto the field.
Matthew was curled up into a ball and screaming at second base. Jon reached him first and slowly started to talk to him.
"Matthew, Matthew, what's wrong. It's Jon. Tell me what's going on. MATTHEW... "
"It's HIM. It's HIM. You promised they couldn't HURT ME. Please help me. Please, keep him away... "
The screaming turned to hysterical crying. Matthew was trying to push himself away from the base. He looked like a crab moving across the base path. His hands couldn't keep pace with his feet, so he sprawled down in the dirt. James pushed his way through the gawking onlookers and ran to Matthew. He bent down and grabbed his shoulders and made Matthew focus on his face.
Matthew tried shaking James off. He kept screaming the word no.
"Matthew, look at my eyes. We can do this. Matthew... You need to tell me so I can fix it. Tell me who hurt you?"
Matthew looked at James. Jon had moved behind him and was rubbing his back. Matthew initially recoiled from the touch but then stopped screaming. He was still crying and shaking. Together they seemed to calm him slightly. He continued to stare at James.
"Matthew, I need you to focus. Whoever hurt you won't be able to do it again, I promise, but you need to tell us who it was."
Slowly, Matthew's eyes began to focus. James had a grip on his shoulders and Jon continued to rub his back. You could see him come out of the panic. He continued to stare at James.
"You can do this. Talk to me... "
After a few minutes, Matthew lifted his arm and pointed at the umpire at second base.
"It was him."
As soon as Matthew pointed in his direction, the second base umpire bolted. He started to run across the outfield towards the parking lot. We watched him suddenly crumble to the ground as the father of one of Matthew's teammates tackled him. Soon, another man stood over him holding a baseball bat over his head.
James radioed for back-up and explained the situation. He and Jon never left Matthew's side during the entire episode. Matthew's breathing was returning to normal. He suddenly realized everyone's attention was focused on him.
Marcus and I watched a police cruiser take the umpire into custody. James talked to his colleagues by radio, remaining with Matthew. We looked back towards our friends.
"You know what we need to do now. You have to stay strong. I promise I won't leave your side for the whole thing."
"I know... but I want Jon there too. Please don't leave." Matthew grabbed Jon's arm.
"Of course, Matthew, I'll do whatever you need."
Matthew threw his arms around Jon. James gave his boyfriend a huge smile. Jon held tight but seemed surprised. James put his hand on Matthew's shoulder.
"Let's go. The quicker we get to the station, the faster this can get put behind us."
"I'm sorry... I acted like a baby. I acted like an idiot, now everyone is staring, but he surprised me. I didn't think I'd see... "
James spoke firmly, "Matthew, stop apologizing. The horrors you've seen... you have nothing to be sorry about... C'mon we can do this."
Jon looked back at Marcus and me. I gave him thumbs up and then gestured for him to call. We watched as they loaded into the car and drove away. I felt a tug at my shirt.
"Uncle T, what was wrong with Matthew? That was really scary." Josh asked.
Stephen continued, "Yeah, the way he was screaming, I thought someone was really hurting him. Was it the umpire? Is that why he ran away?"
Marcus thought for a moment.
"You guys remember the night we looked for Matthew?"
"Sure Uncle M."
"Remember we told you his parents were very bad and did bad things to Matthew. Well, they used to take money from strangers and let them do very bad things, too. It sounds to me like the umpire was one of those people. I'm sure James and the police will sort everything out."
Stephen nodded his head, "I hope police do figure out the truth and help Matthew. He is cool and a pretty good catcher.
"I never liked that umpire. He used to make lots of bad calls because he wasn't paying attention."
"He always seemed to be staring at the players instead of watching the game. He was very weird." Josh added. "And kinda creepy."
I started to worry about the boys' reactions and what to say next, but just as quickly they moved on.
"Did you like our game Uncle T? We won by six runs."
"You guys played awesome. Stephen, you kept striking out guys on the other team, and Josh, wow, you got some great hits."
"Did you hear our coach? He wants us to play with the older kids. That's wicked cool, huh, Uncle T?" Josh grinned.
Stephen started to laugh. "Yeah, wicked cool... "
Marcus grinned but clutched at his side as he began to laugh.
"Wicked cool? Okay you stinkers. You are going to hurt your uncle by making him laugh. I need to take Uncle M home. We will see you guys tomorrow. And yes its wicked cool that you guys are doing so well the coach wants to move you up. I'm very proud of you both."
"Thanks, Uncle T, see you tomorrow."
I drove home and got Marcus settled in with some meds and a new dressing on his hand. We relaxed the rest of the night.
The next day Taylor Family Sunday Dinner was scheduled at our place, but I suggested a cookout at our new house. We could have a picnic and tour the house with the whole Taylor bunch.
First thing in the morning, Marcus and I hit the hardware store and bought a grill and picnic table. The store had a delivery service, so I left Marcus at the house to supervise the placement of our new stuff and I dashed to the store. Jamie and Sarah were bringing a macaroni salad and salt potatoes, and Nick and Jess had baked beans and watermelon. I paid a visit to the local farm stand and grabbed fresh corn. The chicken had been marinating for a couple of days so everything was ready to go.
By the time I got back to the house, the new table and chairs and grill were set up and ready to go. Jamie and Nick and their families had arrived early to help build the grill and table set. George arrived with Carolyn and a full propane tank for the grill and some beverages.
Marcus was falling asleep in one of the chairs. I tried to let him rest for a while, but the family was having none of it.
It was a glorious afternoon full of the things I loved best about Marcus's family: lots of laughs, plenty of good natured ribbing, and a few games. Marcus was a little frustrated by the fact he couldn't join in with the fun, but spent a good deal of time with a pillow clutched to his side while he laughed at the proceedings.
Before everyone headed home, Marcus gave them a tour of the house and talked about the changes still to come. On the tour, Stephen and Josh were conspiring while we walked around the upstairs.
"Josh and I have decided this room is the one we will stay in when we have sleepovers." Stephen said.
Josh added, "Yeah, Uncle M and Uncle T, yous guys need to make sure you get the right beds for this room."
Marcus played along briefly, "What makes you pick this room?"
"We can see the baseball field at the school from this window, so we will know when there are other kids playing. Plus, it's big enough for all four of us when our brothers get older."
"I see. Well, I guess that works until Uncle T and I bring home a cousin for you. Then it will be his room, but I'm sure he will share."
"Okay, cool... When are you getting our new cousin?"
I jumped in, "It will be a little while, but someday."
Marcus grabbed my hand, "Someday soon I hope... "
I smiled and nodded my head. Marcus grinned and gingerly put his left arm around my shoulder and kissed me.
Huge thanks to my editor David for helping out with the story... Any mistakes are mine...
Thanks to my husband, Ray... we celebrated four years married and twenty-one years together this week.