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   Chapter 41 No.41

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 8966

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:25


ASHLEIGH MATTHEWS SAT in a waiting room at Duke University Medical Center idly flipping through the pages of a dog-eared copy of Cosmopolitan. The only other person in the room—a man—surfed the channels on a TV mounted high on a wall.

Her brother David had been in surgery for five hours and she'd heard nothing from the doctor. She dropped the magazine on the seat next to her and walked to the nurse's station. "Have you heard anything about how things are going with David's operation? How much longer it might be?"

"The doctor will come and speak with you just as soon as he's out of surgery."

"Does it usually take this long?"

"What they're doing with David? Yes."

"Thank you."

Ashleigh paced to a window, stopped, and scanned the view. The TV paused on each channel just long enough to hear six or seven words before jumping to another. She addressed the man. "Do you have to keep doing that?"

He looked up surprised. "Sorry. I didn't realize I was doing it. It drives my wife crazy, too."

"Thanks." The TV had stopped on a local Durham station doing a newscast. "An explosion and fire claimed the lives of three women in Wrightsville Beach last night…"

The man leaned forward, set the remote on a table in front of him, and sat back. "We've only been married about a year. Last month we found out she has breast cancer."

"I'm very sorry, " Ashleigh said stepping closer to the TV as video of the burned out ruins played on the screen.

"…and destroyed a luxurious three-story ocean-front house in what police believe was an attempt to eradicate evidence in the murder of a woman whose body had been found hours earlier at another Wrightsville location. Police are seeking two men for questioning in the case—one unidentified, and one named Dane Bonner. In a related story, the body of the man killed in an explosion and fire that ripped through a 1998 Corvette less than two hours later at a truck stop along I-40 has not yet been identified. The Corvette, however, was registered in the name of Dane Bonner and police are looking into both incidents to see if they are related."

Ashleigh felt her chest tighten.

"Ashleigh?" a man's voice called from across the room.

She turned to discover Dr. Harry Tatum standing in an open doorway. He was dressed in green scrubs with slip-on covers over his shoes and a white mask dangling under his chin. As she hastened to him, the Looney Tunes characters on his surgical cap—Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, and Sylvester—eased the tension she felt in her neck.

"Everything went extremely well." His voice was relaxed and positive. "He's in recovery now. We don't know yet how well this new art

ore jumping back into the fire."

"Like what?"

"Like if a person is manipulative, jealous, self-centered, or critical of the things you do before you're married, I think you can count on that still being there after you're married. Probably more so."

"I'm self-centered."

"In what way?"

"I spend most of my time thinking about and working on the dance studio."

"I see that as a positive trait."

"I'm also a perfectionist."

"So?"

"You wouldn't want to be married to a perfectionist would you?"

I lifted her hand and kissed the tips of her fingers. "I'd marry you." She pulled her hand back glancing to see if anyone was watching. As her eyes came back to mine, she blushed and I could feel her trying to read my thoughts. We took our time with lunch, laughed often, and occasionally touched each other as we filled each other in on our hopes, dreams, and dreads.

After lunch Sydney took me back to the bike and headed off to work. I followed her for a short distance before heading downtown to check on things at the photography studio.

AT THE STOPLIGHT near the university's Randall Library, Sydney watched lovers walking hand in hand laughing and chatting, and thought about how different Richard was from Scott. How handsome he had become with a little age. He was gentle and considerate, positive and caring, and his eyes danced when he looked at her in a way she hadn't seen in a long time.

The car behind her honked drawing Sydney back to reality. She pressed the gas pedal, glanced at the car behind her in the mirror, and thought she saw Scott leaning over the steering wheel of his silver Porsche. She looked up at the stoplights passing over her—still red—and barely got a glimpse of the Lowe's delivery truck before it collided with her van.

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