This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….
Rattlesnake Falls Book 1
Unable to just sit in the silence while she waited, Shelley walked to the big picture window on the other side of the room and looked out over the parking lot. Dillon was down there, leaning with his back against the building and one foot propped up on the wall, James Dean style. Dean with longer hair and a beard, anyway.
Reluctantly, Shelley moved away, not wanting him to see her. She understood needing space all too well, and also what happened when she couldn’t get it. She couldn’t imagine how he was feeling.
Going to the back wall of the room, she paced slowly back and forth, back and forth, not really paying much attention to the TV. It felt like hours before she heard footsteps in the hall. Her watch confirmed that it had been just a little under nintey minutes since Dillon had walked out. She hoped it was him coming back.
She winced at the sound of that too-familiar voice and took a deep breath before the cloud of cheap perfume and bad manners hit.
“Shelley Frank, where the heck—there you are. Where’s my Tabby-cat? And why aren’t you in her room? Oh right. You leaving her alone is the whole reason she’s here. Be a doll and point me in the right direction, Steiny.”
Shelley moved toward the diminuative red-headed tornado, masking her surprise at Aunt Jane’s lack of four-inch heels. Intensely self-conscious about her four-foot-five height, Jane never left the house without her stilts, at least not that Shelley had ever seen.
“She’s still in surgery, so she doesn’t have a room yet. I haven’t heard from the doctor yet either. It’s been…” Shelley checked the clock on the wall, “Wow. It’s been nearly four hours.”
“That’s just unacceptable,” Jane shook her head, digging around in the big leather purse she carried. “Where’s the nurse? You should have heard something by now. I’ll go ask. They won’t dare deny her mother information. I’ll bring the wrath of God down on this place.”
Shelley was relieved to see a doctor come into the waiting room behind Jane. He looked haggard and ready for a nap.
“Ms. Franks?” He waited for Shelley’s nod. She gestured in Jane’s direction.
Jane stepped forward, impatient. “I’m Jane Thomas, Tabitha’s mother. So you can talk to me from now on. How is she? Is she going to make it?”
“It’s still very touch and go, Ms. Thomas. Your daughter sustained extensive injuries to her leg, and in order to save her life, we had to amputate it. She’s still in critical condition, but if she does okay in the next twelve hours or so, then I think the prognosis is good. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Jane trembled, and Shelley pushed a chair behind her knees just before she fell.
“Oh my God. You cut my baby-girl’s leg off? Without even asking me? You monster — how could you?” She doubled over, putting her face in her hands and sobbing loud enough to wake the dead. If that was possible, Shelley thought wryly. Guess they’d find out.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Shelley said, trying to process the news that Tabby’s leg was gone. “Can we see her?”
“Not just yet,” he said. “She hasn’t quite woke up yet. But a nurse will come and get you just as soon as she’s awake.”
Shelley nodded. “Thank you. I know that was a lot of work, and we appreciate everything you’ve done to save Tabitha’s life.”
Jane looked up from Shelley to the doctor and back, her eyes wide.
“You’re thanking this guy for taking Tabby’s leg off? I knew you were desperate, Steiny, but hitting on your cousin’s doctor is a new low.”
“How about I just check on you later when Tabitha is awake? Then I can answer any questions you might have about her therapy and rehabilitation.” He gave Shelley a look of compassion before he left, and she was grateful.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Jane murmured, swiping tears off her face. “She’ll be ugly now, with a fake leg, and no man is gonna want someone who can’t take care of herself. “
Shelley reached out and gave her aunt’s shoulder a squeeze. “I’m sure she’ll be back to her old party-girl self soon enough.”
Jane looked at her as though she’d forgotten Shelley was there.
“Oh dear…you should go home. I’ll take care of Tabby, but you’ve done quite enough for her lately, don’t you think? You go get some rest. There’s no reason for you to be here anymore.”
Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 21!
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