minutes later, they were seated in the pews and Vince didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He glanced at Tessa and saw she had folded her hands in her lap and her eyes were closed. If he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, maybe he could relax…if nothing else. He tried it but without much success. Tessa must have sensed his restlessness. “Do you ever just go outside at night and look up at the sky and feel the…immensity of everything?” she asked softly. He knew what she was getting at. “I think that’s why I stayed in Albuquerque. The sky there—during the day and at night—just seems to lift you up. The cliffs and the mountains even more. Sometimes I’d just stop by the side of the road, get out of the car and stand there in the sun looking into the sky, or into…I don’t know, something much bigger than me.” “Can you think about that now? Can you think about the best for Sean and you?” “Are you saying that’s praying?” “Yes, I think it is.” Their shoulders were touching, and so were their hips and thighs. But at the moment, he wasn’t revved up because he desired Tessa. He was revved up because this closeness, this talking about something as intimate as prayer seemed so right. Tessa amazed him. There was always a deeper place he could go with her, where he could always find what he needed. He did as she suggested and, in a while, realized his breathing had slowed. Hope for Sean’s future drove the fear from him. After a while, they both sat back and he covered her hand with his. “Thanks for being here.” She gazed at him but said nothing. He knew that was best. They were just here in the moment and that’s the way it had to be.
Dr. Rafferty was somber as he stepped into the waiting room later Tuesday morning after Sean’s surgery. Vince stood immediately, Tessa close beside him. He was grateful she’d gotten him through this three-and-a-half-hour waiting time by talking about Sean, pulling stories from Vince about his stint in the Air Force, relating how she and Francesca and Emily had met and lived in a house together. She’d kept conversation rolling to keep him from thinking. Now, with her elbow brushing his arm, he felt Sean had two champions no matter what happened. The surgeon strode to Vince and nodded. “The nerve reconstruction surgery went well. I also removed scar tissue that had been blocking nerve signals. I believe Sean will be one of the fortunate ones, if you’re willing to be patient.” “I can be patient,” Vince assured the doctor with rough emotion in his voice. “What will be the recuperation time?” Tessa asked. “His arm will be in a soft sling for about three weeks. Then he can start physical therapy. But we won’t see results for four to six months and it could be years until he has full use of his arm.” “Can we see him?” Vince asked, needing to know his son was really okay. “You’ll be able to see him in recovery in about a half hour. After he’s alert and his vitals are good, we’ll settle him in a room.” A short time later they were standing by Sean’s crib. Tessa crouched down on one side and murmured to the little boy. Sean responded with a smile and a babble. “What did you tell him?” Vince asked. “That he’s the best little boy in the whole world.” Vince crouched down at his son’s other side and Sean turned his face to his dad. “We’re just going to treat this like a great adventure. You won’t be alone from now on, cowboy. I’m staying here with you tonight. We’ll be together until you come home.” Vince couldn’t tell if Sean understood or not, but his son reached for Vince’s hand. Tessa stood gazing at both of them. “I’m glad you’re staying tonight. Sean will feel safe and protected…and loved.” “I hope so. Sometimes it’s easier to know the right thing to do than at other times.” Tessa’s and Vince’s gazes locked. The beeping of the automatic blood