The Restoration by Janet White by Janet White - Read Online

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Summary

Laura Hampton's exciting career as an emergency room nurse gets a lot more complicated two weeks before Christmas when her husband is rushed in by the paramedics and dies tragically in front of her. The tranquility of her friend's Asheville, North Carolina cabin does not bring the escape she had been looking for when an accident brings her into the life of Andrew Somerset and his old family cemetery. As Andrew helps Laura with the restoration of the cemetery, secrets unfold about the eccentric Andrew Somerset, secrets that can destroy their building relationship. Laura's neighbor, Mike Sizemore, is more than ready to uncover and disclose Andrew's secrets. Will Andrew do whatever it takes to win Laura's heart, even if that means taking another man's life?
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781611603989
List price: $3.99
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The Restoration - Janet White

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heart.

Chapter 1

Some things never change! At least that’s what some people say, and some people are right. My mother calls me at precisely eight o’clock every night without fail. She started this routine when I left home at the age of twenty-one and married my high school sweetheart. The calls continued each night, even though I had asked my mother to give me some breathing room. My husband passed away two weeks ago, and I was trying desperately to wrap my head around this terrible curveball that life had thrown me.

I hung up the phone after reassuring my mother once again that I was going to be all right and wandered aimlessly toward the kitchen. I poured myself a second glass of Pinot Noir, after drinking the first one straight down. As I sat at the kitchen table, Jake’s last moments spun through my brain and finally overflowed and ran down my cheeks in the form of tears. How much exactly can a person cry? Is there an unlimited amount of tears, or does each person have a finite number? If we humans have a limited amount of teardrops, what will I do when my well is empty? If I am limited to a certain amount of tears, then surely I had to be reaching the amount that had been allotted to me.

Being an emergency room nurse is a tough job. You work long hours, and you see a lot of things that can weigh heavily on your heart. The exciting thing is that you never know what is going to be coming in the door next. You don’t get bored with the job because it’s always changing. You get true emergencies, and you also get a lot of folks who are just lonely and need attention, so they come to the emergency room and try to find someone who cares. We have what we called regulars, the folks who come in around the same time each weekend or especially on holidays. Lila was a regular. She was in her late seventies, and we always got her on either Christmas day or the day after, and most of the time she showed up on Easter too. Lila claimed to be an asthmatic, and she would call the ambulance and say she was having an asthma attack. By the time she made it to the emergency room, she had had a miraculous recovery. I confronted her one time and told her that I knew she was not having an asthma attack and I wanted to know what else was going on. She finally broke down and confessed that she was lonely and that her children lived out of town and she never saw them on the holidays. She continued to show up even though I tried to make her see that this was not the solution.

I was working my regular night shift two weeks ago and was listed as the charge nurse for the night. This meant that I was to set up the assignments for the other nurses and also to be available for any trauma cases that came through the doors. We received a call from a paramedic unit that was en-route with a car crash victim that had been ejected from the vehicle and who was no longer breathing on his own.

I set up the trauma room and assigned two other nurses to assist me with the case and let the doctor know that a trauma victim was coming in. I had everything in place that could possibly be needed and was standing in the trauma room, awaiting the patient’s arrival. Two paramedics came running into the room with their patient on a gurney, and that is when my whole life changed. I reached across the bed and helped move the patient over from the gurney to the bed, and then I look down at the patient and realized that this was Jake. Blood covered most of his face, and one of the paramedics was pumping on a bag that was attached to a breathing tube in Jake’s mouth. The room started to spin uncontrollably, and before I knew what had happened, I had fallen to my knees by the bed.

Laura, are you okay? I could hear voices buzzing around me and calling out my name. I managed to slide all the way down to a seated position on the floor with my knees pulled up to my chest and placed my head down on my knees. I fought hard not to lose consciousness so that I could tell my co-workers what was going on.

That’s Jake, that’s my husband, please help him!

Shannon, one of the other nurses, helped me up and into a wheelchair and pushed me outside of the room, against my protests of course. I was begging and pleading with her to let me up and to let me go back to Jake’s side.

Laura, you can’t help him right now. They are doing everything that they can, you know that they will. Please just listen to me and try to calm down, honey; they will try, you know that. You know that we have the best ER staff in this state!

Shannon held my hand and tried her best to comfort me. After what seemed like years, Dr. Langdon came out and touched me on the shoulder and said the words that I had been dreading.

I’m sorry, Laura, we did everything we could.

How many times had I gone in with a doctor to say the same words to family members who were anxiously awaiting news about their loved ones? I never realized until the moment that they were said to me how final these words are. They did let me go back in and sit beside Jake for a while. I sat with him for a long time and just held his lifeless hand. The old saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul is absolutely correct. If you have ever looked into a dead person’s eyes, then you know what I mean. Once your soul leaves your body, the eyes are so empty. I was thankful that they had closed Jake’s before they brought me back in to him.

One of the paramedics who brought Jake in told me that it appeared that he was on his way out to do some Christmas shopping, because they had found a list of items on the passenger seat, along with some purchases in the trunk of the car. They found a dead deer near Jake’s car and assumed that Jake had hit the deer and was then thrown from the car. Everyone tried to reassure me that Jake probably did not feel anything and that it all had happened very quickly. I had made my mind up in that moment to never again try to tell someone what they should feel or believe, because no one could know what happened. How could anyone ever know what happened exactly and what that person felt?

Christmas was last week, and my sister Sarah managed to convince my mother that I would not be able to come to their house this year and that she needed to let me get through the holiday in my own way. I sat by the tree on Christmas Eve and opened the packages that the police had found in the back of Jake’s car. The one that I would cherish forever was a heart-shaped diamond necklace. The necklace was beautiful, but the note that was with it was what really meant so much to me. This was the last communication that I would ever have from the man who had been my entire life.

My Dearest Laura, I don’t know how to even start to tell you what you mean to me. You are the best wife, mate, and companion that a man could ask for. I hope you will enjoy the gift and remember when you wear it what a special place you will always hold in my heart. Thanks for being all of these things, but most of all, thanks for being my best friend.

Love,

Jake

I read the note over and over again. Jake’s words consumed me for the remainder of the night. As I lay in the bed and tried to sleep, I considered the options for my life. How was I going to move on from this? The one thing I knew for sure was that I needed to get away for a while. I needed to go somewhere and try to focus and make some plans for the future. I knew that Jack and Irene Webster down at the hardware store had a place in Asheville. They had told me at the funeral that I was welcome to use it if I felt like I needed to get away. Asheville was about a four hour drive from Germanton, North Carolina. Germanton is a very small town, and everyone knows everyone and their families, and that was the way that it has always been.

By the time that the morning light shone through the bedroom window, I had made up my mind that I would pay a visit to Jack down at the hardware store to ask him to let me have the key to the cabin and also to get directions. I knew that the store would not open until nine o’clock, so I went ahead and started packing and tidying up. I also knew that I was going to have to call my sister Sarah to let her know that I was going. She would understand, then hopefully she would agree to communicate with my mother for me.

I waited until eight o’clock to call Sarah, and she was still groggy when she picked up the phone. I blurted out the words before she was really awake.

I am going away for a while, and I need you not to tell Mom until I have left.

Why are you up so early and what do you mean you’re going away? Sarah’s voice was rough and dry, and she seemed confused.

I’m awake because I have barely slept. Sarah, you have to wake up and listen to me. I have to get away for a while. I can’t stand another night in this house alone. I just need to get away and think through all of this and figure out for myself how to get on with my life. Being in this house is not making it any easier, and I just need to distance myself from this place for a while.

The other end of the phone was silent for a few seconds before she responded. You know that Mom is not going to take this well.

Yes, I know, and that is why I am begging you to please not tell her until after I have gone.

Where are you going?

I am not going to tell you that. If I don’t tell you, then you won’t have to lie to Mom about where I am. I promise you I will keep in touch with you by phone.

My sister agreed to talk with my mother after I had accepted the condition that I would call her at least every other day to check in and let her know that I was safe. Sarah had always been a great little sister. Though she was two years younger than me, she always seemed like the older and wiser of the two of us. Maybe that was just because I had always respected the way she was able to deal with our mother. She had a lot more patience with her and therefore was able to communicate better with her. If it had not been for her, I don’t know how I would have made it through the last two weeks. She basically made all of Jake’s funeral arrangements, and I just sat there and nodded my head to everything she picked out, from the coffin, to the