The Man He Used to Be, ch. 14

by: Marty Chrisman

Luke was restless and irritable. He had been in the hospital for almost a month and he was more than ready to go home. The doctor insisted that he stay at least until the end of the week. He had been out of intensive care almost a week and once he woke up; he had started recovering so quickly that it surprised the doctors. He felt fine, just a few aches and pains but he knew they would pass. He had already made up his mind that if the doctor didn’t let him go home Friday, he was just going to walk out.

Bo and Daisy had been there earlier but had gone home. Luke knew they wouldn’t be back until tomorrow. Daisy had left some of her famous fried chicken and praline pie. She knew how much Luke hated hospital food. When the door to his room opened, he glanced up, expecting to see one of the nurses. A big smile crossed his face when Shelby came into the room. Bo had told him about her part in helping to find him and rescue him but she had not been to the hospital since the night he was admitted.

“Hi” he said, surprised at how glad he was to see her.

“Hi, yourself. You’re sure looking better than the last time I saw ya.”

“I’m glad you came. Looks like I owe you for saving my life again.”

“Yeah, it’s getting to be a habit.”

“Well I hope this is one habit we can break.”

“Stay away from mountains and crazy blondes.” Shelby told him with a grin

Luke laughed softly and then his eyes grew serious as he looked deeply into her eyes. “I wanna see you again when I get out of here.”  He told her

“You mean like a date?”

“Yeah…that’s kinda what I had in mind.”

“We’ll see.” She told him without giving him a direct answer

“Ya know, I still don’t know exactly where you live. You’re not going to walk out of this room and disappear on me again, are ya?”

“Now would I do something like that?” Shelby said with a laugh

“I don’t know.” Luke said, laughing back “You did the last time and it was 6 years before I saw you again.”

“I didn’t exactly disappear….you just couldn’t find your way back to the cabin.” She reminded him with a grin

“You’re not gonna give me a straight answer are ya?”

“Nope”

“Well, “ Luke said taking a step closer to her “In case you do disappear on me again, I guess I better thank you now for saving my life…..for the second time” Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her close and kissed her, deeply and passionately. At first, she tensed up but then she relaxed and kissed him back with a fierce intensity of her own. When they finally pulled apart, Kelly gently moved away from his embrace.

With a nervous smile, she said, “You definitely are feeling better……but I have to go now.” Before Luke could stop her, she was gone. Luke frowned trying to figure her out. He was almost positive that she was attracted to him too but something was holding her back. He couldn’t help but wonder if and when he would see her again.

Luke was released from the hospital that Friday and finally got to go home. Daisy kept fussing over him until Jesse finally told her to back off a little (although he did enjoy the attention.) Luckily, there were no permanent physical injuries from his ordeal, but there were some mental ones. Sometimes he woke up at night, bathed in sweat with his heart pounding in his chest as he relived the parts of the ordeal that he could remember in his nightmares.

Christy was charged with several counts including kidnapping, attempted murder, felonious assault, and murder in connection with Kelly’s death. Luke had to testify at the trial, both about his own kidnapping and the day that Kelly had been hurt. Christy was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. (She avoided the death penalty because her attorney presented medical records to the court showing a long history of mental problems) Billy Porter was dead, shot and killed by Roscoe the night Luke was rescued. His brother, Bobby, was also found guilty of kidnapping, attempted murder and felonious assault and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. For his part in Christy’s devious scheme, Pete Madison was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Slowly things returned to normal. Luke still carried the mental and emotional scars of his ordeal and he always would. But because of the vision he’d had that nobody else knew about except Jesse, he knew that he could on with his life without feeling guilty. Kelly’s death had been avenged. Unfortunately, Shelby had vanished back up into the mountains somewhere, dropping out of Luke’s life again just as suddenly as she had dropped back in. .

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