When Lily woke up a few minutes later, her heart skipped in fear. Nan was crying, Willie was holding back tears, and Wyatt looked like he’d lost his best friend.
“What’s going on? What happened?”
“Lily, I have something to tell you.”
“Is there something wrong with me?”
Nan burst out in sobs and Willie began to cry. Lily saw Wyatt look at them both, and then back at her. “Lily,” He walked over and stood by the bed, picking up her hand in his warm grasp. “You have a quarter-sized tumor in your brain.”
Lily gasped in surprise, and then fear. “Are you serious? Am I gonna die?”
Wyatt looked at Willie and Nan again, but they were comforting each other in a hug.
“I’m serious, and you could. I don’t want to lie and lead you to believe there aren’t dangers.” His voice broke on the last word and he rushed out the door before she could respond.
Every emotion known to man rushed through her system at break-neck speed. She prayed to God for peace and calm immediately settled over her like a warm blanket. “Are you guys gonna comfort me, or just each other?”
Willie pulled away from Nan and looked at his sister. “I’m sorry.” He ran over and hugged her, Nan right on his heels. They three-way hugged for several minutes, not saying a word.
“This is how it’s going to be; you can both pray for me. If I live I live, and if I die, that’s all there is to it, it was my time.”
“How can you be so calm about this Lily? You’re only Twenty-four years old. You’ve never been married or experienced love, or any of the good things adults get to do.”
“I’m loved by God, and I love him.”
“You haven’t finished your book yet, sugar.” Nan cried softly as she held her friend’s hand in her own.
“I think you’ll pull through this, sis. You’re a strong girl. Besides, doc said it was good they caught it so early.”
“That’s something good, huh?” Lily was amazed at the utter calm she felt. She was enveloped in the safe arms of God, no matter what the outcome.
“It is. Why don’t you get the doctor for me so we can talk?” Lily asked. Tiredness now overcame her and she was afraid she’d pass out before she had a chance to talk to him.
“Sure thing sugar, I’ll go get him.” Nan left the room, leaving her and Willie alone.
“Willie, I have a will. It’s in my top dresser drawer. If I die, make sure it’s followed to the letter.” She looked at him, feeling the first vestiges of sorrow that their time together on this earth might be over.
Wyatt slipped back into the room. His hair was wet around the edges and Lily looked at him questioningly. “Is everything okay, Sheriff?”
“Don’t call me sheriff, call me Wyatt.” He horned in between Willie and the bed, picked up her hand and held it in his. “I don’t want to waste any more time in make-believe land. I care for you. I think you know that.” His eyes looked earnestly into hers.
Lily gasped at the intensity she saw. Could he really care for her? “Okay…Wyatt.” The name slipped from her tongue easily, as she’d been speaking it to Nan for a long time. She felt a little self-conscious in front of him, but pushed it aside. He was right. It was time to put away all the childishness and be serious. She cared about this man, even though she barely knew him.
“Do you like peas?” She asked.
He looked at like she’d grown horns, and then burst out laughing, and so did Willie. “You’re a comedian, huh sis?”
“No, I just know we may not have much time. The best way to get to know somebody is learning their likes and dislikes. You know that.”
“I can’t argue with that. I’m going to the cafeteria. Do you want a drink?” He asked Wyatt.
“Sure, just leave the sick girl out.” She pouted, sticking her lips out even further than they naturally did. Nan said she had classic Cupid’s bow lips and she wanted to see if Wyatt liked them. His sharp intake of breath was a pretty good indication he did.
“You shouldn’t do that.” He rebuked.
“Okay, I won’t.” She’d gotten her answer, hadn’t she?
“I’m sorry, sis. You’ll have to wait until the doctor gets here to find out if you can have something, or not. I’m not getting stared down with those steal gray eyes of his. I think he was a werewolf at some point, or maybe still is.” He joked.
Lily and Wyatt were both staring at him in agitation, trying to convey some sort of unspoken message.
“He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?” Willie asked in a soft voice.
Lily and Wyatt both laughed out loud and shook their heads.
“Hey there, Dr. Wolf, I didn’t know you were standing there.” He turned and gave Nan a look that could kill for not warning him of their presence. She stuck out her tongue and smiled.
“It’s perfectly all right. By the way, my name is Dr. Wilkes, not Dr. Wolf, but I can see where you’d make the mistake, me being a werewolf and all.” He smiled big, showing a set of brilliant white teeth.
The other three burst out laughing while Willie turned beet red.
Lily was glad the initial feelings of fear and dread had dissipated. They genuinely cared, and it made her life much more worthwhile. “You stuck your foot in your mouth on that one, bro.
“I did, didn’t I?”
“Yep.” Nan said.
“I’m afraid so.” Wyatt replied.
“Doc, Lily wants to know if she can have a soda.” Willie said.
“Uhm…I think it’ll probably be okay. She can’t have anything after that, though. We want her stomach empty so she doesn’t get sick.”
“Great, you know what I want, will.”
“Yes I do.” He walked out the door and down the hall.
“Dr. Wilkes, will you tell me the specifics of the surgery?” Lily asked. She was half-afraid to know the answers, but had to ask.
“We’ll take you down first thing in the morning and put you out. We’ll go in and try to get the whole tumor. I want to put your mind at ease a little; I’ve done this same surgery over twenty times, and the patient has always survived.” He smiled reassuringly and patted her on the hand.
“Did they have any kind of brain damage? There was a patient on one of those doctor shows that got a brain operation and when she woke up she couldn’t talk.”
‘I don’t want to sugar-coat this procedure too much. There’s always a risk of causing damage with brain surgery. It’s never happened to any of my patients, but there’s a first time for everything.”
“Thank you for being candid with me doctor.”
“It’s my job to be as candid as I can be without being cruel.” He gave her another huge smile and left the room.
“He’s a hunk and a half.” Nan said as soon as he’d gone out the door.
“Yeah, I guess so.” She only had eyes for Wyatt, especially since he’d told her how he felt, but Nan didn’t know yet. Excitement coursed through her with the knowledge.
Willie came back with Lily’s soda and she drank it down like wine. “That was awesomely good. I can’t say the same about these nasty greens.” She grimaced and shoved them around on her plate. She hated greens. It was just her luck they’d be having them.
“Greens are good for you, puts hair on your chest.” Wyatt laughed.
“Funny, Sher…Wyatt.” She smiled shyly at him. Ever since he’d told her he liked her, she’d been self-conscious of everything she said and did. She wondered how bad her hair was. She could imagine it was horrid after the night she was having so far.
“I thought so.” His eyes had that intensity in them again and she wished she knew him well enough to know what he was trying to convey.
“I’m gonna stay with Lily tonight. What are you guys gonna do?” Nan asked.
“I’m not going anywhere.” Willie said.
“Actually, I have to leave so I can feed my cat, but I’ll be back.” Wyatt said with a chagrined smile.
“You have a cat? I never would’ve pegged you as a cat person.” Lily said.
“I’m not, or I wasn’t, until my sister brought it over and left it on my doorstep and rang the doorbell one night. It was so tiny and cute. It had a white fur and huge blue eyes. I took one look and I was lost, much the same way…” He broke off and then added, “I’ll be back as soon as I get her fed and watered. Lily, do you need anything while I’m out?”
“I could really use an extra pillow.”
“I’ll bring you one.” He turned his gaze toward Willie and Nanny. “How about you guys? Do you need anything?”
“I think I’m good, how about you?” Nan asked as she looked at Willie.
“I think I’m good. Thanks for being here, Wyatt. It really means a lot to Lily.” Willie said as he walked the sheriff out of the room and down the hall.
“It means a lot to me. I don’t know what I’ll do if something happens to her. I hate that I didn’t take the time to tell her how I felt. I’ve liked her for two years, but she never seemed interested. It was just a fluke I happened to be driving by this morning when she passed out. And then she called 911 later on. It’s almost like we were meant to get together today.”
“God works in mysterious ways, Dude.”
“I agree with that. I’ll be back as soon as I feed Princess.”
“You named your cat Princess?” Willie snorted.
“No, my sister named her. She had a collar on when she dropped her off, along with a dish, some food and a carrier.”
Willie laughed. “She sounds awesome.”
“She is. She’s the operator who took your sister’s call this morning.”
“That’s a coincidence.”
“See what I mean? I think we’re being helped along with a few nudges from God.”
“It’s a possibility.”
“Yes it is. I’m gonna go. Tell her I’ll be back soon.” He threw one last glance in Lily’s direction and then disappeared out the door.
“He’s got it for you bad, sis.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t. He didn’t want to leave at all, but he has a cat and it needs to eat.”
“I still never would’ve pegged him for the feline persuasion, at least the four-legged kind.”
Willie laughed. “I’m glad to see you’re still you. It’s hard enough to deal with all by itself. If you were all torn up, I probably couldn’t deal with it.”
“Honestly, I’m worried, but there’s nothing we can do. Hopefully the doctor knows what he’s doing.”
“He seems pretty smart, and confident. Most people think confidence is a bad thing. When it comes to my sister’s help, though, I want all the confidence he can muster.”
“Thanks Willie.” He reached over and hugged her.
“Do you want something at the gift shop? I think the one at this hospital is open 24/7.”
“You could bring me a Bible. I’d really like to read before I go to bed.”
“Lily, I could’ve gone home and brought yours.”
“I know, but it’s too much trouble.”
“I’ll go get yours at home. I know you mark in it when you read. Besides, you don’t have your glasses, either. Is there anything else? Please don’t hesitate to tell me, sis. It’ll make me feel useful.”
“Make sure you bring my whole Bible bag. It’s got my colored pens and highlighters in it, and my extra pair of glasses. I know it’s almost summertime, but I’m cold in here. A blanket would be nice.”
“I’ll get it. If you think of anything else, just call me.”
“Hey, I’ll need my phone charger, too.” She smiled brilliantly, trying not to show either of them the worry she was feeling. The earlier calm had given way to panic, and an emotion so deep, she couldn’t explain it. It was fear, dread, and regret all mixed up together. Was she ready to die? She hoped so.
“You’re welcome, sis.” He left the room.
“Shew, I’m glad they’re gone for a minute. I have to talk to you.”
“What’s up, sugar?”
“I told Willie I have a will and where it is. I want you to make sure it’s executed just the way I’ve asked.”
“You’re not going to die, Lily.”
“I hope not. I need to be prepared if I do, though.”
Nan gave her a look of sorrow, and then agreed. “Okay, what else do you need me to do?”
“I have a diary I’ve been writing ever since I met you. It’s for you. I want you to read it. It covers all the memories of our friendship.”
“Just promise me, Nan. I want you to read it.”
“Okay, I will. What else?”
“The house has to go to Willie because it’s been in our family for generations, but I made a stipulation he can never sell it, and he has to share it with you. If you want to come there and live, he has to let you.”
“You mean to tell me you’re match-making even from the grave?”
“A girl can always hope, can’t she?”
Nan threw her head back and laughed heartily. I love you sugar.”
“I love you, too, Nan. You’ve been the best friend a girl could ever have.”
“You too, sugar.” Nan reached over and hugged her once more.
“We’ve hugged more tonight than in the last year.” Lily said with a rueful smile.
“Well, that’s all about to change. After this surgery, we need to have a whole day of just you and me.”
“We can, if I’m still alive after surgery.”
“You will be, sugar. God wouldn’t take you away from me, would he?”
“I don’t know, girl. I don’t know what His will is for this situation.”
“Let’s pray. Give Him glory and ask for guidance.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
When they finished praying Lily thought, ‘I’ll wait and tell her about Wyatt if I make it out of surgery.’ The lights grew dim; a tunnel appeared before her eyes and she tried to scream at Nan to help her, but she slipped into unconsciousness.