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Chapter Twenty-Six ~
Twenty minutes later Jude was in surgery and the EMT was hooked to an IV, as was Jackson Masters. All in all they had escaped serious harm, at least considering the fact they had been dealing with one of the more vicious serial killers, Justy thought.
Amy and Justy were talking with Jackson, who had perked up as soon as they’d pumped an IV bag full of fluids in him.
Jude's partner Lauren knocked lightly on the door. It was opened just far enough to see out into the hallway, and Amy gestured for Lauren to come in.
She came in and said, "I know you guys are busy, but could I ask you something real quick?"
"Sure, let's walk to the cafeteria. We're just waiting on his IV to run out and then they're going to release him," Amy replied as she kissed Jackson on the forehead. "Do you need a drink or anything before I leave, honey?"
"No, I just want this headache to go away, but thanks for asking. Could you check on Jude while you're out?" It was the third time he’d asked in the twenty minutes Jude had been in surgery.
"Yes, I'll check. Why don't you lay your head back and get a couple minutes' nap?" She bent over and kissed him on the forehead again. "We'll be right back."
A few minutes later Amy, Justy and Lauren were sitting at one of the small pink and white cafeteria tables, sipping on sodas. "What did you want to talk about?” Justy asked.
"I have a few things I would like to say while it's fresh on my mind. I know sometimes I get busy with my job and I kind of forget to be 'normal.' The first thing is how thankful I am Jude has found you guys as friends. You're all awesome people." She wasn't trying to use flattery, she really meant it, and Justy could tell.
"Thank you, that's very sweet of you to say." She knew Lauren was trying to get her nerve up to ask something else, and she waited with patience.
"I've had a crush on Jude ever since I was partnered with him," Lauren said. Justy was surprised by her words. She hadn’t known what to expect, but it hadn’t been that.
"I never would've guessed," Justy said.
"Yeah, I've tried to keep it pretty quiet because I knew he didn't reciprocate, and now that he's found you, my chances of ever getting his attention are pretty non-existent." At least she’s being honest, Justy thought, trying not to feel jealous.
"Yeah, he is in love with her.” There was sympathy in Amy’s smile as she glanced first at Justy, and then Lauren.
"I know, and it doesn’t bother me like I thought it would. I'm happy he's happy, you know?"
"I do know. Maybe you just had a little crush on him. You two seem more like brother and sister than boyfriend and girlfriend," Amy suggested.
"I know. That's what I'm thinking, too," Lauren said as she glanced at Justy. “I’m not trying to start anything; I just want to be honest.”
“That’s fine, I appreciate honesty.” Justy smiled in offered friendship. I like her.
"Not to sound rude or anything, but what is it you really want to say? You don't have to feel embarrassed to ask us anything, you know," Amy said with a coaxing smile.
"Okay, here it is. Uhm… I know I was messed-up with a really bad character. I still can't believe I was that naive. But there was this thing when I first saw Justice..." She trailed off.
"Who is Justice?" Amy asked.
"He's the EMT guy, you know, the cute blond one that got drugged," Lauren said with a shy smile.
She seems more like a child than a hardened FBI agent, Justy thought.
"Oh yeah, I remember. I'm sorry, my brain is kind of scrambled right now," Amy apologized.
"When I first saw him I felt terrible because he was lying there all drugged up and barely breathing, but I felt a little twinge of attraction. I don't want to be a bad person, you know, but it just keeps happening...I liked him immediately and I don't even know him. I need to quit making these kinds of snap judgments just on someone's looks, you know?" Lauren asked.
"So are you asking us if it's okay to like this guy? Or is it something more?" Amy asked in confusion.
"I'm not even sure myself. I guess I just want to know if you guys think it's okay to like the guy. Should I ask him out? Should I wait and see if he likes me, or what?" Her brows furrowed in confusion.
Just then the pastors walked in with their wives. Justy thanked God under her breath for the intrusion. She didn't know what to say to the woman and she doubted Amy did, either.
"Pastor Adams, Pastor Cobb, how nice to see you," She enthused. She got up and shook the pastors' hands, and those of their wives.
"We're all doing well. We got the prisoners to jail and they were booking them when we left. Scott is upstairs with Jackson and the rest of the team. They're all waiting on news about Jude," Shepherd Adams said as they took a seat at the next table.
"We all prayed for Jude while we were up there. The nurse said he was still in surgery and she'll page us when he's in recovery. They expect it to go well. Although it was a bad break, it’s repairable," Isaiah informed them. "I've never seen one that bad myself."
"Honey, we need to call and check on Tiffany," Stacy said to her husband. They got up and walked to the corner while they made their call.
"She's just blooming with this pregnancy," Evie Adams gushed. Justy could see the older woman loved the younger one and a wave of envy rushed through her.
"She's is shining," Amy agreed. "Pastor Adams, Lauren posed a question to me that I think you're better qualified to answer." She looked at Lauren to see if it was okay. Lauren gave her a quick look of uncertainty, but then nodded.
"What was the question?" His smile was curious.
"Lauren wanted to know if it was an okay thing to ask a guy out, or to wait and see if he likes her,” Amy repeated. She gave Lauren a reassuring look and said, "Lauren, the pastors can answer this question a lot better than I can. You don't have to worry about them saying anything because they will keep it in the strictest confidence."
"The main thing to know about relationships between men and women is that they are to be permanent. If the man in question isn't someone you're thinking of marrying, then you should steer clear of any involvement with him. That's how promiscuous relationships get started.
"So should I just leave this guy alone and never find out if he was the one meant for me?" She asked. There was no guile in her voice.
"Is the man you're talking about the EMT?" Isaiah asked.
"Yes it is." Her face turned red.
"I personally don't think there's anything wrong with you talking to the guy as long as there's someone else present as chaperone," He said as he and Stacy sat down. They'd just rejoined the group after making their phone call and getting a small meal of salad and crackers from the cafeteria.
"Why do I have to have one of those, though?" Lauren asked with a wrinkled nose and questioning eyes.
"Anytime two people of the opposite sex get together, bad things are bound to happen, even when we don't mean them to. That's why I won't ever be alone with anyone but my wife. If you don't put yourself in the position, it can't happen. It also keeps you free and clear from people who might otherwise want to blacken your name with lies and rumors," Isaiah added.
Lauren looked contemplative for a moment, and then said, "That makes sense. Does anyone want to go up to Justice's room with me, then?"
"I'll go with you," Stacy Cobb volunteered.
"Thank you, I appreciate it,” Lauren said with a smile.
They all drank their sodas and ate a quick meal before heading back up to the waiting room. When they made it to the correct floor the nurse was waiting for them. "Mr. Johnson is out of surgery now if you would like to see him."
"Awesome, I'm going first. Should I take a chaperone with me?" Justy asked uncertainly. She knew the conversation hadn't been for her, but it sounded like it applied to her too.
"I'll go with you," Amy offered. "I have to go see if Jack's awake, but I can join you as soon as I'm done."
"That's great, thanks." When she'd gotten her first look at Jude, she'd been worried sick it wouldn't go well, but it seemed to be going along fine now. She couldn't wait to see him and see if he was as happy to see her as she was to see him.
They rushed down the hall toward the recovery room with a quick stop at Jackson's hospital room door. "Hey Jackson, are you okay?" Amy asked as she went to his side.
"I'm great, other than being ready to leave this place," He said in disgust. "While you were gone they brought my tray and everything on it tasted like cardboard," He groused as he gestured toward the barely touched food on the hospital tray.
Amy and Lauren laughed, and Amy said, "We're going up to see Jude now. Do you want to go?"
"Yes, I want to see him. Is he awake yet?"
"Yes, I'll get a wheelchair, you stay right here." Amy rushed out of the room.
A few minutes later they entered the operating room's recovery area and went over to Jude's bed. His arm was in a soft cast. He was awake, but looked pale and groggy. Justy ran to him and had her hands in his hair before he had a chance to say anything. She lowered her mouth to his and laid her lips on his for the briefest of moments. "Jude Johnson, will you marry me?" She asked quietly. There were tears in her eyes as she asked, and Amy and Jackson both gasped in surprise.
"I wonder if the pastors would think that was okay," Amy said in amusement.
"I don't know, should I have asked them first?" Justy asked, feeling uncertain now. It had slipped out before she could stop it.
"I don't know. I guess it's a little late now." Jackson grinned. "Answer the lady, mate."
"Of course I'll marry you. I love you with all my heart," He responded in a crackling voice that sounded more like a frog croaking than a person. His throat was dry from the surgery. He tried to put his good arm out to touch her, but it missed its mark and thudded against the metal railing of the bed. "Ow, that hurt."
Everyone laughed, the feeling in the room a happy one. The nurse came in and told them they would move Jude to another room so he could receive his visitors, and in a few short minutes Jude was in a real hospital bed surrounded by all his friends.
"Pastor Adams, do you think you could stay around long enough to do a wedding?" Jude asked in a stronger voice. He was coming around after his surgery and he wanted to make sure Justy didn't back out.
"Who wants to get married?" He asked.
"Justy has asked me to marry her," Jude grinned.
"Is that so?" He asked. "I've never encountered that one.” He smiled and said, "It’s a yes if it's going to take place soon. I have to be home by Monday."
"Is Sunday soon enough?" Jude asked. "I can't wait to begin the rest of my life with the woman I love. The woman I didn't even know I was waiting for." He looked at Justy with eyes full of love as she gripped his hands in hers.
"Here comes the bride, all dressed in white..." Amy said in a sing-song voice as they all faded away to let the two lovebirds affirm their love for each other. God was so good.