Close To Home (Westen Series)(3)

By: Suzanne Ferrell

“Home in bed, I suppose.”

Clint hated his nurse’s brusque answers. He waited for her to explain. Her expression told him he’d have to ask. “All right, I’ll bite. Why is their mother home in bed in the middle of the day, instead of here with her sons? And while you’re at it, maybe you can tell me how they got here by themselves.”

“Emma works the afternoon-to-close shift over at the Peaches ‘N Cream Café,” was all the explanation his nurse gave before she disappeared down the hall.

He turned back to the boys, more confused than ever.

“Mommy wants to deliver babies,” Benjamin volunteered.

“She does, huh?” Clint gave the boys a reassuring smile.

“Yeah,” Brian chimed in. “But she’s busy delivering blue plate specials instead.”

This sounded like a direct quote to Clint. Did the woman resent helping support her sons? And just how did she want to deliver babies? “Do you want her to deliver babies?”

“Yep. We want her to deliver us a baby sister.”

This caught Clint completely off guard and he laughed. “I don’t think your mom can just bring you a sister, guys.”

“Then how’re we gonna get one?” Brian asked.

This was a tricky one. “Well, you could always ask your dad,” Clint suggested.

“We don’t got one, Doc Clint,” Benjamin said. Brian nodded his head in agreement.

Clint shook his head a moment. Another fatherless family. How many had he seen over the years? “Well, guys, I guess you’ll just have to talk to your mom about getting you a sister, then. But she still can’t just bring one home from the hospital.”

“I told you, Bri. Moms have to grow them inside their bellies like the rabbit mom did.” Benjamin gave his brother a shove that sent him flying off the edge of the exam table. Clint grabbed Brian before he could injure himself further.

“Hey, let’s not break anything else before I get those arms fixed, okay?” He set Brian beside his brother.

“You gonna take pictures of our arms with that big machine back there?” Benjamin pointed out the exam room door and down the hall to where Harriett worked in the x-ray room.

“That’s the only way I can tell how bad you guys have hurt your arms, Benjamin.” Clint gave them a reassuring pat on each of their knees. “But I promise it won’t hurt a bit.”

“Oh, we know that,” Benjamin said. “Doc Ray took pictures of our heads last winter...”

“...when we crashed into the tree at the bottom of Yoder Hill on our sleds,” Brian finished.

Clint studied the two young daredevils with renewed appreciation. Yoder Hill was infamous. Every Christmas, when they visited his aunt and uncle, he and his sisters and brothers had joined the local kids to sled down that hill. And every year one of them crashed into that huge oak at the bottom.

“If it didn’t hurt last winter, it shouldn’t hurt this time either.” He helped each boy off of the table then headed out of the exam room. When he didn’t hear two sets of footsteps behind him, he turned to find both boys rooted to the spot.

He walked back to them. “Don’t you guys believe me?”

“We believe you,” Benjamin said, his younger brother nodding in agreement.

Clint hunkered down in front of them. “Then what’s the problem?”

“Lollipops,” came the brief answer from behind him.

He looked over his shoulder at his nurse. “What do lollipops have to do with x-rays, Harriett?”

She handed one to each of the boys as she answered. “Don’t you remember? Doc Ray always gives his patients a magic lollipop so the picture will turn out fine. Isn’t that right, boys?”

The twins nodded as they popped their treats into their mouths and trotted off down the hall behind the nurse.

How could he forget those magic lollipops? Clint chuckled to himself as the trio disappeared into the x-ray room of the clinic. He’d had his share of them as a child in this very room. Now he knew exactly why those two reminded his uncle of him. When he was their age he’d been in just as many scrapes. Instead of dragging a twin into his trouble with him, he’d dragged his two younger brothers along.

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