Chapter 17

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Gary strolls around the hospital halls with his sister by his side. With every person he passes he can't wait to leave, but yet feels very deeply for those same people. "So when does the doctor say y'all can leave?"

Jaelyn shrugs. "He hasn't really given a date or even an idea. About the only thing he has said is that because of us living pretty far away he has concerns about leaving too soon. I don't really know what that means though."

"Mmm," he nods.

Suddenly she pokes him in the side and grins. "Soooooo."

"Soooooo," he retorts with a smirk.

Slowly she narrows her eyes at him. "So, how are things between you and Brooke? Have you told her?"

Before he has a chance to reply there is a chipper, "Tell me what?" behind them.

Jaelyn's face goes pale and her eyes grow wide as her gaze slowly and cautiously look up to her big brother. His face holds guilt, dread, and exhaustion. "I am so sorry," she mouths to him. "You know what? I should probably go check on my hubby."

And with that Brooke and Gary stand in the plain grey hospital halls watching her speed walk away. Brooke with cheerful eagerness and Gary with a heavy heart.

"Umm, would you like to continue this outside?"

With a warm smile and a nod Brooke follows him out to the side garden of the large hospital. "I'm sorry if I interrupted," she offers as they walk side by side.

He can't help but to look over at her. "No, you didn't. I've been meaning to talk with you anyway." There is a moment where they just walk until he motions to a bench just ahead of them. They sit and he runs his hands over his legs as his palms are starting to get sweaty. Much to his surprise, when he steals a glance at Brooke she is patiently waiting with a warm caring expression on her face.

"I know I told you back at the service," he starts, "that sometime I would tell you the story that Janet had started to falsely tell you. Well I think now, that it is likely she with conveniently find me when I am picking stuff up for the ranch and such, I should tell you the real story of what happened."

Brooke gently places her hand on his knee, but then quickly moves it. She coughs a bit before saying, "You really don't have to if you don't want to. I can tell it isn't an eas-"

Holding up his hand he interrupts her, "No. I really do want to tell you."

"Okay." She nods relaxing a hair.

With a far off look in his eyes he begins to speak, "Peter and I met when I went to college. We hit it off right away and we became like brothers. Any time either of us went home for the weekend the other was there to; it wasn't even a question. So, when Peter got in a serious relationship the middle of our freshman year I felt like I was being replaced."

Quietly Brooke turns to face him better. Her face holds a listening and sympathetic expression as she gazes at him and soaks up his words.

"After a while I got used to only having wide times with Peter once or twice a month instead of two or three times a week. She consumed his every moment and I saw how it was tearing him up inside," he sighs and shakes his head, "but I was too afraid of totally loosing our friendship to tell him what I was seeing. It got so deep between them that Peter once told me he was thinking about getting an engagement ring. At that point I spoke up a bit, but only told him that he might want to think about waiting."

Brooke watches as every word he says eats him as if he's living in that moment all over again. Inside she wants to know the story, but she just wants to yell 'stop' at the top of her lungs. She can't stand to see him in so much internal pain.

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