Promises of Mercy

By: Vella Day

“It’s going to be up to Chris. All you can do is be there for him.” She certainly didn’t need to believe it was her responsibility to make Chris happy.

“I know, but my brother is going to be so miserable. This may sound callous, but perhaps he’d have been happier if he’d died in the crash. Chris is strong when he wants to be, but I don’t see the fight in him this time around.”

Cade’s doubts regarding Amber resurfaced in his mind, but Stone refused to believe she really would lend a helping hand to end someone’s life. Her belief in the human spirit seemed too strong.

Stone reached out and clasped her hand. “Give him time. Just be supportive in whatever he decides.”

Her lips quivered. “Thanks. I know we’ll get through this somehow.”

They finished their meal and placed their trays next to the trash. Stone motioned her toward the exit. “I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through right now, but I want you to know I’m a good listener.”

Amber had struck a chord in him. He dealt with the injured every day, but he had a responsibility to help the strong and brave ones, too. When his sister had been diagnosed with acute leukemia eighteen years ago, it was his aunt who’d spent time with him when everyone’s attention had been focused on Katie. Having Auntie Carol’s support was what allowed him the ability to help his sister get through the chemo and the bouts of pain. Everyone needed an advocate.

He pulled a card from his pocket. “Here’s my number if you ever need to vent. I’ll be back to check on Chris from time to time.”

“Thank you.”

When they left the cafeteria, he welcomed the sudden drop in noise. He placed a hand on her shoulder. “I mean it when I say call me.”

She nodded, turned, and walked down the hallway. When she reached the elevator, she glanced back. The quick smile she gave him lodged deep in his chest. There was no way Amber Delacroix could take anyone’s life. She was too pure and full of hope.

Chapter Three

Between visiting Chris, working her twelve-hour shifts, and barely sleeping, Amber’s body was beginning to give out. If her mind would just stop drifting to her brother’s worsening condition, she might be able to handle the fatigue better. She wasn’t even sure if she was giving her patients the care they deserved.

Twice, she’d been about to give a patient the wrong dosage, when at the last minute, she’d snapped out of her daze. At least she had the wherewithal to double check herself from then on. As a medical professional, she understood that if she didn’t rest, she’d have to tell Tammy she’d be using the remainder of her vacation days in the coming weeks, which meant she wouldn’t always be close by should Chris need her.

Amber usually stopped in to see her brother during her breaks, but too often he was asleep. When she was able to wake him, she suggested he try to move his fingers, but he kept shaking his head, asking why he should bother. He just wanted to die.

She might have to ask Stone to have another talk with Chris. Somehow, the man-to-man thing had seemed to work—at least temporarily. The therapist said Chris was depressed, but everyone Amber spoke with told her that was to be expected. She and the therapist both were trying to find things for him to do that would stimulate him and give him a reason to live. But nothing had worked so far.

On the fifth night after Chris’s accident, Jamie and Ben insisted they take her to dinner. Jamie had been Amber’s rock these last couple of days. Her friend always seemed to know all the right words to say.

After eating a big meal and enjoying herself for the first time since the incident, she went home and crashed. She actually slept. Amber figured it was because her body knew she didn’t have to work for the next three days.

When she awoke, she felt a little perkier until she called her mom.

“He’s not any better?” her mom asked.

“Not mentally. Not physically, either. He’s not exactly excited about physical therapy.” She inhaled. “It might help if you visited.”

“Has he asked for me?”

Amber didn’t know what her mother hoped her response would be, but she wouldn’t lie. “No, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come and be supportive.”