Promises of Mercy

By: Vella Day


He first stopped by the ER to speak to Randy Carstead, the doc who’d worked on Chris. Stone waited until Randy finished with a patient.

When his friend spotted him, he tore off his gloves, dumped them in the trash, and came over. “I’m not used to seeing you here without a gurney by your side or not wearing your uniform.”

“I just stopped by to find out about my trauma patient I brought in.”

Randy shook his head. “It was bad. His C7 was severed.”

“Fuck.” He feared all that movement had done irrevocable damage.

They were only able to discuss the kid’s other injuries for a few minutes because a gunshot victim rolled in.

Randy’s shoulders straightened. “Gotta go. Let’s hit Banner’s Bar next week.”

Stone could use a hard night of partying. “Works for me.”

As soon as Randy disappeared behind the automatic door, Stone went up to the ICU, and spoke with the nurse on duty who gave him Chris’s room number. She mentioned that Amber had been in earlier and said she’d be back.

“Thanks.”

He walked to the end of the hall, knocked on Chris’s door and opened it. The young man was stretched out on his bed with his eyes closed. At least he was breathing on his own.

“Hey, Chris.”

The kid opened his eyes. He looked at Stone hard as if he was trying to recognize him. “Who are you?”

It was always hit or miss whether the victim would remember him. “I’m Stone Benson, the paramedic who brought you here.”

He turned his head. “You should have let me die.”

Christ. He sounded so much like Heath, Stone’s heart squeezed. He pulled up a chair and straddled it. “Listen. What happened to you is a tragedy, but you ran the red light.” Personal responsibility could be a bitch.

Chris’s gaze shot right then left. “I don’t remember anything.”

“That’s not unusual.”

The kid’s jaw hardened then trembled. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t need to apologize to me. You have to live with the consequences.” Stone found that by being tough, the patient could better cope.

“Was anyone else hurt?” Tears threatened to spill and he turned away.

“No. Only you. You’re lucky you’re not dead.”

Chris looked back to Stone. “I’m scared.”

That cracked his heart. Stone had two options. Be gentle and supportive or tell Chris his options. If the kid didn’t face his reality like a man, he’d never find something fulfilling in his life.

“I know. It sucks, but you can make the best of what you have.”

He shook his head. “I can’t do it.”

Stone had heard the same sentiment from many patients, especially from the critical ones. “Yes, you can. I bet your sister wants you to try.”

“I don’t want Amber to have to take care of me.”

So that was at the crux of his issues.

Before he could address the situation, the door opened, and Stone turned around. A woman, who he guessed was Amber, along with another nurse, entered. Cade had described the sister as being about five feet four, having long wavy brown hair, a pert nose, and full lips. The fact one of the women was a blonde made identifying Amber easy.

He pushed back his chair and stood. “Ladies.” He nodded to both. “I’m Stone Benson. I was the paramedic on duty who brought Chris in. I just stopped by to check on him.”

“I’m Amber, Chris’s sister.” Her shoulders sagged.

The blonde woman clasped Amber’s arm. “I’ll call you later.”

Amber’s lips pressed together as if she was working hard to keep it together. “Please do.” They hugged.

Amber looked behind him at her brother. “May we speak outside?” She looked tired and quite disheartened though he could hardly blame her.

“Sure.” He’d already switched his day off with Drake Longworth, so he had time to spend with her.

“I’ll be back, Chris,” she said.

Her brother didn’t answer.

They stepped into the hallway. “How is he?” she asked.

“I’m not a doctor, but as someone who has seen his share of bad accidents, I’ve witnessed the whole range of reactions. Chris is scared, but that’s not unusual.”