Excerpt for Ruby Book Three of the Precious Stone Series by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Book 3 of the Precious Stone Series

M. A. Silver

Copyright © 2018 by M. A. Silver

This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead is coincidental.

All rights to reproduction of this work are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced to a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the permission of the copyright owner. Thank you for respecting the copyright.

For permission or information on foreign, audio or other rights, contact the author.

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click the Precious Gems page


The Ruby


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


The Ruby

What follows is information for entertainment purposes only and taken directly from several internet sites. It is not meant to provide any kind of medical advise. So, if you’re sick or have any of the malaise mentioned below, seek medical help. But maybe take a bit of the metaphysical to heart. I mean, what could it hurt? MAS

Rubies throughout time have been said to have many positive effects and mystical properties. The ruby is associated with the sun, and was thought to preserve mental and physical health. In the middle ages, rubies were viewed as a stone of prophecy. It was thought the stone darkened when danger was near.

For thousands of years, Ruby was considered the stone of love, energy, passion, power, and a zest for life. Like no other gemstone in the world, Ruby is the perfect symbol for powerful feelings. The other important element of Ruby besides fire is blood, and Ruby is said to restore vital life forces and increase energy and vigor. Ruby is also known as the stone of courage, and legend tells us that a person possessing a ruby can walk through life without fear of evil or misfortune.

Physically, rubies are thought to energize and balance, stimulate heart chakra and encourage a passion for life, but never in a self-destructive way. They overcome exhaustion and calm hyperactivity. They detoxify the body and blood, treat fevers, diseases, and restricted blood flow. They are good for the heart and circulatory system and stimulate the adrenals, kidneys, reproductive organs and spleen.

Emotionally, it is believed that rubies improve motivation and the setting of goals. They promote positive dreams and clear visualization and aid in retaining wealth and passion. They bring up negative anger in order for change and removal. They also promote dynamic leadership. They bring a positive and courageous state of mind- one that is sharp, hyper aware and concentrated. They make you stronger during times of controversy or dispute and shield against physical attack. A ruby is also said to be a settler of disputes, having the power of reconciliation. A ruby is dynamic, and brings about passion and enthusiasm, attracting sexual activity.


Lizzie and Mack met Dr. Andrew ‘Drew’ Mathews outside Ruth’s room after Drew’s last office appointment. Ruth had been moved from ICU three days earlier and seemed to be making a little progress. She had been put in a walking cast and was now able to get out of bed and at least make it to the bathroom by herself.

Together they walked in and found Ruth sitting in the chair, looking out the window. The sun was shining in from behind her, turned her hair a brilliant, deep, ruby red. Ruth slowly turned her upper torso to watch them walk toward her while Mack stayed further back. Slowly, she raised herself out of the chair and walked to the bed, climbing in cautiously. Drew watched the way she moved. Or more, how she didn’t move. Her head. She kept it straight, forward and he wondered if his guess about her neck was correct.

“Ruth? How are you doing today?” Lizzie asked.

“No” she mouthed.

Lizzie and Drew were taken back. It was the first time she’d tried to communicate.

“No? No, what, Ruth?” Lizzie asked gently.

Gasping for breath, she tried again. “No… uth.” she whispered her voice sounding like she had a throat full of gravel.

Lizzie come forward and sat on the edge of the bed, putting her hand on Ruth‘s arm. Drew walked around the other side of the bed.

“Oou… call… uby…”

Lizzie smiled in understanding. “You want to be called Ruby?”

“Yeth…” Ruby hissed, relaxing.

“Well, Ruby, I’m Lizzie and this is Mack. Do you remember us?”

Ruby blinked in acknowledgement.

“And you remember Dr. Mathews?”

Drew took a step closer to the bed.

“Ruby? Does your neck hurt?” Drew asked.

Again, a blink.

“Ruby, may I touch you?” Drew needed her to trust him. She’d been through too much at the hands of a sadist male. He needed her to trust him.


Very gently, Drew put his fingers under her jaw, and felt heat radiate up his fingers, hands and arms. Not sure what just happened, he didn’t move for a second. Then gently squeezing, moving down and around until his hands were in front and directly under her jaw. Pushing gently he watched her eyes widen and tears filled them.

“Shhh, it’s okay, Ruby. I think I know what’s causing the problem. Something not caught earlier and for that I apologize. We’ll talk about that later.”

Lizzie had watched Dr. Mathews examine Ruby and felt she knew what he was looking for. If she’d guess right, hopefully they could help Ruby.

“Ruby, you’re going to be discharged soon. Do you have someone we can call, or that can help you while you get better?”

They all saw the fear in her eyes when Lizzie mentioned calling someone.

“No!” Ruby mouthed, trying to infuse as much emphasis into the word that whispered out of her.

“Shhh, Ruby, it’s okay. Mack and I want you to come stay with us. Would you like that?”

Ruby looked from Lizzie, who sat next to her, her hand resting on Ruby’s arm, to Mack who stood back, arms crossed across his chest, holding himself apart, then her eyes shifted across to the doctor, whose hand lay gently on her shoulder. She raised her hand and laid it over Lizzie’s womb and closed her eyes. Lizzie would have been stunned, but she felt a warm and tranquil pulse radiate through her where Ruby touched. Mack tensed, but didn’t move.

Then Ruby removed her hand, opened her eyes and smiled gently. She pointed to Lizzie and then Mack.

“Ba…be.” she rasped.

Drew watched the look of shock take over Lizzie’s face, then heard a loud thud. He looked over to see Mack had fainted.

* * *

It took Drew and two orderlies to get Mack up and sitting on the other bed in the room. Drew had grabbed an ampoule of smelling salts and crushing it, waved it under Mack’s nose until he slapped at Drew’s hand.

“I’m fine! What the hell happened?” Mack asked looking at Lizzie who had a huge grin on her face and then at Ruby, who had her hand over her mouth to cover the grin.

“You fainted, you big lug!” Drew laughed loud and long at the thought.

Lizzie watched Mack to make sure he was alright, then turned back to Ruby, her eyes soft and searching.

“Ruby, I’m not pregnant.” she said gently.

Ruby blinked and pointed to Lizzie’s abdomen. “Ba…by…” she mouthed. “Boy…” she choked out and gasped for breath.

Drew was at her side in a flash. Putting his hands under her jaw bone, he gently lifted.

“Relax, sweetheart. Breathe, through your nose. Shhh… Just breathe through it. Good girl… easy darlin‘…” Drew needed to keep eye contact to let her know he was there for her. Drew was looking into Ruby’s light brown eyes, noticing for the first time the gold flecks. Slowly her breathing slowed and he felt her relax under his hands. Then she brought her hand up, one small hand wrapped around his thumb. He felt the shock, then soothing heat work it’s way up his arm and into his chest. A calmness came over him and when her hand released him, he felt bereft. Ruby watched him, then pointed her finger, touching his chest. “Tay… oou…“ Then she closed her eyes and relaxed back against the raised head of the bed and fell asleep.

* * *

The three sat in Drew Mathews’ office waiting for the timer to count down. After Ruby’s pronouncement, they’d gone back to his office where Drew had handed Lizzie a cup, a little pregnancy stick and told her to pee. Taking the cup, Lizzie had gone into the bath just off Drew’s office and done just that. She took the little stick and had dunked it. That was seven minutes ago. Only three minutes to go.

“She couldn’t have known. I mean, she has to be wrong. Right?” Lizzie asked no one in particular. “I mean, if she’s right, how did this happen? Or how did she know?”

“Lizzie, you’re a nurse, do you have to ask how it happened?” Drew grinned as Mack still looked a little green around the gills.

“No, I mean, I’m on the pill!” Lizzie cried.

“Nothing is 100% Lizzie. If you missed a couple of days, like when Mack was in the hospital, that would be all it would take. Would it be such a bad thing? If you were pregnant?” Drew asked. He’d never told anyone of his desire to become a father. Or that his wife had been 13 weeks pregnant when she’d died in that auto accident.

“No, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’d love to have Liam’s baby! I mean, I’m almost thirty and I never thought I would meet a man, fall in love and be a mother.”

The little bell rang and Lizzie grabbed Mack’s hand and dragged him up and to the bathroom. Drew remained where he was. This was for them. He would just be an intruder.

He heard Lizzie’s sob and Mack’s voice gently soothing her. Together they came back and the radiant look on Lizzie’s tear streaked face told Drew everything he needed to know.

“Congratulations to both of you.” He stood and held his hand out to Mack who shook it. Then he kissed Lizzie on the forehead and left his office to give them a little privacy.

* * *

After leaving his office, Drew walked across the campus and up to the third floor of the hospital and silently let himself into Ruby’s room. He sat in the chair by the side of her bed and gently laid his hand on her left arm above the cast, where it lay on top of the thin sheet covering her tiny frame. Leaning closer, he softly laid his hand on her forehead, stroking her hair back from her face. His eyes were unfocused, his hand on automatic. He continued to stroke her hair, until he became aware of those beautiful gold flecked, light brown eyes watching him. His other hand lay lightly on her arm.

“How did you know, Ruby?” Drew asked quietly.

She didn’t answer, just watched him.

“ive… wit… oou…” she rasped. “No… dem…”

“Oou… nee…” she said, but the last word she could only mouth, “me…”

Chapter 1

“Ruby, you can’t stay with me. That wouldn’t be proper. Besides, I work long hours and can’t be there to take care of you.” Drew tried to explain. What he couldn’t explain, especially to himself was why the idea of Ruby living with him felt so right, so good.

“Ive… ith… oou…” Ruby felt like her throat and tongue were going to explode. Her voice, once soft, high and childlike was strange to her own ears. ‘HE’ had hated her voice and she was not allowed to speak when with him. Now, gravely and horse, she didn’t recognize it as her own. Even after not speaking for all these weeks, the pain was intense.

“Ruby, Lizzie and Mack want you to live with them. Don’t you think you’d be more comfortable at their home?”

Ruby gently laid her free hand over Dr. Mathews’ where it lay on her arm above her cast. Drew felt the gentle heat where her hand touched his, then felt as it made its way up his arm, across his chest, where it settled. A sense of calm over took him and he once again, leaned over, looking deeply into Ruby’s eyes. The gold flecks seemed to glow and the brown of her eyes turned golden.

“Tay… wit… oou…” and removing her hand from his, Ruby laid it over his chest.

Again, Drew felt a sense of peace steal over him. When she finally removed her hand, she laid back against the raised head of the bed, closed her eyes and gently fell asleep.

He sat there for the next hour stroking her hair, wondering why she felt he needed her.

* * *

It was the rattle of the meal cart that woke Ruby the next morning. The aid, an elderly Hispanic woman, whose name tag read “Elena” came in and set the tray on the table next to Ruby’s bed and moved the table so it was over the bed. Ruby smiled at the aid, noticing she looked sad. As much as Ruby wanted to touch her, she knew she didn’t have the strength this morning to deal with the woes of another. So, she lifted the lid that was covering breakfast and sighed. She was getting tired of liquids, but still didn’t think she could handle the scrambled eggs, which from the texture, she knew to be powdered, and toast. She might be able to handle the oatmeal, but would have preferred Cream of Wheat with lots of milk and sugar. Oh, well, maybe tomorrow she’d be better able to get her order across.

She pushed the orange juice to the side. It burned her throat when she swallowed and gingerly reached over for the water pitcher next to her bed and poured herself a glass. She’d really like some ice, but didn’t want to bother the nurses or aids with her requests.

It was something ‘The Father’ had drummed into her from an early age. To not be burden. Her lot in life was to serve. Marry and become one of many wives serving one husband in any way he wanted. Cleaning his home, bearing his children, accepting him into her bed and allowing him to do anything he wanted as was his right. Since she’d been out of the church, she knew not all people believed as 'The Father' and his church members. What had been drummed into her since she was a child was actually not as widely accepted as she’d been led to believe.

Soft footsteps alerted Ruby that she was no longer alone in the room. She looked up to see the woman, Elizabeth, no, she was Lizzie, standing in the doorway. She was dressed in scrubs and Ruby could see the Onyx pendent hanging around her neck. Ruby smiled and Lizzie came further into the room, pulling up the chair close to Ruby’s bed and sat down.

“How are you feeling this morning, Ruby?” Lizzie asked, placing her hand on Ruby’s right arm.

Ruby felt the elation flow off Lizzie and surge though her when Lizzie touched her. But Ruby slammed the door closed. She nodded gently and smiled.

“Good, I’m glad.” Lizzie smiled back. “Have you thought about coming to stay with me and Mack when you’re discharged? You know, we really would like you to come. We have an extra room, with it’s own bathroom, even it’s own entrance on the side, so you could come and go if you want.”

Ruby smiled and patted Lizzie’s hand where it lay over hers. Gently she shook her head, pointing to Lizzie’s abdomen.

“No… tay… wit… Dew…” Ruby managed.

“You want to stay with Drew, Ruby?”

Ruby blinked in affirmation. “eed… me…”

Lizzie watched the younger woman closely. She’d heard the term, “Old soul” many times in her life, but looking at Ruby, Lizzie understood the term for the first time. Ruby seemed to be wise beyond her years. Basically, she was someone with more understanding of the world around them then most people.

“You think Dr. Mathews needs you, Ruby? Why would you think that?”

“Don… tink… Know… Dew… hurt…” Ruby laid her hand over her heart, “here…”

Lizzie couldn’t take her eyes off the tiny redhead. Lizzie remembered something her father had told them at dinner a few nights ago. It seemed Ruby’s father thought there was something “not right” with the girl and was glad to get rid of her. He’d claimed she had “the devil in her”.

Thoughts, questions ran though Lizzie’s mind at the speed of light. What did this young woman know? How did she know? What had happened to her when she was with Smith? So many questions!

Ruby just smiled at Lizzie as if she could read her thoughts. Then Lizzie felt the hand she’d laid on Ruby’s arm start to warm. The warmth spread up her arm and settled into her chest. Then her mind cleared and she could have sworn she heard a voice telling her not to worry. Everything would be all right. Lizzie’s eyes widened and she shook her head to clear it.

“Are you doing that, Ruby? Are you… I don’t know… Special?” she whispered.

Ruby smiled gently and put on finger of her lips, as if to tell Lizzie to not tell her secret. Then with that same finger, she pointed to Lizzie. “No… tell…?”

Drew stood just outside the door watching the two women. He wasn’t sure what he was watching, but when Lizzie stood and gently hugged Ruby and whispered in her ear, he knew the two women had bonded somehow.

“I won’t tell a soul. Not even Liam.” Lizzie whispered into Ruby’s ear. Then gently kissing Ruby’s cheek, Lizzie stood and turned. He could tell by her posture, she’d seen him. He came into the room and walked over to stand next to Lizzie.

“Good morning, ladies. Lizzie, how are you this morning?”

“Good, Dr. Mathews. Just checking on my favorite patient. And now, I think I need to get over to the OR. The surgeon I’m working with today is a tyrant and doesn’t like us to be late.” Lizzie joked. Drew was the surgeon she was working with today.

Drew couldn’t miss the use of the plural Lizzie used. I, was now us.

“Before you go, Lizzie, I want you and Ruby to know I’ve scheduled a few tests for her today. Ruby, I want to get an MRI and Ultrasound of your neck. I have a feeling that you might have damage to your Hyoid bone.”

Drew continued his explanation, “The hyoid bone,” he placed his fingers over the section of her neck that housed the hyoid, “is the only bone in the entire human body not connected to any other and it’s the foundation of human speech.”

He stopped, watching Ruby to make sure she understood.

“The main symptoms of hyoid bone fractures includes pain when the person rotates their neck, trouble swallowing and/or painful swallowing. Also, trouble speaking. All of those you seem to be having, Ruby. Am I correct?”

Ruby’s eyes widened at the explanation. It was exactly what she was experiencing.

“Oh, Drew! I was wondering if that’s what the problem might be. When will the test be done and how long before we get the results?” Lizzie’s excitement was palpable.

“The techs are waiting outside the door for us to get out of here. And we should have the results by the time we get out of surgery.” Drew smiled at Lizzie. Then turning to Ruby, he added, “We won’t know what protocol to go forward with until we know if I’m right and that is the problem.”

Ruby smiled and crocked her finger at Drew, asking him to come closer. When he bent towards her, she gently laid her right hand on his left check, bringing him closer. She then kissed him softly on his right check and whispered, “Tank… oou…”

When he stood, Lizzie could see the slight reddening of his cheeks and felt tears fill her eyes.

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.” Drew choked out before spinning on his heels and leaving the room.

* * *

For the next several hours, Ruby was shuffled from room to room. Exam room, to waiting room, waiting room to exam room, then another waiting room. For the MRI, they put headphones on her and she listened to Debussy, Brahms, and other classical music, which she’d loved since she was small. She was put into a big tube, where the machine made loud clanking and whirring sounds. If it hadn’t been for the occasional instructions over the headset, she probably would have been able to nap. The Ultra Sound was faster and not enclosed. She liked it much more than the sealed MRI. She wasn’t claustrophobic, but the tube was pretty small.

It was when she tried to get off the bench at the Ultra Sound machine the trouble happened. She tried to sit up and next thing she knew, she woke up on the floor. When she’d tried to get up, she’d moved her head and the pain was so intense, she’d fainted. There were three techs kneeling around her, all staring down at her with fear in their faces. She tried to push off the floor, when she heard footsteps running towards her.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!” Dr. Mathews came striding into the room and knelt next to Ruby. Looking around, he speared the tech with his gaze. “I asked a question! What happened here?” The orderly looked sick. As Drew bent to scoop Ruby into his arms, she placed her hand on his cheek. At her touch, Drew’s eyes refocused on her eyes. The gold flecks where shining and he felt the anger drain out of him. Removing her hand from his cheek, she carefully laid her head on his shoulder.

“I’m so sorry, Doctor.” The tech whispered. “She tried to get up before we could get over to her. She must have fainted. When she went out, she fell off the bench. Let me get an ice pack. She’s probably going to have a bump where her head hit the floor.”

Drew exhaled and slowly walked out of the room and placed Ruby on the gurney waiting for her. She sat with her legs, left still in the cast, hanging over the edge while Drew looked into her eyes and checked the bump beginning to grow on her forehead.

“Are you okay, Ruby?

Ruby blinked, once.

“Did you hurt yourself?”

Ruby blinked. Pointed to her head.

“Well, then, let’s get you upstairs and back to your room.”

Just then, Drew felt a tap on his shoulder. The Tech had returned and handed Drew the cold pack he’d gone to get.

“Really, I’m sorry Doctor. If we’d had any idea, we would have strapped her in.”

Drew felt Ruby tense, then her body started to shudder. Her entire body started to shake and Drew wrapped his arm around her, holding her gently.

Then he felt her body go limp.

Drew lifted her and laid her back against the raised top of the gurney trying to keep her neck from bending too much. He picked up her wrist and found the pulse, strong and a more than a little fast.

Slowly, he started stroking her forehead, then, as had become his routine, he continued by stroking her hair back from her forehead. Slowly, Drew watched her eyes flicker. Then blink open. It took her a moment, but her eyes found his and held there.

“Shh, sweetheart. It’s okay. You just fainted. Does your head hurt?”

Ruby blinked twice, then looked behind Drew to the Tech. He looked so scared, Ruby felt sorry for him. She gently reached around Drew and held her hand out for the Tech to take. With some apprehension, he reached out and gently took her hand.

“I’m so sorry, Ma’am. I.. didn’t… realize…” Drew looked over his shoulder and watched the young man’s face as his speech slowed, then stopped. The look of puzzlement was obvious, but then, something else was there. Then the young man smiled at Ruby and did the strangest thing. He thanked her, and with what looked like tears in his eyes, he turned and walked away.

“Oom… Dew…” Ruby croaked.

Drew looked back at Ruby, then gestured to the orderly.

“Let’s get her back to her room, please, John. I think she’s had enough for one day.”

Lizzie was waiting in the room when they returned. She saw the ice pack Ruby was holding against her head and shot a look at Drew. He smiled at Lizzie and explained what had happened as he gently helped Ruby from the gurney to the chair by the window.

Ruby sank into the chair with a sigh and looked at the newly made bed with longing. She was tired. She’d been out of bed more today then in the last… well, how long had it been? Five weeks? Six? She’d lost track of the time she’d been here.

“So Drew, how long before you get the results back?” Lizzie asked.

“We should be getting the results in a few hours, Lizzie. There were a couple of emergencies and Ruby kept getting pushed back. Why don’t you head home to Mack and I’ll call as soon as I know anything.”

“I think that’s a good idea. I seem to be getting tired more easily and could go for a nap before dinner. Oh, I almost forgot. Ruby, I bought you a little present.” Lizzie picked up the gaily wrapped package she’d left on the bed and handed it to Ruby.

Ruby looked at the package. It was wrapped so prettily, she didn’t want to open it. She could count the number of presents she’d received in her life on one hand, with fingers left over. 'The Father' hadn’t believed in the tradition of exchanging gifts for birthdays or holidays. She looked up at Lizzie and gifted her with a beautiful smile. Slowly, almost reverently, she slipped her finger under the edge of the paper and when she’d unwrapped it, she took the time to neatly fold the paper and put it in her lap. She looked at the box and opened it. Inside, was a brown leather bound book. Written on the front were the words, “Believe that you can and you are half way there.” She undid the little clasp that kept the book closed and noticed the book had nothing written in it.

“There’s more, Ruby. Look in the box.”

Inside the box nestled in the tissue paper were a pen and mechanical pencil. Ruby looked up at Lizzie with tears in her eyes. Hugging the book, box and wrapping paper against her chest with her cast covered left arm, she slowly rose and walked to Lizzie. Ruby laid her right hand on Lizzie’s cheek, then wrapped her arm around Lizzie, hugging her.

“Oh!” Lizzie was a little shocked. For a little thing, Ruby was quite strong. But she gently hugged her back.

“Tank… you…” Ruby kissed her gently on the cheek.

“You are most welcome, precious. You can write you’re thoughts in there. Or even if you want to try to communicate, you can write down what you want now.”

Ruby felt like her legs were going to give out on her. Drew must have recognized how tired she was and came forward, lifting her gently, laying her on the bed.

“You’ve had a long day, sweetheart. Why don’t you sleep and we’ll come back tomorrow and let you know what the test results say.” Drew gently kissed Ruby’s forehead, straightened and taking Lizzie by the arm, walked her from the room.

For a long time after they’d left, Ruby continued to hug the book to her chest. She finally placed the book and pencil on the table next to her bed and kept the pen in her hand. She picked up the card that had been left on the table and slowly wrote what she wanted for breakfast in the morning.

“Cream of Wheat, toast, milk and apple juice.” Then signed it, “Thank you, Ruby.”

Satisfied, she left the card on the table, lay back and slept.

Chapter 2

The next morning, Drew walked in to the room and smiled at Ruby. She was sitting in the chair, the table pulled close and over her lap. She was eating! Actually eating something for the first time since she’d been brought in almost six weeks ago.

Ruby used her napkin to wipe the cereal from her lips, took a sip of apple juice and smiled shyly up at Drew. He was one of the most beautiful men she’d ever seen. Six feet tall, dark, sun streaked blonde hair. He was currently wearing a ‘lab’ coat, but she knew his arms were muscled and his veins stood out. His hands were gentle, slightly large, wrists thick. Hair covered his arms, slightly lighter then that on his head. Strong, too. He’d picked her up several times and it didn’t seem to phase him. And inside, with the few exceptions of dark places, he was just as beautiful. She knew he’d lost and was still hurting, but her “gift” didn’t allow her to know what he’d lost.

“Looks like you finally got something you liked for breakfast. What do you have there?”

Ruby grabbed her pen and a pad Elena, who brought breakfast, found for her. She took her time and wrote what she’d ordered. Then handed the pad to Drew to read.

“Cream of Wheat, huh? I used to love that when I was a kid. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had it though.”

Ruby dunked her spoon in the milk thinned cereal and offered it to Drew. Laughing, he leaned forward and opened his mouth. Ruby placed the spoon in his mouth and watched his beautiful, full, lips close around it. Pulling it away, she watched him close his eyes in enjoyment. He then made the “yummy” noise.

“Wow, I really have forgotten how much I used to enjoy it. I remember my mother always made it with toast and I loved dunking my toast in it. Weird, huh?” He smiled at the memory.

Ruby reached under the paper napkin and pulled out a piece of toast. She pulled a tiny piece off, making sure to not get any crust. Dunking it in the still warm cereal, she popped it in her mouth, chewing slowly, smiling.

Drew laughed and Ruby felt heat radiate though her.

“What’s going on in here?” Lizzie asked coming through the door. Like yesterday and most days Ruby saw her, she was dressed in blue surgical scrubs. She bent over and kissed Ruby gently on the cheek, then sat on the bed.

“Well, what’s going on?”

“Ruby and I just discovered we have breakfast likes in common.”

Lizzie looked at the bowl on the table, went a little green and shuddered. “Agh! I can’t even think about that right now. About the only thing I can handle at this point in the mornings is toast and apple juice. Apple juice? I have never liked apple juice and now I can’t seem to get enough of it.”

Ruby reached under the napkin again and handed a piece of toast to Lizzie. She then reached for the second container of apple juice and poured a small amount into a glass and handed that to Lizzie also.

“Ruby, you are amazing. Are you sure you won’t come stay with Mack and me? Mack isn’t that great of a cook and can get by, but I just don’t have the energy to cook.” Then Lizzie thought about it. “You do cook, don’t you, Ruby?

Ruby smiled and picked up the pen and pad of paper and started to write.

“Love to cook! Bake too.” Drew read when Ruby handed him the pad.

“Oh, don’t tease me, Ruby. You bake? Can you make chocolate chip cookies? I reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaally love home made chocolate chip cookies.”

Again, Ruby started to write. She wrote slowly and precisely, taking her time. “Use three different chocolates. Dark, milk and white chips. Lots of walnuts.” Drew laughed and handed the note to Lizzie.

“Oh my goodness! Drew, if you don’t snap her up I will do everything in my power to kidnap her and keep her with me!”

Ruby lowered her eyes and stared at the neckline on Drew’s shirt. He wore his scrubs below the lab coat and Ruby could see the chest hair peeking out where the neckline formed a V.

“ive… Dew…” Ruby said, “Bake… izzie…”

Lizzie laughed. “Well Drew, I guess that settles it.” Lizzie said watching Drew’s face. She knew he didn’t like the idea of what people would say if they found out he’d taken Ruby in. But she felt Ruby would be good for him. Over the last six weeks, she’d seen Drew open up. At least with her and her family. In the hospital he was still stand-offish, rude and dictatorial. A real bastard. But then, he needed to be to maintain the respect he’d worked so hard to build.

“So, Dr. Mathews, what did the test find?”

Drew cleared his throat. “Just what I suspected, Lizzie. There is a small fracture of the hyoid. Since it is such a rare occurrence, I’ve had to do a lot of research. Only five of the fifty or so cases had surgery to repair the fracture, but in most cases it’s treated with conservative care, including rest and observation along with slight diet changes and if needed analgesics. Plus, there was injury to the left and right laryngeal nerves. Again, rest is recommended for patients with laryngeal trauma, with the head of bed raised. That along with no or limited talking should help her recover her speech. Only as a last resort and if needed for breathing problems do they suggest a tracheotomy. So, for now, unless Ruby wants a second opinion, we wait and watch and hope.”

“An… pay…” Ruby added.

Drew looked confused. “Pay, Ruby?”

Lizzie put her hand on Drew’s shoulder and looked to Ruby, a slight smile on her face.

“ I think she means pray, Drew. Not pay.”

Ruby smiled at Lizzie and put her finger on her nose.

“On the nose, eh, Ruby?” Lizzie said gently.

Ruby blinked once.

* * *

Two days later, Drew walked into Ruby’s room and found it empty. He went to the nurses station and asked the nurse working on the computer there where Ruby was. The nurse told Dr. Mathews that the woman who brings breakfast took Ruby out to the garden. Drew shook his head. The woman who brought breakfast? Drew had seen her around the hospital and didn’t think she spoke English well. He wondered if Ruby understood Spanish. He thanked the nurse and went in search of Ruby and her companion.

Drew walked out into the clear, crisp desert afternoon and immediately spotted Ruby’s red hair. Ruby was in a wheelchair, the older Hispanic woman sitting on a bench, holding both Ruby’s hands, staring into her eyes. Not wanting to disturb the two women, Drew stood for a moment watching. He could see the tears tracking down the older woman’s cheeks, then she rose and gently kissed Ruby on the cheek. She walked around the back of the wheelchair and grabbing the handles, turned towards the door that would take them inside.

Drew stepped forward and greeted the woman in fluent Spanish. Having been born and raised in Arizona, he’d learned the language out of necessity at an early age.

“Buenos tardes, Senora. ¿Cómo estás? ¿Qué estás haciendo?”

“Buenos tardes, Doctor. Nada en concreto.” the Hispanic woman replied. She went on to explain to the Doctor that Senorita Ruby wanted to sit in the sun and had asked her, Elena, to take her. She apologized to Drew if she’d done something wrong.

Drew, laying a gentle hand on Elena’s shoulder, assured her she’d done nothing wrong and smiled warmly at the woman. He thanked her for her kindness and told her that he would take Ruby back to her room and she was free to head back to work. Elena told Drew that she was off work and would be heading home. She bent and kissed Ruby on the cheek and said goodbye. She then thanked Drew for returning Ruby to her room and walked toward the parking lot.

Walking slowly, pushing Ruby ahead of him in the wheelchair, toward the hospital door, Drew felt the sun on his head and arms and felt that as of this moment, all was right with the world.

Leaning over to speak into her ear, Drew kidded her. “Another friend, Ruby? You seem to be collecting them in droves. What were you two taking about.”

Ruby shrugged her shoulders and pointed to the duck, followed by six little ducklings heading for the tranquil lake set between two of the hospitals six campus buildings..

“Wait another couple weeks and the geese will be coming in. They come from up north when it starts getting colder and take up residence around the valley. I love watching them fly over in the V pattern, but try to keep them out of the pool. They tend to make a mess of it.”

Ruby held up her hand and Drew stopped the chair, came around, squatting in front of her.

Ruby pointed her finger at him. “Oo ave poo?” she asked excitedly.

“Yes, Ruby, I have a pool. Do you swim?”

A beautiful smile pulled her full lips wide, showing her brilliant white teeth. Blink!

Drew laughed. He’d never realized someone could put so much emotion in something as simple as a blink.

* * *

Ruby was scheduled to be released Saturday, so on Friday, Lizzie planned to enlist her mother in law, Diana’s, help before they both needed to be at the “Play Pen” to go shopping. They would head to the Mall and pick up several outfits for Ruby. Since she had so few things when she was found and had no desire to wear any thing from her time before being found, she needed a little of everything. When word got around about Ruby’s lack of wardrobe, several nurses who knew Ruby and had young teens, brought clothes they thought might fit, so she wouldn’t have to check out in a hospital robe, opened as they were down the back. When Lizzie had delivered the clothes to Ruby in her room, she’d started pulling out different garments to show Ruby. Ruby, her eyes wide, watched as the brightly colored tops, shorts, jeans, shoes, flip-flops and assorted other clothes immerged from the three bags Lizzie had brought in. Ruby couldn’t keep the tears from slipping down her cheeks. Lizzie watched as the younger woman touched each piece of clothing and wondered at what kind of life the gentle, tiny girl had growing up.

Ruby touched each piece of bright fabric and felt the tears start to fall. Everything was so beautiful and the colors so bright and happy. Growing up, she and the females of the “Church” were required to wear dull, heavy cloth. Covered from the neck to ankle, the heavy grey, brown or black material was stifling. Ruby loved nothing better then to sneak off to the little lake on the far corner of the land the church owned, shuck the heavy dress’s she’d been forced to wear and walk into the pond. Though not deep, she was able to paddle around, making sure her, then long, hair didn’t get too wet. She didn’t want anyone to find out what she’d been doing in the afternoons when she should have been working in the fields or in the communal kitchen, harvesting what ever needed to be picked that season.

Lizzie was just leaving to meet Diana when her phone rang. Lizzie swiped to take the call from Diana. Something had come up at the club and she was on her way there and couldn’t go shopping with Lizzie. Diana apologized and suggested they do it Sunday afternoon. Diana would meet Lizzie at her house after church and they would go from there. Just as Lizzie rang off, Drew Mathews walked out the door and stopped.

“What’s up Lizzie? You look like someone sucked all the color from your lollypop.”

Lizzie’s eyebrows shot up and she looked stunned. “Sucked all the color off my lollypop?! Oh my goodness Drew, where did you hear that?”

Drew grinned, laughing softly. “Something my dad used to say when I looked disappointed. Never failed to get a smile out of me.”

Lizzie smiled, “Well, there you go then. But truthfully, Diana and I were going to go do a little shopping for Ruby, but Diana had to go into the club, so she had to cancel. Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you come with me?”

Drew threw back his head, laughing, and a group of nurses and tech’s leaving at the end of their shifts, turned at the sound. Several of the women watched admiringly. Yep, Lizzie thought, he really was a stone cold fox, when he wasn’t being such an ass. Lizzie stood watching him until he had his laughter under control.

Drew looked at her as if waiting for the punch line. Then he looked like a deer in headlights. “Are you serious, Lizzie?”

“Of course, Drew. Some of the nurses donated clothes to Ruby, but there are things she still needs. And I need a male perspective.”

“Well, then get Mack to go with you. He’s male.”

Lizzie’s eyes went dreamy. “Yes, he is, isn’t he?” then she sighed. “But he’s at the club dealing with whatever’s going on, so you’re nominated.” And grabbing his arm, she dragged him towards his car. “I’ll even let you drive!”

For the next two hours they went from one end of the mall to the other. Stopping at this store and that. On their way out, Lizzie tried to pulled Drew into the one store he was dreading. Blushing at the thought of going into the world wide lingerie store, he told Lizzie he would wait outside. When she came out with several of the pink stripped bags, he gulped. What the hell was she trying to do to him?

“Well, I think we have everything Ruby needs. And anything that doesn’t fit, we can bring back later. When will the casts be coming off Drew?”

“I’ve made an appointment for her to go back next week. Fortunately, the facial fractures healed without having to do surgery. I was sort of doubtful when I first saw the x-ray. That SOB really did a job on her. But, I guess, all in all, she really was very lucky. And now that we figured out the mess with the hyoid, she should be back to her old self in no time.”

Lizzie waited until they were seated in his car, when she turned to him and asked the question she’d wanted to ask for the last few days. Specifically, since Ruby’d told her about the baby.

“Drew, do you think Ruby is… Well, you know. Special?”

Drew didn’t have to ask what Lizzie meant. Drew blew out a breath and stared out the windshield, waiting for the light to change.

“Lizzie, I’m a man of science. I know what you mean, but I’m not sure I believe in ESP and all that other stuff. If I can’t see it and put my finger on it, I’m not sure I can believe.” Drew answered as truthfully as he could. “But I don’t deny what I’ve seen her do. What I feel when she touches me. I don’t think her father was right and she has ‘the Devil’ in her. Maybe she’s just… I don’t know what to call it. Empathic?”

“Yes, I guess that’s as good as any word I’ve been able to come up to explain what happens when she touches me. It isn’t so strong when I touch her, but when she touches me, I feel this warmth and tranquility spreading throughout my body, mind and even spirit. It’s hard to explain. But I know she’s special, Drew.”

Drew knew exactly what Lizzie meant. Now the question was, how was he going to keep from touching her, or her touching him when they would be living in the same house?

Chapter 3

Saturday dawned bright and cool. Drew had let his cleaning service know that he would be having a house-guest and he needed the second master suite readied. He’d stayed in that room for the first year after his wife had been killed. He’d been unable to sleep in the bed they’d shared since moving into the house until the time of her death. After a year, he’d redecorated the master suite, getting rid of the king size bed and feminine touches his wife had liked. He’d bought a California King bed, then had the room redone in muted desert tones with accents of blues and reds. It suited him, but then he didn’t spend a lot of time there. He spent most of his time in the family room, with its 88” flat screen TV with stereo surround sound and his entertainment center with it’s blue ray, CD player and turn table for his record collection. The kitchen was a chefs dream, but since he really didn’t cook, it had pretty much gone unused.

After dropping Lizzie at her car the night before and making sure she was safely inside and on her way, he’d stopped at the grocery store and bought groceries. Milk, eggs, cheese, meat and other staples. He’d also bought a box of Cream of Wheat. After putting everything away, Drew walked out back, pulled his shirt over his head, unbuttoned and unzipped his trousers, kicked off his shoes, stripped off his pants, underwear and socks, walked down the stairs and into the heated pool. He started swimming, the first of his hundred laps. He figured with Ruby in residence, he wouldn’t be swimming in the all-together anymore.

When he arrived at the hospital the next day, he parked in the visitors area, instead of the doctor’s area. Easier for him to drive up and get Ruby when they brought her down.

He’d called his friend and Ruby’s attending physician, Dr. Mark Monroe asking him what time Ruby would be ready.

“What time do you want me to let her go, Drew? Normally, I can get it done by noon, but you name the time and I’ll try my best to get her out.”

“Noon should be good, Mark. I’ll be there by eleven.”

“Works for me buddy. How about tennis Sunday? I need a chance to pay you back for last week’s massacre.”

Drew chuckled. “I would love that, buddy, but let me settle Ruby in this weekend and we can do it next week, if the weather holds.”

* * *

Drew pulled the Mercedes into the three car garage at 12:30 p.m. and parked between the silver and black Harley-Davidson Road King and the F-250 extended cab. He turned off the car, got out and pulled Ruby’s suitcase, donated by one the orderlies, out of the back seat, then walked around and opened the passenger side door.

Ruby had been stunned at the size of the house when they’d pulled into the driveway. The one story, stucco house, with it’s red tile roof was big. Bigger than big. The community kitchen/meeting house at the compound, which was the largest building there, would have fit into this house three times. The east facing front door had a small Portico entrance leading into a courtyard. Ruby had just been able to make out a fountain in the courtyard before Drew pulled around and to the garage.

Drew extended his hand and helped Ruby from the passenger seat. He headed for the door that led into kitchen and hit button next to the door that would close the garage door, then unlocked the door. He stood back to let Ruby precede him into the kitchen. She’d taken three step into the room and stopped.

She’d never seen a more beautiful kitchen. The center island was the focal point, but she could see an six burner range which looked to be gas, along with two upper/lower ovens set into the wall next to the range. The sink, she could see, had a professional single handle pull down faucet. She slowly turned back to Drew, her mouth hanging open.

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