Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25About the AuthorTable of Contents
www.lazydaypub.comLove’s Winding RoadISBN-13- 978-1-61258-077-7ISBN-10- 1-61258-077-7ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDCopyright © 2013 Anna KristellCover art by Anthony WalshThis book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, any eventsor locales is purely coincidental. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of thewriter’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the expresswritten permission from the publisher LazyDay, with the exception of quotes used in reviewsand critical articles.
DedicationTo Staci Nicole, this one is yours.Special thanks to LazyDay Publishing for all your help, advice, and beautiful cover art.
CHAPTER 1Dr. Jackson Jacobi opened the door to his brother’s hospital room and quietly walked to thebed. Jordan was sleeping. Jackson thought it was probably for the best. As he looked at hisexhausted mother sitting in the chair next to the bed, he suggested gently, “Why don’t you take abreak? I’ll stay with him tonight. You really need to get some sleep.”“I just can’t leave my baby,” Marianne Jacobi replied as her tear-stained face looked up ather older son.“You just need a few hours’ sleep, some food, and a hot shower. You can come back. He’llbe asleep for awhile, with the meds they’ve given him. Please, Mom, we can’t have you gettingsick. When Jordan wakes up he’s going to need you.”“I guess you’re right. Will you let your dad know I’ve gone home for a bit when he comesback in? He went into the office to see a few patients,” she replied as she wearily attempted tostand.“I’ll tell him. I’m off duty tomorrow so I’ll be here most of the night,” Jackson assured her.Marianne went to the waiting arms of her son. He smoothed her blond hair and kissed thetop of her head. “Have Lizzie or one of the other girls drive you.”“Are they all still here?”“Lizzie and Rex are staying another few days. Shane and Ryan went back to the restaurantfor a while. Katy and Chloe are in the waiting area with the Harts. They said something about themen bringing food from Chloe’s Place for all of us later. So, by the time you get a nap and ashower, the food should be here.”“I won’t be long. A shower will revive me.”“Try to take a short nap. I’m going to see about getting a cot or recliner in here for you, ifyou insist on staying here all night again.”As Jackson sat down next to his brother’s bedside, his mother patted his cheek and left tospeak to her friends.“Thank you all for staying,” she said as she sat down next to Katy O’Grady.“Oh sweetie, we wouldn’t be anywhere else.” Katy put a comforting arm around herheartbroken friend.“Jackson insists that I go home for a bit. Would one of you please drive me? I think ourSUV must still be at the restaurant.” They had received word of their son’s auto accident whiledining at the restaurant Katy, Chloe, and their husbands owned the previous evening. Ryan andKaty had driven them to the hospital.“I think the guys are going to bring it when they come tonight with food. Jon gave Ryan thekeys,” Katy replied.“I’ll take you home and stay with you until you’re ready to come back,” Chloe offered. Inthe two years she’d known the four women, she and Marianne had become close.“Thank you.” Marianne stood up as she and Chloe said goodbye to the others.“We’ll stay here, honey. We went back to the hotel and slept for a bit. We want to be herewith the boys.”“Thanks. Jon is at the office. He shouldn’t be gone long. He was going to see a few patientsand rearrange his schedule. Jackson is with Jordan now and he’ll be here most of the night.”“I’ll stay too, and keep Lizzie and Rex company. Ryan and Shane are going to bring dinnerlater,” Katy reminded her, smiling.“We’ll be back. I don’t want to stay away long, in case Jordan wakes up.”
“Come on, honey. Let’s get you home. I’ll run a hot bath for you and make a pot of goodcoffee. This stuff they have here is awful,” Chloe said as she put her arm around her friend andset her half-empty coffee cup on the table.As they drove from the hospital to Marianne’s house in the Dallas suburb of McKinney,Chloe glanced at her friend. She said softly, “I know this is a terrible thing, but Jordan will wakeup. I’m not going to lie and tell you everything will be okay, because we don’t know that. Butwe’re all here for you. We’re here for Jon, Jackson, and Jordan too. Whatever any of you need,all you have to do is ask and one of us will do it.”“I appreciate all of you more than you know. I just dread the moment we have to tell Jordanthat his dreams of playing pro ball are never going to be a reality now. And, that he may neverwalk again. Oh my God, Chloe, he’s only nineteen years old.”“But he might walk again. I’m sure the doctors will do all they can. With two doctors in thefamily, they’re going to know the best people to work with Jordan.”“Jon planned to speak to the police today about the drunk driver who hit Jordan.”“Don’t dwell on that. You need to focus on Jordan and helping him get better.”“I suppose you’re right.”“And right now we’re going to focus on you. Here we are.” Chloe pulled her Nissan into thedriveway of the beautiful two-story home that Marianne shared with her husband and sons.“Home sweet home,” Mari said. “Who would have thought when we left it last night for afun night out with friends, the evening would end so badly?”“Come on, let’s get you inside.” Chloe walked with her distraught friend into the house,picking up the mail from the mailbox on their way in.“Go on into your room. I’ll run a bath for you,” Chloe ordered, taking complete charge ofthe situation.As Marianne lay on her bed staring at the ceiling, Chloe went into the master bath and ranhot water into the garden tub. Spying lavender bath salts on the shelf, she added them andswished the salts into the water with her hand.“Are you awake?” Chloe asked as she walked back into the bedroom.“Yes, I’m awake. As tired as I am, I’m not sure I’ll be able to relax enough to sleep.”“Maybe this bath will help. Come on honey, do you need me to help you?”“No, I can manage. I just want to soak in there for a bit.”“I’ll go downstairs and make a pot of coffee for us while you’re soaking.”“Thank you.” Marianne managed a small smile.Chloe ran down the stairs, and, finding the coffee, she scooped it into the basket, pouredwater in the back of the coffeemaker, and turned it on to brew. Looking around, she found acoffee cake in the freezer. She thawed it in the microwave, set out plates, forks, napkins, andcups, and went back upstairs to check on her friend.“How are you doing in there?” she asked as she knocked on the bathroom door.“I’m okay. I’ll be out in a minute. You’re right about the bath. I do feel better.”“I’ve got coffee and cake in the kitchen. Come on down when you’re ready. I’ll leave youalone.”“I won’t be long,” Mari said, as she stepped gingerly out of the tub. Grabbing a fluffy bluetowel from the rack, she toweled herself dry and took the pink robe from the back of the door,wrapping herself in the softness of velour. She brushed her teeth and ran a brush through her hairbefore joining Chloe in the kitchen.
“Feel better?” Chloe asked as she cut a generous slice of the coffee cake and put it onMarianne’s plate. She poured a cup of steaming hot coffee and handed the sugar and creamer toher friend. After she cut a slice of cake and poured coffee for herself, she sat on the barstool nextto Marianne.“I feel a little better. I think I’ll try to take a short nap before we go back. It’s going to beanother long night, I’m afraid.”“I called Shane and told him to bring a giant thermos of coffee with him when he bringsdinner.”“That was thoughtful. If you need to be at work, honey, don’t feel as if you have to stay withme once we get back to the hospital.”“Nonsense, Shane and Ryan can handle things at work for a few days. Katy and I want to behere for you. Lizzie and Rex will need to get back to Ohio soon, to get things ready for theirmove. I spoke with Angie last night. She and Michael are flying down in the next few days.”“They need to finalize things on their house, don’t they?”“Yes, but they plan to stick around a few days, to be with you and your family. We all loveyou guys so much.”Marianne took a sip of her coffee. “I don’t know what I’d do without all of you.”“Eat your snack. After that, I want you to go up and get into bed. I’ll make sure I wake youbefore it gets very late.”While Chloe was cleaning up the kitchen, Marianne trudged up the stairs. She was asleep assoon as her head hit the pillow.Three hours later, Chloe woke her with a gentle shake. “Honey, I hate to wake you, but weneed to get back to the hospital. Our dinner will be there and I know you don’t want to be goneany longer.”“How long did I sleep?”“I let you sleep for three hours. I’ve called Lizzie and everything is under control there.Jordan’s still asleep and Jon’s back. There’s a bag packed for you and Jon in my car already. Ialso made a casserole and put it in the freezer for when you get back home.”“You’ve been a very busy girl, haven’t you?” Marianne grinned as she got up and pulled acomfortable, but stylish, aqua athletic suit out of her walk-in closet.“That’s cute, and it’ll be comfy too,” Chloe told her as she pulled a white tee shirt from thedresser drawer. “Put this on. You can take your jacket off if you get warm.”A few minutes later they were on their way back to the hospital where Marianne’s youngestson lay sleeping, unaware that he might never walk again. All because someone who had had toomany drinks had made the decision to get behind the wheel.When they walked into the waiting room of the progressive care unit, they saw that Ryanand Shane had returned with the food. They were just setting it out when the women joinedthem.“This is so nice of you to do this for all of us,” Marianne said as Ryan handed her a plate ofsteaming food.“It was no trouble at all.” Katy’s handsome husband smiled.Jon looked at his wife with worry etched in his face. “Did you get any rest, babe?”“Yes, I took a long soak in the tub, had a snack, and slept for three glorious hours, thanks toChloe. She’s packed a bag with some clothes and things for us too.”“I showered and caught a quick nap in the doctor’s lounge here at the hospital.”
Mari sat next to her husband as they ate their dinner in silence. Finally, Jon spoke again:“Todd Young called. Dustin and Abbi are both chomping at the bit to get up here, but Todd andCyndi thought they should wait, at least until Jordan is awake.”“I’m sure Jordan will be glad to see both of them when he wakes up,” she said, taking a biteof French bread.“How’s Abbi?” Lizzie inquired, “Angie told me when they came out to visit the openadoption is working well.”“Abbi is doing okay. She’ll be a senior this fall. And, yes, I think it’s working out.Whenever Angie’s in town, she always takes the baby to see the Youngs,” Marianne replied. Shewas glad to talk about something other than Jordan, if only briefly.“I’m going to take a plate in to Jackson. He hasn’t left Jordan’s side since he got here thisafternoon,” Katy said.When she walked into the room, she saw Jackson sitting next to the bed, holding the hand ofhis younger brother. The love between the two brothers was evident, as Jackson calmly talked toJordan in an attempt to wake him up.“Sweetie, I brought you some food,” Katy whispered as she set the plate on the bedsidetable. “Would you like coffee or a soda?”“I’ll take coffee if you don’t mind.” He smiled at her and added, “Thanks.”“I’ll be right back.” She returned with a cup of strong, black coffee.“Sit with me if you’d like,” he offered as he dove into the lasagna on his plate.“You poor thing, you must be starved, not to mention exhausted. Your mom told me youhad to work this morning.”“I had to report in, but once my supervisor learned what had happened, he rearranged myschedule. That way, I can be here for now. And as for being exhausted, residents don’t normallyget much sleep anyway.” He took a sip of coffee and grinned at his mother’s friend.“I’m so sorry for all you’re going through right now. Your mother told me about Alexis,too.”“Well, that’s a closed chapter in my life. I’ll just have to learn to get along without her.She’s made it perfectly clear, life as a doctor’s wife in Dallas is the last thing on her agenda.”“Oh sweetie, she might change her mind.” Katy spoke soothingly as she touched his hand.“It doesn’t really matter. I’m pretty bitter right now, as you can tell. And I have moreimportant things to worry about than my wayward ex-girlfriend.”As Jackson set his plate on the table, Jordan moved his hand. Katy noticed and alertedJackson.“Jordan, can you hear me? Wake up man, it’s Jackson. I need you to try and open youreyes.”As Jordan slowly opened his eyes, Jackson took a penlight out of his pocket and looked athis brother’s pupils. Looking at Katy, who was already halfway out the door, he ordered, “GetMom and Dad in here.”Katy walked briskly into the waiting room. All eyes were on her as she said, “Jon,Marianne, please come.”Jon jumped up, “Is he awake?”“Yes. I’ll let the nurse know. You go on in with him. Jackson is talking to him.”Jon extended his hand to his wife. When Mari got up, he gripped her hand as they walkedtogether to their son’s room.
CHAPTER 2When they walked into the room, Jackson was holding Jordan in his arms. Jordan wassobbing. Jackson nodded to his parents, letting them know that he had broken the news to hisbrother about his injuries. It was probably for the best the news had come from Jackson, giventhe close relationship between the two brothers.Marianne went to her sons and put her arms around both of them. Jon stood helplessly by,watching the anguish his younger son was going through.Jordan lay back against the pillows. “Well, I guess that’s it. I’m never going to play footballagain.”“Son, I know it’s hard for you to realize now, but you’re a bright young man. You’ll figureout an alternate plan for your life,” Jon tried to reassure him.“Well, that all depends on whether or not I’ll ever walk again, now, doesn’t it?” Jordanasked with apparent agitation.“Sweetie, don’t think about that now. We’ll do whatever the doctors say and we’ll get thebest therapists for you. Right now you just need to rest and recover from your surgery. We’llworry about physical therapy later,” Marianne said in a soothing voice.“That’s right, Bro, I’ll be finished with my residency soon and opening my orthopedicsoffice. I plan to have P.T.’s on staff. You can work out there anytime.”The nurse walked into the room, followed by Jordan’s doctor. Marianne, Jackson, and Jonstood back in order for the doctor to examine Jordan.“Jordan, how are you feeling?”“Physically, like I’ve been run over by a truck. Emotionally, like I’ve been run over by atruck,” the boy replied wryly.“I wouldn’t expect you to feel any other way. I’ll order pain meds for you. I’d like for you totry and sip some broth for me. Right now, all we can do is wait. You’ll need to get your strengthback before we discuss anything further. I can also set it up for you to speak to someone, if you’dlike. We have some fine clinical social workers and psychologists on staff.”“You think I need a shrink?”“Only if you’d like to speak to someone, Jordan,” the doctor replied calmly. “You’ve beendealt a terrible blow. It might help.”“I’ll think about it,” Jordan said in a gruff voice.The doctor spoke with Jon briefly before he left the room.Jackson’s phone rang. He looked to see who it was and got up. “I’ll be back.”Walking into the hallway, he answered it. “Hello. Alexis, this really isn’t a good time.”“My mother called and told me about Jordan. I’m so sorry, Jackson.”“Thanks.”“Is there anything I can do?”“I can’t imagine what you could do from France, Alexis,” he answered curtly.“Please tell your family I’m thinking of them. I get it that you don’t want to talk to me. All Ican say, again, is how sorry I am things didn’t work out.”“Sure, Alexis, don’t give it another thought. Life does go on and I have far more importantthings to worry about than a girl who doesn’t want to be with me.”“Goodbye Jackson.” He heard the line go dead.He walked over to the waiting room to tell his parents’ friends that Jordan knew the truth.“Oh, poor baby, how’s he taking it?” Katy asked quietly.
“Not well, but I didn’t expect him to. I left so Mom and Dad could spend some time alonewith him.”“Sit down, son. Have a cup of coffee and relax. You’ve been with him all afternoon.” Rexpoured a cup of fresh coffee from the thermos and handed it to him.“And as if all this isn’t bad enough, Alexis had the nerve to call just now to ask if there wasanything she could do,” he sneered as he sipped the hot drink.“You were together a long time. I’m sure she genuinely cares that your family is goingthrough this,” Chloe tried to reason with him.“That may be, but she may as well just leave me alone. She made it perfectly clear; she waschoosing her fashion career in Paris over a life with me. It’s time to move on.”Chloe looked helplessly at Katy, who shrugged and shook her head.Lizzie spoke to Jackson: “It’s a raw hurt right now. In time, you’ll be able to forgive her andmove on. And I know that sounds ridiculous right now, but it’ll happen.”“I’m sure it will, but I don’t have the time, or the energy, to worry about women right now.”He leaned back and closed his eyes.“Give it time my boy.” Ryan spoke next. “Take it from one who’s been there. Don’t let yourbitterness keep you from making a life with someone else. I almost did that with Katy. When theright one comes along for you, and she will, don’t let her get away because you’re hung up onthe past.”“I don’t see that happening any time soon, but I’ll keep it in mind. Thank you all for caring,but I’ll be all right. I just want her to leave me the hell alone.”“Rest a while, Jackson. Are you going home tonight?” Katy asked.“I don’t know. I may stay here with Mom. I don’t know what Dad is planning to do.”“Just sit back, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. We’ll be quiet, so you can rest.”“You don’t have to be quiet on my account. I’m a doctor, used to catching a few winks in anoisy doctor’s lounge, remember.”They all laughed, but carried on a quiet conversation as Jackson rested. His thoughts wentback to the phone call from Alexis. He wondered why she even bothered to call. She has a newlife and it doesn’t include him, so why? She should just let go. It’s like he told her, she can’thave it both ways. Either she is with him, or she isn’t. He needs a girl who will stand by him, notrun off to pursue a job across the ocean. She could’ve gotten a job here, doing the same thing sheran halfway around the world to do. Not that he begrudged her pursuing her career, but she choseit over him. And that’s what he can’t get over.Finally, he slept on the couch in the waiting room. Katy put a blanket over him. They waitedfor Mari to come out so they could tell her goodbye. They had all discussed it and thought it bestfor the Jacobi family to be alone for the night. Lizzie and Rex would be flying back to Ohio thenext day. Angie and Michael would be arriving from Iowa. The O’Gradys were all exhausted.They planned to go home and get a good night’s sleep.When everyone had gone, the Jacobi family stayed with their youngest until he went tosleep. They had agreed to take turns throughout the night sitting with him. Jon was going to takethe first shift. He persuaded Marianne and Jackson to go to the lounge and rest.“Who was on the phone earlier?” Mari asked as they sat down in the lounge.“It was Alexis. She heard about what happened and wanted you all to know, she’s thinkingabout you.”“I see. Well, I guess that was thoughtful of her.”
“Whatever, Mom, I really don’t feel like talking about her. It’s over. I’d never take her backnow, even if she changed her mind. That ship has sailed.”Knowing when to keep quiet, Marianne relaxed in the recliner and tried to rest. She wasworried about both her sons, but right now, there was not a thing she could do to help either ofthem.The next day, Angie and Michael Gray arrived. They stayed at the hospital, with the Jacobifamily, the entire day.In the days that followed, Jordan’s best friend, Dustin Young, and his younger sister, Abbi,also came for a brief visit. They promised to visit Jordan again when he was home. Some ofJordan’s other friends sent cards, flowers, and balloons, and a few stopped by for a visit. Theentire Baylor football team and the coaches stopped by. The O’Gradys each paid a visitwhenever they had a free minute. The girls from Jon’s office sent a basket, filled with snacks.Days blurred into weeks, and weeks into months, until finally, in the late summer, Jordanwas released. He would be going home in a wheelchair, but at least he was going home.Marianne had ordered a hospital bed and all the equipment needed to care for him. It had all beenset up in the den. It would be his makeshift bedroom for the time being. Marianne was on anextended leave-of-absence in order to care for her son at home. Of course, Chloe and Katy hadoffered their help. Once Lizzie and Angie were settled in Dallas, the ‘Fabs’ would all be togetheragain for Marianne to lean on for support.Jackson planned to spend as much time as possible working with Jordan, encouraging him togain his strength back in order to walk again. With his residency and his plans to help hisbrother, love was the farthest thing from his mind these days. Alexis had not tried to contact himagain, for which he was grateful. He felt it best to make a clean break.