Quickly grabbing the towel he had begun to drop from around his waist, Heath turned red at the two figures entering the bathing area. “Do you mind?”
“Just checking to see if you needed any help and to make sure you didn’t get your bandage wet.” Nick reached to look under the towel. “Want to make sure you didn’t ruin all the doctor’s hard work in patching you up.”
Smacking his brother’s hand away, “I’m fine, don’t need any help.”
Holding a brown-paper wrapped package, Jarrod leaned against the wall; smiling at his brothers’ antics.
“Jarrod, the boy almost seems embarrassed for us to see him in his birthday suit.”
“He should be thankful we’re not home and that Mother doesn’t know.” Jarrod’s eyes sparkled in merriment.
Tilting his head sideways in an effort to get a better look at his brother’s bandaged leg, “Yep, she’d have her bottle of liniment out,” reaching forward once more, “demanding that Heath drop the towel, order him to quit squirming.”
Stuttering at the image, “S-she w-wouldn’t.” Heath again batted away Nick’s hand.
The two dark-haired brothers nodded in unison. “Yes Heath, that lovely lady has taken you to her heart, and you would be subject to her ministrations the same as any of her other children.” Handing the package over, “We hope these are the right size.”
“Thanks. Let me know how much I owe….”
“I’ll take it out of your next wages,” gruffed Nick. The laughter that followed stopped Heath from taking him seriously. “Come on Jarrod. Let’s let the boy get dressed. We’ll wait for you back in the suite.”
Opening the door to the suite, Heath stopped at hearing, “Brother Nick, it’s a shame Heath wasn’t raised at the ranch with the rest of us. But there are times, I’m glad he wasn’t.”
Heath heard the clink of China.
“I know what you mean.”
Heath gripped tighter to the doorknob, his chest constricted.
“Can you imagine all the pranks he and I would have played,” Nick pointed, “on you!” Laughter echoed around the room.
“Exactly! You were bad enough. The two of you….together,” Jarrod shook his head, “would have meant double trouble for me. But then again, maybe mother wouldn’t have had time to take her wooden spoon to me as often as she did.”
Heath relaxed, remembering the old axiom about eavesdropping, and was glad he hadn’t acted on Jarrod’s previous statement.
“God how I wish father had known. Somehow….” Nick bemoaned.
“Can’t change the past.” Jarrod had finished speaking and was taking a drink from the coffee cup when Heath decided to enter the suite. “But we’ll make sure Heath knows how much this family values his addition.” Looking up to see the subject of their conversation, “And here he is. All freshly bathed and dressed.”
Jumping up, Nick offered to escort Heath to the settee, but stepped back at Heath shaking his head no, and holding up his hand to stop his brother from approaching.
“So what next?” Nick inquired as they all took their seats.
“Want to have a word with Uncle Matt, and the doctor.”
“Would you like for us to accompany you?” Jarrod asked.
Nodding his head, “Yeah. You might know the right questions to ask, and offer Uncle Matt some suggestions on Aunt Martha.”
“Anything else?” Jarrod inquired.
Nodding, “Need to check on Gal, make sure she’s taken care of over at the livery.”
“I can do that.” Nick jumped up, “While you two are over at the doctor’s, I’ll go to the mercantile and purchase a few provisions for our trip and stop by the livery to make sure all our mounts are being taken care of.” Doing an abrupt about-face to retrieve his hat and pointing it towards his oldest brother, “Jarrod, make sure you pick up a few supplies from the doctor so we can treat Heath’s leg while we’re traveling.”
“I’ll be….” Heath quieted when Nick pointed his hat in his direction and raised his eyebrows. “Fine.”
Link to Chapter 08