This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
— Bless the Broken Road, Rascal Flatts
“The biopsy went as expected,” Tony told Patrick as Noah was wheeled back into his room. “We’re sending the tests down to the lab and we should have the results back in a few hours.”
“How long will he be asleep?” Patrick asked. “I didn’t realize you sedated the patients during a routine biopsy.”
“We didn’t at first, we used a local but he was complaining about pain so we used general. It should only last about an hour.” Tony checked the chart. “Normally, this is an out patient procedure but since he’s already checked in, there’s no point in sending him home.”
“From performing the biopsy…” Patrick hesitated. “Is there anything you can tell me?”
“We used a different type of procedure, we never even opened him up so we really can’t make any determination before the results come in.” Tony cleared his throat. “Robin mentioned that you were interested in being tested for a living donor transplant.”
“I didn’t realize Robin was still working on my father’s case–I thought she turned it over to you.”
“Well, she’s primarily a researcher, Patrick. If we weren’t so short handed, she wouldn’t be working the ER at all. But no, she’s not on the case anymore. It had to be handed over to a surgeon.” Tony put a hand on Patrick’s shoulder. “Just relax, there’s no point in getting involved in possible treatment options until we diagnosis. It’s a complicated and invasive procedure.”
Patrick exhaled slowly. “Yeah, that’s what Robin said too.”
Robin pushed some charts aside until she found the one she was looking for. While making notations, she heard a set of footsteps stop in front of the nurse’s station and not move on again.
“Can I–” Her words trailed off as she looked up and swallowed hard.
She used to have a picture that she took everywhere, always tucked it in her wallet, in her purse–in her shoe if there were nowhere else to keep it. Her father and her mother, before the boating explosion.
When she found her mother a few years ago, she’d exchanged the picture for one of her father solo. She said a prayer every night for him and had always felt a little better knowing that he was looking down on her.
Apparently, he was a little closer than the heavens.
Robert Scorpio was fourteen years older, but the shape of his eyes, the line of his nose–his hands–they would always be the same.
Robin set her pen down. “Daddy?” she whispered.
Robert cleared his throat. “I need to speak with the chief of staff–but I’m not sure who that it is.” He shifted. “It’s good to see you, Robin.”
“It’s good to see you,” Robin repeated numbly. Words you’d say if you hadn’t spoken in a few years but… “I don’t–I don’t understand.”
“I need to speak to the chief of staff, Robin,” Robert said again. “Can you tell me who it is?”
“That’s all you can say?” Robin said, regaining some slight composure. “It’s good to see you–where’s the chief of staff? You haven’t been out of town for a few weeks, Dad, you’ve been–” She clasped a hand over her mouth and stepped back. “You’ve been dead,” she whispered harshly. “Don’t you have anything to say to me?”
Robert shook his head. “I can’t–we can’t get into this right now, Robin. I wish there had been anyone else at this desk at this moment. I need to–”
“His office is where it’s always been,” Robin interrupted coldly. “And Alan Quartermaine is the chief now.”
“I–I’ll get in touch with you later,” Robert said after a long moment. He reached out and touched her cheek before abruptly letting his hand fall to his side. He stepped away and disappeared down a hallway. Robin stared after him and brought her hand to her cheek.
A voice penetrated through the thick fog surrounding her throats. She cleared her throat and focused on Patrick. “What–what do you want?”
She was so pale, he thought. Her lips and her cheeks were drained of color and she was holding her cheek like she’d been slapped. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Did–was someone giving you a hard time?”
“No–I ah–” Robin shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “My–he was–it’s not important.” She dragged a hand through her hair. “What did you need, Patrick?”
“My–my dad’s results are in and I wanted to–” Patrick touched her shoulder. “Seriously, Robin–what’s wrong? I’ve never seen you look so…” Unfocused, shaken, he wanted to say. Her eyes were flat, empty. “I know we don’t get along on the best of days, but–”
“I can suddenly understand how your father can do something that makes you want to hit him,” Robin murmured. “How he can throw something away and not understand why it’s so wrong…” She gripped the counter. Suddenly her knees felt weak. “I need to sit down.”
“Okay, okay–” Patrick took her arm and put an arm around her waist to keep her standing as he led her over to the couch. She didn’t put up a fight and that alone gave him some insight–something had rocked her world. “Here we are.” He lowered her to the couch and sat on the table in front of her. “Do you need some water?”
“No…I’ll be okay in a minute.” Robin fisted her hands in the fabric of her dark cotton pants. “I just–I need a second.”
“Did you have a fight with your uncle?” Patrick asked. “Was he just here?”
“My uncle?” Robin repeated, confused. “What do you mean?”
“Well you said he raised you when your parents died and when you said your father–” Abruptly Patrick closed his mouth as something absurd occurred to him. “Your father is dead, isn’t he?”
“Not anymore,” Robin whispered. “I was just–I was standing there and he came up to me–he spoke to me like he didn’t even know me,” she said, horrified. “And then he said–he said, it’s good to see you, Robin.” Her bewildered eyes found his. “Like we were old friends that hadn’t seen each for a while. And when I asked—he just wanted to see Alan and he said he wished it had been anyone else at the desk–” She covered her mouth and bowed her head. “I don’t understand–he’s supposed to be–I don’t understand what’s happening.”
Wondering if maybe she’d been hallucinating because it was his experience that people didn’t usually come back from the dead, Patrick switched positions to sit next to her on the couch. He was sure he was the last person she wanted to see right now but whether she liked it or not, he was the only person available. He put his arm around her shoulders and hesitantly drew to his side.
She surprised him by collapsing and curling into his embrace and when he felt the warmth of her tears on his shirt, he understood something for the first time. He understood what his father might have seen in his mother that would make him even remotely consider being a one woman man.
“It’s okay,” Patrick murmured, instinctively brushing his lips over her dark hair. “Well–okay, it’s not but it will be.”
“You can’t know that,” Robin whispered. She raised her head and met his eyes. “You can’t promise that.”
“Sure I can,” he said, giving a half smile. “If there’s anything I do know, it’s that nothing can possibly get any worse than your father coming back from the dead and my father being given a death sentence, right?”
Robin inhaled sharply and drew away. He let her go reluctantly and watched her wipe frantically at her eyes. “Noah’s results came in?”
“Yeah–it’s end-stage cirrhosis, like Tony thought it would be. It’s not–there’s nothing I can do about it right now, Robin. Let me–” he reached for her but she shook her head.
“I have–I have to go find my uncle Mac. And–” She closed her and bit down hard on her bottom lip. “I’m so sorry about your father, Patrick. I really am.” Robin stood and looked around, somewhat confused as if suddenly realizing that she wasn’t at the nurse’s station anymore. “Thank you…for…” she suddenly felt embarrassed. “I wish I hadn’t fallen apart like that but thank you for…being kind.”
“I care about you, Robin,” Patrick stood and she stepped back a little. “I’m not sure who that surprises more–me or you. But I do and I want to be here for you–the same way you’ve been there for me since we admitted my dad last night.”
“I can’t–” She couldn’t breathe. Wasn’t there a limit on how much a person could take in one day? “I don’t–”
“It’s okay,” Patrick nodded. “Go see your uncle. He’ll know the right words to say and what to do next.”
“Okay.” Robin took a deep breath and attempted to get a grip on her swirling thoughts. “I’ll be back though–for–for you and Noah, okay?” She rushed away before he could answer and he watched her go, wishing he’d never met her.
He’d never wanted to meet someone his mother would have approved of.