While Ellery grabbed her bag, I took mine from the hall closet and grabbed my keys. “I forgot to tell you that I’m driving us today. Denny called me this morning, and he’s not feeling well.”
Ellery turned and looked at me. “What? What’s wrong with him?” she asked with concern.
“I’m not sure. He just said he wasn’t feeling well and that he’s sorry, but he couldn’t work today.”
“Denny is never sick,” she said.
“I know. I’m a little worried about him, but I’m sure he’s just picked up a bug. People at the office are sick.”
“I hope he feels better soon.”
“Me too, baby,” I said as I put my arm around her and we headed to the gym.
After our workout, Ellery dropped me off at the office and took the Range Rover with her. I told her that I’d catch a cab home this evening. Valerie followed me into my office, rattling off all the meetings that were scheduled for today. As I sighed, I set my briefcase down on my desk and looked out the large window that overlooked the city. My mind wouldn’t stop thinking about Denny. In all the years I’d known him, he had never once been sick, and I was concerned.
“Mr. Black, are you all right?” Valerie asked.
“I’m fine, Valerie. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of things to do before my first meeting.”
She nodded her head and walked out of the office, closing the door behind her. As I turned my computer on, the screen displayed a picture of Ellery and Julia. After a few minutes had passed, Phil and Paul walked into the office, summoning me to the meeting. I left my phone on my desk and grabbed my files.
While I sat in the board room on a conference call with Sakura Nakamora, CEO of Takashi Enterprises, a Japanese company we were trying to negotiate a contract with, Ellery came through the door. As I saw her, I jumped out of my seat.
“Ellery, what’s wrong?” I asked, as I could tell she looked panicked.
“Connor, I’m sorry, but it’s Denny.”
“Finish this meeting without me,” I said as I looked at Paul and Phil.
I placed my hand on the small of her back and led her out to the hallway. “What happened?” I asked as we walked to my office.
“Dana called me and said that Denny had a seizure, so she called an ambulance and they immediately rushed him to the emergency room. We both tried calling you, but you weren’t answering your phone.”
“Shit. I left it on my desk while I was in my meeting. I’m sorry, baby,” I said as we walked into my office, and I grabbed my phone.
“I tried to call Valerie, but she wasn’t at her desk. I knew you had a meeting, so when you weren’t in your office, I figured you were in the board room.”
We raced down to where Ellery had parked the Range Rover. We got in and I drove as quickly as I could to the ER. Once we arrived, the nurse took us back to where Denny was. When we walked into the room, Dana got up from her seat and I gave her a hug.
“Connor, Ellery, thank you for coming,” she cried.
“What happened, Dana?” I asked her as I looked over at Denny. He was sleeping.
“He woke up this morning, said he wasn’t feeling well, but he couldn’t describe what was wrong. He said he felt dizzy. So I made him lie down for a while and when he went to get out of bed, he fell to the floor and started seizing.”
“Are you sure it was a seizure?” I asked.
“Yes, my sister used to have them all the time,” she said as she cried.
As I held her tightly and told her that he was going to be okay, Denny opened his eyes.
“Why the hell are you hugging my wife,” he said with a slight grin.
“Why the hell are you lying in that bed in the emergency room? You were supposed to work today.” I smiled as I put my hand on his shoulder.
“Yeah, well, I’m sure you’d survive without me,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” I said with a serious tone.
He looked at Dana and held out his hand to her. She took it as more tears started to fall. Ellery walked over to her and clasped her shoulders.
“Dana, stop the tears,” he said. “I’m going to be fine.”
The doctor walked in with the nurse and told Denny that they were going to run a CT scan to see what was going on. As they took him out of the room, I took Ellery’s hand and we waited in the waiting room of the ER.
“I could use a glass of scotch right now,” I said.
“How about some coffee instead?” Ellery asked as she smiled at me.
I put my arm around her and we headed to the Starbucks that was inside the hospital. Ellery handed me my coffee and, on our way back to the waiting room, we ran into Dr. Taub.
“Ellery, Connor; it’s nice to see you. Ellery, are you here for your annual blood work?”
“No, Dr. Taub. A friend of ours was brought into the ER and we’re here visiting,” she replied.
“Oh, well, I hope your friend is okay. Don’t forget about that blood work. You know how important that is,” he said as he walked away.
We waited an hour before Denny was brought back to his room. As we were sitting there with him, the doctor walked in and asked to speak with Denny and Dana alone.
“Whatever you have to say, you can say it in front of them; they’re my family,” Denny said.
The doctor cleared his throat before he began to speak. “The CT scan showed a tumor in the brain.”
Immediately, Dana broke down and started crying. As I grabbed her, to keep her from falling, Ellery took a hold of Denny’s other hand.
“I’m not a specialist, but I’ve called one in to come see you.”
“What’s his name and how good is he?” I asked.
“He’s one of the best neurosurgeons we have on staff. He’s very reputable. His name is Dr. William Armstrong and he’ll be in tonight to see you. Until then, we’re going to keep you here overnight, and after Dr. Armstrong consults with you, then we’ll have a better understanding on how to proceed.”
Denny’s expression never changed as he listened intently to every word the doctor spoke to him.
“Is the food here any good?” he asked.
Ellery laughed as she squeezed his hand. “It’s not that bad,” she said.
“Okay then, I’ll stay.”
The doctor smiled as he walked out of the room. Denny looked over at Dana and squeezed her hand. “Stop crying, woman. Everything’s going to be fine. I’ll be all right.”
“Of course you will be.” Ellery smiled at him.
Hearing the news that Denny had a brain tumor sickened my stomach. I didn’t know much about them, but what I did know was that they weren’t good. As I stepped out of the room to make a phone call, Ellery followed me. I took my phone out of my pocket and dialed Bernie.
“Bernie, it’s Connor. I need you to dig up everything you can on a Dr. William Armstrong. He’s a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital here in the city. I want everything; do you understand me? This is important.”
“Yes, Mr. Black, I’ll get on it right away and get back with you.”
“Thank you,” I said as I ended the call.
Ellery grabbed my hand. “What’s that all about?”
“I need to make sure he’s the best, because if he isn’t, then I’m flying in the best.”
Ellery and I left the hospital to go home and be with Julia for a while, before coming back later when Dr. Armstrong was going to be there. As I set Julia in her highchair to eat and, while Ellery was getting her food ready, my phone rang. It was Bernie.
“What did you find out?” I said as I answered.
“Dr. Armstrong is rated one of the best in his field. His credentials are excellent, Connor. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
“Thank you, Bernie. I appreciate it,” I said as I ended the call.
“What did he say?” Ellery asked as she set the jars of baby food on the table.
“He said that he’s one of the best. So, we’ll have to wait and see.”
As I took the baby spoon and dipped it into the jar, Julia started to squeal. I smiled as I brought the spoon to her mouth and she gracefully took it.
“Mason said that he would watch Julia for us tonight while we’re at the hospital. Have you called your mom and dad yet?”
“No, I still have to do that. I will as soon as I’m done feeding Julia.”
Ellery walked over to me and put her arms around my neck. “I can feed her, babe,” she said as she kissed my cheek.
“I want to finish feeding her. I’ll call them after.”
When Julia was finished eating, Ellery cleaned her up and took her out of her highchair while I went and called my mom and dad. They were upset when I told them the news and said to let them know what was going on and when they could visit. About an hour later, Mason stepped off the elevator with Landon.
“Hey, you two,” I said.
“If it’s okay with you, we’re going to take Julia with us furniture shopping,” Mason said.
“Oh, that sounds like fun!” Ellery exclaimed.
“That’s fine,” I said as I walked upstairs.
I went into the bathroom and splashed some water on my face. Things weren’t sitting right with me, and I had a bad feeling. I stood with my hands on the counter when Ellery walked in and looked at me.
“Connor, are you okay?” she asked.
“I don’t know, Elle. To be honest, I don’t know what I’m feeling right now.”
She walked over to me and wrapped her arms tightly around my waist. I needed her now more than ever before. I closed my eyes as she rested her head on my back.
“Let’s try to think positive about this, Connor. I know it’s hard, believe me, but positivity is the key to staying strong, and we need to be strong for him and Dana. Your strength is what pulled me through my illness, even when we thought there was no hope.”
I turned around and held her face in my hands. “I never gave up hope. Hope was all I had. I wouldn’t have made it through without it. The thought of losing you to that illness flooded my mind every day, but I never once gave up hope, and I never once gave up on you.”
Tears formed in her eyes and her bottom lip started to quiver. “I had given up. I lost all hope for me. Then I met you. You made me fall in love with you, and you showed me there was a reason to fight. You had enough hope for both of us and, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today.”
A single tear fell from my eye as I listened to her words. I pulled her into me and held her as tightly as I could. She was my safety, my saint, and my savior, and I thanked God every day for not taking her away from me. She jumped up and wrapped her legs around me and I carried her to our bed. I gently laid her down and stared into her eyes as I softly kissed her lips. Believe it or not, that was all I wanted. I just wanted to kiss her and nothing else.
When Ellery and I went up to Denny’s room, Dr. Armstrong had just left and Dana was crying. Ellery walked over to Dana to comfort her, and Denny gave me a sullen look.