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Last resort, p.37
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       Last Resort, p.37

           Jill Sanders
 
Chapter Eighteen

  When Luke walked into his father’s office the next day at a quarter past ten, he noticed two things right away: one, his mother wasn’t present and two, his father sat behind his desk in shorts and a T-shirt, which wasn’t the norm at all. His father was looking out the large windows as if daydreaming, something he’d never seen him do before now.

  “Morning, Dad.” He walked over and sat in one of the large chairs. “Where’s Mom this morning?”

  His father glanced over and looked at him. “She’s down at the pool.” He nodded his head out the window. “I am going to head down to join her in a while.”

  The surprise must have registered on his face because his father smiled slightly and nodded.

  “I can see it in your eyes, son,” he said and turned back to his computer for just a moment. “There are just a few things I have to get off my chest before I take off. Let’s talk about this ring you purchased a little over a month ago.” His father turned away from his computer and glanced at him. “Is it for that girl?”

  “Yes. I’ve asked Cassey to marry me and she’s said yes.” He smiled and crossed his arms over his chest, knowing what was coming next. But his father just looked at him and nodded slowly.

  “Fine.” He started to turn back towards the windows.

  “Fine? What does that even mean, fine?” He leaned forward.

  “It means just that. Fine. Luke, I’m not going to interfere with your personal life.”

  “Really?” he said, standing slowly. “Since when?”

  His father smiled slightly. “Since now. Do you know where I spent my morning?”

  Luke shook his head.

  “Physical therapy. I sat there thinking that this was all just some sort of nasty trick my body was playing on me, a one-time thing that I could easily bounce back from. Then Raul, my physical therapist, laughed at me.” His father chuckled. “He’s a two-hundred-pound man full of muscles and tattoos, and when he told me that the only way I was going to live to see next year was to change my attitude, it got me thinking. Not only am I not helping my health by trying to control everything, but I’ve threatened my marriage and my relationship with my only living son.” He shook his head and Luke saw his father’s shoulders sink a little. Then he stood and walked around his desk. Luke noticed how his father moved slowly.

  “Luke, I know that I’ve not always been the best father, but I want to change that. My physical therapist says that nine out of ten men who continue to live like they did before their first stroke will go on to have another one. And most don’t survive their second stroke. Do you know what your mother told me then?”

  Luke shook his head and sat back down. He could hardly believe what his father was saying. It was like an alien had taken over his body and was talking to him as a father would.

  “She told me that if I didn’t change the way I was living, she was going to leave me, because she couldn’t live through seeing me like that again.” His father’s eyes were damp. “That woman has been by my side through a lot of things, and I’ll be damned if I’ll be the cause of her leaving me now.”

  Luke smiled as his father shook his head and cleared his throat.

  “So, your mother tells me she likes this girl,”

  “Cassey.”

  His father nodded his head. “Cassey. And I’m going to try to give her another chance. Why don’t you bring her over for dinner sometime?”

  Luke nodded again. It was as if he’d lost all his powers of speech.

  “Good. Now if that’s settled, can we talk about these changes you’ve made in my absence?” His father walked back behind his desk as Luke sighed. He didn’t want to talk about the changes anymore, not since his father had undone them all.

  “I’ve been looking over some of your changes and well…I think you might have something there.”

  Luke sat in his father’s office for the next few hours and wondered if his father had been body-snatched. Not only had his father reimplemented all the changes he had made over the weeks, but he listened to a few others he’d been proposing over the years.

  By the end of the day, his head was spinning. They had eaten a long lunch together down in the restaurant, and he’d even noticed a change in how his father treated the employees. He joked and laughed with them and assured them he was taking care of his health.

  Even though his father had been in great shape—he played tennis and looked healthy enough—his doctor wanted him to start eating healthier, so he ordered a cob salad instead of his normal steak or cheeseburger. Luke had joined him, realizing that he too could use a lighter menu.

  Over next few days, he kept waiting for his father’s old side to show up. When they drove down to the Boardwalk Bar & Grill for dinner one night to meet Cassey, he was especially concerned his old ways would resurface.

  The place was almost empty when they walked in. Cassey was talking to a few customers around the bar area. He still couldn’t get over the fact that they were engaged. Every night when he’d talked to her, he’d wished he could be there to hold her.

  When she smiled at them from across the room, his father whispered, “You hooked a good one.”

  He couldn’t help but smile back.

 
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