Jesse raced across the helipad with Ace following closely. After talking to the state police, they had one of the hands from Jesse and Dylan’s farm pick up the rig with the horses and Jesse arranged for a helicopter to get them from northern Florida to the hospital in Wellington.
Jesse and Ace stepped out of the elevators and looked around the hospital floor.
A man in a lab coat approached them.
“Mr. Osterman?” He asked looking at Ace.
“I’m Jesse Osterman.” Jesse said urgently. “Where are they? How are they?”
The man started lead them to a small conference room. “I’m Dr. Valdez, let’s talk in here.” He said. Once they were inside the room he continued. “How much have they told you?”
Jesse shook his head tears brimming in his eyes. He started to speak but shook his head again and looked at Ace.
Ace rested his hand on Jesse’s shoulder and rubbed it as he spoke. “The State Police told us the limo was t-boned by an 18-wheeler.” He paused and inhaled as Jesse shook. “They said Trevor and Julia didn’t make it and that Dylan, Cole and Mason were here, but they didn’t know how bad their injuries were.”
The doctor nodded. “Mr. and Mrs. Van Edsel were pronounced dead at the scene. They took the brunt of the impact and the police believe they were killed instantly. It appears Mr. Summers saw the truck just before impact and used his body to shield the boys. Mason has a minor concussion, some scrapes and contusions but he’s awake and will be fine. Cole suffered a broken leg and wrist and had some internal injuries. He just came out of surgery. They set his leg and wrist and removed his spleen. There was some internal damage, but they were able to patch everything up. He’s in recovery.”
“Dylan?” Jesse whispered the tears now flowing freely.
“Mr. Summers took the brunt of the impact when he shielded the boys.” The doctor explained. “His MRI showed his back was broken, and he suffered severe head trauma. He’s still in surgery.”
Jesse grabbed onto Ace like a drowning man clutching a life raft.
“Will he be ok?” Ace asked.
“It’s too early to tell.” The doctor replied. “The damage was pretty extensive. He has a lot of swelling around the brain. Our neurology team is trying to relieve the pressure in surgery and also get a better idea of the extent of damage to his back.”
“How long?” Jesse whispered.
"Given the damage and the unknowns he’ll probably be in surgery a few more hours at least.”
“Can I see my brothers?”
“I’ll take you to Mason first.” The doctor said as they started down the corridor. “He’s been asking for you and his parents.”
Jesse stopped short. “He doesn’t know about Trevor and Julia?”
The doctor turned and shook his head. “No. We thought it best if a family member explained things to him.” He continued walking and led them into a room where Mason lay in a bed.
“Jesse!” Mason exclaimed when he saw his brother come through the door.
Jesse rushed over to the bed and gently hugged his brother to him. Jesse took a deep breath and looked at his brother. Mason’s head was wrapped, and his arms and face were bruised.
“You’re gonna have a pretty good shiner there.” He said with a small grin.
“My head hurts.”
“You hit it in the accident.” Jesse explained. “You have a concussion, it’ll get better.”
“Where is everyone?” Mason asked. “I haven’t seen Mom or Dad or Cole or Dylan since I got here.”
Jesse inhaled deeply and felt the tears coming again. He steeled himself for his brother.
“Dylan and Cole were hurt pretty bad.” Ace explained. “Cole just got out of surgery and they’re still working on Dylan.”
“Dylan saved us.” Mason said stoically. “He saw the truck coming and pushed me and Cole down onto the seat.” He started to cry, “Is he going to be ok?”
“We’re not sure, buddy.” Ace replied gently. “We have to wait for him to get out of surgery.”
“Where are mom and dad?” Cole asked anxiously.
Ace started to answer, but Jesse stopped him with a slight wave.
“They didn’t make it, Mace,” He said quietly as he held his brother closer.
When the reality of what Jesse was telling him hit him, Mason began to sob and hold onto his brother.
Jesse held the younger boy and let him cry himself out.
Ace hugged both brothers close and then said, “I’ll give you some time.” He left the room, closing the door behind him.
He walked over to the nurses’ station where Dr. Valdez stood going over charts.
“Excuse me, Doc.” Ace said, “Can I see Cole?”
“They’re just moving him from Recovery to a room on this floor.” The doctor replied. “As soon as they have him settled into the room, I’ll have a nurse bring you to see him. He probably won’t wake up until the morning, though.”
“That’s probably for the best,” Ace said, “I don’t know that Jesse can go through telling another brother they lost their parents today.”
“I can’t.” Jesse said, as he walked up to Ace and the doctor. “Mason’s out. Cried himself to sleep. I don’t know how I’m going to get through telling Cole.”
Ace wrapped his big arms around his friend “I’ll be right beside you and you’ll do fine.”
“What if Dylan…”
“Don’t even think that way.” Ace stated sternly. “Dylan will make it through this. He’s strong and he knows you and the boys need him.”
Jesse sighed deeply and wiped a few tears from his eyes.
“Doctor, Cole Van Edsel is in his room.” An orderly came up and addressed Dr. Valdez.
The doctor nodded. “Thank you, Carl, would you show Mr. Osterman and Mr., I’m sorry…” He looked at Ace.
“Evans”, Ace answered, “Adam Evans, but y’all can call me ‘Ace’.”
The doctor turned back to the orderly, “Can you take Mr. Osterman and Mr. Evans to Cole’s room, please?”
The orderly nodded. “Right this way.” He motioned back down the corridor he had just come from.
Jesse and Ace followed the orderly down the corridor and into a dimly lit room.
Jesse inhaled deeply as he walked up to Cole’s bed and saw the condition his younger brother was in. Cole’s wrist and leg were in casts and his face was a mass of stitches and bruises. He was on a ventilator. What scared Jesse the most how still his usually active brother was.
“He’s so still.” He said quietly to Ace.
“He’s in a medically induced coma.” A voice said from the doorway.
Jesse and Ace turned to see a young nurse enter the room.
“I’m Shelly,” She said as she started recording Cole’s vitals on a tablet she carried. “I’ll be Cole’s nurse this afternoon, so if you need anything or have any questions, I’ll do my best to help out.”
“Why is he in a coma?” Ace asked.
“Mainly for pain.” The young nurse answered. “Between the broken bones and other injuries, he’s on some major pain killers, so the doctor want to keep him under, so he doesn’t try moving or anything.”
“How long will he be under?”
“You’d have to ask the doctors for sure, but probably just a day or so. When he comes to, he’ll still be in a lot of pain, but the doctors will be able to manage it while he heals.”
“How long will he be in the hospital?” Jesse asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
“I’m not sure, but I would imagine at least a few days if not a week. Most of his internal injuries should heal with no problems, the doctors will just want to be careful of the wrist and leg. This will take some time to get better. He’ll probably be all set for football season.” Shelly replied with a gentle smile.
Jesse smiled weakly. “He doesn’t play.” He said, “We live on a horse farm.”
"Well, I would say it will be a little while before he’ll be up to that kind of activity.” Shelly said as she closed her tablet. “If you need anything just ring the desk and we’ll be here.”
“Can you find out about my husband?” Jesse asked. “Dylan Summers.”
“The man who was in the accident with Cole?”
“Last I heard he was still in surgery, let me see if I can find out anything else.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Ace said.
“Please, call me Shelly.”
“I’m Ace and this is Jesse.” Ace grinned, “We don’t go in for much formality.” He said in his ‘awe, shucks’ drawl.
Shelly smiled at the tall cowboy. “Let me just check at the desk on your husband”. she said to Jesse as she left the room.
Ace turned at looked at Jesse. He was startled by the ashen look on his friend’s face.
“Are you ok, Jess?”
Jesse nodded and answered “Yeah. It’s just that its so eerie seeing Cole so still. Even when he had cancer, he was a never this quiet, it’s kinda scary.”
Ace wrapped his arm around Jesse’s shoulder. “Well, you heard the nurse, he’s going to be ok. He’ll be awake in a day or two and back home in a week.” He said positively.
“But he’ll still need a lot of time to heal.” Jesse said. “He and Dylan both.”
“And they’ll get it…at home.” Ace said “Whether you bring them to their home here or your place they’ll have plenty of time to heal up. We’ll get them whatever help they need.”
Jesse turned and hugged Ace tight. “Thank God, you’re here.” He sighed, “I’d never get through this alone.”
"Yes, you would, if you had too.” Ace replied. “You’ve always been stronger than you think you are, both you and Dyl, but you’ll never be alone, not with the family you’ve got out there.”
“Speaking of family, I wonder if I should call Trevor’s other kids.”
Ace shook his head; he knew what the few encounters Jesse had ad with his older half-siblings had been like. “Just wait on that.” He said. “They pretty much deserted their dad when their parents split, and you’ve got enough on your plate without dealing with them.”
“You’re right, I doubt they’d even care.” Jesse shrugged. “The few times I’ve met them over the years, they treated me, Cole and Mason like we were nothing. I can understand their dislike of me, I am the result of their father cheating on their mother, but Cole and Mason are just kids and they treat them terribly.”
Ace just shook his head. “They washed their hands of their father and his family, so you shouldn’t worry about them. Let them find out on the news or whatever.” He led Jesse over to a chair next to Cole’s bed. “Why don’t you stay here with Cole and I’ll check for news on Dylan. The doc made it sound like it would be a while before he was out of surgery.”
Jesse nodded as he sat down. “Thanks, Ace. I’ll be here or with Mason.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Ace said as he left the room and walked back to the Nurses’ Station. Shelly was with another patient, but he found that Dylan was still in surgery and expected to be so for a while.
He walked over to the nearby waiting area and pulled out his phone. He dialed a number and listened as the call rang through.
“Second Chances Ranch.” A young voice said over the line.
“Hey, Idge, it’s Ace, is your daddy there?”
“Hey, Ace!!” The boy answered excitedly. “I thought you were with Jesse and Dylan and Cole and Mason.”
“Can I talk to Jesse?”
Ace shook his head, “Not right now, Bud, He’s busy and I really need to talk to your daddy, it’s kinda urgent.”
“Ok.” Idgie replied. “DADDY!!”
Ace laughed as he heard the boy’s yell.
The line clicked as a second phone was answered.
“This is Daniel James.”
“Danny, it’s Ace.”
“Hey, Ace, what’s up?”
“Hold on a second. Hey, Idgie, I need to talk to your dad privately, ok?”
“Sure.” He heard the boy reply and then the tell-tale click of the line disconnecting.
“What’s going on Ace?”
“There’s been an accident.” Ace answered. “A bad one.”
“Oh, God, Jesse…Dylan?” Danny sat down on his bed and listened for a reply.
“Jesse’s fine, he was driving back with me.” Ace started. “But Trevor’s limousine was hit by a semi. Trevor and Julia were killed on impact.”
“Mason’s ok, just a concussion and some bruises, Cole’s got a broken leg and wrist, internal injuries and lots of cuts and bruises, they have him in a coma for the pain.”
Ace sighed and for the first time that day he felt tears well up in his eyes. “He’s still in surgery. I guess he saw the truck coming and tried to shield Mace and Cole and got the worst of it. His back is broken, and he’s got bleeding around his brain as well as other injuries.”
“Which hospital are you at?”
“St. Lucia’s in Wellington.”
“Ok, let me talk to CJ and I’ll be on the next flight down.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.” Ace said as he exhaled loudly. “Jesse’s in a bad place and I know it would help if you were here.”
“I’m on my way.” Danny said. “CJ’ll stay here with the boys. He’s got some meetings he can’t miss, and the boys would be in the way right now, but I’ll be there tonight. I’ll text you as soon as I have the flight information.”
“Sounds good.” Ace replied. “Thanks, Danny.”
“Don’t thank me, Ace. It’s what we do for family.”
They disconnected and Ace went to back to Cole’s room. When he didn’t find Jesse there, he headed for Mason’s room. He wondered if they should see about getting both boys in the same room. So, Jesse could be with both of them.
“Hey, guys.” He greeted Mason and Jesse as he walked into the room. Mason looked more settled than he had before.
“Hey, Ace.” Mason replied. “They’re gonna let me go home tomorrow.
“Really? That quick.”
"His injuries aren’t life threatening.” Jesse explained, “So the doctors only want to keep him overnight for observations because of the concussion. If he has a good night, he gets sprung in the morning.”
“Well, that’s some good news.” Ace said. “If you want, I can stay at the house with Mace and you can stay with Cole and Dylan.”
“That’s what I was thinking.” Jesse replied. “I need to call Danny and CJ and let them know what’s going on.”
“No need. I called and spoke to Danny and he’s on his way.”
“I hope he didn’t feel like he had to uproot everything and come down here.”
“No, as soon as I told him everything his first response was to get down here to help out.” Ace assured Jesse. “We still don’t know how much care Dyl will need when he starts his recovery.”
“Well, the doctor said they were just finishing up the surgery and the surgeon would be in to see us soon.” Jesse declared. He looked at his watch. “I should probably call Dylan’s parents to let them know what’s going on.”
“I can do that.” Ace said.
“Thanks, but I’ll do it.” Jesse insisted. “I’ll call over to Trevor’s house and let Sadie know what’s happened, she’s probably worried sick if she hasn’t heard from them. She can watch over Mace and get things ready for Cole to come home. Probably fix rooms for Danny and Dyl’s parents, too.”
“Well, just tell me what you want me to do.” Ace said.
“Right now, you’re doing it.” Jesse replied. “You’re here, holding me up.” He hugged Ace tight.
“Always, little brother.” Ace said as he hugged Jesse back. “Always.”
“Danny’s plane gets in at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.” Ace told Jesse an hour later as they sat by Cole’s bed.
“Great.” Jesse sighed in relief. “I convinced Dylan’s parents there was nothing they could do here with Danny coming down, they agreed. They know if I get tied up, Danny can keep them in the loop.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Osterman?” came a voice from the doorway.
Jesse and Ace turned to see a doctor in scrubs standing there. They both rose quickly.
“I’m Jesse Osterman.”
“I’m Dr. Boloram,” The man said. “I just finished the surgery on your husband.”
“How is he?” Jesse asked anxiously.
“It was touch and go through out the procedure.” The doctor said seriously. “We lost him on the table once to cardiac arrest, but we were able to get him back. Right now, he’s comatose, but stable. We were able to relief the bleeding around his brain and take care of the internal injuries. He cracked a couple vertebrae; we won’t know the extent of the permanent damage until he wakes up.”
“He went into cardiac arrest, his heart stopped, so he was dead at that point, but we were able to get him back.” The doctor answered. “The next 24-48 hours will be critical for him. Like I said, he’s in a coma right now, we won’t know the extent of permanent damage until he wakes up and we don’t know when that will be. Right now, it’s a waiting game.”
Jesse nodded. “When can I see him?”
“He’s in recovery now. They should have him in the ICU within the hour, then you’ll be able to see him one at a time.”
“Thank you.” Jesse said.
“You’re welcome. The ICU is on the fifth floor, you can head up there when you want, and the nurses will direct you.”
Jesse stood in the doorway to Dylan’s room. Tears welled in his eyes. The only sound in the room was of the machinery beeping and buzzing. Dylan lay still in the bed, tubes and lines running from his body to the machines. His head was fully bandaged, and his face was covered in cuts and bruises.
Jesse walked into the room and up to the bed. He took Dylan’s hand gently in his.
“Hey, Babe.” He whispered. “We’re all hear waiting for you to wake up. I need you Dylan, don’t leave me.” He choked back the sobs that caught in his throat and felt the tears running down his face. He knew he had to stay positive, but the thought of a life without Dylan kept creeping into the dark corners of his mind. He had never considered a life without his love.
“No.” He told himself. “Don’t go there. Dylan was going to pull through this.”
“Jesse.” Ace spoke quietly from the doorway. “How’re you doing?”
Jesse gently laid Dylan’s hand down and turned to the door.
Ace saw the distraught look on Jesse’s face and his heart broke for his friend. He stepped forward and embraced Jesse.
“He’s gonna be ok.” He whispered to Jesse.
“I know.” Jesse replied quietly. “It’s just hard seeing him like this, so battered and broken.”
Ace nodded. “I’m gonna let you stay up here with Dylan and I’ll keep an eye on Mace and Cole. I’ll come get you if Cole wakes up and you let me know if there’s any change in Dylan.”
“Ok.” Jesse answered trying to sound positive.
Ace released Jesse from his hug and left the room.
Jesse pulled a chair up to Dylan’s bed and sat down. He took Dylan’s hand again and held it in his. Some part of him was hoping he could send his energy into Dylan and heal him quicker.
“I love you, Dylan.” He whispered realizing it was the first time he had ever said it and not heard ‘Me, too’ as a reply.
He leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. As he held Dylan’s hand, he said a silent prayer for his love and his brothers that everyone would be alright. The events of the day finally took their toll and he drifted off into a fitful sleep.
“Jesse…” he heard as a hand gently shook his shoulder.
He opened his eyes and saw the familiar face. “Hey, Danny.” He smiled. He lay Dylan’s hand down and stood up and embraced the man he thought of as his father. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Where else would I be?” Danny replied as he returned the embrace. “How’s Dylan?”
“No change.” Jesse replied. “I’ve been with him all night.”
“He’s down on the third floor with Cole and Mason. I should head down; they’re supposed to release Mace this morning. I’m gonna take him to his house and Sadie will watch him while I’m here with Dylan and Cole.”
“Do you want me to stay here or go over with you?”
Jesse thought a moment. “Why don’t you come with us, we’ll take Ace, too. That way we can all get cleaned up and I can get you and Ace set up with rooms since we’re not sure how long we’ll be down here.”
“Sounds good.” Danny replied. “Why don’t you go and see about Mason and I’ll meet you down there. I want to spend a few minutes with Dylan and call his parents to let them know how he is.”
“Thanks.” Jesse said as he hugged Danny again, before walking out of the room and heading to the nearest elevator.
When Jesse reached Mason’s room, he found the room empty except for an orderly stripping the bed.
“Excuse me.” He said. “Where is the patient that was in this room?”
“I’m not sure, I think he was discharged.” The orderly replied.
“That’s not right.” Jesse said as he left the room and hurriedly walked to the nurse’s station.
He saw Shelly standing at the station.
“Shelly, excuse me, but do you know where they moved my brother Mason to?” He asked.
“Let me check.” She replied typing into the computer. “It says here he was discharged about a half hour ago.”
“To who?” Jesse asked worriedly. “I’m his guardian.”
“It says here he was released to his legal guardian, a Michelle Carpenter.”