As Nathan sat there next to Elizabeth's bed two hours after Bill declared them man and wife, he still couldn't believe that he had finally won the heart of his Lizbeth, and even better, she was now his wife. Rosemary had managed to arrange for a family brunch reception for them. As he watched his wife settle more deeply against the pillows, he could see the pain in her eyes and the exhaustion quickly overtaking her as her eyelids began to droop. Thankfully Bill had noticed as well and started to make preparations to usher everyone out.
The children didn't want to leave Elizabeth, but Nathan's promise that he would be right there with her to keep her safe and the promise of returning later satisfied them into leaving.
Before she walked out the door, Rosemary turned, "Elizabeth, we will let everyone know you have been found. Would it be all right if I also share your happy news?"
Elizabeth looked up at Nathan and said, "Normally, I would want to do it myself, but under the circumstances, please do. I'm sure everyone is ready to find some joy again." She said the last part with a big yawn. The others began quickly filing out after. Just as Bill and William were about to take their leave, the doctor came in, causing Elizabeth to startle and gasp in fright. Nathan and Bill exchanged glances as they noticed but didn't say anything.
"I hear congratulations are in order, Mrs. Grant. How are you feeling?" Dr. Jensen asked as he took her vitals. "What is your pain level right now? Are you in need of some pain medicine?"
Elizabeth let out a tired sigh, then her voice, still shaky, replied. "it's about an eight right now, but I think it was because I sat up for too long. I'd rather not take anything for pain while I am here. I'll be all right for now, doctor."
"Mrs. Grant, I know you have been through a terrible ordeal, but I promise you are safe here, and the Mounties are protecting you. I can see that you are in great pain, and you need to get proper rest, or it will take longer for you to heal."
"Please forgive me, doctor, because I mean no disrespect, but that doesn't inspire confidence. I have a very short list of people I trust with my safety, and the top of that list is my husband." Elizabeth said, reaching for Nathan's hand. As he took her hand, he could feel her trembling.
"But he is only one man and…." Elizabeth couldn't finish as memories tried to emerge, but they knew what she was trying to say. "Nathan, I don't mean that you can't…." Tears began to fall as she struggled to speak.
Nathan leaned over and kissed her softly, "SHHH, sweetheart," he said softly. "I know what you're saying. It's okay, Lizbeth. He began to rub across the top of her hand with his thumb, and he could see that she began to relax though he could see the desperation in her eyes as she kept looking at him.
"Mrs. Grant," Dr. Jensen said, speaking softly. "If you're okay with it, I just want to do a quick exam and check your dressings now that the others are gone. Will that be okay?" He waited for her response as he began to see that she was already exhibiting signs of emotional damage and knew they would have to tread carefully with her because she was in a fragile state. He was pleased that her husband had already picked up on it and was just as concerned.
"That is okay, but Nathan has to stay with me," Elizabeth said, thinking they would ask him to leave.
"I wouldn't think of sending him anywhere; I doubt anything will get him to leave your side. I'm just going to call the nurse because I can see that we will probably need some bandages." Then went over to the door to call for a nurse.
"I have no intention of leaving your side, Lizbeth," Nathan said, moving his chair closer to the head of the bed. He picked up her hand again and then, with his other, began lightly caressing the top of her head. It was plain to see that his touches brought her comfort as she began to relax under his ministrations visibly.
"May I call you Nathan and Elizabeth?" Dr. Jensen asked. At their nods, he said, "Nathan, while we wait, why don't you share the security measures in place while she is here? It might help her to know."
"Well, Gabe is outside the door though he and Bill will swap as needed. We have a couple of others that we trust completely guarding the wing. Tim, John, and Jameson will also be rotating in the hallway. I will be here in the room with you, and I am armed. We have also made significant arrests, including the Bouchards."
Before he could say anything else, the nurse came hurrying in, and Elizabeth blanched, and her breathing became erratic all over again. Dr. Jensen's mouth thinned as a door shut a little harder than necessary, and he could see that it, too, affected his patient. He took the items, sent the nurse away, and gently removed the old ones.
Realizing that her chest would be exposed to Nathan, she blushed. Nathan sensed her discomfort. "I can keep my back turned if it would make you more comfortable, Lizbeth,"
She smiled and said, "I appreciate that, but it is all right. We are married, so it's not improper, and you will need to know how to change them when I get out of here. Plus, we will be sharing a room when I go home." Elizabeth's cheeks darkened at the last thought as visions of sharing a bed entered her mind. Nathan was struggling with the same thoughts, and he could feel his face get hot as he did.
Dr. Jensen had been watching them with amusement, and it reminded him of how his wife of two months had been in their first week of marriage. Clearing his throat, he handed Elizabeth the hand mirror that her friends had left earlier so she could watch what he did and ask questions if she wanted to. Out of respect, he also arranged the sheets and a drape so that she was not overly exposed, which he could see helped her and Nathan relax.
After explaining to Elizabeth what was done during surgery, he began to explain what to expect as the incision healed as the signs of infection. It helped to further erase the awkwardness between them as they listened to his instructions.
"So, are there any other questions about what to do?" Dr. Jensen asked as he began cleaning up.
"How long before I can take a bath?" Elizabeth asked.
"Not until the sutures are removed and the wound is completely closed, I'm afraid." He replied.
"Are there any other restrictions for her?" Nathan asked then blushed, "I…uh.., I mean I wasn't…." He began rubbing the back of his neck. "I wasn't asking so that we…."
He took a deep breath and said, "I just want to know because the kids are going to want to hug you, and I don't want you getting hurt, doing things your not supposed to, or you are trying to do too much. I wasn't asking for any other reason, I promise."
Elizabeth giggled at her husband's discomfort, which caused them to chuckle. "Nathan, no one would think that you were going there. It's so cute watching you try to explain."
The doctor chuckled, highly amused, watching his struggle. "Your wife is right. I did know what you meant. While there are men out there who would have been asking about honeymooning, I can see that your concern is only for her well-being and activity in general."
Nathan nodded, "I appreciate that,"
"Physical activity is going to be greatly restricted for a while." Dr. Jensen replied. "Especially honeymooning," he teased, causing Nathan to roll his eyes. Nathan had a few other questions and concerns, and they began discussing them. Gradually Nathan became aware that Elizabeth had been lulled to sleep by their conversations.
"I'm so glad she finally fell asleep," Nathan whispered.
"Me too. Nathan, I want to call in my friend who specializes in treating emotional trauma in Mounties that have been in battle. I'm sure you have noticed she was exhibiting signs of it a little earlier and more severe than I was expecting, and I think it is only the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. Anyway, I would like to have him come and examine her and see what his treatment recommendations would be. Would that be all right? I assure you that he can be trusted." Dr. Jensen whispered back.
"That will be …." Nathan replied but didn't finish because there was a crash followed by voices raised. Instantly Elizabeth jerked awake and began trying to get out of bed and run. The panic had been so great that she was even fighting against Nathan. Hearing the commotion, Gabe poked his head in, and Dr. Jensen asked him to tell the nurse to bring a sedative. Nathan focused on calming her down and keeping her from getting out of bed. She was still highly agitated but finally stopped trying to get out of bed. When the nurse brought the medicine in, Dr. Jensen quickly injected it even as Elizabeth frantically tried to prevent it. There had been no other option in her heightened state of agitation, and it would probably add to her fears.
As the medicine began to take effect, Nathan held her as close, murmuring words of comfort as she fell into a deep sleep clinging to him in desperation.
"Doctor, this isn't working," Gabe said as he watched his friend holding Elizabeth.
"I know," Dr. Jensen replied. "I'm just not sure how to fix this."
The three men were silent as they desperately tried to come up with a viable solution. A few minutes later, Nathan broke the silence.
Dr. Jensen, is there anything here that she needs that we couldn't maybe have somewhere else?" Nathan asked.
The doctor pondered it for a moment, then asked. "What are you suggesting?"
"What if we moved her to where we're staying? The room I'm in is large and convenient for everything in here now, though if needed, I'm sure we can switch rooms. She would be around her loved ones, and it would be a lot quieter and have fewer chances for triggering. She would feel safer and probably more willing to take something for her pain. I don't even feel that she is safe here, and if I'm honest, I would feel safer with her there too."
"I'm sure her father would be willing to purchase whatever equipment you felt was necessary for her, too," Gabe said. "Not to mention that there are 4 Mounties with first aid training that could monitor her as well as family members."
"Is it possible for you to remain her doctor and just do house calls so she doesn't have to leave the house? I ask because I really don't see being comfortable with a lot of new faces right now," Nathan said. "Frankly, I would feel better, too, since we still don't have all the people responsible in custody yet.
"The colleague I talked to you about is also a field surgeon, so your request can easily be accommodated. He could take over her care and consult with me as needed though I doubt he would have to."
"How soon could we get her moved?" Gabe said, "Could she ride in a car long enough for us to get her there?"
"Let me make some phone calls, and I'll have a better idea afterward. I will also reach out to Mr. Thatcher because she's going to need a wheelchair as well until her legs begin to work again." Dr. Jensen replied.
After he left, Nathan looked at Gabe and asked what had happened outside.
"Another doctor wasn't watching where he was going and ran into a nurse carrying a tray full of instruments. Then had the nerve to blame her for what happened and shouted at her, which attracted attention, and others joined in, so it escalated from there.
"How are you holding up, Nathan?" Gabe asked his friend.
"It's hard seeing her like this. Everything startles her, and it hurts my heart to see her struggling with fear and knowing exactly what happened. It is a little overwhelming, especially now that I have seen it myself." Tears welled up and began to fall down Nathan's cheeks as he continued. "As I listened to what happened to her and what Spurlock did to her, knowing that Lucas is behind it, I feel like I should have known or done something. Some protector I turned out to be. I should have…."
Gabe interrupted, not allowing Nathan to say more. "Nathan, you did not do this. What happened to Elizabeth is not your fault. You are not responsible for Lucas getting close to her; the fault for what happened to Elizabeth lies solely with Lucas and the others working for him. Just like you are not to blame for Jack's death. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that everything was in retaliation to Jack's interference in the North."
Nathan's look of disbelief at his words. "Don't you remember Collins telling you that you probably saved her life because you kept her from falling under Lucas' spell? You were distracting her and interfering with their plan until her fear got in the way, sending her spiraling into Lucas' arms. Before you say anything, I'm not blaming her, either. When we were in the cabin, we were talking about a contingency plan. Despite the tremendous pain, she only wanted to get home to you. According to Tim, she made them promise that no matter what. Keep in mind that she knew more than we did at the time, but she said that the only place where she would ever be safe was with you. Does that sound like somebody that is blaming you or holding you responsible?"
Nathan gave a soft smile as he looked down at the woman he loved, shook his head, and leaned over to gently kiss her cheek.