Stronger Than the Rest

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Authors: Shirleen Davies
of one hip, Drew squirmed.
    “You feel that?” the doctor asked.
    “I believe so. Do it again.”
    The second and third attempts yielded nothing, but the fourth caused Drew to suck in breath. It hadn’t been much, but he’d definitely felt something.
    The doctor kept at it until he’d worked his way to Drew’s ankles. His patient had felt something four times. “All right, Mr. Jericho, you can help Mr. MacLaren into his chair.” Doc Wheaton scratched a few notes and pulled a chair up next to Drew.
    “You have some feeling. Not much, but more than what you had right after the shooting. I’ve been doing some more reading, and there’s this doctor back East who is convinced that temporary paralysis can be brought on by trauma to the area surrounding the spinal cord. Now this isn’t the same as actually injuring the cord, which didn’t happen to you. It’s like a ripple effect. Over time, the majority of patients with this type of paralysis regain close to a hundred percent use of their limbs.”
    Drew had held his breath, not sure what the doctor would say. But the words were so much more encouraging than he’d expected. He felt his throat close as he pushed down the urge to voice his excitement.
    “So there’s a chance, Doc?”
    “I think there’s more than a chance but that’s not a guarantee.” He looked at Jericho. “Keep doing the exercises and use the liniments, Mr. Jericho. But now, I want you to help Mr. MacLaren to stand a little each day, bracing his weight on you and anything else that will hold him. Furniture, bars, fence posts. Whatever it takes to get his body to start understanding that it’s supposed to stand and not just sit. Take it slow, don’t push it. Drew’s body needs to heal on its own, but let’s try giving it just a slight nudge. Any questions, Mr. Jericho?”
    “How long do you want him to stand, Doctor?”
    “Only a few seconds the first few times, then increase it as long as he’s up to it.”
    “Oh, I’ll be up to it,” Drew responded.
    “All right. I want to see you again next week.” The doctor stood to open the door for Mr. Jericho and Drew. “And Drew, don’t forget what I said about Miss Taylor.”
    “Ah, yes, sir. Guess I better study that a little bit more.” A slight smile formed on Drew’s face as his mind wandered over the possibilities if he walked again.
    Drew pushed up to the supper table, his seat directly across from Tess. Everyone else was still milling around, getting settled. “Good evening, Tess.”
    Her eyes lit up when her gaze met his. “Hello, Drew. I heard you went to see Doctor Wheaton today. Any news?” She smiled and that one small gesture meant more to him than anything else she could have done.
    “The usual. Keep working my legs, use the oils, and don’t give up.” Drew didn’t want to share the doctor’s prognosis of a possible recovery. He didn’t want anyone, including himself, to get their hopes up, but Drew felt more positive than he had at any time during the past two months. “He did say that there is still time, same as the doctors in Denver. But I do intend to walk again.”
    “Of course you will, Drew. We’re all sure of it,” Eleanor Taylor chimed in as she took her seat.
    “How did your meeting with Mrs. Bierdan go?” Grant asked.
    Drew looked around the table at Aunt Alicia, Grant, Eleanor, Joey, Tessa, Jake, and Jericho. There was no reason to keep the conversation from any of them. Dunnigan’s desire to buy the Bierdan land wasn’t a secret.
    “It was a starting point,” Drew began, then took several minutes to relay the conversation.
    “She’s a stubborn one, that’s for certain,” Grant said.
    “How long do you think she has, Grant?” Drew asked.
    “If Eloise doesn’t have a good season, she’s through. That’s about four months off, but you know the cycle as well as anyone.” Grant was well aware of Drew’s ranching background and his knowledge of cattle

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