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Her Lucky Cowboy(9)

By´╝ÜJennifer Ryan

“No. He’s married to her sister, Katherine.”

Relief shot through Dane. Again, why? He didn’t even know her. Memories floated, but didn’t stick. He remembered her, but from where? Just last night, or another time? Another place? Could she be the girl he’d seen by the river? He couldn’t be sure it wasn’t wishful thinking and his drug-induced haze. The drugs and pounding headache made his mind fuzzy.

“Black Cloud is Tony’s bull.” Dane put at least one of the pieces together.

“Yes. Doctor Bell knew time was critical. She rushed from the stands and got to you, stopped the bleeding for the most part, and rode with you in the ambulance to the hospital,” Ella explained.

“Then Ella threatened the surgeon on staff with a battalion of lawyers if he even tried to amputate your leg.” Blake shook his head.

“What? It was that bad?”

“You were critical and the damage to your leg was extensive, but Doctor Bell assured us that with a good doctor, your leg could be saved,” Gabe said. “The surgeon here didn’t agree with her, so Ella made the hospital grant Dr. Bell special privileges to operate on you. She and the vascular surgeon worked nine hours to save your leg.”

“So, what? I’m all good now?”

“Barring any complications from infection, yes. But you’ll need to stay off it for a few weeks, then you’ll have some rehabilitation and physical therapy once it heals. You’ll probably have a limp,” Ella added, concern in her voice and eyes.

“I don’t care about a fucking limp. I’ve got my leg.”

“They’re pumping you full of antibiotics.” Gabe tapped the bags hanging over him. “We can take you home in a couple of days once they move you to antibiotic pills. Meanwhile, enjoy the painkillers. If you’re hungry, I’ll sneak you in a burger later.” Gabe clamped a hand on his shoulder, and the relief in his eyes touched Dane deeply.

“So, did I miss anything else while I was out?”

“You won,” Blake announced.

The smile crept across Dane’s face reluctantly. The sound of the buzzer went off in his head again, and the adrenaline shot through him as he remembered that fleeting moment of victory last night. Winning the PBR championships, the money, paled in comparison to keeping his leg, but it made him damn happy.

“You did it.” Gabe squeezed his arm. “You’re the three-million-dollar man.”

Yes. He’d won the last of the money to hit that mark he’d set for his retirement from the circuit. He wanted to go home with the money in the bank to set up the ranch the way he wanted. To make his mark, the way his older brothers were making theirs. Enough money to get him started and a buffer to get him through any lean years. Start-up money and a safety net.

Holy shit, I did it. I won. I survived. The relief hit him like a crashing wave.

A nurse knocked and came in, carrying a syringe. “May I have your name, please? It’s protocol.”

“Dane Bowden.”

She checked his armband, then shot the syringe into his IV line. The rush hit him all at once.

“Damn, what did you give me?”

“Dilaudid. That should help with the pain. I gave you half the max dose. If that doesn’t keep you comfortable, let me know. I’ll give you another half dose. It may make you sleepy. Is there anything else you need?”

“Can you ask Dr. Bell to come back? I need to talk to her.”

“I’m sorry, she left. I can call her if you’d like.”

“Is she coming back later?”

“She’ll be back to check on you this evening, but she didn’t give a specific time. The orders on your chart are to contact her if there is any change in your condition.” The nurse stood next to his leg. “Can you wiggle your toes for me?”

Dane did so, but it hurt like hell. He grimaced in pain. Ella took his hand and squeezed.

“Great. Can you feel this?” The nurse tapped each of his toes with the tip of her pen.

“Yeah. I can feel that.” The relief overwhelmed him. Until now, he’d only been aware of the pain. He wiggled his toes again. The pain made him more aware of his foot and the fact that he still had it.

“Dr. Bell warned not to overwork the muscles right now. You need to keep your leg and foot as still as possible. The tissue damage was extensive, and she wants you to give it time to heal.”

“Why isn’t she here to give me all these instructions?” The sharpness to his words made the nurse narrow her eyes and frown.

“Dane. She’s been up all night with you. She probably went to get some sleep,” Gabe said.

“She’s literally been watching over you and that leg all night to make sure the artery repair held and your toes stayed pink,” Ella said.