Dante had gotten back in his hospital bed, When there was a knock at the door.
"Lunch Mr Green," said Juan, the orderly. He set the tray on the table, which he swung into place.
"Just what you ordered," Juan said , with a suggestive smile. "Roast chicken, roasted potatoes, and asparagus."
"Marshal Hickok," Juan said with a suggestive smile. "Nice to see you." Dante and I exchanged looks and smile.
"Juan," I said in acknowledgement.
"Thank you Juan," Dante said with a silly grin.
"I'll stop back by to pick up your breakfast selection for tomorrow," Juan said with a smile. Then left with a wiggle of his, rather shapely ass. Dante had grabbed the selection for tomorrow.
Diane sat there with a shocked look on her face. Then she looked from Dante and me in turned.
"Just which one of you was he flirting with?" Diane asked us, a little aghast. Dante and I looked at each other and smiled at the question.
"He's flirting at both of us mom," Dante told his mother. "Paul tells me Juan likes more than one ...playmate." Diane just stared at son.
"You know, menage a trois."
I think you could have knocked Diane over with a feather. I held in a laugh at the look on her face.
"You mean he wants to... And you know what the meaning of...? With both of you?" she asked totally surprised.
"So it would seem," Dante told his mother. "So yes, yes, and Yes!"
"Not that either of us want to share the other," Dante told her.
"I'm with Dante," I told her. "We don't want to share, each other." As there was a knock on the door again.
"Enter!" Dante called out.
Sam came in with a bag from Mama Fernandez's. Dante smile upon seeing it.
"Well thank you Dad!" Dante said as he held out his hands.
"Think again," Sam said, shooting his son down. "I'm on my lunch hour. Besides, Dr. Patrick said no."
Diane and I looked at Dante and snickered. Then there was another knock at the door. Then Juan just entered.
"Mr. Green," Juan said as he sized up Sam. Which Sam and especially Diane noticed. "Sorry, I was wondering if your menu is ready?'"
"Here it is Juan," Dante told him as he held it Up. "It was done earlier." Causing Juan to smile.
"Thank you Juan," I said cutting it short.
"You're welcome, Marshal," Juan said as he turned to leave with swoosh. Then he left.
"He kind of reminds me of someone," I said with a smile at Dante.
"Well that may be a while before you see that again," Dante told me with that grin of his.
"Dante!" Diane said quite surprised.
"Mom!" Dante replied back. Trying to look serious.
"Come on Diane," I said trying to break it up.
"I'll buy you lunch. If that's okay with you Sam?"
"Sure," Sam said, hiding a smile from Diane.
"Well I should tell Sam about Juan," Diane said wanting to stay.
"I think I can explain about Juan, mom," Dante told his mother.
Actually I can figure it out," Sam chuckled. Getting a huff from his wife.
"Okay!" Diane said giving up. We hoped. "I see how it is."
"Mom! Billy and I are NOT interested in playing with Juan," Dante told his mother. Who huffed at him.
"Let's go Diane," I said. "Mama Fernandez wants to talk to us anyway."
"Mom," I said. I got the reaction I wanted.
Diane smacked me across my stomach. Then we all laughed and we hugged.
"You're an ass Billy Hickok," Diane said. Then she kissed my cheek.
"You have no idea," Dante told her with his evil smile. I glared at him, for a moment.
When we got back. Jimmy and Andrew were waiting for us. Along with Professors McCord and Sosa. Dante's Professors."
"How is he Marshal Hickok?" Professor McCord asked upon seeing us.
"He'll heal. But he has broken and cracked ribs, and a concussion," I told them. "He's bruised from head to toe."
"Don't forget he has a dislocated left shoulder, and two broken fingers," Diane reminded me.
"Can he have visitors?" Andrew asked with a look of concern on his face.
"A few people at a time," I told them. They all smiled at that.
"May Professor Sosa and I talk to him for a few minutes?" Professor McCord asked.
"We've talked to Dr. Greene," Professor Sosa told us. "He explained that Dante will be out three to four weeks while he heals."
"So we've agreed to add Dante to our online classes," Professor McCord told us. "He's well worth it as a student."
"He'll like that," I told them with a big smile.
"At least he hasn't called you gentlemen."
"No, he hasn't called me," Professor Sosa said with knowing smile.
"Nor me," Professor McCord said with the same smile. "But he has texted me several times.
"I should have known," I told them with a chuckle. "But he'll like that he can complete his classes."
"He hasn't said a word to me," a shocked Diane said.
"Could he go back to class?"
"Possibly," Professor Sosa said. "If his Doctor says it's okay."
So we all went in. Dante was both pleased and disappointed. Dr. Green joined us.
"Dante you need to heal," Dr. Greene told him. "I don't see why your online classes will give you your credits."
"Then I miss out on the class interaction," Dante replied. "And it leaves Jimmy outnumbered." So there it was.
"We can live stream your class," Professor McCord told him.
"Well we'll see," Dr. Greene told him. "But not for three or four weeks. So no classes."
"and no riding or rodeo either."
Dante frowned at that.
"You heard him," I told Dante. "Think about it."
"Walking hurts you right now," I told him, as he was trying to turn sharply stopped Dante from arguing about.
"If you do as you're told," Dr. Greene told him rather matter of factually. "You can go go home Friday."
There was a glint mischief in Dante's eyes. Jimmy and I both caught it.
"Dante if you don't promise to behave right now!" Jimmy snapped at him. "We'll call off the cookout this weekend."
"Jimmy!" Dante started. But the look on Jimmy's face spoke volumes.
"Dante Alan Green!" Diane barked at her son.
"Billy?" Dante squealed. I smiled as Dante's got bigger."Dr. Green?" I asked with my evil grin going. "Is there a long term care facility we can put Dante in until he heals."
"Wait! Wait!" Dante said cutting Dr. Greene off. "I'll behave. I swear to you my love." I stared at him for a few minutes.
"I swear!" Dante said melting under my stare. Then he raised his right hand. "I swear."
"Good," I told him. "I'll get you one of those anti-gravity recliners to sit in. That way you can sit outside."
"But Billy my love," Dante said starting to protest. The look on my face though. "Okay, agreed." So I leaned over and kissed him.
"I want you home," I told him. "I want you better."
"I was scared to death, that I was going to lose you."
"I can't have that again." We hugged. I felt my own tears as Dante cried.
"Dante you still need to deal with your brain injury as well,: Dr. Greene told him. "If you do too fast. You could end up back in here."
"Or worse." Dante looked up at him at that.
"Okay," Dante said to me. "Dad finally told me the whole story."
A chill ran down my spine at that. We had talked about it before. But I hadn't told him everything, I guess Sam had.
"Yes!" I told him. "I was afraid." And I was suddenly hugged by someone. It was Amelia and Bass. Then Linzie and Diane hugged me.
"Well Dante," Professor McCord said. "You get well. So we can see you in class. And For him." We shook their hands and they left.
"I heard you promise to behave Uncle Dante," Amelia scolded Dante. "And if you don't ! You'll have to deal with me." The look on her face caused Dante to look at me for support. I just shrugged.
"I will Amelia," Dante finally told her. "Now how about you climb up here, and give me a hug and a kiss." He held out his arms.
Amelia huffed at him and crossed her arms. She even stomped her foot to prove she was serious.
"Amelia, I promise you as well," Dante told her as tears flowed. "I even give you permission to scold me any time I get out of line." Her stare bore a hole in his heart. You could tell.
He held his arms out again for a hug. Amelia finally climbed up and got her hug. With a squeeze of his hand I reminded Dante that I was there. Dante kissed her cheek as a tear rolled down his cheek. Then Diane and Linzie hugged and kissed him in turn.
"Mom," Dante said right after they hugged.
"Yes Dante?" Diane asked with a look of suspicion on her face.
"Will you come out to our place to help keep an eye on me, while I heal?" Dante asked her'
"Of course I will," Diane told him. "In fact I already have." She then wiped away his tears.
Later we talked to Sam. And I spent the next two nights at the hospital. I slept next to Dante, hand in hand.
Dante was behaving himself, for the most part. But all it took was a look from Amelia to get him to behave.
"Well Dante," Dr. Greene said on Friday morning. "You're tests and x-rays are clear. So you can go home."
"They'll bring you your paperwork shortly."
"Thank you Dr. Greene," Dante told him as he squeezed my hand.
"So be careful and get out that gown," Dr. Greene told him. "The only reason we are allowing this is You've agreea to follow our instructions."
"Yes sir I will," Dante replied. "Adam. Dr. Patrick and P/A Paul Waters are spending the weekend at our ranch. As I understand it."
"The sounds good to me," Dr. Greene told him. "Now do you have a Doctor?"
"I've set him up with my Doctor," I told Dr. Greene. "Dr. Chris Lambert will see him on the third."
"Dr. Chris Lambert?" Dr. Greene asked. Surprise written all over his face.
"So she's a good Doctor?" Dante asked him.
"One of the best," Doctor Greene told him.
"And stopping in to meet my new patient," Christina said stepping in.
"So you're doing rounds today, Chris?" Dr. Greene asked her.
"I always come to see my patients Mark," Chris told him.
"Thanks Chris," I said greeting her as we hugged. "Glad you could make it."
"So this is your Dante?" Chris said, looking at Dante.
"Please don't believe everything he's told you D.r Lambert," Dante said, giving me the stink eye.
"Oh, I don't," Chris told him. "But I do what your mother has told me."
"MOM!" Dante roared, looking at his mother. Diane just smiled like a Cheshire cat.
"Well Billy and Dr. Lambert needed me to answer some questions on your medical history," Diane told her son. Jimmy and I laughed at the look on Dante's face.
"I also got your records from Dr. Patel."
"I like Dr. Lambert," Diane said with a smile.
"Though at first, I thought she was the nurse."
"What?!" Dante asked rather surprised.
"Billy called me Chris," Chris told him with a chuckle. "You're mom asked me when the Doctor was coming in."
"You have seen your mom's face. When I told her Chris was the Doctor," I told him. We all laughed.
Then Dr. Greene and Chris Lambert talked. She gave Dante a quick exam. Then she looked over his discharge papers. Then she tried to get Dante to get him to take a prescription painkiller. But Dante didn't want any at all. But finally he agreed. As long as Donna, Adam, or Paul were controlling them, he would take them.
Chris looked at Dante for a minute. Then she smiled and kissed his cheek.
"So he asked you to marry him?" Chris asked me.
"Yes," Dante and I chorused to answer.
"You had better invite me to the wedding." Then she kissed my cheek.
We signed Dante out of the hospital not an hour later. Everyone else had headed for the ranch. The ride home was a little rough on Dante. Especially when we got to the ranch's road.
Everyone was waiting when we got there. The kids threw dyed popcorn as if it were confetti. And popcorn rained down upon us.
"Well help me out of this thing," Dante commanded, after I opened the truck door. Dante's truck door.
"Sure." I told him, reaching in to pick him up. "Bed or patio?" I asked him, once he was in my arms.
"Billy! You don't have to carry me," Dante told me.
"Hey! It looks cute, Amelia barked at him. "So hush!"
"Dante it looks romantic," Alice added in support. "I think it's sweet."
Dante looked at them, then at me. I kissed him and smiled.
"The patio please," an embarrassed Dante told me with a return kiss.
So I carried him through the house to the patio. All the kids were in tow. But we both had a surprise waiting for us.
"Well look who's here," Dante said upon seeing Ned and Dan Talking to Linzie. "Ned, Dan. What brings you out today?"
"Well two things," Ned told him with a smile. "One to see you come home. And two to show you two the rough cut on our documentary." At which point Linzie held up a tablet to indicate she had been looking at it. With a smile.
"Well thank you. But as you can see, I'm alive," Dante joked with a smile.
"Dante you are alive!" Dan barked at him. "I lost a cousin the same way."
"I'm sorry Dan," Dante told him. "But it makes me feel to joke about it."
"I'm a little touchy about it Dante," Dan told us. "I was with him when it happened."
"I went to get help. By the time we got to him. It was to late."
"I know how you feel," I said. "But I got lucky."
"So how about you two stay for dinner?" Dante asked them.
Ned and Dan looked at each other. Dan nodded with a smile, which Ned returned.
"We'll stay for dinner," Ned told us.
"And come tomorrow," I said. "And Dan. Bring your mother. I haven't seen her since your when your dad past away."
"Mom would love to come," Dan told us. "But Dante, I think you have more visitors." Dan pointed behind us. We looked to see everyone else.
One by one Dante hugged them all. Peter had a new hat band and a birds large flight feather. The kids were all happy that Dante was home, and all of them could be with him at once.
Then Peter tapped me on the arm when Dante was busy. So I bent down to listen better. As Peter wanted to talk to me alone.
"Can you come with me to the corral Marshal Billy?" Peter asked me. "I want to show you something. Before I show it to Dante." I smiled at that.
"Sure Peter," I told him. Then Dante spotted us. "I'll be back in a few."
So we went down to the corral. Where Peter proudly showed me Tickles. She was wearing a halter. Tally had followed us with a smile.
"See!" he said waving his hands. Then he slid a rope into the halter. Then he led her around without hesitation. Then he slid carefully up on her back.
Tickles ears were the only thing that showed she was unsure. But Peter asked her, and she trusted him. So Peter walked her around a little way.
"What do you think Marshal Billy?'" Peter asked with a grin. Pride etched across his face.
"Well she's quick to learn," I told him as I helped him down. "But you don't need to ride her too much till she's older."
"I know Marshal Billy," Peter said as he scratched Tickles ears. "She's too young."
"But she's never bucked."
"Yet," I added with a smile.
"But!" Peter said.
"Let her get a little older," Tally told him.
"When she's big enough for a saddle, she will."
"Peter. You've done a great job with Both Tickles and Hermosa."
"I'm proud of what you've learned in a few weeks."
Peter beamed with pride at the praise Tally gave him. He hugged her then me. Daniel and Angel were there listening to it all.
"So do you want to tell Dante?" I asked him.
"Or can I?"
"Can I show him?" Peter asked rather sheepishly.
"Well let's grab you a saddle blanket from the barn," I told him. "Dante would love to see what you've accomplished."
We walked with Peter to the barn. We grabbed a saddle blanket. Then we led Tickles to the Patio.
"Hey Dante!" Peter called as he peaked around the corner. "I have something I'd like to show you."
"Okay Peter," Dante said with a puzzled look.
Peter led Tickles along the edge of the patio . When he got to the other end. He swung up on her back. Where he walked her back to the other end.
With some help, Dante walked over to the edge of the patio. Dante smiled and mussed Peter's hair. Then scratched Tickles head
"Peter this is fantastic," Dante told him with a hug. Peter slid off Tickles back to hug Dante again.
"That means a lot," Peter told Dante. Ethan beamed with pride at his youngest.
We took Tickles back to the corral. As Peter turned her back into the corral. An anxious Hermosa came to check her daughter out.
Then three cars pulled in. The First was George, Sherry, and Lil Billy. Then Mary and Paula. Followed by Judge Avelos and Troy.
"Who are they?" Kevin asked.
So I introduced the McCall children around to everyone. Of course Katy was all over Lil Billy. But Daniel got to carry Lil Billy up to the Patio.
"Judge!, Troy!" Dante said upon seeing them. Dante tried to rise. But I just put a hand on his shoulder to keep him down.
"Dante we wanted to see how you are doing," Judge Avelos told him. "I want to tell you a story that may help you."
"I badly broke my left leg when I was your age.."
"My horse put his leg in a prairie dog hole, and we rolled."
"I broke my tibia, Fibula, and Femur," he told us.
"How was your horse?" Peter asked with concern.
"Fortunately he didn't break his leg," the Judge said with a chuckle.
"The funny things is. That's how we met," Troy told us.
"We met in Physical Therapy," Judge Avelos added kissing Troy.
"So Troy. Why were you in Physical Therapy?" Daniel asked him, as he bounced Lil Billy on his knee.
"I dumped my first Harley because of some sand, and teenage exuberance," Troy told him.
"And he still rides with me beside him," Judge Avelos told us with a smile.
"And I ride horse back next to Carlos," Troy told us.
"True," said Judge Avelos. "But he hasn't dumped a bike since. Nor I a horse."
The afternoon passed pleasantly. We grilled a variety of meats, vegetables, and even biscuits and cornbread.
Dante pretty much stayed in his chair. but by 7 pm he started to fade. And I could tell he was in pain.
"Are you okay?' I asked him finally. Dante smiled as many looked at him. Donna and Adam in particular.
"I'll be okay," Dante said but when he moved. He winced in pain.
"No you are not Uncle Dante," Bass told him as he got up. "We can all see you are in pain and you are tired."
"Dante you need to rest and Ice your ribs," Paul told him.
"He's right," Adam told him. "And you promised us all to do as you were told."
Amelia stood and crossed her arms.
"Tomorrow's going to be a long day too," I reminded him. "So come on. Let's go to bed."
Dante smiles as I helped him up.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Dante announced. "My love is taking me to bed. So I wish you all a good night."
"Dante!" Diane barked at her son's announcement. As she turned red.
"Diane," Sam said to calm his wife.
"I'm worried about the impression on the children," Diane told her husband.
"Don't worry Mrs. Green," Peter said as he hugged her. "We know what he's talking about."
"Peter!" Ethan barked at his youngest.
"Well Dad, you made sure we know about sex and stuff," Peter replied as both , Ethan and Diane turned red.
Several of the boys laughed. While Diane and Ethan tried to shrug it off. But their red faces said different things.
So Bass and I walked Dante into our bedroom. Donna followed with Paul and Adam in tow."
"Dante do you want us to ice down your ribs?" Donna asked him.
"Can I get a shower first?" Dante asked. "I promise you I'll be careful."
"I'll come get you when we're done," I told her. "Bass. Thank you for your help."
"Yeah Bass. Thank you for that," Dante told him.
"Sure Uncle Billy, Uncle Dante," Bass replied, while he hugged me. Then he hugged Dante."
Dante hadn't showered since his fall. I was slow and careful in the shower as I soaped him up. I rinsed and dried him of carefully. Then I got him into sweatpants. Then I called Donna and Paul to come in.
Donna did manage to get Dante to take a pain pill. And it wasn't long before he fell asleep in my arms. We lay there quietly. I put a pillow between us . Which I knew Dante wouldn't like if he knew.
A knock on the door woke me up. The sun told me it was morning. So I eased out of bed, Not waking Dante, I thought. I opened the door to see Linzie.
"Get a T shirt on boys," Linzie told me. "Breakfast is ready." I smelled the food from the door.
"It's almost 8:30," I told her.
"Who turned off my alarm clock?" I asked her"I did," Amelia told me with a smile. "You need to sleep."
"Thank you," I told her.
"Hey! Can I get some help over here?" Dante called from the bed. "I smell breakfast."
I grabbed two T shirts. Then I eased Dante into a sitting position. For which I received a kiss. Which I returned.
"What shoes do you want?" Amelia asked as she held up two pair.
"Well I think my Flip Flops will okay," Dante told her. Amelia smiled.
"Sneakers it is," Amelia replied with a crooked smile. I almost laughed. Linzie did.
"What!" Dante barked, as Amelia slipped the first one on. "Why not my Flip Flops?"
"So you don't trip and fall," Amelia told him.
Dante tried to stare her down ,but failed.
"Okay, fair enough," Dante conceded, as Amelia put the second shoe on him.
We eased Dante to his feet. He walked slowly and carefully outside to the patio.
"We brought you a chair to sit in," Bass told Dante. Then he and Charlie walked with Dante to the table.
"Thank you Bass, Charlie," Dante said as he sat down.
I went inside to fix us plates. But when I got back outside, I noticed that no one was eating yet. Then Angel stood up.
"Billy, Dante," Angel said. "I want to ask you something?"
"I would like to say grace," Angel explained. "And to thank God that you are alright."
"I would be honored if you would," Dante told him. A tear ran down both our cheeks.
I sat down and we took each others hands. "Okay Angel."
"Bless us O Lord, and these, Thy Gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, Through Christ, our Lord,. And to thank you for our friend Dante Green being returned to us safely. Amen."
"Amen," we all chorused.
When finished. Daniel leaned over to kiss Angel on the cheek. Who turned red for the first time.
"Thank you Angel for reminding us to be thankful," I told him. I told them all really. "I know I thanked God for saving Dante my love."
"Angel if you would. Lead us every meal from now on?" Dante asked him.
"How about we take turns with who leads the prayer?" Daniel asked. "If that's okay. I"ll lead us a lunch."
"Daniel. That is an excellent idea," I aid. The boys exchanged high fives. Donna and Jean hugged their sons.