Authors: Jillian Chantal
THANKS FOR GIVING
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Thanks For Giving
Copyright © 2014 Jillian Chantal
First E-book Publication: November 2014
Cover design by Dawné Dominique
Edited by Lori Paige
Proofread by Renee Waring
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
This one is for all the donors on the bone marrow donor
list who have given selflessly to help save lives.
THANKS FOR GIVING
Copyright © 2014
Molly Touchstone tied the last of the burnt-orange colored ribbon to the railing with a tight square knot. Thanksgiving was the next day and she hadn’t had time to bring out her decorative turkey and cover the columns and rail across her front veranda until this chilly Wednesday evening. She’d been out of town until that morning and even though she needed to be cooking, deep in her soul, she really desired to have her traditional decorations up so she could sit out on the porch and enjoy them.
The five-foot tall turkey was made of wood and each of the slats representing feathers behind its circular body were painted different colors to make for a festive tail for old Tom. Molly and her father made the bird when she was in high school and named him Thomas. She didn’t think that was very clever so, in her mind, she always called him Frank. When she moved out of her parents’ house after college, her dad insisted she take the thing with her. It was a piece of home and she loved that critter. She placed him in her yard every year.
She smiled at the back of the turkey seated on her lawn and shivered as a shadowy figure passed in front of it. Clasping her hands around her bare arms and wishing she had her sweater, she called out, “Who’s there?”
“It’s Chip. Chip French.”
Her stomach leapt to her throat.
She hadn’t seen him in ages. He’d moved to Louisiana when they were in eleventh grade and even though he came back to town to see his grandparents from time to time, she was rarely home when he did. She reckoned she’d last seen him freshman year of college. The year he broke her heart.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’ve bought my grandmother’s house. I guess you know she had to be put in the nursing home a few weeks ago.” He stepped on the porch and when the light shone on him, it was all Molly could do not to gasp. The cute boy of her teen years had turned into a ruggedly handsome man.
“No. I didn’t know. I’ve been gone.” It seemed as if it were suddenly colder. Molly rubbed her upper arms and winced at the chill on her skin.
“It’s pretty brisk out here. Can we go inside and talk? I wanted to see you.”
“Sure. Sorry I forgot my manners.” Molly blushed as she recalled how many times she and Chip almost got in trouble when they were alone together. She couldn’t resist him at all and had lost count long ago of the number of times they’d almost gone too far parked in his car or sitting on the porch swing at her parents’ home. She wondered if the old attraction would sweep them away again even after ten years.
A bit disappointed when he walked in through the screen door and seated himself on the smallest chair, Molly followed him and, after shutting the door to keep in the heat, she sat on the couch across from the seat he’d chosen. She smiled. “What’s up? Why did you want to see me?”
“Do you remember Matthew Brennan?”
“Yeah, sure. He played baseball with you on the varsity team. Why?”
“He’s in the hospital.”
“He has leukemia.”
“Wow. I had no idea. I haven’t seen him in a while. Didn’t he move to Maryland?” Molly couldn’t figure out where this conversation was going and as much as she liked seeing Chip, she really needed to get that sweet potato pie made. Her father always wanted her special recipe on Thanksgiving Day. Time was running short.
“He’s back here now. He needs a bone marrow transplant.”
“So he came here for the procedure since one of his family members is the donor?” Molly stood, walked over to the side table near the front door and picked up another spool of the orange ribbon to have something to do with her hands. She was itching to run her hands through his hair like she used to and was ashamed. He was talking about a very serious illness that their friend had and she was lusting after him. So not cool.
“That’s the thing. He hasn’t found a donor and I’m going around to everyone we know to see if they would be willing to be tested. Matt really needs this transplant.”
“Wow. I don’t know. It sounds scary. I’d like to help but I’m not sure.” She walked back to her seat and fiddled with the ribbon.
“It’s actually pretty easy. They do a thing called an HLA test and if you match, the donation procedure is a one-night hospital stay or it may even be outpatient. They take some of the donor’s marrow cells out of his or her hip. The procedure takes about an hour so it’s not a big deal for the donor, but it’s life-saving for the patient.”
“How do you know so much about all this?”
“I’m doing my residency in oncology at Daughters of Mercy. That’s why I moved home and bought Granny’s house.”
“I had no idea you’d gone to medical school. As much as I loved your grandparents, I didn’t really see them once I came back from college myself.”
“No problem. Gramps died a few years ago. You can’t be expected to have paid much attention to a former teen boyfriend’s grandparents, could you?” Chip smiled. His white teeth, always one of his best features, shone in the dim light of the room. “Will you come tomorrow and be tested? I know it’s a holiday, but I’ve made arrangements to have the tests done as we need to move quickly for Matt.”
A bit sad that he thought she didn’t have a lasting tie to his grandparents, and more than a little ashamed that she hadn’t tried to keep in contact with them, Molly said, “I can be tested but what are the realistic chances of finding a donor?”
“Family matches are the norm, but we won’t know until we try. I’m hoping to find someone who can help.” Chip stood and brushed the front of his pants. “You’re tearing that ribbon to shreds.” He nodded at her hands.
“Oh, I guess I am. I was going to make a wreath but ran out of time since I’ve been gone. I guess I can save it for next year.” She looked down and sure enough, she’d made a mess of the end of the roll. She stood to follow him to the door.
Chip turned the knob and pulled the door open, then shouldered the screen. He walked onto the porch and turned to her where she stood half in and half out of the house. Cupping her face in the palm of his hand, he whispered, “You’re still the same sweet Molly I remember, even though I’ve heard how tough you are now.”
Confused by what he meant and more than a little addled by the warmth of his touch, Molly couldn’t find her tongue to respond and before she knew it, he had leapt off her porch and was gone into the darkness of the night.
* * * *
The next morning, Molly rose early to make sure she had time to make the cranberry salad and her special red velvet cake before heading over to the Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family at her parents’ place. She was looking forward to the special table her mother always set for their family gathering. The lavender napkins that only came out once a year, along with the wine glasses and silver chargers that her parents got when they married, were a tradition that Molly held close to her heart. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without those little touches.
She decided not to shower and dress before cooking since she usually made a mess anyway. Sleeping in a thin flannel pajama top and yoga pants was comfy and perfect to bake in, too. After brushing her teeth, she tugged on a pair of socks and her sneakers and headed to the kitchen.
After slipping the festive apron with embroidered pumpkins scattered on the bodice over her head, Molly opened the flour container. A poof of white powder flew up into her face. She laughed as she measured the ingredients for the cake. It had been too long since she’d made a cake from scratch since she’d been living in hotels for work, and she’d missed the process.
Glad that she was no longer traveling as a consultant, she pulled the cocoa out last and as she flipped up the lid, the container tilted and spilled some down the front of the apron. She rubbed her hands over the fabric and poured the cocoa into the mixer.
The machine ran while Molly greased and floured the pans. Once the mixture was ready, she poured some into each of the three round pans and popped them into the oven she had set to preheat as soon as she arrived in the kitchen.
She started to amass the ingredients to make the icing when the doorbell rang. She ran her hands down the front of the apron again and poked the errant locks of hair that had fallen out of her messy bun behind her ears.
Arriving at the door, she called out, “Who is it?”
What the heck was he doing here so early? Molly glanced at the mantel clock. It was only a bit after seven. She opened the door. “What’s going on?”
His gaze raked her body making her self-conscious of what she must look like. How much flour and cocoa was she wearing?
“Are you going to the hospital like that?” Chip asked.
“I’m going to the hospital?” Confused, Molly frowned.
“Don’t you remember me coming by last night to talk about the bone marrow thing for Matt?”
“Well, yeah, I’m not a moron, you know. I can recall a conversation from less than twelve hours ago, but I don’t think crack of dawn was mentioned. It
a holiday, you know. I was trying to finish my baking.”
“I know it’s a holiday but since a lot of people are in town, I arranged to have the phlebotomist on hand early so she could take the samples and get started. Matt needs this transplant as soon as possible.”
“Are you picking up everyone and driving them over? Or are you just doing drive-bys to see if they’re still home or asleep?” Molly crossed her arms over her chest.
“Everyone else I spoke to has already come and gone. You’re the last one. I decided to come get you since you seemed to have forgotten.”
She exhaled a loud sigh. “Let me take a shower and turn off the oven and we’ll go then.”
“Never mind. Jason was right about you. Forget it.” Chip turned to walk away.
Molly lunged out the door and grabbed his bicep. “Hold on there a minute, mister. What does
“Nothing. Forget it.” He shook her hand off and stepped off the porch onto the top stair.
“You can’t come here and announce that Jason was right about something and not tell me what.”
Chip faced her. “He said that you had become rude and abrupt in your dealings with people. It really makes me sad, you know. Last night I thought he was wrong when you were so sweet and kind, but now I see that the change in you really has happened. Sorry to have bothered you. Enjoy your holiday.”
Stunned beyond belief that Jason was telling such tales about her and that Chip believed them, she flung her apron over her head and shutting the door behind her, she stalked down the path behind him. “Wait for me. I’m going with you.”
Chip turned back and as soon as he made eye contact with her, his eyes widened. “Are you sure you want to go like that?”
“Of course. I want to help Matt and show you that I am a nice person and you’ve already said I have no time to shower.”
“But your shirt—”
“I’m sorry if my shirt doesn’t meet your approval. Let’s go.” Molly bounded over to Chip’s Mustang. At least she presumed it was his since it was in her driveway. She tried to open the passenger door but it was locked.
The chirp-chirp of the door unlocking preceded Chip as he arrived at the car. “If you’re sure you want to go like that, get in.”
Sure that she looked fine, Molly opened the door and slid into the grey leather seat.
Chip backed the car out and they headed to the hospital. When they pulled in to a parking space near the lab, Chip said, “This shouldn’t take long.”
“Fine. Can we go up and see Matt?”
“No. He’s in isolation and will have to stay there until after the transplant.”
“He can’t get any infections before the procedure and needs to be in a sterile environment. We also have no guarantee that anyone will be a viable candidate but just in case, we went ahead and isolated him several days ago.”
“Let’s get this done so I can get back to my cake—” Molly slapped her hand over her mouth—“oh no, my cakes. They’re still in the oven. We have to hurry before they burn.”
“Come on then. It won’t take more than a few minutes.”
“I hope my house doesn’t burn down.” Molly opened her door and exited the vehicle.
They walked together to the entrance and once there, Chip held the door as Molly passed through. He strode past her to the main desk and the lady behind it said, “Dr. French, Samantha is working on the samples she took earlier today. Let me buzz her to come take the last draw from your friend.” The woman glanced up at Molly and her eyes opened wide.
Now really concerned about how she may look, Molly asked, “Where’s a ladies room I can use?”
The woman pointed across the lobby. Molly followed where her finger led and escaped to the bathroom. She turned to the mirror and startled herself. Dear God, how could she have forgotten she had on that pajama top that had been washed so many times that it was almost translucent? No wonder Chip and that receptionist were gaping. Gee. She’d given the world a nice view of her chest for sure.
She turned on the water and ran her hand under the faucet. She tried to dab out some of the flour and cocoa on the pajama top but only succeeded in making it worse and the wetness made the fabric cling more. She poked her tongue out at herself and muttered, “Too late to impress your former love now. He probably thinks you’re some kind of exhibitionist.”