Beth laughed softly. “I guess it would.”
“Did David ever get his prize?” He was curious to know if the Bible mentioned that.
“He did. Saul kept his word and gave David his daughter Michal, but, you know, those arranged marriages don’t always work out.” She held his look for a moment and then smiled. “It’s sort of like being coerced into meeting a strange woman at a friend’s house for dinner.”
Sam barked a laugh. “True.”
“Thankfully you weren’t stuck with me for life the way David was with Saul’s daughter.”
“A terrible fate for sure.”
“Really?” she asked, mocking him. “What about poor Michal, who didn’t have any choice in her husband?”
“Yes, poor girl forced to marry a hero. It must have been tough.”
“You have no idea.”
Sam resisted the urge to smile. He’d rarely had a time with a woman like this. A woman like Beth. He enjoyed their banter.
“Can I do anything else for you?” he asked when he saw that the pain pills were kicking in and her eyes were growing droopy again.
“I’ll call Nichole,” he said, making his way to the door.
“Tell her not to worry about coming to visit.”
He headed for the door when Beth stopped him. “Sam.”
He turned, finding he was reluctant to leave her.
“Thank you. Really, thank you. I’m glad you came back.”
“My pleasure, my lady.” He raised his hand to his forehead and saluted her as if he was a troubadour.
She hesitated. “Would you …?”
“Would I what?”
She shook her head and looked embarrassed.
“What is it? Do you need me to bring you something?” He’d do whatever it was she needed and be happy to be able to help.
“Do you think you’ll come back again?” Her gaze held his, as if she was afraid of his answer. “I shouldn’t ask you that … please don’t feel …”
“I wouldn’t mind at all.”
He nodded. It was the truth. He actually looked forward to it.
Beth eyed the single red rose on the stand next to her hospital bed and thought about Sam’s latest visit. In a moment of weakness, she’d asked him if he wouldn’t mind stopping by again. Somewhat to her surprise, she found that she liked Sam and enjoyed his visits. He’d impressed her with his willingness to read her Bible even when it made him uncomfortable. His subtle sense of humor amused her.
The contrast between Sam and the men her mother found suitable was striking, and by more than appearances. He was genuine and honestly cared about her. He’d stayed with her at the scene of the accident and had gone to the hospital and had visited her not once but twice. She couldn’t imagine any of the pretty boys she’d dated doing any of that. Certainly not Kier, who lived off a healthy trust fund and had never held a job, something he seemed proud of. Beth viewed these prospective husbands her mother pushed her to date as weak and spoiled. She couldn’t understand why her mother saw any one of them as a good match for her. As for her father, he seemed oblivious to what was happening. Not until their talk before she moved to Portland did she realize how unaware he actually was. Beth knew she would never find happiness with any of the men her mother pushed her into dating. Ellie Prudhomme was Kier’s staunchest advocate. Beth cringed at the thought of the self-centered, egotistical man. Even now she couldn’t understand what her mother saw in him.
Beth was reluctant to admit that when she’d first met Sam she’d seen him through her parents’ eyes. And yet Sam was everything Kier would never be. She liked that he was strong physically and that his strength didn’t come from working out in a fancy gym. There didn’t appear to be a spare ounce of fat on him, and while he could be a bit gruff and unconventional, she’d seen a gentle side to him at the accident and then again yesterday evening when he’d sat by her bedside and read to her.
Knowing Sam intended to visit again helped her through the long, tedious hours being hospitalized. Although it was early afternoon, she was already looking forward to seeing him. He’d been the bright spot in her day on his last visit, staying until she was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open.
If she was surprised by how much she enjoyed him, she assumed he felt much the same. They certainly hadn’t gotten off to a promising start. Even if nothing more developed than these few visits, she would always appreciate everything he’d done for her.
On Tuesday mid-afternoon, Nichole stopped by. Beth was pleased to see her friend and regretted that she was weak and unable to hide her discomfort. The doctor said she would probably be moved to the rehab center the following day. It looked like she would be at that facility two or three weeks and perhaps longer. Sunshine had offered to let her recuperate at her house, but that wouldn’t work. Beth didn’t want her aunt to play nursemaid to her, especially when she needed to be at her studio. Besides, Sunshine was often out of town, traveling to art shows all around the country. The last thing Sunshine needed was to be driving Beth back and forth to physical therapy every day.
“How’s Matthew?” Beth asked as soon as Nichole arrived.
“Much better. He slept most of the night, which was a relief. Leanne’s watching him now.”
Beth knew Leanne was Nichole’s former mother-in-law. The two were tight. A bit unusual, but the relationship worked. Leanne considered Rocco and Nichole’s children her own grandchildren and treated them as such. She was married to a Ukrainian man who baked the most delicious bread Beth had ever tasted.
“Sam called to let me know you’d had a rough day,” Nichole said as she came around and set down a crossword puzzle book she’d brought with her. Her gaze fell on the single red rose. “That’s lovely.”
Beth felt a warm happiness gazing at the rose. “Sam brought it.”
Nichole’s head whipped around. “Sam Carney?”
“Yeah, when he stopped by Sunday afternoon.”
Nichole’s eyes widened. “Sam has been up to see you twice?”
“Yes.” Beth didn’t know why Nichole looked shocked. She didn’t think it was meant to be a secret. If he didn’t want her to mention his visits, then he should have said so earlier.
As though stunned, Nichole sank into the chair. “Wow, that’s great.”
Beth felt she needed to explain. “Now that Sam and I have had a chance to get to know each other a little, I find I like him. He’s good company. I don’t think he has any idea how funny he is.” She repeated part of their conversation that made her smile, especially his definition of “decent women”.
Nichole groaned and rolled her eyes. “He’s definitely one of a kind.”
“He said he’d be back.”
Nichole’s eyes widened. “Sam did?”
Beth felt she had to let her friend know the truth. “I … I asked him if he wouldn’t mind visiting again and he said he would.”
Nichole looked as if she wasn’t sure what to say.
Beth didn’t want to appear overly curious, but she did have a few questions she hoped Nichole could answer. “You mentioned he’s a mechanic.”
“One of the best, according to Rocco. And a good friend, too. Owen loves him.”
“With good reason, if that jar of dollars is anything to go by.”
Nichole relaxed against the back of the chair and smiled. “It’s more than that. I told you before that he’s super with the kids. Even Kaylene. It was Sam who took her out driving when she first got her learner’s permit. Rocco only drove with her once. I don’t know what happened, but Kaylene returned in tears and Rocco said he was through. Sam stepped up and showed the patience of a saint. Even with driver education classes, I don’t know if Kaylene would have gotten her driver’s license if it wasn’t for Sam.”
Further proof that there was more to the man than met the eye.