While the doctors checked Tara over, Jax walked back to the waiting room to tell the others Tara was awake and recovering. They were jovial, happy and gave each other high-fives and pats on the backs.
Jax couldn’t stop smiling at their reactions. He was happy the club and his family were happy, but a part of his mind wasn’t there. It was focused on Tara recovering in the ICU.
Gemma noticed how Jax was trying to appear to be involved with everyone’s celebrations, but he wasn’t. She knew only too well, how he was feeling, since she remembered how his father had been rushed to the hospital after the motorcycle accident that ended up taking his life. She came over to comfort him. Abel was in her arms.
“How is she doing?” she asked. “What did the doctors say?”
“She’s as good as can be expected, I guess. She woke up and they’re examining her now,” Jax answered. He was excited and anxious. All he wanted to do was return to Tara’s bedside.
“Hale came by…” Gemma swayed with Abel in her arms. “He mentioned something to me…about what happened at the airport…is it true?” She looked over at her son, taking her eyes off Abel, very briefly, before cooing at the baby again.
“Is what true?” he replied. Jax reached out and caressed the top of his son’s head. He was grateful to have his son back, safe and sound. All he needed now, was for Tara to make a full recovery.
“Hale told us you proposed to Tara before Wendy showed up,” she explained what she’d heard. “When he questioned the witnesses, they told him what you said.”
Jax grinned. “Yeah, I did. You got a problem with that?” He knew how much Gemma cared for Tara. He couldn’t keep the grin from spreading across his face.
“No,” Gemma shook her head. “Far from it. Tara didn’t get a chance to answer you, did she?” She guessed.
“No,” Jax frowned. “But I’m going to wait until she feels a little bit better before I ask her again. Tara’s in no condition to be answering my question. She needs to focus on getting well. Oh, shit! I need to go shopping for a ring,” he suddenly remembered he hadn’t bought one for her.
He had popped the question without any kind of foresight or planning. A ring had been the furthest thing from his mind. He frantically began to wonder what kind of ring Tara might like.
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she replied, with a knowing look.
“How come?” He could see the gears in Gemma’s mind turning. He knew something was up. “You have one don’t you?” He accused. His eyes narrowed.
“You could say that,” she was being purposely vague. “I’ll go home and get it. You hold Abel for awhile. If you get called back into ICU, just hand him over to Clay.” She instructed, then quickly left, as if the fires of hell were chasing her.
Jax watched her, completely speechless, as she left through the doors of the hospital.
Clay watched her leave, then turned to Jax.
“Where did Gemma run off to?” he wondered. He had been talking to Tig about matters with the club.
“I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine,” Jax replied.
One of the nurses approached, asking about Tara’s condition. Jax took the opportunity to ask her if she would mind looking after Abel for a few minutes, while he took care of some club business. She promptly agreed. She took Abel into her arms, and began cooing at him.
After Jax was sure Abel was lovingly cared for, he patted Clay on his back and they walked outside for a smoke, where all the rest of SAMCRO had gone. They still had matters with the Mayans to discuss.
* * * *
Tara felt poked and prodded until she didn’t think she could feel any worse. Her colleagues had been coming in and out of her room constantly since she had opened her eyes. Some were there to see how she was doing and some were there to examine her. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, and she was exhausted. She just wanted to be left alone.
It seemed like she had been lying in this bed for weeks. Where was Jax? Had he decided that since she was better, he didn’t need her anymore?
She wasn’t sure what was more depressing, Jax giving up on her or laying in this hospital bed and suffering through her colleagues’ examinations. She was not a very good patient. She finally understood why some of her patients gave her problems.
Every time the door to her room opened, she hoped it was Jax who walked through the door. She always tried to hide her disappointment when it turned out to be another colleague of hers.
“You’ll be able to move to another room by the end of the day,” the main doctor on her case, informed her. “You’re showing remarkable progress.”
“Thanks,” Tara wasn’t sure of what to say. All she wanted was for Jax to walk through that door.
It was as if he had read her mind, she thought, as she watched him peer in through the window on the door. She waved for him to come in. He crept in, trying to not get into the doctor’s way. He had a grin on his face.
She had a smile plastered on hers. She was happy and relieved to realize he hadn’t abandoned her, after all.
“Can you give Jax and I some privacy, please?” She asked the staff. She waited until everyone had left the room. As they walked out the door, they tossed curious expressions over at her and Jax. She knew some of them would be there as soon as Jax left, for an update in the ever popular discussions on her love life. What there was of it, that is. She looked at Jax, expectantly.
“How are you feeling? What did your doctor say?” He asked, as he pulled up the nearest chair to the bedside.
“I’m going to be fine,” she tried to reassure him. “What happened with Wendy? Have you given your statement to the police?”
Jax didn’t want to talk about Wendy, or what happened at the airport between them, except for one thing. He looked around the ICU, uncomfortably. “Let’s not go there.”
“Why the hell not, Jax?” Tara was suddenly angry. “I think this is something that needs to be discussed, like two rational adults. She almost killed me, almost ruined my career…have you forgotten about it already?”
Jax jumped to his feet. “Wendy is arrested, okay?” He cried. “No, I haven’t given my statement yet. I was thinking more about you and your condition!” He exploded.
Tara waited patiently for him to continue.
“And no, I haven’t forgotten, and I don’t think I will ever forget what she tried to do to me…and most especially to you. Jesus fucking Christ! I know you have a right to be angry. She almost tried to kill both of us…she almost ruined you…” He paused, taking a deep breath to control his emotions. His hand roughly combed through his hair in agitation. “But that’s not what I want to talk about. Not now, not here. Do you remember what I asked you before Wendy showed up?”
Tara had to calm herself down, before she answered him. She took a couple of deep breaths, then tried to recall what he had said at the airport. Oh, yeah…that’s right. He asked me to marry him, she thought to herself. She looked up at him, hesitantly; suddenly scared he had decided to change his mind, because of what happened. “Yes.”
Jax sat back down in his chair and reached for her hand, which had tubes and other medical equipment attached to it. He was almost afraid to touch her, and was afraid he would disconnect some of the tubes. He gently took her hand in both of his, then looked deep into her eyes. “And?” He asked, hopefully.
Tara didn’t know what to say. She took a moment to take it all in, treasure it, so years from now she would always remember it. She looked down at her hand tucked in both of his, her thumb rubbed against his knuckles.
“Tara?” Jax was fearful she would turn him down. He never expected this. He released her hand, stood up and walked over to the window partition, which overlooked the rest of the ICU. He could feel his heart crushing in his chest. What had made him think she would agree to his proposal anyways?
What kind of life could he give her? Thanks to the club, he would be in and out of jail. They did business with violent people. He always had to keep a gun or a knife on him, in case something bad broke out. Why would she want a life like that? What did he think she would say? She’ll say no, then he’ll be forced to watch her leave for Chicago once she was feeling better.
He had suffered heartbreak the last time Tara had left town. It had taken a long time for her memory to fade. For so long, he had to keep himself drunk and high on weed, just to make it through the day. Even after he had moved on, he found himself thinking of her at the weirdest times, like when he was in bed with other women. Hers, was the only face his saw, his heart would only beat for her. If she turned him down now…he knew he could get through it, but it would be a long and lonely existence.
Tara watched as Jax stood by the window of the ICU. She knew he was trying to distance himself from her. She could tell by his reaction, he thought it was her answer and was already moving on. Was it too late?
“Jax?” She called, in a raspy voice. She coughed, then cleared her throat. Her mouth was suddenly dry. He turned towards her. “Can you please give me some water?” She could barely speak, and wanted her voice to be clear and concise.
Jax walked over to the table at the foot of the bed. There was a pitcher of water, with a glass for a lid. He twisted the lid off, then poured the water into it.
Meanwhile, Tara had gingerly propped herself up in bed. She took the glass when Jax handed it to her gratefully. She took a few sips, then handed the cup back to Jax. He placed it back on the table.
“Jax,” Tara spoke up quietly. She wasn’t sure how she was going to word this. It seemed like she should say something more than a simple, yes. They had waited years for this moment between them. “You remember when we were teenagers and we hung out at Mr. Casey’s diner? Remember what you said to me on our fourth date?” she looked up at him hopefully.
Jax sat down again in the chair. “Yeah, I think so. I said something like, ‘on our wedding day, we’re going to have Mr. Casey’s burgers and fries for our meal at our reception.” He laughed. “I remember you were kind of offended by my suggestion,” he chuckled, remembering.
Tara smiled at the memory too. “Well…Mr. Casey passed away a few years ago. He had cancer,” she explained, her smile fading. “But…his nephew took over the business, and his burgers and fries are just as good.” She paused, as she prepared to give Jax her final answer. “I think we better call up his nephew to make arrangements.” She glanced up at Jax, through her eyelashes, almost afraid of his boisterous reaction.
It took a few minutes for it to sink in. Finally, Jax took Tara’s hand in his, and touched the side of her cheek with the other. “Really?” He cried. “You’re really going to marry me?” He was incredulous. Tara had agreed!
“Yes, I will marry you,” Tara answered. “Although I don’t know why. I must be a glutton for punishment,” she teased.
Jax’s reaction was not one she had expected. He jumped up, left the room, and shouted out to the rest of the ICU; “Hear that everybody? Dr. Tara Knowles has agreed to be my wife! Suck on that, bitches!” He turned around, came back to the side of the bed, and took Tara’s hand in both of his again.
“Somehow I don’t think they’ll appreciate you calling them, ‘bitches’,” she teased, almost afraid of what her co-workers might say to her, if and when she returned to work. There was still the matter of whether the hospital would take her back or not. But that would have to wait until they cleared up the mess Wendy had left.
Jax leaned over the bed and kissed Tara on the lips, then her forehead. “I love you,” he repeated, over and over again, in between kisses. Breaking away, one last time, he stared down at her with all the love in his eyes. “You need to rest, but don’t worry…I’ll be back before you know it.” With that, Jax kissed her again, then left the room.
Tara laid there, stunned. Everything had happened so quickly. She was an engaged woman, but her groom-to-be had disappeared. She wondered where he went.
* * * *
Jax left Tara’s room, anxious to find Gemma. He found that she had returned, and was waiting for him in the waiting room. He rushed over to her.
“You got it?” He asked, not bothering with small-talk.
“Got it,” she replied. “Did she say yes?” She wasn’t into small-talk either.
“Yes,” he answered. “Give it to me. I don’t want to waste another minute.” He held out his hand, waiting for Gemma to place the ring in his palm.
Gemma dug around in her purse, trying to locate it in the contents. It was hard to find. She emptied its’ contents out on an empty chair of the waiting room. She found the ring box amongst all of her belongings. She turned back towards Jax, handing the box to him.
“Before you give this to her, I want you to know…” she paused, as memories flooded her. “This was the ring your father gave to me. Treasure it. Treasure her. Don’t let what came between your father and I, come between you and Tara too,” she instructed.
“Okay, I won’t. I promise,” he added, after he noticed Gemma’s reaction. “Please, give it to me now, so I can make this official.” He was impatient. He held his hand out towards her.
“Fine,” Gemma relented, then placed the ring box in his outstretched hand. She reached for Jax, and kissed him. “My baby boy…all grown up.”
“Stop that, Mom. I need to get going,” he knew it was a special moment, but he had better things to do than be kissed by his mother, in front of the club, no less. They were standing or sitting around the waiting area, watching what was happening between him and Gemma. He knew he would be in for major teasing later, when he stopped by the club on his way home.
Gemma let him go and Jax escaped to Tara’s room in the ICU. There, he found Tara resting comfortably in the bed. He hated to wake her. He took the diamond ring out of the ring box and gazed at its shimmering sparkles for a moment, before he would slip it on to her finger.
It was a stunning, but yet, simple engagement ring. The solitaire diamond wasn’t huge, but it was enough to make it noticeable. He knew Tara was going to love it, just like he knew she loved him. He took her left hand, and slowly slid the ring on to her finger.
“Love you, babe,” he told her, then kissed her cheek. He gazed down at the ring on her left hand.
Tara woke up to Jax’s voice. She felt something odd on her finger. She opened her eyes and stared down at it. It was the most beautiful ring she had ever seen. “Oh…Jax,” she cried, as tears came to her eyes. “It’s so beautiful. I love it.”
Jax grinned and kissed her on her cheek, then took her left hand and kissed it. “Not half as beautiful as you.”
To Be Continued…