The Aftermath by Vicki L. Nelson

Word Count 1,013



Many thanks to my beta, Raian, for her invaluable input!

Who Makes Me Happy #1


He dove too deep into the frigid waters of Cape Cod and was now furiously clawing his way to the surface. It appeared to be tantalizingly close; he could see the swatch of refracted light directly above him. However, no matter how desperately he struggled to break through, the surface remained doggedly out of reach. He wasn’t going to make it. Lungs near to bursting, he couldn’t hold his breath any longer. Opening up his mouth, he inhaled lungfuls of cold, salty water.

Scott Lancer sat up with a gasp and immediately fell back against the pillow. His head hurt so badly, he thought his brain was going to explode through the top of his head. Reaching up a hand, he touched a bandage that was wrapped around his brow.

What had happened? Careful not to lift his head from the pillow, his eyes darted around the darkened room. Where was he? It was then he noticed a woman sitting beside his bed.

“Mother?” he whispered. No, no – she couldn’t be his mother. His motherhad died shortly after giving birth to him and that’s what set off the chain of events that had been his life up until then. Awareness began to dawn.

“Scott? How are you feeling? It’s Mrs. Tabor, you’re at my house.” If she was taken aback by him calling her Mother, she didn’t show it.

She continued on, “You were shot, but luckily, the bullet only grazed your head. Doc Sam has been here already and left. You have a few stitches and he left some laudanum for the pain.”

Scott grimaced at that, then ignoring her instructions, he sat up too quickly. “Grandfather, must save Grandfather!”

The pain caused by his sudden movement felt like someone was thrusting a hot poker through his brain.

Mrs. Tabor carefully pushed him back down and chided him gently. “What did I tell you about sitting up? Rest easy, your grandfather is fine. In fact, he and your father and your brother are anxious to see you.”

Scott closed his eyes. His grandfather and his father were anxious to see him? One man who loved him too much and one who didn’t seem to love him enough, if at all.

Grandfather loved him, of that he had no doubt. Yet it was a possessive kind of love, begun with the need to punish the man who had stolen his daughter away from him.

Murdoch Lancer, his father. He’d grown up never knowing the man who had sired him and then seemingly forgotten him. He’d hated his father for a long time which slowly morphed into indifference. When the Pinkerton Agent had found him in Boston, his first instinct had been to ignore the call. Let Murdoch Lancer know how it felt to be overlooked. He didn’t need the $1,000, he had Harlan Garret’s legacy. Then he begin to imagine what it might be like to journey to California, see the man who had fathered him and tell him just how he felt about himit wouldn’t be flattering.

Ever since he’d returned from the Civil War, broken in both body and spirit, he’d been drifting. He was growing tired of a frivolous existence and, at least California would be a change of scenery. In the end, he ultimately opted to make the trek.

Then the events of the near past had grandfather had come for a visit, bringing Julie, his former fiancé, with him. Scott soon found out that Julie was being blackmailed into persuading him to return to Boston. When that trick didn’t work, Scott was told Murdoch had murdered a man. Grandfather would revive the charge unless Scott returned to Boston.

Scott had confronted Murdoch and demanded to know why he hadn’t ever returned to Boston to claim him. Murdoch told him that nothing could be solved by dredging up the past. Scott let out the pain of his childhood in an anguished,”But, you’re my father!”

He had come to think of Lancer as his home, only to find out it never had been. The only two people who seemed concerned about his leaving were Teresa and Johnny. His own father had seemed rather cavalier about it all. Scott couldn’t deny the hurt it caused.

On the drive to Cross Creek, Scott let Harlan Garrett know exactly how he felt about him. It was then he felt a blinding pain and fell from the buckboard to awaken in Mrs. Tabor’s room.

She was leaning over him, a look of concern on her face. “Scott, I can tell that you’re in a lot of pain. I want you to take some laudanum; you’ll feel better.”

“I don’t want it,” he replied sullenly.

“You’ll do as you’re told!”

“Will I?” he replied.

He dared to open one eye and peek up at her. She did not look at all pleased; he could tell he’d met his match.

“You will and right now,” she said, holding a glass of water laced with laudanum up to his lips.

He sighed. She wasn’t to be put off as easily as Murdoch had been at that first meeting. He obediently swallowed the bitter drug.

She smiled and brushed his bangs from his brow. “Good boy,” she smiled.

Funny, he wasn’t insulted by that.

“You’re going to drift off soon and your family is very anxious to see how you’re doing. Shall I send them in now?”

Turning his face towards the wall, he pulled the blankets up to his chin and said, “No, I don’t want to see anybody right now.”

There was a pause and Scott knew if he looked back, there would be a puzzled look on Mrs. Tabor’s face.

She started to leave as he turned his head to look over his shoulder. “Wait, send in Johnny. I want to see Johnny, only Johnny.”

To: Part 2: Johnny


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