The Final Goodbye By: J.L. Jacobs © 2015 (Full Length Book)

Out of sheer desperation, Sophia Lancaster flees her small town of Wellington, Ohio in order to become a mail-order-bride. Naive and full of hope, her world is shattered once again as she is quickly wed to Travis Ewing who seems to despise her from the moment they meet.

Over time, they fall madly in love with each other but Fate has other plans in store for them. This is a suspenseful and very emotional love story that is set in the 1890's where history comes alive. You will laugh and cry over Sophia's journey through hell and back as she fights for the only thing she truly believes in: Love.

*I love to hear your comments and feedback but please DO NOT POST ANY SPOILER ALERTS OR GIVE AWAY STORY INFO. This ruins the reading experience for others.* This is a rough draft version. This book is for mature readers over the age of 17 only. It does contain some profanity and a few graphic love scenes. The synopsis will be re-written, and I will be updating the book with edits.


14. Chapter Fourteen: The Bad News

Chapter Fourteen: The Bad News



     Sophia woke up slowly as if she were in a haze and allowed her eyes to focus properly. It didn't take long for her to realize that she was in an incredible amount of pain. Looking around the small room, it took her several moments to focus her eyes and fully recall where she was at and why. The room was dark but there was a bit of light coming in from the hallway outside her closed door. Not too much light since it was only visible though the small opening between the door and the tiled floor, but enough to at least not have it be completely pitch black in her room. She could hear a thunderstorm raging outside so when flashes of lightning hit, there were brief moments of brighter light from that as well. The hospital had electricity which was a newer modern luxury. In fact, most of the city of Dallas had electricity installed. It was a convenience for sure, and she wondered just then when Travis would have electric power installed at his ranch. The Ewing Ranch wasn't very far from the city proper even though it was in Turtle Creek, so she imagined he might already be planning on having it installed. As the storm outside raged on, every few seconds there were flashes of lightning that was followed closely by deep cracks of thunder. The lightning would create dark shadows in her room that would be considered scary to a smaller child. She smiled. She absolutely loved thunderstorms! If her sister Rachel had been there right now she would be absolutely terrified. It made her remember that day not long ago when they were stuck at the medical clinic that her former fiancé Jeremy owned, and the memory made her both smile from the nostalgic thought and homesick at the same time. It was a time like now when Sophia wished fervently that she was back at home with her family. A single tear escaped from the corner of her eye. She wondered why she had still yet to receive any letters from any of her friends and family back home. The only time she heard anything was shortly after her arrival via a telegraphed message that was short and sweet. The post shouldn't take more than a week, two tops, to reach here. She began to feel a little bit melancholy. 


     Just then, Sophia's attention was quickly brought back to the pain in her lower abdomen. It felt like she had been cut in half and the pain was so bad that more tears instantly formed in her eyes and began pouring down her face. The surgery was obviously over. She successfully made it through the procedure just fine as she was both awake and alive. It was dark outside so she had no idea what the time was. She heard voices outside her door and decided to call out to them, "Is anyone out there? Hello?" Her throat was dry and raw giving her voice a raspy quality to it. It hurt just to talk. She then realized her whole body was sore but the pain from the surgery was downright unbearable! Several seconds later, a rotund older woman with salt and pepper colored hair appeared in her doorway. She turned on the overhead light in Sophia's room. The much brighter light burned her eyes which had been well adjusted to the darkness of the room. The large nurse walked slowly over to the side of Sophia's bed, her progress made all the more slower due to the size of her ample girth. "Well I will be gosh darned. I did hear something after all. I thought maybe it was all in my head but you did call out. It's about time you woke up Mrs. Ewing. We were all beginning to become concerned about you. You should have been up many, many hours ago." "Please," Sophia croaked out, "pain is bad. Help. Water too please." There was a very weird taste in her mouth. It still smelled and tasted like that awful smelling gas Dr. May had given her just before the surgery. The nurse took Sophia's left arm in order to place a blood pressure cuff around it. As she was taking Sophia's blood pressure she said, "I will go fetch you some laudanum for your pain. Bear with me for just a few minutes more." Sophia nodded her head in understanding. "How long was I out for?" Sophia asked her in a throaty whisper. "Well," the nurse replied, "you have been out since your surgery Ma'am. It's now four thirty or so in the morning, so you were sleeping for quite a long time. Your blood pressure is a tad on the high side but considering your pain it looks good otherwise. Let me go ahead and fetch that medicine for you."


     Once the nurse had left the room Sophia said a silent prayer to the Lord above thanking him for getting her through the surgery. A few minutes later the nurse returned with a dose of laudanum and administered it to Sophia, as well as a small glass of water to quench her badly parched throat. "This medicine will make you sleepy again Mrs. Ewing. Drink the water slowly. You may or may not vomit it back up. If you do, don't worry none over it. That is normal. Dr. May will be arriving here in a couple of hours to do his rounds so get some more sleep. Once he arrives he will be in to talk to you about your surgery yesterday. In the meantime, if you need anything, just holler. My desk is just outside your door so I will be able to hear you. There is also a small bell you can use. It's sitting here on the table next to your bed but I imagine you're too sore to reach it so I will just set it on your lap for you." Noticing that Sophia had already drank most of the water in the few seconds that she had been talking, the nurse then said, "I will run and fetch you some more water Ma'am. I will be right back." She then placed the small bronze bell on Sophia's lap as promised. Sophia smiled weakly at her. She was already beginning to feel the effects of the bitter-tasting medicine as it traveled through her system. "Thank you for your kindness." she said as the nurse started walking back out of the room. Actually, because of the woman's large size, it resembled more of a waddle which made Sophia giggle out loud. "Nurse Penguin." Sophia thought to herself which made her begin to laugh, but when she did that the pain worsened at the incision site. Then she began to picture "nurse penguin" dressed up like one which only continued to amuse her all the more. That must have been the laudanum making her feel silly. The nurse turned around and gave Sophia a warm smile, "I'm just doing my job ma'am but you are very welcome." Then she disappeared out of the room. As the laudanum kicked in some more she felt her eyelids grow heavy. Only a few short minutes later the nurse returned with the small cup of water in hand, waddling back to Sophia's bedside which made her giggle some more. The water tasted so refreshing that Sophia instantly felt guilty for poking innocent fun at the nurse's expense, even if she only did so in her own mind. She was a nice enough woman; the poor nurse couldn't help it if she waddled and looked like a penguin. With that thought in mind, Sophia laughed so hard that water flew out of her mouth and splattered the poor woman in the chest. "Oh my goodness, I am so sorry!" Sophia exclaimed. She felt her cheeks flame in mortification. "No apologies necessary Mrs. Ewing. That's the medicine making you feel silly. It happens more than you know. I will leave the cup of water here on your table and you can use your bell if you would like more or need anything else." The nurse left the remaining water on the small table next to the bed and left the room once again. It didn't take Sophia long afterwards to fall back asleep with a slight smile and dreams of penguins in her head.



     Travis must have fallen back asleep for a while after the children had come in earlier because as he opened his eyes it was now a little bit lighter outside. Looking towards the window the sky was still a dark gray color matted with dark and menacing looking clouds because the storm was still going on full force. The smell of coffee wafted into his bedroom that mingled with the fresh air brought in from the storm through the slightly opened window. That must have meant that Mrs. Cox was in the kitchen preparing their breakfast meal. As his stomach rumbled he realized he was beyond starving. The only meal he had eaten was yesterday morning at The Blue Moon Saloon. He was so hungry that he felt like he could eat half a cow. He removed two small arms that were wrapped around each side of him and got out of bed. He quickly dressed himself in a button down long-sleeved cotton shirt and a pair of his well-worn Levi denim jeans. Lastly, he put on his socks and cowboy boots. "Wakey wakey!" he called out to the children in a loud enough voice to stir them both awake. He then gave his two children a gentle shake in order to fully wake them up. He was eager to eat and head over to the hotel to fetch Sophia. Mikey and Hope both opened their eyes yawning and stretching as they scrambled out of his bed. "Papa," Hope said through another big yawn, "It's still storming out there. I'm scared." "Don't be such a pansy." Mikey teased her. "You were scared too Mikey!" Hope protested to her brother while sticking her tongue out at him. "You two get yourselves dressed and washed up then head down to the kitchen so we can all break our fast." Travis chuckled. The children scurried off to their respective bedrooms to do as they were instructed and Travis went downstairs to the kitchen to find that Mrs. Cox was indeed there. 


     Looking at the stove he saw she was making pancakes which were the children's favorite. "Good morning Mrs. Cox." Travis said as he walked over to the counter top to pour himself some black coffee. "That it is despite the weather this morning." Mrs. Cox replied smiling. "Listen Mr. Ewing, the time is getting closer for me to have to take my leave. My daughter's time is drawing closer for her to have the baby and I promised her I would be there for the birth. With Mrs. Ewing not here I didn't know if you needed me to stay or not." Travis started to grab a pancake off the serving platter on the counter next to the hot stove but Mrs. Cox playfully batted his hand away with her spatula, "Where are your manners? Go on now and sit yourself down at the table. I will bring the food to you when it's all finished up. Only a few more to go." Travis's eyes twinkled in mischief. This scene was not uncommon between the two of them. Mrs. Cox had turned her attention back to the stove and that's when he quickly grabbed a warm pancake and went to sit at the kitchen table. "I saw that!" she playfully chided him. "I think your letting your old age get to you woman. I have no idea what you are talking about." he jokingly retorted. He took a sip of his hot coffee and ate the pancake up in three bites. Thankfully Sophia had learned to cook under Mrs. Cox's tutelage so he wouldn't have to worry about going completely hungry when Mrs. Cox left for her daughter's house. "As it happens to be Mrs. Cox, I have decided against the dissolution. I am bringing Sophia back to the ranch today. This morning in fact. So once she's settled in I think you can leave tomorrow if you'd like. Or whenever suits you." he said. Mrs. Cox whirled around quickly in shock to look at him. He was smiling back at her with his light colored eyes twinkling. "Well I'll be!" she proclaimed, "You do have some sense in that brain of yours after all! Mr. Cox and I were wondering how long it would take you to realize you love that woman and to bring her back!" "Whoa now!" Travis laughed, "I never said nothin' about love. But I did make a commitment to her and I feel compelled to keep it." Mrs. Cox placed the remaining pancakes on the platter and brought the whole platter over to the table just as both children could be heard running down the wooden steps into the kitchen. Due to the storm, the kitchen wasn't as hot as normal like it usually was in the summer months and a nice breeze wafted in from the open screened door and window. Before Travis had come downstairs she had already placed a small crock of butter, a glass jar of maple syrup, and a bowl of her homemade applesauce on the table. "You love that woman otherwise you wouldn't be bringing her back. Keep bringing her back is more like itAll that back and forth nonsense with the two's of you is for the birds if you ask me. Now go on and eat your breakfast before it gets cold. I have lots of work to get done today." Hope and Mikey took their seats and they all began to eat their food without further ado. Mrs. Cox was walking to the back door when she turned back around as a thought had occurred to her, "Mr. Ewing, I am not sure you will be able to go into town today after all. Mr. Cox told me before I came over here that the storm blew over one of them there willow trees and it's lying flat across the drive. It's going to take all day at least to get it cut up and removed. You won't be going anywhere today I am thinking, and as you can see, it's still storming pretty badly out there. I was surprised I didn't get blown up and away with that there wind when I came over here as it is and the mud is thicker than molasses on a sap tree. If any of ya'll go outside today, be sure to remove your shoes or boots before coming back inside. I plan on getting the floors washed in a little bit and I don't want mud tracked all over the house!" She gave a pointed look at both the children. With a mouthful of food Hope said, "Pa, but you promised you would get Sophia today!" Travis sat there pondering the situation as Mrs. Cox went out to the back porch to drink her own mug of coffee in one of the rockers out there as she commonly did in the mornings as she waited for them to break their fast. After they were done eating she could get the dishes washed up and finish all the other household chores that needed to be done today. It was too wet outside to do the laundry so that chore in particular would have to wait. "Pa!" Hope urged again, "You have to get Sophia!" "Aww shush it Hope!" Mikey snapped at her, "You done heard Mrs. Cox, he can't get her. The tree needs to be cut up first. Pa, can I help cut the tree?" Mikey had excitement in his voice over the idea of helping out with the other men. "It's raining cats and dogs out there Mikey so not this time. But I do want you and your sister to get the chickens fed, the eggs gathered, and the cows milked. After all your chores are done, I want you back in the house. You can sit by the fire to let your clothes dry and practice reading and writing for the day. Just make sure you remove your shoes and boots first before going inside like Mrs. Cox said." "But Pa," Mikey whined, "I want to help you!" "That is not negotiable son. You will do as I asked and no more sass about it. Now finish up your breakfast." "I can use my new chalkboard!" Hope said excitedly. "Yes sweetie, you sure can. Practice your letters and numbers today like a good girl." Travis smiled. He finished up his own breakfast in record time, gulped down the rest of his coffee, and headed outside to consult with Mr. Cox over the tree issue. It looked like he wouldn't be bringing Sophia back today after all.



     Elsie Prescott peeked her head into the hospital room where Sophia was and saw her friend was laying in her bed awake. Her stomach had been in knots since yesterday and she was actually afraid to go inside to visit quite yet, not knowing if Dr. May had told her the bad news. But then Sophia looked over at her and smiled slightly. There was no choice now but to go inside since she had been spotted by her friend. Pasting a fake smile on her face, Elsie walked into the room as if there wasn't a care in the world to be had. "Good morning sunshine!" Elsie said brightly to Sophia. She walked over to the side of the bed and quickly kissed Sophia's forehead. Truth be told, Sophia looked positively awful! Her face was as white as a ghost and she had dark circles under her eyes. Her hair was in desperate need of a brushing too. "I am so glad to see you!" Sophia beamed at her, "I have been bored out of my mind laying here when I am not sleeping of course. I cannot wait to be discharged out of this place! My whole body hurts something fierce and I still have the taste of that gas in my mouth." she joked. Elsie grabbed a nearby chair and moved it closer to the bed so she could sit down in it. "Well I am here now. I even brought you some newspapers and a couple periodicals. Oh, and also your reticule in case you needed anything in it. How are you feeling? From the sound of it perhaps not so well?" Truthfully, Sophia felt terrible but she wasn't about to tell her friend that. "As good as to be expected I suppose." she replied, "The pain is still pretty bad but they are giving me laudanum for it. I am due for another dose fairly soon I expect. The nurse has been giving it to me about every four hours." "I have never had the stuff before but I heard it works well." Elsie quipped, "Enjoy it for all it's worth!" Sophia tried to laugh but it hurt like hell which concerned Elsie. "Hey," Elsie said, "let me go check with the nurse to see if they can give you that dose now. It looks like you need it pretty bad." "I'd appreciate that." Sophia winced. Her eyes were visibly crinkled in pain, "Thank you Elsie." Sophia said to her as Elsie stood up from her chair and walked out of the room to the desk nearby. A larger woman looked up at her approach, "Is there something I can help you with Ma'am?" she asked pleasantly. "Mrs. Sophia Ewing in the room across from here is needing some laudanum again. She's in quite some pain. Do you know if Dr. May has talked to her yet since her surgery was finished?" Just then, Dr. May himself walked around a nearby corner. "Did I hear my name?" he said jovially as he headed towards the two women. The nurse replied, "Yes you did sir. This woman here was just informing me that Mrs. Ewing was needing another dose of laudanum." "Well," Dr. May answered quickly, "By all means, give it to her. Keep her on the every four hours dosage for now. I may need to increase the amount if she is still in enough distress." Then he looked over at Elsie, "It's good to see you again Miss Prescott. To answer your question, no, I have not spoken to Mrs. Ewing yet about my findings. She had not yet woken up from her surgery by the time I left here last night so I didn't have the chance to speak with her yet. But now that I hear she is awake I will go in and do that now." "Dr. May, sir, I am really concerned for my friend. I couldn't sleep a wink all night. I couldn't help but think that surely there was some hope for her. Perhaps there is another doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer that she can go see? There has to be something that can be done. I just refuse to accept that her case is as hopeless as you told me yesterday." she said beseeching him. "Miss Prescott, I am afraid the cancer is just in too many places. I have seen cases like this over the years and the outcome has never been favorable." he said matter-of-factly. His jovial manner turned grave at once. Elsie refused to give up, "That might have been the case with your past patients Dr. May, and I really do not mean any offense or disrespect, but there has to be another doctor who can help her. There are advances in medicine all the time. Please, I beg of you, check with your colleagues and see if there is someone else she can see. There has to be another option for her other than just letting her die! You have to try something. Anything! I don't care what the cost is. If you can figure something out that can help her, I will gladly pay the fees myself." By this time Elsie's eyes had filled with un-shed tears. Dr. May softened his demeanor a bit as he said, "I cannot promise you anything will come of it but I will make some inquiries into the matter. Perhaps you are right. I can send some telegraphs out to a few places I know of who treat cancer patients specifically. I have heard of someone in Baltimore who is working on a special research study of Cancer but do not get your hopes up. Right now though, I really do need to inform Mrs. Ewing of what is going on. I think it would be best if you came in with me. I am sure she will need your support more than ever right now." Elsie smiled at him and gave him a big hug, "That's all I am asking is that you at least try. There was one other thing that has been on my mind since last night." she began again. "What might that be?" Dr. May asked raising one of his bushy white eyebrows in question. Elsie continued by saying, "I have been feeling conflicted over whether or not to tell Mr. Ewing about what is going on. I understand her not wanting him no know about all of this but I keep coming back to the conclusion that he does need to know. If he were to find out somehow..... well, it wouldn't be good. He already lost his first wife. I am thinking this is something he'd never forgive any of us for if she doesn't tell him. Or one of us for that matter." Dr. May sighed. He had been wrestling with the same thoughts himself. "I agree with you Miss Prescott. I do think he should know. I will bring that up with Mrs. Ewing and try to get her consent to discuss this matter with him." "What if she doesn't give her consent?" Elsie asked. Dr. May's eyebrows furrowed. This was both a moral and professional dilemma. "I just don't know." he responded truthfully, "I have a Hippocratic Oath to adhere to. However, you do not. I will just leave that ball in your court I suppose. Let's go talk with her now."



     Sophia's nurse had come in to administer another dose of the laudanum leaving the door to her room wide open so that the conversation between Elsie and Dr. May was overheard by Sophia. Tears formed in her eyes when she heard the word cancer and her chest tightened up uncomfortably. Cancer?!? Dr. May was talking as if there was no hope for her! She was going to die? Her thoughts made it impossible for her to listen to the rest of their conversation as her heart began to race and the nurse could tell that Sophia had just heard the bad news. She shuffled out of the room as quickly as her ample body would allow just as Dr. May and Elsie walked in. "So I hear I am going to die." Sophia said to them in a choked sob. The shocked look on both their faces only confirmed what she had just overheard. Sophia was silently hoping that she had somehow mistakenly heard wrong but the looks on their faces only confirmed the worst. "That's just lovely." Sophia cried out in a loud whisper as tears streamed down her face, "How long do I have to live?" Dr. May gestured for Elsie to sit in the chair and as she did so he began to explain in a more soothing voice, "Mrs. Ewing let's start from the beginning if I may?" Sophia silently nodded her head and he proceeded further, "I did an incision from hip to hip yesterday during your surgery. Almost as soon as you were opened up I could see several larger masses and approximately a dozen or so smaller ones. All of them are solid in nature. Typically, if a mass such as yours is filled with fluid then you would be fine as that's an indicator that the masses are benign, or non-cancerous, in composition. The medical term for those types are called cysts. However, as I have already mentioned, yours are all solid which we refer to as tumors. I was able to remove many of the smaller ones but the larger ones are growing into various parts of your internal organs. I could not effectively remove them without killing you in the process." he said honestly. "At that point, I had no other choice left but to close you back up. You are having pain now from both the incision site as well as the masses that I could not remove. We will continue to make you as comfortable as possible in the meantime. Once your incision site is healed up some more, you will be able to leave the hospital and finish your recovery from home. At that point, I will send you with laudanum to take with you. I am also considering giving you some hemp oil as well to use in addition to the laudanum. Hemp has been shown to be very useful for patients who have cancerous tumors. Actually it has been used effectively for many other medical conditions. It will help control your nausea and promote a healthier appetite which will keep your body stronger. Once I do release you to finish your recovery from home, I want to be very clear that you do not do any heavy lifting, bending over, or anything that could possibly cause your incision to tear back open. The incision site should be fully healed in about two weeks. Maybe a little less than that. I will need you to take it as easy as possible during that time. After that, you will come back to see me so I can remove the stitches. Once that is done you may resume your normal activities. To answer your question about how much time you have left, well, that I cannot say. Every patient is different. Some can live for years if the cancer's growth is slow while others have an aggressive type of cancer that spreads more rapidly. Since we do not know how long your tumors have been present, I cannot readily assess what the time frame will be in your own particular situation. I will just have to periodically see you in my office regardless if you are feeling well or not." The doctor and Elsie both looked at Sophia with worry and concern written all over their faces. 


     Elsie was sitting there in silence crying tears of her own over the situation. The laudanum was making Sophia very drowsy by that time and unlike earlier that morning when it had made her feel silly, she currently found no humor in the situation at all. "But I will die?" she asked, her speech slurring a bit from the medicine. "I am here for you Sophia." Elsie said quietly. She didn't know which was worse; the news that Sophia had cancer or seeing the crestfallen look on her friend's face when she had learned she had it. Elsie's stomach was in knots. Sophia must have overheard her conversation with Dr. May while they were talking out in the hallway and that was no way to find out about this very bad news. She silently cursed herself for not waiting to speak with Dr. May more privately. Hell, she could have even spoken to him more quietly so as not to be overheard. But it was too late now for those sentiments. Sophia knew the situation now and there was no going back. They could only move forward from here on out. Elsie took Sophia's left hand and gently held it in her own. It was cold and clammy to the touch. Sophia lay there as still as a statue; the only movements that could be detected were the rapid blinking of her eyes and the rise and fall of her chest. There were also tears that were flowing like twin streams down her face. "Do you have any questions for me?" Dr. May asked Sophia. She just laid there like a mummy and said nothing. Dr. May waited for several moments and when he got to response from Sophia he said calmly, "If you have any questions just have a nurse send for me. I am making my rounds today. Otherwise, I will be in later this evening to check on your incision site. If you continue to have pain after your doses of laudanum then tell the nurse and she can increase the dosage for you." With that final remark he nodded his head at Elsie and walked out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him. In all his years as a medical doctor, giving a patient bad news like that never got any easier. He leaned his back up against the wooden door to collect himself by taking in many deep breaths until his own heart began to stop racing. Moments later, he went on to continue his rounds.



     Travis and his men labored hard throughout the day until just before sunset to cut up the fallen willow tree in order to clear the drive. The tree had proven to be a nuisance at first, but after it was sawed into sections then cut by ax into pieces, he had surmised that it was actually a blessing in disguise. That old willow tree was overly large and thick and the work was hard on them all. However, it had to be done and at the very least there would be plenty of wood for the main house, cookhouse, bunkhouse, and the various smaller buildings scattered along the property that housed his crew as well as Mr. and Mrs. Cox. That wood would last them all for many months to come. He was lucky that it fell where it had away from the house. Otherwise the situation would have been much worse. As it was, the only real damage was to a fence and that could easily be replaced. If the winds had blown the tree in the other direction then it would have landed on the house creating a whole other outcome entirely. They had all been very fortunate. The day continued to be stormy off and on making the work slow and tedious. The slick wood combined with wet saws and axes caused a few minor injuries to the men, one of them named James who obtained a deep cut to his leg when he lost his grip on the ax he was using that needed to be stitched up. Mr. Cox had wrapped the leg tightly just above the cut in order to prevent it from bleeding too profusely until James could be taken into Dallas to have it stitched up by Dr. May. Travis had volunteered to take him to do just that as soon as the job was finished up which would give him the perfect excuse he needed to also fetch his wife from the hotel she was staying in. By the time they were all finished with the work, the men including Travis, were exhausted and their bodies were sore beyond measure. "That was the last stack of wood Boss." Timothy informed him as he pushed the loaded wheelbarrow to where the stack of wood was located near the barn. The storm had finally stopped only a little bit ago and the now darkening skies were clearing up as the dark clouds headed swiftly in an eastern direction. Travis was in the large barn making sure all the animals had been fed and had adequate water for the night when Timothy had come to him with the good news that all their hard work and efforts were finally finished. Upon his assessment of the barn work he had been proud of his son. Mikey had not only made sure that all the animals had food and water, but he also brushed them all down and had mucked out all the stalls. That boy of his sure was outstanding and Travis made a mental note to make sure Mikey got a special treat for his efforts. Hope too, in fact, as he had seen her leave the barn with Mikey when they had finished up doing those extra chores without even being asked. 


     Even though Travis was beyond exhausted, he knew that James still needed medical attention so he saddled up two horses for them to make the ride into town. James limped in not long after and both men made the trek into Dallas. The ride usually took about twenty minutes using only horses versus a carriage but this time it took almost two hours since the dirt roads were overly muddy from all the rain. It was fully dark by the time they reached Dr. May's office building on Main Street. They tied up their horses to the hitching post and made their way inside. There was a small bell tied just above the door that jingled when the door opened. The room was empty as well as the small reception desk. Not long after the two men had walked in, Dr. May appeared through a door leading to the back of the building where his office and examination rooms were located. "I thought I heard someone come in." Dr. May said jovially to the men in way of a greeting. When he noticed Travis he visibly stiffened up and his smile faded. "What can I help you gentlemen with this evening?" he said simply. In the back of his mind he was very aware that Travis Ewing had no idea about his wife's health issues and he felt guilty for not being able to inform him of it. Travis's presence had immediately set his nerves on edge for having to keep such a secret like that from him. He had known Travis for a number of years since his first wife's untimely death. Travis began seeing him after refusing to see his former doctor who was responsible for the death of his first wife. Not only was he now Travis's personal doctor but he also his children's physician. There had been many times over the last couples of years that he had seen various workers from the Ewing Ranch as well. Travis had noticed the obvious change in Dr. May's demeanor but said nothing about it. "James here had an accident over at the ranch earlier and cut up his leg real good with an ax. It will need some stitching up." Travis said to Dr. May. "Not a problem. Come with me James and we will get you patched up in no time. Mr. Ewing, feel free to wait here. It shouldn't be more than a half of an hours' time or so for me to fix him up, give or take depending on how bad the cut is." "I am actually going to head over to the hotel where my wife is at. I am fixing to bring her back home with me so I will come back once I have retrieved her." Travis called over his shoulder as he walked back out of the entrance to the medical office causing the bell to once again jingle from his departure. Dr. May didn't have enough time to think of an excuse to keep Travis there knowing full well Mrs. Ewing was not in her hotel room. Shaking his head over the situation, Dr. May led James to one of his examination rooms to get him stitched up. He had a sinking feeling that Travis was going to be in a foul mood upon his return and did not look forward to the encounter one bit.



     Travis obtained the key to Sophia's room from the clerk at the front desk and with a smile on his face he walked down the long hall on the first floor until he came to her door. Knocking, he waited for her to answer it but after a minute or so she didn't answer so he knocked again on the heavy wooden door. Still nothing. He recalled the memory of their wedding day when she didn't hear his knocks because she was asleep in her bathing tub, so he used his key to gain entrance into the room with a slight smile on his face. Once the door was unlocked he opened the door to a completely dark room so he turned on one of the lamps but not before hitting his knee hard on the sharp corner of her bed. "Son of a bitch!" he swore out loud in sudden pain. Once the light was on, he sat on the bed for a few moments rubbing his hurt knee. "The things I do for love."  he thought to himself sarcastically. Love? Hell, he wasn't in love with the woman! Lust was more like it. Once the pain had subsided some he stood up and took a full survey of the room. She was obviously not in it but some of her things were still there. He walked quietly over to the door of the bathing room, the plush carpeting silencing his heavy leather cowboy boots. He could see from the slit at the bottom of the door that the room was dark inside. That was not a good sign at all. There was no way she would be in there without some sort of a light on or candle lit so he opened the door and walked inside the smaller room to find that his assessment of the situation was correct; she was indeed not inside there. He looked inside the porcelain claw foot tub to see if there was any evidence of her having been in there any time recently but it was bone dry. Not so much as one droplet of water could be found. Then he looked at the sink and found that it was also dry. Where in the hell was she? He began to grow suspicious, all sorts of crazy scenarios playing around in his mind. She in some other room with another man was the main one and he began to grow angry over the possibility of her being unfaithful to him. He then noticed the envelope he had placed on the small round table was still there from his last visit. Picking it up he saw that it had never even been opened up. That had to mean she never came back to the room or at least hadn't been back to it since before he was there yesterday. Either she was in some other room with perhaps another man or she had been hurt and unable to get back to her room. Perhaps she left for the ranch? He quickly dismissed that possibility as her things were still there. She would not have left them behind. If she had been hurt or injured somehow then surely Dr. May would have known about it considering he was obviously her doctor too. His head began to swirl with both concern and impatience over not knowing where Sophia was at. He didn't know what to do other than to leave and check with the clerk at the desk to see if he knew anything. Once again, Travis made his way to the reception desk of the hotel and waited rather impatiently as a couple that was already there got checked in. When they walked away from the reception desk he said to the clerk, "My wife, Mrs. Sophia Ewing, is not in her room. Do you know if she stepped out? It looks as though she hasn't been there since at least yesterday when I was here last and I know she hasn't checked out because all her things are still in her room." The clerk smiled politely at him, "I haven't seen Mrs. Ewing myself since early yesterday morning when she left here. Her room was paid up through today. If she plans on being here past that then we will need payment by tonight." Travis gave the man a look of impatience mixed with menace over his frustrations with the situation and pounded his fist hard on the wooden reception desk. He irritably took some coins out of his pocket and handed them to the clerk as payment for her room. "Was she with someone when she left or did she leave by herself?" he asked angrily. The clerk looked visibly shaken and took a slight step backwards from the desk replying in a shaky voice, "Sh-she left with another woman. Miss Elsie Prescott sir. I have not seen her return since but I am not the only person here on duty. She may have come back, but I cannot say for sure either way. I-I am sorry sir, er, Mr. Ewing. That is all I know." Travis took a deep breath in order to calm himself down. At least she wasn't with another man. That was good news. Just the thought of her with another man made him boil with rage. He didn't bother to thank the clerk for the information nor apologize for his behavior. Travis turned around and headed to the front entrance of the hotel, his boots walking heavily with purpose on the marble flooring which echoed throughout the cavernous lobby. The clerk watched him leave with a very curious look on his face. Once Travis was outside he began to walk briskly back to Dr. May's office. Where in the hell would she go with Elsie Prescott and why didn't she return back to her hotel room since... yesterday? Then he quickly remembered seeing Sophia walk into The Dallas Memorial Hospital with Elsie Prescott just yesterday morning. After he had gone there and confronted Elsie she told him that Sophia had been with her but that Elsie had sent on her way. However, he had noticed that Elsie was acting a little bit strangely, almost as if she were nervous, when she had told him that. He then recollected the memory of when Sophia stayed behind at Dr. May's office a few days before after Hope had her stitches removed. There was a connection there but hell if he knew what it was. He had a hunch that Dr. May knew what that connection was and he would get answers right quick from that man whether he had to shake it out of him or not!


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