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“I know. I’m so sorry. We’ll move to the lower-level apartment.” He knew it was a stupid thing to say, but he was at a loss for words.

But it made her laugh out loud. “That’s the first time I’ve laughed in days,” she said. “We have an elevator. Our house is fine. Where’s the baby?”

“Margaret is at the house with your mother and father.”

“They came through for us,” Bridget said, relieved.

“I need to call them. They don’t know anything about your injuries. We didn’t know if you were in a coma or had your head blown off. Can we do Facetime and you can see the baby?”

“Yes. I need to see Emily. I haven’t been able to rest, worrying about you both.”

He got out his phone and hit video call on Thom’s phone number. He answered right away.

“Are you there?”

“Guess who I’m with, sir? She wants to see you.”

“I want to see the baby,” she mumbled.

Luke held the phone up and Thom and Gretchen saw their only daughter, bandaged, and cried.

“Do you want to hear about my injuries or is it too much?”

“No, we want to know,” her mother said, weeping.

“Can I see the baby first?”

They stepped aside to let Margaret in with the little sweetheart who couldn’t really see what was on the phone, but wanted to put it in her mouth. Laughter ruled and then Bridget said she was getting tired.

“I’m sorry, they are giving me pain meds that make me tired.”

“I see your bandaged face,” Thom said, wiping his eyes.

“I might lose my eye, Dad. I’m more worried about that than anything. But I’ve lost my leg, too.”

She could hear her mother wailing in the background. Bridget looked up at Luke and rolled her eyeball. “It’s okay, Mom. Losing a leg is so unimportant right now. All I want to do is get home to my daughter. I’ll get shipped to Walter Reed and then to the Veterans Hospital in New Orleans for rehab. That will be closer to home at least.”

“Oh yes, I’m so happy you’ll be in New Orleans,” Gretchen said, admirably pulling herself together after learning how close she’d come to losing her only child. “Luke and Emily can stay with us when they come to visit.”

“Okay, Mom. I’m getting sleepy so I’d better say goodbye. Let me see Emily again.”

They got through the baby talk and kisses thing and finally ended the call. She lay back on the pillow.

“I’m sorry you had to come here,” she said. “You must have been petrified.”

“Not that bad,” Luke said. “I was numb. The military made all the plans for me. Margaret gave me excellent advice. One foot in front of the other.”

“I’ll do that when I get a prosthesis,” she said. “That’s next. They’ve already said as soon as my stump heals—that’s what it’s called, a stump, ugh—as soon as it heals, I’ll get fitted for a leg.”

There was a tap on the door and Bridget’s nurse came in with a tray of food. “I’ve got good news,” she said. “You’re going to see an ophthalmologist this morning. And if he approves your discharge, you’re going to go back to the States as soon as possible. You’re stable so there is no reason to keep you here unless the eye has to be dealt with ASAP.”

“Wow, that fast?” Luke asked.

“We don’t mess around here,” she said. “Bridget is doing great considering what she’s been through. It’s better for her to be home.”

“That’s all I want right now, to be well enough to go home. I hope I don’t have to stay in Bethesda for long.”

The nurse brought Luke a chair, and he stayed at her bedside. At noon, the ophthalmologist came in and examined Bridget, unbandaging her face with Luke present. Later he would say that the experience left him shaken, seeing the damage to his beloved’s face and then hearing the news that she would lose her eye. They’d do the procedure at Walter Reed.

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