WINTER'S WARM EMBRACE

Chapter 6

Bryce didn't take long to recover once he knew Paula was there.

Edison, Theora, Murray, and Max also paid him regular visits. Cheviot stayed away, however. Though Bryce hardly minded not seeing his boss.

"We don't need that grumpy old man spoiling things again," Paula said, fluffing Bryce's pillow and kissing him, sweetly, on the forehead.

"You really ought to let the nurse do some of the work," Theora mentioned as Paula stood up.

"Oh no," Paula laughed, knowing full well what Theora meant. "If anyone's gonna fluff and kiss Bryce around here, it's me."

Theora joined in the laughter, knowing that Paula was fully aware of what she intended to say.

"Paula, what's wrong?" Theora asked that evening, after they had left Bryce at the hospital.

"It's been wonderful these past few days," Paula told her. "But after Bryce gets out of the hospital, I just know that Cheviot will demand he return to work. And I won't ever see him again. It can't be like that again, Theora. It just can't."

"We won't let you two be separated," Theora promised her. "No matter what happens, you two will always be together."

"Thank you, Theora," Paula said.

Paula woke on Theora's sofa the next morning. The two had breakfast, then set out to find an apartment where Bryce and Paula could live. Cheviot had never given Bryce a normal salary, so he'd never considered an apartment for Paula and himself. But Theora was pretty well off and was willing, if she had to, to pay Bryce a salary from her earnings. He was an important part of her team, after all.

"What about this one?" Theora asked. "It's a good starter home for a young couple. Large bedroom, plenty of room for dressers. Good closet space."

"It's very nice," Paula said, as if it was. But there was also something in her voice that suggested that something was wrong with it.

"Don't worry about the cost, Paula," Theora told her. "It's"

"That's not it," Paula told her. "Theora, I need to see Bryce."

Theora blinked in surprise as Paula rushed off toward the medical center.

Catching up with her a half a block away, Theora threw open the passenger door to her pickup truck. Then, with Paula in the passenger seat, she drove to the medical center.

"Bryce!" Paula called to him as she ran into his room. "Bryce, are you okay today?"

"Doctor says I can leave later this afternoon," Bryce said. "But I wish I could stay."

"No need, my love," Paula smiled. "Theora's going to get us an apartment,"

"Really, Theora?" Bryce asked, smiling gratefuully.

"Yes," Theora said. "You've been a big help to the team, Bryce."

"Isn't it wonderful," Paula told him. "We'll have a nice place all to ourselves. Just the three of us."

"Three?" Bryce and Theora both stared at Paula.

"As far as I know," Paula smiled. "Or does your family have a history of twins?"

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