The ride to the hospital was agony. Sheer agony. It seemed so endless with the siren blaring in his ears and Callie lying
lifeless beside him. She was loosing so much blood. Her blood pressure was dropping rapidly. She kept falling in and out of
consciousness and deliriously calling out Rus’s name. She'd been shot in the right side and large crater was left behind
where flesh used to be. Rus was praying continually, holding her hand, asking God to allow her to live just one more day so
he could say he was sorry. But more importantly so that he could tell Callie just how much he loved her and how much she meant
to him. She couldn't die like this. She just couldn't.
Callie was dilirious but in the back of her mind she knew the truth. Rus had come for her. He hadn’t let her die.
She wanted to cry out, but her brain was fuzzy and she didn’t know how to make herself do anything.
She felt like she was in an abyss. She was awake, and aware of everything going on around her, but she was
anchored to her spot, incapable of speech, or any type of movement. She was cognizant of the machines beeping, the doctor
shouting orders, the nurses relaying information pertinent to her condition. But all she could do was lay there and take it
all in through a fog of confusion.
Then her world went dark. There was no sound. No people. Only a lonely, silent darkness. She was still, not
even a breath came from her body. It was as if she were suspended somewhere between life and death.
Then a bright, shinning light appeared. Something made Callie want to walk toward the light so she did. She
floated toward it, as if walking on air. She wore a shimmering white gown of satin and lace. Her hair was flowing around her
shoulders. She was beautiful and ethereal.
Behind her, Callie could hear someone praying and it was Rus. She turned to him and he was crying. Crying
and praying. He was handsome. She could see him clearly. She whispered his name, but he didn’t hear her.
The light beckoned her again. She began to gravitate toward it. But the closer she got to it, the louder
Rus’s voice became. It was like a desperate plea as if begging her to live.
She was torn between the light and Rus.
The light was peaceful and serene, full of happy promises. She knew in this place there would be no more
tears, no more sadness. She would find her peace at last.
Then there was Rus. All she could see was the anguish and the tears. There was no certainty with him, no
promises. There was only a pledge of undying love and commitment.
The light called out to her one last time. But Callie turned away from it and went to Rus.
"We have a heart beat," the doctor said at last. "She’s going to make it."
Callie came to three months later. It was a miracle. Not even the doctors had given her prognoses any hope
at all. From a medical standpoint, they had done the best they could. The rest was up to the Lord.
For the first few days Rus had been hopeful that Callie would make a full recovery. He had hope in the Lord
that he would see her through this. But as the days and weeks dragged on, his faith began to slip. He was afraid to leave
her, not even for a minute, because he didn’t want her to die alone. Rus was all she had and all she needed.
So he had prayed day and night for Callie. He sat at her bedside holding her hand, talking to her as if she
could hear every word he spoke. There were never any signs that she was getting any better. There were no signs of life in
her at all. But Rus was devoted to her in every way. He kept his vigil up twenty-four hours a day until the point of exhaustion.
He’d resigned from the police force and had no desire to go back there. The Lord was calling him to North Carolina.
His time would be well-served there.
Florida no longer held any appeal. The things he had once contributed to society were no longer important
People elsewhere needed him now.
Once Callie came to, it took her a few minutes to get acclimated to her room. At first she wasn’t sure
she was alive. Then she saw Rus, stretched out in a chair beside her bed.
He looked a little worse for wear. It reminded her of the time she’d been in the hospital after the
car accident. He’d been with her every day. Had he been with her this time to?
"Rus," she whispered.
He was awake immediately, coming to her side and taking her in his arms. He crushed her to his chest, holding
on to her as if never to let her go. Together they began to weep in each other’s arms.
"I heard you praying, Rus," Callie cried out. "I think it is what kept me alive because I’m sure I
"It was touch and go," Rus admitted. "We weren’t sure you were going to pull through. You’ve
been out for nearly three months."
Callie pushed away from Rus. Her eyes leered at him in concern. "My kidney’s Rus, are they working?"
"You were pretty dehydrated," Rus explained to her. "You were at a dangerous level, close to losing both
kidneys. But the doctor was able to save them both."
"Thank God," Callie murmured. "It was so horrible, Rus. Please tell me you got him. Tell me that Joe Hines
is . . ."
Rus’s expression turned bleak. He took Callie by the neck and drew her to him. "Joe Hines’s is
dead," he stated softly. "I shot him and killed him, Callie. He will never hurt you again."
Callie was a bit saddened by the news. She flicked her eyes away from Rus. "You know Rus, even when I was
laying in that warehouse, and I was hungry and thirsty, I never wished any ill-will on Joe. Somehow I felt sorry for him."
Rus wept then, clinging to Callie in the most desperate sense.
Rus stopped crying and glared up at Callie. Her eyes held a vision of promise. "I’m sorry about our
last argument. You were right. I was a coward."
Rus was silent, just staring at her for the longest time, examining her every nuance. "I never should have
said that, Callie. I have spent many a night regretting those very words. I was so afraid I’d never get a chance to
tell you how wrong I was. You are the bravest woman I know."
Tears glistened in Callie’s eyes. She held Rus’s hand firmly. "I was afraid that you would leave
me, just like my husband did. But you came for me and you rescued me."
"I would never desert you in a time of need, Callie. Never."
She smiled sweetly. "I know that now. I’m sorry I didn’t see it then." She turned away from Rus,
her expression somber. "So what do we do now?" she questioned.
Rus stood and moved to the window. He peered out of it, then turned back to Callie after a lull in their
conversation. "I’m moving back to North Carolina," Rus said matter-of-factly. "I’ve already given my resignation
to Captain Lee."
Callie’s heart sunk. So it was all over for them. She should have known it. She had lived only to lose
him. Somehow she hadn’t expected this. She had hoped for a better ending. Rus could see the turmoil dancing around in
"People need me there, Callie. My mother, Eddie, his father." His voice sounded prideful and hopeful. "I
can make a difference in their lives."
"What will you be doing?" Callie asked, trying desperately hard not to shed tears.
"I’m going to set up a community center for counseling and youth education. I’m going to provide
activities for adolescents to keep them out of trouble. As well as provide work programs, anger management classes, and things
that will help families to be better united."
Callie listened with half a heart. It took her by surprise that Rus would think of an idea like that. She
wondered what had transpired to give the inspiration for such a project. It sounded like a wonderful idea. Callie wanted so
much to be a part of it. But did she have a place in Rus’s life?
"There’s only one problem that I see," Rus acknowledged, watching her expression closely.
There was a shimmer of hope shining in her eyes.
"What is that?" Callie asked.
"I would need someone to help set everything up, get the necessary funding, and organize it all. I would
need a license psychologist. Do you know anyone who might be interested?"
Was he goading her? Was he serious? Was he asking her in an indirect way to come with him.
"What are you asking me, Rus?"
Rus came to sit beside her, taking her hand in his and holding it to his lips. "I’m asking you one
more time, if you will be my wife. I need you Callie. I love you and I want you to be with me always."
Callie found it hard to contain her tears. They spilled out all over the placed. She was so overwhelmed with
emotions she could barely speak. "Oh, Rus, yes, I will marry you. All the time I was away from you, I kept thinking how stupid
I was to have let you go."
"So you’ll come with me to North Carolina? You’ll help me with all the preparations and licensing
of my community center. You’ll take an avid part in my dreams."
Callie smiled, but even when she smiled, Rus could see some trepidation in her eyes. "What is it Callie?"
"What about Colby West. I haven’t forgotten about him. I still plan to adopt him, if everything works
out right. Where does he fit into all of your plans?"
Rus grinned. It was as wide as the Mississippi River and it sent shivers all the way down Callie’s
"I’ve already talked to him, told him I was interested in marrying you. I asked him if he had any problems
with me being a father to him."
"And what did he say?" Callie was eager to know.
"He said he couldn’t think of a one."
"But what if they never find his uncle?"
"They have. He’s in prison. He won’t be coming out for a while. But he’s already given
his consent for the legal adoption."
Callie was happier than she ever thought it possible to be in one lifetime. Rus had fulfilled her every dream.
God had taken care of her and provided everything she had needed to sustain her through her ordeal. She was blessed to the
fullest. She had a great life ahead of her and she looked forward to spending every minute of it with her new family.