Joey (The Whitfield Rancher #7) - Kathi S. Barton


“Autumn Hunter?” Autumn stood up and made her way to the medical assistant. “Your name is really Autumn? Your parents hate you or something?”

The same question, along with a few others she got every time she met someone new. Smiling, she did not tell the assistant they did indeed hate her, but not until later, after she’d been older. Instead, she stepped up on the scale and thought about how much weight she’d lost in the last year and a half. Being terrified of being caught up in shit and on the run all the time would do that, she supposed.

“You’re here about your belly issues and the results of the test, correct?” Autumn told her she was also out of her pain medication, could she get a refill. “We’ll have to clear it through the doctor first. Once he’s told you—”

The assistant looked at the folder in her hand, then at Autumn. She knew it was bad, but how bad was something she was about to learn. Reaching over to take the folder from her, Autumn read the words there before the woman asked for it back. Handing it to her, Autumn was at a loss for words.

“He’ll be able to explain your options.” It was on the tip of her tongue to tell her she knew what her options were. There was only one. Death. It was just how she chose to do it. “You’ll need those pills. I’ll make sure you have samples before you leave.”

Nodding, Autumn wondered if she should even stay. They’d told her— Well, she’d found out she had stomach cancer. She supposed knowing how she got it would be good, but it wouldn’t change the outcome. Standing up, Autumn was ready to leave when the doctor came into the room.

“I’m sorry, Miss Hunter.” She nodded, sure that he knew she’d read the notes on her chart. “There are things we can do to make things easier on you. A great many more than we had even ten years ago. We’ll make you as—”

“How long do I have? I mean, you know that, don’t you?” He nodded. “I don’t know if you remember my first visit with you, but I don’t care for bullshit answers. Just tell me how long I have and whatever pertinent information I need right now. The rest of whatever you tell me is going to go in one ear and out the other otherwise.”

“Yes, I remember. You have just about a month. I don’t know how far you got to read, but it’s spread all through your body. Had someone bothered to give you good care when you were ill the first time, you would have had better chances of survival than you do now, two years later.” She asked him what he thought caused it. “Someone tried to poison you, as you know. And that weakened your immune system, which was ripe ground for cancer to dig in. I’m really sorry, Autumn.”

“I need to go.” He nodded and told her to come back in a week. “Do you think I’ll be around then?”

“I hope so. You’re going to hurt a good deal more than you are now. I’ll make sure you have what you need to deal with it. Autumn, whoever did this to you, it’s the same as if they’d used a gun to kill you. In fact, as you like it right to the truth, a bullet would have been much faster and far less painful for you.”

“I know, but there is nothing I can do about that now.” Autumn got off the table and started to pull on her jacket. “I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, so I’ll call you soon and set something up.”

“Autumn, please don’t end your life.” She looked at him and realized he had every right to think that would be something she’d do. “I promise you, when the time comes, you’ll not feel a thing. I’ll be there with you to make sure of it.”

“I promised someone once that I’d not do that. And even though she’s gone, I won’t break my promise to her.” She could feel the tears building up in her eyes. “I need to go and think. Your assistant said she had some samples I could have, maybe.”

The woman came in and handed her a white bag. It was heavy, but Autumn didn’t bother looking inside. She had enough to think about instead of whether or not she had been given a bag