The Best Gift of All
by Judith Freudenthal
1996

Christmas was fast approaching. Nick and Natalie had been kept too busy with work to do much about it.

It was December 23rd. Natalie was meeting Nick at the mall to do some last minute shopping, as they had finally had a night off.

Natalie was crossing the street when a car hit her, causing her to fly across the hood. Nick freaked as he saw the accident, rushed to her side while calling 911 on his cell phone. The car continued wavering in and out of its lane until the driver stopped several yards down the street.

"Natalie, don't move." Nick saw her sprawled on the asphault as he approached. He heard her heartbeat strong and steady.

Nick approached the car. "Get out of the car, slowly. Hands where I can see them."

The driver did as instructed. Nick could tell that the driver was driving under the influence, frisked him and handcuffed him. Nick dragged him back to the accident site so that he could stay with Natalie.

The paramedics arrived and prepared Natalie for transportation. She was totally immobilized.

Nick handed the prisoner off to the uniformed officers while giving them his report.

Nick headed for the hospital to check on Natalie, breaking every speed record.

Nick rushed into the ER, heading straight for the nurse's station.

"I'm Detective Knight. I need information on Dr. Natalie Lambert. She was just brought in."

The nurse checked over her chart. "She's being examined. Have a seat. Someone will be out to talk to you as soon as possible."

"I need to ask her a few questions." Nick flashed his badge.

"Examination room three."

Nick entered the room unsure what he would see. He was stunned to see her conscious and seemingly unhurt.

"No one's allowed in here," the doctor said as he cleaned up a nasty scratch on Natalie's chin. She winced.

Nick flashed his badge. "I need to ask her a few questions. How is she?"

"She's one very lucky lady. Other than a few minor cuts and some bruises, she's fine. From the description of the accident she should be seriously injured." The doctor continued to clean up Natalie's cuts and scratches, causing Nat to wince every time he worked on one of the larger ones.

"When can I go home?" Natalie could see the relief wash over Nick's entire being.

"As soon as we're done here. I would like you to stay with someone for the next twenty four hours. You might have a slight concussion. You might be a little sore for the next couple of days. Take some Tylenol when needed."

"Would you like me to give you a lift home?"

"That would be great."

Natalie signed the release forms and left. Nick kept a close eye on her.

 

In the Caddie Nick watched Natalie as he drove. All looked fine.

"I'm sorry our shopping was a bust. Is it too late to do it now?" Natalie said.

"You're not going anywhere but home. I want you to take it easy tonight and tomorrow."

"Nick. I'm fine. A little sore, but fine. You heard the doctor."

"Yes. I did."

"I have to do my shopping tomorrow. I don't have a gift for you or Grace."

"I already have my gift. Your not being hurt tonight was a gift from God. That's all I need."

"What about Grace?"

"We'll worry about that in the morning. Okay."

"Okay." She knew that once his mind was set nothing could change it. "Maybe this is a sign that God has forgiven you for your past."

Nick considered that for a moment and let out a small grin. "I don't know what I would do if I lost you."

"You'd go on. It's what we do. It's never easy."

"I don't know if I could. I love you more than you'll ever know." Nick saw the stunned look on Natalie's face. "I should've told you that long ago."

"I love you very much."

 

They entered Natalie's apartment, where he made her sit on the couch while he fixed her a cup of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, just as she liked it.

"Thanks, Nick," she said as she took the mug from him. The aroma was so enticing.

Nick sat on the couch, letting her lean against his chest. They watched a movie together. Shortly after the movie finished she fell asleep. He carefully scooped her up and carried her into her bedroom.

Every couple of hours he woke her to make sure she was okay. After about the second or third time she became quite cranky.

The next morning Grace knocked on the door and was let in by Natalie.

"Natalie, I was so worried. I heard you'd been hit by a car. Are you okay?" Grace was rather frantic when she saw the healing cuts and scratches on Natalie's face. Especially that nasty one on her chin, which had a purply, yellow, green bruise around it.

"I'm okay. A little sore here and there."

Grace saw Nick in the background. "Nick, is she all right?"

"She's fine. It was a miracle." Nick told Grace what the doctor had said. "I never believed in miracles before last night."

the end

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