As Gary lay in bed beside Abby, all thoughts of home escaped his mind. Somewhere, deep down, he knew he should have been home with Val, but Abby provided a certain kind of temptation no man could resist.
"What are you thinking about?" Abby purred as she stroked his face.
"Oh...nothing. How could a man possibly think after what you just did to me?" he laughed while brushing the hair out of her face.
"Who needs thinking, when I can think of so many more exciting things we could be doing?"
Gary laughed. "Oh, Abby. You're so bad."
"But you love that about me."
"Love...are we really having this conversation?"
"Why not call a spade a spade?" Abby grinned. "After all, it's fun having you as a plaything, but I'd like to know where I stand with you."
"Oh, Abby. It's so complicated," he sighed.
"It's only complicated if you make it out to be."
"Abby, you know how I feel about you. But I love Val...God knows she's been through so much with me."
"Is she here with you now?"
"No. I guess not." he chuckled.
She ran her finger over his lips, then kissed him passionately. "That's enough for now- but just know I can't wait forever."
With that, Gary pulled her close to him. About a half hour later, he decided it best that he return home to Val, and he made his way back to the home he shared with her.
00000
Once he got there, he was shocked to see police surrounding his home. "What's going on?" he asked apprehensively as he approached an officer.
"Are you Mr. Ewing?"
"Yes. Is something wrong? Has something happened to my wife?"

"Sir, you need to come with us."
Pulling away from the officer, he yelled out. "Where's Val?"
"Sir, it would be best if you came with us. There's been an accident, and we don't want to alarm you..."
"I'd say it's a little too late for that. It's something I need to know."
The officer frowned, then took Gary by the arm.
00000
Gary was in a state of shock. Right in front of him lay his beautiful wife. She looked beautiful, as always, but so helpless. Her hair had been fixed, her makeup smeared off, but she lay lifeless before him..
"My God. What happened?" Gary asked the nurse.
"I'm sorry sir. She was going for a walk, there was a driver. She was drunk..."
The realization of her statement hit him like a ton of bricks. "A drunk?"
"Yes sir. We have her in custody. It was a sixteen year old girl."
Fighting the tears that were forming in his eyes, he asked the question he had been so scared to. "How is she?"
"Mr. Ewing, please know this isn't easy for us. Your wife will not make it through the night."

With that statement, he hit the floor and began to sob.
"Sir, she's awake. Perhaps you'd like to take this opportunity to say your..."
"Don't say it! Don't tell me I have to say goodbye. I can't- I won't lose my wife!"
"Gary?"
He turned around and saw that Val had opened her eyes, barely , but still, she was calling him. "Oh, Val. I'm here. I won't leave you...I promise."

"Don't make any more promises you can't keep."

"What are you talking about?"
She squeezed his hand. "You promised me you'd come home to me tonight. I know where you were."
"I..I..."
"Don't lie to me, Gary. It's a little too late for your lies."
"What can I say? If I'd been home, if I'd been honest..if I were there with you then none of this would have happened."
"It doesn't matter now, does it? All I ever wanted for you was to be happy."
He didn't say anything.
"Do you love her? And don't lie to me."
Gary sighed. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you I didn't."
Val smiled ever so slightly. "Probably not."
He looked her in the eyes. "Believe me when I tell you that no woman could ever hold a candle to you. You're the true love of my life, you know."
"Do me a favor," Val whispered.

"Anything, anything, just tell me what I can do."
"Lucy... look after her. Be the parent I always wanted to be. The parent I always knew you could be. She needs you, much more than I ever did. And believe me, that's a lot."
"I'd do anything for you."

Val squeezed his hand. "There is one more thing you can do."
"You name it."
"Be good to yourself. You are far more than your family ever gave you credit for. You're a Ewing but you're your own man. That's why I've loved you all these years."
And in the darkest night of his life, with one final breath, Val was gone.
00000
two weeks later, Gary stood before the judge who was presiding over the teenage girl's hearing.
"Mr. Ewing, you have made clear your intention to speak at Miss Johnson's hearing. I cannot express the sorrow I express for you and your family. Please, go ahead."

Gary stood up, looked at the judge, then looked at the young girl. "Your honor, with all due respect, I ask humbly for your lenience in considering your judgment for this young girl. You see, for the grace of God go I. That could have been me sitting in Miss Johnson's chair. I, too have experienced the teasings and the false promises that alcohol can offer. I have made my fair share of mistakes in my life. I, too, have let my family down, and for that, I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life. But you see, what I see in Miss Johnson is that she is a young girl, around the age my wife was when I met her. Val was so lively, so full of hope and potential. I can honestly say that she would not want another young life go to waste, especially when it comes to matters so near and dear to my heart. I ask you to please forgive, not forget, what Miss Johnson's actions have caused, and to please accept my plea of leniency."
The judge smiled. "Mr. Ewing, I accept your request and hereby sentence Miss Johnson to five years' probation. Consider this your wake up call, Miss Johnson."

Gary smiled at her, then walked away, holding his daughter Lucy's hand in the process.
"She'd be real proud of you, Daddy," Lucy grinned as she hugged her father for the first time in ages.
"I'm sorry, honey. I'm so sorry."
"You did Mama proud, you know that?"
He sighed, then thought about it. For the first time during his years-long marriage to Val, he'd finally done something right. tbc