Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me. I am not making any money off of this story. Trust me, I am not worth suing.

Author: Catgurl83

Title:

Feedback: I love feedback. Don't hesitate to tell me what you think, good or bad. My e-mail address is catgurl83@yahoo.com : - )

Summary: In this story, Matt is 25. He and Sarah live in New York, are still in med. school, and have a five-month-old daughter named Charlene after Grandpa Charles, who died a week before her birth. Mary is 23 and is still a flight attendant but now she works for really big airline and lives in New York. She is dating a new character. Lucy is 22 and married to Kevin. They still live in GlenOke. Simon is almost eighteen and a senior in high school. Ruthie is fifteen and a sophomore in high school. The twins are seven and in second grade.

Rating: PG., just to be on the safe side.

Author's note: This has nothing to do with Earthquake in GlenOke. I really was planning on working on the sequel but this story pretty much made me write it.

**********

Ruthie ran up the front steps. She was running late. She should have been home about a half-hour ago. But she had lost track of time.

After school, she had gone to a friend's house to study for a math test they would be taking the next day. She really did not like the last few weeks of school. There were so many tests that the students had to take.

Inside, she went directly to her bedroom. She wanted to change into something clean for dinner. She yanked a pair of jeans and a T-shirt out of her dresser drawers and went into the bathroom to put them on.

Downstairs, everyone was almost ready for dinner. Lucy was just finishing setting the table. She and Kevin lived two blocks away and still spent quite a bit of time with the family.

"Did you wash your hands?" Ruthie asked Sam and David when they came to the table. The twins both hated to take baths and wash their hands. They loved to play outside in the dirt though.

"Yeah." David rolled his eyes.

"Show us." Lucy ordered.

The twins grumbled as they presented their hands for inspection.

Lucy shook her head. "Go wash them."

The boys both rolled their eyes but they did as they were told.

A few minutes later everyone was seated at the table. Eric had said a prayer.

"How are your classes going?" Simon asked Lucy before taking a bit of roast beef.

"Good." Lucy smiled. "I love it. The deeper we get into theology, the more interesting it gets."

"Have you decided on a major?" Kevin took a bit of his roll.

Simon shrugged. "Not really. I am thinking about several different careers. I can't decide."

"You could go into theology." Lucy suggested, grinning.

He shook his head. "That just doesn't interest me like it does you and Dad."

"Or law enforcement." Kevin suggested.

"I don't think so." Annie said. She did not want her son to be a police officer. It was bad enough that her son-in-law was in the dangerous line of work.

"I think he should be an accountant." Ruthie smiled at Lucy. "Remember when we were all younger how we'd go to Simon for loans?"

Lucy smiled reminiscently. "You were always so good with money Simon. I think Ruthie is right."

Simon shrugged again. "Maybe."

"You." Ruthie covered her mouth as she started coughing. They were deep racking coughs.

Everyone watched her in concern. She was very pale when she finally stopped coughing.

"Are you okay Honey?" Annie asked anxiously.

Ruthie took a sip of her soda. "I'm fine Mom. I guess I just swallowed wrong."

Her mother looked at her skeptically.

"Really." Ruthie added. She took a bit of corn.

Annie took a bit of her roast beef still watching Ruthie.

Ruthie turned to her brother-in-law. "Catch any interesting criminals lately?"

"Criminals aren't interesting Ruthie." Kevin admonished.

Ruthie rolled her eyes. "So?"

Kevin shook his head. "Just your average criminals today."

"No shoot outs?" Sam asked with disappointment.

"Shoot outs aren't something good." Annie told her son.

The twins shrugged. Both boys loved watching old cowboy movies.

The conversation went on but Ruthie found it hard to concentrate. Her mind kept wandering. She couldn't keep her thoughts straight for longer then a few minutes. She kept returning to the fact that her head was pounding and she was very tired.

***********

"Ruthie?"

"Ruthie?"

Ruthie finally looked up after the teacher called her name a third time. "Yes?"

"What is the answer?"

"Um," Ruthie thought hard, "I don't know."

"What was the question?" The teacher was frowning.

"I." She searched her mind, desperately trying to find some hint.

"You don't know," the teacher surmised.

"No," she admitted. Several other students snickered. This was the first time they had ever seen Ruthie like this. She almost always knew the answers.

"Have you listened to anything I have said today?"

"Uh."

"What have we been discussing?"

This was history so it was something from the past. Last week they had discussed world war two. "The great depression?" She guessed, while glancing down at the chapter index in her book.

The teacher arched an eyebrow. "Correct. Pay closer attention from now on."

Ruthie sighed in relief. She had figured that out just in time. She was just glad that this was her last class and it would be over in about ten minutes.

"You okay?" Her friend Patricia asked as they left the classroom several minutes later.

"Huh? I'm fine."

"Okay." Patricia nodded. "Do you want to go riding with me?"

"Sure." She hadn't been riding in several days.

Patricia's mother drove them to the stable. She would come get them two hours later, she told them.

The girls saddled their horses.

"Where do you want to go?"

Ruthie thought a moment. "The southeast trail. I think it is beautiful in spring."

"It is my favorite trail all year long." Patricia stated.

The girls mounted their horses.

"I'm so glad that school is almost over for the year."

Ruthie nodded in agreement. "So am I."

"I am so ready for a break. I want to spend all summer riding."

"Yeah."

Patricia sighed. "I hate final exams though. I have a biology test tomorrow. I just hope that I do okay on it. It isn't even something I can study for tonight. If I don't know it now, then I'm not going to learn it over night. What about you?" She waited a moment. "Ruthie?"

Ruthie blinked a few times.

"Ruthie?" Patricia turned to stare at her friend. "Ruthie? Are you all right?"

Ruthie tried to sit up straighter in her saddle. Everything was beginning to spin. She blinked rapidly trying to get rid of the spots dancing in front of her eyes. Her efforts were in vain. Everything was getting worse.

"Ruthie?" Patricia asked loudly. Her voice was filled with fear and worry now.

"I." Ruthie forced the word out. She vaguely registered that only the one word had gotten past her suddenly dry lips. She swallowed and tried again, making herself focus on the words. "I. don't feel." She slumped forward farther in the saddle.

"We should go back to the stable." Patricia whispered.

Ruthie tried to listen to the words but her attempt failed. Everything around her was fading.

*********

Annie stepped outside the house and gasped. "What are you doing?"

David looked up. "What?"

Annie gestured to the side of the house.

Sam shrugged. "We painted it."

"Brown." David added unnecessarily.

Annie stared at the house. "That isn't paint."

"Nope," the boys said in unison. They were unconcerned.

Annie stepped forward and picked up a paintbrush. "It is mud."

"Yep." Again they spoke in unison.

"Why did you do this?"

"White is boring," Sam stated.

"Why didn't you ask your father and I before you 'painted' the house?"

"Because you would have said no," David told her.

Annie sighed. Sometimes she wondered how these two could be so different from their brothers and sisters. This was one of those times.

"Stay right there." She went back inside and returned a few minutes later with an armload of towels. The boys were covered in mud.

Annie picked up the hose.

"Can we run through it?" David asked hopefully.

"No," Annie answered firmly. She quickly rinsed the mud off of them and then tossed towels to them. "Dry off and then go inside and shower so you don't get a cold."

She turned toward the wall after they had gone inside. She couldn't understand how they had covered so much of the wall with mud so quickly. They had only been out here unsupervised for about fifteen minutes.

She finished and turned the hose off. The phone started ringing just as she stepped into the house. She tossed the dirty paintbrushes into the sink and grabbed the phone on the third ring. "Hello?"

"Mrs. Camden?"

"Yes. Who is this?" Annie asked curiously.

"I'm Dr. Randolph from the hospital."

Annie sank down into a chair. "Is Eric all right?"

"Eric?"

"Eric isn't there?"

"My patient isn't named Eric ma'am."

Annie blinked. She had been so sure that Eric had had another heart attack. But if he wasn't the patient who was? Could Kevin have been hurt? No, they would have called Lucy. "Who?" She whispered it but he heard her.

"My patient is Ruthie Camden. Are you her mother?"

"Yes. What is wrong with her?"

The doctor hesitated. "Your daughter passed out while riding a little while ago. Her friend went back to the stable for help and someone called 911. She has been here for about ten minutes. Her friend gave the ambulance driver your number."

"But why?" Annie whispered. "What is wrong with Ruthie?"

"I'm not sure. We are running tests right now. We should know sometime this evening."

"I. We will be there soon. Thank you doctor." Annie hung the phone up with numb fingers. She ran up the stairs. "Sam, David!"

"What?" Both boys stepped out of their bedroom. Their hair was still wet and Sam was pulling his T-shirt on.

"Finish getting dressed." She forced her voice to stop quivering.

"Is something wrong Mom?" David asked in concern. Their mother was always so strong. She never acted like this.

"Is it Daddy?" Sam asked softly.

"Your father is fine." She assured them. "Ruthie is in the hospital. I don't know what is wrong but it happened while she was riding. We have to go there now."

The twins turned toward the stairs. "We are ready." They said together.

*********

Eric pinched the bridge of his nose to ward off the headache. For some reason, he just couldn't get this sermon right. He had been working on it for several days now and he couldn't get the kinks out.

He picked up his latest copy from the desk in front of him and crumpled it into a ball. He squeezed it until it was as small as he could get it and then tossed it into the garbage can.

He sighed in relief when the phone rang. He needed a distraction right now. "Hello?"

"Eric."

"What's wrong Annie?" He heard the fear and desperation in his wife's voice.

"The hospital just called. Something is wrong with Ruthie. The doctor wouldn't say but I think it's bad Eric."

"I'll meet you there." He dropped the phone back into its cradle and stood up.

************

"Honey I'm home." Matt called as he stepped into his apartment. He laughed when Sarah stepped into the room scowling.

Sarah hated it when he did that. "Can't you come up with something creative?" She stepped closer so that she could kiss him.

"Nope." Matt answered cheerfully and stepped to the left so he could avoid the slap to his arm. He walked down the hallway and stepped into the first bedroom. He slowly moved over to the crib. He gazed down at the baby lying there. He would never tire of watching his daughter Charlene (Charlie for short) sleep.

Charlie had turned five-months-old two days before. She had been born a week after her great grandfather Charles's death from Alzheimer's. Matt and Sarah had already picked out a name but had changed their minds the second they saw the baby. They had instantly known that they should name her after Charles.

Charlie was a sweet quiet baby. She rarely cried. If she did cry, Matt and Sarah knew that there was a good reason.

She had bright, clear, blue eyes. She had been born with a full head of curly brown hair that Sarah loved to adorn with bows. Both of her grandmothers had instantly fallen in love with her the second they had set eyes on her three months before.

Ruthie adored Charlie. When Matt and Sarah had visited three months before Ruthie had loved to dress her. She said that Charlie was much more fun then the twins had been because, unlike the boys, she could wear dresses.

Matt laughed as he remembered the fight over whom they would stay with. Both sides of the family wanted to have Charlie staying with them. Matt and Sarah had finally decided to stay in a hotel to stop the bickering.

Sarah stepped into the room with the cordless phone in her hand. She was slightly pale. "It is your father," she whispered. "I think something is wrong."

Matt took the phone. "Dad? What's up?"

"It's Ruthie."

"What?" Matt asked in shock.

"Apparently Ruthie blacked out while riding earlier." Eric explained wearily.

"Is she all right?"

"We're all here at the hospital. They are doing some tests on her right now." Eric paused briefly. "I think it is bad Matt."

"We will be on the next plane," Matt stated. He didn't need to think about it. He had to be there. He had to know what was wrong with his youngest sister.

When he pressed the button to disconnect Sarah was already packing a bag for the baby. He met her eyes. "Thank you." She was always so supportive.

********

Simon had been at a friend's house for several hours doing homework. He stepped into the house and looked around. Where was everyone? "Mom?" He called.

There was no answer.

"Mom?!" He called again.

Again, there was no answer.

Simon walked into the kitchen. He glanced around. A piece of paper was lying on the counter. He picked it up. It said: Simon, the boys and I are headed to the hospital. Ruthie is ill. I don't know what is wrong yet. Please meet us as soon as you get this. Love, Mom.

Simon dropped the note and spun around. He needed to get to the hospital.

*********

Lucy stepped into her house. She was carrying a heavy stack of books that she had just gotten from the library.

She set the books on the kitchen table and walked to the fridge. She had no idea what she was going to make for dinner. Right now, all she was thinking about was finals.

"Lucy."

She looked toward the living room door and smiled at Kevin. Her smile faded when she saw his expression.

"Luce." Kevin stepped closer.

Lucy closed the fridge. "What's wrong?" Her face fell. "Is it my father?"

Kevin pulled his wife into his arms. "Eric is fine."

"Then.?"

"Ruthie blacked out earlier, while riding."

"What?"

"She is at the hospital. They are running tests. They should know what is wrong later this evening."

Lucy turned toward the door. "Let's go."

********

Mary stepped into her apartment with a sigh. She was exhausted. She had been up since the middle of the night. She had had a flight at four this morning.

Right now, all she wanted to do was take a steaming hot shower and fall into her bed. She would probably fall a sleep as soon as her head hit her pillow.

She dropped her things onto the coffee table and walked across the room. The light on the answering machine was blinking. She pressed the button and then walked into the kitchen to make a sandwich.

She spread peanut butter and jelly on bread as a message from one of her friends played.

She listened to a librarian say that the book she ordered was in as she poured a glass of milk.

She took a sip of milk just before she heard Matt's voice. "Mary, Mary are you there? If you are there answer the phone." He sighed. "When you get this, call home."

The next message played. "Mary? Mary? I guess you aren't home." Eric sighed. "Listen, call as soon as you get this."

Mary waited tensely as three more messages from her father, two from Matt, and three hang ups played. What was wrong? Something definitely was up.

She grabbed the phone and punched in her parent's number. She sighed in frustration as it just rang and rang.

She hung up and grabbed her address book. She put in another number. After several rings the phone was answered. "Hello?"

Mary sighed in relief. "Hi Aunt Julie. My parents aren't home."

Julie cut her off. "Mary. Did you just get home?"

"Yes."

"Your dad has been trying to reach you for several hours. Ruthie is hurt."

"What happened?" Mary demanded.

"We don't know everything yet." Julie warned. "But she blacked out while riding. The doctors are still waiting for test results to come back."

"Thanks Aunt Julie. I'll be there as soon as possible." She ran into her bedroom to throw some things into a bag. So much for a shower and sleep. Maybe she could snooze on the flight.

*********

Author's note: What is wrong with Ruthie? Let me know what you think.