Bettina approaches the nurse’s desk.  Is Jax resting?  His parents are with him now.  You can go in, Bettina.  Thank you.  Bettina walks down the hall.  And knocks on the door.  Hello.  She stops in the doorway.  May I join you or should I come back another time?  Come on in, Bettina.  Jax’s mother says.  Bettina walks over to the far side of the bed and pulls up a chair and takes Jax’s good hand as she sits down.  Hello, there.  Hi, Bettina.  Jax says in a muted voice.

Bettina looks over at Jax’s parents.  Have you ever been to Simon’s place in Portland?  His mother snorts.  It’s a monstrosity perched on a hillside.  It does look like the Millennium Falcon from below, Jax says with a grin.  Should Lana and I book a hotel?  Jax shakes his head no.  It’s neat on the inside.  You’ll like the views, and you’ll have your own level to yourself.  He’s invited Lana?  Jax’s father asks.  Bettina looks at him steadily.  Lana is my best friend, sir.  Just Simon?  Jax asks. No one else wants to go hiking or whitewater rafting with us, Bettina says, rolling her eyes.  I’d go if I could, Jax says.  Bettina nods.  I know.  She says softly.  How’s Lana doing?  We’re leaving now, Jax’s mother says disgustedly.

Have you talked to Simon?  Bettina asks.  Yeah, he said she talked to Raul’s aunt after the church service.  What was that about?  Bettina looks at Jax with a pained expression on her face.  Tell me.  She told Lana that she had saved her a lot of pain and heartache and that she could thank her by going out to dinner with Raul.  How did Lana respond?   She told her lunch, and to have him call me to set up the when and where.  What happened?  Bettina doesn’t say anything, but rubs his hand gently.

Why are you here, Bettina?  I’m here to say goodbye.  Toni said that you’re heading up to Mike’s getaway in northern Michigan this weekend. Why did Lana have him call you to set it up?  Raul and I are friends, Jax.  He’s always been a complete gentleman with me and I trust him.  He’s cartel, Bettina.  Those people are animals.  Don’t tell me that you haven’t seen the pictures and read the articles about what happens down there.  Why would you want that for Lana?  Jax sees her lips compress, and her nose flare, as she looks down, trying to control her temper.  You tell me, Jax.  Why would Lana have him call me to set it up?  The logistics of snatching both of you and the fallout would be too much.  Bettina shakes her head no.  Try again.  So you know where she’s at if something goes wrong.  That’s better, but try again.  So she can drive herself.  And?  So they don’t have to do small talk over the phone.  And?  So they both will have time to think about what they want to say.  What did Lana tell him?

Bettina doesn’t answer and taps Jax’s hand impatiently.  Jax waits her out.  That he was a grave digger, and that her brother was in one of them.  Bettina finally admits.  Jax draws back his head.  Whoa!  What happened?  I’m not doing this, Jax.  Did she tell you that you couldn’t tell me?  Bettina frowns, of course not.  I don’t want to hurt you, Jax.  And that’s what I see happening if I tell you.  Look at me, Bettina.  She does.  You’re a mess, she says, and they both chuckle.  She goes back to rubbing his hand.  Lana got it out of her system, Jax.  She doesn’t hate you.  I don’t want you beating yourself up. I respect the way you’ve handled this.  It tells me that your latter end will be better than your beginning.  I need to know, Bettina.  He says softly.

I’m not going to tell you what he said, only that he proposed to her.  Lana asked him if she had a choice.  Of course.  She told him that his brother would kill any man who came into her life.  And since she was reduced to negotiating, she wanted three days to think over her terms and conditions.  Right here, right now is how he responded.  She backed him down.  She got her three days.  They’re meeting for lunch again now.

Do you know what she is going to say?  Bettina grins at him.  Lana confessed that she cannot help but like him.  She only has one condition for him.  I’ll give you a hint.  It’s the same one she gave you.  What?!?  He has to get her parent’s blessing.  Jax and Bettina break out giggling.  You had me so worried, Bettina.  Wait a minute, how did she back him down?  She accused him of the sin of simony and stared him down.  What the hell is that?  Don’t talk like that in front of me.  Bettina says, dropping his hand.  I’m sorry, he says quickly.  And wiggles his fingers and looks at her pleadingly.  She takes back his hand and starts rubbing it again.  She took control, Jax.  One minute she had her hands in her lap and her head down, then next minute, she was ready to tear him to pieces, and he saw that and gave in.  He was overconfident and impatient.  She told me that he wouldn’t make that mistake again.

Can I call you when I get settled?  Jax asks her.  She wrinkles her nose.  You sir, can even call me collect and I’ll accept the charges.  He breaks out laughing, and she grins at him.  Tell me about this getaway cabin.  I didn’t even know Mike had it; I’ve never been.  He says he uses it in the spring to go brook trout fishing.  Way off the grid.  Bettina shrugs.  I’ll take an outhouse over a gas station bathroom any day of the week.  Jax grins at her.  But Jax, how are you going to live without Wifi?  Ahhh, that’s how Mike sold me.  He says that there’s a bare rock outcrop about a half mile away that he hikes up to when he needs to connect.  He’s going to show me how to use my phone as a wireless hotspot for my airbook.  Bettina gives him a worried look.  It’s what I need, Bettina, he tells her.  She looks at him and doesn’t say anything.

What are you going to do, Bettina?  Back to work at Channel Five next week, she exclaims.  Doing human interest stories; I told my editor, no politics.  You’re not going national?  She shakes her head no.  I like my life, Jax.  My ambition is to get a husband now.  Still aiming for Rolf?  She smiles sadly and looks down.  He’s not going to change, is he Jax?  Jax shakes his head no.  I think Lana has been trying to tell me that for a long time, but I just wasn’t able to hear it.  What does she say?  That he’s not ready for me.  I think Jon has a crush on you.  Jax tells her with a grin.  I really like him, Bettina admits, but he’s not ready either.  I want a man who leads, Jax; he’s not there yet.  What do you think about him and Sam?  She sighs.  We’re all going over to my dad’s for dinner tonight.  What do you think about Mike and Toni?  Yes.  That I saw coming, Bettina tells Jax.  Me too, he admits.  When?  She asks.  When he played Lullaby on loop for her.  When?  He asks her.  You beat me by a mile, she tells him.

So why are you and Lana going to Portland with Simon?  It’ll be good to get away from it all for the weekend.  Simon’s so much fun to be around.  Jax looks at her.  You’re trying to set them up, aren’t you?  She looks down, and pats his hand and then lets go of it.   Bettina gets up from her seat, and leans over and kisses him on the cheek.  I love you, Jax.  She whispers in his ear, and then walks out of the room.

***

Sam comes into the hospital later that afternoon, and sees his mom in the hallway.  How is he, Judith?  His mother hugs Sam.  We had a breakthrough after Bettina came to say goodbye.  He is our son again, and well, she sniffles, it was so good to be thanked and appreciated.  Bettina is such a dear soul.

Sam goes into the room without knocking.  And sits by him.  I heard Bettina visited.   Your mother cannot say enough good things about her now.  What happened?  I don’t want to talk about it, Sam.  Sam raises her eyebrows.  She told me the latest about Lana.  And then admitted that she was trying to set up Lana and Simon in Portland this weekend.  Sam covers her mouth with her hand and starts to laugh.  Jax gives her a disappointed look.  Simon is crazy about Bettina, Sam tells him with a huge grin on her face.  Crazy enough to do exactly what she tells him to do, Jax mutters and then grins.  So that’s why things are strained between you and Simon?  It’s complicated, Sam.  Rolf knows why.  Sam rolls her eyes.

So tell me the latest about Lana…

Don’t worry.  She won’t be forced to marry Raul.  My uncle has taken a liking to her.  Why don’t you and Jon tag along with them?  I’m a city girl, Jax.  I’m asking a favor, Jax says.  No you’re not.  You’re asking me to ruin true love.  Get out!  Jax tells Sam, who bursts out laughing and doesn’t budge.  What do you want for dinner?  Rolf took care of it.  I’m on applesauce and cottage cheese until I get out of here.

I told Bettina that Jon has a crush on her.  Sam looks at Jax seriously for a while.  I’m sorry, Jax says, that was stupid of me.  It’s not that, Jax.  She sighs.  I wasn’t going to tell you, but I know you’ll keep your mouth shut.  There’s a Syndicate meeting this weekend.  Don Ramon is announcing our engagement.  Jax looks at her.  I’m going to miss you, Sam.  She nods.  Close your eyes, Sam tells him.  She gives him a peck on the cheek.  Living at your place has been the best time of my life, Jax.  Thank you for that.   And she walks out of his room.

***

Mike and Toni stop by in the evening.  Hey, buddy, Mike says grinning.  Can’t wait.  It’s all set up.  The snow is pretty much gone; the caretaker made sure the road is open.  I cannot wait to go brook trout fishing, Toni says.  I can tie a fisherman’s knot faster than anyone at the office now, she announces.  She’s got it down, Mike says proudly, and puts his arm around her shoulder.  Jax looks between them.  I’m happy for you guys - at least something good came out of all of this.

How are you doing, man?  Better.  Much better.  Send Jon to see me; I need to talk to him, alone.  He and Sam were heading over to Bettina’s dad’s place for dinner.  Simon rode with them.  Why didn’t he take the Hellcat?  He drove it around until Lana got out of jail; it’s been parked ever since.  Bettina admitted that she’s trying to set them up, Jax tells them.  Toni and Mike exchange a look.  Give us a moment, babe.  He tells her.  She gives him a quick kiss and then heads out the door.

We were actually hoping for that, Mike admits.  What’s all this “we” stuff, Jax comments.  You’ve been there, Mike says.  I’m trying to lock it down and keep it traditional, to show my respect for Toni.  Sam gave me this Amish romance book, Harvest of Blessings, and told me this is how I play for keeps.  Jax grunts.  Send it my way when you’re done.  Mike nods.  Get this Jax, Bettina told Toni that sleeping with me would blind her to my character, and that she needed to get to know me first.  Do you think she was warning her off me?  No, bro.  She knows you’re serious, and wants Toni going in with eyes wide open.  Mike nods.  What did Lana tell her?  Mike shakes his head no.  Lana’s tight with her ex. Good point, Jax admits.

So you’re rooting for Simon?  Jax declares.  It’s not that.  I just don’t want the cartel guy to win, Mike replies.  You two were so good together.  What you had is what Toni and I aspire to.  Jax starts to choke up.  That’s a really cool thing to say, bro, he says in a husky voice.  Just take a time out and get better, Jax.  Who knows what’s going to happen next.