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Beauty and the Blitz(268)

By´╝ÜSosie Frost



Ambulance.

Because I wasn’t there to help her.

She had to wait for strangers to rescue her. How much time had been wasted that might have helped her?

Officer Burke swore. He pointed at me. “Don’t move.”

“We should let him go,” Officer Ryan said. “He takes this to the media, says we delayed him while his girl had a problem with her pregnancy? Holy shit, talk about bad press.”

Finally, someone else’s reputation worked in my favor. Burke swore and ripped a page from his ticket book. He signed his name and tossed it at my feet. Officer Ryan nodded.

“I’ll escort you to the hospital so you don’t kill yourself or anyone else.”

My knee screamed as I rushed to the car, but I refused to let it stop me. I turned, hating to ask the question.

“Did they say if she was okay?”

Officer Ryan shook his head. “We can go find out. Follow me.”

The adrenaline slowly poisoned me. I needed to run. Fight. Hold Leah. Instead I dove into my car and, for the first time, followed the police cruiser with the flashing lights.

It didn’t give me hope.

Just the opposite.

My heart broke the closer we got to the hospital. She had been alone for so long.

I was probably too late.





Leah





At least it was over.

My fingers trembled as I redressed, tugging the tank over my head and wishing I had worn something other than the pink sweatpants proudly proclaiming “Sweet” over my butt.

My heart still raced. I didn’t think it’d ever slow. More tears fell over my cheeks. The nurses handed me a handful of tissues as they retrieved the discharge forms. It didn’t help.

I needed Jack.

I sat on the bed as the shouting rang from in the hall. It wasn’t polite, but I didn’t expect him to be. My knight-in-shining armor crashed through a damn hospital as aggressively and unsubtly as he could. Thank God no cameras were here to see this.

I was so glad to hear his voice, even if it echoed a nasty curse at the head nurse who refused to give him my room number. I pulled my cell and made a note to send a basket of various Rivets’ paraphernalia to the patient staff forced to deal with Jack Carson’s latest temper tantrum.

Jack sprinted into the room, limping heavily on his leg. He didn’t slow until I was safe in his arms.

I fell into his embrace, and he kissed me furiously, a silent apology that shook me to my core. I clung to him, finally warm and calm. He pulled away only so he could look at me, his words heavy, solemn, and brimming with the same fear I felt a few minutes ago.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I got your message…and I tried…but I was…”

“It’s okay.”

“Are you?” His voice broke. He lowered his hand as if he were afraid to touch my tummy. “Is the…”

“Everything’s okay.”

Jack’s eyes widened, a surge of blue so bright it startled me. He stared as if I would lie to the only man I’ve ever loved.

He exhaled. “It’s okay?”

“Yeah.”

“But you were—”

“Overreacting?” I bit my lip. “It’s…unusual for me, I’ll grant you that.”

“What happened?”

“Women can experience something called round ligament pain. It’s a muscle ache when their womb is growing for the baby.” I swallowed. “For example, if they’re expanding for the very large son of a very large quarterback.”

Now Jack looked faint. I guided him to the bed, taking his hand and pressing it against my tummy. He opened his mouth to speak, couldn’t, and collapsed backward instead. I laughed, letting him have a moment while the news overwhelmed him.

“A son?” he asked.

“They had a good shot on the sonogram tonight, but it’s still very early. We’ll have to check again in a couple weeks.”

“Do you think…it’s a boy?”

“I think he’s a boy.”

“And he’s okay? You’re not…hurting?”

“I’m just a little embarrassed.”

Jack pulled himself upright with a core strength I envied now. He shook his head, pulling me close for another kiss.

“Never. Don’t you dare say you were embarrassed. Fuck, I’ve donated enough money to this place. There should be a whole wing I can use. I could keep you here with all the doctors and nurses and staff until we’re absolutely sure—”

“I’m sure your donations are better allocated to the kids in pediatrics,” I said. “I had some discomfort when I stood and walked, but it’s perfectly normal, if not thoroughly frightening for a first time mom. The doctors said to keep an eye on it.”

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