Authors: Lexy Timms
“He said you have a history of pre-eclampsia?”
“Not really. My blood pressure has been a little high, but the doctor was watching it. Really, is this board necessary? It’s very uncomfortable.”
“We’ll be at the hospital soon,” the paramedic said. He took her blood pressure again. “What has your blood pressure been?”
The ambulance slowed down and stopped with a lurch.
“Around one-thirty-five over ninety.”
The paramedic’s face remained neutral as he looked at the Sphygmomanometer’s display. “Okay, ma’am, we’re pulling into the hospital now. We’ll get you right in.”
The paramedics rolled her out of the back of the ambulance, and the cold Connecticut winter air hit her. She shivered, and they quickly pushed her in to the entrance of the emergency room. The smell of antiseptic hit her and she heard the cries of pain from one patient, making her gut clench in dread. She tried to quell the thought
what if I’m really sick
, but it was nearly useless. She had pushed herself too hard and her traitorous body used the opportunity to fall apart.
In a flash Luke was at her side, his face flushed from running to her.
“Please, sir. This entrance is only for hospital personnel.”
“She’s my wife.”
“And they’ll let you in at the desk when you tell them that.”
“I’ll be right in, Emily.”
Emily swallowed hard, the gravity of the situation hitting her. She had fainted, and it was probably her own fault. She should have rested. Emily was sure the unexpected appearance of Luke’s uncle didn’t do anything to help the situation. But even that scary event receded in the face of the threat that hung over her head now. This was real, and it was dangerous, as evidenced by her very high blood pressure. Her own body was not handling this pregnancy well. She was very lucky she hadn’t had a stroke. Fear spread a cold chill through her.
The paramedics wheeled her into a cubicle and some nurses moved in behind them.
“Just relax; we’re going to move you onto the bed.”
“Can we get me off this board?”
“Not until the doctor checks you out,” said a nurse in blue scrubs. She smiled reassuringly at Emily. “I’m Ellen, and I’ll be your nurse tonight.”
“You make it seem like I’m going to be here all night.”
“Well, maybe not all night. Most likely the doctor will order a bunch of tests for you, and we’ll have to monitor your blood pressure for a while. We’ll just have to see how things go. But we
going to take good care of you.”
While the nurse fixed a blood pressure cuff to Emily’s arm, Luke entered the room. His expression was near frantic as he took in the sight of Emily lying on the hard board, with the nurse rapidly affixing different instruments to Emily.
“Emily,” said Luke. “How’re you feeling?”
“Very embarrassed right now. This is a lot of fuss over a little fainting.”
A little smile turned up the corners of the nurse’s mouth. “I wouldn’t say that. But let’s get some information for your chart, and then I’ll have someone come in from registration to take your billing information.”
“Oh,” groaned Emily, thinking that Angela would be on her shift soon. The last thing she wanted was for Angela to know about this. “Can you make sure it’s not Angela Dougherty?”
“You know Angela?”
“Yes, she’s my sister.”
“Oh, okay, sure. I’ll see what I can do.”
When the nurse left, Luke took her hand. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry, baby? You have nothing to be sorry about.”
“Last night…” He didn’t finish the words, but the look on his face was pure anguish.
“Sssh, sweetheart. That had nothing to do with it. You can bend me over the couch anytime.”
“I shouldn’t have.”
“Luke Wade,” she said sternly, “if you ever say anything like that again, you’ll break my heart. I’ll always want to make love to you.”
He swallowed but seemed to only half hear her words. Luke stroked her hand.
“Pull up that chair and sit. You’re making me nervous standing there.”
“Sure, sweetheart.” He dragged the metal and plastic chair closer to her bed and twined his fingers with hers. With that, they both began the long vigil in the emergency room, waiting for the verdict on Emily’s condition.
!” Angela poked her head in the doorway of the cubby. “What’re you doing here? What happened? Are you okay?”
Luke picked up his head toward his sister-in-law, and Emily groaned. She shifted in the bed. The doctor had come in earlier; a slightly harried man not much older than Emily who looked her over and ordered a bunch of tests and IV fluids. Hospital staff had long ago relieved her of the pernicious spinal board, though she remained hooked up on the blood pressure cuff, an oxygen sensor, and now some IV fluids that rolled through her body and spiked her need to use the bathroom.
“I’m fine. Just fainted, is all.”
Angela clucked at the lie.
“And don’t you tell Mom and Dad.”
Angela shook her head. “Already did. They’re on the way.”
“You really didn’t expect me not to tell them, did you? You’re in the emergency room, for heaven’s sake.”
Emily groaned again and Luke squeezed her hand. She was tired, hungry, and upset. The last thing she wanted or needed was her parents’ prying. Sam Dougherty didn’t accept Luke as his son-in-law and Amanda Dougherty just accepted her husband’s attitude. No. Emily definitely did not need her parents here.
“Luke,” said Emily. “Can you find a nurse?”
“Sure, baby.” He gave her hand a kiss. When he left the hospital room, Emily turned her eyes towards her meddling sister.
“What the hell, Angela!”
“Don’t get mad at me. If I didn’t tell them I’d be in the doghouse!”
“When they come, tell them I can’t have visitors.”
“I won’t do that, Emily. They’re worried sick. They’ve been…” Angela stopped and put her hand over her mouth, as if she didn’t intend those words to fly out of her mouth.
“What? Since the wedding?”
Angela stood straighter and looked directly into Emily’s eyes. “Since you met up with Luke again. Look, I understand. You love him. He loves you. But that shootout you were in did nothing to redeem Luke in their eyes. He still belongs to that motorcycle club. Emily, when is Luke going to grow up?”
“Get out!” said Emily. “You won’t speak about my husband like that.” At that moment, the automated blood pressure cuff decided to puff in preparation to take readings. It cut into her arm painfully as the cuff tightened to reach the maximum level of Emily’s pressure.
“Out!” Behind Emily, the monitors keened a warning.
Luke walked back into the room and took in the strained tableau between Emily and Angela. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Angela was just leaving.”
Angela gave her a cold stare, and, with a toss of her long black hair, stalked out of the room.
“What was that about?”
Emily sighed. “My meddling family.”
A nurse came in, gave her a visual inspection, and turned off the monitor. “You shouldn’t move around.”
“I’m not. But I do need to use the bathroom.”
“I’ll get a bedpan.”
“But I can walk.”
“Of course you can, honey. But your blood pressure is high. The doctor wants you in bed until we get the results of the tests.”
“When will the doctor come back in?” said Luke. “We’ve waited a while.”
“Soon,” was all the nurse said. She pulled out a bedpan from the cabinets hanging on the wall. She looked at Luke.
“You can come back in after your wife is finished.”
“I’ll be back, baby. I’ll get a cup of coffee.”
“You might as well get something to eat too,” said the nurse. “You might be here a while.”
Emily groaned as the nurse put the bedpan under her.
he was with Emily, Luke did his best to look calm and composed. His wife would only freak out more if she knew how scared he was.
When he’d seen Emily crumpled on the living room floor, his heart stopped in his chest. Only when he saw her breathing could he catch his own breath. Though he loved their child, he cursed the day he was careless enough not to put on a condom all those months ago. Had he known even for a second that Emily could get so sick bearing his child, he’d never allow it. He was supposed to protect her, and his carelessness now threatened her life and their child’s life. Luke would never forgive himself, especially if something happened to either of them.
Loving Emily was easy. Realizing how wedded she was to his soul was not. Losing her would cleave him in half. He realized that when he saw her passed out on the floor. This was not how he envisioned his life, which was once carefree and independent.
Not that he’d wanted things any other way now. He did try during the summer to cast her from his life for her own good. He was into too much shit with the DEA, Rojos, and Hombres to make it safe for her to be with him. It was the most miserable summer of his life. He didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, and didn’t enjoy riding his motorcycles. It was as if he’d died and just walked around in a meat suit. He came alive again when she showed up in the Spawn’s clubhouse with the message that she carried his child.
He couldn’t lose her again or lose his child.
This married thing was damned hard. This being a parent thing was even harder.
He found the cafeteria and shuffled through the food line, but nothing looked good to him. Out of habit he purchased a burger from the grill, and some fries. He moved toward the checkout when someone rudely bumped him, nearly causing him to drop his tray.
“Sorry, man,” said a gravelly voice.
Luke turned, ready with a volley of sharp words, and stopped short. His mouth gaped opened. It had to be a freakin’ ghost. Standing before him was Gibs; from the shabby clothes to the long, gray, straggly beard.
“Gibs?” he said.
“Do I know you, man?”
Luke saw subtle differences now. The man had a scar near his right eye that Gibs didn’t have. One front tooth was chipped.
“Sorry. You look like someone I knew.”
“I had a brother. People said we looked a lot alike. His name was Frank.”
“Oh, then you’re Robert.”
The man grunted. “Rob. How did you know him?”
“He worked for me.”
“Yeah, the motorcycle shop.” The man stared at him hard. “So, you’re Luke. Helen told me about you.”
“Helen?” Guilt stabbed him then and he suddenly lost what little appetite he had. Luke hadn’t seen Gibs’ wife for several months, even though he had resolved to keep in touch.
“Yeah, I came back to settle up with Frank’s estate. She’s a bit upset about that; got heart palpitations, so I brought her in.”
Luke moved to the cash register and paid for his food, with Rob following him. “I see,” said Luke, gritting his teeth. He felt uneasy next to this man who seemed at ease discussing this subject with a relative stranger. If he was like this all the time, no wonder Helen got upset. Gibs’ wife didn’t deserve any upset, not since she lost her husband. And certainly not from a brother-in-law who hadn’t spoken to either Helen or Gibs for many years.
“Let me ask you,” said Rob, “you handling the sale of Frank’s bike?”
“Yes. Helen asked me to.”
“But it’s not sold yet?”
“Not a great time of year to sell bikes. There’re several bike nights in the spring. I was going to take it then.”
“Well, you might not have to bother. I might take it to settle part of my share.”
“Share?” said Luke. He couldn’t believe this asshole was discussing Gibs’ possessions like they were his.
“Yeah. I’m his only living relative.”
We’ll see about that
, thought Luke. If he had to pay Matt Stone himself, he wasn’t going to let this bozo take anything away from Helen.
“Besides his wife, of course.”
“Yeah, besides Helen.”
“So where is she?”
“Emergency room. They’ll let her out soon I think. I’ll take her home then.”
Luke resolved he’d check on things to see what he could do. It couldn’t do Helen any good to have this creep hanging around her. “Well, I’ve gotta go.”
“Great meetin’ ya,” said Rob, with a grin that could have been copied from Gibs’ face.
Luke’s gut clenched, being unable to reconcile his feeling of dislike for this man with the image that parroted his dead best friend. “Same here,” said Luke as he slammed his uneaten burger and fries in a nearby garbage can. He moved as quickly as he could away from the man who was the specter of the man who died for Luke.
doctor came in while Luke was getting something to eat.
“Mrs. Wade, the IV magnesium seems to be doing the work. Between that and the diuretic, your blood pressure, except for a spike, is coming down. We will keep you for observation for a few more hours, but I see no reason for you not to go home tonight.”
“That’s great news.”
“Provided you stay on bed-rest until you see your obstetrician, which will be tomorrow at noon. I’ve called your obstetrician and let him know your condition. Most likely with symptoms like these, you’ll be on bed-rest for the rest of your pregnancy, have to keep to a strict low-salt diet, and take medication as prescribed.”
“What do you mean by bed-rest? There are so many things to do for the baby. And Christmas is coming up.”
“Sorry, Mrs. Wade. Whatever needs to be done, you’ll have to get other people to do for you. Your most important job is keeping you and your baby healthy.”
Emily sank back into the pillow with a feeling of defeat. Her body had betrayed her. It couldn’t keep her or the baby healthy without the doctors hovering over her. There were things she wanted to do before the baby came. Now her life was on permanent hold.
“Thank you, doctor,” she said. As he left, tears slid down her cheeks. This wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. She’d gone through so much this year: her ex-boyfriend making her life hell, reuniting with and then losing Luke, the shootout where Gibs died, finding out she was pregnant, Luke getting shot and nearly dying—and now this? It was all too much.
“Hey,” said Luke as he walked back into the room. “What’s this?”
“The doctor said I had to stay on bed-rest until the baby comes.”
“Really,” said Luke. “That’s not so bad.”
“Not for you! I’m not allowed to go anywhere or do anything. And there’s so much to do to get ready for the baby, and then Christmas too.”
“You know, they have this new thing called the Internet. I hear people shop on it all the time. Ships right to your door.” He grinned. “You’ll be fine.”
“Luke! It’s not Christmas if I can’t shop the malls.”
“It’ll be Christmas, baby. Our first Christmas together, and I want to make sure that happens. You’ll do exactly as the doctor says. There’s no discussion about it.”