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Chapter Eighteen

“Where do you want me to put this, babe?” A.J. asked, holding up a little yellow stuffed bear.

Jaime looked at it, wondering where it would look best. She scrunched her nose up in concentration.

“I guess you should put it in the crib for now,” she finally told him

She made a mental note to move it before the baby arrived home. She didn’t want to take any chances on it suffocating with the stuffed animal in the crib with it.

A.J. walked over to the crib and gently placed the bear inside at the foot of it. He smiled at Jaime, taking a look around the room. It wasn’t nearly done yet, but they were making progress. They’d decided on the color yellow as the theme since they didn’t know the sex of the baby yet and that color was neutral.

It was a little over a month later. A month since what had happened with Kevin. A.J. remembered that day very vividly. He remembered Anna rushing back into the waiting room in hysterics, collapsing into a chair. Seconds later, Dr. Newton came in behind her. He’d explained everything that had happened. Everybody started sobbing, he thought he might have even gone into a mild shock. He had, after all, seen Kevin less than ten minutes before it had happened. When Dr. Newton had informed them that Kevin had been revived though, that’s when all of the tension in the room had been released, for the most part. The same thought had been in the back of everybody’s mind though and could be read on each of their faces. Would it happen again?

A.J. closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath to calm himself down. Every time he thought about it, he got worked up, which he knew wasn’t healthy. He was trying not to think a bout it, but it was hard not to. Instead, he tried to think about his baby, which was due in just three weeks.

“Are you okay?” Jaime asked him, touching his arm lightly.

A.J. jumped a little and looked over at his girlfriend and saw concern written on her face. His troubled thoughts must have shown though. A.J. scolded himself for worrying Jaime. Worrying was the last thing that she needed to be doing so late into her pregnancy. He knew that it could cause complications or problems. It wouldn’t be healthy for their baby.

“Yeah,” A.J. replied, smiling brightly at her, “I’m fine.”

Kevin’s heart hadn’t stopped again though in the past month and everybody came and went from the hospital now. They figured that there wasn’t really much they could do just
by being there, so went on with their regular lives. Everybody was still sad that he hadn’t woken up yet, and since Kevin could have visitors again, they all went every day to see him.

“Alex,” Jaime called, waving a hand in front of his face, “Hey, Aje.”

A.J. looked over to her, distracted, a look of confusion on his handsome face. He felt as if he had missed something. “What are you thinking about?” she asked him softly once she knew that she had his full attention.

“Nothing,” A.J. replied too quickly and Jaime looked at him skeptically, “I mean, nothing, baby. Everything is fine.”

“Alexander James,” Jaime scolded, putting her hands on her hips, “I know something’s bugging you. Please tell me what it is. I want to be able to help you if possible.”

“Kevin,” A.J. replied simply.

He hoped that Jaime wouldn’t be mad for stressing over Kevin again. She had told him she didn’t want him thinking of something that wasn’t likely to happen again. He knew that it upset her as well though. No matter now much she tried to hide that she wasn’t letting it get to her, for the babies sake, he knew that it still was.

“Aje,” Jaime said as she pounded a nail into the wall to hand a print of a picture up, “It happened a month ago,”

“I know,” A.J. replied sullenly, “But god…if I’d been there just…ten minutes later, then it would have been me that was there when it happened. I…that would have completely destroyed me.”

“I know baby,” Jaime replied, standing on her toes to hang the picture, “But Kevin is okay…I mean…he’s alive.”

A.J. sighed, wondering why he was the only one still shaken by this and having nightmares. He knew that everybody cared just as much as he did about Kevin. He supposed that it was because they’d almost lost Kevin, and he still felt guilty about the terms he and his friend had ended under.

Suddenly, Jaime dropped the hammer she was holding, about to pound another hole in the wall, her eyes wide with shock.

“What is it?” A.J. asked, rushing to her side, wrapping an arm around her waist in concern. He stared into her eyes and could sense that something wasn’t right, “Jaime, what is it?” he asked again.”

“I think that my water just broke,” Jaime gasped, looking down and seeing a small puddle of water forming on the ground below her.

A.J’s eyes widened as he took in a deep breath. He didn’t know what to do beings this was his first time in this situation. He wasn’t ready quite yet. The baby wasn’t due for another three weeks. There was still a lot of preparing to do.

“A.J.” Jaime said in panic, “I’m having the baby.”

Doing the first thing he could think of, A.J. scooped Jaime off of her feet, carrying her down the stairs hurridly. He tripped over the last step, catching his balance at the last second.

“Careful,” Jaime scolded, “Do you want to kill us?”

A.J. didn’t say anything to Jaime’s sarcastic remark. He ran through the front door and out to the driveway to the car, opening the door and laying her gently in the back seat. He quickly ran back inside to grab his cell phone and sprinted outside again, locking the door and jumping into the drivers seat. He started the car and backed out with one hand, calling the doctor with the other. A.J. lifted the phone to his ear as the car lurched forward, speeding down the road towards the hospital where she would be going into labor at. Jaime had begun having contractions, attempting to do everything she had learned in her Lamaze classes. She could barley hear what A.J. was saying on the phone. Minutes later, A.J. hung up, carelessly tossing the phone into the front passenger seat next to him.

“Dr. Parker will be waiting for us at the hospital,” he told her gently, reaching back with one hand and rubbing her leg, hoping to comfort her.

Jaime just nodded in response, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to speak. This was it. She was about to have their baby. There was no reversing anything now. In just hours, their lives would be changed forever.

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Howie drummed his fingers on the table as he listened to the phone ring over and over again. It had been a long while since him and Danny had spoken and he wanted to catch up with things. With a sigh, Howie was about to hang up the phone when somebody finally answered, their breath heavy.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Danny,” Howie responded, “What’s up?”

“Oh, hey D. Not much. Just walked in the door. We all went to visit Tommy at his house.”

Howie was relieved to hear that Tommy was at home. That meant that for the most part, he was probably doing okay. If he wasn’t, he’d still be in the hospital or worse, unless put into a hospice program. He still had yet to hear any word of their break and what was going on with them on the news. Howie continued to wonder how they had done it.

“That’s great,” Howie answered, “Sorry I haven’t called in so long. Things have been hectic.”

“I hear ya,” Danny replied with a chuckle, “We’ve all lost track of time visiting with Tommy and accompanying him when he has chemo sessions.”

“Yeah,” Howie responded with longing in his voice, “Things have taken a turn for the worse with us.”

“Wow,” Danny said, “What happened? And how is Kevin doing these days? It’s been almost nine months since we’ve spoken.”

Howie paused, taking in a deep breath. He hadn’t really talked about Kevin outside of his group of friends, which included the guys, the three girls and Bluewave. He wasn’t sure how comfortable he was speaking of it around anybody else, but Danny had been a good friend to him. Howie sighed, contemplating how he was going to word what he wanted to say. He wanted to find the most delicate way possible to tell Danny what had happened.

“Kevin isn’t well at all,” he finally answered, “He’s worse off than he was before, actually.”

Danny let out a low whistle, not knowing quite what to say. Things with Tommy were better. He found it unfair that Kevin couldn’t have the same luck. Danny was sure that by now, the strong man he’d toured with for a couple of months would be walking again. By Howie’s response though, he was sure that he wasn’t.

“I’m sorry,” he stated, “Do you mind telling me what…I mean, what’s going on with him?”

Howie didn’t know what to say. What Kevin had gone through sounded harsh spoken out loud, but there really was no other way to put it. What had happened was unpleasant. There was no way to make it sound anything but.

“Kev was extremely depressed,” Howie started, “He couldn’t cope with being paralyzed. He was so down on himself and since he wasn’t making immediate progress with therapy, he was even more discouraged. About a month ago, he…he…” Howie began to choke on his words as emotion built up inside of him.

“He what?” Danny asked without thinking, then cringed when he realized that he was pushing the emotional man to speak.

“He tried to kill himself.”

“What?” Danny asked in disbelief

“He shot himself in the chest.” Howie said again, only with ease this time, “Anna found him…”

“Who’s Anna?” Danny interrupted. “Kevin’s girlfriend. Anyways, she found him. If she hadn’t when she did, god, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened.”

“I’m so sorry,” Danny softly stated, “What, I mean how, I mean is he…” he stuttered, not knowing the correct question to ask.

“He’s alive,” Howie informed him, knowing what the man was trying to get at, “He’s in a coma though. He fell into one when he arrived at the hospital. His heart stopped once, but they managed to bring him back, thank God.”

There were a few minutes of complete silence. Danny didn’t know how to reply to the incident. Howie didn’t know what else to say either. It was a sensitive subject for him and had definitely struck a soft spot in him.

“Is there anything that any of us can do?” Danny finally asked, “We can come down there for a few days or…whatever you need.”

Howie shook his head as he answered, “No,” then paused, “If you want to visit, you’re more than welcome to, but, honestly, nothing can be done as of yet. We’re all just waiting for him to wake up.”

“I understand. Actually, Tommy shouldn’t leave, since his chemo is right here. We don’t want to leave him. If you need anything at all though, don’t hesitate to call us, okay?”

“Okay,” Howie agreed, “Same goes for you.”

“I think we have everything under control here,” Danny laughed, “I gotta go though. I’ll call soon.”

“Okay,” Howie responded, “Sounds fair. Talk to ya later.”

“Yep, later.” Danny replied.

Howie hung up the phone. He was happy that things with Tommy were going good. It made him glad that at least one of them was having good luck. He wondered though when Kevin’s turn for having the luck would come. So far, in the past year now, almost, he’d had nothing but bad.

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Brian walked slowly into the ICU where Kevin was still stationed. He’d been there so much lately that he felt he could probably find it blindfolded without a problem. He sighed, walking freely into the room as if he owned the place. His cousin was in there, after all. Every time he went to visit Kevin, Brian begun to have panic attacks at the thought of his heart stopping again with him right there with him. But before anything could happen, Brian always managed to calm himself down. Nothing had happened in a month now. Nothing would. He had to stay positive of that, for his sake as well as Kevin’s.

Before he knew it, Brian had reached his cousin. He sighed. For some reason, he was really depressed that day and down on things. He didn’t know why either. He felt so guilty for what had happened with Kevin’s girlfriend still. He hated keeping it all inside. He wondered if somehow, somewhere, Kevin knew though. Part of him hoped that he did, but part didn’t. He knew Kevin. He would take it partly out on Anna, and she hadn’t wanted anything to do with it. She had been caught in the middle of something at a
vulnerable moment for him. If it had been Stephanie or Jaime, he would have done the same thing to them. He was sure of that.

“Hey, Kev,” Brian said softly, hoping that if Kevin could by some chance hear him, that he wouldn’t catch the sadness in his voice. It wouldn’t help him any, “How’s it going?”

He closed his eyes and winced as he drew in a deep breath. It physically and emotionally pained him to watch the person who was so close to him lye there completely unresponsive. “Man, I wish you’d snap out of that damn coma you’re in,” Brian laughed nervously, unsure of what to say. He felt like he was talking to himself. It felt weird to be speaking to somebody without getting answers in response, “We all miss you so much. It’s not the same without you really being here. Nothing is.”

Looking around the room, Brian tried to think of something else to say. Something else that was supportive. He suddenly remembered that Dr. Newton had told all of them that Kevin could in fact hear every word people said to him. He’d also said that with support and encouragement from people he cared about, it would better his chances of waking up from the coma sooner.

“Bluewave has come by a few times to check on you,” he told him, “They’re really concerned and worried. You wouldn’t believe how great they are. They’re here for you. We all are. Remember that.”

Brian chewed on the inside of his lip. He wanted to tell Kevin about what happened so badly. He wanted to get if off of his chest. He knew that he would feel better if he told somebody. So far, he hadn’t told anyone. He knew that the other guys would give him grief for it and criticize him for it telling him what he already knew. That what he’d done was wrong. He didn’t want to deal with that. Taking a deep breath, looking around the room to make sure he was definitely alone to avoid somebody overhearing, Brian decided to spill.

“Listen, Kev,” he started, “The only reason I’m telling you this is because you’re asleep. If you were awake and could respond, God knows there would be no way you’d ever hear this from me. Anyways, when you were first brought here, well, Anna and I talked about how we were feeling. It was really emotional for us, and, well, I guess I got caught up in it all. Something happened, and well, it’s not her fault at all. She tried to push me away. See, I kind of kissed her.”

Brian stopped, looking down at the peaceful friend of his. He already felt better for saying the words out loud for the first time. He knew though, that he still wouldn’t be able to be near Anna, even with his troubled thoughts out now.

“I’m really sorry Kev,” Brian stated, “I…I didn’t even realize that I was doing it until she jerked away. It even took a moment then to fully comprehend what I’d done. If you hear this, and wake up and remember, please don’t take it out on her. Please realize that I wasn’t in the right state of mind.”

Brian sighed. Who was he kidding? Sure, he felt a little better. He knew, though, that to feel completely free of the burden he’d brought upon himself, that he’d have to talk to somebody who could talk back. Someone who wouldn’t take sides. The question was, who would that be? The guys all knew that Kevin and Anna were together. Of course they’d take Kevin or Anna’s side. They wouldn’t really care if Brian had lost his mind or not. Bluewave probably would too, just because he’d done it with Kevin in a coma and they knew that him and Anna were together. Stephanie would be sarcastic and who knows what she would do to him. The thought of her threatening to use her baseball bat on Kristin when they’d first met stuck out in his mind. No, she definitely wasn’t the person to talk to about passionately kissing one of her best friends the girlfriend of one of his best friends, and worse yet, family members. That left one person. Jaime. Brian said goodbye to Kevin and went out to search for her. He just hoped that she would be reasonable. If not, then he was out of luck.
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Anna walked through the sliding glass doors of the hospital and headed toward the elevator. She missed Kevin and had in intense longing to be near him again for the second time that day. She couldn’t get enough of being near him since his heart had stopped momentarily weeks before. The incident had scared her because she had been holding his hand when it had happened. The fact that he’d been brought back to life though told her that he wasn’t ready to give up. Anna drew in a shaky breath, remembering the horror of it all. Every time she visited Kevin, the fear of it happening again overcame her. Every time she left, she breathed a sigh of relief that he was still breathing on his own.

Stepping onto the chrome elevator, Anna pressed the button, which would lead her to the sixth floor, to Kevin. There were two doctors inside with her conversing about a burn victim. By the way they were talking, it sounded serious. She hoped that whoever it was would turn out okay, for the sake of saving the family and friends grief. The doors opened on the forth floor and the two men stepped out, leaving Anna alone. They closed again and ventured upward two more floors. As soon as they opened, Anna was out. She hated elevators with a passion.

Power walking towards the ICU, she saw Brian walking out. They glanced at one another for a split second before Brian looked towards the ground to avoid making eye contact as they passed. Anna sighed. It had been like that between them ever since he’d kissed her a month earlier. She hated the feeling. It was uncomfortable and awkward. She wanted them to be friends. Stopping in her tracks, Anna decided to try and put an end to it.

“Brian,” she called, turning around to see him slipping around a corner. It appeared that he wasn’t going to stop, “Brian,” she yelled again, running after him.

As she rounded the corner, she saw him anxiously awaiting the elevator doors to open. Sprinting at him, she reached him just on time as they slid open.

“Brian,” she called out.

Brian glanced at her as he proceeded to step inside, but Anna grabbed his arm, pulling him out. He lost his balance slightly, but caught it as the doors closed without him inside the elevator to take him away to safety. He was trapped now.

“You’re going to talk to me,” Anna demanded, placing her hands on her hips, “I’m sick of these hide and seek games.”

Brian looked past her and she wondered why he wouldn’t even look at her. If anything, she should be the one avoiding him.

“So,” Anna said, taking him by the arm and leading him into the waiting room. She pushed him onto a chair, “Tell me, why are you avoiding me? What the fuck did I ever do to you?”

Brian adverted his gaze away from Anna again. He didn’t do anything for a long moment. When he did, his answer was just a small shrug of his shoulders. Anna groaned, rolling her eyes. It was going to be like pulling teeth trying to get Brian to talk to her. She wouldn’t leave him alone until he did though.

“Answer me,” Anna nearly yelled, “I’m sick of this. My boyfriend is still in a coma after fucking shooting himself because of depression from being paralyzed, which would have never happened if I’d have just gone out with him in the first place. You’re avoiding me with every chance that we’re around one another. I’m stressing out over all of this shit. Just be a decent human being and talk to me.”

Anna was crying visibly, her body shaking. She didn’t know what was wrong with her, or even why she cared so much. She did though, and it had nothing to do with the fact that she liked him as more than a friend. Brian stared at her as she broke down into sobs. He felt bad, but didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, just so he’d have said something, “I…I don’t know how to act since what happened. It’s just…weird.”

“No shit,” Anna spat sarcastically, “But I’m managing to act normal. Believe me, all of this is really hard on me. I’m probably harming myself by not showing how I’m feeling. I’m trying to stay composed, but inside, I’m a complete mess.”

Brian nodded. He could relate. He was glad that Kevin was alive, but to him, that wasn’t good enough. He wanted Kevin to be awake too. He personally didn’t care if they never toured again as long as Kevin woke up.

“Just act the way that you used to,” Anna said in frustration, “I’m trying to, and guess what? It’s working.”

“I can’t,” Brian said quietly, “I…I can’t do that.”

Anna let out a low growl. At that moment, having Stephanie’s wit, sarcasm and brilliant comebacks would be useful to her. She didn’t know what to say though and Brian wasn’t making things any easier.

“Every time I look at you, I remember what I did,” Brian said, “And I’m ashamed of it. I’m embarrassed. I wish that I could forget all of it.”

Anna looked thoughtful. His comment had struck up an idea in her. She wasn’t sure if she would tell him or not, but it would definitely help him to forget and make things easier and cause less tension between everyone. If all she had to do was worry about Kevin, then that would be great and she’d have one of her friends back.

“What?” Brian asked, knowing that the wheels were turning up in her head, “What’s your idea?”

“Wellll,” Anna said, her voice trailing off. She was almost positive that Brian would never try her suggestion.

“I’ll try anything,” He pleaded, “Tell me what it is. I’m a miserable person and it will help both of us.”

“I was thinking that maybe,” Anna begun, “And don’t say I’m crazy, but if you were hypnotized…”

“Are you out of your mind?” Brian asked her incredulously, cutting the girl off, “What…I mean, hypnotized? Isn’t that dangerous?”

“No,” Anna said, “It’s completely safe. And, you can have it done so that the only thing effective is your memory of you kissing me.”

Brian’s eyes widened in panic as he looked around, whipping his head from side to side violently.

“Shhh,” he scolded, still watching his surroundings wearily, “Not so loud.”

Anna laughed at his paranoia. It wasn’t as if anybody actually cared about what they were talking about. Whoever was in the area was going about their own business, not paying the least bit of attention to them.

Brian didn’t exactly like her idea. He’d seen what it did to people on TV. While he was put to sleep, whoever hypnotist could do whatever he wanted to mess with his mind and how he acted.

“It’s just a thought,” Anna told him, “I mean, it’s the only thing that will work besides giving yourself amnesia.”

“Fine,” Brian sighed, “I’ll check in to it tomorrow.”

If he was going to do it, then he would no longer need to talk to Jaime about the incident. He wouldn’t have any memory of anything to do with it anyways in a few days. He still felt uncomfortable being around Anna. He was happy to know that would change also.

“Well,” Brian said, shifting from foot to foot, “I gotta go. I’ll talk to ya later and let you know what’s going on with me being brain washed.”

Anna waved, as Brian bolted from her. She shook her head, laughing quietly. So far, nothing had changed. Hopefully, her suggestion would work. She’d hate to be blamed for something going wrong. Something told her though that things would go better than she thought though.
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“What are the plans for today?” Stephanie asked Nick, looking up from the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. That month’s issue had nude journalists. She figured that if she didn’t pay attention to Nick, she just might go to find the men taking up four whole pages. They looked delicious.

“I dunno,” Nick answered, not taking his eyes off of the football game that was on TV, “Go to a movie, I guess.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes. She wondered if Nick had even really heard her question or just answered subconsciously. He was absolutely no help when it came to watching sports.

“Okay then,” she replied sarcastically, “We’ll go whenever the last three quarters of the game are over.”

Nick looked up at her blankly telling her that her hypothesis was correct. He really hadn’t been listening to a word she’d said. She shook her head in disgust. Men were pathetic pigs.

“Huh?” Nick asked, proving her point even more.

“I asked what you wanted to do today,” she informed him, “I mean, we hardly ever go out together. I thought we could today.”

Nick shrugged, looking back at the TV, “It doesn’t matter, babe,” he answered, “You choose. As long as I’m with you, I’ll be happy.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes at his line. Sure, he was sweet, but he could be a little more original. She wasn’t sure if he had the brain capacity to think up something on his own though.

“Well, are you going to get off of your ass so we can go out?” she asked him.

Nick looked at her, “Oh, uh, yeah,” he responded, “After this play.”

Stephanie plopped down on the couch, crossing her arms. One play would mean five minutes. She watched the game half-heartedly. Minutes later, the play was over and Nick was yelling at the TV. She guessed that something had happened that hadn’t made him too happy. Standing up, Nick turned off the TV, surprising her. He really had meant it when he’d told her only one last play.

“Okay,” he said, “Let me grab my wallet and lets go.”

He ran into the kitchen to grab his wallet and ran back out to join Stephanie when the phone ran.

“Let me get that real quick,” Nick said, grabbing the phone and bringing it to his ear, “Hello?”

There was silence on the other end as Stephanie watched his face turn into one of shock and disbelief.

“What’s wrong?” she asked and Nick held up a finger to his lips telling her to be quiet for a minute while he spoke to whoever it was?

There was a moment of silence and Stephanie was getting impatient wondering who was on the other line. She hoped that whoever it was wasn’t delivering bad news. By the look on his face, she wasn’t so sure.

“Wow, I haven’t heard from you in so long,” Nick finally said, running a hand through his blonde hair. A small, unsure smile formed on his lips, “What’s been up with you lately?”

Stephanie couldn’t stand the anxiety of wondering whom he was talking to. She kept trying to put her head up to the phone to listen in and try to figure it out. Nick kept pulling away though giving her disapproving looks.

“That’s awesome,” Nick replied to something the mystery person said, “Yeah, yeah. Everything is good here,”

There was a pause. Stephanie folded her arms across her chest. She wished that Nick would hurry up and get off of the phone. They had places to go.

“Oh, yeah,” she heard Nick say, “That hasn’t exactly been good. That’s not all of it though…Sure, I guess that would be aight.” Stephanie rolled her eyes and begun tapping her foot. Nick held up his finger telling her that he was almost done. She sighed loudly in disgust as she plopped down onto a chair. She started playing with the fringe off of a placemat to entertain herself while Nick kept her waiting.

“Sure, okay,” Nick said, “Okay. You too, I guess...Yeah, bye.”

Nick clicked the phone off and threw it onto the counter. Stephanie looked up at him, anger in her eyes. Nick still looked stunned. Taking a deep breath, he smiled brightly at her.

“Ready to go?”

“Who was that?” Stephanie asked, getting right to the point as she stood up.

“An old f…not really a fri…somebody I haven’t talked to in a few years.” Nick stuttered. He didn’t know exactly what to call the person who’d called.

“Oh?” Stephanie asked, raising an eyebrow, as she looked into her purse to pull out some chapstick, “Does this person have a name? I mean, most people kind of do.”

“Amanda,” Nick replied casually, “Most people know her by Willa though.”

Stephanie’s eyes shot up at Nick, fire blazing in them, “What the fuck does that bitch want?” was the first thing out of her mouth.

Nick laughed, “I…I don’t know. I haven’t spoken with her since we broke up. It came as a shock to me.”

“She wants something,” Stephanie said knowingly, “She’s up to no good at all. I know it. I’m always right too.”

“Probably,” Nick admitted, “C’mon. Let’s go.”

Stephanie shook her head, “Uh-uh. No. That whore hurt you really badly a few years ago. I don’t want you speaking to her. She’s capable of anything.”

Nick chuckled at the fact that his small girlfriend was trying to protect him from his ex girlfriend. He found it sweet. To be honest though, he wasn’t so sure that it was a bad idea.

“Okay,” Nick agreed, “She called to mainly say that she heard about Kevin being paralyzed and that she was sorry about it.”

Stephanie rolled her eyes and grunted. She didn’t even know the woman, but she found it typical of her to do something so low as to use Kevin’s accident as an excuse to get back to Nick.

“What,” Nick asked, confusing in his eyes. Stephanie also found the confused look typical for Nick.

“Nicky, Kevin’s accident happened almost nine months ago now.” Stephanie said, “Don’t you find it a bit odd that she’s calling about it now. That bitch wants something from you.”

Nick’s eyes widened. He hadn’t really thought about that. Stephanie brought out a good point. And the second thing that Kevin had done hadn’t gone public. Very few knew about it. Willa was excluded from those few. So why was she calling almost a year later?

“You worry me,” Stephanie said, shaking her head, “Use your brain for these things, okay? Now lets get the hell out of here.”

Nick nodded, slightly hurt by her comment. He decided to leave out one small detail. Willa was coming over in two days to talk with him and catch up. He’d be sure to tell her that he didn’t want to talk to her ever again. He could see now that she was up to no good. He wondered how he could have been so blind to her sneaky ways. He knew that he would have to find a way to get Stephanie out of the house for a short time while she was there or else things would not end well. Especially not for him for lying about not speaking to her ever again. As far as he was concerned though, he wouldn’t after this one time. After all, nothing would happen except for small talk. How hard could it be to get away with it?
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Sweat beaded Jaime’s forehead as her contractions grew closer and closer together. A.J. rushed up to her side, grabbing her hand and squeezing it lightly.

“I just called everyone. They’re on their way,” he informed her, and she just nodded, “You’re doing great, babe.”

“I just want this thing out of me,” she breathed heavily, “God, this is beginning to really suck.”

A.J. laughed lightly. If he could, he’d trade places with her at that moment. She looked to be in complete discomfort. He hated seeing his girl that way. A nurse walked into the delivery room to check on Jaime.

“You’re ready,” she informed her, “The doctor isn’t here yet. He’s running a little behind. Would you like an epidural or go natural? We can get that out of the way in case he doesn’t make it. Our team knows what they’re doing without Dr. Parker here. Don’t worry. You’re in good hands.”

Jaime’s eyes widened. Was this woman serious? Why would anybody in their right mind want to go natural? And why was she talking so much? She found the woman’s perkiness to be a little out of place.

“Epidural,” she whispered out.

The nurse drew out a long needle and A.J stared at it for a long moment in disbelief. He didn’t want them to stick his girlfriend with it. He didn’t want them to hurt her. The needle looked like it would.

“Um, do you have anything smaller?” A.J. asked her nervously.

He looked down at Jaime. She wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to what was going on. She was completely oblivious to the size of the needle that the nurse was going to inject into her spine.

Then nurse laughed, “I’m sorry sir, but no.” she saw the worry in his eyes, “Don’t worry. Jaime won’t feel a thing. Believe me, this is the least of her worries.”

A.J. looked skeptical. He winced as he watched the nurse inject the six-inch needle into Jaime’s lower spine. He knew that within minutes, she wouldn’t be able to feel a thing.

“Sorry I’m late,” Dr. Parker yelled, rushing into the delivery room as he slid on rubber gloves, “Was with a patient upstairs.”

Jaime didn’t care where the hell he was. She just wanted to get this over with. She was in discomfort. Her contractions were extremely close, and from what the nurse had said, she was definitely ready. Pain started to shoot through her. A.J. could tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t enjoying herself. He didn’t let go of her hand at all.

“It’s going to be okay, honey,” he told her, “Don’t worry. I’m right here next you you.”

“Okay, Jaime,” Dr. Parker said, lifting up her
hospital gown and exposing her to the team of nurses, “I want you to push.”

Jaime did as told, tears running down her cheeks. She screamed in pain, wondering how long this would take. She’d already been at the hospital for eight hours having contractions. She hoped that this would be the quick part.

“Push harder next time,” Dr. Parker coached her.

Jaime pushed as hard as she could, screaming in agony. She was choking on her tears now.

“It’s okay baby,” A.J. told her, “I love you. I’m right here. I love you so much.”

Jaime turned her head to the side, “You can rot in hell,” she growled, “You did this to me, you bastard.”

A.J. drew back in astonishment at her words. They’d hurt his feelings a lot. He wondered what he’d done wrong. All he was trying to do was support her and she didn’t even appriciate it.

“Don’t worry,” a nurse said, coming up next to him, “That’s quite common, actually. When the delivery is done, she won’t remember a word she said to you.

A.J. offered a smile. He sure as hell hoped not. He wouldn’t forget the things she’d said to him though. He knew that there was more to come.

“I can see the head,” the doctor said, “C’mon Jaime, keep pushing.”

A.J. watched, not letting go of Jaime once. He could see the top of his child’s head. Excitement shot through his entire body like jolts of electricity.

“Harder, Jaime,” Dr. Parker coached, “You’re doing wonderful.”

Jaime cried out as she dug her nails into A.J’s hand. He winced in pain, but didn’t let it bother him. He knew that she was going though so much worse. A sudden thought came to him though. Why was she in so much pain? Shouldn’t the epidural have kicked in by now?

“I hate you, you fucking bastard,” Jaime screeched, her voice demonic, “You should have stayed away. Me and the baby would have been better off without you.”

A single tear slid down A.J’s cheek. Her words had been harsh, cutting through him like dagars. He wondered if she meant that part. A.J. watched as more tears fell. He watched as more and more of his child was exposed. More tears started to fall. The rest of the delivery went by in a blur. A.J. didn’t remember hearing anything clearly. He’d heard noises, but it had sounded muffled. He watched as the babies arms came out, then its torso, lastly its legs. Tears of hurt as well as joy came down his face. As soon as the baby was completely free, he snapped back into reality.

“It’s all over, Jaime,” Dr. Parker told her, “Great job.”

Jaime breathed a heavy sigh of relief, a smile settling on her face. Sweat glistened from her forehead. She slumped back in exhaustion. She didn’t have any clue that going into labor would be so much work or take so much out of her. A nurse took the baby from his hands and wrapped it in a blanket. Jaime reached her arms out for the baby and the nurse gently placed it in Jaime’s arms. A.J. went up by her side, wrapping one arm around her, and gently touching his baby with his other hand, smiling at the sight of his very own child. It had wisps of thin, dark brown fuzz covering its head. He couldn’t look at Jaime though without completely breaking down though. He was wondering if Jaime’s words were true and they would be better off without him in their lives. A.J. could hear Jaime sobbing lightly from tears of happiness. Sighing, A.J. wiped his own tears of grief away for the time being and smiled as he looked down at his beautiful baby girl.
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