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Alissa was in severe pain and she had no idea what was going on. She wasn’t sure where she was or why she was there. Afraid and in pain, she tried to curl up and protect herself but there were people all around poking and prodding her. Finally, the pain started to numb and she felt her body relax. She still had no idea what was going on and she seemed to slip off into unconsciousness for a bit.


Everyone jumped up when the doctor came out.


“What happened? How is she? Where is she? Can I see her?” AJ rambled on, not taking a breath.


The doctor shook his head. “Not yet. Are you family?”


Denise explained that AJ was the baby’s father and that Alissa’s cousin was out of town.  They were the closest thing to family she had at the moment.


The doctor paused and then began to explain. “Ms. Emerson seems to have developed a severe case of toxemia. She needs…”


AJ cut him off. “What’s toxemia?”


“Toxemia is a dangerous medical condition that can harm the baby and the mother. Her blood pressure is extremely elevated and we needed to sedate her to see if we could bring it down.”


“Why didn’t someone see this earlier?” AJ asked angrily.


“Sometimes women can have very mild symptoms and they can usually mimic other things.”


“What’s going to happen?” Denise asked.


“Well, we’re going to have to keep her here for a few days. If we can get the symptoms under control, she will need to be on strict bed rest until the baby is born….”


“What happens if you can’t?”


“Then she will remain here and we will need to deliver the baby immediately.”


Everyone was stunned and no one spoke for a few minutes. Denise finally asked if they could see her and the doctor said that they would have to wait until the morning. She was being taken to a room and they needed to keep her calm.


“I am not leaving her here by herself!” AJ yelled. “She had no idea what was going on. If we leave her alone, what happens if she wakes up and panics? That’s not happening!”


The doctor looked at him sternly. “Well you definitely can’t stay. You are far too agitated and…”


AJ was about to yell again when Denise asked calmly if she could stay instead. She pleaded with the doctor to let her be there just in case.


The doctor went and spoke to the nurses. They agreed that Denise could stay but no one else would be allowed in. He then left to go check on Alissa.


“I’m not leaving!” AJ yelled.


Nick grabbed him by the shoulders. “Yes you are. Your mom is going to stay and keep an eye on Alissa. You can stay at my place tonight and she’ll call if anything changes or you need to come back.”


Denise nodded. “Honey, this isn’t the best place for you to be right now. You need to go back to Nick’s and try to sleep. Come back here in the morning and we’ll figure out what’s going on. I promise not to let her out of my sight.”




“No buts AJ.” his mother said firmly. “Go home and come back in the morning. I love you.”


Denise left with the nurse to go find Alissa. The guys had to drag AJ out of the hospital and into Nick’s car. Kevin would bring AJ’s truck to Nick’s and then catch a ride home with Brian.


They finally got AJ settled into Nick’s and the guys took off. AJ just sat on the couch staring off into space. His shoulders were slumped down and he looked like he hadn’t slept in months. Nick was afraid to say anything but he wanted him to know he was there.  He pulled a chair over into AJ’s line of vision.


“Hey J. What do you need me to do? I’ll do whatever I can to help you.”


AJ sat there for a few minutes. “Can you turn back time?” His eyes stared to fill with tears.


Nick shook his head. “That’s one thing I can’t do J.”


AJ started to cry. “I fucked up so badly! I walked out on Alissa and my baby because of my stupid issues and dumbass reasons. I’ve spent months ignoring her and haven’t been there for anything. I could have lost both of them tonight!”


“But you didn’t J. They’re ok.”


“For now.” AJ said sadly.


“Take that and run with it. You have a second chance now to fix things and try to make up for all the shit you pulled. Not many people have that opportunity. Don’t screw it up again J.” Nick warned him.


AJ looked at him. “I won’t.” he promised.