Prologue

“Come on, Rachel. Push!” Dr. Reed said to a very pregnant Rachel Smith.

“It hurts,” she panted. She had been in labor for what seemed like hours.

Brian Littrell stroked his girlfriend’s sweaty hair. “You can do it, sweetie,” he said, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.

“I… I can’t,” she said weakly.

Rachel’s eyes closed and her body went limp. The heart monitor connected to her started to flat line. Brian was scared but wouldn’t let go of her hand.

“Vitals are crashing!” a nurse called out.

“What’s happening?” Brian demanded as a male nurse tried to pull him away from Rachel.

“You have to leave now, sir,” the nurse told him.

“No! What’s wrong with Rachel?” Brian demanded again while a team of doctors and nurses worked on his girlfriend.

Dr. Reed looked up at two male nurses. “Get him out of here!”

Brian struggled as the nurses escorted him out of the delivery room and into the waiting room. He slumped down in a chair and tried to calm himself after being told he’d be given a sedative if he didn’t. Brian looked around the waiting room. It was dreary and depressing with bleak white walls. He hated hospitals. He had spent too much of his young life in one for his heart condition, but that was completely different. He was there awaiting news on the condition of someone he loved dearly. Brian had never been so scared in his life. He knew something was terribly wrong and it really made him mad that no one would tell him anything. There was nothing left for Brian to do but pray for Rachel and his baby.

After what seemed like a lifetime, Dr. Reed emerged from the delivery room. He walked over to Brian with a somber look on his face. Brian stood up. “How’s Rachel?” he asked. Yet somehow, he already knew the answer.

“I’m sorry, Brian. The stress of the labor was too much for her. Her heart stopped and we couldn’t bring her back. I am truly sorry.”

Brian stood looking at the doctor, blinking back his tears. He didn’t want to believe what he had just heard. Rachel couldn’t be dead. She was so full of life, so young…barely twenty, a few months younger than him. A thought suddenly hit him. “What about the baby?”

“The baby is fine. We had to perform an emergency cesarean section to get her out, but she’s perfectly healthy.”

“I have a daughter?” Brian asked softy. Dr. Reed nodded. “Can I see her?”

“Of course. Follow me.”

Brian followed the doctor down the hall to the nursery. It was a large room decorated in pastel colors. There were three rows of four cribs in the middle of the room. Along the side walls were the incubators and other medical equipment.

Dr. Reed led Brian to the corner crib. It had a name tag on it that read Baby Littrell. Brian looked down at his baby daughter. She was wrapped in a little pink blanket. He smiled through the tears that had formed in his eyes.

“Can I hold her?” Brian asked. Dr. Reed nodded. Brian bent down and carefully picked up his daughter. “She’s beautiful,” he said softly, looking at her head full of strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. “Hey little one, I’m your daddy.” She looked at him and yawned. “I wish your mommy could be here to see you…” his voice trailed off as he started to cry. He softly kissed her head and carefully laid her back in the crib.

“Have you picked a name yet?” Dr. Reed asked.

“Yeah…Caitlin Angeline,” Brian answered.

The doctor nodded. “I’ll get that on the birth certificate,” he said, writing it down. “We’ve checked Caitlin over and she’s perfectly healthy. You can take her home with you tonight if you’d like. There’s no reason to keep her here.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Brian said, looking at Caitlin.

“I really am sorry about Rachel,” Dr. Reed said. Brian just nodded.