Kayce slid deeper into the warm sudsy water that filled the large bathtub. She closed her eyes and released her breath slowly, the tension in her body leaving with it. It was only early afternoon and she already had a busy day.
She let the temperature of the water relax her further as she remembered the events of yesterday. A smile grew on her face as she recalled her best friend’s wedding. Sara had wed Lieutenant Stephens here at the ranch. The small ceremony took place beside the lake in the bright summer sun. Kayce stood as the maid of honor and Sara took everyone’s breath away with her beauty. Lt. Stephens, in his Naval dress blues looked dashing. Kyle even stood in as ring bearer, looking handsome in his little blue suit and tie.
The fifty guests enjoyed the casual celebration and when the time came for it to end Sara and Silver thanked everyone, especially the Austin’s for the use of their property and all their help. Before leaving Silver was helping Kayce put things away in the kitchen. It was the only chance he had all day to speak with her privately and he took the opportunity.
A grin grew on Kayce’s face at the memory of that conversation.
“I’m so happy for you lieutenant.”
“Thanks Kayce. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you introducing us.”
“Well I’m glad things worked out as well as they did. I certainly didn’t expect her to be the ‘one’.”
Silver gave her a charming smile. “Yeah, me neither. I thought she was just going to help me get over someone else.”
Kayce returned his smile with a brilliant one of her own, knowing he was referring to her and he was glad she knew without him coming right out and saying it.
“I’m sure the other woman will never forget what you meant to her or the pain she caused you.”
Silver suddenly broke eye contact and looked at his shiny black shoes, his hands in his pockets while he leaned against the refrigerator. He had gotten over the heartache of Kayce already being married when he met her, long before he met her for that matter. He was glad, after many trips to Ojai to visit Sara that Kayce had become a very good friend. Seeing her interact with Kyle and Steve helped him to heal and allowed him to fall in love with the beautiful woman he just married.
Sara was a tall, slender but toned, brunette with chocolate brown eyes. Although in looks she and Kayce were very different their personalities were very similar. The two women were smart, direct, independent and fun. Kayce was right when she said they would hit it off and boy did they, within 3 months they were engaged and now, 6 months since their first date, they were married.
He looked up at her smiling at him. She wanted to convey to him that there was no reason to feel awkward. His expression was serious realizing she held onto some guilt for not being able to return his affection, at least in the manner he had wished.
“Kayce I never meant for you to fell guilty over…. Well you know.”
She stepped close to him and briefly placed her hand on his cheek. “I know. I just hated being the source of your disappointment. I always thought you were kind, sweet… and handsome.” Silver immediately began to blush and Kayce giggled. “I adore my husband but if I had met you 5 years earlier…. I don’t know….. I think sparks would have flown.”
Steve had come into the kitchen at that moment. “Sparks fly from what?” he asked getting a glass of water.
Silver shared a glance at Kayce assuming she would skirt the question. He was horrified when she answered the Colonel’s question.
“Sparks from my torrid love affair with the lieutenant here.” She slid her arm in his and snuggled into him.
Steve’s glass of water stopped half way to his mouth on which hung a lopsided grin at the shocked expression on Silver’s face, his eyes as wide as saucers.
“Are you referring to the previous love affair or the one you are planning?” He winked at his wife and she laughed. The couple could hear Silver’s audible sigh at their joking. He grinned and responded, “I think I hear my wife calling me. Excuse me.” Steve and Kayce were still chuckling as he made his escape.
Sinking deeper into the water the young woman, still smiling, finished her bath.
Stepping into the hallway Steve quietly closed the door to his son’s room with a lopsided grin on his face. His four-year-old was so excited about their trip to Washington that he talked about it non-stop during lunch. Steve didn’t think the boy would ever settle down enough to take his afternoon nap.
The former astronaut was busy lying out his clothes on the bed when Kayce entered, a thick, terry cloth rode keeping her warm. She stepped to the mirrored dresser and pulled the towel that sat atop her head, her blonde hair falling to her shoulders. Her husband stared at her moving gracefully despite being almost eight months pregnant. She never did show that much during her previous pregnancy nor did it slow her down.
Taking steps to stand behind her his strong arms wrapped around her small belly. “Did you enjoy your bath?” He asked with all sincerity.
“As a matter of fact I did.” She clasped her hands over his and leaned against his strong frame. “Did Kyle go to sleep?”
“Yep.” He eyed her through the mirror, his head next to hers.
“Well I at least got his clothes washed and packed this morning. Did you get the patio cleaned up from last night?”
“All done and the lunch dishes are done…. And I folded the last load of laundry.” He enjoyed seeing her bestow a grateful smile on him. “So I think you have time to lie down for awhile. We don’t need to be at the base until 7:00 tonight.” He saw her contented smile drop. “What’s the matter?”
“I just wish I could have this baby here in California with Dr. Connelly. I know Rudy found a great Obstetrician but it’s not the same.”
“I know and I’m sorry.” She turned in his arms so they could face one another. “Unfortunately Rudy has to remain in Washington to complete the satellite upgrades and I need to be there for the endless stream of meetings to get the thing off the ground. I’m just glad your doctor gave you permission to fly on a private jet to Washington with me. I don’t want to miss the birth of my daughter.”
Kayce grinned and asked, “And what makes you think this is going to be a girl?”
He shrugged. “I’m the Dad; I just know that’s all.”
“Oh really. Well I’ll have you know, as the Mom who has been carrying this one around for the past 30 weeks, I say it’s a boy….” Her arms went around Steve’s neck. “Just like the little one down the hall.”
The right edge of the thin lips curled up and a brow rose at her assertion. “You mean the little one down the hall who is sound asleep and will be for at least the next hour?”
Kayce nodded as her husband’s hands rubbed her back. “I guess I should lie down for awhile.”
“Maybe I should join you.” He leaned down and tenderly kissed her lips. She pulled him closer, deepening his affectionate kiss with enthusiasm. Suddenly she felt herself swept off her feet and gently placed on the bed. Steve lay beside her while kissing the still damp skin of her neck. His hand slowly undid the sash of her robe before peeling the fabric away from her tan body.
His left hand came to rest tenderly on her protruding belly and Kayce’s right hand moved on top if his. She watched as he pulled back and let his eyes wander across her naked form. He whispered softly. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
“Even pregnant?” She asked in all seriousness.
“Especially when you’re pregnant.” He leaned down and claimed her lips once again and the two lovers enjoyed a whole hour of private time.
They were lying comfortably snuggled together when there was a small but determined knock on the lower half of the bedroom door. The couple shared a muffled laugh at the little voice on the other side. “Mommy, are you and Daddy taking a nap too?”
Steve gracefully slid off the bed and quickly pulled on his pants while Kayce just retied her robe. Opening the door Steve grinned at the little tyke looking up at him with big blue eyes. “Is it time to go on the airplane yet?”
Steve stood before to tow headed boy with a suppressed smile at the small suitcase he had with him. “No Kyle we still have awhile yet.”
“How much awhile do we have?”
Steve knelt down and placed a hand on his son’s shoulder. “We won’t be leaving until after dinner.” The angelic face fell at the news. “How about we let Mommy get some rest while we get dinner ready?”
“Okay.” The disappointed toddler began dragging his suitcase with both hands when Steve quickly grabbed it. “How about I put this with mine so we don’t forget it? Did you pack your favorite toys?”
The boy gave his Dad an anxious look realizing he hadn’t done that yet. “Go and get your toys and we’ll put them in a bag okay?” The blonde head nodded and ran down the hall towards the family room. Steve voice called out behind him. “And don’t take everything!”
Steve turned and saw Kayce pulling on her maternity clothes. “I thought you were resting?”
“I am rested and very relaxed I might add thanks to you. I’ll rest again on the plane.” She began throwing her clothes next to Steve’s on the bed. “Besides I don’t trust you two in the kitchen.”
Steve gave her an exaggerated hurt expression. “Why not?”
She laughed, “Because I don’t want peanut butter, chocolate chip, raisin pancakes with macaroni and cheese for dinner.”
Steve smiled knowing she was referring to her Mother’s Day dinner. Although she greatly appreciated the effort Steve knew he should not have had their son choose the menu. “Point taken. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
The first full day in Washington included Steve attending a day long meeting and Kayce trying to keep Kyle entertained at their three bedroom townhouse. Most of the mother-son time was spent at a nearby park with Kayce keeping close eye on the clouds building in the sky. At 4:00 she and Kyle went to meet Steve at the OSI building.
After visiting Rudy and Linda in the lab the two headed to Oscar’s office just as the meeting was concluded. The tall and short blondes were in the waiting area when Steve exited the director’s office. He smiled at the sight of his family.
“Ready to go home? Kayce asked after giving her handsome husband a kiss. “It’s going to start raining soon.”
“We can but I was kind of hoping to take my wife to her favorite restaurant for dinner.”
The feminine blue eyes lit up at the offer. “Really? What about Kyle?” The little boy was getting off a chair. Before Steve could reply Kyle excitedly answered, seeing her coming through the glass doors. “Miss Cassie!” The toddler was scooped up off the floor.
“Hey handsome.” Her tickle brought forth infectious giggling from Kyle. “How about I take you home? We can get some pizza and have some fun.”
Kyle looked at his parents, their arms around one another. “Can I Dad?”
Steve looked at his pretty wife and back again. “I think that would be fine.” Kayce added quickly, “As long as you behave and mind your manners.”
“I will.” Kyle responded with a hint of defensiveness. He smiled at Cassie.
“We should be home by 10 o’clock.” Steve informed her.
“No problem. It’s been a long time since this sweetie and I had a date.” Kyle smiled and hugged her. “I love you Miss Cassie.”
Kayce rolled her eyes at the comment. “Oh God it’s starting already.”
“What?” Steve inquired, unsure what she was referring to.
“The Austin charm. It’s already oozing out of him.”
Steve grinned proudly, “Well he could have inherited worse things from me.”
“Like your flat feet?” Kayce offered and saw an annoyed brow rise.
“They are not flat…..anymore.” He informed her sternly and she responded instantly. “Thanks to Rudy!” The four adults laughed and Kyle became anxious to leave.
“Well you two have fun and we’ll see you later.”
Both parents kissed the boy on the head before he was carried out. Oscar informed Steve he was expected back in the office at 9 am.
“Always the task master. Come on Kayce let’s go.” He winked at his boss. “Oscar can’t stand to see anyone have fun.”
Dinner was at Canterbury’s, Kayce favorite restaurant outside the city. It was a 30 minute drive to the calm rural setting which was the reason it was a very popular spot for city dwellers. The two enjoyed the quiet talk and handholding. It was almost as if they were dating again.
During the meal Steve confessed he got the dinner idea when he ran into Cassie in the OSI corridor. He chuckled as he relayed the story to his wife. “Kayce I swear I’ve never seen anyone so excited about babysitting a four year old.”
Kayce thought a moment. “Maybe Cassie is just anxious to have a family of her own.” The astute reply caused Steve’s smile to fade a bit. “I never thought about that.” He seemed a little guilty having his family and realizing his friend was still single, searching for someone to share her life with. Kayce saw the look and made a suggestion.
“Maybe I should put my matchmaking skills to work?” An eyebrow rose and she saw his lack of faith. “What? So far I have a great track record.”
“Really. I count one couple you put together. One couple does not make a record.” He informed her lightly.
“You forgot the other couple. They seem very happy to be together.”
“What other couple?” His brow furled above the curious blue eyes.
“You and me.” She grinned and sipped her water.
“You didn’t put us together.”
“You don’t think I did but I did.”
”You refused a second date!”
“Ah huh….and how did that make you feel?”
Steve smiled remembering the moment as if it was yesterday. After all he couldn’t forget the one and only woman to ever decline his offer for a second date. “It just made me want you more.” He answered honestly.
“Exactly!” She exclaimed triumphantly.
“You mean to tell me you manipulated me into falling in love with you?”
“I prefer the term ‘guided’ and yes I guided you to fall in love with me.”
The broad shoulders slumped and he frowned. She got serious. “What’s the matter?”
“I feel so used.” He whimpered causing her to laugh out loud.
“Well just wait and see how ‘used’ you feel later… when we get home… in bed… alone….” She winked at him.
He grinned and raised his glass. “I can’t wait!”
By 8 pm Steve paid the valet and helped Kayce into the borrowed Mercedes. The rain pattered rapidly on the roof of the vehicle reminding both of them of their first night together. Kayce thought of all that had happened to them since then. Even though there had been some really rough times, if asked, neither would have changed a thing.
As if in tune with what his wife was thinking Steve reached over and placed his hand on hers, the wipers slapping back and forth keeping the heavy downpour from obscuring the driver’s vision.
Steve was glad he told Cassie their expected return wouldn’t be until ten. He knew how she would worry if they were late. It would take him almost an hour or more to get them home, driving cautiously, at a much slower speed then normal, along the windy road.
The couple sat, in companionable silence, listening to the soft music fill the space between them. Steve loved these moments with his wife and squeezed her hand as he glanced her way. She returned the squeeze and returned the smile never having felt so in love in all her life. This handsome man, her husband, was her prince charming and she couldn’t have been any happier.
The two sets of blue eyes returned to the road at the moment an enormous tree, having lost its rooted anchor on the hillside from the heavy rain, came crashing down towards the road.
Steve’s eye caught the unexpected movement on the left shoulder of the road. He swerved left in an attempt to keep the hundred foot tree from landing on the roof of their car. The rear wheels skidded causing the back end to fishtail and he counter steered to correct it. In a matter of seconds, so fast the occupants were barely aware of what was happened, the movement of the accelerating car stopped suddenly when the driver side wheels hit the raised burm of the road. The energy built up from the lack of friction between the road and wheels caused the vehicle to increase its speed during the skid. When the wheels were stopped the sideway energy transferred to the body of the car causing it to flip, tumbling down the steep 80 foot hill.
It was all over in a matter of seconds. Enveloped in the thick darkness the damaged vehicle came to rest on the passenger’s side, the two driver side tires still spinning. There was no sound except the swish of the wipers still bouncing back and forth.
Steve regained consciousness moments later with a blinding headache from his head impacting the side window. It took only a second to orient himself to his odd position, gravity pulling him to his right. He lifted a hand and touched the sticky substance trickling down his face. A brief look down at his pregnant wife caused his breath to catch in his throat. She lay completely still, her seatbelt still fastened, her left hand on her belly as if trying to protect their unborn child.
He quickly unbuckled his belt and popped out the cracked side window with a bionic push of his hand before carefully hauling himself up and out of the overturned car. Dropping down he lost his balance briefly when his feet hit the wet ground beneath him, falling forward onto his knees. He gasped at the intense stabbing pain that shot across his left side making it almost impossible to get air into his lungs. Holding onto the car’s undercarriage he took a moment waiting for the dizziness to clear. Using the infrared lens of his bionic eye he scanned the blackness around them, grateful that the rain had let up. They were in a rural area, a field of some sort, and he knew he would have to flag down a car to get them help. At the moment he was torn. Should he go back up the hill for help or see to Kayce? Minutes could make all the difference. His gut said to head for the road but his heart screamed that he go to Kayce.
Using his nuclear powered arm, he lowered his side of the car to the ground ever so gently. Keeping his left arm against his sore ribs and moving as swiftly as he could in the mud he ambled to the other side, wavering as the dizziness continued. He let out a breath as his infrared eye showed him Kayce was breathing. Reaching in, he felt a strong pulse in her neck. She moaned and her eyes opened slowly. At first she thought she was blind it was so dark but she soon saw the headlights shooting off into nothingness in front of her. She couldn’t see her concerned husband crouched next to her.
“Kayce can you hear me?” He voice soft and level, hiding his fear well.
“Steve? What happened?” She whispered.
“The car rolled. How bad are you hurt?” His bionic eye was inspecting her and he saw her immediately run her hands over her stomach. “Not too bad I think. My head hurts a little. How about you?”
“I’ve got a headache myself.” He smiled weakly then realized she couldn’t see him in the dark. “Kayce I need to go back up to the road and flag someone down.”
“No. I can walk.” She insisted as she undid her seatbelt.
“NO!” He replied much more harshly then he intended. “I don’t want to take any chances.” He squeezed her hand. “I promise I’ll be right back.”
While he was gone Kayce slowly became more alert and tried to assess not only her condition but that of her baby. Her fear grew as time ticked off. The fact that she was alone and in the dark magnified her anxiety. It was several minutes before Steve was able to return to her side.
She heard slow footsteps. “Steve?”
She thought he sounded out of breath. “I’m here. We’re in luck. A car just stopped and he said he’d call an ambulance from the next phone.”
“Thank God.” She exhaled. Forgetting he had night vision she didn’t try to hide the fear she felt. Steve’s bionic eye saw the terrified look on his wife’s bruised face and his stomach tightened seeing her hand running over her stomach.
“Kayce what’s wrong? Is it the baby?” The moment she heard the question she remembered he could see her even though she couldn’t see him.
“I’m not sure. I can’t feel the baby moving.”
“Maybe she’s sleeping?” He offered hopefully.
“Not after all this. HE should be kicking up a storm.” She replied putting emphasis on the baby’s gender.
Steve’s fear began to assail him knowing Kayce, who had been married before, had a pregnancy that ended with the baby still born. She also almost died from excessive blood loss when she miscarried their last child. They had been very careful with this pregnancy; not letting anything upset this pregnancy. They had been successful… at least up until now. The guilt he felt from his inability to avoid the accident began to match his fear, holding her hand while they waited was the only thing he could do.
“AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!” Her scream pierced the night, her right hand squeezing his tightly as the pain hit her without warning. The sound terrified Steve.
“I think I know why the baby isn’t moving.”
“WHAT?” Steve’s sudden anxiety caused his voice to come out higher then normal.
“He must have moved into the birth canal. Baby’s can’t move in there…AAARRRGGGHHHH!” She cried out as another contraction quickly followed the first.
“What can I do?” He asked just shy of a panic. Normally a picture of calm in tense situations he was barely keeping it together, this was his wife and his child.
“I need to lie down.”
“Hang on.” He opened the back door and pushed his jacket from the seat to the floor. He helped her move slowly to the backseat while the rain began falling onto the mangled wreckage in a steady beat. Steve prayed help would arrive soon.
Kayce settled back against the soft leather feeing a little more comfortable. It was difficult to tell with the rain whether her water broke or not. Her bet was it had. “Where is the ambulance?” Steve muttered rhetorically.
“OH GOD STEVE!!!!”
“What?” He glanced at her feeling helpless, her pain tearing through him each time He saw her taking short rapid breath.
“I need your help now. I need to push!”
Taking a deep breath he knew he would have to deliver his baby, one of his worse fears. He had been trained in advanced first aid in his astronaut training but this wasn’t something included on the syllabus for obvious reasons. He prayed he wouldn’t make a mistake that would cost his wife or their baby their lives. He squatted down with a groan, the intense pain in his ribs protesting the movement. Reaching in under her cotton jumper he slid off her panties.
“Steve?” She called in the darkness trying to get her legs situated in the cramped space.
“Yeah?” He replied helping her lift her right leg to where the doorframe met the back dashboard.
“Can you see the head yet?” She was tired and just wanted this over. “AAAARRRGGGHHHHHH!”
Focusing his infrared lens he saw the head crowning. He couldn’t believe this was happening, his adrenalin rushed through his body.
“Yes, The heads almost out.” He quickly glanced about hoping to see headlights heading towards them but there wasn’t.
“Steve?” She gasped out hating that she couldn’t see anything. “What are you doing?” She thought she heard him move away from her.
“Looking for the ambulance.” His eye scanned the terrain around them.
“I don’t think it will get here in time.”
With an annoyed look she couldn’t see he leaned into the back of the car resigning himself to the fact he would have to do this and do it right. “Hang on a minute.” He grabbed his coat that he had flung onto the floor and readied it for the newborn.
“Okay I’m ready.”
Kayce pulled herself into a near sitting position, using the back of the driver’s seat. She grunted and bore down.
“Easy….easy…. that’s it.” He watched as the baby’s progress stopped at its neck and Kayce caught her breath. “Okay the head’s out.” The young woman’s reprieve was short as another contraction gripped her. She pulled back up and bore down hard knowing from experience that the shoulders were the worst to deliver. “AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!”
“Wait, stop pushing!” He ordered firmly seeing through his red optical lens that the umbilical cord was around the neck.
“Just don’t push. The cord is around the neck.” He slid a finger under the thick, rubbery cord and carefully slipped it over the small head.
“Steve… I gotta push NOW!”
“Okay, go ahead.”
The baby, as with most births, was face down and Steve held it by the shoulders with his fingers curled under each arm, already aware of how slippery the little thing was and he didn’t want to drop it. With one final push the baby came out into the father’s safe hands and Kayce exhaled, dropping back onto the seat exhausted, her head pounding from the concussion. She immediately noticed the ongoing silence.
“Steve is he okay?”
Steve was busy using his little finger to clean out the newborn’s mouth and throat. Within seconds a loud, angry cry was heard giving both parents relief.
“I can’t see anything. Is he okay?”
“Yeah.” Steve was grinning ear to ear quickly wrapping the little bundle in his jacket to keep it warm. He made every attempt to burn this incredible moment into his memory, keeping it precious forever. Leaning in and placing the baby on Kayce’s chest he clenched his jaw against his own pain. Kayce felt the tiny added weight and heard Steve’s voice. “She’s just fine.”
Kayce began crying as she ran a hand under the jacket feeling her daughter’s warm, moist, wrinkled skin.
“Are you okay?” Steve asked seeing her tears falling from the tightly closed eyes.
“Yes I’m fine… just fine.”
Sirens and headlights rushed in behind him and Steve groan as he got to his feet. The pain in his side sliced through him like a knife and he sucked in his breath. Kayce didn’t notice over the cry of her infant. After slowly pulling some air into his lungs he spoke. “The ambulance is here. I’ll let them cut the cord and finish the job.”
The dark haired man stepped aside and grabbed the car door to steady himself. His body screamed for him to sit down but he wouldn’t, not yet. Soon a paramedic arrived with a flashlight to supplement the headlights shining on them. He smiled seeing the baby and mother.
“Hi, I’m Jim.”
“I’m Steve and my wife Kayce just delivered but I didn’t cut the cord.”
“Good.” He kneeled down at the open back door. “Well it looks like you two did the hard part. Do either of you have any injuries from the crash?” He asked as he clipped off the umbilical cord and used scissors from his pocket to separate mother and child.
Kayce answered tiredly, “I think I’m okay. A little headache but that’s all.”
He glanced up at Steve, and with the help of the flashlight he saw the stream of blood running down the left side of his face. Seeing his wet clothes, bloody and caked with mud, he couldn’t tell what else may be wrong. The second paramedic arrived with the medical box. He jumped into the conversation. “How about you?”
“What about me?”
“Do you have any injuries?” He gestured to his clothes.
“This is my wife’s blood from delivering the baby.” It was all he would say in front of Kayce.
“Looks like you took a good shot to the head.”
“Just see to my wife and daughter okay. Then you can do whatever you want to me.” His steely blue eyes bore into the brown ones, communicating his wish to protect his wife.
“Okay. Let’s get your wife out of this car and off to the hospital. Do you have a preference to which one?”
“We need to go to National Medical Center. Our physician is Dr. Rudy Wells.” Steve informed them.
James looked at his partner, “Ted, you want to take care of that. Just tell them the baby is in good condition. We’ll monitor the mother en-route.”
“Monitor her for what?” Steve asked with concern.
“Bleeding. The bleeding should slow down, if not we’ll need to intervene. Don’t worry by then she’ll be in a doctor’s hands.”
Steve watched, still leaning heavily on the car his arm across his aching belly, as they loaded Kayce into the back of the ambulance with the baby in her arms. His body urged him towards unconscious but he fought it not wanting to worry his wife. The voices around him, although still in close proximity, were sounding further and further away.
“Steve, aren’t you coming?” His head turned at the sound of Kayce’s voice.
Ted, the second paramedic, was the only one close enough to see the new father waver. Something was wrong. He spoke up quickly, “We’ll take him in the other ambulance. You go ahead we’ll be right behind you.” Whatever was wrong Ted didn’t want them in the same ambulance besides there wasn’t enough room for two patients anyway.
Kayce gave Steve one final wave before the doors closed. No sooner had the ambulance pulled out that Steve collapsed on the ground. Ted yelled out to the Fire Chief. “Captain, get that other ambulance over here quick!”
It slowly backed up to the wreckage. Ted was assessing Steve’s condition. The head injury didn’t seem bad. He pulled open his shirt. “Captain we need to get him to the hospital fast.”
Rudy was ready only minutes after the call came in. As he placed a call to Dr. Barnes, Kayce’s obstetrician/gynecologist, his nurse was on the phone to Oscar. The OSI Director, on his way to the medical center, contacted Cassie telling her to stay put and he would be in touch as soon as he knew anything.
As the gurney was pushed into the emergency room the premature baby, tiny and fragile, was taken to the nursery to be examined by the center’s pediatrician. Rudy saw the handoff from the paramedic to the nurse but his attention was drawn to the lethargic patient on the gurney.
The bruises on the right side of her face were greatly contrasted with the paleness of the rest of her. Jim, the paramedic, gave Rudy a quick update as the two men lifted the lax form gently from the gurney to the examination bed.
“She was involved in a rollover and delivered before we arrived. She was alert and coherent when we got there, much more then she is now. There are signs of a concussion and she’s still bleeding heavily. Her pulse is 118, blood pressure only 80/40 and respirations are 16. When I spoke to her at the crash site she was moving okay and said she didn’t think she was hurt in the accident except she had a headache.”
Dr. Barnes entered at that moment and acknowledged Rudy with a silent nod as he was turning Kayce’s face towards him. “Kayce can you hear me?” Rudy asked softly.
The gynecologist donned gloves and settled on a wheeled stool to see how bad the bleeding was. He was already aware of the young mother’s pregnancy history.
The familiar voice sounded so far away and Kayce struggled to find it. “Rudy?” She mumbled in a groggy voice, her eyes remaining closed. She suddenly flinched and sucked in a sharp breath. Dr. Wells glanced at what Dr. Barnes was doing. “Take it easy Kayce. Dr. Barnes is just trying to stop the bleeding.” She let out a sigh and tried to relax, the excitement of the previous two hours as well as the blood loss was making her incredibly sleepy.
“Kayce, do you hurt anywhere?” He asked as he palpated her shoulders, ribcage and right arm before pulling out his stethoscope from his lab coat pocket. “Kayce?” He wondered with the lack of alertness, if the head injury was worse then he thought. “Are you hurting anywhere?” He asked more firmly.
Her voice was slurred from the fatigue. She was so exhausted and only semiconscious that she really didn’t feel any pain at all. Even the headache was barely noticeable. “I’m… okay… Rudy.”
A quick check of her lungs told him everything there was normal. He glanced again at Dr. Barnes who was massaging her lower abdomen trying to get her uterus to shrink back to its normal size and slow the blood loss, something that the body normally did for itself following childbirth. After everything the young woman had been through tonight Dr. Barnes really didn’t want to have to do surgery on her. “I think she’ll be okay. It’s slowing but she’ll need at least two units of blood to start with, maybe more later.”
The nurse immediately went to phone the blood bank and Rudy’s attention was brought back to Kayce’s mumblings. “Ruuddyy?” She let out a tired sigh sounding like a little girl talking in her sleep. “Is… Steve…. okay?.... He has…. headache…. too.” With that she dozed off into oblivion.
Rudy immediately looked at the paramedic standing near the door. “Where’s her husband?!” Seeing only one patient brought in he just assumed Steve was waiting in the lounge outside. How could he have missed him?
“He’s being transported in the other ambulance. They should be here any minute.”
“How bad was he hurt?”
“He was walking around talking. He had a gash on his left temple and bruise on his cheek but didn’t seem badly injured. I’d call it a miracle they weren’t more seriously injured after seeing the wreckage. In fact he’s the one who delivered the baby.”
“Steve delivered the baby!?” Rudy asked in disbelief and the paramedic nodded. “My partner was with him when we left. He told us to make sure we got his wife and baby here first.”
Dr. Wells nodded knowing what the medic described sounded like something Steve would do. The only concern he had was Steve would make sure Kayce was taken care off even if he was bleeding to death. “You said they were coming in soon?”
“Yes sir.” The brown eyes met the green ones of Dr. Barnes. “Can you handle her? I need to meet the ambulance that’s transporting her husband.”
“I’m almost done here. As soon as she gets some blood I think she’ll stabilize.”
“Good. I’ll be across the hall if you need me.” Rudy thanked the paramedic and anxiously left the room.