Linc didn’t even question me, but did exactly what I said. The click click click of the hazard lights echoed throughout the car as the cop turned his siren on to add to the annoying flashing lights. I didn’t care if we got a ticket. I’d pay it without complaint. Didn’t care if the bastard wanted to impound my car. The cop could have it as his own if he just let me get to Harper.
I’d give up every penny in my bank account in that moment as long as she was okay.
Both of them.
Linc had to cut across three lanes of traffic to get to the hospital. The cop was still following, but I didn’t spare him so much as a glance as I jumped out of the car before Linc had even fully stopped and took off at full speed into the building.
I spotted Theo first. He was standing by the door that led back to the exam rooms. He saw me and straightened. I grabbed him, fisting his suit jacket in my desperation for answers. “Where is she?” I demanded, my voice breaking.
“They took her back as soon as we got here. They’re doing tests.” Theo shook his head. “Peterson said Dr. Lee is on her way.”
I nodded and moved to open the door. When I found it locked, I pounded on the metal so hard it left a dent. A nurse opened it, a glare on her aged face. “What do you think you’re doing? We have sick people back here and you’re disrupting them.”
I pushed her back as carefully as I could, but I couldn’t honestly say just how gentle I was. She didn’t bounce off a wall or any other crazy shit, so it must not have been too hard. “Harper?” I called out, not bothering to ask the now grumbling nurse where I could find my wife.
Peterson’s head appeared out of an exam room just a few yards down the corridor and I hurried forward. But when I reached the door, Peterson put his hands on my shoulders, holding me back.
“Get the fuck out of my way,” I snarled at the big man. I had to get in there with her. Had to hold her hand, had to kiss her and tell her everything was going to be okay.
Gods, let everything be okay.
“You need to take a few deep breaths, man. If you go in there like that, it will only upset her even more and her getting upset can change this whole ballgame.” He tightened his hold, giving my shoulders an understanding squeeze. “Don’t lose your shit in there.”
Biting back a curse, I did as he had suggested and sucked in three deep breaths. It didn’t calm me on the inside, but at least on the surface I appeared calm. Peterson gave me an approving nod and then stepped aside. On shaking legs, I entered the room.
She looked so small and scared lying there that it took me a few seconds before I could speak or I knew I was going to lose it. She was pale, fear and helplessness haunting her beautiful face. With hands that shook, I reached for one of her hands and brought it to my lips, kissing her palm to give myself a little extra time to get a better hold of my emotions before speaking.
“Has the doctor said anything?”
She shook her head. “They did blood work and are supposed to do an ultrasound. Dr. Lee is on her way. The ER doctor said it could be nothing. Possibly a busted blood vessel…or it could be abruption of the placenta.”
If there had been any color in my face, it disappeared in that second. Abruption of the placenta was bad. Very, very bad. I’d read about it in at least three of those damn baby books. It was one of those uncommon but serious complications during pregnancy. The placenta peels away from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery and can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients and caused heavy bleeding in the mother.
If caught in time it might not be too bad for Harper, but if she had hesitated the results could very easily turn fatal.
For them both.
“Shane, I’m scared.”
Hearing the fear in her voice, seeing the pain in her eyes, gutted me. I didn’t know how to help her, how to tell her it was going to be okay when I didn’t know if it was going to be or not. So I just held her hand, kissing her palm over and over again and telling her I loved her.
It seemed to take Dr. Lee hours to arrive, but was really only about ten minutes. She walked in, pushing an ultrasound machine with her and a man in a white lab coat followed. I assumed he was the ER doctor, but couldn’t have cared less who he was. Dr. Lee was there, that was all that mattered.
“How’s the pain?” the man asked as he came around the other side of Harper’s bed with Dr. Lee.
“It’s not as bad since I’m lying down,” she assured him.
“She hasn’t had a fever, has she?” Dr. Lee asked with a glance in my direction.
I shook my head. “As far as I know, she hasn’t. She’s been fine. Happy.”
“It just came on all of a sudden while I was at work,” Harper explained, her voice shaky. “It started in my back and moved to the front and then I felt the blood…” She broke off, closing her violet eyes as she sucked in a deep breath.
“Blood work looks good,” Dr. Lee informed us. “Let’s see what Miss Violet is doing in there.”
The next few minutes were agony to live through. I wanted to pace, but stayed where I was, holding Harper’s cold hand. I wanted to curse and scream, but silently prayed instead.
“Okay,” Dr. Lee finally said as she pushed the wand over Harper’s distended belly. “Baby looks to be fine. I don’t think she’s in any distress and the amniotic fluid is measuring good. I think we should do a pelvic to see how things look down there.” She replaced the wand after doing a little more searching and told the other doctor to turn on the lights.
Dr. Lee did a pelvic exam on Harper, and when she lifted her head the look on her face had my heart beating again. She gave us both a small smile. “I can’t find anything wrong, Harper. It’s probably just a busted vessel. Everything is expanding down here and Violet is growing more every day.”
“So she’s okay? They’re both okay?” My voice was choked with tears as I spoke.
“So far, so good.” She pulled off her gloves and moved to the sink to wash her hands. “Her cervix is nice and closed, labs show that her hCG level is within normal ranges, and the baby appears to be thriving.”
My legs went weak with relief. “Thank gods,” I breathed.
The smile on Dr. Lee’s face turned serious. “I don’t think Harper has a high-risk pregnancy, but I don’t want to have to change that opinion. I’m going to suggest that you take it easy for the next few weeks, Harper. I know you have a job, but I think it would be better for both you and the baby to work from home. I want you to rest as much as possible, stay off your feet often, and relax.”
Harper opened her mouth and I had no idea if she was going to agree or argue but I tightened my hold on her hand. “She’s not leaving the house until the baby is born.”
“Shane,” Harper protested, but the doctor grinned.
“I didn’t say she had to take things to that extreme. She can get some exercise and sunshine. That will be good for both her and the baby. I’m just saying that she needs to rest more, relax, and stay off her feet.”
I nodded. “She’s not leaving the house.”
“I’m not going to become a prisoner in my own home,” Harper grumbled, but she didn’t really put up a fight when I turned my pleading eyes on her. “But I will do as she suggests. I think Rex can do without me at the office now that things are going smoothly. Hannah can do most of what I’m needed for and the rest can be handled from home.”
Another wave of relief flooded through me and I bent to kiss her. “Thank you,” I breathed against her lips.
Her chin trembled and a few tears spilled free as she locked gazes with me. “I was so scared we were going to lose her.”
“I know, beautiful. Me too.”
“I’m going to admit you for the night, Harper,” Dr. Lee said, pulling our focus back to her. “Just to be on the safe side. I want to monitor you and the baby for a full twenty-four hours. If everything still looks good tomorrow, you can go home.”
“Sounds good,” I told her.
r /> “Sit tight, Mom and Dad. We’ll get you a room and sort you out.” She turned to leave just as the door opened and Linc entered the room.
With a cop right behind him.
Linc hurried forward and wrapped his arms carefully around Harper. “How are you? How’s my little buddy doing in there?”
“We’re both going to be okay,” Harper assured him, burying her face in the big man’s chest.
I grimaced as the cop stepped forward. The man glanced from me to Harper and Linc, then back to me again. “Sir, I understand why you two were driving so recklessly, but you could have easily killed yourselves and innocent people. I have no choice but to give Mr. Spencer a ticket.”
I shrugged. “I’ll pay for it.”
The officer pulled out a book and tore out the top sheet. “Make sure you do.” His gaze went back to Linc who was still holding on to Harper. “I hope everything turns out okay for you, ma’am.”
Only then did Harper lift her head and notice the man. “What? Oh… Um, thanks?” She turned her eyes to me and then to Linc. “What did you two do?”
“Mr. Spencer was doing a hundred and fifteen on the interstate, ma’am,” the man tattled.
Violet eyes widened in surprise. “What? You didn’t.” She slapped her hand against Linc’s chest. “You did. Damn it, Linc. Don’t you ever do that again.”
A grin tilted the officer’s lips as he turned to go, leaving both me and Linc to fend for ourselves with a pissed-off Harper. I didn’t mind, though. My girls were going to be okay.
That’s all I could ask for.
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN
“You’re going to be the first woman I know of to be late for her own wedding.”
If it had been anyone but my Lee-Lee who had dared say that to me today of all days, I wouldn’t have hesitated to stab them in the eye. Luckily for her—and yeah, I guess for myself, considering what day it was—I loved Alexis Moreitti more than anyone in the world.
Well, almost more than anyone.
Liam came before anyone else in my heart, including Alexis and Jordan. I wasn’t ever letting him go, and I hoped he knew that. Hoped, because as my beloved cousin had said, I was running late for something important.
I still couldn’t believe that it was happening, or would be happening as soon as the fucking limo driver got us to the church. It had been fun planning our special day, even though there was still that unknown threat from the cunt-monkey who had shot me. Emmie had helped out with that, though, getting Charles Seller’s men to make sure the day didn’t have any unwanted surprises.
Of course, there had been, in the form of the limo showing up twenty minutes late to my house, and then getting stuck in traffic. Five. Different. Times. Now I was officially half an hour late for my wedding and my phone was probably being blown up. Not that I would have known if it were or not since I had left the damn thing back at my house.
Alexis’s phone, however, was ringing and chiming with new messages every three seconds it seemed. Everyone from her husband to her brother to my future husband and even Emmie were all trying to get her to answer. Alexis had explained what was going on to her husband, Jared—or as I liked to call him, the one who was undeserving of my Lee-Lee, but got to call her his wife anyway—and then to Emmie, but had stopped answering after the last call because we were getting there.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Scratch that. I wasn’t going to cry and mess up my makeup. It had taken an obscene amount of time to get it just right and I wasn’t about to mess that shit up. Scream, maybe, and most likely at the fucking idiot who was currently driving the limo. Seriously, how stupid was the guy? I could have gotten us there a hell of a lot quicker and avoided all the hassle. I knew there were some back roads, side streets—fucking hell, anything but just sitting there waiting for the road worker to wave us through.
Yet another text came in and Alexis glanced down at her phone, then laughed when she saw the picture there. Shaking her head, she lifted the phone to show me. As much as I still detested Jared Moreitti, he was an exceptional father. The picture he had just sent my cousin was of him and Jordan, making monkey faces at the camera. Both of them were wearing their tuxes and waiting impatiently for us to get to the church.
The limo came to another halt and I glanced out the window, noticing that we were once again stuck in traffic. “Motherfucker,” I groaned.
I was officially fed up. If Alexis could have walked the six blocks that kept us away from the church, I would have been out of the car and already halfway there. But I wasn’t about to put her through a long walk when she didn’t need to stress her body like that. She might act all tough, but I knew she still battled the pain that ravaged her poor little body after the car wreck that had nearly cost my precious cousin her life.
Reaching for the button that controlled the divider separating us from the driver, I pushed it. “I’m about two seconds from punching you in the fucking throat,” I raged at him. “You have two minutes to get me to the church or I’m going to kill you.”
The thin man nodded his head profusely, and I remembered that he spoke Italian better than English, so I repeated it in his language. Still he just nodded, but didn’t so much as try to find a way around whatever our newest reason for stopping happened to be.
“Seriously, asshole. Move!”
Again more nodding. I was ready to scream when I noticed the big man jogging up the street. No, I thought, it wouldn’t be him. He wouldn’t leave his wife long enough to help me.
In the next moment I was proven wrong as the driver’s door was pulled open and scary-as-hell Wroth Niall pulled the still-nodding driver out of the car. “Pretty sure you don’t have a job anymore, man,” the deep, monstrous voice assured the thin man. “I got this.”
Wroth climbed behind the wheel and then glanced back at me and Alexis. The man I had rarely seen smile in the past actually grinned at me now. “Sorry, ladies. I’ll get you there in one piece.”
“Well, thank goodness for that,” Alexis said with a sigh. “Did Emmie send you?”
He shook his head as he put the limo in reverse and maneuvered the long black car around the stopped traffic, giving several other drivers the finger when they angrily honked at him when he cut in front of them and went down a side street. “Nope. Mari was trying to keep Liam from losing his shit and I figured I’d better come see what the problem was. Started walking and saw y’all just sitting here. Emmie had called the dude’s boss, though, and I’m pretty sure he no longer has a job. The dumb fuck.”
My heart contracted. Liam was losing his shit? Ah, fuck. I needed to get to the church, and fast. I couldn’t stand the thought of him distressed like that. Didn’t he know I was coming? That I would never willingly show up late for the happiest day of my life?
“Is he okay?” I asked the man who was going to become my brother-in-law before the end of the day.
“Nervous,” Wroth said with a shrug. “You didn’t have the guards with you and he’s been going off the rails worrying.”
I’d begged and pleaded, and when that hadn’t worked I’d thrown the world’s biggest tantrum when Liam had refused to let me arrive at the church without the three goons who were part of my security detail. In the end I’d gotten my way, but now I realized that Liam was probably climbing the walls worrying about me.
Ten minutes later, Wroth was pulling to a stop in front of the church where I was getting married. Jared was already standing on the street outside with Jordan. Emmie and Mia were also out there waiting on us. Mia was dressed in her beautiful flower girl dress that was a soft beige that complemented both my wedding dress, Alexis’s matron-of-honor dress, and the bridesmaid dress Marissa was supposed to wear. I’d asked Emmie if I could have Mia as my flower girl, knowing that I couldn’t get married without that little girl as part of my bridal
“Aunt Gabs,” Jordan called out as Wroth opened the back door and helped me and my huge dress out.
I bent to hug my little man and then turned to face Emmie and Mia. The little girl gave me her hand and I took it, thankful for her presence, before lifting my eyes to her mother. “How is he?”
“He was about to come get you himself, but I called him as soon as I caught sight of the limo. Marissa has him calmed down now.” She grimaced. “Just be prepared for what happens when you see him.”
I was prepared for anything, as long as it meant I was with Liam.
“Okay, people.” Alexis laughed as she took her husband’s arm and started climbing the steps to the church. “Let’s get Gabs married.”
“Yeah!” Jordan and Mia exclaimed and ran up the steps after them.
With Emmie and Wroth’s help, I got myself and my dress up the steps and into the church. Everyone else was already in place and I could hear the organ playing the wedding march. There wasn’t even time to check my makeup in the bathroom.
Feeling rushed, but at the same time not caring, I took my place at the double doors that had just shut on Jordan, Mia, Marissa and Alexis. Emmie handed me a beautiful bouquet of white roses and nodded at the two men holding the doors. “Good luck,” she murmured as she stepped back so that I was in the limelight.
It was still weird to have the woman I had once considered my worst enemy there to rely on during such a magical day for me, but I was actually thankful for her. I was sure that without her the day would have been a total disaster.
With a nod at her, I sucked in a deep breath and took a step forward as every eye in the room turned to look at me. There were at least a hundred and fifty people there, but I saw none of them except the man standing at the end of the aisle waiting.
The tears I’d refused to cry earlier instantly filled my eyes and he became a blur as they spilled free. I took another step forward. He seemed like a million miles away. I was never going to reach the front of the church. “Screw it,” I muttered and took off running.