A Different Blue Page 65

“He told me not to worry. He said, 'Women cry. If she's crying over you, she still loves you,'” Wilson tried to mimic the shaky voice of the old man. He looked at me and grinned playfully. “He said I should only worry when you stop.”

I couldn't smile back and swiftly looked away. I was the one who should worry. Not because I had stopped crying, but because I'd started in the first place. The old man had it all figured out.

We tried to wait out the rain, but it never let up. We got back on the road only to fight rain and snow for the next three hours. Snow in Boulder City was almost unheard of, but we were a long way north of the Las Vegas area, and snow in Reno was commonplace. However, October snow was not. My anxiety grew as the journey lengthened. I didn't want to whine or worry Wilson, but my back and lower belly had been cramping steadily since we had stopped at the rest area. Maybe it was the stress of the trip, or all the R words raining down without relief, or maybe it was simply time. Two weeks early wasn't really considered early. It was considered full term. And I had a sneaking suspicion I was in labor.

“I'm going to pull off wherever I can find a hotel. We're still three hours out, maybe more at this speed, and I've had enough,” Wilson sighed, squinting to make out road signs.

“We have to keep going,” I insisted, gripping the armrest as a wave of pressure moved through my lower body.

“Why?” Wilson didn't look at me, he was so intent on the road ahead.

“Because I really don't want to have a baby in a Super 8 Motel.”

“Bugger!” Wilson's head swiveled toward me, his eyes wide with horror.

“I'm not in any pain. Not really. It's just uncomfortable. And it's been going on for about three hours. Just keep going and we'll be fine.”

The next three hours were the longest three hours of my life – Wilson's too, I'm guessing. He was white around the lips, and his face was haggard by the time we saw the Vegas lights smeared like an oil spill beyond the windshield, a muted rainbow in a sea of black. I had timed my contractions, and they had grown steady and increasingly painful at about five minutes apart. I had no idea what that meant, or how far I had to go. But we were both too tired to go home and wait for it to get worse. Getting to the hospital was a feat in itself. Some of the roads were knee deep in water, and the rain wasn't letting up.

We pulled into the parking garage, and Wilson was out and at my door before I could get my seat belt off. Together we made our way to Labor and Delivery, breathing a small sigh of relief that we had made it. Visions of highways births had been our constant companion for three long hours. I'm sure it was a relief for Wilson to turn me over to the perky blonde nurse who oozed competency. She got me settled in a room, set out a gown, and told me she'd be back momentarily.

Wilson turned and walked toward the door. Panic bubbled up in my chest as I watched him leave. My fear made me bold.

“Will you stay with me?” The words came out in a jumble and my face felt hot with shame that I had even uttered them. But I had, and I didn't want to take them back. He was frozen in place, his hand still resting on the door handle.

“Please.” I didn't know if he heard the final plea, and I had to close my eyes so I didn't see his response. I was afraid to see him shrink, to see his eyes shift away, to hear him make excuses.

The bed shifted, and I opened my eyes to see him sitting beside me. His eyebrows were drawn together and his grey-eyed gaze was filled with apprehension. But he didn't fidget or shrink, and his eyes held mine.

“Are you sure?”

“I can't do this alone, Wilson. I wouldn't ask . . . but . . . I don't . . . have anyone else.” I bit down on my lip, stifling the urge to shamelessly beg. His face softened, and the worry in his eyes faded.

“Then I'll stay.” He slid his hand into mine and held it tightly. His hand was large and cool, his fingertips calloused. My relief was so intense that I couldn't immediately respond for fear I would lose my composure. I wrapped both of my hands around his and held on gratefully. After several deep breaths, I whispered my thanks as another wave of pressure and pain built within me.

Chapter Twenty-One

My assigned nurse was in and out. Wilson always made sure to sit at the head of the bed, trying desperately to respect my modesty as much as possible. He kept his eyes on my face as she checked and pronounced me at five centimeters, then six and then six and a half. And then the progress stalled.

“You wanna get up and walk a little? Sometimes it helps things along,” the nurse suggested after an hour of watching the clock and counting contractions with no improvement. I didn't want to walk. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to cancel the whole event.

“Come on, Blue. I'll help you. Lean on me.” Wilson helped me sit and with the nurse's help I pulled another hospital gown around my back like a robe, tying the strings in front so I wouldn't moon the folks as I strolled. And we walked, up and down the hallways, my slippered feet trudging along beside Wilson's longer stride. When the pain was too great to move and my legs shook with the strain of keeping upright, Wilson locked his arms around me and pulled my forehead into his chest, talking quietly as if standing in his embrace was the most natural thing in the world. And it was. My hands clutched his upper arms as I trembled and groaned, and I whispered my gratitude to him again and again. When the pain would ease and I would regain my breath we would retrace our halting steps once more, and when I was desperate for distraction from the relentless waves, I poked at Wilson.

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