Hit and run hot lanta 4, p.1
Hit and Run (Hot-Lanta #4), p.1Meghan Quinn
HIT AND RUN
Book Four of the Hot-Lanta Series
Published by Hot-Lanta Publishing
Cover by Meghan Quinn
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All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination. www.authormeghanquinn.com
She stood in front of a steel door, waiting for it to open. She had two suitcases on either side of her and her purse was slung over her shoulder. She knew she looked like hell; she didn’t have to look in a mirror to realize she had massively dark circles under her eyes and her hair hadn’t seen a brush all morning. Her clothes were disheveled and sagging over her body, given the fact that she hadn’t eaten much in weeks. What was the point?
She left Brady…she had to. Every moment she spent in their house together, Jane felt herself slowly dying away inside. What she said to Brady last night was not true. She didn’t blame Brady for their daughter’s death. She blamed herself. She was the one who was supposed to keep their daughter safe, and she didn’t; she was the one who killed their baby and every time she saw Brady, she was reminded how he wasn’t going to be a father. She took that away from him, ripped it from his grasp, and she couldn’t stand the thought of taking something so precious away from such an amazing man.
After her daughter died, she went through many stages of grief. Obviously, denial was number one, then she started blaming Brady for not caring, for moving on, when in fact, he was trying to forget the pain. She could understand that now. Then she went numb, where she didn’t move for days on end. Then she moved into acceptance, she accepted the fact that she was the one who did this; she was the one who brought this upon everyone.
Last night, when she was cleaning around the house, she saw Brady talking to Marc outside. She saw the slump in Brady’s shoulders, the way he was so deflated. She did that to him. She brought down a strong man and made him weak. She took away the one precious thing in the world he wanted more than anything. She took his baby away, and she would never forgive herself for that.
That was why she needed to leave, she needed to get out. She couldn’t be reminded of the pain and hurt she caused Brady any more. They were too damaged and they needed to move on…separately.
The door flew open, and standing in a robe with iguanas with crowns gracing the fabric was Albert, holding a cup of coffee.
“Oh, sweet Jesus. Girl, you know never to visit me before ten in the morning. I look atrocious.”
Jane looked up at Albert with tears in her eyes. He took in her appearance and noticed the suitcases on either side of her and gasped in a very Albert-like fashion.
“Jane…please don’t tell me…”
Jane cleared her throat and said, “Albert, can I stay with you for a while?”
At first, she was afraid he was going to say no; he was such a huge fan of Brady’s, but instead of turning her away, making her go back to her husband, he set his coffee down on the side table in his entryway and pulled Jane into his apartment while grabbing her suitcases.
“You can stay as long as you need, Janey Bear.”
Two months later…
“You’re doing great, love. You’re almost there,” Connor spoke into Lucy’s ear as her head pressed against his shoulder and her back braced against his chest.
“I can’t do this,” Lucy shook her head with self-doubt.
“Maybe if you spread your legs a little further and act like it’s just another day on the toilet, it will slip right out,” Austin added from the side, while holding one of Lucy’s legs up.
Both Lucy and Connor slowly turned their heads toward Austin in disgust and glared at him. Lucy was on hour twenty of labor and Austin finally showed up an hour ago, barely sober.
“Not…helpful,” Lucy grunted.
Austin shrugged his shoulders, grabbed the cup of ice chips that was resting on a table next to them, and popped them in his mouth. “It’s just a suggestion; you don’t have to get that twisted look on your face.”
“Why are you here?” Connor asked. “If you’re going to be an asshole, just leave.”
“You would like that, wouldn’t you?” Austin played with the anklet Lucy was wearing as he spoke. “You forget the fact that it’s my semen that knocked your girlfriend up, so I don’t plan on going anywhere. It’s time to see my baby’s head come out of Lucy’s vagina.”
“You’ve barely been here during the whole pregnancy, why would you be here now? You don’t deserve the title of father,” Connor spat back.
“And, like you do?” Austin asked, while glancing down at Lucy’s vagina, inspecting it for any possible crowning. “You’ve been a mere servant to Lucy during this pregnancy. You have no right to even be here. Actually, you can leave.”
Like the ass he was, Austin let Lucy’s leg go and started to pull on Connor’s arm to pull him out from under Lucy.
A loud groan escaped Lucy’s mouth as she leaned forward and pushed just as Austin pulled on Connor’s arm, making Connor lose his balance on the bed and fall, so the bottom half of his body was cradling Lucy and the top half was hanging off the side, being pulled on by Austin.
“Stop!” Lucy shouted, as she pushed some more.
“He doesn’t deserve to be here,” Austin countered, while he continued to pull on Connor.
“Get the hell off of me,” Connor shouted, losing his balance.
“That’s it!” Dr. Cuevas said, as she stood up from a crouched position in front of Lucy. “Both of you, out!”
“What?” Austin and Connor said at the same time, as if their fight wasn’t a massive disturbance.
“Lucy’s heart rate is out of control; you’re making this worse. Just leave so she can focus on giving birth.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Connor said, while puling himself back up and wrapping his arms around Lucy.
Connor had been waiting for this day. Even though the baby was technically Austin’s—who really paid attention to DNA?—Connor considered the baby his as well. Lucy moved into his house right before Christmas and they were engaged to be married, date slated for the fall. They were taking a long engagement because Lucy thought she would be able to lose her baby weight by then. Connor didn’t believe Lucy had gained much weight, but she had a different opinion on the topic.
They were enjoying another peaceful evening out on the patio, staring up at the stars, when Lucy’s water broke. Even though Connor’s heart was racing, he refrained from the stereotypical freak out where he drove to the hospital without the pregnant woman and instead, calmly and rationally helped Lucy change and then guided her to the car with her hospital bag in tow. While Lucy spoke of her concerns on the way to the hospital, Connor spoke soothingly to her, even though his grip on the steering wheel was tight enough to leave indentations. And when Lucy asked him to call Austin, to let him know Lucy’s water broke, he refrained from reaching through his phone and choking the drunk bastard.
Now that Austin finally was in the room and was trying to kick Connor out, that was the last straw. He’d put up with a lot of Austin’s crap over the past eight months of this pregnancy,
“She doesn’t want you here, dickweed,” Austin stated, while crossing his hands.
“What the hell would you know? You’ve been drunk off your ass since Thanksgiving.”
“I know that you have a small penis,” Austin countered.
About to attack Austin, Connor’s fist closed tightly, just as a monitor to the side of Lucy started beeping loudly, causing the people in the room to turn their attention to her blood pressure monitor.
“Her blood pressure is too high,” Dr. Cuevas said, while stripping the protective mask off her face. “Lucy, we’re going to need you to push; the baby’s head isn’t even crowning.”
“I can’t,” Lucy shook her head and fell back on Connor, who really started to worry.
“Lucy, you can’t rest; you need to get this baby out.”
Lucy didn’t respond. In Connor’s arms, she almost seemed lifeless.
“Lucy. Lucy, can you hear me?” Dr. Cuevas asked, drawing concern from both Connor and Austin. Quickly turning to her staff, Dr. Cuevas started directing them to prepare an operating room for an emergency cesarean. “Mr. Cartwright, you’re going to have to get off the table so we can wheel Lucy away.”
“What’s happening?” Connor asked, not wanting to leave Lucy, but doing as the doctor asked so she could help her.
“Lucy is going into shock. We need to get the baby out now. The nurses will direct you where to go. I suggest you two shut your mouths, get along, and start thinking good thoughts for Lucy and the baby.”
In a flash, Dr. Cuevas followed a wheeled out Lucy down the hall as a nurse came up to Connor and Austin and directed them to a room where they washed up and put on blue scrubs.
Their bickering instantly went cold, and in its place, silent prayers reached out for Lucy and the baby. As if their movements were choreographed, they walked through the steps of prepping for surgery and were escorted into the same room as Lucy, who now had a mask over her face with her bikini line already prepped to be cut open.
Connor walked over to Lucy, where he leaned down to her ear and kissed her temple carefully.
“It’s going to be okay, love. I promise,” Connor whispered, praying that his bickering with Austin hadn’t affected her. “I’m sorry for causing you so much stress, but I’m here now, just for you.”
As Dr. Cuevas walked in the room with her arms held up in the air, Austin stood to the side with his eyes widened with what Connor could only assume was fear. The snarky asshole look he wore on his face on a day-to-day basis was nowhere to be found. He was scared, and for once in his lifetime, Connor could relate to him.
Dr. Cuevas worked diligently with her team, but Connor heard nothing as he focused on Lucy’s beautiful face and hoped that her eyes would peek open for him soon. Caressing her hair, he spoke directly into her ear about the baby they would be bringing home and the family they were going to start.
Connor was about to start talking about the family vacations they would be going on when the shrill cry of a newborn lit up the room. Momentarily, Connor’s attention was drawn away from Lucy, as he watched a beautiful baby boy enter the world.
He was tiny, tinier than expected.
“Call the NICU,” Dr. Cuevas called out.
NICU? Connor watched as the baby was torn away from Lucy, suctioned, and without even asking, the umbilical cord was cut so the baby could be rushed away.
“What’s going on?” Austin asked from the corner of the room, his hands behind his back and his stance deflated.
Before Dr. Cuevas could answer, Lucy’s heart rate monitor started to sound off, indicating a low beat. Connor looked up at the monitor to see the number on the screen rapidly falling, as a nurse to the side kept calling out numbers that were decreasing in value.
In the background, behind the shrill of the heart rate monitor, Connor could hear Dr. Cuevas talking about a placental rupture. She called out to the staff, asking for cotton and tools, but all Connor could focus on was the number on the heart rate monitor and watch it drop drastically until the telltale sound of a flat line screamed across the sterile walls.
A defibrillator was placed in Dr. Cuevas’ hands as Connor was torn away from Lucy.
“Clear,” Dr. Cuevas called out, right before Lucy’s body was jerked on the operating room table. The entire room looked up at the heart rate monitor and then cleared the table again. After a few more tries, Connor watched in horror as Dr. Cuevas tossed the defibrillator handles to the side and wiped her brow with her blood-soaked hand.
One of the nurses somberly walked up to the monitor and switched it off, causing silence to fall in the room.
Connor’s heart bottomed out, his skin turned cold, and his knees went weak as he turned toward Lucy, the love of his life…to see her lifeless body displayed on the table.
“Lucy, love, come back,” Connor called out, as he placed his cheek against hers. “Lucy, fight baby. Fight and come back.”
A hand gripped Connor’s shoulder, and when he looked up, he saw Dr. Cuevas hovering over him. With a sorrowful nod, she said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Cartwright.”
Without even taking a second glance at Dr. Cuevas, Connor’s gaze fell on Austin, who was crouched against the wall with his head in his hands, while his shoulders shook from the sobs that escaped him.
At that moment, Connor couldn’t even be mad at the bastard, because the only emotion he was feeling was complete and utter loss.
Lucy was dead and there was a baby boy fighting for his life in another room, far away from his lifeless mother.
Fidgeting on the plush leather couch that was pressed up against the taupe painted wall of Dr. Drake’s office, Luke sat patiently as Dr. Drake reviewed the notes he’d spent the last half hour writing.
For the last few months, Luke had made it his mission to clear his head and try to live an undisturbed, normal life with his daughter and Molly. He’d had his setbacks, moments in time where he’d been brought back to a horrid hell that not even the most heinous of people should experience.
Living with his daughter, Winnie, had been a privilege. Every day she lit up his world with her curly blonde hair and adorable smile. Her crazy antics and fearlessness were the perfect combination of him and Molly. He woke up every day, waiting to hear her little voice and cherish the time he could spend with her, even if it was listening to her scream the “lyrics” to “Let It Go,” even if it was more gibberish than anything.
A low hum came from Dr. Drake right before he looked up at Luke and asked, “Are you ready for this?”
Sweat started to trickle down his back as he thought about what was next in his life.
“Not really. No one knows what happened to me out there but you. I’m ashamed. I don’t want to continue to relive that time in my life.”
“You know this is the next step, right Luke? Last session we came to these terms.”
“I know,” Luke said, as he pulled on his jeans to reposition them. “I don’t want her to look at me differently. I can already see the pity in her eyes.”
“Pity or concern, Luke?”
Maybe both, Luke thought to himself. Molly still walked around on eggshells around him; she still babied him and didn’t treat him like the man he used to be…an issue that had really started to build up inside of him. He wanted nothing more than to go back to the way things used to be, when he was Molly’s Man, where he had no problem protecting her and keeping her safe. Now, it was the other way around. Molly was the one who guarded him, who made sure he was protected from the outside world. He almost felt emasculated, a feeling he had yet to speak to her about, something Dr. Drake wanted him to voice.
“I don’t know,” Luke pinched the bridge of his nose. “I just don’t want to feel any less of a man than I do around her. I’m barely holding on, Doc.”
“A very valid feeling to have, Luke, but what have we discussed? In order for you to move on, to be the man yo
“I know I do. It’s just terrifying. What if she doesn’t want to be with me after she hears everything? I don’t think I can lose her and Winnie again. I wouldn’t be able to recover.”
Dr. Drake took off his glasses and carefully set his hands on his lap. “Luke, I understand your feelings and your reservations, they are authentic to your situation, but in my honest opinion, you’re ready. This is the next step and we need to keep pushing forward, keep searching for that healthy mental state.”
Luke nodded his head in agreement, knowing damn well this was the next step, but a terrifying one.
“Okay, let’s get her in here.”
With a small smile on his face, Dr. Drake got out of his chair and walked out to the waiting room, where Luke knew Molly was sitting patiently. The first half hour of their session consisted of reminding Luke of his feelings, his progression in the real world, and recapping his tasks that were set forth by Dr. Drake. The second half of his session was set aside for couple’s counseling, the first couple’s counseling he would experience.
The light click of Molly’s heels echoed through the quiet doctor’s office, warning Luke that she was nearing. With his hands entangled together, he looked up to the doorway to see Molly step into the comforting and neutral-colored room. Just like every morning when he rolled over to see her sleeping, his breath escaped him as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen walked into the room. She was wearing a pair of dark jeans, nude colored heels, and a white blouse. Her hair was pulled back into a low bun and her makeup was very light, showing off her striking features. She would always be the love of his life.
As she approached him, she glanced up and smiled, reassuring him that it was going to be okay. Luke scooted over on the couch, giving her some room, but when she sat down, she sat right next to him and grabbed ahold of his hand. She leaned up into him and pressed a sweet kiss on his jaw right before she said, “You’re so incredibly brave for inviting me in here. Thank you.”
Hit and Run (Hot-Lanta #4) by Meghan Quinn / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes