Home > Surprise Delivery(16)

Surprise Delivery(16)
Author: R.R. Banks

“This Duncan sounds like a pretty incredible guy,” she tells me.

I shrug. “I don't know him well enough to know for sure,” I reply.

“Maybe not with your brain,” Ida says. “But, if you were comfortable enough to sleep with him, your heart obviously knows something different.”

“Yeah, my heart or something else,” I say and laugh.

“I know you're not that kind of a woman,” Ida says. “I know you're far more discerning than that.”

“Yeah well, I can sure pick them. I don't even know if I'm ever going to see him again.”

“Did he say he was coming back? And that he wanted to see you?”

I pick at a napkin on the table, tearing strips off and toss them onto an empty tray. Fidgeting. It's what I do when I'm nervous or uncomfortable.

“That's what he said,” I reply.

“And does he strike you as a man who breaks his word?”

I shrug. “I honestly don't know,” I say. “I don't know a whole lot about him, honestly. I mean, we were only together for a few hours.”

“Instincts,” Ida states simply. “What do your instincts say? What does your gut tell you about him? Is he honest? Does he keep his word?”

I cock my head and look at her. “On a gut level, yeah, I guess he strikes me as somebody who's true to their word.”

She gives me a smile. “Well, give him the opportunity to keep his word to you,” she says. “Don't pre-judge him because that is only going to build up resentment inside of you. And once the resentment starts, it's awful hard to wash it away again. It just makes you see somebody differently – no matter how hard you try to not let it.”

She's probably right about that. In fact, I'm sure she's right about that. I'm not at a point where I feel resentment right now, but I know it's something I should probably remain on guard about. Not even just for Duncan, but for everything in my life.

“The other thing is that you need to take that test, Lexi,” Ida tells me. “You need to know. If for no other reason than to put your own mind and heart at ease.”

“I know, I get it,” I sigh. “It just scares the hell out of me.”

“Of course it does, hon,” she says. “Those two little words – I'm pregnant – would change your entire life. They'd turn your entire world on its head. Having a child is no small thing.”

“Tell me about it,” I groan. “But we were safe. I mean –”

When Ida gives me the look, I bite my words off – simply because I know exactly what she's going to say next.

“You know as well as I do that nothing is one hundred percent, Lexi,” she says softly. “Even if you use protection, there is always going to be a chance.”

And there it is – exactly what I knew she was going to say, almost word for word. My heart sinks a little more, as if her words somehow start making things more concrete in my mind again. There's a flutter of butterfly wings in my chest and my stomach roils as I listen to her words, knowing she's one hundred percent right.

“I know,” I say. “I know you're right. Believe me, I do.”

“Then you need to find out,” she says. “There are ten thousand practical considerations you need to account for if it turns out that you are pregnant.”

“Only ten thousand? I figured there'd be a lot more than that.”

She laughs softly and takes my hand again. “Not the least of which is finding some way to track down the baby's father and letting him know,” she says. “You're not in this alone, hon. And if he's half the man you seem to think he is, he'll step up to the plate in a heartbeat.”

I nod and purse my lips. I know she's right and I happen to believe that Duncan is the sort of man who'd step up if he knew I was pregnant. At the same time, I fear telling him I'm carrying his child – that is, if I can ever find him. I don't want him feeling trapped or pressured to do anything. To be anything. For all I know, what we shared the night of the gala was a one-night thing for him. Like I said earlier, thoughts and feelings have a way of changing with some distance and perspective.

I shudder to think what life would be like if Duncan felt obligated to be with me simply because I had his child. Talk about something that builds up resentment. When people are forced to do something, they don't want to do, things can get ugly in a hurry. That's not the kind of life I want to live, nor is it the kind of life I want my child to be exposed to.

If I'm actually pregnant.

“Before you do anything though,” Ida says. “You need to take that test and find out whether you are, or you aren't.”

I nod. “You're right, Ida. You're right,” I say.

“And once you know for sure, you can either breathe a hell of a lot easier,” she says. “Or, you can start making your plans for your life moving forward.”

“I'm scared,” I whisper as tears well in my eyes.

“I know you are, hon,” she says softly. “And you'd be a fool not to be. If there's one thing I've learned about you these last couple of years, it's that you are strong, Lexi. Stronger than you give yourself credit for. Maybe even stronger than you actually know. And I know that no matter what happens, that strength is gonna carry you through. You are going to be okay. No matter what. I know this about you.”

My smile is weak and forced as a tear rolls down my cheek. “I wish I had your confidence about that.”

“That's okay, hon,” she says, gripping my hand a little tighter. “I'll be confident enough in it for the both of us until you come around to that realization yourself. That strength is in you, Lexi. You just need to figure out how to find it, then tap in to it.”

Though I appreciate her sentiment, the only thing I'm sure of at the moment is that I sure as hell don't feel strong.

I don't feel strong at all.

With a sigh, I take off my bloody gown and mask, then drop them into the receptacle. Today was a tough day. I had four people come through my operating theater and I was only able to save one of them. The injuries on the other three were just way too extensive and they'd lost too much blood by the time I got them on my table.

Days like today suck.

“You okay?”

I turn and give Sandra a nod. “Yeah, just a tough one today.”

“Yeah,” she replies. “I hear that.”

I wash my hands thoroughly, wanting nothing more in that minute than a stiff drink. Or twelve. Grabbing a towel, I dry my hands as Sandra steps to the sink and washes her own hands. I throw my towel into the hamper with some heat on it, drawing her attention.

“You can't win every time, Duncan,” she says softly. “In a place like this, the deck is stacked against us from the start. There's only so much we can do.”

“Yeah, I know,” I sigh. “Doesn't make it suck any less.”

“No, it doesn't,” she replies. “But, for whatever it's worth, I think you're winning more of the fights than you're losing.”

“We are,” I correct her. “We're winning more fights than we're losing. I can't do what I do without a good team. And I certainly hope we are.”

A small smile touches her lips and I see color flaring in her cheeks, the praise obviously pleasing to her. I glance at my watch. My surgical rotation is over for the day, but I still have work to do. In a strange way, I enjoy the frenetic energy of this place, but it also doesn't ever seem to stop. Honestly, I could do with a couple of days off in a row – just a little time to get away from all of the blood and recharge my batteries.

Unfortunately, I don't see the fighting stopping anytime soon, which kind of precludes that from ever happening.

“I've got rounds to make,” I tell her.

“Catch you later,” she says.

I nod and push through the door and head down the corridor toward the recovery unit. After such a shit day filled with nothing but death, being able to sit and talk to some of our success stories might do me some good. It will hopefully lift my spirits a bit. I can sure as hell use something to pick me up.

I walk down the long hallway that leads from the operating theaters to the recovery unit, passing a man using a powerful smelling disinfectant as he mops the floor. The walls are chipped, scarred, and in dire need of some paint. It's the exact opposite of the hospital I came from – almost prehistoric in its conditions. But the staff does everything in their power to keep it up and running. It's clean – spotless, really – so, at least it has that going for it. I've been impressed with how dedicated the staff here is. The funding isn't great, the conditions are worse, but everybody who works for this outfit is devoted. Committed. Passionate. That much I can get behind.

I push through the swinging doors and step into the recovery unit. I walk down the aisle, beds with patients in various states of recovery on either side of me. I stop and check the charts and have a few words with of a few of the more seriously injured I'd operated on, pleased to see that they seem to be improving. I obviously can't communicate with some of them, given the fact that I can't speak Arabic, but more than a few know passable English.

After almost an hour of checking in with everybody, I find myself standing at the foot of the bed of the boy whose leg I managed to save. He's propped up on his pillows reading a comic book, his leg held up in a suspended sling from above. He finally realizes I'm standing there and puts the comic book down, favoring me with a wide smile.

“Doctor Duncan,” he greets, his English surprisingly strong.

“Nizar,” I say and return his smile. “How are you feeling today?”

He nods. “I'm doing okay,” he says, then points to his leg. “It still hurts.”

I sit down on the edge of the bed beside him and look at his leg. The bandages are fresh, so the nurses are keeping up with it and helping guard against infection, which is good.

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