Cabin Fever

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Chapter Twelve

November fourteenth, the day of Riley’s court hearing was upon them. It was the day she had dreaded since she cut the brake line and watched Aaron slam into the tree. Scott gently shook Riley, waking her up. She was exhausted after worrying all night about the outcome of this day. Although, they had mitigated her charges. The charge of arson was dropped as they only wanted to pursue the larger charges that still had been reduced to assault with a deadly weapon.

She was now thirty seven weeks pregnant and feeling huge. Looking straight up at the window, she squinted at the bright sunlight. Pulling herself out of bed, she showered then met Scott downstairs for breakfast. Nauseated, she forced herself to eat, knowing she needed it and also because it may be the last time she eats anything but jail food.

By the time they left the house, it had started a cold rain that was pouring down as they arrived at the courthouse. Scott was almost as nervous as she was but tried not to show it as he escorted her into the large court room where a small crowd had accumulated. Looking at their faces, she knew they were mostly the family members of her victims. Not seeing Hank, she felt relieved.

Her attorney, Mr. Lenard, was already at the table, waiting on them. After their last meeting three days prior, they were confident that they had all the relevant information and proof they needed to successfully try this case.

Silence fell over the room as the judge and jury entered the room. The judge was an older woman with short black hair and glasses. Then she looked over the attendants of the jury. Everyone took their seats and the prosecution started with their opening statements. Their words made her feel guilty about what she had done, but as Mr. Lenard told the court their opening statement, she felt as a victim again.

All the evidence had been entered from both sides and Mr. Lenard called Hannah to the stand. Riley cried with her as she knew Hannah was telling the court about the worst experience in her life. The day seemed to pass quickly and now it was her turn on the stand.

Her hands were shaking and she was fighting back tears as she began to tell her story. Suddenly, she felt a strong pain in her stomach that made her almost lose her breath. Trying to hide the pain from Scott and everyone else, she tried to remain calm as she answered the questions she had been asked. The pain seemed to go away as quickly as it appeared.

Continuing to answer the questions from both the prosecution and her defense, she felt the pain again. Drawing in a deep breath, she hoped she wasn’t starting to go into labor at this moment. The pain further brought tears to her eyes then suddenly went away. First she answered questions and explained her vile experience at the cabin, then they asked her questions about their murders and she explained everything, in detail, to the court.

Returning to the table beside Mr. Lenard, she wiped her eyes as she looked at Scott, his family and her family then sat down. The courtroom remained silent while the prosecution entered their closing statements, with words that cut through her. Then the defense entered theirs, reminding her that she was the victim, causing significant damage to her mentally, emotionally and physically. Just after the jury disappeared to begin their deliberations, Riley and the entire family gathered just outside the doors of the courtroom. Noah and Aleah left to grab some food, hoping to get back in time before the jury finished.

Riley was crying while she sat down on the bench, knowing the worse was yet to come. Although it was extremely difficult to talk about her weekend at he cabin, she knew from this moment on, their decision would have the biggest impact on her life. Again, she felt the pain but still hid it from everyone as she rubbed her belly.

Looking at her belly, Scott seen the movement as the baby was moving around inside her. He smiled and placed his hand on her stomach. Leaning her head back against the wall, she merely mumbled. “Oh, God, please don’t make me have to have this baby in jail.”

Scott sat on the bench beside her and pulled her into his arms. “I know, honey, I know.” He said although she wasn’t talking to him, she was talking to God.

Riley refused to eat, she was too nervous and nauseated, even though Scott intently encouraged her. She knew if she was found guilty, even if she didn’t spend the rest of her life in prison, all her schooling would be in vain, knowing they would never allow her to work in the field she had studied for.

Merely two and a half hours after they exited the courtroom, they reentered. Standing while the judge and jury entered the room, everyone sat down. The judge spoke a few words before the verdict was read, stating that she was content that Riley was receiving mental help, but she strongly recommended she continue, regardless of the outcome.

As the judge had ended adding her input, she asked the defense to rise. Drawing in a deep breath as she stood, her knees felt weak and she was more nervous then she had ever been since she was at the cabin. Her fists were clenched as all she heard was ‘not guilty’ and the words echoed in her mind. With her hands on the table, she dropped to her knees. Leaning her face into her hands, she heard the cheers and grumbles as she began to cry.

It took her a minute to pull herself up and she hugged Mr. Lenard. Hearing the judge pound her mallet on the desk, the courtroom fell silent and Riley turned to face her. “Congratulations, Mrs. Goldman, you have been acquitted on all charges and therefore, you are free to go.” Mr. Lenard turned to shake hands with Scott and the entire family.

Riley ran around the railing to hug Scott, then Noah and Aleah, then Sharon and Jim. Then she turned and ran towards the door. Her family followed her as she ran out the large double doors and stopped just before the steps leading to the street. Holding her hands out and looking into the sky, it was now snowing, just as hard as it was the day she was picked up hitchhiking, by the three. But the snow didn’t bring back the memory, instead, she felt it was a new season, and a new start on life. Although now, her fear will be concentrated on Hank.

The entire group gathered together for dinner after the long, stressful day. They were seated around a large, round table in the middle of the room. Riley was suddenly feeling much better, and starving as she gained her appetite back. While she was eating, she suddenly felt the pain again. Feeling she no longer had to hide it, she grabbed her stomach with one hand and Scott’s shoulder with the other.

“Scott, I think when I’m done eating, you need to take me to the hospital.”

“Oh my God, Riley. Are you going into labor?” Scott was suddenly anxious.

“I don’t know, but I’ve been having sharp pains.” She said as the pain quickly faded away.

“When did these pains start?” Scott questioned her.

“When I was on the stand.”

“Why didn’t you tell me, we could have gotten a continuance to take you to the hospital.”

“No, Scott, I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to get this trial done and over with, and then worry about it. At least they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take me straight to jail right away.”

“Ok. Let’s eat, then I’ll take you straight there.” Scott said.

Everyone left the restaurant and followed them to the hospital. Riley was quickly brought back to a room where they strapped belts across her belly, that was hooked to monitors. Everyone gathered around the bed, excited, but when the doctor entered, everyone but Scott left the room.

It was not her normal doctor, but the doctor on staff. He introduced himself to both Scott and Riley before looking at the printouts from the monitors. He merely nodded his head then slipped on a pair of rubber gloves.

“I’m going to examine you to see if you’re dilated.” He said as he walked around to the foot of the bed. “Is this your first child?”

“Yes.” They both answered then looked at each other and smiled.

“Ok. This won’t hurt.” He said as he initiated the examination. “You… are not in labor.”

“But the pains…?” She said.

“You were probably having false labor. The pain comes and goes at different times, comes and goes quickly and doesn’t get any worse.”

She thought about it for a minute. “Yes.”

“False labor is common. You’ll know when they get more frequent, are consistent in time in between and become progressively stronger. And your water may break.”

“So, I can go home, for now anyways.”

“Yes. I’ll send the nurse in with your discharge papers.”

“Thank you, Dr…?”

“Dr. Wheeler.”

“Dr. Wheeler.” Scott repeated as he shook the doctors hand.

Turning back towards Riley, she already had the belts off and sitting on the side of the bed. Everyone else came back into the room. “It’s only false labor.” Riley announced to them.

They seemed relieved and disappointed at the same time, having raised their excitement. But everyone felt it had been a long day already, it didn’t need to be longer. The baby could at least wait until tomorrow. Sharon hugged everyone as Jim shook hands with Scott and Noah and hugged Riley and Aleah, as Sharon and Jim decided it was time to go home.

With Noah deciding to go home, he hugged Riley and Aleah, then shook Scott’s hand before they all left the room. Giving them both a hug, Aleah decided to return to her apartment for the night, giving Scott and Riley time alone. It was dark by the time Scott and Riley returned home. She walked in the house and looked around, drawing in a deep breath and smiling, she was never so happy to be home.

Without turning on any lights, they both went straight to the bedroom. Riley changed her clothes, then joined him in bed. Wrapping his arms around her, they were only interested in spending time with each other as they lay silently in the dark. He kissed the top of her head just as she fell asleep. Riley slept better that night then she has in a year.

As the days grew colder and the snow came and went, she felt relieved and more confident not hearing from Hank. It was the morning of Thanksgiving, Scott had already pulled himself out of bed, letting her sleep. Just before she woke, she slipped into a dream. She was laying, tied to the bed at the cabin. She could smell and feel the cold urine she laid in. Instantly she was angered and frustrated, being there again. Suddenly she opened her eyes and as she realized it was a dream, she realized she had peed the bed. She was embarrassed as she pulled herself up, throwing the sheets off. She showered then stuffed the soiled sheets and clothes in the washing machine, hoping it would dry before Scott discovered her accident.

Both of their families gathered at their house for a big dinner. Sharon and Aleah cooked, insisting that Riley remain relaxed, knowing she didn’t need to be on her feet all day, cooking, this late in her pregnancy. For the last few days, she couldn’t explain why she felt extremely exhausted, like she had been early in pregnancy. The false labor continued, but was sporadic and she had grown weary of the pregnancy, eager for the birth.

Riley walked into the kitchen where Sharon and Aleah both were, hungry and looking for a snack and something to drink. Suddenly, she felt the pain as she grabbed a hold of the counter with one hand and her belly with the other. Drawing in a deep breath, she let it out slowly.

“You know, Riley, that false labor is going to turn into the real thing one of these days.”

“I know.” She said, standing still until the pain went away.

With not much energy, she lazed around the house all day. Then ate too much at dinner time and felt more uncomfortable for hours as she continued to laze around. Just after dark, everyone left to go home, leaving Scott and Riley alone. He sat on the couch and she laid her head on his leg. As he watched TV, she fell asleep.

She didn’t remember going to bed as she opened her eyes the next morning, immediately feeling the intense ache in her lower back. She could hear the shower running and knew Scott was getting ready for work. Joining him in the bathroom, he was unaware that she used the toilet, until she accidentally flushed it. Scott peeked out the curtain as a pain came over her that set her back down on the toilet. Looking up at him, she shrugged her shoulders as she held her belly.

After Scott got dressed, she followed him downstairs and spent the time with him before he left to go to work. With her strong backache still present, she laid on the couch most of the day. The pains began to feel different to her, but she brushed them off. An hour before she expected him home from work, she began dinner, taking frequent breaks to rest her aching back. Riley glanced at the clock and assumed that Scott would be home in approximately fifteen minutes.

Catching something from the corner of her eye, she looked to see Hank standing in the doorway. Fear and pain both came over her and she stood to her feet as she grabbed her belly. In two quick steps, he grabbed her and wrestled her to the floor. With her hips between his knees, he sat on her thighs and pinned her hands beneath his knees.

“I told you, you’re going to pay for what you did. You didn’t go to jail, so now, someone must die.” He said as he pulled a long rubber strip from his pocket, then a syringe, holding it up. “I thought maybe I could kill two birds with one stone.” He said as he tightened the rubber band around her arm. Screaming, she struggled with him but felt the needle as it went into her arm. Drawing out a trace of blood to assure it was in her vein, he removed the rubber band then injected the contents into her arm.

“What was that?” She asked, frantically.

“Don’t worry, it won’t harm you or your baby. Besides, you’re not the one I want to kill. I want to make you suffer for the rest of you life, so while you’re about to give a life, I’m about to take one.”

She heard what he was saying, but his words faded as the rush of the drug washed over her, leaving her incomprehensibly high and in a severe stupor. Pulling her up to set her back against the cupboard doors, he knew she wouldn’t be going anywhere, Hank hid in another room, waiting for Scott, and also knowing he would return soon.

Knowing he should have called her, Scott made a stop on the way home without doing so, making him thirty minutes later than normal. He was ready to apologize to her as he walked in the door, smelling the food. Assuming she was in the kitchen, he walked towards it. Seeing her feet first, he ran towards her. Kneeling beside her, she seemed unconscious and checked for a pulse. As he touched her, she began moving her head back and forth, just beginning to come out of her stupor. Just as he reached for his phone, he felt the cold barrel against his head.

“Slowly take your hand out of your pocket and hold them where I can see them.” Seeing both of Scott’s hands, Hank continued. “You were supposed to be here a half an hour ago. Now look, the drug is starting to wear off.”

“What drug, what did you give her?” Scott asked Hank.

“Don’t worry, it wont hurt her or the baby.”

“What do you want from us?” Scott asked.

“I want your wife to suffer for the rest of her life, so I’m going to take the one thing that means the most to her right now… your life.” Hank said as he reached for Scott’s gun.

Just as the words finished coming out of Hank’s mouth, Scott grabbed his hand, elbowed him in the rib cage and jerked his head away just as the gun fired, the bullet hitting the kitchen counter just above Riley’s head. Feeling a strong pain come on, Riley moaned as it pulled her further out of her stupor. Opening her eyes, she focused them in on Scott and Hank as they fought with the gun, just beside her. She felt helpless as she still could barely move.

Scott pinned Hank against the wall, pounding his hand against the wall until the gun fell out of it. Then he punched Hank in the face and held him up with his forearm against Hank’s throat. Hank reached to grab Scott’s gun from his chest holster. Holding it up, he pointed it at Scott’s head. Just as he pulled the trigger, Scott moved his head but the bullet still went into his skull. Scott collapsed on the floor.

“NO!” Riley screamed and found the strength to grab Hank’s gun that had landed on the floor beside her. Hank turned to look at her as she struggled to raise the gun. He lunged at her and she squeezed the trigger, the bullet landing just above his navel. Dropping to his knees, he grabbed his stomach with one hand and reached for the gun with the other.

Riley squeezed the trigger again, the bullet landing in Hank’s neck. Gasping for air, he fell face first to the floor. Riley climbed towards Scott and felt him for a pulse. Finding it, she was instantly relieved but still scared to death. Searching his pocket, she pulled out his cell phone and called 9-1-1.

The wait for an answer seemed forever as her hands were shaking so bad, she nearly dropped the phone. “I need an ambulance. My husband is a cop, he’s been shot in the head. He’s still alive.” Riley was crying and almost yelled at the woman.

“Ok, calm down, ma’am, I’m sending the ambulance and the police right now. Is the person who shot him still in the house?”

“Yes. I think I killed him.” She said looking over at Hank who was laying still in a pool of blood.

“Ok. What is your name?”

“Riley, Riley Goldman.” She sobbed.

“Is your husband Scott Goldman?”

“Yes.” She answered and heard silence on the other end for a minute.

“The ambulance is on its way. I want you to talk to him, let him know you’re there.”

“Ok.” Without disconnecting, she laid the phone down and stroked his face as she talked to him. “Oh Scott, please don’t leave me now, I need you, I love you and I don’t want to raise our baby without you.”

Even though she talked to him, he remained unresponsive but alive. Hearing the ambulance, she ran to the front door and opened it for them, then led them into the kitchen. “I think this one is dead.” She informed them as she pointed to Hank.

Suddenly, she felt another strong pain that brought her to her knees. The first four paramedics attended to Scott, but the fifth saw her as she fell to her knees.

“Are you alright Have you been shot or anything?” It was a woman that approached her.

“No, I’m fine, I’ve been having false labor, that’s all.” She told her.

“When are you due?” The woman asked her.

“In two days.” Riley answered her, still crying and watching the paramedics who attended to Scott.

“Ok, that’s pretty close. Are you sure you don’t want me to check you out?”

“No, I’ll be going to the hospital with him, anyways.” Riley said as she reached over and grabbed Scott’s cell phone, realizing it was still on.

“Ok.” The woman withdrew her care.

As they lifted Scott onto the gurney, the police arrived and Luke was wanting to talk to Riley. She told him he would have to catch up with her at the hospital, she was going with Scott. Climbing in the back of the ambulance after them, they rushed Scott to the hospital. Running behind them through the doors of the emergency room, she was stopped and diverted to a waiting room.

There were three other people occupying the same space, but she didn’t care as she dropped to her knees on the floor and rested her arms on a chair. She began praying to God to allow Scott’s survival. Feeling more guilty, she knew it was her fault for his critical injury. Realizing she still had Scott’s phone in her hand, she dialed his parent’s number with shaky hands.

“What’s going on, Scott?” Sharon answered, expecting to hear Scott’s voice.

Riley could hardly control her voice as she blurted it out. “Scott’s been shot!”

“Riley, are you at Newport General?” Sharon was suddenly terrified.

“Yes.” She simply said then heard the phone click. She knew they would be on their way. Then she picked up the phone and called Aleah.

Aleah didn’t recognize Scott’s number as he had never called her from his cell phone. “Hello?”

“Aleah, Scott’s been shot.” She sobbed, still trying to control her voice. Suddenly she felt the pain again and she turned around, still sitting on the floor with her back against the chair.

“Oh my God, Riley, where are you?”

“Newport General. Please call dad.” She said, grunting from the pain.

“Ok, I will and I’ll be right there.” She hung up the phone.

Pulling herself off the floor, she lifted herself into the chair and looked around the room at the other people who were looking at her. They managed a slight smile at her, through the pain and distress of their unknown situation.

She seemed to sit there forever before Sharon and Jim were the first to arrive. By the time she pulled herself out of her chair, they were to her, Sharon holding her arms open. “Riley, what happened?”

She began as she embraced Sharon tightly. “It was Hank. He shot Scott in the head. Scott is in surgery.”

“In the head, oh my God, Riley.” Sharon said and looked at her. “What happened? Where’s Hank?”

“I’m pretty sure he’s dead. I shot him in the throat. And his abdomen. He’s at our house. He shot me up with some type of drug.” She said, feeling another pain coming. Pulling away from Sharon, she sat down as the pain worsened. She drew in a deep breath and held it as she rubbed her belly.

“Riley, what kind of drug.? Are you still having false labor?” Sharon asked her, noting her physical status.

“Yes. I’ve been having the pains all day. And I don’t know what it was, but it sent me for a loop. I don’t know what happened between the time he injected it into my vein and the time I woke up with them struggling over the gun.”

“I think we need to have a doctor look you over. Are you sure they’re still false labor pains?”

“Yes, I’m pretty sure. I’m not due for two more days.” Riley said, the then words of the doctor crossed through her mind, explaining the difference between false and actual labor pains. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she could be in labor, as the pains were coming and going at a steady rate and seemed to be growing more intense. She just didn’t want to believe it could happen right now.

“Well, yes, but that baby can come two weeks before or two weeks after your due date.”

“I can’t deal with that right now.” Riley admitted, gritting her teeth as the pain peaked, then started to fade.

Aleah came through the door but Riley didn’t get up this time. Aleah came to her and hugged her, then hugged Sharon and Jim. “What’s going on?”

Still somewhat feeling the pain, she allowed Sharon to tell her. As Riley felt the strong pain disappear, she still felt the intense ache in her back. She needed to stand and walk around to see if that would help relieve it. Walking back and forth as Aleah and Sharon talked, she stood at the window and looked outside. Suddenly she felt the gush of fluid accompanied by another intense pain. She could feel her stomach tighten.

“Oh my God, please tell me this isn’t happening right now.” She thought out loud, looking down at the floor.

Sharon, Aleah and Jim looked over at her. Seeing Riley looking at the floor, they looked down and seen the puddle of fluid. Nearly falling to the floor, she took a step and fell into a chair as the pain intensified.

“Aleah, go get a nurse.” Sharon said as she walked towards Riley. “Riley, I had a feeling you were going into labor. Just by your appearance and facial expressions, but I wasn’t sure if it was solely because of Scott’s condition.” Sharon sat beside Riley and held her hand.

Aleah returned, followed by a nurse pushing a wheelchair. “I’m not leaving this room until I know whether Scott is going to be alright or not.” Riley stated.

“How about if we take you upstairs, just long enough to get you admitted and examined, then you can come back down.” The nurse suggested. “We’ll get you a hospital gown and stack waterproof pads beneath you so you can get out of those wet clothes.”

Riley drew in a deep breath, knowing it was the best thing to do. Pulling herself out of the chair, she spun around, sitting in the wheelchair. “I’ll let you know if we hear anything.” Sharon said and nodded as Aleah followed Riley.

Taking Riley directly into a room, the nurse provided her with two gowns and asked her to change, then the nurse left the room. As Riley was coming out of the bathroom, wearing the gowns, a different nurse entered the room carrying an IV bag and the tubing and needle to go with it. Sitting at the computer, she asked Riley her name and other questions as she registered her on the computer. Then she administered the IV.

Just as the nurse reached to attach the belts around her, Riley informed her that she would be going back down to the waiting room, as soon as she was examined, explaining the situation with Scott. The nurse was very sympathetic with her as she attached the belts anyways, just for a short while to get an initial reading.

Waiting approximately fifteen minutes, the nurse returned, followed by a resident doctor, who asked Riley questions as he examined her. She informed him that her bag of waters had already broken and she thinks she’s been in labor all day. Then she told him about the incident at the house and that she had been injected with an unknown drug, then asked to have a blood test to determine the substance.

Aleah just looked at her, astonished as the doctor immediately removed his gloves and went to the monitors to look at the printouts. He seemed relieved when the results were normal. “Whatever the drug was, it doesn’t seem to have any lasting effects, so far. These are normal.” He said, looking at her and shaking the printouts. “But, you are definitely in labor, in fact, you’re dilated to four. I understand you will be going back to the surgical waiting room, but if you’re there for a long period, I want you to return in a few hours to be examined again. Ok?” Riley nodded and the nurse continued. “The lab tech will be in shortly to draw your blood, then you may return to the waiting room. I will call your OBGYN to meet you here.”

Riley and Aleah watched as the doctor walked out of the room. “Riley, Hank shot you up with a drug?”

“Yes. I don’t know what it was, but it was kinda scary, but kinda cool. It completely incapacitated me. I don’t even know how long the drug lasted. He was sitting on top of me and the next thing I knew, I opened my eyes to see Scott and Hank fighting over a gun. I watched Hank shoot him in the head, Aleah.” Riley began to cry again.

Aleah sat on the edge of the bed and hugged her. “Riley, he’s been in surgery this long, that’s gotta be good news.”

“You’re right, Aleah.” She agreed but couldn’t stop crying.

Waiting another fifteen minutes for the lab technician to come in, he wrapped the rubber band around her arm and began to feel for a vein, she felt another pain coming on and knew they were certainly contractions. She tried to hide the pain but it peaked just as he inserted the needle into her arm. She held her belly with her other hand and moaned as she was fully aware that they were getting worse.

With the blood he needed for the requested test and all the routine tests, he left the room. As Riley sat up to climb out of bed, she felt another gush of fluid that left her gowns soaked. “Aleah, look around for more gowns.” She said.

Finding them in a closet, she handed a couple to Riley, knowing she was still loosing amniotic fluid. After changing her gowns, she grabbed a few more and made sure there were pads in the wheelchair before sitting in it. Aleah wheeled her back down to the waiting room.

Pushing the button to open the handicapped equipped doors, Aleah pushed her into the waiting room. “There hasn’t been any word yet?” Riley asked as she saw Sharon, Jim, and now Noah. Noah came to her and leaned down to hug her.

“No, nothing yet.” Sharon answered her.

“I can’t believe you’re going into labor right now.” Noah said.

“I know, dad. This is all just crazy.”

Hearing the door open, everyone turned to see who was coming through it. “Luke.” Sharon said.

“Mrs. Goldman, Mr. Goldman.” He said and shook Jim’s hand. Then he walked around and gave Riley a hug. “I’m so sorry. Any word on how he’s doing yet?”

“No.” Riley answered.

“Why are you in a wheelchair, a hospital gown?” He asked Riley.

“Because I’m in labor.”

“Really? Right now?”

“Yes. Is Hank dead?” She asked him.

“Yes.” He answered her.

Riley felt a wave of relief wash over her, followed by a strong contraction. Closing her eyes as it intensified, she took slow, deep breaths to deal with the pain. Gripping the metal around the wheels, she clenched her hands around them. Moving one wheel, she turned herself to face the door. Luke sat down beside Sharon and hugged her. “I’m so sorry.” He told her too.

After forty five minutes and three contractions later, a handsome doctor who appeared too young to be a doctor, walked into the room. “Party of Scott Goldman.” He announced in question.

“Here.” Riley raised her arm.

He walked over to them. “I’m Dr. Bennet. Are you his wife?” The doctor asked Riley.

“Yes, is he ok?”

“Well, he survived the gunshot, and the surgery, but we are having difficulty waking him. The next twenty four hours are critical. If he pulls through, there is a good chance he will survive. As soon as we get him situated in a room, the nurse will come and get you.” He looked up at Aleah and smiled. She smiled back at him, then watched him leave the room.

Riley began to cry harder, still hoping he would be fine. She waited the thirty minutes, surrounded by family, until they came to take them to his room. Aleah pushed Riley through the door, everyone quietly flooding in behind her. She nearly lost her breath when she seen him on a ventilator. Aleah pushed her up, directly beside his bed. Riley reached her hand out to his and spoke his name, but there was no squeeze, no response.

Still scared to death, Riley cried harder as she felt another contraction. “I need you right now, Scott.” She grunted as the pain increased.

Waiting as long as she could, she stayed by his side for an hour and a half, their families still surrounding him. “Aleah, can you take me back upstairs to my room.” She asked, her gown and the pads on the wheelchair all soaked as she continued to lose fluid. Aleah promptly agreed and pushed her out of the room. Sharon followed them.

Returning to her room, Aleah notified the nurse as Riley stood to walk into the bathroom to change. Her knees were feeling weak but she managed to stay on her feet. Laying on the bed, she covered up with the sheet, waiting for the doctor. She laid her head back and tried to relax, knowing the next contraction would be coming soon.

The nurse entered the room, followed by her regular obstetrician. “Riley. I heard about Scott, how is he?” He asked as the nurse attached the belts across her belly.

“I don’t know yet. He’s out of surgery, so far he’s survived. This is Scott’s mother, Sharon, and my sister Aleah.”

“Nice to meet you both. Scott knows he has a lot to live for.” Dr. Waterford said. Riley managed a smile at him. “Well, let’s see what we have here.” He said as he slipped on some rubber gloves. Lifting the sheet, he examined her. “Oh, you’re nearly eight centimeters. You’ve been busy, and probably in a lot of pain. Would you like something for that?”

“No, I’ve already had a drug, an unknown drug, injected into me. I don’t need any more. Check the lab results, they tested me to see what it was.”

Removing his gloves, he walked over to the monitors and checked the printouts, nodding his head. “Contractions look good, baby’s heart rate is good. Everything looks normal.” He said then went to the computer. Typing and clicking, he pulled up the lab results. “Heroine?” He thought out loud.

“Heroine?” Riley repeated.

“Heroine?” Sharon also repeated.

“Yes, it appears so. What happened?” Dr. Waterford asked.

“It’s a long story, but I was injected against my will.”

“Were you with Scott when he was shot?”

“Yes, I was just coming down from the high of the heroine. It was a man who had been stalking and threatening me, and my sister. I killed him, after he shot Scott.” She openly admitted to everyone.

“I’m glad to see you are alright after the attack. And the baby seems to be fine. I’m going to order you some antibiotics, they’re routine, and I’ll be back to check on you in about an hour.” He said, then squeezed her ankle and left the room.

Noah, Jim and Luke all stayed in the room with Scott, softly chatting. Jim and Luke had known each other for as long as he’s been partners with Scott, but Noah met Luke at the wedding when Luke was Scott’s best man.

As the next two hours passed, Riley’s pain had increased and she wasn’t sure if she could take much more pain as it was making her incoherent to her surroundings. Dr. Waterford entered the room to examine her only thirty minutes since his last exam. She barely realized he was there as she was in the midst of a severe contraction.

Leaving the room, he returned with a team of nurses. Sharon and Aleah knew it was time as they took their spots on either side of her. They still had not heard any word about changes in Scott’s condition. Disassembling the bed, the doctor removed the foot of the bed. He had to tell her repeatedly to scoot down as she could barely comprehend what was going on. The doctor turned on a bright light as the nurses placed her feet in the stirrups.

Speaking loudly, the doctor told Riley to push with her next contraction. Raising the head of the bed as far as it would go, they put her in a sitting position. She grew extremely nervous as the next contraction grew. “Push!” She heard the doctor say repeatedly. Drawing in a deep breath, she pushed as hard as she could.

Feeling the pressure increase with the pain, she continued to push as long as she could. Drawing in a few quick breaths, she heard the doctor repeat, “push”. Drawing in another deep breath, she pushed as hard as she could again. Feeling the head emerge, she screamed with the last of her breath.

Sharon and Aleah were both cheering her on, but she could only pay attention to her task at hand. Relaxing for only a minute, she caught her breath. The next contraction seemed to be right on top of the last as she felt the pain again. Drawing in a couple of deep breaths, she waited for the doctor to tell her to push. When he did, she did.

Feeling the shoulders coming through the birth canal, she screamed as it was the worst pain she had ever felt in her life. With an extended push, they were out. She took a deep breath and relaxed for just a second, until the doctor told her to keep pushing, the baby was almost out. Drawing in a deep breath, she pushed one last time to feel the entire baby exit out of her.

Her entire body went limp as she collapsed onto the bed. Sharon and Aleah were both crying and smiling, but Riley lay still with her eyes closed, trying to catch her breath. Feeling them lay the baby on her stomach, she looked up as he announced. “It’s a boy.”

Riley gathered all her remaining energy to lean up and look at her son. Tears poured out of her eyes as they finished wiping him and wrapped him up. In the minutes they allowed her to hold him, she looked down at her son, smiling and crying. He was the most beautiful child she had ever seen. She felt safe as they gently took the baby from her arms.

As they left the room with the baby, and she completed her delivery, the doctor gave her an episiotomy. When the doctor finished, he allowed her to shower. She carefully and slowly stood up, then walked to the bathroom. After the hot shower that left her feeling cleaner and more relaxed, she came from the bathroom. There was a nurse waiting for her with a wheelchair to take her from the birthing room to a private room.

The nurse pushed her up to the bed and helped her into bed. Riley felt more exhausted then she had in her life as she laid down on the bed which was much softer than the birthing bed. Aleah and Sharon knew she needed rest so they both congratulated her and hugged her before leaving the room to return to Scott’s room. Riley closed her eyes and was asleep within minutes.

There had been no change in Scott’s condition since they took Riley upstairs. Aleah passed on the news and everyone was happy, at least for a while. The same young doctor that greeted them in the waiting room came into Scott’s room.

“Has anyone noticed any change with him?” He asked as he flashed his light in Scott’s eyes while prying open his eyelids.

“No.” Noah, Jim and Luke all answered.

The doctor nodded then stood up and looked around at all of them. “And Scott’s wife, what was her name?”

“Riley.” Aleah spoke up.

“Riley. Did she have her baby?” the doctor asked, looking at Aleah.

“Yes, she had a boy.”

“A son. And you must be her sister? You look a lot alike. What is your name?”

“Aleah.”

“Aleah. Different. I like it.” He smiled at her.

Then he reintroduced himself to the others, gathering their first names and relationship to Scott. He realized the group was all related to him. I’ll be back before I leave, to check on Scott again. I don’t like the idea that he’s not responding. Why don’t you guys talk to him, let him know you’re here. Tell him about his new son.”

He smiled at Aleah before walking out the door. After staying for a few more hours, trying to interact with him, they began to realize he wasn’t going to respond. Scott had slipped into a coma. Luke was the first to leave. Sharon and Jim accompanied Noah and Aleah to Riley’s room, but she was still sound asleep. They gathered around the nursery to look at the new addition to their families before leaving the hospital. It was past one AM.

Riley slept all night long, exhausted from the childbirth, on top of the stress. Opening her eyes, she looked around at the empty, quiet room. The sun was shining brightly through her half closed blinds. As she moved to lean up, she felt the incredible soreness from the birth. She drew in a deep breath and moved slower. Finding the button attached to her sheet, she pushed it to call the nurse.

Answering over the speaker, she responded to Riley. “Can I help you?” Her voice was pleasant.

“I’m awake now. Can you bring me my baby, and something to eat, please? And if possible, find out my husbands condition?” Riley requested, feeling starved.

Overruling the pain, she slowly climbed out of bed and went to use the bathroom. As she sat back in bed and put up the headboard, the nurse entered the room with a crib. Her eyes were glued to the bundle inside as it came closer to the bed.

“I’m sorry, but your husband’s condition hasn’t changed since he slipped into a coma last night.”

Riley looked at her with fear in her eyes. “Thank you.” She barely managed.

The nurse pulled out the bundle and handed it to Riley. Tears fell from her eyes as she looked at the child again. She could see Scott’s facial features and he had his dark hair. It was too soon to determine an eye color yet, as they would change in the following weeks. And the hair color could also change.

Having discussed and agreed upon names, she decided to name the child after his father, not knowing whether he would pull through or not. “Scott James.” She whispered to him as she laid him between her legs. The nurse handed her a diaper as she seen Riley unwrap the child. Pulling off the wet diaper, she looked over her child, rubbing his soft skin and thinking he was perfect. She put the clean diaper on him then wrapped him back up in the blankets.

Just as they brought her tray of food in, the nurse smiled and left. Riley pressed the baby against her chest so she could hold the baby while she pulled the tray close enough to eat. She felt the pressure and warmth in her breasts and looked down at them, discovering they were now completely full of milk. She smiled and decided she would initiate breastfeeding, as soon as she ate.

Pushing her empty tray away, she repositioned herself and the baby, then exposed one breast. Pulling the child up to her nipple that was leaking, she moved the baby around until he successfully latched on. Watching and feeling him eat seemed like the best thing that’s ever happened in her life. Her heart ached with joy. And sorrow.

When Scott Jr. finished eating, and she was sure, she laid him on the bed as she looked around for a clean gown to put around her backside. Finding one in the closet, she slid it on her like a robe, then picked up the baby and went to the nurses station to inform them she was going to Scott’s room and asked them to remind her of the number.

Waking in the room, the only sound was the monitor that beeped in rhythm with his heart. Seeing that they had removed the ventilator, she felt relieved to see him breathing on his own and thought it was a good sign. She carefully laid the baby between his legs and sat on the edge of the bed. Stroking his face, around the tape that held his breathing tube in place, she softly talked to him.

“Scott, I’m here, and I have your son. He’s laying between your legs. I would really love it if you could open your eyes and see him right now. I know we decided on a name, but I had to give him your name. Please wake up. Hank is dead, I am… we are finally free. I want you to be here to share your life with me, watch our son grow together.” She laid her head on his chest and stayed there for long periods, crying.

The same doctor she had seen in the waiting room entered, but she didn’t know until he placed his hand on her shoulder, making her jump. “I’m sorry.” He softly said. “I didn’t mean to scare you, I should’ve said something first.”

“I’m ok, don’t worry about it.” She said.

Looking in Scott’s lap, he seen the baby and leaned down for a closer look as Riley slowly stood up and went to the chair. “Wow, what a beautiful baby.” He commented and looked at her, smiling, before walking closer to Scott. With his flashlight, he checked Scott’s eyes again. but there was still no response. “I’m sorry, there’s still no change in his status. All we can do is hope… So where is that sister of yours, Aleah?”

“Wow, you remembered her name, I’m impressed. It’s unusual and hard to remember.

“I think it’s beautiful, like she is.”

Riley smiled at him, getting the hint that he was interested. “She’s probably in class. She’s studying to become a vet tech.”

“Oh, well when you see her, tell her I said hi.”

“Absolutely. She may show up if she has time before she has to go to work.” She hinted back to him.

“Oh, I’ll be looking for her. I’ll be back in to check on Scott before my day is through.”

“You’re… interested in my sister, aren’t you?” Riley asked him bluntly.

“Well, quite frankly, yes.” He hesitated. “She is a complete stranger to me but I can’t get her face out of my mind. I can’t stop thinking about her.”

Riley smiled, thinking that’s how it started the first time she seen Scott. “I don’t mean to be rude, but how old are you? I’m just asking because you seem young to be a doctor of your stature.”

He smiled. “I am thirty two.” He answered.

Riley realized he was ten years older than her, but who cares. This man was cute, established and he was a doctor. She found herself suddenly excited for her sister. “Oh. Well, hopefully, she’ll show up.”

“Yes.” He smiled. “Let me know if you see any changes. Congratulations, by the way.”

“Thank you.” She smiled and watched him walk out the door.

Riley requested her meals be sent to Scott’s room so she didn’t have to leave his side. They also brought her diapers, wipes and extra blankets for the baby. Hours had passed with no change in Scott. Riley was sitting in the chair, breastfeeding Scott Jr. as Aleah walked into the room. She smiled and walked up to them and stroked the baby’s head.

“What are you doing here, don’t you have to work?” Riley asked her.

“No, actually, they were able to find someone to replace me for a few days. I really need to be here, for you. But I have to continue my classes.”

“Yes, of course. That’s good, I’m really glad you’re here.”

“I’m glad that he’s breathing on his own. That’s got to be a good sign. Any other changes?”

“No, he’s still in his coma.”

Just as she said that, Dr. Bennet walked in with a full smile on his face, having seen Aleah walk into Scott’s room. “You’re back.” He said to Aleah but walked directly up to Scott. With the flashlight, he checked his eyes again, then looked at the monitor. “I’m sorry, Riley, I still see no change in him, but he keeps holding on. I see what he has to live for. A beautiful wife and a beautiful son.”

Then he walked up to Aleah. “Do you mind if I have a word with you in the hallway?”

“Me?” Aleah looked at Riley in wonder, then looked back at the young, attractive doctor. “Ok.” She answered and followed him into the hallway.

A few moments later, she returned in the room with a smile on her face. “What did he say?” Riley was curious.

“He… asked me to dinner. Said it was the end of his shift.” She smiled at Riley.

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him that I was needed here.”

“Aleah, get out of here, I really want you to go.” Riley encouraged her.

“But…”

“GO!” Riley demanded.

“Ok, ok.” Aleah said and walked out the door, hurrying to catch up with him.

Riley smiled as she repositioned the baby against her shoulder and rubbed his back. She looked up at Scott. “Scott, my sister went on a date with your doctor.” She said loud enough to just echo off the walls.

It wasn’t thirty minutes later when Riley looked up to see Hannah enter the room. “Hannah.” She said as she slowly stood up from the chair. The baby was tucked in between Scott’s legs.

“Riley, I’m really sorry for what happened with Scott.” She looked over him laying in the bed and seen the baby. “Riley, oh my God, you had the baby?” She leaned over and moved the blanket some to look at him. Then she hugged Riley. “Congratulations, he’s beautiful.” Seeing the blue blankets, she assumed his gender.

“Thank you. Yes, it’s a boy... Look, I didn’t get the chance yet to thank you for helping me win my freedom back.”

“I’m really glad I could help. It’s over, Riley.”

“Yes, I know.” Riley said and hugged her again.

In the five days that had passed since he was shot, there still had been no changes in his condition. Aleah had gone out on three dates with Dr. Bennet and a relationship was quickly blooming. Riley and Scott Jr. were both released from the hospital, but Riley only left once to run home and get clean clothes for her and the baby. Then returned to the hospital. Knowing she would stay the duration of his coma, they provided her a cot to sleep on and the extended use of a crib.

Hearing the baby that pulled her out a slumber, she climbed out of bed. The soreness of childbirth faded away and was, by now, almost gone. She looked at the clock on the wall that read three twenty AM as she reached down to pick up the crying child. Holding him against her, she quieted him then laid him between Scott’s legs to change his diaper.

Sitting in the chair, she exposed her breast and pulled him to her. As he latched on and began to feed, she smiled and leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She didn’t see as Scott began to clench his fists. His facial expression changed as he began to breath deeper and faster. Looking up, Riley saw Scott begin to thrash in his bed. Jumping up, she tried to keep the baby in position as she leaned over his bed.

Reaching for the button, she called for a nurse. “Can I help you?” The voice said over the speaker.

“He’s waking up, he’s waking up.” Riley said excited.

In Scott’s mind as he came out of the coma, he was still in the kitchen, fighting with Hank. “Scott?” She said and reached down to rub his face. “Scott?” She said again.

He smacked her hand away then opened his eyes. She smiled down at him as he looked around the room. “Riley.” He said as he focused his eyes in on her. Knowing he was safe, and she was safe, he relaxed in bed and drew in a deep breath.

Riley was crying as the nurse entered the room and went straight to Scott, who was still somewhat incoherent. “I’ll go page Dr. Bennet.” She said then left the room.

“Riley, what happened?” He asked in a state of confusion.

“Hank shot you in the head. You’ve been in a coma for five days.”

“But you’re alright?” He reached his hand for her.

“Yes, I’m alright. Our baby is alright.”

Focusing his eyes in more clearly, he saw the bundle she held.“Riley, you had the baby? I missed the whole thing?” He seemed disappointed but excited at the same time.

“Yes, Scott. It’s a boy. He looks like you.” She said with a tear in her eye as she leaned down for him to get a better look without pulling him away from his feeding.”

“Riley, you gave me a son. Here, let me hold him, I want to see him. He can eat in a minute.”

“Scott, are you sure you’re up for it.” She was concerned.

“Are you kidding? Here.” He held his arms out. She pulled the baby away from her breast and handed him to her. The baby started to fuss for a minute, upset because he was disturbed. Scott gently took the baby into his arms and Riley, with tears in her eyes, saw the look on his face as he held his son for the first time.

Scott laid his son on his lap and peeled away the blankets, just as Riley had, to examine his son. After waking up angry and hostile, he was suddenly calm and overwhelmed with joy. “Riley, he’s so beautiful. Thank you.” He said as he wrapped the baby back up and held him in his arms for a few more minutes before handing him back to her to complete his feeding.

It was nearly an hour before Dr. Bennet walked in, followed by Aleah. She was smiling as she walked up and hugged Riley. Riley was surprised to see her walk in with the doctor, but not as surprised as Scott, for he had no idea.

As Dr. Bennet went to Scott to talk with him and examine him, Riley questioned Aleah. “What are you doing here, I’m surprised to see you with him at this hour.”

“He kinda had no choice but to bring me. I was staying the night at his house.” She smiled.

Riley nodded and returned the smile, inclined to think there may be another wedding in the future. “I see. Ya know, through this dark tunnel we’ve walked into, Dr. Bennet is a blessing, in more way than one. I’m really happy for you, and I wish you luck with your new boyfriend.”

The news of Scott’s condition had already spread across the early morning news on all the channels. As soon as she assumed they were up, she called Scott’s parents to notify them, then her father. Within and hour, the family had gathered around to see him. Sharon and Jim were overjoyed with him coming out of his coma, finally. But both having to leave to go to work, they could only stay for a short time. As they were leaving, Noah came in. He was also overjoyed. A few minutes later, Aleah showed up with Dr. Bennet. Noah had no idea about the relationship between Aleah and Dr. Bennet, until Riley informed him.

Noah walked up to Dr. Bennet and held his hand out to shake his. “Dr. Bennet, thank you for my son in law’s life. And I’m glad to see Aleah found a good man to start a relationship with. I have never been more happy than I am at this moment.”

“I think it’s time for all of you to begin calling me Grant. I’m sure I’ll get to know you all much better as time goes by because I want Aleah in my life. We seem to have grown inseparable.” Grant said as he put his arms around Aleah and kissed her. “I’m sorry, but I have to get to work. I have other patients to attend to.” Grant said and kissed her one more time before saying goodbye to everyone else and leaving the room.

“I too, have to go. I have to get to class before I’m late.” Aleah said, then hugged Scott, Noah and Riley, loosely as she was holding the baby. Handing the child to Riley, she left.

“I’m quite sure you want something to eat, other than hospital food. I’m going to go scrounge up some breakfast for the three of us.” Noah said, shaking hands with Scott. He loosely hugged Riley and the baby before leaving the room, leaving Riley, Scott and the baby alone. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she leaned over to kiss Scott.

Within a few minutes, a man walked into the room that Riley didn’t quite recognize, but Scott did. His facial expression changed as he seen Hank Sr. He was holding a bouquet of flowers. Handing them to Riley, he began.

“These are for you… I understand you killed both of my sons, and I’m really pissed off. But not at you, at them for the lewd things they’ve done. I was completely devastated to learn the truth about what Chuck and his friends had done at that cabin. I had no idea. And Hank, with his stalking and terrorizing you. I didn’t realize it was happening. Apparently I didn’t know what they’ve been doing for the last three years. I am repulsed and I completely don’t condone what they’ve done. With what they’ve put her through, I think she’s been through enough. I promise, you won’t have any kind of trouble out of me. I feel guilty and wanted to stop to let you know how I feel.” Hank Sr. said as he reached his hand out to shake Scott’s.

“Thank you, we appreciate that.” Scott said.

Then Hank Sr. turned to shake Riley’s hand. “Congratulations on the addition to your family.” He said as to take a peek at the baby before leaving the room.

Riley looked at Scott, surprised by his words. She sat on the edge of the bed, feeling a full sense of closure that signaled the end of her pain and knew the chain had ended with Hank Sr. “It’s really over, Scott. Everything. And you’re alive and well. We can finally start our life, our family together in peace.”

He smiled and held his arms open for her, knowing she was right. Laying the baby across his lap, she reached in and hugged him tightly. “You, and my son, Riley, you’ve made my dreams come true.”

“I love you, Scott.”

“I love you too, Riley. He said and responded with a kiss that held as much passion as the kiss to finalize their marriage.

It was later in the evening when the entire family gradually showed up. With Grant walking in the room, he took his place beside Aleah. Thinking of all that’s happened in the last year, and looking at all the family that surrounded them, she knew some things had come to an end while some things were just beginning.

THE END

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