A week later, the housing project site was bustling with activity. Eden now spent her mornings on the site working with David and Greg on the section with completed units. Noah was usually at another site with Mac. Because the project was ahead of schedule and one entire wing was complete on the first floor, he stopped by to see the progress for himself.
Noah was at a work table with Matt, the site foreman, making notes on the blueprints. Getting an update on what was happening.
It wasn’t uncommon for chatter on the walkies to be taking place. A sense of urgency was now playing over them.
“Bill, get that thing under control!”
“I’m trying! The damn thing is stuck!”
Noah and Matt turned to find the crane lifting studs up to the fourth level between sections two and three on the verge of dropping its contents.
“Bill! What’s going on?” Matt shouted into his walkie. “Get it away from section three!”
One of the metal clips snapped. The lumber precariously teetering.
“Everyone in section three, get out of there!” Matt ordered.
As crew members raced out of their section, Noah saw the lumber getting closer to falling.
“It’s gonna hit section two,” Noah said.
Both Matt and Noah looked in section two. Eden and Greg were there. Totally oblivious to the scene unfolding around them. What the hell is she doing out of section one?
Eden was pointing at something while in conversation with Greg.
Another snap overhead had Noah on his walkie. “I want everyone out of section two, double time!”
Why weren’t Eden and Greg moving? A final loud snap and studs came lose.
Matt and Noah running toward the section while others were scattering out.
“Eden!” Noah shouted. She turned and saw him running toward her. “Get out of there!”
She heard something overhead and looked up just in time to see all the studs raining down on them.
As they came closer and closer, adrenaline took over. Eden used both hands and shoved Greg out of the path of the studs.
What the hell is she doing? Noah thought as he watched her turn and run into where the studs were going to fall.
Just before the studs hit the ground, she screamed. When the dust settled, no signs of her.
Noah and Matt had made it to the fallen debris, as did many of his crew.
“Eden!” Noah shouted out for her, moving some of the studs.
“Dammit Eden! C’mon, say something!”
His crew began working with him moving the studs and other fallen debris. When Greg approached to help, Noah turned to him. “Not you!”
“But Mr. C…”
“You are not to come near here until we find out if you’ve been hurt. Get over there!”
While all this was happening, Matt called for an ambulance and Trisha. Noah heard him as he told Trish to get in touch with the sitter and have her pick up Morgan from pre-school and stay with him until she heard otherwise.
“Matt, what’s going on?” Trisha’s anxious voice came back at him.
“There’s been an accident at the site.”
“Oh my God, is anyone hurt?”
“We’re trying to find Eden,” he answered not believing what had just happened in the past two minutes. “I need to go.”
“Mr. C,” a crew member called out to him. “There’s a ton of lumber here.”
Noah’s temper kicked in as he turned and faced him. “I don’t care if there are ten tons of lumber. We don’t stop until she’s found! Now get moving!”
A half an hour had passed. Matt had taken Bill to the trailer with instructions not to move. Once the crisis was handled, he’d have a lot of explaining to do to Noah.
As Matt approached and began helping, Noah noticed the TV crews already on site.
“What the hell are they doing here?” Noah asked.
“Ambulance chasers,” Matt answered. “Literally, they followed the ambulance here.”
“Eden! C’mon Babe, talk to me!”
“It appears a crew member has been trapped beneath the fallen debris. As you can see, everyone is frantically trying to rescue this worker. Every minute vital in the survival of the crew member.”
Noah looked at Matt intensely. “Get that reporter the hell away from my site!”
Matt went and dealt with the media. “Folks, you need to get to the outer perimeter of the site. It isn’t safe for you here.”
“Is there a crew member trapped in the rubble?” a well-known newswoman asked him as he pushed them back.
“I’m sure when we move all the studs and debris, we’ll find everything’s fine. She’ll be fine.” Matt regretted his last statement.
“There’s a woman trapped in there?” numerous reporters asked.
“Wait!” one of them said. “The only woman known to be on site here is the owner of Noah’s Arkitects’ wife. Are you saying Mrs. Carrington is under all that rubble?”
“I am not at liberty to give any statements at this time. As you can see, we have more pressing business to contend to.” With that, he turned and made his way back to help.
Greg approached Matt. “Matt, can I use your phone?”
Matt looked at him. Greg was absolutely pale. “Greg, go to the ambulance and stay there!”
“Matt, please. This is all over the news. I gotta let Mary know I’m okay.”
To help explain his urgency, he lifted his broken cell. “It smashed when Mrs. C. pushed me out of the way.”
“You are one lucky man, Greg,” he said as he took his cell out of its holster and handed it to him.
“I had no idea someone so small could throw someone like me that far.”
Greg made his call, told her it had to be brief and gave the phone back to Matt. “Thanks Matt.”
Another ten minutes passed. Felt like an eternity to Noah.
Noah turned and looked in the direction of who had called him. In the crewman’s hand was a pink hardhat.
Noah raced over to him. “Where did you find that?”
Noah’s heart fell. The bulk of the lumber was here.
“Well, don’t just stand there! Start moving it!”
The reporters were developing the story as it happened. Cameras zoomed in to the pink hardhat.
“It appears Mrs. Carrington is the victim in this tragic accident.”
Another half hour. All crew members still frantically digging.
“Man, she weighs what, a buck ten soaking wet? How are we gonna find her under all this?”
Noah stormed over and grabbed the crewman by his jacket. “We will find her. And we don’t stop until we do.”
“Sorry boss,” he apologized.
Ten more minutes. Another life time.
“Mr. C! Over here!”
Noah, Matt and a few others raced over. Beneath another few layers, her small work booted foot lie. Noah was just about moving the studs on his own his adrenaline rush was so high.
“Eden! Can you hear me?” he shouted.
The final studs were removed. And there she was. Laying beneath a work table, dust covering her.
Noah tossed the steel table aside before kneeling down. Thank God, she’s breathing!
Noah looked to Matt. “Get the paramedics over here!”
As his crew surrounded them, Noah brushed away the dirt from her face. “You’re okay Baby, I’m here.”
“Noah?” she croaked before coughing. This caused the crew to begin cheering.
“Shh,” he soothed. “Don’t move.”
“Help me up,” she said with a tired tone.
“Don’t move,” he repeated. “The paramedics will be here soon.”
As if on cue, two paramedics arrived. “Sir, we’re gonna need you to step aside,” one said to Noah.
Noah stood and watched. Waited.
“Noah, Mike Ashton is here. Senator Caine sent him to speak to you.”
“I’m afraid he said it’s urgent he speak to you.”
He didn’t want to leave her, but looked like he didn’t have a choice.
Noah went over the events as he knew them.
“The senators are going to have OSHA here first thing tomorrow. They don’t want a delay on this project. They’re going to want to speak to your crane operator.”
“Not until I speak to him first,” Noah angrily responded.
“Noah, this is serious. This could turn into a media nightmare for the senators. Not to mention what it could do to Noah’s Arkitects. Don’t do something stupid.”
“I don’t plan on doing anything stupid. I plan on finding out what the hell happened to my wife!”
Noah stormed off. The paramedics were still at the point she was found.
“How is she?” Noah asked.
“Surprisingly, quite well.”
Noah knelt down beside her. “Eden?”
She turned her head to look at him and opened her eyes. “Some day huh?”
Noah chuckled. “What were you thinking running under the falling studs?”
“Mr. Carrington,” one of the paramedics called to him. Once Noah looked at him, “She actually did the smartest thing she could do under the circumstances.”
“That work table you tossed away saved her life. With the radius of where all this landed, and from where your crew indicated she was standing, she never would have made it to a safe distance.”
He turned and smiled down to her. “And here we thought it was just your hard headedness that saved you.”
She lightly laughed. “Some hard head, I’ve got a headache.”
“Mr. Carrington, we’re going to take her over to the ambulance now for a closer look. Except for some bruises and a pretty nasty scrape on her forearm, she appears fine. We’ll give her a tetanus shot and stitch up that arm.”
“No!” her anxiety level went on high alert.
“Eden, don’t argue with these nice gentlemen here,” Noah said.
Before she could argue further, the paramedics helped her stand. Cheers from everywhere filled the air.
“Geez guys, it was just a pile of wood,” she joked as she was escorted to the ambulance.
While Eden was being looked at, Noah went to the trailer. Time to find out what happened.
According to Bill, the crane controls jammed. When he tried to move the studs, it wouldn’t do as he controlled.
Noah informed him OSHA was going to look into the equipment. If one word of his account was off, he was done.
Noah was standing near the mess with Matt. “Tell the men to go on home. Site’s shut down until OSHA investigates.”
“Noah, I looked at that crane myself. I didn’t see one thing wrong with the controls.”
“Then Bill just made a very big mistake.”
A paramedic approached. “Mr. Carrington, we have a problem.” Noah’s eyebrows rose in question. “We didn’t use stitches on the cut on her arm. She freaked over that idea. But, she seriously needs a tetanus shot. With no record of her last one, we don’t have a choice.”
Noah looked past the paramedic’s shoulder to look at her. She was sitting at the back door of the ambulance, shaking her head no. Obviously the other paramedic was still trying to talk her into the shot. Good luck with that.
Noah turned back to the paramedic. “You aren’t going to talk her into it. She hates shots.”
“But, Mr. Carrington, if she doesn’t get one, OSHA will close this site down.”
“I know,” Noah agreed. After a moment of thought, “How do you feel about a tag team approach?” Noah’s smile indicating his plan wasn’t something she’d be happy about.
“You guys let me talk to her. She won’t let me talk her into getting a shot, but I should be able to distract her so you can give it to her.”
“Mr. Carrington, she’s in a state of shock over this.”
Noah smiled. “Trust me, you haven’t seen shock yet.”
They determined their game plan. The paramedics would walk away from the ambulance, taking a shot with them. Noah would talk to her and get her distracted. Once distracted, one of them would quickly give her the shot.
“I hope you know what you’re doing Mr. Carrington.”
The paramedic went back to the ambulance with Noah waiting a few minutes before approaching her.
“Alright Mrs. Carrington,” the paramedic resigned. “We can’t force you to get a shot. But you will need to sign a form relinquishing us from all responsibility.”
The second paramedic looked at him like he was insane.
“I’ll be fine,” she answered, sounding less anxious.
The two paramedics walked away saying they had to find the form. This gave them time to discuss Noah’s plan.
Noah approached her a few minutes later. She’d removed the blanket from around her shoulders. She looked so lost just sitting there.
“How’s the arm?” Noah asked, bringing her from her thoughts.
She hadn’t seen him in a while. She knew as owner he had things to take care of. But it was still a huge relief to see him.
“It’s just a scratch. Really.”
He reached for her arm to take a look. Steristrips instead of stitches were holding the wound closed.
“A little more than a scratch there Eden.”
“I’m not getting the shot Noah,” her tone a warning.
“You do realize by refusing the shot, this site could be shut down.”
“This is a major incident, Eden. Bumps and bruises are one thing. Blood, OSHA has a problem with.”
“I’ll sign any forms they want.”
“I don’t like this Eden. But, I can’t make you do this.”
His hand reached up and took some debris out of her hair. “I have to say, you scared the shit out of me Eden.”
“Yeah, a real picnic for me there Noah.” She was trying to lighten it up. She could see his serious expression and how hard he was taking all this.
“Eden, don’t.” His fingers caressing her cheek. “I was scared as hell. I was beside myself looking for you.”
His voice was so soft, it sent chills down her spine.
“I’m alright Noah.”
“Can you let me worry about you, please?”
She gave him a slow blink. His soft smile pulling at her.
“Noah,” she sighed.
“And, let me be grateful you’re okay,” his voice going softer as he leaned in and brought his face closer to hers.
“I’m grateful, too,” she confessed softly.
“Oh Eden, I don’t know what I’d do if…” He didn’t finish his statement. Instead he brought his lips to hers. He honestly told her what he went through with his kiss.
Eden couldn’t believe how good his kiss felt. She’d been so scared herself. Noah’s kiss made her feel safe. She simply melted into him.
“Hey!” she shouted after abruptly ending their kiss. Then she looked at the needle coming out of her arm. The next thing he knew, Noah had a passed out Eden in his arms.
He looked at the paramedic. “You could’ve let me distract her just a little while longer.”
The paramedic shrugged and smiled. “Sorry, you didn’t give us a time table.”
Noah didn’t care. Even though his kiss was a distraction, he also couldn’t deny how right that kiss felt.
Noah set her down on the gurney in the back of the ambulance just before his walkie activated.
“Mr. C?” Trisha’s anxious voice came through.
As he stepped away, he spoke back. “Trish, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you on all this. It’s been really busy here.”
“Mr. C., we have a problem.”
He ran his hand down his face. No.
“Mr. C., Morgan’s having a meltdown.”
As she answered back, he heard his son screaming in the background. “I’ve never seen him like this.”
“What happened?” Noah asked, panicked over what was going on.
“I don’t know. He was in his playroom with the sitter, then just started screaming for Eden.”
He heard Morgan in the background. “No accident! I want Mommy!”
Noah ran his hand through his hair. “Who told him there was an accident?”
“The babysitter. She tried explaining to him his mommy was in an accident with an owie, that’s why she couldn’t pick him up. Then, he just started going ballistic.”
Shit! The last time Morgan was told his mom was in an accident, he didn’t see her for nearly two months. This isn’t good.
“Trisha, I can’t get there right now. Let him talk to me.”
“Daddy?” his tear-filled voice came through the line.
“No accident! I want Mommy!”
As calmly as he could, “I know Sport. Mommy’s okay.”
“I want Mommy,” he sobbed.
“Morgan, listen to Daddy. You be my big boy now. In a little while, you and me and Mommy will have some pizza.”
“I don’t want pizza! I want Mommy!”
“I know you do. In a little while…” Then his walkie was filled with static. “Morgan?” he called into it.
He used the cell phone and called the office.
“Trish, what the hell just happened?”
“I’m sorry Mr. C. Morgan grabbed the phone from me and threw it. He’s really not doing well Mr. C.”
Noah pinched the bridge of his nose. “Alright.” He felt the exhaustion flow through him now that the adrenaline rush was gone. “I’ll get there as soon as I can. Just try to be patient with him.”
He disconnected with Trisha and went back to check on Eden. She was conscious and not happy.
“Hey,” he softly greeted, ignoring the daggers shooting out of her eyes.
“How could you Noah?”
“Look, you had to get the shot. For your own good and to keep us from getting shut down.”
“She really should spend a night in the hospital for observation,” one paramedic told him.
“I’m not going to the hospital. And you aren’t going to trick me into that.” She looked directly at Noah. “I don’t have a concussion.”
“We can’t make her go in, Mr. Carrington. But, the pain meds we gave her are going to kick in soon.”
“I’m fine,” she said reminding them they were talking about her and she was right there.
“So, she’s good to go home?” Noah asked.
“Yeah. She should see her regular doctor for follow up.”
“Hello! I’m right here,” she called to them.
“Alright Eden, I’m just making sure you’re alright,” Noah told her.
Eden ran her hands through her hair. She was getting tired.
“Eden, let me take you home. Then I can deal with Morgan.”
“Morgan! Is he alright?”
“Yes and no.”
She hopped down from the ambulance and stood in his face. “What d’ya mean yes and no?”
“The office sitter told him you were in an accident. He’s freakin out.”
“The last time he was told you were in an accident, he didn’t see you for a couple months.”
“So what are we waiting for?” she asked as she stepped past him.
He grabbed her arm. “You aren’t driving.”
“Noah, I’m fine.”
“And the paramedics gave you pain meds. You aren’t driving.”
“I promised Morgan I’d bring Mommy to him and we’d have a pizza dinner. I plan on keeping that promise,” he said as he reached for her hand and they walked to his truck.
A short time later, the three of them entered her townhouse. Morgan was exhausted from his temper tantrum, Eden was exhausted from her ordeal and pain meds, and Noah was exhausted from all the events of the day as well as thinking about what lie ahead tomorrow.
Instead of pizza, they agreed to take out chicken.
“Picnic!” Morgan exclaimed.
Eden looked at Noah. “Picnic?”
He smiled. “He remembers a picnic we had in the living room another time we brought chicken home. Mind?”
“If it will keep him calm, I’m all for it. The sooner he eats, the sooner he gets to bed.”
After Morgan was settled in, Eden sat curled up in the corner of her sofa with the cup of tea Noah had made her.
“Trisha is ordering you a phone,” he told her.
“Yes, a phone. And you are going to wear it, and turn it on, when you are on site.”
“Noah, I have a cell phone.”
“You’ll have one like we all use. That way if anything comes up in the future, you’ll hear it and get your butt out of the way.”
He sat and looked at her a moment.
“What were you doing in section two anyway?”
“I needed to see some things in the unfinished unit.”
“Just some of the design stuff.”
“And Paradise Designs told you exactly what they were looking for?”
“I had a pretty good idea.”
Damn she was stubborn.
“So, what do I have to do tomorrow?” she asked him.
“C’mon Noah. You know OSHA is going to want to talk to me. I don’t want what I did to shut you down.”
“You didn’t do anything. Bill did.”
“Are you sure the equipment didn’t malfunction like he said?”
“Matt checked it this morning. It was in working order. He never should have tried to lift that big of a load.”
“Maybe he was just trying to be more efficient,” she tried pleading Bill’s case.
He turned toward her. “It’s been a long day. I think we all need some rest.”
She noticed how exhausted he looked. “Noah, you don’t look like you’re gonna make it much longer. Why don’t you just stay the night.”
He raised an eyebrow at her.
“The sofa or guest room,” she clarified.
“Thanks for the offer, but I’m gonna need clean clothes tomorrow.”
“So take ’em off.”
He looked at her with that devilish smile of his.
“I’ll wash them for you.”
“So, you want me struttin’ around naked, do you?”
She rolled her eyes as she stood. “I’ve got a pair of your sweats here.”
He stood and followed. “So, how long have you been planning a sleep over so you can have your way with me?” he teased.
“Noah,” she warned, “I can take the offer off the table.”
“No. No. Sweats are fine.” He didn’t know how he was going to find a way to stay and keep an eye on her.
His clothes washed and dried waiting for him for tomorrow, they sat on the sofa. Her arm ached from her wound and the shot. She still couldn’t believe he’d tricked her like that.
“You aren’t lookin’ so good there,” he said.
“I’m sorry Noah,” her eyes barely able to stay open. “I’m so tired.” The latest dose of pain meds kicking in.
He moved to the corner of the sofa. “C’mere.”
Without thinking, she went to sit by him. She couldn’t wait to feel his arms around her. To feel safe after such a day of fear. She set her head down on his bare chest.
He started to caress up and down her bicep when she flinched.
Okay, she was down to one word answers. She wasn’t going anywhere, and he didn’t want her anywhere else but right where she was.
Her head at his chest, he kissed her crown. She’d lost the battle. “Don’t ever scare me like that again,” he whispered before his battle was done.
He woke before her the next morning. He didn’t want to leave. Finding her all snuggled up and peaceful after all they’d been through yesterday was a place he wanted to stay.
She woke to the sounds of someone in her kitchen and the smell of … pancakes? And Morgan’s giggles?
She made her way to the origin of this wonderful smell. Noah had dressed and was enjoying a breakfast with his son.
“Hey Sleepyhead,” he greeted.
“Mommy! Daddy made pancakes!”
“So I see.”
“Sit. Made plenty.”
She couldn’t believe the calm flowing through her. Noah in her kitchen with their son. How had it gone so horribly wrong?
“Penny for your thoughts,” he called to her.
She shook her head. “Just trying to get my bearings this morning. I had no idea I was so tired last night.” She took a bite of her pancakes. “I’m sorry I took the sofa on you. Was the guest room okay? Did you sleep well?”
It was the best sleep he’d had in months. All because she was in his arms. He didn’t care it was on a sofa. It could have been on a pile of rocks.
“Slept great,” he answered.
“So, do we go straight to the site this morning?”
“’Fraid so. Until it’s cleared by OSHA, looks like I’ll be there every day.”
“I wanna go to Daddy’s work!”
Noah ruffled his son’s hair. “Sorry Sport, not today.”
“No! Go with Mommy!”
Okay, had to get a handle on this temper tantrum stuff before it went any further.
“Morgan Matthew!” Eden scolded, taking Noah off guard as well. Morgan’s bottom lip began quivering. “Oh no you don’t. That isn’t going to work this time. Daddy said no. End of story.”