Drew must see the color drain from my face because he tosses the ax down and strides to me, gripping my shoulder tightly. Swallowing past the fear clogging my throat, I scrub my hand over my face.
“Yeah, she’s my girlfriend. Please tell me she’s okay.”
Drew’s hand tightens.
“Ms. Cole was brought in after being involved in a car accident, but I don’t know her current condition. She’s in with the doctor now. Come to the front desk at the emergency room and give them your name. They’re waiting for you.”
“I’m on my way.”
Ending the call, I look at Drew, who grabs both of my shoulders and fixes me with a sympathetic gaze. “Do you need me to drive?”
“I’m fine. I finished my beer almost two hours ago.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Coughing back the emotion, I nod and he squeezes me. “Let’s go. She’s gonna be fine, brother. Don’t go there yet.”
We both rush to Drew’s truck, and as soon as we’re buckled, he goes roaring out of my driveway. I send every prayer I possibly can Stella’s way, and my leg bounces up and down the entire drive. God couldn’t possibly be cruel enough to take her away.
Haven’t we both lost enough?
With how fast Drew drove, we pull up to the hospital fifteen minutes later. Before I hop out, he tells me he’ll park and come find me. I clap him on the shoulder and run inside, my legs not getting me there nearly fast enough. Seeing the desk, I sprint over to the nurse sitting behind it.
“Hi, I’m here for my girlfriend, Stella Cole. I’m Jace Miller.”
She gives me a warm smile and then begins tapping away on her keyboard. It feels like an eternity before she speaks.
“Ms. Cole was just moved upstairs awaiting test results. She’s in room 302. If you take these elevators to the third floor, the nurses upstairs can show you to her room.”
“Thank you so much.”
A couple minutes later, I’m stepping out of the elevator and find myself directly in front of a nurse’s station, a young woman in dark green scrubs greeting me.
“Jace Miller, right? They called to let us know you were on your way up. I’m Shawna Duff. We spoke on the phone.”
“Yes, that’s me. Is she okay?”
Shawna stands from the desk, clipboard in hand, and comes around, steering me down a short hallway to the right.
“Stella came in with a laceration to her forehead, complaining of dizziness. They’re waiting on the results of the CT scan, but Dr. Marks believes it’s just a concussion. She’s been waiting for you.”
She swings a door open, and I step inside to find Stella sitting up in bed, a fairly large white bandage across her forehead, another bruise blooming on her cheek.
“Stell.” Hurrying across the room, I grab her hand between mine, the entire weight of the world falling from my chest in seconds.
“Hey, I’m okay, Jace.” Her voice is strong but quiet, and I press a gentle kiss to her lips.
Sitting on the bed beside her, I rest my hand on her thigh.
“What happened, baby? Fuck, that call took twenty years off my life.”
“I was on my way to get the groceries for dinner, and I pulled up at the stoplight off Grand. Well, some idiot behind me didn’t get the memo that red means stop, and he slammed right into me. My airbags must have malfunctioned, ’cause they didn’t go off. I hit the steering wheel, hence this lovely accessory,” she jokes, reaching up to gingerly touch her face.
“My car is destroyed, the entire back end caved in. Lost the bumper and everything. Mason has been telling me for years to get a new car, but I never listened. Guess now I have to, huh?”
“I’m just so glad you’re okay, Stell.”
She sets her hand on my forearm, her touch soothing, her warm hand a reminder that she’s going to be fine.
“It’s okay, Jace. I’m all right.”
Nodding, I brush her hair off her neck and run my thumb down the side of it, her skin soft and smooth. Her eyes close at my ministrations, and I lean over to kiss her cheek, resting my forehead against hers.
“No more scaring me like that, okay?”
I pull back with a laugh, and she winks.
Before either of us can say anything else, a knock sounds on the door, and we both turn to see Drew walk into the room.
“Stella Cole, what are we going to do with you, sweetheart?” Drew rounds the other side of the bed to greet her with a kiss to the cheek, and I just smile. I love how close they’ve gotten.
“Buy me a piece of cheesecake?”
“Sure thing, Rose Nylund.”
Stella bursts out laughing, then groans in pain, gently touching her head. “What do you know about Miami’s favorite Golden Girl?”
Drew looks at her in mock surprise. “I’m a gay man, Stella. I know all about those ladies. I may even own them all on DVD.”
“How dare you not tell me this? It’s my favorite show.”
“What are you guys even talking about?” I ask, my eyebrows knit together.
“Don’t even worry about it, bro,” Drew tells me with a laugh before dropping into the chair next to the bed.
“Can I get anything for you, babe?” I ask Stella, and she gently shakes her head.
Drew and I lapse into silence while Stella takes it easy, her hand never leaving mine. We’re finally greeted by the doctor about twenty minutes later.
The doctor frowns. “I’m sorry, Ms. Cole. Do I have permission to speak reely in front of these gentlemen?”
“Yeah, this is my boyfriend and his brother. They’re my family.” My heart warms with her words.
Drew stands from his chair. “I love you, Stella, but this is clearly a private conversation. I’ll be out in the hall if you need me.” He gives her another kiss on her cheek and walks out, the doctor smiling at us. He looks down at the clipboard in his hand before training his eyes back on Stella, his next words changing our lives forever.
“So, good news, Ms. Cole. Your CT scan was clear of any bleeding or injuries, and all other tests came back good. I believe it’s just a very minor concussion, so Tylenol only for any pain, and monitor symptoms to make sure they don’t get worse. Also, I’d like to bring up OB and have them do an ultrasound to make sure everything is okay.”
“Ultrasound?” I ask, Stella looking just as confused as me.
“Yes, I’d like to have one done. Your blood work looks good, but I’d like to make sure the baby is doing okay.”
My eyes widen, and if I wasn’t already sitting, I’m confident I’d fall over.
“What? Baby? What baby?” Stella’s mouth is hanging open, and I’d be laughing at her expression if I weren’t so surprised myself.
“You didn’t know you’re pregnant?”
“No. We’ve never forgotten a condom. And I feel perfectly fine, no symptoms or anything.”
“Well, condoms are not 100 percent effective. I’ve already put in the order for the ultrasound, so just sit tight. They’ll be up shortly.”
With a smile, he leaves the room and we’re left alone, both of us silent.
Scrubbing a hand down my face, I stand from my seat and sit back down on the bed next to my girl, reaching for her hands.
“Well, this has been quite the day, huh?” she jokes, and I start laughing, for the first time in my life completely thrown for a loop.
“You can say that again, Stell. Are you okay?”
She doesn’t say anything for a moment, and I watch as her eyes fill with tears. My heart clenches at the sight, afraid she won’t want this. I mean, we’re in a serious relationship, and we’re both adults with good jobs. We can do this. Right?
“I’m not sure, Jace. There’s a part of me that thinks I should be terrified. We’ve only been together four months. That’s not nearly long enough. But the other part of me, the bigger part of me, immediately fell in love with the idea of having your baby.”
Carefully cupping her face, I kiss her and pull back to look into her eyes. “That’s good, right?”
She nods. “Yeah. How do you feel?”
“Honestly? I feel like I am completely head over heels in love with you, Stella Cole.” The tears in her eyes overflow, and I brush them away. “This sure as hell wasn’t how I’d planned on telling you, but it feels fitting. And I know once the shock wears off, I might freak out a little, since I have zero experience with babies, but we can learn together.”
“I love you too,” she whispers, and she kisses me harder, her tears dropping to my skin.
“We’re having a baby.” I laugh and she giggles, burying her face carefully into my neck. Hugging her to me, I smile, unsure how I ever got this lucky in life.