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Authors: Meg Jolie

Holding On (24 page)

BOOK: Holding On
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Jake ha
d never been late for an appointment before. She briefly regretted not calling him or sending a text to remind him. She knew how busy he would be today, trying to get ahead with things. She hadn’t wanted to bother him unnecessarily. He’d said he had it on his calendar but perhaps he had forgotten. Work had been so insanely busy for him she could see that happening. It was entirely possible that he’d gotten tied up. Or that he’d simply lost track of time.

She briefly wondered what she should do. Should she cancel? Ask if she could reschedule? On the other hand, as much as she knew he’d like to be there, he had made it to all of the other appointments. She knew that was a whole lot more than some expectant moms could say. And he
had
seen the first ultra sound. So it wasn’t as if he would be missing out on the experience completely.

She fidgeted as she watched the door. She was fully expecting him to come running in at any second. She pulled her phone out, yet again
, to check for a text or missed call. There was nothing. She glanced at the clock once more. It was seven minutes after two. At the moment, both Jake and the technician were seven minutes late. It was only a matter of which of them would arrive first.

She stood from her chair, having decided to take a second to call him.
If he’d been caught up at work, maybe…No, she glanced at the clock again. Even if she called him now, he’d never be able to leave work, make the drive, park and get inside before the appointment was over. It wouldn’t even be worth it to call him.

Unless he’s already on his way
, she thought.
If he is, maybe I could stall for a few minutes
.
I should call
, she decided.
Just in case.

Her phone was clutched in her hand, ready to be answered in case he tried to contact her. Just as she was prepared to push the button that would
take off the safety feature, she heard her name.

“Quinn McGrath?”
Her name rang out through the quiet area.

The technician was not the same as last time, Quinn noted. She was older but smiling pleasantly
as she scanned the waiting room, looking for her patient.

Quinn started back through the quiet waiting room.

“I’m so sorry,” she said as she reached the technician. Her nametag said “Kate”. “But my husband isn’t here yet. He was supposed to come…”

Kate smiled kindly, noting Quinn’s agitation. “If you’d like, I can let the receptionist know to bring him back? If he shows up?”

“Could you?” she asked. A sense of relief washed over her. She was so sure he had to be on his way. She just couldn’t fathom that he’d forgotten. And it would be so completely disappointing to him if he got there only to end up sitting in the waiting room.

“Absolutely,” Kate replied. “Just give me one second.” She darted behind the cubicle that held the receptionist. In a moment she popped her head back out. “What’s his name?”

“Jake McGrath,” Quinn told her. She was still watching the doorway. It was now nearly quarter after two. She could not believe that he was this late. And that he hadn’t called. He had to have simply forgotten altogether and her heart sank. She didn’t blame him for it. He had far too much on his mind with work. He was usually so good about these things that she could never hold it against him for forgetting one time.

She was seconds away from begging to reschedule when Kate reappeared.

“All set,” she said with a smile. “Ilene will bring him back when he gets here.”

“Okay,” Quinn said with a small nod. She couldn’t quite force a smile. An unsettled feeling was gripping
tightly to the pit of her stomach.

Kate led her to a room
and pushed the door open.

“You know,” Quinn said as she stepped inside, “maybe if I could just call him quick?”

Kate shook her head and grimaced slightly, apologetically, as if she didn’t want to have to deliver the news. “I’m sorry. You can’t do that from here. We can’t have cell phones on. You’re going to need to turn it off. I don’t mean to rush you but we are already running pretty late…”

“Alright,” Quinn said with a resigned sigh. It would be okay. It would
have
to be. She knew he would be disappointed. And yet, well, at this point it seemed a little too late to do anything about it. Besides, she still hoped he’d come running in at the last moment.

There was always that chance.

A few minutes later, Kate had the baby up on the screen. She did her thing; taking measurements and whatnot, inputting information and making a few comments here and there.

Still…no Jake.

“Do you want to know the sex?” she asked.

Quinn was stumped for a moment. It was bad enough Jake was missing this. He’d be doubly disappointed when he found out that she found out the sex before he did. She almost told
Kate that no, she didn’t think so. But she wanted to know
so
badly. And if she left today without knowing…The nursery would never get done in time.


You can tell this time?” Quinn wondered. “The last time we were here, the baby was being pretty uncooperative.”

“Oh
, yes,” Kate said with a bright smile. “I can tell.”

Quinn bit her lip for just a moment, thinking it over. “
Could you maybe just write it down? My husband and I…we were supposed to find out together,” Quinn explained. “He’ll be so disappointed when he realizes he missed the appointment. I don’t want him to be disappointed if I find out the sex before he does. If you could just write it down, I’ll slip it in my purse and we can look at it together when he gets home tonight.”

“Sure,” she said with a
n understanding smile. “I can do that.” She scooted across the room on her rolling chair, swiped a small notepad and pen off the desk and jotted the sex down. She tore the single sheet off of the pad. Before handing it to Quinn, she folded it three times.

“Thank you
so much,” Quinn replied.

“No problem. I think we’re done here,” Kate told her. “Do you have any questions?”

Quinn shook her head. If she had any questions, they’d already escaped her. She was so flustered about Jake that she wasn’t able to think of anything else at the moment.

Kate had kept her informed as she checked things out. She really couldn’t think of anything to ask.

Kate helped her into a sitting position. “I’m so sorry your husband didn’t make it,” she said.

“Me too,” Quinn agreed with a frown. She clenched the small square of paper in her palm.

“Alright then, we’re all done here.”

Kate waited for Quinn to carefully step down and gather her things. As she did, she stuffed the
folded slip of paper into a small, zippered pocket on the inside of her purse. To her surprise, she wasn’t even the least bit tempted to look at it without Jake.

Kate and Quinn said their polite, obligatory good-byes and then Quinn was on her way. She hurried down the short hallway that dumped her into the waiting room. She rushed across the large area, digging in her purse for her phone as she went. When she reached the large bank of doors, they opened automatically for her.

She stepped out into the chilled, gloomy day. She fought off a shiver as she dialed Jake’s number immediately. It had rained heavily throughout the night. It had continued to mist throughout the day. The air was still damp and the scent of rain still clung to the air. She sidestepped a few puddles as she made her way to her car.

Jake’s phone went straight to voicemail and she grumbled loudly. She decided not to leave a message. She was both disappointed and frustrated that he hadn’t made it. She knew he would feel bad enough. She didn’t want to take that frustration out on him by leaving a message that was full of annoyance.

Instead, she dumped herself into her car and tossed her phone onto her passenger seat. She glanced at the clock. It wasn’t as if she could stop by and visit him at work. Jake didn’t work in the office very often. He was typically out at a jobsite.

She decided to go home and get an early start on dinner. Maybe she’d make something somewhat complicated to pass the time. Her mind began a mental inventory of the items that she had in the fridge and pantry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

On the way home, while sitting at a stoplight, she’d tried calling Jake again. It didn’t surprise her that the phone went to voicemail. She was worried. Something had to have come up because surely he would’ve remembered by now. It wasn’t like Jake to just forget. It just
wasn’t
. When his phone continued to go to voice mail, she knew something was not right. She’d been expecting a frantic, apologetic call from him saying he’d forgotten.

By the time she arrived home, she
was edging from concern into flat-out worry. But there, parked in the driveway was Jake’s truck.

An immense feeling of relief washed over her. She’d been so concerned she’d made herself sick. The sight of his truck calmed her fears.

“I am so mad at you!” she said as she marched through the front door. She said the words, but her tone was light, teasing. He would feel horrible enough about having forgotten. Or something important had to have come up. She knew he would be heartbroken over missing the ultra sound.

“Quinn,” Luke said as he appeared in the doorway that led to the living room. His eyes were rimmed in red. His motions looked stilted.

“Where’s Jake?” she demanded. She belatedly realized that the truck in the yard must be Luke’s. It was black, too, like Jake’s. Both were work trucks. Luke had been allowed to keep his, even though he was working elsewhere, since his family was sure he’d come back eventually. She hadn’t really paid attention. She had walked right past it, hurrying to get into the house to see him.

Luke took a step toward her
and she let him lead her to the living room. Every nerve ending in her body felt like it had come to life. Worry and fear burned through her.


Come here,” he said as he pulled her toward the couch. “Sit down.”

She wanted to tell him she
didn’t want to sit down. Yet, before she could say anything, her body was obeying. She didn’t feel as though she were sitting so much as she felt she was floating. Falling. Collapsing.

“Jake…” Luke said in a choked voice, “he’s gone.”

“Gone where?” she asked. Her voice sounded strangled. “
Gone where
?” she repeated, even shriller this time. He couldn’t mean what she thought he meant. He couldn’t mean what the tears streaming down his cheeks, what the pain etched across his face, what the apologetic look in his eyes were making clear. It just wasn’t possible. She leaned back, taking in his tear-stained face and the tortured look in his eyes. They gave her the answer because Luke couldn’t force the words out.

He moved toward her and she crumpled into him. Her
own silent sobs immediately wracking her body.

“He was at work, Quinn. He collapsed.
They think it was an aneurism. I think…I think he was gone before the ambulance got there.” His voice broke and cracked throughout the explanation. He was trying to keep it together for Quinn. He felt he was doing a horrible job of it.

“Why didn’t you call me?” she
sobbed.

He ran his hands over her hair. She
felt one of his tears collide with her cheek, mixing with her own. “No way was I telling you this over the phone, Quinn. Mom and Dad called me on their way to the hospital. By that time, there was nothing anyone could do. I came straight here. I didn’t want you to hear it over the phone. I wanted someone to be with you.”

This couldn’t be happeni
ng! They had a baby on the way. In two months. In two months! They had just gotten married. They were supposed to have their whole lives in front of them. Their whole future. Children. Grandchildren.

“I nee
d to go to the hospital!” Quinn whimpered. She was ready to jump to her feet but Luke’s arms were firmly around her.

“No,” he said as he shook his head.

“Why?” she sobbed.

“Sweetheart, you can’t see him. I mean, I don’t think they’ll let
you see him. When I talked to Mom last…” he choked on his words.

“What?” she
demanded.

“They…uh…It sounds like
they need to do an autopsy.” He used a hand to swipe the tears off of his face. The other hand stayed firmly on her thigh, holding her in place.

BOOK: Holding On
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