The night CNC came rushing out with a wheelchair. Ethan shook his head. ‘CJ prefers to walk.’
‘I don’t prefer it,’ she snapped as the contraction eased. ‘I can’t sit down.’
‘Walking will help speed up the labour,’ Bonnie told her, as she took the bags from Ethan.
‘I think it’s moving along pretty fast all by itself.’
‘Good. Donna’s on her way. Let’s get you inside and see what’s happening.’
They made a stop-start procession up the corridor, with CJ having another contraction in the middle. She leaned her head against Ethan’s shoulder and he rubbed her back soothingly. When it passed, the sister led her into the delivery room. The bed had a floral, frilly spread on it with several throw cushions, making it seem more homely.
CJ had delivered several babies in this room, had walked passed it several times and had always thought it looked very pretty. Now…she wanted to hurl the cushions at the window and rake the feminine cover from the bed. She was in pain and the last thing she wanted was pretty, relaxing things around her.
Where were the drugs?
Oh, it was wonderful that Donna was on her way, that Ethan and the night CNC were being ever so attentive, but where was the anaesthetist? He was the one who could give her some pain relief, an epidural—anything.
‘Charlie. Ring Charlie,’ she said.
‘I’ve already called him. He’s on his way.’
CJ glared at Bonnie. ‘Go and get him now.’
‘I’ll settle her in,’ Ethan remarked, noticing the surprised look on Bonnie’s face.
‘I don’t need anyone to settle me,’ CJ added. ‘I’m fine. Women have babies all the time and now it’s my turn and I’m fine!’
‘Yes, you are,’ Ethan pacified as he tossed the cushions off the bed onto a chair and pulled the bedspread back. CJ smirked in a self-satisfied way at the inanimate objects, glad of his rough treatment of them. He wound the bed down so it was easier for her to get on but she found she couldn’t.
‘Can’t lie down either.’ She looked at him, her eyes beginning to fill with tears. ‘I can’t sit down, I can’t lie down and my legs are aching and tired.’
‘I know. I know,’ he soothed. ‘Lean on me.’ He gathered her near so her head was resting on his shoulder.
‘I’m sorry if I’m being horrible.’
He laughed. ‘You’re not.’
He laughed again. ‘Probably.’
She pulled back to look at him, her terrified green eyes meeting his sympathetic blue ones. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered.
Ethan felt a knot of tension, need and anger churn in his gut. Tension because he was fighting as hard as he could against the attraction. Need because it was becoming impossible not to give in and kiss her, and anger against her husband for leaving her to cope with this experience all alone.
She was an amazing woman and his feelings for her were intensifying with every moment he spent in her company. It wasn’t right. He knew that, but he also knew the wrong thing could sometimes feel so right.
He swallowed over all his thoughts and emotions and bent down to kiss her forehead. ‘You’ll be fine.’ He felt her body tense and knew another contraction was on the way. He helped her through it, his eyes closed as they leaned against each other, both concentrating on what was happening. When he opened his eyes, it was to find Donna standing in the doorway, watching them.
‘Good evening. You look as though you’re having loads of fun.’ She came in and patted CJ lightly on the shoulder. ‘Right. Has anyone checked the baby yet?’
Ethan waited for CJ to answer but when she didn’t, he shook his head.
‘Can you get up on the bed?’
‘Too uncomfortable,’ she mumbled.
‘OK. Stay where you are, I’ll work around you.’ For the next ten minutes there were people in and out of the room, the baby’s heartbeat was checked and found to be perfect. CJ was given a once-over by Donna and pronounced to be almost nine centimetres dilated.
‘That’s very quick. Hang on, your sister had quick labours with her children, didn’t she?’
‘Four hours for the first and two hours for the second,’ CJ said softly between contractions. ‘Looks as though you might break her record.’ Donna chuckled. ‘I was in labour for over fifteen hours and that was with my last one.’
‘I’ll go check.’ Donna headed out, leaving CJ leaning on Ethan, closing her eyes as she tried to rest between contractions. It was a good half an hour later before Charlie walked in the door and by that time CJ was fully dilated.