Dianne Drake.

His Motherless Little Twins






His Motherless Little Twins
Dianne Drake


www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Cover Page

Title Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

ILL be there in thirty or forty minutes, and dont even think about going out on your own. Its too dangerous. Dinah Corday had been studying the Welcome to White Elk sign for the past ten minutes, creeping inch by inch down the main road into the little village, along with the rest of the jammed-up traffic. Right this very moment, her heavily pregnant sister, Angela, was on the verge of braving the spring storm to go and stay with a pregnant friend, and Dinah wanted to get to her before she did that. But the rising waters werent being accommodating. Nothing was. Just dont do it, OK? I know you want to be with her, and Im doing the best I can to get to you, but its crazy out here. So just be patient. Easy to say, not so easy to do under the circumstances.

Glancing up at the three mountain peaks, Dinah sighed impatiently. The mountains looming over the valley, affectionately called the older, middle, and younger Sisters, were said to have magical powers. According to Ute Indian legend, they protected those in their shadow, and while shed never given much credence to mystical things, she hoped that this one was true. Because Angela would absolutely go out in this flood to help a friend as surely as Dinah was stuck in the slow lane, getting more frustrated with each passing second.

Ahead, she saw people on the street running about in a congested knot like ants scattering after the demise of their anthill. Traffic was lined up bumper to bumper. Detour signs were being erected on the streets. Streetlights werent working. And the wind was blowing so hard the water pooling in the gutters was flowing in small waves. Promise me youre not going anywhere until I get there to take you.

Youre too far along A smile found its way to Dinahs lips. She was going to be an aunt in a little while. That was nice. Their family needed something good to happen to them for a change. It was overdue. Just, please, stay there and take care of yourself. Im on my way.

Angela assured her she wouldnt budge, but that didnt relieve Dinahs anxiety. Of course, that anxiety was pelting her from so many different directions these days, she feared turning around lest something else came hurtling at her. Today, though, her mind was on Angela. Nothing else mattered.

Except the traffic. That mattered, and she wanted to honk her horn, pound on her horn actually, but what good would it do? She wasnt the only one stuck in this mess and, most likely, everyone else had somewhere important they needed to be, too. So as the radio weather forecaster was predicting more rain, she crept forward like the rest of the people were doing, one car length at a time, while the waters outside were getting deeper.

After listening to another ten mind-numbing minutes of dire weather warnings, Dinah finally turned off the news station and dialed into a soft jazz station then leaned her head against the headrest, hoping to relax. She needed to be calm, not agitated, when she got to Angela. Calm she muttered, while she studied the raindrops sliding their own little paths over her windshield. Some hit and trailed down in a straight line, never veering off an imaginary course, while others meandered, winding in and out, joining with other raindrops to make fatter, more interesting trails. Yet some hit, bounced, and seemed to disappear before they had their chance to slide downward to a new, unknown destiny. That was her, she thought. Hitting, bouncing, disappearing from view before her trail carried her to where she wanted to be. Hers had always been a destiny of chance, or one out of her control, like the raindrops that splashed themselves into oblivion even with so many interesting choices ahead.

Raindrops and unknown destinies

Well, so much for clearing her mind and relaxing, she thought, trying hard to let the mellow wail of the tenor sax coming from the radio lull her into a daze. Dulcet tones, honey notes, all slipping down into her soul. This was a good day to be lulled. But as she willed the easy mood on herself, trying to force calm to her soul for Angelas sake, a thud on her bumper from the vehicle behind cut off all hope of calmness, sending her car pitching straight into the bumper of the car ahead. Not a hard impact but definitely a jarring one.

Twisting, Dinah looked into her rearview mirror to catch a glimpse of the perpetrator, but all she saw was an up-close image of a trucks shiny silver bumperand the truck was already backing away from her. Right off, she opened the car door, ready to hop out regardless of the rain and see to the damage, but the man behind her beat her to it by stopping then jumping from his truck and running forward. He was a big, imposing man in a bright yellow slicker, the dress of choice for most of the people shed seen here so far. Except he didnt come forward to her door like shed expected he would. Rather, he got as far as the front of his truck, surveyed his bumper then hers, and that was as far as he went.

Any damage? she shouted, wishing she had one of those yellow rain slickers.

If he answered, she didnt hear him. But the rain was noisy, so were the road noises. So, after shed fumbled an umbrella from the back of her car and opened it overhead, she tried calling to him again. Youre not hurt, are you?

He didnt answer this time, either, so she tried once more. Admittedly, getting a little perturbed. Did it cause any damage?

His only response was a wave on his way back to his truckwaving with one hand, clutching a cell phone to his ear in the other. I cant stay, he yelled, and she did hear that. Jason, the man in the car ahead of you, said hell take care of it, and The rest of his words were gobbled in a clap of thunder, and by the time it had rumbled on through, hed jumped back into his truck and pulled around, stopping briefly at the car in front of her.

You arrogant she yelled, slamming shut her car door and marching straight forward to catch him before he sped away altogether. She didnt need this today. Just didnt need this. And now, with this added delay, she was even more worried that Angela would try to get out in this storm on her own.

You OK, Jason? the man from the truck called to the man in the car shed hit, who was beginning to climb out of his front seat. He, too, was dressed in a yellow slicker.

What about me? Dinah yelled, catching up to his truck and running to the window on the drivers side. Dont you want to know how I am?

The man whod hit her did turn around in his seat, giving her a long, hard stare. Youre not hurt, are you?

No, but

Im sorry, he said. But I cant deal with this right now. Like I told you before, Jason will take care of the details because Ive got an emergency, and Ive got to get back. He paused then smiled. Im really sorry about this.

He seemed sincere enough, his smile wasnice. But she didnt trust nice smiles, and sincerity was easy to fake. If anybody knew those two things, she did! Yet as she was about to shut out that nice smile altogether and demand he step out of the truck regardless of what his other obligations were, a gust of wind caught her umbrella, turned it inside out, then ripped it from her hands. Unfortunately, it tumbled end over end across the road, leaving Dinah standing in water up to her ankles, with her long, auburn hair soaked and shaggy, and nothing to protect her. She was barely even noticing the rain, though, because at this point she was too angry. You cant just leave the scene, she yelled at the man. He was going to leave, though. Thats what men did. They left. And she couldnt stop him. Couldnt stop any of them. Father, husband, fianc?, brother-in-law, strangersall alike.

Before the stranger pulled away, though, he handed an umbrella out the window to her. Im sorry, but I cant deal with this right now. So, please, step back. I dont want to splash you He took a good look at her waterlogged state and grimaced visibly. Dont want to get you any wetter than you are.

Well, she could step in front of his truck and stop him, or grab hold of the handle on his door. But there was something in his eyesa look she knew. Not a malicious one, not even a little mean-spirited. For an instant, something so deep there grabbed hold of her senses, willed her to step back. So she did, immediately regretting that, once again, shed let herself be taken advantage of by a goodlooker. In her life, trust amounted to betrayal. She almost counted on it, and that was a huge regret, too.

The proof of her regret was in the blow of black smoke from his tailpipe as he sped away from her, while she remained standing in the downpour, watching him, gripping his umbrella in a stranglehold, getting wetter and wetter.

Im glad Gabby has been such a good friend to you, especially since I havent been of much use these past months, Dinah said to her sister.

Angela laid her hand on Dinahs. Not your fault. We all have our problems to solve. And Ive been doing fine here on my own. Good friends, good care. Nothing to worry about.

Except a cheating ski-bum of a husband whod run away from Angela the moment hed heard the word pregnant. Im your sister and Im entitled to worry anyway. But like I said, Im glad youve had Gabby here to help you get through. Dr. Gabrielle Evans. Angelas friend, and her doctor, who was on the verge of giving birth right this very moment, fully in labor. So, how are you doing, Gabby?

Gabby nodded, panted, grasped the edge of the bed while Angela wiped her forehead with a cool, damp cloth and Dinah positioned herself to see how dilated Gabby was. Dinah had been a pediatric nurse, but shed had good experience in obstetrics. While there was supposed to be a doctor on the way to deliver this baby, and since taking Gabby to the hospital in this weather in her condition would be a crazy thing to do, Gabby was ready to deliver this baby right here, right now, doctor or not. And it was beginning to look like Dinah might have to come out of her self-imposed retirement to bring the baby that Gabby was already calling Bryce into the world.

Can I do anything else? Angela asked.

Just sit down and relax. I dont want you getting worked up and going into labor yourself, Dinah said, truly concerned about the effect the strain of all this excitement could have on her sister. Two women on the verge of motherhood. She envied them. Once, a long time ago, shed thought thats what shed wanted most in the world. But the marriage hadnt worked out, and shed gone in another direction with her life. Then, years later, along had come Charles, the man shed hoped would bewell, it didnt matter what shed hoped. Shed been wrong about him, too.

Still, with all these babies coming into the worldRelax, Gabby, she said, as another contraction gripped the woman. I think this is going to be over with pretty soon. Bryce is in position and hes about to make his grand entrance.

I hope so, Gabby forced out as the contraction came to an end. Because Im tired of this part of it.

Dinah laughed. But youll be a much better obstetrician for having gone through it yourself. At least, that sounds good in theory, doesnt it? And now, when you tell your patients you understand, you really will. She laid a hand on Gabrielles belly, felt the amazing stirring of a new life just under her fingertips. Suddenly, she was glad she was there, being part of it.

Angela tells me youve quit nursing, Gabby gasped. She was finally relaxing back into her pillows. But not for long, if her progression towards the birth remained this consistent.

For now. I came here to cook for Angela while shes off on maternity leave, then Ill decide what I want to do after that. Dinahs sister was the executive chef at the lodge on one of the Three Sisters and, like Angela, Dinah had also gone to culinary school. But shed quit part way through to go into nursing. Culinary school, like her first marriage, had been a hasty decision, and not the right one. But nursingshe loved it. Missed it already.

Right now, though, with so many unresolved issues, she had to step away. The reasons were complicated, and she didnt trust herself to make the right decision while she was still feeling the sting.

Im glad you can deliver a baby, because I didnt want to do this by myself, Gabby said, as another contraction hit. And I was afraid I might have to.

The contractions were coming fast. In the hour theyd been there theyd sped up considerably, telling Dinah that Gabby was in an unusually fast labor. It was time to get her in position and hope the doctor arrived in time, that the floodwaters outside wouldnt hold him back. Or do what she had to do if he couldnt get through.

Funny, how shed quit nursing, not sure she could ever go back to it. Yet here she was, doing what shed promised herself she wouldnt do again until her life was in better control, if that were even possible now, and wondering if shed made yet another bad choice by leaving the thing she most loved doing.

Which was the reason shed had to leave. Because these days she was justconfused.

And sad.

Dr. Neil Ranard arrived in time to deliver Gabbys baby, and the first thing Dinah saw was just how much he loved Gabby. Angela had already told her that the baby wasnt Neils, but deep down Dinah believed that Neil would raise that baby, because the look she saw in Gabbys eyes the instant Neil ran into the room said everything. It was nice. But what was even nicer was seeing that it was out theretrue love did exist. Maybe not for her. But it was nice for others who were luckier than she was. Or smarter.

Just one more push, Gabrielle, Neil urged. Thats all I need. One more push and youre a mother!

Dinah propped Gabby up into position, enjoying what she was doing, even if it was a little outside her nursing expertise. It was good to be useful again, good to help. For a while, the ache of missing it was eased a little.

Bear down, Gabrielle, and push, Neil said.

I am, Gabby gasped.

Breathe, Dinah said. Come on, Gabby. Take a deep breath, then push that baby out.

Hes waiting for you, Gabrielle, Neil prompted. Bryce Evans is waiting for you.

Gabby bore down for a final time as Dinah helped her through her final contraction. Then, suddenly, it was over. Bryce was here. Butdear God, he was blue. Dinah saw it immediately, felt her stomach roil, and exchanged a quick look with Dr. Ranard. A look that said everything.

Let me see him, Gabby said to the deathly quiet room. My baby

Dinah eased Gabby back into a flat position on the bed, propped a pillow under her head then ran to the end of the bed to see what she could do for Dr. Ranard. Or for the limp little newborn in his hands.

He isnt crying, Gabby gasped, fighting to sit back up. Thrashing wildly, she was trying to toss off the sheets covering her. Neil, he isnt crying! Whats wrong?

Take care of Gabrielle, Neil whispered to Dinah. Dont let her see

Even before hed finished speaking, Dinah positioned herself between Neil and the bed, so Gabby couldnt see Neils resuscitation attempts and the next minutes went by in a blur as she tried to calm the grief-stricken mother and help the doctor with the baby.

Did he aspirate? Dinah whispered to Neil, although she didnt believe so. As a pediatric trauma nurse, her first guess was something cardiac, or related to the lungs, judging from the babys listlessness and bluish pallor.

Not again! Dear God, not again! How could she face another newborn dying? Bryce had a chance to survive, Molly never had. She had to stay focused on that! This was the baby who needed her now. This was Bryce Evans, not Molly Collins.

Is he alive? Gabby screamed. Neil, youve got to tell me, is he alive? Ive got to get to my baby. She launched herself up, but Dinah stopped her, applying a firm hand into her shoulder.

More minutes ticked by, and Bryce still struggled. Outside, the floods were getting worse. The hospital had promised to send a medic with supplies, but each second seemed like an houra frantic, futile hour in which they were losing a battle. All the while, Dinah was forced to physically restrain Gabby from flying across the room to Neil. Neil didnt need that. Neither did the baby, who was not improving. She hated doing that. Hated it more than anyone could imagine, because she knew how it felt. Knew how Gabby felt, needing desperately to get there and being pulled away against her will.

Then suddenly Bryce quit breathing and Dinah was thrown back to that day when baby Molly had died in her arms. Regret, instant and brutal, assaulted her, causing a feeling of panic to rise up and strangle the breath from her. For a moment she was back there in that hospital room, struggling and crying like Gabby was, begging them not to take Molly away from her.

Is that CPR? Gabby cried, snapping Dinah back into the moment. Is Neil giving him CPR?

More minutes blurred in the battle as Bryce began showing signs of reviving. Bryce had Neil to fight for him, and Neil loved him. That was so obvious. Thered been no one to care for Molly. No one had loved her. Except her. And in the end, that hadnt been enough.

Now the melancholia threatened to pull her under.

You!

The voice from the doorway startled Dinah from her thoughts of Molly, and she jumped. You! she snapped right back at him. Of all the people who could have come, it would be him, Mr Hit-and-Run himself. And he was standing there, holding out a pediatric oxygen mask.

Dinah yanked the mask from the mans hands, and rushed to put it on Bryce. Then the medic opened the oxygen tank valve once the mask was in place.

It was a slight tap, he said. No damage.

And you didnt stop to see if youd damaged my car, or injured me, Dinah snarled under her breath to keep her problem with this man quiet, as she pulled a pediatric IV needle from the bag of supplies hed brought and prepared to insert it into the babys thread-sized vein. Its what she did, no one had to tell her. No one had to help her. Its simply what she was trained to do, and did instinctively.

As she set about her work, she noticed that Bryce was already pinking up. Not enough to think he was out of danger, but enough to be encouraged.

You take care of Gabby, the medic whispered to Neil. She needs you right now, and Ill take care of the baby.

Neil handed off the responsibility without hesitation, and the two men exchanged quiet words for a moment. Thanks, Eric, Neil finally said, then ran to Gabrielle.

Youre a doctor? Dinah asked.

Eric Ramsey, pediatric surgeon, with a secondary in trauma. He pulled a bag of fluid from his supplies and hooked it to the line once Dinah had inserted the IV catheter. Then he adjusted the drip of fluid into the babys veins, and immediately listened to Bryces chest.

The next few minutes they worked side by side in total silence, both doing what they knew needed to be done to stabilize their tiny patient.

Hes a fighter, Eric finally pronounced, turning around to Gabby. Weve got him as stabilized as we can, so now I need to get him to the hospital. But I want you to hold him first.

She took her baby, and the way she clung to him nearly broke Dinahs heart. No one had loved little Molly like thatsomeone should have. She couldnt bear watching, the memories were too painful and she had to turn away.

I was in a hurryemergency. Eric stepped up behind her. Otherwise I wouldnt have driven off like that.

What? Dinah asked.

The accident. I had an emergency. Im sorry, but

But we all do what we have to do, dont we? she whispered. It doesnt matter what we do to the people around us, as long as its good for us. I get it. You dont need to apologize.

Yes, I do. Eric took a step back, shook his head. Look, Neil thinks Bryces problem might be TGV. Transposition of the great vessels, where the two main arteries leaving the heart were reversed. Normally, blood from the hearts right ventricle was carried by the pulmonary artery to the lungs, and blood from the left ventricle was taken by the aorta to the body. In the case of TGV, it was just the opposite, leaving the oxygenated blood meant to circulate through the body being pumped back into the lungs. And at this point, I have no reason to disagree because the symptoms fit. Things may turn out differently once we get the baby

You think its TGV, too? Dinahs mind raced through the procedures. There would be a first surgery, called a septostomy, to do an immediate, life-saving correction. In that, a hole was literally opened up to allow better flow of the blood. It was a temporary measure to be followed by another surgery to make the permanent repair. Shed treated babies whod had the surgery, seen good outcomes, seen bad outcomes.





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