Dan stared Governor Sapman down letting the hate, Jeff certainly felt, work through his body as well. But he’d been up packing until midnight and he was going to have to leave for the airport in just over an hour. Fionna was meeting him there with Aida after insisting that he go to Georgetown and check on Jeff and Becca before they left for Kauai.
He let the exhaustion and the fury explode from his mouth. “You know, Governor, I’ve been where he is.” He pointed to the obstetrics intensive operating room that Becca had been assigned. “And I’ve watched my wife go through surgery. And then I’ve held her and helped her heal from a miscarriage. It was one of the most horrifying things either of us will ever live through.”
Governor Haydenshire nodded his adamant agreement as he slapped Dan’s shoulder in a show of infuriated solidarity.
“To actually be willing to wish your daughter to go through that kind of pain, because you can’t see what a tremendous guy she married, is criminal,” Dan concluded.
“I can’t believe you said that, George.” Mrs. Sapman seemed shocked as well. “Becca may never forgive you for this.”
Everyone watched a surgical team race into the room and seal the door shut quickly.
“Shhh, baby I’m right here, okay?” Jeff kept up his constant reassurances as he watched the Medios drain Becca’s energy. She was terrified. Her body convulsed in fear.
“I heard you yelling.” She shuddered and clung to him, with all of her rapidly diminishing might. “What did Daddy say?”
Shaking his head, Jeff caressed her face tenderly and brushed her hair away from her eyes. He would never tell her what her father said. It was too awful. It would hurt her too much.
“Go ahead with your soothing energy, Mr. Strenton. The baby has picked up on your rhythms. He’s responding,” Medio Metzger instructed. He pointed to a monitor beside Becca that displayed the baby’s rhythms.
“I’ll be right here the whole time.” Jeff watched Becca’s eyes close and her body go limp as Adeline’s glowing blue orb moved over her womb.
“Hey, baby,” Dan answered his phone quietly. “She’s all right. Adeline and the surgical team just came out of the operating room. Jeff’s keeping her casted for now,” he explained to Fionna. “Adeline stopped the bleeding but she’s put Becca on bed rest. They’re going to keep her here for a while. I’ll head out in just a few minutes.”
When Adeline returned and took the vacant seat beside Dan, he made an excuse to get off of the phone. She was scrubbed clean of Becca’s blood but looked worried.
“Hey, you were amazing. She’s gonna be great,” Logan immediately stepped in.
“I hope,” Adeline admitted in a pained whisper. Drawing a deep breath, her own defeat seemed to overwhelm her. “She’s not going to be able to work. I’m not certain she’s even going to be able to go back to school. Can they really afford for her to stay home?”
Logan shared a quick, concerned glance with Dan. “Jeff’s gonna be an Elite officer. He’ll make plenty. She can stay home with their little guy if that’s what she wants. And he won’t care about anything but Becca being healthy so they’ll make it work. We’ll help out as much as we can,” Logan reassured his wife. “I need to call Portwood. Jeff’s supposed to work this weekend, and obviously he can’t.”
Dan sincerely hoped Jeff and Becca were sleeping, but he doubted Jeff would allow himself the rest.
Adeline turned to Dan. “We need to talk about Fionna.”
“Okay.” Dread free-flowed into Dan’s bloodstream.
“Her rhythms are better,” she began. Dan knew there was more. “But she’s still very stressed. I’ve never had a Receiver as strong as Fionna. I should have realized how strongly she would feel everything at the end of her pregnancy,” Adeline admonished herself. “Her blood pressure spikes whenever her rhythms are erratic and that’s happening far too often. The scar tissue around the gunshot wound is beginning to tear. The blood pressure spikes are a normal stress response but it isn’t good for the baby. The baby has made Fionna’s filters weaker. She feels everything from everyone now and responds to the stress all around her.”
“I know,” Dan choked on the knowledge he suspected but never wanted to have confirmed.
“I was wondering if you thought you might convince her to stay in Kauai for at least the next month. I’m comfortable inducing labor early if we need to, but I’d like her to be another few weeks along,” Adeline explained.
“I think we’ve arrived at the time for me to insist.” He’d prayed it wasn’t going to come to this but it seemed his prayers had gone unanswered.
Adeline offered him a hopeful smile. “Tell her that I’m insisting, too. Halia isn’t developed enough to be delivered now and her blood pressure is dangerously high.”
With the all too familiar weight of the world on his shoulders, Dan stood. He had to take care of his own family as much as he’d like to stay and help out Jeff and Becca.
“Let me know what happens.” Dan gestured his head towards Becca’s room.
“Will do,” Logan agreed with a deep yawn.
“Hey, if there’s anyway Jeff could drive by my house a few times over the next two weeks without it adding anything else to his load, I could pay him for that,” Dan strategized despite the ache that had taken up residence inside his rib cage. “If you think it will work, just tell him I asked.”
“You taking an extra week off?” Logan picked up on the timeline immediately.
“Probably,” Dan sighed.
“And you think Jeff will buy the fact that Dan Vindico needs his house checked on when you and I both know you casted the hell out of it before you left?” Logan pointed out.
“Just try for me,” Dan urged.
A half-hour later, Dan casted the Ferrari and the Mercedes, carried a very sleepy eight-year-old on his shoulder, and dragged their luggage behind him towards Ronald Reagan International Airport.
Aida rallied as they lined up at the ticketing booth with the busy hubbub around her. “Can I hold Lanie when we get there? Is she going to pick us up at the airport with Aunt Malani?” She begged making Dan and Fionna chuckle.
“We’ll have to see okay, baby girl?” Dan soothed.
Deciding to wait and try to ease Fionna into staying an extra week while they were on the flight, he didn’t change her ticket at the counter.
They headed towards the gate for Gifted flights as the shops and newsstands in the airport were opening for the day. Fionna pointed to the latest edition of The Virginian. “I want to see what they’re reporting about Rainer and Emily.”
Curious himself, Dan picked up the paper and a few of the tabloids that had run the pictures back in the spring. He paid for them and then guided his family to the gate.
Flipping open the paper, Dan summoned and locked onto the heated energy used by the printers and with a quick move it read The Realm Times.
“The Lawson’s Battle Their Way Out of Court” was the headline. There was a small picture of Rainer and Emily heading into Jack Stariff’s office to sign the papers settling the multiple lawsuits. It then listed the sheer amount of money Rainer and Emily had gained for compensatory damages, and the worth of the island in the Keyes that they now owned as most of the owner’s assets were tied up in the island.
Fionna chuckled as they read. She continued to glance through the story while Dan casted one of the tabloids wondering what ridiculous spin they would put on the victory.
Bile rocketed to his throat as he read, “Not Vindico’s Baby”on the cover. Divorce proceedings begin tomorrow for former Chief of Iodex Daniel Vindico and famed Angels Receiver Fionna Styler (Vindico.) Governor Vindico has demanded that the normal time for seperation be dismissed.
They’d photoshopped a picture of Dan stalking out of the senate looking furious, from months before he’d even met Fionna and a terrible shot of Fionna leaving Georgetown when her eyes were half-closed in a blink, making it appear that she’d been crying.
“Why does it say that?” Aida panicked. Heartbroken tears pricked her eyes as her chin began to tremble.
The blurb informed the Realm that Fionna had admitted to Dan that the baby was actually Garrett Haydenshire’s and, according to the report, Dan had filed for divorce.
“It’s all just lies, baby.” Dan immediately threw the papers away. Fionna was on the verge of tears as well.
“Why did it say Halia isn’t your baby?” Aida pled. Terrorizing fear perforating her tone. “’Cause I’m your baby girl and she’s going to be your baby girl, too, because she’s my baby sister.”
Lifting her up in his lap, Dan cradled her tenderly.
“As long as you know that, then that’s all that matters to me okay? They print lies to sell papers. None of it is true.”
“I don’t want you to get divorced.”
“We are never getting divorced Aida, I promise,” Fionna vowed. It appeared to physically injure her to watch Aida cry. Certain her blood pressure was being adversely affected, Dan panicked. Halia began kicking her adamant disapproval to Fionna’s fury and pain. The flight began boarding and Dan tried to erase the harm the ridiculous article had done.
The press had backed off for the most part. Fionna had lost some of her appeal when she’d stepped out of the Angel’s limelight, but it appeared, instead of telling their readers that the Lawsons had drawn a line in the sand for themselves, they decided to drudge up old stories. As Garrett had pretended to be Fionna’s boyfriend to keep her safe from Wretchkinsides, while she was actually dating Dan, there had been many confusing reports after Dan had raced into Georgetown carrying Fionna off of the ambulance when she’d been shot.
“Hi there! Would you like to sit by the window so you can see and you’ll be right beside your mommy and daddy?” A flight attendant approached Aida. She seemed concerned that Aida was crying because she was afraid to fly.
“My mommy and daddy aren’t getting divorced,” Aida announced to the flight attendant.
She nodded her understanding. “I… saw the paper,” she whispered to Dan and Fionna. “But I mean who really believes any of that?”
“Thank you.” Fionna sighed as Dan seated himself by the window and held Aida in his lap.
They spent the first hour of the flight trying to explain why someone would print lies in a paper and then why people would spend money on something like that. As there really wasn’t any logic to it, Aida simply nodded, but she cheered up when Fionna and Dan cuddled up on the flight, reassuring her constantly of their undying love for one another and for both of their daughters.
Gasping, Jeff shook himself awake. He’d fallen asleep again. Resetting the cast over Becca, he rubbed his eyes.
“Jeff?” Becca whispered as she fought to awaken.
“I’m right here, sweetheart.” He stood and brushed a kiss on her forehead. She looked so pale it terrified him.
“The baby?” she panicked.
“He’s okay. Adeline stopped the bleeding and was able to move your placenta but you’re gonna have to take it easy for a while, okay?” He loved her so much it hurt him to watch her be frightened or in pain.
“Listen. That’s his heartbeat.” Jeff quieted so she could hear the monitors he’d been listening to for the past few hours.
Tears leaked from the sides of her eyes. Her chin trembled as she clung to his hand.
“What time is it?” She rubbed her hand tenderly over her enlarged midsection. Adeline’s altering the energy of her womb had caused her to swell. She looked like she was much further along in her pregnancy. Jeff lifted his left arm and tried to blink the hands of his watch into focus. “It’s just after six.”
A quiet knock sounded on the door to Becca’s room. Adeline tiptoed inside giving them both a kind smile.
“Feeling a little better?” She read the printouts on the monitors by Becca’s bed.
“Kind of,” Becca allowed. “What happened exactly?”
“Well,” Adeline hemmed. “Your placenta moved over your cervix. Normally this early in the pregnancy that wouldn’t be a big deal but you have a few spots that are thin in the walls of your uterus. And we’re going to have to keep a very close eye on you because your placenta is likely to move back over your cervix. That’s why I’m putting you on bed rest for a few weeks. It looks to me like you might’ve been under a lot of stress lately,” Adeline admitted.
Guilt washed over Jeff in a drowning tidal wave when he thought of their heated discussions over money in the last few days.
Adeline continued, “I want you either sitting or lying down at least twenty hours of the day and complete pelvic rest. I don’t think that has anything to do with the bleeding, but I’m not taking any chances. The baby responds easily to Jeff’s energy so I do want him to cast you a few hours each day.”
“What’s pelvic rest?” Becca quizzed and Jeff was relieved he wasn’t the only one that wasn’t certain about the terminology.
“Sorry Medio speak,” Adeline chuckled. “No intercourse.”
“Please tell me that’s not what caused this,” Jeff choked.
Adeline shook her head. “It was not what caused this. Actually the baby drew from your energy while your ejaculate was inside Becca. I think you probably saved him.” Jeff was simultaneously relieved and highly embarrassed. Color had returned to Becca’s features by way of her own deep blush.
“That’s why I want you to cast her each day for the next several days.”
“You’re supposed to be at work,” Becca remembered suddenly and panic set in.
“Bec,” Jeff shook his head. “I’m not leaving you here. Work will wait. This is where I need to be.”
“No, we’re gonna need that money. Especially if I can’t work.”
“Bec, please just relax. We’ll figure it all out. I’ll make it work. I just need you and our little guy to be okay.”
“That’s a very good daddy,” Adeline vowed. “And Logan called Portwood, while you were casting Becca, to tell him you wouldn’t be in today. I think they came up with a plan if you want to try it.”
“I am not going to the Senate. I’m staying right here beside her,” Jeff huffed.
“You can still do that,” Adeline urged.
“What’s their plan?” Becca inquired, sounding much stronger suddenly.
“Would you mind if Logan and Officer Portwood come in for a minute?” Adeline smiled.
“It’s fine,” Becca volunteered before Jeff could stop her.
Adeline left the room and Jeff pulled the sheets and blankets on Becca’s hospital bed up to her chin making her giggle.
“Honey they both have wives. We all have the same parts,” she teased him. He reveled in how relaxed she sounded.
“Yeah, but your parts are mine and I’m very protective of my baby. You know this.” He barely recognized the relief in his own tone.
“I really like that,” she admitted with a slight giggle that soothed Jeff’s soul.
“You know, if you didn’t want him to work this weekend you coulda just said something. I mean the whole now I have to go to the hospital routine is so overused.” Logan winked at Becca as he led Portwood inside.
“I promise I didn’t mean to,” Becca laughed.
“Sure, sure,” Logan scoffed.
“Man, you do not have to do this,” Portwood held up one of the high powered Iodex laptops from the Senate. “I completely understand,” he gestured to Becca in the bed. “You will never get in to trouble with me when you’re being a good husband.”
“Thanks, but what was your idea?” Jeff wondered if there was any way he could stay right beside Becca and catch a hacker on the side.
“We figured you weren’t gonna leave Becca-boo and little Jeff-y Jr. there,” Logan pointed to the approximate location of Becca’s stomach under the layers of blankets Jeff had covered her in.
Portwood rolled his eyes. “Can you imagine if I let him do the run downs on Monday mornings?”
“Dude, I would be awesome at run downs,” Logan huffed.
“Oh, it hurts to laugh,” Becca’s body hunched forward effectively halting the laughter.
Portwood offered her a sorrowful gaze. “We’ll get out of here so you can rest. Logan and Ramier loaded all of the files on our little hacker friend on here,” he lifted the laptop again, “I don’t care where you are when you catch him. If you want to sit right where you are, hold her hand, and keep this in your lap it’s fine with me. If we have this asshat in the holding cells Monday morning, the money is all yours.”
“Hope welled in Jeff’s mind but he wasn’t going to ignore his wife for money. If she was uncomfortable with him working and taking care of her, he wouldn’t.
“Jeff, you should do it,” Becca immediately urged. “I mean, I know you can catch this guy and I’m just gonna be laying here.”
“Are you sure?” Jeff probed.
“Yes. I’m hurting and exhausted so I’m probably just going to sleep.”
“If you need anything or you need me to cast you, you’ll tell me no matter what I’m doing?” Jeff defined the terms of his agreeing to this. Portwood gave him a pride-filled smile.
“I promise,” Becca vowed.
“Okay.” Jeff took the laptop from his boss. “I’ll do my best.”
“You always do, man. Take care of her first,” Portwood commanded.
Immensely appreciative of his boss, Jeff gave a silent prayer of overwhelming gratitude that his son and wife were all right, for the moment at least, and that he was being given another opportunity to prove himself.
Adeline whisked back into the room with a breakfast tray as Logan and Portwood headed out.
“Rainer and I will supply you with as much food and Dr. P as you need. You just catch this guy,” Logan promised.
“Thanks. I’m going to take you up on that.”
“We’re going to keep you on the fluid drip so this is for Jeff,” Adeline explained to Becca as she pushed the cart past the bed.
“Good. I don’t think I could keep anything down,” Becca sighed.
“I’m going to give you something for that and make certain we got rid of your UTI. Then I’m going to give you a light sleeping pill. Your body will heal when you sleep. I’ll keep you casted while you’re out and we’ll let Jeff work. But before we start all of that,” Adeline sighed. “Both of your parents would like to see you,” she stated seeming to test the waters.
“That depends on what you were yelling at my dad about,” Becca turned to Jeff. He’d hoped that she would forget or think it was a dream as they were putting her under but that didn’t seem to be the case.
Setting the laptop on the counter, Jeff bought himself a moment more with a harsh swallow. “He was just worried about you.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you yell at anyone,” Becca called him out. “You weren’t upset because my dad was worried about me.”
“I’m going to let you two talk for a minute. Jeff, you eat and then I’ll bring in Becca’s sleeping pill,” Adeline whisked from the room.
Jeff moved back beside Becca and took her hand, still stalling for time.
“Just tell me.” Becca urged.
“I just want you to rest, baby. Please. I just want you to be better.”
“Do you remember on our wedding night? You made me promise not to keep things from you. Because you said it scared you worse when I didn’t tell you things. Well, it scares me, too, when you don’t tell me what’s going on. You’re my husband. I want you to tell me everything.”
Defeat throat-punched him. “I don’t want you to be mad at your dad.”
“You’re mad at him so I’m already mad at him,” Becca vowed.
“Uh well,” Jeff hemmed momentarily. “I think your dad sort of thought you were gonna…” he couldn’t say the word miscarry to her when that was still a possibility.
“Lose the baby?” She promptly began crying again.
Jeff nodded as he wiped away her tears. He leaned and kissed her forehead hoping to soothe her.
“Is that all? Is that why you got so mad?” She demanded.
“That was part of it,” he choked.
“What else? Just tell me.”
“He … said for Adeline to just get rid of it… so that we could go on with the divorce,” he managed though the words felt like poison as they fell from his lips.
“What?” Becca gasped. “Why would he think that?”
“Even if something horrible happened, I’m not divorcing you. I want you forever. I want to have your babies even if it’s a little earlier than we planned,” she spewed out all of the things Jeff had informed her father of.
“I know, baby. That’s what I told him and that’s exactly how I feel as well.”
To his surprise, his vows seemed to steady her. “I don’t want to see him. I’m tired and everything hurts.”
“I’m so sorry, Bec,” he choked. He laid his hand tenderly over her midsection and used his waning energies to soothe her and their baby boy.
“That feels better but you need to eat.”
He could do both. Jeff kept his cast on her and tore the wrapper off of a protein bar with his teeth. He inhaled it as he worked his energy through his wife and child.