Thursday, March 25, 2010

Special Delivery, Part Two

Special Delivery Part Two

Twenty-five long minutes later I was flipping aimlessly though some unrecognizable magazine when Derek walked through the door decked out in green surgeons scrubs. Adam and Dad had been discussing the new baseball season and stopped mid-conversation. Four sets of eyes focused on Derek, trying to read his expression; all we needed to know was written there. His smile was huge and there were still tears in his eyes; the tiredness had melted away to be replaced with his joy.

I waited a half a heartbeat, but that was all because he exclaimed, “It’s a boy! We have a son!”

My tears started then and I flew into his arms and hugged him tight. “Oh Derek, how wonderful! How is he, how is Pam?”

“Both are okay. He is 3 pounds and 2 ounces, pretty small, but he is okay. All ten fingers and toes. He is responding well they said and right now he is going to the NICU to be put in an incubator. He’s struggling to breathe a bit, but they said that is normal for an infant his size and that we shouldn’t be too alarmed. Pam is being taken care of right now and will be going into the recovery area soon. We won’t be able to see her again until she gets to her room. But we can walk to the NICU and see the baby now they said.”

I was already grabbing my purse and heading for the door. I have a grandson! I wanted to scream it at the top of my lungs, I have a grandson. Adam was grinning from ear to ear as was my Dad. Even my usually stoic Mom was smiling and gathering her things so that we could make the journey to NICU. It was one floor down and I swear we waiting an eternity for that elevator!

At the NICU desk we were informed that it would be about 20 minutes before we could see him which I understood, but it was so hard to wait. The nurse explained how the rules for the NICU would impact our visits. Derek could only bring two of us in at a time and before we could go in we had to carefully scrub our hands and arms using special surgeons soap and scrub brushes, just like you see doctors do on TV. Each hand and arm is done separately and very thoroughly. Then we would have to wear gowns to protect him. I didn’t care if they wanted me to walk through fire, I was ready!

Derek and I headed into the scrub area and Adam told my Mom to go ahead and go with us.

“Why no Adam, I’ll wait. You go ahead and go with Sarah. Really, I don’t mind waiting at all.”

Adam looked like he wanted to protest, but Derek came back and said, “It’s okay. Let’s go!”

The nurse accompanied us the first time to make sure we scrubbed properly. I jokingly asked Adam if he had ever played a doctor before and he only laughed and said no. The nurse turned to look at him and for the first time realized who he was. She looked at him and smiled, but then went on to show us how to use the scrub brushes. They were stiff and not comfortable; I couldn’t imagine anything, even skin being left in their wake. But we quickly got the hang of it and soon we were done and ready to put the gowns on.

“Now, please understand that he is very tiny and red right now. He doesn’t have any of the usual baby fat to fill him out; he will seem very frail. He’s not, not as frail as he looks anyway. He will have a number of tubes in him; it looks very intimidating, but it is all there to help him. There are also monitors to let us know his temperature, his oxygen saturation and respiration as well as his heart.

That startled me and I asked, “Is there something wrong with his heart?”

“No, but we want to keep an eye on it in such a premature baby.”

I took a couple of deep breaths, trying to prepare myself for what I was about to see. I couldn’t wait, but I was also scared to death. I wanted to hold Adam’s hand, but I knew that wasn’t possible at this point after we had scrubbed. The nurse hit a button and a door automatically opened to let us into the NICU patient area.

We passed a half-dozen babies on the way to ours; some looked really good but a few were so tiny it broke my heart to see them. Often there were family with them, holding them when it was allowed, sometimes just standing there looking at their miracle. Now I was ready to see ours.

A few more steps around a partition and we were there. In an incubator lay our angel. So tiny, it made my breath catch to see him. He had just the tiniest bit of dark fuzz on his head and yes, he had tubes and bands around almost all of his body. My hand stretched out to the plexi-glass side of the incubator; I willed him to know that we were here, that we loved him.

“Mom, Adam may I present Daniel Robert Marcus!” Derek told us, proudly admiring his son.

“You named him after his great-grandpa?” I asked and the question brought a quick sob to my already sporadic breathing.

“Yeah, Grandpa was the father that I never ha - , well, you know Mom,” he told me. He had tears in his eyes and we both nodded acknowledgment of what he had been about to say. His own father had never really been there for him or Lissa; my Dad was the best role model they could have had.

Adam was staring at Daniel with rapt attention; his eyes looked a bit misty as well and he wore the most ridiculous smile – a smile of joy as he stood bent down to see into the incubator a little better. “Hey there little man! You’ve been born to some really awesome parents, I hope you know that!” he crooned in a sing-song voice.

As I watched Daniel I noticed that with every breath his little body contracted; knees would pull up slightly and it was alarming to see. No wait – make that terrifying. It pulled a small cry from me to watch his little body ‘pull’ just to take a breath. We take breathing for granted, an automatic reflex, but there was nothing automatic or reflexive about this. I found myself willing his little body to get the oxygen he needed.

“It’s called ‘pulling’, or ‘retracting’” the nurse told us. “It’s all too common in preemies. It’s a struggle for them to breath with lungs that aren’t quite fully developed yet. But it will get better,” she finished, trying to reassure us with a smile. “Our main concerns the next few weeks will be getting him to gain some weight and off of the oxygen.”

I asked her how on earth he could eat with all those tubes in him and she told me that the tube that ran in through his nose was his feeding tube. The high-calorie formula would go straight into his tummy because he will have trouble swallowing at first.

So many things to think about, to consider that had never occurred to my mind before. I had been blessed with two healthy full-term babies; both ate well and were ready to go home from the hospital in a couple of days. I wondered out loud how long Daniel would be here.

“We like them to be about 5 pounds before they go home. If at 5 pounds they are eating well and steadily gaining and have no other issues, they can go home.”

“Wow,” I said. “Both Derek and his sister were almost 8 pounds when they were born and Derek was 8 pounds 2 ounces when he went home two days later. They told me that was unusual because most babies lose a few ounces in the first couple of days!”

“That’s true, they do,” she agreed. “It looks like he just kept growing!”

I nodded and laughed. “He did, much to my shock every few months when I had to buy him new shoes! How long will Daniel have to stay here? I mean, how long til he reaches 5 pounds?”

She pursed her lips for a minute as she decided how best to answer that. “Each baby is different. All I can say right now is that he basically is just really small, but otherwise healthy. It’s all up to how well he eats.”

I laid my hand along the side of the incubator, wanting so badly to touch him, wanting him to feel our love and gain strength from that. His tiny body continued to ‘pull’ as he breathed, but he seemed to be sleeping and I was glad he was resting.

I could have stayed there forever staring at him, but I was also cognizant that Mom and Dad were out there waiting to get in as well, so I reluctantly told Adam and Derek that we should go so that Mom and Dad could get in. We re-traced our path back out and found Mom and Dad in the waiting area, already scrubbed and anxious to see him.

“He’s beautiful!” I declared. “Wait until you see!”

They both nodded happily and followed Derek and the nurse into the patient area. Adam and I pulled off our gowns and went to the waiting room to sit and wait for them all to return. Adam wrapped his arm around my shoulders as we settled back onto an uncomfortable sofa, but it didn’t matter. I was on top of the world!


When they got back to the waiting room we all talked excitedly as we made our way back to Pam’s room. Dad hadn’t known that Derek and Pam were naming the baby after him. He was almost embarrassed about it; but it also melted his heart I could tell.

Pam wasn’t back yet and urged Derek to go to the cafeteria and get something to eat. “We’ll be right here if she gets back to the room Derek. You’re not going to do her any good if you pass out from hunger,” I told him. It was an exaggeration, I knew. But he needed to eat and this time he listened and headed off.

“Have you talked to Lissa?” I asked Mom and Dad.

“Yes, we talked to her yesterday. She wants to come down, but time is a problem. And grandpa doesn’t think she needs to be driving that car of hers down here either,” Mom said. My Dad vigorously nodded his head in agreement.

“I agree,” Adam stated. “Her car may make it fine back and forth to Wichita, but this would be far too many miles to put on it. We’ll get her a plane ticket, if she really wants to come down.”

“Yes, that is the way to go,” Dad agreed. “She said she is off this weekend, so that would be the time for the trip. She really wants to come down.”

“Did you and Mom drive down Dad?” Personally, I was thinking it was a pretty long trip for them to make. I’m not sure why I have that attitude; they are both in excellent health and travel a lot. But this was a stressful trip and so of course I worried.

“Yep, we did. When we’re done here we are heading to Santa Fe for a week. Been a long time since we were out that way. Mountains ought to be really nice this time of year,” Dad told us.

Derek came back into the room with a to-go box. I smiled; I should have known he wouldn’t stay there to eat. It was practically overflowing with pancakes and sausage. He took a bite and remarked, “These sure aren’t your pancakes Adam!” It didn’t stop him from eating them I noticed with a smile.

“Have you called Lissa?” Derek asked after taking a long swig of milk.

“No, we were just talking about her though. We’re going to fly her down here this weekend,” I told him.

“Why don’t I call and get her a reservation while you call her bella, so we can let her know about the flight information?” Adam told me.

“Okay, let’s do it!”

Adam made the arrangements for her plane ticket as I told her about Daniel. I almost went deaf as she whooped into the phone. Then she went into doctor mode asking all sorts of questions, some of which I didn’t know the answers to. But I told her she could find that all out this weekend when she came for a visit, which made her whoop and yell again.

“Please Lissa, my ears!”

“Sorry Mom, I’m just so excited!” she laughed. “I can’t wait to meet him.”

Just then they brought Pam back into the room and asked us all to leave while they got her situated in bed. They were very quick and soon she was sitting up and already looking much better than she had before.

She had only gotten to see Daniel briefly when he was born, but they told her that she could go down later in a wheel chair to visit him. “I can hardly wait,” she said. “Tell me all about him!”

We spent the next half hour describing him to her and everything that we had seen. They brought her in her lunch tray and she laughingly told us that she hated to admit it, but even the hospital food looked good to her. Mom, Dad, Adam and I decided to leave and go check into our hotel while she ate and rested for a while. We promised we would be back later and as I hugged her good bye she whispered, “I love you Mom. Thanks for making it here.”

“Love you too Pam. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”


It was almost noon when Adam and I left the hospital. We were all tired, dragging actually. Derek wanted us to stay at their house on post but we declined; he and Pam would both need time when she got to come home and besides, the second bedroom was in the process of being turned into a nursery. Which made me realize just how much still needed to be done to get ready for the baby.

After we had checked into the hotel and were getting settled into our room I murmured sleepily, “you know, we have a lot of shopping to do for Daniel. They don’t have much yet at all Derek said.”

“I know love; we’ll get to that as soon as we know exactly what they do have, I promise,” he told me as he pulled and tugged his clothes off.

I did the same, neither of us caring that we left them lying helter-skelter across the room. I made a quick trip to the bathroom and washed my make up off, not that there was much on and then on second thought brushed my teeth. As I was wiping my mouth on a towel I looked up into the mirror and saw Adam standing in the doorway watching me.

We had come so far in these past six months I realized. In October I would have been so embarrassed to have him watching me as I stood naked brushing my teeth. But we’d been through too much together and now I didn’t even blink. I was comfortable with him, with me and this relationship; even more than that if felt like I was home, exactly where I was supposed to be.

I stopped to kiss him and he pulled me close for a moment. He had some stubble on his chin that brushed lightly against my cheek when he kissed me. For a moment I remembered the ‘Delicious Pirate Richland’ and smiled against his lips and then giggled.

“What, bella?”

“Nothing important, my love,” I told him. “I’ll tell you later, when we get up from our nap!” I teased him.

He quirked up one eyebrow as he was prone to do when curious, but only smiled at my answer, content to let it go for now. Or maybe just too tired, I didn’t really know, but I knew that I was exhausted and I’m sure he had to be too. We had both slept on the plane coming over here, so whether it was jet lag, the excitement of everything that had happened or that we hadn’t really slept well I was unsure. I only knew that I needed sleep now!

I had pulled the covers back on the bed and settled in when Adam came and crawled into the bed next to me, pulling me close to him. I surrendered to another kiss and reached up to brush his soft curls away from his face. His chocolate-brown eyes regarded me sleepily and he placed another kiss on my lips. “I,” he placed a kiss on my forehead, “love,” then a kiss on the tip of my nose, “you,” and finally one more kiss on my lips, “Sarah,” he sighed.

I returned the kisses and the words as well, “I love you too Adam. Thank you for being here with me.”

“No place else I could be, bella,” he told me and soon I realized he was asleep. It didn’t take me long to follow him.


I woke up around five and saw Adam staring at me with a smile on his face. I stretched my body, as well as I could in the bed and sighed as I watched him.

“Been awake long?” I asked.

He shook his head no and leaned up on one elbow and lifted the covers to look at my body. His eyes darkened from pure chocolate to molten chocolate as he eyed me appreciatively. I looked down his body and realized he was actually more than appreciative at that moment!

I smiled and rubbed my body against his and he immediately pulled me tighter against him and the proof of his ‘appreciation’ was pressed firmly against my leg. I reached up to kiss him and felt his mouth open to mine, our tongues meeting and then twisting to stroke one another’s as we settled into a familiar, and yet exciting rhythm.

My whole body melted against his, a warm and wet silken sheath that I settled on him. I felt his muscles jerk in response as my own tightened around him. A sigh escaped my lips and I licked them in anticipation of what was to come.

Adam managed to sit up in the bed, pulling me with him so we were eye-to-eye; I loved that, watching him as our bodies worked the magical dance of love on each other. Our lips found one another’s again and our tongues were soon delving deeply to explore every inch of the other’s mouth.

My hips had settled into a delicious pace as I rode his heated length up and down. I felt the first contractions building in my belly as my body squeezed his tightly, making us both gasp with pleasure. Soon there was no controlling the fires that burned and consumed us; the rhythm became instinctive, a well-known cadence that was mindful only of its own need for fulfillment. On and on it went and soon I was shattering against his body, my own trembling and shaking as the waves of passion rippled through me.

Adam’s mouth was bent to my breasts, lapping and nipping lightly at their swollen and tingling tips and soon I felt his body tense and tighten inside of me and I knew he had found his own release. I collapsed against him and he rolled us over so we were facing each other as we both panted and shivered with the remainder of our spent passion.

“Oh wow,” I exclaimed, trying to catch my breath. “So much for jet lag!”

Adam giggled and murmured against my neck, “If that was a repercussion of jet leg remind me to fly you halfway around the world more often.”

My stomach rumbled then and Adam laughed heartily. “You really have been around me too long my love. You’ve gained the Richland appetite!”

I groaned again, hoping that wasn’t so. That thought was followed by another growl and Adam threw the covers off of us and said, “C’mon, let’s take a shower and then go get something to eat. And I’m sure you want to get back to the hospital.”

I shivered as the cool air caressed my still heated skin, but shrugged and crawled out of the bed. Adam already had the shower running and we discussed the plans for the next couple of days while we washed.

“Lissa gets in tomorrow morning at 9:00 am so we’ll need to get her a room here. Where are your parents staying, did they tell you?”

“No, I didn’t even think to ask them actually. I’ll call them when we’re dressed. Maybe they will want to go and get some dinner with us before we head back to the hospital.”

Adam nodded and we finished the shower. As we were toweling off I heard my phone ring and I rushed to get it, praying that it wasn’t any kind of bad news.

Actually, it was my mom. They were on their way to the hospital to see Daniel again. I smiled as I thought of the little guy; I wondered how long it would be before we could hold him? We agreed to meet at a restaurant near the hospital when they were done and I hung up the phone and called Derek.

“How is Pam?” I asked.

“She is feeling much better,” he told me. I could hear her in the background asking him who it was and him softly telling her it was me.

“Glad to hear it. And Daniel?”

I could almost see his smile on the other end of the phone. “He is doing very well they tell me. He’s lost a lot of the redness and is so beautiful!”

“I can’t wait to see him again. Grandma and Grandpa are on their way there. After they see Daniel we are going to meet for dinner. Have you eaten yet? Would you like to join us?”

“I did eat. They brought a tray for me when they brought in Pam’s dinner. But thanks, Mom. Are you and Adam coming back up here?”

“As soon as we’ve eaten; you couldn’t keep me away. We’ll need to talk about what you need for the baby so we can get some shopping done, so be thinking about that, okay?”

“Oh, uh, okay. I guess we’ll see you in a little while then?”

“Yeah. I love you Derek and Pam too! Oops, and Daniel!” I added with a grin. “Bye!”

As I hung up the phone I realized that Adam was talking on his and it didn’t take me long to recognize he was speaking with Tamara and the boys. They were evidently excited to hear the news about the baby and I listened with half an ear as I was getting dressed. I was just getting ready to dry my hair when he came into the bathroom to shave.

I gave him a sort of pouty look as he pulled his razor out of his shaving kit and he grinned at me, dimples in full effect. “So, you like the scroungy pirate look do you, bella?” He laughed and reached for me, rubbing his cheek against mine.

“It has a certain charm – sometimes!” I giggled in response. I knew that if we started that again we would never make it to dinner so I asked him what Tamara had to say about the baby.

“She and the boys are excited! And – she told me that she and Mark are expecting!”

“How wonderful for them,” I exclaimed. And I meant it; a baby would be lovely for them. “Do they have a due date yet?”

“November 16th they told her. She and Mark are ecstatic.”

“I’m sure they are. And the boys, how are they taking it?” First, a new sister in the form of Krista and now a new baby. They could be feeling a bit insecure.

“They are apparently fighting over whether it will be a baby sister or a baby brother and who will get to sleep with it,” he laughed.

“Good, that will keep them preoccupied for a bit. Tamara is feeling okay?”

“Said she was. She always did like being pregnant.” He had finished shaving and after putting his shaver away he started putting on some aftershave. It made him smell delicious I decided as I nuzzled his neck after he was done. I inhaled deeply and smiled.

Oh oh, dangerous ground. Back away Sarah!

Soon we were heading out the door to meet Mom and Dad at the restaurant and got there a couple of minutes before they did. It smelled wonderful I decided as I read the menu.

“I’m famished,” Adam said. He wore a slight frown of concentration as he perused the menu.

“I know what you mean,” I added with a laugh. I felt as if I could order half the menu!

Mom and Dad joined us then and we all settled into a quiet corner of the dining room. Adam had attracted a few stares, but no one had approached us; I was very happy about that. I’m not sure that I could have handled it after the stress of the past 24 hours.

“How was Daniel?” I asked after the server had taken our orders.

“Oh, he is just so beautiful,” Mom exclaimed. “He looked a little better than he had earlier and the nurse said he was breathing a bit easier. They were feeding him through one of the tubes and he seemed to be handling it well. No problems so far anyway. And Pam looked much, much better!”

I sent up a quick prayer to God and offered my thanks. It was the most I could ask for right now. We talked about Daniel some more and then about Lissa arriving in the morning.

“Would you like Dad and me to go pick her up?” Mom asked.

“No. I haven’t seen her in so long, I want to be there.”

“Darling, I’m sure you must be so tired, what with the time change and everything. It’s no problem for us to go and get her,” Dad said.

I shook my head adamantly. “We’ll probably be awake anyway,” I told them. “It will be like afternoon to us,” I finished with a laugh. “So how long are you staying?”

“Well be here until we’re sure all will be okay, with Pam and Daniel,” Mom told us. “We’re not on any sort of time-table.”

Adam nodded his head and said, “We’ve booked a room for Pam at our hotel. I’m not sure where you are staying but I went ahead and booked another for you both, just in case. That way we would all be together.”

“That would be nice,” Dad stated. “We’re up on the north end of El Paso, quite a ways away from the Army post. Sure, we’ll take you up on that.”

“Good, glad to hear that. The room is ready anytime you are, so please feel free to use it.”

We all finished our dinner, but didn’t linger over coffee as we might normally have; I was too anxious to get back to the hospital. We hugged Mom and Dad in the parking lot and headed back to Fort Bliss. After a quick check-in at the gate we were on our way to the hospital complex. I practically ran through the halls to get to Pam’s room.

The door was closed and I knocked softly on it. Derek opened it and pointed to Pam, asleep on the bed and made a ‘sshh’ motion, finger to lips as he stepped into the hall and softly closed the door behind him.

“We just got back to the room a few minutes ago; we got to go down to NICU so that she could see Daniel. I think it just overwhelmed her. She hasn’t really slept all day and once she saw him she felt as if she could relax and sleep. I know she is so tired!”

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Well, I’m sure she will rest better now that she has finally seen him. How is he doing?” I asked as we made our way down the hall to NICU.

“He was great. He’s ate almost an ounce and a half of formula today. We’ll maybe ‘ate’ isn’t the right word since he has a feeding tube in, but still, he is tolerating the formula well – he’s even pooped already,” he told us with a laugh.

“Glad to hear he’s taking care of the important things!” Adam said with a grin. We had reached the scrub room and were preparing to wash up so we could see Daniel.

As I worked the scrub brush over and between my fingers I asked, “When do you think we’ll be able to hold him?”

“They said in a day or two actually. The doctors like to establish contact between babies and families as early as possible. They believe it encourages healing. They will let us hold him against our chest, with no clothes in the way, skin to skin. They call it ‘kangarooing’ and it really helps the babies. They will move him to an isolette tomorrow with a heating lamp over him to keep him warm if he does well over night. We’ll be able to touch him then they said.”

My heart skipped a beat to hear that news; I couldn’t wait to touch him, hold him close to my heart. I sighed as I dried my hands and arms and slipped into a yellow paper gown. Adam and Derek were just putting on their gowns as well and I tapped my foot impatiently, willing them to hurry up.

“C’mon!” I urged, ready to go. They both smiled at me and off we went to the patient area.

My second look at my grandson brought tears to my eyes, much like the first look. He looked so tiny, but he really did look better this time. A little less red, it was true, but still rosy. His skin appeared so thin, almost translucent so that you could easily see some of his veins. I marveled at his tiny hands and feet; perfect replica’s of his father’s with long, thin fingers and toes.

“Yep,” Derek said as he noticed what I was looking at. “Pam says he’s going to have my big ole feet,” he chuckled. “That’s my boy!”

We stayed for half an hour and gazed with fascination at our miracle. He was beautiful, perfect and so loved. Pam was still sleeping when we got back to the room and I asked Derek if he were staying here too.

“Yeah, the couch folds out into a semi-comfortable bed. Well, a bed anyway.“ he told us with a laugh. “I’ll be okay Mom, I want to be here, you know?”

I nodded and hugged him tight. My son was now a father; my pride for him shone brightly in my eyes. “Goodnight, Son.” I gave him a kiss and a hug and watched as Adam hugged him as well. He walked with us to the elevator and waved as the doors closed, whisking us down to the main floor.


The next morning we got up reluctantly; we had both fallen asleep around 4 sometime. It was going to take a few days to get regulated I decided as we stopped at a coffee shop on the way to the airport. I sipped the hot brew cautiously, appreciating the delectable odor as the steam rose from it.

We made it to the airport just in time to see Lissa making her way down the crowded hallway to us. She practically ran into my arms and then hugged me tightly before grabbing Adam as well. She was practically bouncing she was so excited.

“Oh, I can’t believe it! I’m an auntie!” she cried, joy bubbling forth from her. “Is he beautiful? I know he is beautiful, he has to be. So small, but he’ll be fine, I just know it!”

She was still practically jumping up and down in her excitement. “Calm down, Tigger,” I told her with a laugh. “Yes, he is perfectly beautiful! Wait until you see him!”

“Yes, so let’s GO,” she urged, heading for the doors.

We followed her, and Adam thought to ask, “Do you have any luggage Lissa?”

“Nope, just my back pack. That’s all I need,” she told us as we pushed open the door to the outside.

Adam and I grinned at her and followed. After all, what else could we do?


Lissa wanted to go to the hospital before the hotel, which was fine with me. I could hardly wait to see Pam and Daniel again. We made our way to Pam’s room and found her sitting up and looking almost like her usual self. Mom and Dad were there and Lissa first hugged Pam and then her grandparents. “Uh, where’s Derek?” she asked.

Just then the door opened and Derek walked in carrying a tray with coffee in it for them all. Lissa kept from launching herself at him until he got the tray set down on a table, then she flew at him and hugged him tight.

“Man, whoever would have believed you’d ever be a father, Grover?” she asked, referring back to his childhood nickname, given to him because of his love of the Sesame Street character.

His only reply was to grin like an idiot; Lissa returned that grin with an identical one of her own. We all chatted for a bit and then Derek, Lissa and I went off to see Daniel. She didn’t need any instructions when it came to scrubbing I thought with amusement as I watched her tackle the task with abandon. She was scrubbed and gowned in no time and waiting impatiently for Derek and I to finish.

I watched her face carefully as she saw him for the first time; waiting to see if she saw anything alarming about it all, knowing her doctor sense would give her away if it did. She first looked at him and then looked at the machines and readouts and seemed satisfied and immediately bent down to see him better and coo at him.

“Oh man, Grover, you make fine babies!” she told him and then hastily wiped away a few tears.

“You think so, huh?” he asked, wrapping his arm around her and pulling her close.

“Yeah, I do.” She laid her head on his shoulder and for a minute I watched the two of them; no longer kids, adults with their own lives. But still so close, I knew I had done my job well.

I got my turn to admire my grandson and then we returned to the room. We hadn’t had any breakfast yet and the coffee had made me a bit queasy. Or maybe again it was just all the excitement I thought.

We all visited in the room for a while since Mom and Dad already had visited Daniel before we got here. Dad was teasing Derek and Pam about Daniel being born on April 15th, tax day. “Well, at least you got a fine deduction, that’s all I can say. Gotta be something good about that day!”

“I hadn’t thought about that Grandpa!” Derek laughed.

I thought about the date, the middle of April. And I thought about Adam and me getting married. We couldn’t do it in Greece now, it would be several months before the Daniel could fly and suddenly I just didn’t want to wait that long. I whispered something into Adams ear and he smiled and nodded at me in encouragement.

“Everyone?” I asked, getting their attention. “How would everyone feel about coming to California in late May?”

“Sure,” Derek said adding, “As long as Daniel is out of the hospital and all. Why Mom, family vacation?”

“Nooo,” I said slowly. Suddenly fear gripped my chest and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding fiercely in my chest. C’mon Sarah, just get the words out.

“Adam and I are getting married!”

To be continued in The Wedding…

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge.

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author

Monday, March 22, 2010

Special Delivery, Part One

Special Delivery, Part One

The isle of Kybylos, Greece – early April

“Sarah marry me here and now, in this place.”

My breath caught in my throat as I lay wrapped in Adams arms and heard his words. The moon shone brightly over our impromptu bed in the ruins of Aphrodite’s Temple as I rested my head against his chest, listening to his steady heartbeat as is slowed its pace after our lovemaking.

The night had a mystical feel to it, almost as if the ancient Gods themselves were blessing our union. Maybe communion was a better word, for the intensity of our passion was truly magical this night. I felt wrapped in some inexplicable warmth, belying the coolness of the starry night. Afterglow you might say, but still it seemed more potent; intoxicating really.

I smiled at him as I traced my finger teasingly over his chest. “Right now?” I laughed. I placed a quick kiss where my finger had just been, sending an immediate shiver across Adam’s lean frame.

“Well, maybe not this exact moment, but here in Greece. It’s beautiful, don’t you think?” he murmured against my forehead, before placing a gentle kiss on it.

I thought about it for a moment and sighed, trying to imagine the logistics of getting everyone here for the day. Even though I had relaxed some as I had spent more time with Adam, I was still the practical Sarah I had always been. Adam rarely thought of those types of details; when you have money you just decide to do it and it happens. I was wondering how the family would manage to get time away from work and school to get here, where everyone would stay when they did, all the ordinary details of making it happen.

Adam, bless him, was thinking of the day itself and sharing our love and commitment; that was foremost on his mind. To him it was a given that everyone would be there. So, how did I make it happen?

A soft sigh escaped my lips as I leaned up and placed a quick kiss on his lips before sitting up. The night air really was chilly now I thought as a shiver raised goose bumps up and down my arms and legs. I reached for my clothes in a hurry to get them on. Adam sat up too and hoped down off the stone where we had been laying and stretched. His body looked magnificent in the glow of the moon and it was so tempting to drag him back down onto the stone, but by now I was just too cold.

“Bella, what do you think?” he asked, tugging on his jeans.

“Wha – oh you mean about getting married here?” I frowned for a moment as I pulled on my sandals. I had temporarily forgotten what he had said earlier. I blamed it on the beauty of the night, not on anything like age I told myself with a laugh.

“I would love to get married here. But it might take a little time to get it all arranged you know. I mean, getting everyone here and all,” I added.

“Hm, yes I can see that might be difficult to arrange on such short notice. But we’ll manage I’ll bet.” He wrapped his arms around me and noticed that I was shivering even more now. “Cold, bella?”

At my nod he grabbed my hand and we started down the mountain towards the villa. The Aegean lay before us, looking serene and almost glass-like in the night. We could see a few lights in the village below us and hear faint music coming from somewhere below us as well. We quickened our pace and I laughed about how much easier it was to get down the mountain.

The closer we got to the village, the livelier the sounds became and now we could smell wonderful things cooking. Adam’s sniffed the air appreciatively and I smiled, realizing that I was hungry too. My appetite had seemed to increase a bit lately, which of course worried me. I didn’t have the Richland metabolism which just seemed to burn everything off and I constantly worried about gaining too much weight. Not that I thought it would matter to Adam at all, I was still smaller now than I was when we met, but we women do worry about this stuff. Maybe too much, I decided.

As we got to where the first houses were we turned to the left and followed the lane to the villa. It too was lit up brightly against the night sky, starkly white it almost seemed to glow in the moonlight. The flagged pathway that led to the terrace was edged by some kind of flowering bush that gave off a heavenly smell. The flowers themselves were purple and pink I had noticed earlier as we left for our walk up the mountain.

As we came to the terrace Georgio came out to greet us. “Sarah, your son has been trying to reach you this evening. There is a problem with Pam and the baby; you need to call him immediately.”


I settled into the seat of the jet in the airport in Athens and fastened my seat belt. I heard the ‘click’ of Adam’s belt snapping into place at the same time and looked at him; the fear and worry that was written across my face was mirrored on Adam’s. The last 4 hours had been a frightening time for both of us.

Despite a distinct feeling of weakness in my knees I managed to make it to my phone in record time when Georgio delivered the message. Cassie followed me and stood by nervously as I made the call. I listened intently to my son and my heart sank. I immediately started crying and Cassie’s face blanched white as she watched. Adam and Georgio came into the room then and Adam came to me and pulled me close. I handed the phone to him because I was crying so hard.

Georgio handed me a handful of Kleenex and I hiccupped my thanks to him and wiped my eyes while Adam finished the conversation. There was a couch in the room and I went to sit on it and Cassie came and sat next to me, grabbing my hand and holding it tightly.

Adam hung up the phone and handed it to me silently before kneeling down in front of me. “Sarah, it will be okay, you know? She and the baby will be fine. Now, I’m going to start making the arrangements to get us home.”

I nodded and watched as he started scrolling through his phone address book looking for our travel agents number. His brow furrowed in concentration; something that was normally endearing to me but I was so upset right now that it only made me worry more.

“Adam,” Georgio said, “I think I can help you arrange flights a bit quicker. Let me get my phone and we’ll call my sister Reni to help us.”

Adam nodded and followed Georgio out the door, casting a worried look back at me as he left the room. I sighed and blew my nose, a totally ungracious sound and was thankful that Georgio was out of the room and didn’t hear it!

“Okay Sarah,” Cassie questioned, “what the hell is wrong?”

“Pam has preeclampsia. She has had it for a while now, but it’s been very mild and they have just monitored her. But this morning her blood pressure spiked dangerously high and while they are trying to get it down, they are concerned for the baby. They may have to do an emergency C-section.”

I started crying again as I told Cassie what Derek had told me. Cassie immediately burst into tears as well. Derek and Lissa may have been my biological kids, but she loved them as much as I did and I knew she would take this just as hard as I did.

“Cass, she’s not far enough along to have the baby; she’s only 31 weeks!”

“Sarah, lots of women have babies that early. If they can’t get Pam’s blood pressure down I’m sure the baby will be okay,” Cassie said optimistically.

“But every single day they can hold off on that C-section is better for the baby, Cassie.”

“Not if the baby is suffering from the effects of the high blood pressure Sarah. It will be better to just do it and get it over with,” she told me softly, but there was also a firm edge to her voice.

I nodded miserably in agreement and we both sat silently for a few minutes while it all sank in. Finally Cassie got up and held her hand out to me. “C’mon Sarah, let’s go out on the balcony,” she said softly.

I got up and followed her outside into the still and chilly evening air. The sounds from the village were even louder than when Adam and I had walked home; maybe the ouzo or retsina were flowing a bit more freely, who knew? It was a cheerful sound, but it only made my heart sadder.

“Look Sarah,” Cassie said excitedly. “A shooting star – make a wish!”

The corners of my mouth turned up a bit at the memory this stirred; countless nights spent looking at stars and arguing over whether or not you could wish on shooting stars. I took a deep breath and wished, as much as I could; at this point I’d try anything in the hopes that Pam and the baby would be okay.

Cassie put her arm around me and started the chant, my quiet voice joining her in the still of the night:

Star light
Star bright
First star I’ve seen tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have this wish I wish tonight…

God, please let them be safe, let them be safe…

I looked up then as I heard footsteps coming out onto the balcony. Adam smiled at me and leaned down to kiss me on the forehead.

“Bella, can you be ready to leave here in about 30 minutes? A helicopter is coming to pick us up and then we can catch a flight out of Athens in about 4 hours if we hurry.”

I nodded yes and Cassie said, “I’ll help you Sarah, let’s go get you packed.”

We were ready when the helicopter got there, landing by the harbor. We hadn’t been there long enough really to unpack much. The helicopter would take us to Mykonos; there we would catch a charter flight to Athens. There was no landing strip on Kybylos, so this was the quickest way. Georgio’s sister Reni (short for Ireni) had made all the arrangements for us. I don’t know how she did it, but I was certainly grateful.

We had one more quick call to Derek before we boarded the jet in Athens; nothing had changed really. Her blood pressure was still dangerously high, but they were monitoring it all. Sometime tomorrow they would make the decision as to whether to do the c-section. If they couldn’t get it under control by then, they would have to go ahead and do it.

It was now midnight in Athens, which made it 3 in the afternoon in El Paso. If they were going to make the decision tomorrow that gave us time and it gave me hope that we could be there in time if they had to do the surgery.

I sighed and leaned my head back against the seat and closed my eyes for a few minutes. The flight would go so much faster if I could only sleep I knew, but my stomach was completely knotted up with anxiety; sleep didn’t seem a very promising prospect.

Adam put his arm around my shoulders and I shifted to rest my head against his shoulder. He leaned his head against mine and for a couple of minutes we were quiet, listening to the sounds of the jet as we prepared for takeoff. We would fly directly to Houston, and then catch our last flight into El Paso, arriving about 2 am local time. Adam had a rental car arranged for us in El Paso as well as a hotel room, but we were going straight to the army post when we got there. We would have to call Derek from the airport and he would meet us at the gate at Fort Bliss to get us onto the post.

“Why don’t you to try to sleep a bit, love?” Adam spoke softly against my ear, just as the roar of the engines started. We were finally moving toward the runway to get in line to take off.

“What?” I asked, not sure if I had heard it all.

“I said why don’t you try to sleep a bit? Make the trip go faster,” he repeated, a bit louder. The engines were roaring wildly now as we started to pick up speed. I guess we had a clear runway because the jet was going faster and faster. Soon, we were lifting off, the nose pointed sharply upward and I watched out the window as the lights of Athens fell away below us. I saw the Parthenon, lit up brightly above the city; I hadn’t really realized how large it was.

It was almost impossible to talk while we were climbing so steeply, so I was quiet a moment until we started to level out a bit. With my head nestled into his shoulder I could hear his heart beating; the steady thump calming me as it always did. I inhaled deeply and caught his scent and it too was comforting to me; helping to make me feel safe and loved. My own heart was pounding alarmingly out of kilter; I was so consumed with worry and while I understood that it didn’t help, I didn’t seem to be able to control it either.

“Deep breaths, love.” Adam whispered. The engine noise had cut back considerably as we reached flying altitude and I tried to will myself to relax a bit. The flight attendant started down the aisle with the beverage orders and Adam asked for two glasses of white wine.

“Oh Adam, I don’t know – my stomach is doing flip-flops,” I protested.

He looked down at me and frowned slightly. “Maybe some ginger ale then? Something you can sip slowly?”

“Maybe,” I answered. The flight attendant had brought the wine and I took a sip and knew that I couldn’t keep it down. I think I must have turned green and Adam immediately took the glass from me and handed it back to the attendant.

“Could we get a glass of some ginger ale perhaps?” he asked, giving her a quick smile. She nodded her head and pulled a can out of the bottom of the cart and filled a glass with ice before handing it to Adam, who was pulling the tray table down into place. He sat the glass of ice down and then popped the top open on the can and poured it over the ice. I stared at it with trepidation, not sure if I even wanted to try it.

“Maybe some crackers too love?”

“No, definitely not,” I told him. “I’ll be okay in a bit Adam, it’s just my nerves acting up, that’s all.”

He nodded and settled back and took a sip of his wine. I watched him grimace and let out a small laugh.

“Not too good?” I inquired.

“Terrible. I’m afraid I’ve become a bit used to retsina,” he laughed.

“And you wanted me to drink it?” I teased, finally starting to relax a little.

“Well, perhaps it’s better if you don’t. I may switch to your ginger ale,” he told me, reaching for my hand. He brought it to his lips and kissed it before looking into my eyes and stating, “God, bella, I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” I answered and as it usually did, it almost over-whelmed me, just how much I did love him. Me, the commitment phobic, not only in love, but going to marry this man!

I took a few sips of the ginger ale and it did actually seem to help a bit. Adam had gotten some crackers from the flight attendant and I realized in the rush of everything we hadn’t had any dinner. I was sure he must be starving.

“Adam, I’m sure you’re hungry, why don’t you see if she can get you something to eat?” I told him.

“It won’t bother you bella?” he inquired, watching my face as I replied.

I shook my head. “No, go ahead.” I reached over and took one of his crackers. “There, you’d better get something because you never know; I may eat all your crackers!”

“What about you?” he asked. “Do you want to try something light?”

“No, we’ll see how the cracker and ginger ale do for now.”

Adam ordered a sandwich from the attendant and he settled back into his seat. I took another sip from the ginger ale and stretched my legs out. We were in first class of course and there were only 3 other passengers sharing this compartment with us. Both of them looked to be settling down to sleep so we kept our voices to whispers as we chatted while waiting for his sandwich.

As Adam was happily munching I reclined my seat and closed my eyes and thought about everything that had happened in the past couple of months with a contented sigh. I was a woman of leisure now, if you consider flying around the world and traveling leisure that is.

After Adam’s injury in Italy I had resigned from my job. Funny, it didn’t even bother me. A couple of months before that I had fussed and fretted over giving up that job, even though I loved Adam. I knew that eventually I would have to find something to do; I wasn’t the type to just sit around all the time, but I had time to figure it all out. No, when we came back to the states I called my boss and told her that I was resigning, and at her protests I followed it up with an e-mail, just to make sure it sunk in. What was important during that time was Adam and getting him back on his feet. So, after a brief stop in Wichita to make arrangements for Bobby to stay in the house indefinitely and clear out my desk at work and take care of financial things we headed off to California for rest and recuperation.

During the last two weeks of January something wonderful happened – Tamara and Mark decided to go to Las Vegas and get married! Adam, me and the boys went with them for a very simple ceremony. I’ve only been to Las Vegas once before, with Randy and frankly, it didn’t impress me much. But it took on a whole new life with Adam. We were only there for 3 days and I enjoyed it a great deal. We didn’t really gamble much; I’m not a gambler by nature and apparently Adam isn’t either. But we enjoyed the hotel we stayed at and did some sight-seeing with the boys. They really enjoyed going up to Hoover Dam and then we went to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. That was pretty cool, you walk out on clear glass over the canyon; it is an amazing view let me tell you!

The boys came to stay with us for two weeks while Tamara and Mark took a honeymoon. Mark’s latest movie had finally wrapped, now they had all the technical work on it to do, but he turned it over to the editors to start work on so that they could take a little time just for he and Tamara. Life just sort of coalesced into something that seemed normal; the boys went to school, Adam and I talked about the future and tried to make some plans. He still feels that we need to sell the house and get something bigger; I am adamantly against it! How funny; to me it’s my house now and I just can’t stand the thought of not having it anymore. I sort of ‘found’ myself in this house. Even more than the trip to Italy this house played a huge part in my settling down in this relationship with Adam, of feeling at peace with him and the relationship. I can’t imagine not living here any longer. He is much more pragmatic than I am; to him it’s only a house and houses can be replaced. I don’t feel nearly as sentimental about my place in Wichita, which amazes me. It was my first place, on my own. A refuge sort of I guess. But the kids are gone and now it seems easy to let it go. I think I may end up selling it to Bobby if he wants it, and that would be okay.

Krista got back in early February, which provided her and Adam some time together. Ryan came with her for a few weeks so that he could check out the job situation there. They wanted to get married in early summer so they would have a bit of time together before school started again in August.

Adam wanted to have a huge wedding for her; she and Ryan only wanted a small family affair. Krista won that battle, but Adam was determined to help her in any way possible. He took over her college tuition costs and had already paid off her loans so she would come out of college debt-free. This she let him do, albeit reluctantly. He wanted to buy them a house, but both Krista and Ryan were united on this front; they wanted to do it on their own. It was a battle of wills; Adam felt he had 20 years of make-up fathering to do and Krista was grateful for his love and devotion, but that was all she wanted. It was never about his money for her and when that finally sunk into Adam’s very stubborn head, things settled down a bit.

That month was a wonderful month, financial tension with Krista aside. Ryan stayed with us at the beach house, while Krista stayed at her apartment. She stood firm in her intention to not sleep with Ryan before they got married. That fascinated me for some reason, not exactly sure why; maybe because in this day and age chastity wasn’t all that common. Adam of course was still smug about it, a typical man I thought.

She and Ryan were happy though, incredibly happy. Little Elk came and spent a few days here with us and gave his stamp of approval. I really like Little Elk and we had several long and interesting conversations while he was here. He is so proud of Ryan, of the man that Ryan has become. I know that he hates the thought of Ryan leaving the Dallas police force, but he is very understanding about it. He taught Ryan to be a man, to walk a man’s path and take care of those you love. That is exactly what Ryan is doing, taking care of Krista. We haven’t met Ryan’s mother yet, hopefully we will get the chance before the wedding. I think Little Elk loves her, but because of the bond he had with Ryan’s father he feels it isn’t right for him to develop a romantic relationship with her. He certainly couldn’t love Ryan any more than he does; he dotes on him; when they aren’t on the job that is!

We laughed about poor Ryan facing his wrath over the phone when we chose to stay in California after Rachel’s funeral. It was all black and white to Little Elk – Ryan was just supposed to make us come back to Dallas. When that didn’t happen, Little Elk was pretty frustrated. So was Ryan, but it was better for him here I think. He was able to talk to Adam and understood much better why Adam wanted to stay here. Little Elk, on the other end of the phone in Texas really didn’t have a clue.

Little Elk watched Ryan and Krista with keen interest. It was like his eyes missed nothing; not the solicitous hand that he placed protectively on her back or arm as she walked or the sparkle in his eye when he looked at her.

One afternoon after watching them for a few minutes he observed, “Those two are like two peas in a pod!”

I laughed out loud, causing the two in question to look over to the patio table where Little Elk, Adam and I were sitting. Krista, Ryan and the boys were in the pool; Krista sitting on the steps and the boys tossing a Frisbee to each other. “I haven’t heard that expression in years,” I said, laughing some more. “But, you are right, that describes them perfectly!” And it was true; they just ‘got’ one another.

Tristan and Geoff were thrilled to have Krista and Ryan here; both of them adored Krista. I don’t know for sure how much they exactly understood about Krista being their sister; I think it was more like they thought she was like Derek and Lissa. But they accepted her and loved her just the same and they all spent many happy hours together out on the beach. Ryan could run the little guys ragged and often did since Krista was still recuperating and wasn’t really active yet. Both boys were going to play baseball this spring, Tristan would play little league and Geoff would play T ball. Adam and Ryan were both excited about it, having the boys play and attended practices and looked forward to the games, always cheering the boys on. Of course, I attended too; you couldn’t have kept me away from baseball! It was so much fun to watch; I almost hated going to Africa and then on to Greece.


Amazingly I had fallen asleep and woke up when we were making our approach to Houston, George Bush Intercontinental Airport that is. Adam was sitting his seat up too and I realized we had both slept through the flight. We both yawned and tried to stretch in the seats, unsuccessful for the most part, but at least we would be landing soon I thought with a grimace as I realized how stiff I felt.

We would have a two hour lay-over in Houston, which would give us plenty of time to stretch our legs and get something to eat. I was hungry and felt sure that Adam was too. At some point while I slept the flight attendant had removed my ginger ale from the tray table so I folded it up and flipped the latch to lock it into place. It was almost 11 pm local time so all I could see out the window was darkness and the lights of the city below us.

We heard the landing gear come down and lock into place and then we were gliding down the runway in a smooth landing. I looked out at the airport as we taxied to the jet way; there were many jets lined up to taxi out to runways or waiting to roll into the jet ways. We sat for about 10 minutes as we waited our turn to get to the jet way and I fidgeted the whole time. Now that we were on the ground I was anxious to call Derek to see if there was any news.

Adam reached for my hand and squeezed it lightly, his thumb playing softly over my hand. I looked at him and smiled and then was rewarded by a kiss. His lovely chocolate-brown eyes smiled at me, helping to calm my frayed nerves a bit and I let out a huge breath that I didn’t realize I had been holding.

“We can call soon, bella,” he told me, reading my thoughts as he so often did.

I nodded shakily; I knew that was true and I also knew that there probably wasn’t any news, but until I heard those words I wouldn’t relax.

“Breathe, love, just breathe,” he reminded me.


As soon as the plane was stopped I was already on my feet and heading to the door; Adam following closely with our carry-on baggage. Once I hit the gangway I was practically at a run to get to a spot where I could pull my cell out and call Derek.

Adam came rushing up to me, panting slightly. “I had no idea someone with such short legs could move quite that fast!” he teased, handing me the carry on with our phones in it. We had to go through customs before we could do anything; thank heavens it didn’t take too long.

We walked to the first class lounge where we could go inside; hopefully it would be a bit quieter in there. I unzipped the bag and grabbed the first phone I came to and switched it on, waiting impatiently for it to power up.

I sat down at a table and Adam went to order us a drink while we made the call. The lounge was mostly empty, other than a couple of men sitting at the bar and chatting quietly. Adam came back with a couple of diet Coke’s and I smiled appreciatively and took a sip. Finally, the phone was ringing!

The ringing gave way to a voice that said, “Mom, are you here?”

“Hi, Son. No, we’re in Houston. We’ll arrive in El Paso around 2 a.m.,” I told him. I hated it, but we couldn’t get on post unless he met us, so he would have to get up for that. I apologized to him for the inconvenience.

“No Mom, it’s okay; I’ll just be glad you’ll be here,” he told me and I’m sure I heard a catch in his breath.

“Derek, what’s wrong? Is it worse?”

This time there was no mistaking the sound, he was crying. “Mom, they are going to do the surgery in the morning; they can’t wait any longer.”

I told Adam briefly what he said and then said “Oh Derek, we’ll be there as soon as we can. Is the medication not working?”

“No, not at all and they feel they can’t wait. She has developed something called HELLP syndrome, which means that she is in jeopardy of developing seizures. And it makes it really dangerous for the baby. The blood flow to the placenta is slowing down, so they have to do it. Surgery is at 7 a.m.” he told me and my heart was breaking for both of them.

“Are you with Pam now Derek?” I asked, tears flowing down my face.

“Yes, she’s right here. Do you want to speak to her?”

“Yes,” I told him, swallowing down a hiccup.

“M-mom?” I heard Pam’s shaky voice ask.

“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry we’re not there yet. Oh baby, I wish I could take this all away so you didn’t have to worry like this. “

“I’m j-j-just so scared for the b-baby,” she got out and the tremble in her voice told of just how scared she really was.

“I know,” I acknowledged. “But Pam, the baby will be fine, it will. It sounds like they know what has to be done and they will do it. Adam and I will be there in a few hours, sweetheart, and we’ll all get through this together,” I promised.

“Okay” she told me, her voice only a whisper.

I heard the phone make a rustling sound and then Derek’s voice. “Mom, just call me when you get to the airport in El Paso and I’ll make arrangements to meet you at the gate. I’m going to go now and try to get Pam to sleep for a bit. I’ll see you both soon.”

“Alright, sweetie. We love you both,” I told him before pressing the end button on the phone.

I looked at Adam, who was waiting expectantly to hear what had been said. I recounted the conversation to him and he asked what HELLP syndrome was and I told him the little that Derek had told me. It wasn’t much, but I knew that the situation was very serious. We sat quietly for a few minutes and finished our sodas and then decided to go and see if we could find something to eat.


As soon as the plane landed in El Paso and we were clear of the gangway I called Derek. We made arrangements to meet at the main gate of Fort Bliss and Adam and I headed for the baggage claim area. Our bags came about 10 minutes later and we grabbed them and headed to the rental car agency. Another 15 minutes later and we were finally on our way to the fortbase, following Derek’s directions. Even though El Paso is a fairly large city, you can’t really miss Fort Bliss and so we got there without too much trouble and Derek was waiting for us.

“Derek,” I said as I hugged him tight, choking back more tears. I had promised myself I would be strong for Derek and Pam and I would do my best to maintain that outlook. Still, he looked haggard, which was to be expected and my mother’s heart ached even more for him.

“Mom, Adam, thank you so much for coming. God, it’s good to see you both!” Derek said as he reached for Adam and gave him a hug too. I watched that, feeling almost stunned. Derek and Adam were getting along really well by this time, but Derek could still be a bit reserved around him. Not tonight though, and it warmed my heart to see it. Adam hugged him back and I heard him say, “We’ll get through this Derek – all of us together.”

We all climbed back into the car and Derek guided us to the hospital, which wasn’t too far away. It was getting close to 3:00 am and the post was quiet with little traffic to delay or slow us. At the hospital Adam parked the car and we all walked briskly into the hospital, following Derek’s lead to the elevators.

The hall lights were dimmed a bit and it was really quiet. Pam was in the perinatal unit, waiting to be moved to surgical prep at 5:00 am. Her eyes were closed when we entered her room and she looked terribly pale, even in the dim light from above her bed. The only other lights in the room were on the various monitors they had hooked up to her; they showed the baby’s heart beat as well as Pam’s oxygen stats, blood pressure and heart rate. The steady beats were comforting to some degree, even though I knew that they were dangerously high.

I walked softly into the room, afraid I would wake her, but her eyes opened slowly as I approached her bed. I leaned down and kissed her cheek and squeezed her hand lightly, appalled at how chilled her hand felt while her face felt so warm. My mothering instinct took total control as I brushed the hair back out of her face and wiped away a tear that slowly trickled down her pallid cheek.

“Hi baby,” I said. “We’re here now and it’s all going to be okay, I promise.”

“Mom, I’m so happy you’re here, we’re so scared. They told us that if they don’t do the C-section the baby could die! But they aren’t sure the baby’s lungs are developed enough to breathe on its own yet. They are giving me steroids to help.” A small whimper escaped her then and she added, “Hopefully it will help.”

Adam came over and kissed her on the forehead and she smiled weakly at him. “Thank you for being here Adam.”

“Wouldn’t be anywhere else Pam. We’re a family and we stick together,” he told her and while he smiled at her I noticed how grave his eyes looked.

“So what else have the doctors told you?” I asked them both. Adam and I both pulled up chairs near the bed while Derek sat on the bed with her. He wrapped his arm around her and as she settled against him and alarm started sounding from one of the machines. Derek shook his head and commented “whenever she shifts positions it goes off. The nurse will be in soon to reset it.”

He obviously spoke from experience because less than a minute later a nurse came in and pushed a button on one of the machines and the beeping stopped. She took a moment to check the digital displays and look as the tape the fetal monitor printed out. “How are you feeling Mrs. Marcus?” she asked Pam.

“About the same. I’m happy my family is here,” Pam told her.

The nurse acknowledged Adam and I with a nod and then did a double-take as she looked at Adam again. To her credit she didn’t say a word, only continued to check out Pam and the machines. She adjusted the fetal heart monitor around Pam’s belly and seemed satisfied that things were as good as could be expected.

“Alright. My advice to you is to try and rest, but I know that isn’t going to happen, so try to stay as calm as you can, okay?” the nurse told her before leaving the room.

We all chatted for awhile about what Derek and Pam had done to get ready for the baby,baby and what was still to be done. Since it was so early they really weren’t ready. I could see that Adam and I would have a lot to do to help them get ready and I started to make a mental list of everything that still needed to be bought and accomplished. Derek and Pam had decided not to know the sex of the baby, so what they had bought previously was for either a boy or girl. Since we were going to know in only a few hours that would help the shopping process considerably I decided.

The baby kicked Pam then, which brought a slight smile to her worried face. Derek, who was sitting in the bed with Pam placed his hand over her belly and caressed it lightly. Pam looked up at him and he bent to kiss her and brush the hair back out of her face.

“I guess the baby has decided that it’s time to get up,” Pam said with another smile. “I only hope that this truly is what is best for the baby.”

“Pam - honey, it is what has to happen,” Derek said softly. “I want both of you coming home safely with me. I can’t risk losing you Pam, I just can’t. I have to believe that God will take care of this.”

For a moment there was only the two of them in the room, sharing their love and their tears as the gravity of his words sank in to us. I knew that we could lose them, one or both, and yet I refused to believe it would happen. But as I gazed at Pam’s red face and slightly bloated legs and hands I knew how easily it could all go wrong. I felt Adam caressing my hand softly and I looked at him and smiled my gratitude at him for being here with us.

We were quiet for a bit and I realized that both Pam and Derek were dozing. I motioned to Adam towards the door and we both got up and headed out the door as quietly as possible. Out in the hall Adam took me in his arms and held me close for a moment and I sank into his warm embrace, breathing him in and feeling his strength.

“Cup of coffee bella?” he asked me, nodding down the hall towards a waiting area that had vending machines.

“Sure,” I told him as I headed that way. In truth it felt great to stand and stretch a bit after so many hours on the plane. “I need to call Cassie,” I added as an afterthought.

“C’mon then, let’s go.”


After a cup of coffee and a call to Cassie it was almost 5 am and time for Pam’s surgery. Cassie was of course beside herself with worry and wanted to be here with us, but I finally convinced her to stay there; hopefully there would be no reason for her to rush back to the states. She and Georgio deserved this time to themselves; a time to grow their relationship and for Cassie to continue to heal and become stronger. She is just so stubborn, but I promised her that I would call as soon as the surgery was done and let her know how it all went.

We headed back down to the room to see Derek getting ready to leave.

“What’s up son?” I asked as he pulled on a jacket.

“Grandma and Grandpa are at the gate; I have to go sign them in,” he told me. He leaned down and kissed Pam and told her he’d be right back. She nodded and watched him leave the room.

“Did they tell you guys they were coming?” I asked her.

She shook her head no and said, “I guess I should have figured though.” A small sob escaped her then and I handed her a tissue.

“Sweetheart, you know how much they love you. They would want to be here. Families stick together!”

She nodded and settled back into the bed. She looked so tired – weary really and I knew what a strain these past few days had been on both she and Derek.

The nurse came in again to check her vitals and the monitors. She frowned when she checked Pam’s blood pressure readouts and let out a sigh when she read the fetal heart monitor printout. “Mrs. Marcus, it’s a good thing your surgery is happening soon, much longer and your baby would be in fetal distress.”

I let out a small cry at her words and Adam immediately wrapped his arm around me. “What exactly does that mean?” I asked.

“As her blood pressure elevates, it causes swelling or edema in the mom’s body. That puts pressure on the womb and the baby. The fetal heartbeat drops and we’re getting to a critical point, where this baby must be born. At different points the baby’s heart beat has dropped to about 70 – 75 beats per minute, but it isn’t sustained. However, it is lasting for longer periods of time now and that means fetal distress.“ At my obvious distress she continued, “We’re not quite there yet, where it has to be a ‘do it now’ situation, but it is a good thing the surgery is happening soon. We need to deliver that baby to ease the stress on mom and baby both!”

I cleared my throat and then asked, “What can we expect for the baby, after its birth?”

“Until the past few days the baby has been normal and healthy. Even though Pam has had preeclampsia for the past few months she and her doctor have monitored it carefully. But once HELLP syndrome started to develop, we don’t have a choice as to what to do. The baby must be delivered. If we wait any longer, there is much more danger for mom and baby both. I’m sure no one wants that. Now, as to what happens to the baby after birth, well, it will immediately be evaluated for any unexpected difficulties, have its APGAR test, be weighed and such. Then the baby will go into the neo-natal unit, where it will receive round the clock attention. Remember, it will be very small.”

“How much does the baby weigh now?” I wondered out loud.

“When we did the last sonogram last evening the baby is about 3.1 pounds. So there are some concerns about that.”

I nodded and swallowed hard, trying to take it all in. “What kind of concerns specifically?” I asked.

“Our most problematic concern will be the baby’s ability to breathe on its own. It will definitely need oxygen support for awhile. Its lungs are still premature, but they have been giving Pam steroids for the past 24 hours so that should help.”

“That doesn’t seem like a very long time. Will it have been long enough?” Adam asked. He was rubbing the bridge of his nose as he asked the question and listened to her answer.

“Surprisingly, probably yes. Think of a womb as an incubator and so things can develop rather quickly. But it won’t alleviate the need for oxygen. It will just be one day at a time,” she told us with a sympathetic smile. The door opened them and Derek walked in with Mom and Dad who both went straight to Pam.

As they talked for a moment I said to the nurse, “thanks so much for the information. We appreciate you taking the time to explain things to us.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied, looking at her watch. “She has about 10 minutes before they come to prep her. When she goes to surgery you folks may wait here in her room or in the surgical waiting area.” She smiled again and then rushed off down the hall.

Those 10 minutes passed very quickly and before we knew it they were taking her out of the room. Derek went with her and Mom, Dad, Adam and I decided to go to the cafeteria. They wanted some coffee and breakfast and Derek told us he would meet us there when Pam went in to surgery.


Adam, Mom, Dad and I sat in the coffee shop and talked a bit as we sipped our coffee and waiting for Derek. I was positive he hadn’t eaten and so I was determined to make sure he got some breakfast. While we waited we filled Mom and Dad in on our trips. We hadn’t seen them since a brief visit in Wichita before we left for Africa in March.

After describing the journey in Africa and how beautiful it was my dad exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. I can’t wait to see the pictures you took.”

My mom frowned slightly and shrugged before stating, “Not me. Sounds like a depressing place from all you hear in the news.”

My mom had always been pretty content with her own backyard. What can you say? Some people have wanderlust and some don’t. I was surprised at how much she enjoyed being in California for my birthday to tell you the truth. I don’t think it’s really fear of the unknown, just that she is pretty happy with the life she has and doesn’t yearn for new horizons. At times I have admired that, her ability to accept life the way it is, to make the best of it and even rejoice in it. Other times I’m convinced that I’d go crazy with that outlook!

“Well Mom, the politics of some of Africa are pretty depressing, but not the land itself,” I told her and Adam nodded his head and reiterated that.

“Yes, it is starkly beautiful in one area and lushly green in others. I very much enjoy visiting there, but I do find the politics too much to handle, Elizabeth. It’s why I went to college in England, to get away from it all; it really can be heartbreaking when you look at the societal footprint that many of the nations leave.”

Mom started to open her mouth to say something, (and it wasn’t going to be a positive comment I could tell!) when Derek walked in the door looking for us. I waved and he headed over to the table.

“C’mon son, let’s get you something to eat,” I said, standing up to head to the counter.

“Mom, I don’t have time. They are prepping her and then I can go in for the surgery. She will be awake; they are giving her an epidural right now. I just wanted to tell you guys what is happening.”

I started to protest and Adam spoke up then, “Thank you for letting us know Derek. We’ll head up to the surgical waiting room then. Do we know about how long it will take?” Adam just looked at me and shook his head slightly when I started to speak again.

“They said once they get started on the surgery, it won’t be very long. If all goes well, ½ an hour at the very most until they have the baby out. If everything goes well they said. Getting everything back into place and closing her will take a bit longer. But it will all be over soon they tell me, so I gotta go.” He stopped and hugged me for a moment and then moved quickly for the door and was gone before I could say anything else.

“Adam,” I started to say and he shook his head and took a breath before speaking.

“Sarah, right now all he is thinking of is Pam and the baby. That is his focus; he’s a husband and soon to be father, let him be!”

I opened my mouth and then closed it again just as quickly. I wasn’t sure what to think about this; Adam had never interfered with something I was trying to say. I mean, he wasn’t harsh or rude, but still it smarted. Derek was my son and I just wanted to take care of him.

The way he wants to take care of Pam and the baby.

All these thoughts washed through me as I realized that Adam was right. Mom and Dad watched me closely, knowing that I was thinking the situation through. Finally Dad, got up and said, “Well come on, let’s get up there. Sounds like it will be pretty quick!”

I nodded wordlessly and reached for Adam’s hand. He raised my hand to his mouth and pressed a gentle kiss on it; maybe it was an acknowledgement of my fear and distress, maybe it was just that he felt bad stepping in like that. He was right, he did the right thing, but as I said, it still smarted.

We were a quiet and somber group as we headed to the elevators and made our way to the surgical waiting room. Our concern hung over us like a big black cloud and none of us were inclined to say anything else as the elevator carried us to the 4th floor. We followed the signs and found the waiting room and took our seats. There was no getting comfortable in them at all though.

To be continued...

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Special Announcement!

Be sure and check this site on Monday, March 22 for a special surprise!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Only In My Dreams

DISCLAIMER: I did not create and do not own Moonlight or the characters of Mick St. John and Beth Turner and I make no profit from them.  I'm only playing with them for this story.  I do own Sarah and Adam and all rights to them are copyright protected.  I hope you enjoy this little side-tracked fantasy. 

Only in My Dreams

It felt good to be back home in California; it seemed we had been racing around the world for awhile now and really, I just wanted a little piece of normal again. So here we were, nestled together in the bedroom, Adam flipping through the TV channels mindlessly. It didn’t matter to me; I was snuggled under his arm, fingers playing softly in the silky curling hairs on his chest. I sighed with the pleasure of touching him, of being wrapped against his warm body.

Suddenly something on the TV caught my attention. It was Friday night and one of the channels was having a Moonlight marathon. “Oh, leave it here,” I asked Adam. “I love this show!”

Adam glanced down at me through half-closed eyes. God, that look was so sexy I thought; made me want to do things to him, WITH him. Things we’d already done in abundance this evening I remembered with a sigh.

“What’s this bella?” he asked curiously as he frowned slightly at the TV screen.

“It’s called Moonlight,” I told him with a smile. “It’s uh, a detective show that, well, the main character is a vampire,” I finished, feeling kind of silly. “Really, it’s a great show. I didn’t know it was on reruns though.”

“Um hmm,” Adam said skeptically.

I couldn’t tell what he was thinking really. Probably something along the lines of ‘she’s gone over the edge now’, but I was too excited to care really. We all have our little weaknesses and guilty indulgences and Moonlight just happened to be one of mine!

“Really, you’ll like it if you give it a chance,” I told him in an effort to soothe my conscience a bit. He would like it I thought stubbornly! “Yeah, see, that guy is Mick St. John and the blonde girl is Beth Turner. She’s always getting into trouble and Mick rescues her.” I couldn’t help the enthusiasm that was rampant in my words.

“Um hmm,” Adam muttered again. “Vampires, huh?”

I chose to ignore that remark and just enjoy the show. “Well um, Beth isn’t a vampire,” I told him, my eyes glued to the TV. “Josef, Mick’s best friend is though. He’s 400 years old!”

This episode was called BC and was about a substance called black crystal that was made from vampire blood. If humans used it the effect was like a drug, giving them temporary vampire-like characteristics such as enhanced senses. Beth had taken the drug and was now at Mick’s place, trying to persuade him to follow her upstairs.

The song playing was by Fauxliage and was called Let it Go

Beth: There’s no space between us.
Mick: Hey, there’s space, there’s space.
Beth: I want to be close to you…

Beth touches Mick, running her finger lightly over his lips and turns to go upstairs. You see his emotions play across his face; what to do. This isn’t Beth; it’s the drug he knows. Finally he turns and follows her up the stairs, taking two at a time. The next scene is in the shower where Beth is begging Mick to turn her.

Beth: Turn me, TURN ME.
Mick: No Beth No.
Beth: Do it…DO IT
Mick: No Beth, it’s only the drug.

He held her twisting body against his, letting the cold spray of the shower wash over her in an attempt to bring her to her senses.

I sighed as I watched it. It was such a well-played scene. The desire was palpable between them and yet Mick held fast to his convictions, that he wouldn’t turn her. That scene always made me think of him as St. Mick!

Adam watched the show silently although I saw his eyebrows raise a couple of times. I stifled a laugh a couple of times. The shower scene is pretty intense and I swear I felt him squirm a bit in the bed, but he was probably just shifting positions.

When the episode was done Adam turned off the TV. We both were holding back a few yawns I realized. There was another episode coming on but sadly, I was just too tired to watch it.

As we both lay down in the bed Adam took me in his arms, holding me close. “So, vampires love? Are we done with the pirate now, hmm? Maybe I should be saying I want to bite your neck?” he said and I could tell he was smiling.

“Well, you can nibble my neck anytime you want Adam,” I said as another yawn snuck out. “But, maybe it had better wait until tomorrow,” I acknowledged sadly.

“Whatever you say bella. I love you,” he told me, kissing me softly.

“I love you too Adam. Goodnight.” And before I knew it, I was asleep.


I woke up to Adam softly whispering in my ear. His breath felt cool, as did the lips that placed feather-like kisses on my neck.

“Bella, wake up.” Another chilly kiss on my neck was followed by his tongue, stroking delightfully along the pulsing vein; the vein that the blood was surging ever more quickly through, as my desire for him grew.

“Mmm, Adam that feels wonderful. Don’t stop,” I whispered back to him, as I wrapped my arms around his neck and held on tightly.

“I don’t intend to bella, I can’t,” he murmured urgently. I felt his teeth nibbling along the vein now and I arched my neck so that he could reach more of it.

His mouth continued down my collar bone where he stopped to nibble on my shoulder; I again felt his teeth grazing against my fevered skin, quickly followed by his tongue to soothe the ache that his teeth had left. Goosebumps raised quickly against my skin, making my already taut nipples throb and tighten until I felt as if I would scream if he didn’t kiss them, bite them.

Sarah, Sarah what is up with you?

As if reading my mind Adam’s attention was drawn to my breasts, and I thought I saw his eyes glowing ghostly silver in the moonlight. It thrilled me, that I could evoke such passion in him and I begged him to taste my nipples, to soothe them with his kisses.

“Happily, my love,” he told me as he licked his way slowly down to my breast. I saw the wet trail his tongue left behind glimmering in the pale light and I felt a tight contraction in my belly as I quickly caught my breath.

His lips closed around my swollen nipple, pulling at it until it was even tighter and more sensitive. I felt his tongue swirl quickly around the areola, and then stiffen as it rubbed against the tip itself, flicking it faster and faster. I was writhing against him now, needing him so badly and I heard a low chuckle, from deep in his throat as he tended to the other breast as well. He caught that tender bud between his teeth and pulled lightly and a loud moan escaped my lips. I didn’t know how much more I could take.

“Adam, please,” I pleaded, my voice scarcely audible. “Please, make me come now!”

I heard him chuckle again, but I could swear it sounded more like a growl; it came from deep down in his chest and it was sexy as hell. I could feel my juices flowing in anticipation and then he raised his head and I saw his nostrils flair slightly, as if he could scent my arousal. It turned me on even more to see him react that way. I felt the hardness of his cock pressed against my leg and I licked my lips in anticipation of feeling him sheathed inside of my aching body.

I caught his gaze again as he slowly slid his cool body down my over-heated flesh. How could he feel so cool when I was burning for him I wondered for a moment, but the thought was soon lost as I felt his long finger slide into my tight depths. I was already drenched with slick juices as he first plunged one finger inside of me and then quickly followed it with another.

“Ahh, Adam,” I cried in delight. His fingers curled slightly upward to rub against the G-spot that was hidden in my depths. I immediately raised my hips in response, trying to urge further contact.

I heard the growl again before he lowered his head to my throbbing core. He watched me through his strangely silver eyes as he lowered his head to tease me with his tongue, which brought an immediate flow of wetness cascading down my thighs.

I came almost immediately and let out a long sigh of delight. He placed soft kisses over my thighs and belly as my hips shook with the contractions. I felt his tongue visit my swell of my hip and then glide across my belly, softly stroking around my belly button. My belly quivered as his fingers lightly followed the path of his tongue and I softly urged him to fill me with his desire.

“Tell me what you want bella, tell me what you need,” he murmured urgently as his mouth slid up to recapture an aching nipple. He tugged on the hardened bud, bringing another wave of desire coursing through my body.

“Adam, I need you inside me, now. Please Adam…” I pleaded. “Now Adam, do it now!”

More quickly than I could imagine I felt him enter me, my silky warm wetness enveloping him greedily. I heard him growl again and felt his teeth graze sharply against my nipple, making it stiffen even more. It was excruciatingly perfect; the sharpness of his teeth against the tender skin. He lapped softly against my fevered flesh and I felt the beginnings of another orgasm building quickly, igniting the flames of passion even more.

“Bella, you taste intoxicating,” he whispered against my breast. I felt his hips moving more quickly, pumping in and out of my body; I was gripping him tightly with each thrust of his body into mine.

I wondered only briefly why my breast tasted so good; I was covered with sweat from our exertions, but didn’t have time to ponder the question any further as his mouth slid upwards to my neck. He stopped there briefly, placing warm, wet kisses on it before rising upwards to claim my lips with his own, his tongue swirling softly into my waiting mouth.

As his body drove into mine relentlessly, his tongue thrust into my mouth, their rhythms matching perfectly. I thrilled to the passion-evoking momentum and urged him to go faster, harder. My hips rose to meet his in a well-practiced tempo as we soared towards the finish line.

I felt the first stirrings of my orgasm start to ripple through my body when Adam pulled his lips from my mouth and slid them down to my neck. His mouth settled over the vein that was pulsing rapidly as my blood rushed through it; his tongue running softly over the vein that beat fervently with my desire for him.

He licked delicately along the length of my neck, stopping to nibble occasionally which made me catch my breath at how delicious it felt. I was mindless with need by this point; my body writhing against his in an attempt to get closer, to increase the contact between us and take us to passions valley.

Just as I was there, at the precipice I felt Adams teeth sink into my neck. But not just his normal teeth; these were fangs, wickedly sharp! They pierced my neck, but even through the first sting of pain, I started to feel a pleasure more intense than I had ever experienced before.

His tongue stroked along the vein, as if coaxing the blood to flow into his mouth. The sensual feel of his mouth pushed me over the edge; an orgasm such as I never felt before surged through me, leaving me weak and trembling in its wake. My body shuddered with the release of passion; I was warm and tingly as well and I only vaguely felt him gently pull his mouth from my neck, before he softly kissed the tiny puncture wounds closed.

I lay in his arms, feeling complete and totally satiated. I pressed against him tightly and he held me lovingly in his arms. I felt tears escape my eyes and trail warmly down my cheeks and then pool on his chest, where my head lay.

Was I a vampire now too, I wondered?


The sun was shining brightly through the windows in the bedroom when I opened my eyes. I could smell the wonderful aroma of breakfast cooking downstairs and my stomach growled obligingly in anticipation. Memories of making love with Adam last night flooded my brain then and I let out a startled cry before tumbling out of the bed and running into the bathroom to look at my neck.

I stared in wonder at my reflection in the mirror. My face was pale in the bright light of the bathroom as I turned my head slightly to the side to examine my neck.

Adam came rushing into the bathroom then, a panicked look on his face.

“What’s the matter bella? I heard you run to the bathroom; are you ill?” he asked, his voice laden with concern.

I continued to stare at my neck in fascination, a slight frown pursing my lips as I twisted my head a bit farther to the side for a better view.

“No, I uh, I’m fine Adam,” I told him as I gazed at my neck. Not a mark on it. Nothing. I laughed and turned to kiss him, throwing my arms around his neck as I giggled against his chest.

He regarded me with confused eyes for a moment before leaning down to place a delicious kiss against my lips; his own warm and soft.

I sighed in pleasure. Just then we both heard my stomach rumble and he remarked, “Bella, I think you’ve been hanging around me too long. C’mon, let’s get you fed!”

“Yes, let’s do that!” I agreed. I thought about the dream again for a moment and smiled. It was pretty wonderful, but nothing could compare to this man. Not even a vampire!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Stories Coming Soon...

There will be 3 new stories coming soon to the WMHD universe! 

Only In My Dreams - A Sarah and Adam fantasy story.  What happens when you watch too much TV?  Especially when you are watching your favorite vampire?  Watch for this story coming Friday, March 5!

Special Delivery - Panic strikes Sarah and Adam when they hear the news that Pam has gone into labor 7 weeks early causing Sarah and Adam to cut their trip to Greece short in order to be with Derek and Pam.  Will everything be okay?  Are there really miracles that can save the baby and Pam?  Find out March 26th.

The Wedding -  The day is finally here!  All the guests have arrived on the island of Kybylos and chaos has set in.  Waiting for her is Adam, the man of her dreams.  Can Sarah do this?  Will this be her happy ending? You'll see the story on April 9th!