“What do you mean your water broke??” I whisper. “You’re not due for another three weeks!”
“I didn’t plan it!” Bethie hisses back.
“Let me get your stupid husband and he can take us to the hospital. Then, we’ll figure this out,” I reason, ignoring the way my heart beats a million miles a minute and slams against my chest.
“Hurry!” She cries panicking, as another contraction grabs hold of her. I wrap her into me, then lead her to a nearby bench. I get down on my knees in front of her and let her have my hand. She squeezes it so tightly, I feel like it might break.
“Look at me, Bethie. Let’s breathe. Remember? Like on the Lamaze seminar we found on line?” I imitate the exercise. “Hee… Hee… Hee… Hee…”
“Katie, get Skull,” she whispers. I take a deep breath, trying to figure out how to divert her. “I just want Skull!” she yells loudly this time. “I don’t want to do this alone!”
“I’ll get him, I’ll get him,” I assure her. “Just do your breathing.”
“Hee… Hee… Hee…” she mimics, repeating until slowly the contraction passes.
“Yes. Will you get Skull now, please?”
“He was with another woman. I mean, you’ve been gone for, like, nine months. Maybe he’s moved—”
“Skull loved me. I don’t know who she is, but he wouldn’t replace what we had that easily. Please, I need you to get him.”
“He thinks you’re dead. Men move on, sweetheart. They—”
“If you won’t do it, I will!”
She rises off the bench holding her stomach, then waddles through the crowd. She looks pitiful; you can tell she’s hurting and her dress is soaked. Still, she’s determined to tell this Skull about her baby. I still think cutting his balls off for a baby mobile would be a better option. No one said quite how my niece needed to have her father in her life. It seems like the perfect solution to me.
She only makes it ten feet before coming to a dead stop.
“What?” I ask. “What’s wrong?”
“Him? Skull? I know, we’ll—”
“Not him. Pistol. He’s standing there across the street away from Skull’s men. Look!”
I look where she points. There’s a slightly overweight dude with black hair standing across the street watching Skull and his crew. Even I can read the hate coming off of him in waves.
“Okay, so I’ll go over and drag your man over here and he can deal with the Pistol dude. That work?”
“Yeah,” she says, but all of a sudden she turns pale and slumps against the wall.
“Bethie?” I’m trying to keep the fear out of my voice, but something is wrong. I can see it and I’m starting to panic.
“Katie, I’m not feeling so good,” she whispers, then slides down the wall. I do my best to catch her from hitting the ground. She’s unconscious, but still breathing. That’s about as much as I can figure out. Then I see it: a small stain of red on her white dress. It’s not big, but then again, she’s bleeding, and her water just broke. It doesn’t have to be big to mean trouble.
“Help us!” I cry out. “Somebody help us!!”
I don’t know how many times I scream it. I just keep screaming. It doesn’t matter who’s around or who sees or hears us; I’ll deal with the fallout. I need to make sure Bethie is okay. I can’t let anything happen to her or my niece.