Jon checked the his phone just one more time, hoping it really hadn’t been just twenty-three seconds since the last time he’d looked. He’d debated calling his family, but since he hadn’t even introduced them to Tessa yet, it seemed crazy to call. What could they do besides drill him for information about her?
And right now, he just couldn’t explain how he felt, not with the fear choking him like a WWE Wrestler on steroids. He couldn’t lose her now, not when he’d just found her. Creativity streaming through his blood as strong as a white blood cell didn’t help the list of worst case scenarios currently tumbling around his brain until he was ready to storm the surgical room.
A flash of baby blue scrubs passing the doorway had him up and sprinting down the hall. “Miss!”
The woman turned, her tired eyes darting away. “Mr. Bon Jovi we’ll get you information as soon as we can.”
“Please, just something. I…” his voice trailed off as Richie’s long-legged stride ate up the hallway. He’d never been so glad to see Richie’s mussed hair and those ridiculous trinkets dangling over his shoulders than right then. As usual, Richie was without a coat, his shirt looked like it had come off the floor and the worried frown was evident even half hidden under shades.
“As soon as I know something, we’ll try to tell you something. We really need her family here so we can talk to you.”
“I am her family,” Jon said, meeting her eyes. How did he make her understand that? “She has a sister in Europe that she doesn’t talk to, her best friend who’s currently a few hundred miles away and me. That’s it.” Jon looked down at his hands then back up to her face. “I don’t want her to be alone.”
“As soon as she comes out of surgery, I’ll make sure you can see her, but right now we’re still trying to figure out the damage.”
“It’s been hours!” he exploded. He felt Richie’s hand clamp down on his shoulder and forced himself to calm. “I’m sorry,” he rasped out.
“It’s okay.” The nurse’s face showed only comfort. “Dr. Esser’s the best in the state and we’re lucky to have her here at Riverview.” She took Jon’s clenched hand and wrapped hers around it. “Waiting’s always the hardest, and I can’t tell you anything more than there was a lot of damage because of how long she was without care. She went into something called hypovolemic shock. Because of that, we have to be careful.”
Frustration and fear roared in his head. He blew out a slow breath. “What does that mean?”
“Her heart didn’t have enough blood to get through to all the organs in her body. We did some transfusions, but she also has a rather rare blood type, pair that with her other complications…It’s just taking longer to keep everything under control and do what we need to do at the same time. We’re doing everything we can." She repeated in a voice that told Jon she said it too many times a day to count. "I have to go now. We’ll tell you everything we can when she’s out of surgery.”
Her hand slipped away and with it, the little bit of sanity he was holding onto. He should've been there. He should have been there.
Richie nodded to the nurse, speaking in that secret, silent language that loved ones of the destroyed could, and she hurried off. He pushed his sunglasses up, his dark eyes swirling with emotion. “Don’t,” he said with a clear, strong voice. There was no teasing glint there, none of the Richie charm that made him the best of them. Instead there was just a sureness that Jon needed to hold onto. “Do not blame yourself. I can see it in your eyes. This isn’t your fault, man.”
“The what if’s will eat you alive. Believe me, I’ve been there.” Richie turned him until they were eye to eye. Putting a hand on each shoulder he shook him. “She needs you when she comes out of whatever this is. Do you know what happened?”
Jon shook his head. “I found her.” He stared at the oddly bare neck and chest of his best friend, then back up to his face. “There could be a baby,” he whispered suddenly. It was the first time he allowed himself the thought out loud.
Richie’s breath wooshed out. “How?” When he just arched a brow, Richie gave him a disgusted face. “You know what I mean.”
“We weren’t the most careful of couples lately. She’d mentioned birth control a few times so I just assumed.” He eased away and resumed pacing. That night at the party a few nights ago, he’d had to get inventive for the first time in their relationship. “Hell, it wasn’t even a thought…In fact we just, uh—“
Richie dropped into one of the ugly orange chairs and held up a hand. “Gotcha.”
Thankful that the guy code definitely covered the TMI’s, he sighed. “There was no reason to even think she was pregnant based on that one night a few days ago. It could be something else, even. The only thing they did know was there was internal bleeding and she wasn’t…” Jon sucked back a shaky breath. “She wasn’t moving when I found her.”
Richie leaned forward, elbows on knees. “I managed to get a hold of Adam.”
Thankful to focus on something else, he stopped pacing. “And?”
“They were just about an hour outside of Vermont by the time I got through. They were driving through the mountains without reception.”
“They’re on their way?”
“Adam was turning around even before I could ask. He said they’d be here within a few hours,” he rattled off a phone number. "It's Nic's cell."
Jon flipped open his phone for a purpose for the first time in hours. “Thanks.”
“Go take a walk, give Nic an update before she drives Adam off the road with her questions.”
“I don’t want to leave—“
“I’ll stay here and wait,” Richie interrupted.
He turned to the doorway, then back to his friend, his feet like lead. “I don’t know if I can.” Standing here in the waiting room at least let him feel like he was doing something. It wasn’t much, but at least he was there for her as much as he could be.
Richie stood. “Jonny, you know this is one of the best hospitals. They’re going to take care of her. If anyone comes out to talk to you, I’ll call your cell, okay?”
Grinding his molars together he simply nodded.
Richie held out his hand, Jon reached for the shake before he could even think about it. A small smile kicked up the corner of his mouth as Richie slapped a pack of Marb lights into his palm. “Go.” He sat back down and laced his fingers over his belly. “I won’t move.”
The trip down in the elevator was eternal, but finally he was striding through the lobby dialing before he made it through the main hallway. Ignoring the disapproving looks from the hospital staff he punched the exit bar on the heavy metal doors.
Cupping his hands around a cigarette Jon hightailed it around the corner down to the public area that allowed smoking, dragging in the soothing nicotine. “Hey Nic, it’s me.”
“Oh thank God, I’ve been freaking out in the car. I swear Adam’s going to strap me to the hood in a minute.”
Forcing a smile into his voice he gave her the laugh she needed. He could hear the hysteria bubbling there below the false cheer in her voice. “It seems that something happened at the store before she left.”
“No,” she whispered. “No, she said she was right behind me,” Nic said brokenly.
“I’m sure she was,” Jon said automatically.
“Was it a robbery? Was she…”
“No, no.” He stopped, bumped by hospital staff and other visitors that were walking down the steep path to the only smoking area designated on the grounds. Get it together, Jon. He headed toward the pine picnic tables under a tree. “It wasn’t a robbery. The doctor’s won’t tell me much yet.”
“Oh God, I never should have left her. I didn’t want to, I swear it Jon! You know how she gets.”
“I know,” he soothed. He wouldn’t heap on the blame. Not when it was truly him to blame. He should have noticed how late it was, that she wasn’t there. No, he had to hammer his way through that fucking song last night. If he—
“What happened,” she sniffed, breaking through his internal battle.
Shoving the guilt down for the moment he sighed. “I found her early this morning. I’d been working all night in the studio…” he collapsed onto one of the benches watching his cigarette burn. “Anyway, something ruptured and she was bleeding internally. She’s still in surgery. Something’s wrong…” he didn’t want to worry her more, but hell, how did you explain what you don’t know?
“Appendix?” Nic guessed.
“It could be. All the doctors would say is that she went into shock so surgery is taking longer.”
“Yeah, she’s been in for a few hours now. Do you have any way of contacting her sister? I don’t know how we’re going to get any information out of the doctors.”
“I have power of attorney and a healthcare proxy because of the store…you know, just in case.”
Jon swallowed against the idea of just in case. He was the backup thinker guy. He was the one that looked for every eventuality, all of them except this. He couldn’t even wrap his mind around this. He cleared his throat. “Smart thinking.”
“She and her sister barely speak. No fighting or anything,” she quickly explained. “Just two separate lives after her folks died. I don’t think there’s much she can do from…gosh I think she’s in Germany now. Her husband’s in the Air Force and they move around a lot.”
Why didn’t he know this? Stabbing out the butt on the sole of his shoe he pitched the cigarette out as he headed back for the hospital. Just how much didn’t he know about her? “Maybe we should hold off on that call until we know more.”
“I agree.” Silence stretched between them. “Adam’s going as fast as he can. We’ll be there soon, Jon.”
“Drive safe,” he said and clipped his phone shut, willing himself to even out before he did something crazy, like lose it in the middle of the hospital. Needing something to do that could break down some of the nervous energy churning in his gut, he took the stairs, two at a time.
Leaning his forehead on the cool metal door for the third floor he took a few deep breaths and slipped inside. The double doors that led down to surgery slammed opened with a team of nurses and doctors rolling a bed through the hallway. Backing up to give them space, his world shut down in that instant.
Cords, tubes, machines beeping, a cacophony of voices ratting off medical speak that meant nothing to him, it was a blur. In the center of the oversized gurney she lay there, so small…so quiet. His Tessa.
Her usually bright hair, was pushed back making her face appear gaunt. A fluid IV swung lazily from one corner, while blood hung from the other.
The voice pushed through the cotton batting surrounding him as he was pushed aside. The same dark haired nurse nodded to the doctor and stayed behind. The gurney, steady and slow, moved down the hallway to the ICU unit.
“Mr. Bon Jovi.”
He heard her…barely. All he could focus on was that gurney taking her away from him again.
“Jonny,” Richie’s low voice finally reeled him in.
“I—“ he drew all the fear back into himself and tried desperately to hold onto it. He couldn’t do anything for her if he wasn’t listening, wasn’t there enough to soak in whatever the nurse was going to say to him. He looked at Richie, his unwavering patience and quiet strength helped him put the beast, currently trying to crawl out of his throat, back in its cage. “How’s she doing?”
“I can’t tell you all that much, except she’s touch and go right now. We’ve got her stable and we’ll be watching her for the next twenty-four hours for any…complications.”
“We needed to do an exploratory surgery called a laporatomy to find exactly what happened and we were able to repair most of...” she trailed off, “the damage. I’m sorry that I can’t go into more detail, but it’s for the patient’s protection.”
Frustration drove his fists into his pocket instead of around the nurse’s neck. She was only doing her job. The privacy act was created for people like him, so that sensitive information didn’t get out to just anyone. But right now, the not knowing was almost as bad as watching them roll her away from him again. “Can I see her?”
“She’s lost a lot of blood, Mr. Bon Jovi. We just have to wait this out and see what happens in the next day or so. The doctor feels that she’ll know more within the next twelve hours.”
“Twelve hours!” Jon’s knees went to water and Richie grabbed that back of his jacket keeping him on his feet.
“I’ll see what I can do about getting you in to see her for a few minutes when they set her up in the ICU.” The nurse clasped her hands together in front of her. “I know it’s hard, but rest is the best thing for her right now. I need to go see to Ms. Donovan. I’ll be back when I can.”
Helpless, Jon watched her walk away. “Nurse?”
She sighed and turned, “Yes?”
“Her best friend will be coming, she has a health proxy. Will you be able to tell us any more with that?”
“Under the circumstances, yes.” The nurse turned and hurried down the hall to the ICU wing.
Jon scrubbed his hands over his face. “More fucking waiting.”
Richie smoothed his hand over his back and gripped his shoulder, hard. “If anyone can do this, Tessa can.”
“She has to, Rich.” He watched the ICU door flutter slowly then still…closing him off from her.