The hospital was, in a word, chaos. He’d never seen the likes of it in all his years living in Red Bank. Riverview was the place he’d brought Jesse when he’d broken his wrist skateboarding, it was also the place he brought Romeo in for ear infections. It wasn’t the place he’d ever associated with trauma.
Nurses in scrubs, flapping lab coats and shouted orders was his first glimpse into a real ER. He’d pushed his way behind the paramedics. A few of the shouts had been for him to stay back, but there was no way he was leaving her alone again. He backed against the wall as three nurses crowded in and listened to the lightning fast stats the blonde from the ambulance rattled off.
A tall, young doctor was called over, but as soon as he got a look at the situation and her pressure he shouted for a call to surgery. “You!” the man-boy pointed at Jon. “Tell me!”
Jon moved to the gurney, his shaking fingers needing to touch her. Looking down at her face he locked his knees, she was so translucent he could see the delicate veins under her eyes. He smoothed a knuckle down her coppery hair. “I found her…“ he forced himself to look away and into the doctor’s eyes. He glanced down at his name tag then back up. Clearing his throat he held onto her shoulder. “The last I’d heard from her was a text message around…” Jon dug his phone out and flipped it open. “It was at 12:14am. She was working and said she’d be home by 2am.”
“And you got there?” he pointed at the paramedic.
She flipped through her log. “We rolled in at 5:18am.”
“Okay people,” he reached for the vitals from a nurse. “I don’t like her blood pressure, there are four hours or more that she could have been unconscious.” He felt around Tessa’s abdomen and frowned, moving lower toward her middle then back. Lifting the tattered edges of her skirt he frowned. “Vicky, page Dr. Esser and have her meet me up in—“ he turned to another nurse. “What room did we get?”
“Room six,” the woman in pink scrubs called out from a wall phone on the far side of the room.
“All right, let’s get her moving.”
“Dr. Croft?” Jon asked.
The man-boy doctor turned, distracted but at least willing to look at him. And for God’s sakes talk to him. “We’re going to do everything we can for her. If it’s what I think it is, I don’t have time to waste. Let me do my job, Mr. Bon Jovi.”
Nodding, Jon stepped back to let the doctor and two nurses move ahead to the elevators, reassured and terrified at how fast they were moving. Why wouldn’t they give him any details? Did they even know what was wrong with her?
Was she pregnant?
Was she losing his baby?
Was he losing her?
Was it something worse?
He caught the blonde paramedic as she stopped to fill out paperwork. “Miss?”
“Maggie,” she answered and stopped.
He could see the way her face had closed off again. His belly tightened, leaving his heart to shove its way up his throat, fighting with the lump already there. “Please, why did you ask if she was pregnant?”
“Look, sir, the doctors are doing everything they can for her. She’s in good hands. Dr. Croft is one of the best trauma surgeons I’ve seen here at Riverview.”
“Maggie, please.” He didn’t want placating words, didn’t want some yes-woman to tell him everything was going to be all right. He needed her to tell him the hard truth. “You’ve been doing this for how long?”
“Eight years,” she answered still not completely looking him in the eye.
“What is it?”
“I—“ she gave him a reassuring squeeze on his arm. “I can’t say what it is. I’d only be guessing. It wouldn’t be fair to freak you out for no reason.”
He raked his fingers into his hair. “I’m freaking out because I don’t know what’s going on. Who’s Dr. Esser?”
Maggie’s eyes shuttered. “Call your family, just—“
“Dammit, who is she?” Her face went stony and he changed tact. Anger wasn’t going to help him here. He caught her hand in his. “This woman is…” He looked down and caught his breath. You can do this, Jon. “This is my girl, you know? I can’t—“ he swallowed down the fear and a rush of helplessness that threatened to drown him.
Maggie’s other hand clutched his. “She’s a gynecologist, sir. It could be bad. We have no idea how long she was down and what’s going on inside of her. That’s why they are moving so fast.” She slowly let him go.
“Sir, we need some help with some paperwork.”
Jon looked over at a pleasant faced man running the admissions desk and sighed. “Yes, I’ll be right there.” He turned back and the blonde paramedic was striding back to her partner. “Dammit!”
“Yes, I’m coming.”
Two hours later he still didn’t have any answers and a stack of insurance forms on his lap that proved just how helpless he was. He was lucky he could fill in every fourth line.
In some ways he knew every inch of Tessa, but here, in the simplest of terms he felt like he didn’t know a damn thing. He stood in the cramped waiting room off the surgical floor, pacing it for the fourth time in as many minutes. He and Tessa weren’t married, so the nurses were proving impossible to deal with.
He knew she had a sister overseas, but that was about it. He didn’t have Nichole’s cell phone number and her home phone was going straight to answering machine with the number of calls he’d made. Flipping open his cell he tried Richie again.
“’Lo,” Richie mumbled.
Relief burned like acid through his belly. “Rich…man wake up.”
“Jonny, do you realize it’s not even eight o’clock? Even you don’t make me come into that God forsaken studio this fuckin’ early.”
He heard the squeak of springs and the snick of a lighter as Richie came abruptly awake. “Is it serious?” Richie said on an exhale of smoke.
“I’m at Rivierview.”
“Shit, I’ll be right there. What floor?”
The lump he couldn’t seem to get down his throat since he’d seen Tessa sprawled out on her store floor, grew larger. “Thanks, man. I uh—“ he swallowed as his eyes misted. “I appreciate it. Can you stop at Chapter’s first and see if you can find Tessa’s purse. I don’t think it made it onto the ambulance with us.”
“What the fuck happened, Jon?” Richie’s voice was laced with concern.
“I wish I knew. I’m holding my ass at the hospital waiting for her to come out of surgery. They won’t fuckin’ tell me a thing because I’m not fuckin’ family.”
“Okay, okay. Calm down, Jonny.”
“I can’t get a hold of Nichole. She’s the only one I can think of that will be able to get any info out of these doctors. I can’t just sit here--”
“I have Adam’s cell number from the party.” Richie interrupted. “We were swapping info so I could do something at the college.”
Relief had him sagging into one of the burnt orange vinyl chairs. “Oh thank God, can you call Adam?
“Sure, I’ll take care of it,” Richie paused. “She’s gonna be okay. Our Tessa’s a tough cookie.”
He leaned back in the chair, watching the fluorescent light flicker next to a broken ceiling tile. He felt tears leak along his temples and didn’t care. “I can’t lose her, Rich.”
“I’ll be right there, okay? What floor?”
“Third,” he managed. Clearing his throat he tried to jam the lump back down his throat one more time. “Thanks.”