8/28/2008

Chapter 130

Jon held her tighter. The fact that there wasn’t an ounce of reaction out of her scared him more than if she’d screamed. He’d welcome the screaming. This silence was louder than a scream. It seemed to fill the room with an unbearable sadness.

He wiped the tears he’d been unaware of shedding off of his jawline and cheek. Watching her heartbreak, the way she just seemed so lost in the too white, too sterile bed broke him apart. Pulling back a little, he looked down at her, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes. She just stared at the wall next to him. He moved until he could force the contact, but she didn’t seem to see him at all.

Dr. Esser sighed. “I’ll be back in a little while so we can talk a bit further. I have a few names of councilors that I trust.”

“When can I leave?” Tessa asked.

“We’ll need to do some additional tests to make sure everything went well—“

“When?”

The doctor folded her arms against her chest again. “In a couple of days if all goes well.”

“Couple? Does that mean two?” Tessa pulled away from him. Her fingers stayed slack in his hand. He curled them tighter, still not getting a response. She couldn’t pull away from him. Not now.

“We’ll see after the next set of tests come back. I’ll be back in a bit to check on you. There are people waiting outside that would like to see you.”

“I don’t want to see anyone.”

Frowning, Jon cupped her cheek and turned her until she looked at him. Her beautiful green eyes were flat, emotionless. The warmth and the fire were gone. Lacing his fingers with hers, he wanted to scream at her. “Tessa, it’s Nic. She needs to know you’re all right.”

She slipped away from him, curling into herself, not into him. He heard the gasp, stepping closer to her, about to round the bed he stilled as she hissed out a slow breath. They had her so wrapped up, he knew there had to be stitches pulling. “Tell her I’m okay. Tell her that I need rest.”

He stopped, cupped his hand around her shoulder, pressing his nose into her hair. “Tessa, please. We can get through this together. I promise.”

“I just need a little time,” she said. “If you could just let me be alone for a little bit, that’d be great.”

Her voice held no inflection, no life. He sat back in the chair. He didn’t want to leave her alone. This was one of those times where they needed each other the most. “Tess—“

“Really, Jon.” She turned her cheek toward him, but still wouldn’t look at him. “I’ll be okay.”

Not them, not they would be okay. She would be okay. Stuffing down the paranoia and the hurt, he stood. “I’ll be back.”

“Just go home, Jon. I’ll be asleep.”

“I’m not leaving you alone, Tessa. Not ever again.” When she didn’t reply, he clenched his fists at his sides. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Still she stayed silent, just curled into that little ball. She looked so small and broken, so not his Tessa.

Scrubbing tired hands over his face he fisted his fingers into his hair. This couldn’t be happening. He left the room, leaning back on her door as he took a steadying breath. Dragging fingers across his wet eyes, he sniffed.

Dr. Esser was waiting for him. “Mr. Bon Jovi?”

Jon pushed his hair back, clearing his throat. She motioned him over to the nurses station. “That was a typical response, really. You just have to be patient. It’s going to take some time, but I’ll do everything I can to help her get through this.” She handed him a card. “This is my personal recommendation for a councilor. She’s one of the best that I know.”

“Is there more news? More than you told her?”

The doctor’s face carefully shuttered. Her brown eyes took on the professional detached look he was used to seeing with doctors. “Now that Tessa is out of trouble, I can’t discuss her treatment. The privacy act protects her.”

Frustration unfurled. Yet another thing holding him away from her, another thing to close him off. “You don’t have to tell me what it is, just if there’s more.”

She nodded. “There are some things she’s going to have to deal with, yes.” She smiled gently. “Beyond the loss, there’s a bit more.”

Jon felt the fist that had just began loosening around his heart tighten again. He stared down at his hands, clenching and unclenching uselessly. God, could there really be more? How much more was she supposed to take? How much was they supposed to endure? Wasn’t the loss enough?

Dr. Esser put a comforting hand on his arm. “I’ll be back to see her a little later on today. Let her get some rest. It’s the best place to heal.”

Looking up he saw Nic’s expectant face across the hallway. Adam stood behind her, crowding in close to show support, to let her lean on him. Adam’s hand on her shoulder, her fingers covering his. Connected. He closed his eyes for a moment. That was the connection he was used to. What he relied on. What he wanted to give. “Dammit, Tessa!” he whispered fiercely.

Raising his chin, he said his goodbyes to the doctor and walked toward two people that meant the most to Tessa. Who were beginning to mean just as much to him. He never found it easy to let someone into his inner circle, but Tessa had wormed her way in without much of a fight, dragging her little world in with her. “Hey, Nichole,” he said gently. Taking a step back as she threw herself into his arms, he caught her. “Hey, it’s okay, shhh.” He said and hugged her in close. “She didn’t stay awake long,” he lied smoothly.

Adam frowned, but Jon just shook his head. The silent communication was complete with just that one look. Adam’s face smoothed as he slid an arm back around Nic’s shoulders when she let him go.

“Does she know? Did you tell her?”

“The doctor came in and explained things to her.”

“But you didn’t tell her?” Nic asked expectantly.

“I didn’t have time…” Jon began, but stopped. He did have time, he’d had a few minutes with her alone, but he hadn’t been able to do it. Hadn’t wanted to watch her shatter at his words. “I couldn’t,” he said hoarsely.

“I see,” she said softly. “Can I see her?”

“She’s asleep again, and the doctors need to run more tests. They want us to go home and leave her alone for now.”

“Are you leaving?”

Jon shook his head. “No. I’m going to stay with her.” He tugged on the t-shirt he’d been wearing for days now. “I’ll have Richie grab me some clothes and take a shower in her room.”

“Jon, why don’t you go home and get a little sleep. Talk to your family.” Nichole’s dark eyes were wet with tears. “They need you too.”

“She needs me more,” Jon said firmly.

The pain flickered, then eased in Nic’s gaze. “All right.” She stepped in closer, wrapping her arms around his middle, hugging him tight.

He wanted to break, wanted to just go away and sleep it all away like the nightmare it should be. Pressing a soothing touch across her back because she needed it, he sighed. “She’s going to be okay, Nic. I promise I won’t let her down again.”

She pulled back. “You didn’t.”

He met her stricken brown eyes and knew in his heart it was true. “I did. I won’t make the same mistake again.”

“Jon, you—“

Adam stepped forward and rested a hand on Nichole’s neck. “We’ll be here when she needs us.”

She turned around, frowning at her husband, “But it’s not his—“

“It is my fault. She was there alone because I was too wrapped up in the record,” Jon said firmly.

“No!” Nic pulled away from Adam, whirling on Jon. “You couldn’t know.”

“I should have.”

“But that’s not the same. Don’t you think I blame myself? I should have stayed with her. Not let her close up without me. Don’t you think I feel like it’s my fault too?” She clasped his hand between hers. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault.”

“I knew she wasn’t feeling well, but I forgot to check on her. I forgot to pay attention.”

“Jon, that’s crazy. She didn’t even tell me she wasn’t feeling well.” Confusion swelled with her tears.

“I knew.”

Nic looked up and over Jon’s shoulder. He watched relief smooth out her features. “Oh thank God. Richie please talk some sense into him.”

“We need to talk, Jonny,” Richie said solemnly.

8/25/2008

Chapter 129

The steady blip of a far away machine and the secure clasp of a man’s hand were the first things she became aware of as she fought her way out of the wispy nothingness. Tightening her fingers around his, she tried to open her eyes. It felt like there was ten pound sand bags holding them shut.

“Tessa?”

She tightened her grip again and managed a nod.

“Oh thank God,” she heard Jon say. Immediately she felt her heart rate increase and the distant beep get closer, the annoying blips coming faster now. She tried her eyelids again, licking her lips against the aching dryness. “It’s okay, baby, you’re all right.”

She was all right? What was wrong with her? And why did his voice sound so funny? “Jon?”

“Yeah, Tessa, it’s me.”

She felt the brush of his lips at her sandpaper mouth. Her hand reached out finding stubble lining his hollowed out cheeks. She followed the planes of his face, tracing his lips with her fingers, then the fuzzy line of his chin. She took a deep breath and received only a blast of air up her nose for her trouble. As if it were a slap, her eyes popped open and she met his bloodshot eyes. “Jon?” she could feel the hysteria bubbling. Nothing felt right, nothing felt like it should. She tried to move and pain blinded her. She tried to pinpoint what hurt, but it was everywhere.

“Shh…please, don’t move, Baby.” She heard the odd bit of vulnerability in his voice and a thickness she didn’t recognize. Her eyes sought out his, but he was too busy smoothing his fingers over her sheet, his palm resting lightly over her midsection.

Her fingers closed over his and the heart of the pain started there. Sucking in a deep breath, she forced herself to calm. Answers didn’t follow hysteria, only more questions. Letting the flow of oxygen fill her head with clarity she wasn’t sure she wanted, she laced her fingers with his. “What happened?”

She watched his eyes flicker away, then close as he brought her hands up to his mouth. “You had us all very worried,” he said instead of answering her question. Before she could ask another question he reached over for a cup and a straw and put it in front of her mouth. “You must be thirsty.”

She frowned, but accepted the cup since she was pretty sure her throat and tongue had been replaced with sawdust and tacks. She took a few deep draws off the straw as he leaned away a little depressing the call button next to her thigh. She pushed the cup away, lifting her free hand to his face again. He smiled at her, but there wasn’t an ounce of joy in his eyes, only relief mixed with something else. Something…sad? She opened her mouth to ask the question again, but this time his lips were on hers.

Nothing intrusive and nothing any different than the countless other times he’d kissed her…at least on the surface. She sighed and accepted the gesture, knowing he needed the connection as much as she did. The kiss was gentle, chaste even…but it was Jon and not him all at once.

“Our patient is finally awake, huh?” said a bustling nurse. “Okay, Mr. Bon Jovi, you’re going to have to leave for a second while we do—“

“Please…” she whispered hoarsely. “I want him to stay.”

Jon smiled. “Of course I’ll stay, I’ll just move over there so she can do her thing.”

Tessa nodded her head, watching him pace. The nervous flick of trembling fingers into his already knotted hair moved her closer to the hysteria that seemed to hover around her, but the detached blankness to his eyes had her downright terrified. The nurse lifted her hand, flipping it for a pulse and jamming a thermometer contraption into her ear. After a moment she checked the reading and made a non-descript sound then went to the machine blipping, frowning at the series of skips. She made a few notes into a portable tablet PC she’d placed next to her. Impatience sizzled along her nerve endings. “Can you tell me what happened?”

The nurse looked down at her, then at the chart, then back. “I’ve paged the doctor and she’ll be down to talk to you shortly. Why don’t you just lie back and rest until—“

“I have a feeling I’ve been resting enough,” Tessa interrupted. “Please tell me what’s going on.”

She watched the nurse’s face go blank, only compassion bleeding through her kind blue eyes. “The doctor wants to speak to you herself. She’ll be right down, Ms. Donovan.”

Frustration circled the hysteria, feeding the fear until a few tears leaked free. “Why won’t anyone talk to me?”

Jon was at her side, smiling stiffly to the nurse. “I’ve got her,” he murmured. Watching him expectantly, she growled when he only sat. His beautiful lips were pinched and tightly pressed together.

“Nothing can be as bad as what I’m conjuring up in my head, Jon! Stop it! Just tell me,” she begged. “Am I dying?”

“God no!” Jon’s face went white and his grip on her fingers crushed bone. When she flinched he eased back. “God, no,” he whispered and pressed the flat of her palm against his cheek. “I’ve just been so worried.” His bloodshot eyes met hers and again that sadness seemed so deep, so ominous.

She turned a little toward him, grimacing through the pain as her belly felt like it was slicing her into two. His fingertips curled along the crest of her cheek as tears leaked free again. “What happened?”

“I—“

“Ahh, Ms. Donovan, you’re finally awake.”

Tessa looked up to see a slim, rather unremarkable woman walk through the door of her room. A professional air seemed to permeate the room as she flipped open a chart. At least she didn’t have the gall to smile at her. She glanced back down at Jon to see him staring at her bed again, blinking furiously as he blew out a long breath.

“Someone better tell me what the hell is going on.”

“I’m Dr. Esser,” she said patiently. Turning to Jon she gave him a tight smile. “Mr. Bon Jovi why don’t you—“

“If one more person tries to kick him out of my room I’m going to throw a hissy fit that would make a soap opera actress proud.”

Sighing, the doctor shook her head. “Look Ms. Donovan—“

“Tessa, just Tessa. Please, just spit it out. I’m absolutely freaking out here. I don’t want a list of hows and whys. Just give me the goods before I crack apart here.”

The doctor hugged the slim silver clipboard to her chest, her tired eyes steady as her chin lifted. “You had an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage,” she said matter of factly.

“Wha—What?” she stammered. She slid her hand over her belly as pain rippled beneath her fingers. “A baby?” She locked eyes with Jon’s as he gently covered her hand.

“I’m so sorry.” His eyes filled as his lower lip trembled ever so slightly just before he cleared his throat. He leaned into her, his lips pressing along her cheek then her temple as his forehead rested against the side of hers. She heard his sniffle distantly as her world stopped.

“I couldn’t be,” she whispered. “I just had my per—“

“The period could have been spotting, and from what I could gather from Mr. Bon Jovi it sounds like the beginnings of the miscarriage were masked as ill effects from something you ate.

“But…” the impossibility of it tore through her. They’d been careful, they’d been—

Flashes of nights where impatience and the closeness they sought had overridden common sense. Nights where passion had gotten the better of them and something as annoying as birth control had slipped away in a fog of lust. She’d made an appointment with her gynecologist for a checkup and promptly forgotten about it during the Christmas rush.

The doctor moved in closer, her fingers curling around the edges of the silver chart once more. “I can come back so we can talk about what your options are—“

“There’s options?” She cradled the stark emptiness that spread across her midsection. Where a baby could have been growing, a baby she’d never even imagined wanting. “There’s no option here.” She felt Jon flinch beside her.

“Unfortunately there were complications we’ll need to discuss.”

“Complications?” she asked dully. Could there be anything worse than this? That something she didn’t even think she’d wanted, could hurt this badly. That something that could have been just hers and Jon’s could be taken away.

She felt Jon wrap his fingers around her hand, but couldn’t bring herself to squeeze back. “Because of the extensive bleeding we had to make several transfusions before we could even evaluate the problem, then because of the age of the fetus—“

“Baby,” Tessa said brokenly. “It was a baby.” Her eyes met the doctor’s with a dryness she wasn’t sure she could even withstand. Where were the tears? Why couldn’t she cry for her baby? “How old was my baby?”

“Tessa,” Jon said softly. “Please, don’t.”

“No, tell me. I need to know.” She slid her hand away from Jon’s.

Dr. Esser dropped her hands to her sides. “We figure around ten weeks.”

Tessa nodded. “Why didn’t I know? How could I not know?” She looked at Jon for the first time, seeing the tears swimming there in his lovely blue eyes. Those eyes that were usually smiling her way, now bruised and flooding with pain. Hers were dry. So dry that she couldn’t even bring herself to blink because of the ache.

“The first trimester is different for every woman. And from what I know about the retail season…if it’s anything like the hospital, then the craziness may have masked any pregnancy symptoms you would have had. You may have been blessed with an easy pregnancy.”

“Right, so easy that I didn’t even know until—“

“Tessa,” his voice was husky with emotion as he pulled her in, but she just leaned against him. She couldn’t even bring herself to hold him back, even as she felt the first tear fall against her skin.

“We had to take an ovary and your fallopian tube was torn with the ectopic pregnancy. The fetus—“

“Ba—“

“Baby,” the doctor agreed. “The baby attached itself to your fallopian tube instead of her uterus. But because the baby was so far along when the tube burst it caused a lot more damage. You were found unconscious, so we have no idea how long you were in distress.”

The information hammered at her. All she could hear was the taking. Taking her ovary, taking her tube, taking her…

Taking her baby.

8/06/2008

Chapter 128

“You can’t spend the night in the hospital again, Mr. Bon Jovi. You won’t help her if I have to put you in the bed next to her because of dehydration.”

“I’m drinking,” he said in a tired voice.

Was that Jon? Tessa tried to turn to him, but her head felt heavy and her fingers wouldn’t cooperate. She felt his hand wrapping around hers, but she couldn’t seem to squeeze back. What was wrong with her? Had there been an accident?

She tried to take a deep breath in, but the constant flow of air pushing up her nose made her mouth dry and her throat close up. Why couldn’t she move?

“Jon…” she heard a nurse’s tired voice try to reason with him. “Coffee doesn’t count. It’s nothing but a stimulant. Can I at least get you a bottle of water?”

“Just the coffee, Marcy. When she wakes up, then I’ll be able to rest.”

Why couldn’t she wake up? Distantly she felt his fingers wrap around hers and his thumb stroke her palm. Was she sick? She couldn’t remember anything since…She tried to hold onto the glimmer of thought but it faded away like a dream in the morning. She willed herself to squeeze back, to show him that she was there, but…his voice went tinny and soft. Why couldn’t she focus?

Doctors came and went. She could hear new voices, could feel them moving around her. Felt Jon’s touch, and more importantly felt the loss when he let go. Don’t go. She wanted to reach for him, to call to him. God, she was tired. Maybe she’d just rest for a little while. Maybe when she woke up, he’d be there again.

~

Jon gripped the hair at the back of his head, hoping a bit of pain would snap him out of the sluggish fog he was slipping into. Each time he closed his eyes at her side, he saw her twisted and bleeding, the blood leaking out of her in a rush. Not able to stop it, not even able to touch her.

“Hey Jonny.”

He turned, to find Richie there in the doorway. She’d been moved up to a private room. She was still being monitored, but the ICU was running out of beds. Dr. Esser assured him that the monitoring would be just as diligent and so far, the nurses had been even more attentive.

He sort of figured it was just so they could see him, based on the number of different nurses coming through, but he didn’t care. As long as she was cared for, they could sit on his damn lap for a picture. “Hey, Rich.”

“Why don’t you head to the house, man. You could use a shower and a shave at the very least.”

“You’ve seen me far riper, my friend.”

A grin kicked up the corner of Richie’s mouth. “Yes, but has Tessa?”

“The polish had to come off sometime.”

Richie moved to her bedside and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. “Hiya doin’ gorgeous? I think it’s time to wake up, there darlin’, we’re worried about you.”

Jon’s gaze lifted to the ceiling tiles, there weren’t any tears left but the burning seemed to sizzle in his tear ducts. He’d left only for doctor visits when they threatened to toss him from the hospital and even then it was only to the cafeteria or to the chapel. He’d threatened, pleaded and sworn at God all in the space of thirty-eight hours.

Richie grasped her hand for a moment before turning back to him. “I called the rest of the guys.”

“Ahh, Rich—“

“Don’t give me that, we want to be here for you. I think you should call Dot and let her know what’s going on.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose. The last thing he wanted to deal with was Dorothea and her legion of questions. How could he tell the kids? Hell, how was he supposed to tell his parents? None of it was anyone’s business but he and Tessa’s, but at the same time there was almost no way to not talk about it based on her condition.

Frustration and rage solidified until he was blind with it. His arm swept the tray next to her, the little pink pitcher crashed against the chair, bounced and spun across the floor. Ice and water rained down on him. “I can’t do this!”

He stared down at her, the IV and the machines branching off of her like a macabre tree. There in the center of it was Tessa. His Tessa. “Wake up, please!” He shouted down at her. “Move! Something…let me know you’re in there!”

Richie pulled him back. “Jon, stop.”

He yanked his arm away. “No! I’m not leaving here or shutting up until she wakes up.”

Richie clamped his hand down on his shoulder until pain flared. “And get yourself thrown out of here for throwing a temper tantrum? Pull it the fuck together!” He whispered furiously.

Jon sucked in a breath, chest heaving in response to the adrenaline and exhaustion. All night in the studio and another day and a half in the hospital, he was nearing the edge and fast. “I—“

Richie squeezed harder. “She needs you right now. She needs you to be the strong one when she wakes up and has to face the truth.”

“I can’t even face it!” He met Richie’s solemn brown eyes. He could see the pain there in his friend’s eyes. Pain for him, pain for Tessa and he could barely look at him. How the hell could he tell Tessa that his baby had torn her apart? That their baby was gone?

“You can and you will,” Richie said with absolute faith. He tugged a rosary from beneath his shirt and over his head, wrapping it around Jon’s wrist. “It’s my Mom’s. A lot of prayers and a lot of faith lie in those beads. She prayed to them for every screw up I’ve put my family through and it got me through.”

The flowing warmth of the worry worn beads gathered into his palm. He hadn’t been much of a praying man over the last few years. Meeting Richie’s eyes, he nodded, words choking him even now.

Richie folded both hands over the rosary and Jon’s hand. “We’ll take everything we can get, bro.” He backed off, reaching down for the pitcher before heading to the nurse’s station for a refill.

Jon dragged the uncomfortable little chair back by her side and lifted her hand. “I’m beggin’ here, Tess. Please open those beautiful eyes and let me know you’re coming back to me.”

Wrapping the rosary around her wrist and his until they were bound he pulled the old boyhood prayers out of the depths of his brain. He barely heard Richie come back in, nor the doctors and nurses that came and went. He focused on one Hail Mary after another until the monotony calmed him.

He pressed his forehead into the bed, exhaustion sucking at him until the words of the prayer drifted off. The soothing motion of fingers in his hair helped him along. If he could just find a few minutes of rest he’d be here when she…

Fingers…his head snapped up. She was…he blinked his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing what he wanted to see. Spring green eyes stared back at him, groggy and unfocused, heavy lidded and filled with pain.

“I could hear you,” she said roughly. “You stubborn man.”

“Oh God, Tessa!” Her eyes started to close again. “No, not yet. Baby, please, not yet.”

She opened them again, but he could see it was an effort. A tear slid down her temple. “I hurt,” she whispered.

“I know, baby.” His hands wrapped around hers as he leaned in. “I’ll get the doctor.” He stood, but settled back when her hand gripped his.

“No, don’t go. What happened?”

Panic and uncertainty clawed up from his gut. “Just rest, Tessa.”

Her lids drooped once more. “Tell me later, kay? I can’t stay awake…” her words trailed off, but her grip was still fierce.

He leaned over and pressed the nursing call button and waited. For the first time, he wanted time to stop. He didn’t want to tell her. Didn’t want to see the loss in her eyes.

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