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Reed's Reckoning

Ahren Sanders
Prologue




The pain is excruciating. Thinking the drugs were supposed to help was wrong. I’m pretty sure my abdomen is going to explode; ripping me apart from the inside out.

“Please, the epidural isn’t working! Is there something you can do?” I hiss, thrashing on the bed.

“Hold on, baby, the doctor’s on the way.” Luke says against my temple.

“It hurts so much, Luke. Something’s not right.”

“Where’s the damn doctor?” he asks the nurse that comes back into the room. Concern etched on her face as she assures us he is on his way back.

“Ari, hold it together. I’m here with you. Look at me; try to think of something else besides the pain. We get to meet the little linebacker today.”

“I love you, but if you refer to her as a linebacker again, I’m going to kill you.”

Looking into the eyes of my best friend, the pain lessens as the contraction ends. He sees the relief on my face and kisses the hand he is holding, smiling back at me. Feeling another tightening in my groin, I wince. The familiar burning starts and I cry out. Trying my best not to completely lose it, I hold his hand tight and let the agonizing pain wash over me.

“Ari, I’m going to check you again. The anesthesiologist is down the hall,” the nurse says.

She bends in front of me and announces I’ve progressed to eight centimeters. Then covers me back and goes to the bedside monitor to make notes. I cry out in relief when I hear the knock on the door.

“Ari, I’m going to increase the epidural and you should feel pressure only.” Nodding at the doctor’s words, I close my eyes.

After a few minutes, I’m relaxed and watch with a light sense of pain as the next round of contractions hit. Luke watches the monitor and soothes me with loving words.

Another hour passes and the nurse announces that it’s almost time. She calls for my doctor to finally come back. Dr. Adams is not my regular OB but she’s on rotation today. I’ve met her at several of my appointments and she makes me comfortable. Luke was pissed my regular doctor wasn’t on call, but I can’t help it that my baby decided to come a week early.

Dr. Adams walks through the door with a wide smile on her face and reminds me one more time how we are going to proceed.

Luke stays on one side grabbing my leg, while a nurse does the same on the other side. After three tries pushing, I lie back knowing I can’t do this.

Even though I’m numb, I can still feel the extreme pressure. Nausea and dizziness hits.

“Ari,” Dr. Adams says, “the baby is crowning. I just need an ear and then I can help the rest of the way. Give me that, sweetie. I promise, I’ll help.”

“Honey, breathe deep and let’s do this. I’m right here ready to meet our little ballerina,” Luke says softly. He’s trying to encourage me by admitting I’m having a girl.

“You better believe it! Dance recitals for life!” I get ready and push, crying softly through it, and a wave of peace spreads through me when a wail fills the room. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

I fall back against the bed in exhaustion and relief. My mind only half registers when Dr. Adams announces, “It’s a boy!”

I look over to see tears in Luke’s eyes. His head is going back and forth between my baby and me in disbelief. When he finally catches my eyes, he smiles widely.

“I knew you could do it. Sweet girl, we have a boy,” he whispers and hugs me gently.

I sob into his shoulder and let the last eight months go. It may have been hell, but there’s a healthy baby boy that needs me now. I have to be strong.

“Okay, Mom, you ready to meet your son?” a nurse asks beside me with a bundle in her arms.

I reach out and take him. As soon as my eyes land on him, I sob. He’s perfect.

“Do we have a name for this handsome little guy?” she asks.

“Yes, Davis Luke Williams.”

Luke’s expression is full of love and adoration. He rubs Davis’s head lightly and tears fall down his face.

“I’m honored,” he rasps.

“No, it’s me who’s honored. You’re my best friend; I could never do this without you by our side. Thank you.” I say softly looking at the perfection in my arms.

“Ari, we’ll fill out the birth certificate for your records. Who should we name as the father?”

Not looking at Luke or my grandma, who is watching me across the room in her wheelchair crying, I answer. “There is no father. Just me.”





Chapter 1





3 Years Later


Ari


This is a bad idea, I think to myself for the fifth time this morning. Taking one last look in the mirror, deciding my outfit will be fine. It’s not that I’m specifically dressing to impress but it couldn’t hurt to dress up a little. My phone rings on the vanity and Sophie’s smile pops up on my screen.

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