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"With This Heart: Part Five"
Watching a woman being helped out of the neighboring chair by her husband, Paisley sighed with longing. More than anything she wished she had a strong hand to cling too, to have her lover listen in awe to the sound of their child’s heartbeat. This was probably the hardest part of being an unwed mother. Going to the doctor and watching other happy loving couples celebrate their impending parenthood, while she was alone. Part of it was her own fault she knew. She could’ve called her mother, or even her father. They would’ve come with her, but things had been decidedly tense between them since they’d found out she was pregnant. They’d been relieved that she’d planned on finishing her schooling – like she’d have quit this close to the finish of getting her degree. But that didn’t mean they were happy about the fact that her lover had been black. While not prejudiced they were unhappy about the fact that Kaleb hadn’t offered to make an honest woman of her. She’d tried to explain to them, but her father had harrumphed that if the boy had been honorable, he’d have offered to marry her before he’d left and she wasn’t about to tell them that he hadn’t known.
The mellow voice of the nurse jerked her out of her morose thoughts. Using the arms of the chair for leverage, she pried herself out of the chair before heading over to the clipboard-carrying nurse.
“How are you today, Paisley?” The nurse smiled at her.
“Not too bad. I can’t remember the last time I saw my legs but I’m surviving, Jamie.”
Jamie nodded as they started down the hall to the exam rooms. They stopped at the scale where Paisley slipped off her flats before stepping on it. The nurse clicked her tongue as she recorded the weight. “Hmmm, you’ve lost a few pounds from the last time.”
“Guess I just haven’t been real hungry.” She gave her an earnest look. “I’ve been trying, but everything seems to make me nauseous.”
“Hmmm.” The nurse scribbled something on the chart, before handing Paisley a clear cup. “You know the drill, Paisley. When you’re done leave the sample on the shelf for me.”
Paisley nodded. “Of course.” Scurrying off to the bathroom, she didn’t hear the commotion out in the waiting room.
* * * *
Trying to hold onto his patience, Kaleb gave the receptionist a coaxing smile – one he hoped would convince her to lead him to his girl. The clatter of keys gave him hope.
“Who did you say you were looking for, Handsome?” The woman batted her false eyelashes at him.
“Paisley Dawson. I was supposed to pick her up for her appointment, but I was late and her roommate said she left without me.” He gave her a rueful grin and continued to lie his black ass off. There was no roommate, nor had Paisley been expecting him. But he was tired of chasing after her. He’d arrived at the college this morning expecting to catch her at her job in the bookstore, only to be told she wasn’t there but in class. He’d gone to her lab to find her missing - gone for some doctor’s appointment. After digging through her letters he’d finally found her OB’s name and prayed that he made it before she left. He didn’t know what else to do. She’d ignored all of his calls.
The woman looked up. “You’re in luck, Mr…”
“Bryant. Kaleb Bryant – the father of Paisley’s baby.” He offered hopefully.
“Well…” the woman seemed flustered. “She just was taken back to see Dr. Evanston. I’m sure that the doctor won’t mind if you join them.” She gave him a wide smile and turned in her chair. “Take this hall down and turn left. You’ll find the nurses station there. Ask Jamie, Dr. Evanston’s nurse and she’ll show you which room Paisley is in.
“Thanks, ma’am.” He nodded before following her instructions. As he approached the nurse’s station, he drew a deep breath. He was one step closer to tracking down his girl. He couldn’t lose it now, even if every fiber in his being was screaming for him to tear apart the office until he found her. He’d definitely been overseas too long this time. He was much more primitive than he’d been when he left and Paisley’s avoidance hadn’t helped matters.
“Can I help you?” A blonde nurse asked him.
“I’m hoping so. The receptionist said that Jamie could lead me to my girl-friend, Paisley Dawson?”
The blonde gave him a wide grin. “Then you’re in luck. I’m Jamie. It’s so nice to finally meet you…”
She looked him over with a critical eye. “You just got back, didn’t you? That’s why you haven’t been to any of her appointments with her.”
“Excuse me?” Heat flushed his face. Good thing he was black and it didn’t show.
“Relax, soldier boy. My brothers are both in the service and you have the same look they do each time they return. So where were you? Bosnia, Germany, the Middle East?”
“Middle East – a six month tour.”
She stood and rounded the desk. “Let me guess, Paisley doesn’t realize you’re stateside yet?”
Kaleb shook his head. “She knew I’d be coming home soon but not when.”
“Well then I suspect you’ll be the perfect surprise for her.” She grabbed her clipboard off the counter. “Come with me. She’s in the bathroom at the moment. I’ll show you to the room and you can surprise her there.” She placed a hand on his hand. “I’ll even give you a few minutes alone.” A wistful smile crossed her lips. “I know how carried away you soldier boys get when you come back.”
“That would be greatly appreciated.” He followed her through the winding halls until they came to stop in front of a door labeled twenty-three. “Go on in. I’ll check on Paisley.”
He nodded his thanks entering the ordinary exam room. It was similar to most he’d been in with the exception of a small warmer on the corner of the counter holding what he thought was a squeeze bottle. It reminded him of the old bright red ketchup and yellow mustard bottles back home at the local Dairy Queen. Unlike those bottles it was white. Curious he lifted the bottle to read the label, before placing it back in the warmer. Ultrasound gel. His heart leapt. He prayed that he’d get a chance to listen to the baby’s heartbeat before Paisley tried to kick his ass out. Even without it being his fault, Paisley had every reason to be angry. He hadn't warned her about his family - and he should've.
Hearing low female voices he moved back into the corner of the exam room, where a chair was situated behind the door. With the privacy curtain he was partially blocked from the view from the doorway. Sending a quick prayer heavenward, he listened to the nurse’s voice and then Paisley’s reply.
* * * *
“Go on in, Paisley. There is a gown on the table. Go ahead and lose everything but your panties and Dr. Evanston will be in shortly.”
“Of course.” It was common to have Jamie leave her at the door of the exam room, especially if they were busy, but for some reason it felt odd today. Pushing the door open, she shut it and reached for the gown after setting her purse on the exam table. She snapped it open before chalking her nerves up to the wild pregnancy hormones that had been running rampant for the past seven months.
Reaching for the hem of her shirt, she stripped it off before folding it and placing it on the table. Still small despite the fact she was pregnant, she hadn’t worn a bra. The cool air teased her nipples, causing them to tighten. Kicking off her flats, she gave a shimmy as she hooked her fingers under the waistband of her maternity jeans. They pooled at her feet. Kicking them free, now wearing nothing but a tiny pair of bikini panties, she used a hand on the exam table to retrieve them. That’s when she heard the click of the lock on the door before a pair of dark hands slipped under her arms to slide over the curve of her belly, followed by a hoarse but eerily familiar moan of homecoming. It was the same sound Kaleb had made the first time he'd joined their bodies together.
Her eyes widened as she met Kaleb’s in the mirror hanging over the small sink. She hadn’t expected to see him again.
“Oh, sweetheart. You’re beautiful like this.” His hands cradled her distended belly, before he gently turned her in his arms. She stared at him flabbergasted as he dropped to his knees to wrap his hands around her hips, his face buried in against their baby. "Our baby."
Now what the hell was she supposed to do?
TO BE CONTINUED...