Ryder (Slater Brothers #4)(5) by L.A. Casey

My lips twitched. “They’re all harmless. Most of the time. To us girls... maybe you shouldn’t come now that I think of it.”

Ash belly laughed, and it caused me to smile, but the smile was instantly wiped from my face when an unholy scream came from down the hallway and the buzzer for code red sounded. Both Ash and I jumped to our feet. He took off in the direction of the room that signalled the emergency along with our other colleagues while I dove for the phone.

“OR,” a male voice answered on the second ring.

“Clear an OR, stat!” I breathed. “Code red on the delivery ward. Get Doctor Harris or the actin’ chief on shift prepared for an emergency C-section. Now.”

“Damn,” the man on the phone hissed. “I’m on it.”

The line went dead so I hung up the phone and rushed down to room two, the room that the red light was flashing above. I instantly felt sick and scared. In my four years at the hospital, I’d been on shift for seven code reds, and it never got easier. A code red on the delivery ward in my hospital meant a baby or mother flat lined—there was no trace of a heartbeat. The mother gets hooked up to a machine that tracks her and her baby’s heartbeat, a code red meant the machine triggered the alarm attached to the machine.

When either mother or baby flat line we had only a matter of minutes to perform a C-section to get the baby out before we could work on either of them. I knew it was the baby who flat lined as I neared the room because I could hear the mother’s screams and pleas for help. I entered the room and found who I guessed to be the father with his hands on the sides of his head and tears in his eyes, while Ash and another midwife, Jada, were holding down the mother-to-be.

I muscled my way into her view and grabbed hold of her cheeks. I had memorised her personal information from when I read her file at the nurses’ station and roughly said, “Samantha, listen to me right now!”

She could barely contain herself, but her eyes locked on mine and I knew I had her attention for a just a few moments before she went off the hinges again.

“We’re movin’ you down to the OR for an emergency caesarean section. We’re goin’ to get your son out and into the world within the next few minutes to try and save ‘im, and we can’t do that without you, okay? We need you to be strong for us. Can you do that for me, honey?”

“Okay,” she cried. “Just please save ‘im. Promise me you will. Please.”

I nodded, because I couldn’t say the words aloud in case they turned out to be a devastating lie.

Everything passed by in a blur as myself, Ash and the father of the baby rushed Samantha down to floor two of the hospital and checked her into the OR where Doctor Harris and his team were ready and waiting.

“Ninety-one seconds since code red was activated. Well done, Branna,” Doctor Harris said and patted my shoulder. “Good time from you and your team.”

I nodded and released Samantha into their care. I stood like a statue and watched as the double doors to the OR swung shut. I heard Doctor Harris bark orders for a catheter and IV lines to be placed on Samantha, and for her abdomen to be cleaned with disinfectant. I held my breath seconds later as he announced he was administrating anaesthesia. As it was an emergency, Samantha would be out under general anaesthesia in a matter of seconds and would not be awake to witness the birth of her son.

I jumped when an arm hooked around my neck and pulled me into a firm chest. I knew it was Ash without having to look up. I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around his waist and squeezed. He kissed the crown of my head and said, “We got her down here fast and Doc Harris is already making the incisions for the section. If anyone can save the baby, it’s him and his team.”

I knew that, but it didn’t take away the fear I felt.

“I always get so invested,” I whispered. “How can I help patients when I let me emotions take over?”

Ash held me out at arms length so I opened my eyes and looked up at him. “Listen to me,” he said firmly. “When Sally isn’t on shift with us, you are the mother of the ward. You’re in charge, and that responsibility doesn’t fall on your shoulders because you’re sweet and kind, it’s because you’re a damn good midwife. You heard Doc Harris, we got her down here in ninety-one seconds and that is thanks to you.”

I felt my lower lip wobble. “Thanks, Ash.”

He winked. “No thanks necessary, kid.”

Kid.

I managed a snort. “I’m four years older than you.”

“Age is just a number, baby.”

I chuckled, but closed my mouth when I heard commotion in the OR. I gripped onto Ash’s arm when I heard a cheer. The doors opened slightly, and the beautiful sound of a newborn’s cry filled the hallway.

“Yes!” I squealed and jumped onto Ash who was laughing as he caught me mid-air.

He swung me around then set me on the ground and gave me a tight squeeze. We waited ten minutes for Samantha’s incision to be stitched closed and for the baby to be checked over. We both turned to a smiling Doctor Harris who rid himself of his surgical scrubs when he exited the OR. He gave me a hug and bumped fists with Ash, which caused me to smile wide. Doctor Harris was fifty-five, and watching him bump fists with someone never failed to amuse me.

“This is on you, and your team,” he told us both. “You did great. The baby is breathin’ on his own, and the mother’s vitals are steady, too. We’ll admit him into ICU for observation, but he looks good. Well done.”

A fresh surge of relief hit me.

“Thank God,” I breathed.

Ash and I left the OR and headed back up to the delivery ward with an extra spring to our step. After we informed our colleagues that both Samantha and her baby were okay, we settled back behind the nurses station.

“It’s hard to believe it’s not even nine am yet,” Ash said with a shake of his head.

I nodded in agreement. “It’s goin’ to be a long day.”

“Thank God for tea,” Ash mused making me laugh.

Thank God for him. I wholeheartedly knew I wouldn’t be able to do this job without him. He was my partner in crime and we fed off each other in our field of work. I was lucky to have him in my life. Having good friends made even the darkest of times seem bright.

“Was it scary?” Dominic asked, his eyes wide.

I had just finished telling him about the code red on the ward that morning while Bronagh was upstairs in the bathroom.

I nodded and said, “It’s always scary. I hate code reds.”

Dominic nodded in understanding then glanced towards the kitchen door when we heard Bronagh descend the stairs. I reached over and touched his arm. “Don’t mention it to ‘er. I never tell ‘er about them because it upsets ‘er, but now that she is pregnant I don’t want ‘er to be scared that somethin’ like that might happen to her.”

Dominic nodded once, then turned his attention to Bronagh when she entered the room. She placed her hands on her hips and sighed, deeply. “I’m so fat.” She frowned. “It took me a whole sixty seconds to get meself off the toilet.”

I snickered while Dominic tilted his head to the side.

“Fat?” he questioned. “And here I thought you were pregnant. Man, you had me fooled.”

Bronagh gave him the finger. “Bite me, Fuckface. You did this to me.”

“You bet your phat ass I did,” he grinned, unfazed by the insult.

To be fair, Fuckface had made the transition from an insult to a term of endearment years ago, and I figured that was why Dominic never minded it.

I smiled while Bronagh moved to the end of the kitchen counter. She—stupidly—tried to jump up and sit on the counter like she had always done in the past, but now that she was pregnant it was dangerous, and hilarious, because she could never get up onto the counter without help.

“Dominic,” I mused. “Give her a hand.”

He got up, moved to Bronagh and carefully lifted her up on the counter. My sister watched him and smiled which caused him to smile too.

“Why’re you looking at me like that?” he asked, amused.

“You didn’t struggle liftin’ me, that means I’m not that fat yet.”

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