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Miracle Babies at Paddington's Children's Hospital

Written by Annie O'Neil

Chapter Nine

‘Is it all right if I just leave these here?’ Zach unceremoniously plonked the flowers down on the reception counter where a curly-blonde-haired woman was in deep discussion with a man who looked more suited to an ultra-elite business meeting in Europe than a children’s casualty ward. French, maybe. Or Italian? Whatever he was, the man had upper class written all over him. Maybe he was a donor receiving the grand tour.

Getting eye contact from anyone in the busy casualty ward was proving impossible so he turned to make his own discreet getaway before Isla could find him—coward that he was.

‘Robyn!’ The paramedic he’d seen in the courtyard came running in behind him. ‘Isla’s just fainted. Her waters broke. We’re thinking early contractions. Can you get a gurney out in the ambulance bay? Dominic’s bringing Penny up to Cardio for Dr. Scott and Alistair’s with Isla. We’re going to have to deliver here. No time to get her across to St. Mary’s.’

Zach felt like a bomb had just exploded in his head. Fragments of information were coming at him as he blindly followed the two doctors who’d instantly flown into action.

Fainted.

Contractions?

Waters breaking?

He was more used to confronting compound fractures than contractions but even a layman could paint a picture.

Isla was pregnant.

A child, a beautiful woman by his side—the two things he’d wanted most were within arm’s reach precisely at the moment he’d decided to walk away. He swept back across a mental calendar and tried to tally things up.

No. Unh-unh… They weren’t quite there. Didn’t quite match.

A father one second. A cuckold the next.

He knew more than most that life could be unkind. Right now it felt downright cruel.

As the doctors swept past him towards the ambulance bay something atavistic—near primeval—welled within him.

He’d come here to tell Isla face-to-face he wasn’t the man for her. To lay an explanation at her feet and let her do with it what she chose.

She deserved that much. More. A helluva a lot more. Things he couldn’t give her. Looked like someone had already beat him to it.

When he’d told her he expected to see her in a veil he’d meant it. And when she’d laughed at him he’d seen love in her eyes. Pure. Untethered. Love.

He’d left the hospital once. And something had made him turn around to fight. Well, now that he was back he may as well grind salt into his own wounds. Find out what not staying in touch had earned him.

Zach shored up strength he didn’t realise he’d possessed anymore and ran—actually ran—back out into the courtyard and pressed into the small group of doctors huddled around Isla.

It felt as though an invisible force were reaching into his chest and pulling his heart straight out of his ribcage when he saw Isla lying there, hair sprayed across the cobblestones like a small lake of gold arcing around her beautiful, far too pale face. Little freckles dabbled across her nose. Lips the colour of tea roses… Not that he was an expert or anything, but he could’ve given a description of Isla so detailed a blind man would’ve been able to picture her.

‘I’m sorry.’ The blonde doctor from Casualty gave him a solid look and pressed a hand out flat, indicating he needed to back up.

‘You’re going to have to step aside for the minute while we—’

Zach took a place on the side of the gurney as— Robyn, was it? Facts slipped into place. The Head of Surgery if memory served. She’d run one of the ENT modules in the course he’d been on with Isla. She and another doctor gently lifted and tipped a very pregnant Isla to the side, slipped a backboard under her, and on a three count lifted her onto a gurney.

Everything about this moment was wrong. He should be touching her. He should be helping her.

‘She’s my—’ he began, then stopped just as abruptly as all eyes turned expectantly towards him.

What exactly?

The love of his life?

Yes.

Girlfriend?

No.

Mother to the children he never thought he’d have?

Maybe.

And that was one helluva precious maybe.

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About the author

Annie O’Neil spent the bulk of her childhood in the library, nos...

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Annie O'Neil

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