An hour later, Lindsay was smiling as Chad pushed her wheelchair out into the hallway. She’d been set free from one prison, getting home would determine what her privileges would be. She sighed, one battle at a time.
He placed his hands beneath her legs to lift her into the Serenity Inn van that they used to transport guests. As he leaned in, she cradled his face between her hands and brushed her lips against his.
His gaze met hers and he began to probe deeper. His heartbeat sped up and in that moment he knew it just wasn’t possible to love someone more than he loved her.
Everything about Lindsey made him want to be a better man brewing within him a strong belief that what they felt now was only the beginning of what it would be. These were the emotions he sought to convey to her with caress of his lips against hers. They finally pulled apart and smiled at each other as they rested their foreheads against the others.
“It’s almost like old times, isn’t it?” she whispered thinking of life before pregnancy… when they would sneak into the van for intense but restrained make-out sessions. Life before she learned pregnancy wasn’t going to be the romantic notion she’d always envisioned.
His eyes gentled. “Linds, it will always be that way between us babe. But for now, I just want to make sure that you and our baby will be safe.”
“I know sweetheart, but if I stay one more day in that hospital, I’ll go crazy. I have to be around my family home—at Serenity. I need to know what is going on.”
“Listen, you have a crew at the house that you’ve trained very well. They love you and know how important their jobs are. They want what’s best for you and our baby, too–”
Lindsey placed her finger against his lips. “I don’t care. I need to be there. You of all people should understand that.” Dropping her finger she looked away from him as frustration began to build within her.
Chad gently grasped her chin. “If I didn’t understand that, I wouldn’t have allowed them to release you two days early. Where do you think we’re going? Huh?” he asked as he began to tickle her. As she pulled away from him giggling, he swatted her hip.
“Always gotta be so dramatic!” he fussed, humor playing in his eyes just before he carefully closed her door.
Tears lined his bottom lids. He whisked them away with a finger and shook his head. He never thought he could feel like this about anyone, but Lindsay renewed his loved from day to day. Even when they didn’t agree, one look into her chocolate-brown eyes had him melting before long.
“And when we get home,” he continued as he slid beneath the steering wheel, “don’t think you’re off bedrest. In fact, I want some alone time with you. I need to hold you and put in some serious tummy talk time. My baby boy probably has forgotten my voice by now.”
“Oh please as if you would be quiet enough for that to happen,” she teased.
Chad chuckled, nodding. He spared her a look and thought how hard it would be not to make love to his beautiful wife. He started the engine and then reached out to touch an escaped tendril of hair.
Their eyes met and for just a second nothing else existed. He missed her. Missed connecting with her, being one with her. Walking and talking with her on their days off—all the things that the sickness seemed to have curtailed. He would never be able to get enough of his wife and there wasn’t a night he didn’t say a thankful prayer for her.
His eyes took in the shadows beneath her eyes and the gaunt, narrowing of her face. She looked so fragile. The pregnancy was really taking its toll. Whereas at first it opened up a freedom they hadn’t realized they’d not yet explored, the sickness began to tamper the activity they’d once enjoyed with passion and frequency. He ran his finger gently down her cheek before he turned from her and pulled out into traffic.
He felt her hand on his knee and he smiled at her as they got the green light. His heartbeat quickened at her touch and he decided at the very next red light he was gonna steal a kiss from her succulent cherry lips, particularly the one she was worrying with her teeth.
He turned onto the next road and then heard Lindsay scream just before he felt the impact of something that sent them into a spin. Chad tried to fight against the centrifugal force that held him in place away from where he sought, which was to protect Lindsay and their baby.
Her eyes were closed and a thin gash oozed blood on her forehead which the crack on the windshield explained. His heart clutched as he saw them nearing the opposite side of the mountain road and he prayed they would stop hurtling before over the side.
Suddenly everything stilled. Chad was afraid to move. Where were they in respect to the edge? He unsnapped his seat belt and eased toward Lindsay. He touched her neck seeking the rhythm of her heartbeat along her carotid artery. Slowly he let out the breath he hadn’t been aware that he’d been holding. There was a steady beat.
He was afraid to slide out of the truck away from her, even for the moment it would take to run around to the other side to free her. He felt for his cellphone and was grateful it had remained in his shirt pocket, removing it he made the 9-1-1 call. Just as he ended it the pungent odor of gas wafted toward him and now his heart began to bang against his ribs. What should he do? The dispatch had assured him help was on the way and based on Lindsay’s condition advised them to wait, but now with new circumstances he had to make a decision.
Slowly, he opened his door and sighed with relief to see solid earth beneath them on his side. But as he moved, he could feel and hear dirt dislodging and falling down the mountain. He froze in place, even as his heart tap danced against his ribcage and he fought to control his breathing so he could think as he realized the front of the truck on her side must be over the edge.
Chad leaned more over to his side, hoping his weight could counter the weight of hers. The van steadied but he knew it might only be a brief reprieve. A sooty scent and veil of smoke, permeating the air grabbed his attention.
Recognizing it was probably the result of the friction-burned tires and that it wouldn’t take much for the SUV to catch fire forced his hand. Deftly he unclasped her seat-belt before his hand grasped her arm and waist with all the power he could muster.
He snatched her across the seat, cradled her in his arms and ran, only just managing to slide in the ditch across the road as fire completely engulfed the SUV before it exploded causing the ground to rock all around them as it plunged over the side.
Just for a moment his eyes closed sending up a prayer of thanks as he continued to hold her against him. Suddenly, he went into doctor mode, barely conscious of the stinging scrapes on his arms and face as he lifted her out of the ditch and laid her flat before he checked her vitals.
Taking his jacket off, he covered the asphalt beneath her upper body. Her eyes were still closed but her pulse was good. He scanned the mountain road listening for the sirens of the ambulance that was supposed to be on the way. But wait a minute. Where was the other vehicle? Had it driven away or—
Leaving, Chad went to the edge where their vehicle had gone over and peered down. Sure enough a sixteen wheeler had begun its descent down the side of the mountain before thick brush stopped it. He could see a man lying a few yards down on a ledge. Chad wondered if he’d managed to jump or if he’d been flung from the vehicle on its way down.
Looking around him, his heart sank in dismay. There was no way he could help the man, not with Lindsay laying on the road. He turned back toward Lindsay and helplessly again down as he searched to see if he was moving.
The sounds he’d been waiting for filled the air and finally he could see the ambulance crest the hill and then move toward them. He looked down the mountain just in time to see the truck restart its descent downward. Before he could move, he was knocked flat.
The faces of the EMT’s were swimming in and out of his vision before him, one shining a flash light while he felt the soft fingers of another checking his vitals. He watched a sandy blond man’s mouth move, but he couldn’t make out what he was saying. Chad wasn’t really interested. Did they get to Lindsay? Do they know about the man on the ledge? He wondered why he couldn’t stand up. Though that didn’t keep him from trying. The image of the truck rolling replayed in his mind. The truck must have blown up.
He felt hands gently attempt to restrain him from moving as a gurney was set beside him. Still, his eyes searched. Where was she? He should have never left her side. What kind of husband leaves his wife on the side of the road? What if they hadn’t seen her and drove over her? Panic filled his chest, his breath started to come in short pants.
As if reading his mind, he was now face to face with Soft Hands which belonged to a brunette woman who was smiling at him, her violet eyes gentle with compassion. “Sir, we have her. You can relax. Take deep breaths, you’re in danger of hyperventilating.”
The sandy haired Tech looked beyond him, “Give him a shot, Josie before he hurts himself or us trying to get up from here.” He then rested his hand on Chad’s shoulder and looked him in the eye, “Is it your wife?” Without waiting for confirmation he continued, “You’re about to see her in just a moment. You both are being airlifted to the nearest hospital, okay? Blink twice if you understand me.”
Chad tried to lift and lower his lids in quick succession but found his lids didn’t want to lift again. They found Lindsay. That was his last thought. He exhaled, before darkness embraced him.
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