Home > Until Autumn

Until Autumn
Author: Sheridan Anne

CHAPTER 1


 AUTUMN

 

 The fuck is going on here?

 I gape as I step through the Emergency Room doors of the most prestigious hospital in Nashville. This is far from what I expected. When I was assigned here, the first thing I thought of was beauty and grace. There was going to be order, structure, and the best times of my life, but this … no. This is far from it.

 It’s chaos. It’s like a scene from the worst kind of horror movie.

 People are rushing around while nurses are calling out. A heavily pregnant woman wails in pain as bodies sprawl on the dirty floor. I’ve never seen anything like it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s more seating in this ER than any other hospital I’ve worked in, there’s just that many patients today.

 I should have seen this coming. After getting caught in the storm outside without an umbrella and nearly driving off the road to avoid roadkill, I should have known that today was going to hold a few more nasty surprises for me. Things are never that easy. There’s always a hidden surprise lurking beneath the surface.

 This hospital has the best reputation in the state, and I’m so grateful that I get to work here under some of the best doctors in the country. I’m sure it’s not usually this crazy. Something must have happened to cause all these people to come rushing in here, but whatever it is, I’m just glad it’s got nothing to do with me. I take my hat off to the nurses and doctors who work in the ER. It’s hard work, but damn, it’s rewarding.

 The automatic doors close behind me, cutting off the raging storm outside and leaving me trapped with the chaos inside, somehow making it seem so much louder. I zone in on the pregnant woman who looks as though she’s about to strangle her husband. She’s waiting in a long line, and it’s clear that she hasn’t been seen yet, but judging by the agony on her face and the frustration on the man’s, I’d dare say that today’s visit is a little more than just a regular check-up.

 I start moving.

 Today is the first day of my midwifery training program. I’ve been nursing for the past five years, having to complete a bachelor’s degree and get the experience needed to finally get me here. Everything I’ve done has been to get to this point. Though this point is going to take me another three years of training. After that, I’ll be a fully qualified midwife, and all my hard work will have paid off.

 I twist and wind through the maze of bodies, ignoring the screeching coming from the pissed off lady demanding to be seen. I should probably sign in with my supervisor first and properly introduce myself, but with the state of this ER, and the stress written all over the attending nurses’ faces, it’s all hands on deck, even if they don’t know who I am yet.

 I reach the pregnant woman and gently place my hand on her shoulder, gaining her attention. “Excuse me, ma’am, have you been seen? Are you in labor?”

 “Oh, thank God,” she groans low. “We only just walked through the door and—AHHHHH. HOLY SHIT, ASHER. Why did you do this to me?”

 Her husband cringes and slips his arm around her waist, trying to give her as much support and love as he possibly can, making me ache knowing he’s probably wishing he could take her pain away. I quickly glance his way and am struck by his handsomely, angelic face. I stare for a moment too long, completely stunned, before remembering that his wife is in the worst pain of her life. I resist the urge to give her a high five for a job well done. I don’t know where she must have found him, but damn, she better hold on tight. Guys like that just don’t exist in my world. But then, she’s also just as beautiful. They’re like the perfect cover model couple.

 I put it to the back of my mind. There’s a time and place for all of that and now is definitely not it. I can only imagine my best friend KC on the phone tonight, asking me how my first day went. I don’t plan on explaining that I was too preoccupied gaping at the patient’s delicious husband to take care of her.

 This moment could define it all. I need to make an impression and I need to make it stick. There are so many other nurses in this place, but when a doctor needs one at their side, I want my name to be the one they think of.

 I’m just about to start assessing the woman when her husband straightens, using me to take out his frustrations. “What is going on in here? My wife is in pain. We’ve been waiting here for twenty minutes, and no one has even bother—”

 The woman’s elbow slams back into the guy’s ribs, cutting him off. “Leave her alone,” she says through a contraction. “Can’t you see that she only just walked through the door? Her shift probably hasn’t even started yet. Look, she’s soaking wet and still has her handbag on. Give the girl a break. It’s not her fault that it’s busy in here.”

 The guy looks over me with a curious stare as though he hadn’t noticed any of the things his wife just pointed out. I’m not fazed though, there are far more important things to worry about right now. His mouth drops as though he’s about to start apologizing, but I shrug it off and turn back to his wife. “How far apart are your contractions?”

 “I don’t know,” she says through a clenched jaw, grabbing onto her husband tighter and leaning against him, doing everything she can to try and relieve the pain. “Maybe every two or three minutes. I haven’t exactly been counting.”

 My eyes widen, but I try to keep my cool. This is a little more serious than I thought. “Okay,” I say, placing my hand on her lower back and turning her toward the elevator. “Let’s get you up to the maternity ward. We need to get you checked out ASAP.”

 She nervously glances back to the reception desk as her husband seems to sigh in relief. “Don’t I need to sign in or something like that?”

 I shake my head as she allows me to start leading her to the elevator. “Don’t worry about it. We can get all of that handled for you upstairs,” I tell her, hoping I’m right, but it sure beats her having to give birth in the middle of the busy ER with people all around, watching like hawks.

 “Is this your first?” I ask as we reach the elevator, her husband reaching out and pressing the call button before standing back and slowly rubbing his wife’s lower back, the same way he would have been shown during prenatal classes.

 “Fourth,” she grumbles, latching onto his hand and squeezing tight. “I have three little girls already and about to add a fourth.”

 My eyes bug out of my head. “Four little girls? Wow,” I say as a beaming smile tears across my face. “So, you must be a pro by now.”

 The man scoffs, very clearly amused, while his wife rolls her eyes. “I’d hardly call it being a pro. The first one was a trainwreck, the second was less than glamorous, and the third … we don’t talk about the third. Let’s just hope this one goes a little smoother.”

 “I’m sure it will,” I tell her as the elevator arrives. Asher places his hand on the side, keeping the door open as we walk through, and as we all make it safely into the elevator, I look at the vast array of buttons and gape.

 Which level is the maternity ward? I quickly scan through my options, trying my hardest not to look like an incompetent dickwad in front of these people. Luckily, Asher slams his hand down over the button for level four in his rush to get his wife to her doctor.

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