Author's Note: Hey everyone, thank you for all of the wonderful reviews this story has gotten! This is the last chapter, but if you guys all want me to, I will write either an epilogue or a sequel... it's up to you! ;-) Anyway, thanks again, and enjoy!
I sat there in the dark kitchen waiting for what seemed like forever. I looked over at the clock. Over an hour had passed. Something was definitely wrong.
Starting to get worried, I picked up the phone and called Derek's cell phone. No answer.
I was about to wake up Mom and George, when I heard a knocking on the door. Why would Derek knock on his own door? Confused, I wrapped my bathrobe more tightly around my swollen belly and opened the front door.
It was the police.
"Sorry to wake you, Miss," the police officer said. There was another officer standing a bit behind him. I peered over at the police car. Its lights were still flashing red and blue.
"I'm Office Carlson. Is this the home of a," he glanced down at his little notepad, "Derek A. Venturi?"
My eyes widened. Horrible thoughts began flooding my head. "Y-yes. He's my stepbrother."
The officer simply nodded. "Are your parents home, Miss…"
"Casey," I told him putting out a hand to stop him. "W-what's going on? Is Derek okay?"
"I need to speak with your parents, Casey," he said in this annoying tone of authority.
I wanted to scream. As quickly as I could, I ran down the stairs to the basement-turned-into-parents'-bedroom.
"Mom!" I shouted, stopping at the foot of their bed.
Mom bolted upright with a start. "Casey, honey, what's wrong?" she quickly went over to me, staring at my stomach. Of course she thought it had something to do with the baby.
I shook my head quickly. "The police are here."
"What?" Mom looked over at George, who was now sitting up in bed.
"The police?" George looked confused.
I started shaking. I knew something was terribly wrong. "Derek went out to go get me ice cream over an hour ago. I think—I think something happened."
"Oh no," George was now on his feet.
The two of them moved quickly up stairs and I followed behind them as fast as I could. The police were still at the door where I had left them.
"Mr. and Mrs. Venturi?" the policeman asked, looking at George and Mom.
They both nodded.
"What's going on?" George asked immediately.
"I'm afraid there's been an accident," the officer replied sullenly.
I felt my knees wobble and my whole body get amazingly stiff. I grabbed on to my Mom.
"Oh dear God," Mom whispered.
"What happened?" I could tell George was trying to keep himself calm.
"Is Derek alright?" Mom added, clutching her chest with one hand and me with the other.
"I don't know all of the details at this moment, but it looks like Derek and the car he was driving was hit by a drunk driver on Westfield Street. The driver of the other car didn't survive the crash, but Derek is in critical condition at Holystone General Hospital."
My mind and body turned numb. All I could feel were the silent tears streaming down my face. I couldn't hear anymore of what the officer, George, and Mom said. It was like someone had put plugs in my ears so I could only hear muffled voices but no actual words. I stood there, being held up by my mother as the three of them spoke.
I really tried to focus on what they were saying. It took a lot more concentration than it should have.
"…see him?" Mom started coming clear again.
"I don't think they'll let you see him right now, but I can take you to the hospital so you can speak with the doctor and medical staff," Officer Carlson answered.
Mom looked at George. "You go, honey. I'll stay here with the kids," she put a hand on his arm for support.
George nodded slowly.
I found my voice.
"I'm coming," I announced, looking dazedly at George and the officer.
Mom patted my hand. "Maybe that's not such a good idea, honey. You don't want to upset the baby."
"It's already upset," I snapped. And it was. It was doing flips inside my belly, knowing I was upset. And maybe it knew that its father was hurt.
"You can come to the hospital in a few hours, Casey. I'll call you as soon as I get any kind of information. I promise," George looked completely calm on the exterior. But I knew inside he was falling apart. I could tell by the twitch in his eyes and how he kept rubbing his fingers together in a rapid motion.
And I began crying. I wept into my mother's arms as I heard George leave with the police. She rubbed my back and tried to calm me down.
"It's my fault," I sobbed. "He went out to get ice cream for me."
"Shh, it's not your fault," Mom replied. "It's not your fault, honey. Accidents happen."
"No, it is my fault," I felt so guilty. Then, my mind wandered. It wasn't my fault. It was the stupid baby's fault. Suddenly, I detested the thing in my stomach.
"I'm sure Derek will be just fine, sweetheart," Mom told me. But she didn't know that. They were just empty words meant to make me feel better. They didn't.
Mom brought me over to the couch and sat me down. "I'm going to go get us some tissues and make us some tea," she said, trying to make things a bit lighter.
I just breathed heavily, wiping my leaking eyes. She vanished to go get her tea and Kleenex, and I stared down at my stomach, cursing the baby through gritted teeth.
That's the exact moment the pain began.
"AUGHH!" I screamed suddenly, doubling over in pain. It felt like knives were going through my stomach. I had never felt anything so excruciating in my life.
Mom came rushing into the room, and swore loudly when she saw me on the floor clutching my stomach. I had never heard her swear before.
And then I blacked out from the pain.
The next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital bed, my Mom and Lizzie both staring down at me nervously. I blinked several times, wondering just what the hell I was doing there.
"Casey?" Lizzie asked, her voice soft and unsure.
I rubbed my blurry eyes and then looked over at her. "What am I doing here?" I asked, my voice raspy and hoarse.
"We had to rush you to the emergency room," Mom said, looking relieved to see me talking. "I thought you were having a miscarriage."
Suddenly everything came flooding back to me. And I felt this overwhelming remorse for having hated the baby, even for the split moment that I did. I tried to sit up, but some wires that they had hooked up to me wouldn't let me.
"Is the baby okay?" I practically cried, quickly looking down at my stomach. It was still round, and had wires attached to it by little suction cups.
Mom gently took my arm, trying to relax me. "The baby's fine, honey. He was just responding to your stress, and there was a bit of a tear in your uterine wall. The doctor said that the two of you will be fine. You just have to take it easy from now on and keep yourself relaxed."
I took a deep breath, my eyes closing in relief for a moment. I placed a hand on my stomach, reconnecting with my baby. Apologizing for my ridiculous comments. Silently telling it I loved it. Then I opened my eyes and looked up at my mother.
"Wait," I paused, realizing something. "Did you say 'he'?"
Mom smiled widely. "I did. The doctor said you're having a little baby boy."
Derek had been right! I smiled brightly, excited to tell him, and then, as quickly as it had come, the smile faded. Derek!
"Is Derek okay?" I tried to bolt up again, but, as before, the wires kept me down.
"He's doing much better. His left arm had to be operated on, but they said it should be fine—"
"He can still play hockey. Well, in a few months," Lizzie interrupted.
"Right," Mom agreed. "And he has a black eye, a dislocated shoulder—"
"They popped it back into place," Lizzie made a face.
"And some cuts and bruises. Nothing too major," Mom answered. "They just had a hard time waking him up after the accident. They thought he was going to be a lot worse than he is."
"All he keeps doing is asking about you and the baby," Lizzie added.
"George told him you were rushed to the emergency room, but that you're fine," Mom filled me in.
"Can I see him?" I asked.
"I'll go ask the nurse," Mom smiled. She leaned over and kissed my forehead. "I'm glad you're okay, Casey. The baby, too." She pulled back. "My grandson," she said cheekily.
I gave a big smile for the first time in so long.
The nurse made me eat something before she took off all of the wires and junk off of me. She told me I had to be very careful and stay more relaxed because of the tear. I also had to do minimal physical activity. That meant not finishing my last few days of school, which I didn't care about anyway. Then they wheeled me into Derek's room in a wheelchair.
Derek was sitting upright on his hospital bed, talking with Marti, who was sitting at his side. George and Edwin were at the side of the room.
He looked up when I came into the room, focusing solely on me.
"Marti, let's give Derek and Casey some privacy," George said graciously. Everyone left and it was just me and Derek.
I got up and walked carefully to the chair next to his hospital bed.
"Casey," he said simply, so many emotions in his voice.
"Derek," I could only respond back, my eyes filling up with tears again.
I laced my fingers through his, needing to feel his warm skin. To know that he was alive.
"You really scared me," I said gently to him.
"Ditto," he responded, his voice just as soft. He eyed my stomach.
"You were right," I gave him a smile. "It's a boy."
I watched his eyes light up.
"You knew it," I gave a short laugh.
"Ah, Case," he reached over and cupped my cheek. His eyes were full of wonder and happiness. He gave a slow smile.
I felt another tear fall and I closed my eyes as the pad of his thumb brushed it away.
"I was so scared," I whispered to him. "I thought you were dead."
He gave a teasing grin. "I couldn't leave Derek Jr. here without a dad."
I gave a sad smile and looked away. "I blamed myself for the accident. And then I blamed the baby."
"Hey," he turned my face to look at him again. I studied his face. His right eye was swollen almost completely shut, and he had a huge gash on his forehead. There were two bruises on his cheeks. But he was alive. "It wasn't your fault or his fault. It was the drunk driver who plowed into me."
"But if I hadn't made you get ice cream—"
"I offered," he reminded me.
I sighed heavily. "But if I hadn't been craving it in the first place."
"Not your fault," he said. "Or the baby's fault. Anyway, it doesn't matter, right? I'm alive." He smirked.
I searched his face. "Thank god. I'm not raising this baby alone, Derek Venturi."
He chuckled and brushed the hair off of my face. His eyes probed mine as he suddenly got serious. "When I heard you were taken to the E.R., I thought the worst."
I nodded solemnly. "Me too. I thought the baby was gone."
His expression got very un-Derek-like. "I love him already, Case. So much."
I covered his hand with my own. "I know. I do, too."
"I'd never been so terrified in my life," he continued, his feelings completely out in the open and naked in front of me. "But not just because I thought I was going to lose the baby, but I thought I was going to lose you too."
I moved in closer to him, searching his eyes, searching his soul. And finding what I least expected.
"I love you, Case," he put it into words. Soft, honest words.
It felt hard to swallow all of the sudden as I stared at him. His face became blurred as my eyes filled with tears again. His thumb brushed against my trembling lower lip.
"I love you, too," I was barely able to breathe out, barely believing that he actually felt the same way.
He smiled a full-out smile, gently pulling me closer to him. He kissed me then, and I felt that same emotion coming from him that I could never identify. I had been right all along.
It was love.
The End :-)