Chapter 18: "The Waiting Game"

Most all the seats in the waiting room where taken. Louis and Lyla sat together next to Marshall, who sat across from Dylan, watching her intently. Dylan sat next to Mr. Jeffries who ran a hand against her back. Next to him sat Margene Boyer diagonally across from Darling Diamond, who typed furiously into her phone trying her best to ignore Averil, who despite having taken Arthur and Evan to her mother's to spend the night, had returned with take-out and foam cups of coffee for everyone; a dinner that remained untouched.

"Oh, finally!" a woman's voice broke their shared silence. Averil and Louis recognized her as Mrs. Hammond, Darling Diamond's publicist. Peter Graham, the manager, accompanied her. "We've been looking everywhere for you. Now tell me, what's the situation? How much damage control are we talking about?"

"Damage control?" Louis scoffed, "She can't be any worse than Hope or Ms. Lane or even her own daughter!"

"I am so sick of you people judging me!" Darling Diamond whined. "Have you any idea what I've been through? I got pregnant when I was very young, had a shut-gun wedding and then my mother died—I didn't want that life and now I'm suddenly sucked right back to it! And it's all your fault!" She signaled at Margene Boyer.

"I don't expect to be forgiven, so I'm not going to apologize," Margene said crossing her legs. "How could you expect me to give your child up for caprice when I can't have children of my own? How could you and my brother be so inconsiderate as to even ask me to do it for you?"

"Why didn't you adopt her then?" Darling cried. "Why be so selfish to keep anyone else from doing so?"

"You are all selfish!" Averil yelled. "Not one of these reasons have anything to do with Elle! They do however, say a lot about you."

"Could we please calm down?" Mr. Jeffries always played peacemaker. "We're in the hospital. This is no place for reproaches."

The pediatric surgeon in charge of Elle's case walked into their waiting area, were surprisingly Averil greeted him. "You're taking on this case?"

"Yeah," he smiled. "This is where you had to be?"

Averil took his hand. He was a tall, dark man with evident dimples when he smiled, "These are my brothers, Louis and Marshall Connelly. Guys, this is my husband, Grayson Foreman." Averil didn't think it wise to introduce Diamond as her other half sibling.

They shook hands. Louis couldn't believe their luck, "You're treating Elle?"

"How is she?" Lyla interjected.

"I didn't know my patient was also my niece," Dr. Foreman sighed. Nobody corrected him. "She's… well, she's going to be alright. To be quite honest, her state is miraculously amazing from the fall she survived. She has a few broken ribs and several other bruises plus a couple of stitches to the side to the side of her hand on a broken arm."

"So she's broken, but not in danger?" Margene asked.

"Let's not minimize the severity of her fall. The child is still unconscious. We don't know how hard was the hit to her head or the damage it might have caused. Everything seems normal, but this has been no easy procedure. She'll be with us for quite some time."

"When can we see her?" Lyla asked.

Dr. Foreman turned to her, "I guess I could make an exception and have the parents see her." He put a hand on Lyla's back and with the other signaled the way.

Lyla looked at Louis. Margene and Darling stared at them and then back at one another.

"Gray," Averil intervened. "They're not her parents. Ms. Diamond and this lady here are her real family."

"You two are still not asleep?" Bridget asked Arthur and Evan. She had been busy putting Crowley to sleep as the rambunctious toddler put up a fight. He wanted to continue playing with the bigger boys.

Arthur and Evan where really no good company tonight, but the toddler was fascinated by them and they found his pull irresistible. They played for a while, especially after hearing that Hope would be fine. Bridget explained what dehydration meant and that it had caused the fever and faint. She also showed them how to pray for their friends as they came out of the operation room.

"I promised I would wake you if your parents called. Why don't you try to get some rest?"

"I can't." Arthur said. "It's my fault. I asked Aug and Elle to come with me and now Ms. Lane's in trouble."

"It was not a wise decision you made, but it was a heartfelt one." Bridget said caressing his face, "I don't think it was your fault. When this whole scare is over, you'll see that you've learned and a bad thing can turned into a good thing. Nobody can blame you for an accident."

"I'm sorry about your arm, Aug…" he said to Evan, regardless of what Mrs. Lawton told him.

Evan's hand was badly sprained, so a pediatric doctor in the E.R. decided to put a cast on it. His parents tried not to make a fuss and even helped him choose a cast with color. But the blue cover around his arm was just as heavy as his heart. "It's not your fault. We all wanted to help. Even Elle came back to do it."

"Came back from where?" Bridget was a good listener.

"I don't know," Evan felt he could tell her anything, and so it went for Arthur. "Her parents don't love her, so she was living with us."

"Not anymore," Arthur reminded him.

"I thought she was bad, but she wasn't."

Arthur was surprised at Evan's confession.

"Why did you think that, Evan?" Bridget asked putting a hand on his cheek.

Bridget felt warm and smelt like sugar. Evan liked her very much.

"She's in our class and was very mean to teachers, especially Ms. Novacek, Aug—Evan's mom." Arthur explained. "Don't feel bad, man. I thought she was mean too!"

"But I thought she was there to break my family," Evan said crying a little. "I… I sometimes feel like I don't fit in with my mom and dad."

"I know that feeling," Arthur said. He was sure Mr. Jeffries was angry at him. In fact, he thought his recently adoptive father blamed him for what happened to Ms. Lane. "But at least they're your real parents."

"I wasn't adopted, but I know how bad it feels when you think you don't belong," Bridget told them. "I fear Crowley will feel like that one day, being adopted and all. I was even against Averil and Gray adopting internationally, but then I thought… he's going to grow up someday—you two are going to grow up someday, and I hope you will think to those moments when you felt inadequate and laugh."

"Laugh?" Evan seemed skeptical.

"Yes, laugh. I heard you were in a foster home and that you, Arthur, lived on the streets. Well, which do you like better? The streets or your new home? Foster home or being with your parents?"

"That's easy!" Arthur said. "We all know we're better off now!"

"Then stop thinking about how strange it feels—you know it feels better than what you had before." Bridget smiled. "My mother always said that when things seem the worst possible, they were about to get better!"

"How did she know?" Evan asked.

"Because after you've been down there's no other place to go but up!"

Reverend James was in the pediatric ward visiting with Hope. She was finally asleep when Lyla, Dylan and Mr. Jeffries came from the lower floor to visit.

"How is she doing?" Lyla asked running a hand through Hope's legs.

"She's receiving her fluids through the I.V., but that's only temporary," Reverend James explained. "She was up earlier and ate a little bit of gelatin and a chicken broth. Dr. Foreman decided to give her a small dosage of sleeping medication when she became uneasy asking about her friends; apparently, in her state, she could hear them."

"How much does she know about what happened?" Dylan asked choking a sob.

"Not much." The Reverend sighed. "I couldn't bring myself to tell her about Ms. Lane. She only knows that Elle is hurt because she recalls having heard her screaming."

"I'm just glad she's going to be fine," Dylan started crying. "That was my sister's biggest preoccupation."

"Come on Dylan, let's go outside." Lyla ordered. Ms. Snow's crying worsened again and she didn't want Hope to wake up to it.

"We're all devastated," Mr. Jeffries added. "I don't know what Arthur was thinking."

"He's very courageous… but then again, ignorance is bliss." Reverend James told him.

"Well, I don't know what I'm going to do about it…" Mr. Jeffries said, unable to admit to the Reverend his true feelings. He was angry. So angry at Arthur in fact, that he questioned if he could ever love him like he had his daughter Mira. Richard Jeffries had played this waiting game before and had lost everything. He couldn't help feeling like it was happening all over again.

"Richard, what is wrong? We haven't known each other very long, but I can tell…"

"I don't know, Reverend." Mr. Jeffries sat on the chair the Reverend had left empty. "I'm trying really hard not to blame him, but…"

"For disobeying, finding Hope or because of Ms. Lane's injury?" Reverend James interrupted.

Mr. Jeffries looked at him, "I don't know."

"As worried as I became when Louis called me, I must admit I am rather thankful to Arthur and the rest of the kids. I can't help wondering what would have happened to Hope had we taken an additional day to find her?"

"Did she tell you why she fled?" Mr. Jeffries changed subjects.

"She said after she was removed from Ms. Lane's care and no one came back for her," he sighed. "She set out to find her father hoping he would want to keep her."

"Even they think of themselves as puppies."

"I don't think that's it." Reverend James said. "I think in their world everything is just simple. Hope doesn't see the complexity of raising a child and was hoping Ms. Lane would choose to keep her as she had chosen Ms. Lane to care for her."

"No doubt a thought fueled by Arthur's crazy idea!"

"About that, Mr. Jeffries," Reverend James cleared his throat. "How crazy of an idea is it?"

"Reverend! How can you ask me that question?"

"Please do not take offense as that is not my purpose." He opened his palms on his chest, "Do forgive me. My curiosity sparked from your uneasiness about Ms. Lane's condition. I apologize."

"She's one of my oldest and dearest friends… she introduced me to Janine… we know each other well…" Mr. Jeffries wanted it all to seem very clean, but the kissed the shared some time ago invaded his memories.

"She's part of your family and therefore has become part of Arthur's. Now she is also a part of Hope's… I guess we're as much at fault at fueling that thought that they are puppies, you know? We form a bond with these children and sometimes threaten to leave them as if they were nothing more than strays…"

Reverend James's words caused Mr. Jeffries to think. "I'm not strong enough to let go of Janine and Elmira."

"No one should even think to ask you to be strong enough to leave them aside, heavens no!" Reverend J said, "But are you willing to pass on other opportunities or let go of other people grasping to a reality that is no more? Memories, emotions, feelings are one thing… but life is made up of other tangible aspects and faith… so much more."

"What do you mean, Reverend?"

"Just that, Mr. Jeffries." He answered seriously, "I do not know any different than what goes through my heart. You are the sole owner of yours."

Lyla held Dylan's long, dark hair for her. Crying was enough to get her started vomiting again. Though Lyla was looking away and there was nothing particularly disgusting about her throwing up, Lyla was getting lightheaded and had to leave her mid vomit.

"Thanks a lot…" Dylan said exiting the stall and walking over to the sinks where Lyla was standing.

"Well… what did you expect?" Lyla said looking away as her friend rinsed her mouth and washed a lock of hair. "No more excuses though, Dylan. I think it's time."

Dylan looked at the woman in scrubs next to her. She looked disgusted by Dylan's vomited lock of hair.

"I'm serious." Lyla insisted.

"We'll know in a couple of months, so it's not necessary," Dylan washed her face.

"A real pregnancy test is necessary!" Lyla looked at her now. "I would want one."

"Then you take one," Dylan said braiding her hair. "My sister's life could be in danger… I can't think of that right now."

"Pregnancy testing is real simple, you know…" the woman in the scrub intervened.

"See?" Lyla agreed. Dylan hated when other people butted in her conversations.

"We could take a urine sample and you'd know in a couple of minutes." She smiled, "I can do it. At this time there's hardly anyone, so it wouldn't take five minutes!"

"You've been on Marshall's radar all night. We are definitely doing this!" Lyla said.

"It really is a fast procedure." The nurse insisted and before Dylan could object, Lyla pushed her to it.

They followed Nurse Joyce to the lab where she handed them both a urine cup for the sample. Lyla returned her cup, but Dylan insisted.

"I've been pregnant before Dylan, I would know if I was…"

"So? I don't care." Dylan said. "If I'm not pregnant then Marshall's officially off the hook. If I am, then I'll just hand him your results and I'll get him off the hook."

"And then what?" Lyla remembered Dylan wanted to 'take care of it' herself.

"I haven't thought that far. Just… Lyla… please… pee in the damn cup!"

Lyla rolled her eyes and entered the bathroom before Dylan. Then she waited for Dylan outside. After Dylan was done they handed their cups to the nurse who asked them to wait a couple of minutes amid Dylan's protesting. Nurse Joyce did promise her it wouldn't take longer than five. Lyla sat Dylan next to her and they uninterestedly browsed through some old magazines.

"She's everything I got left you know…" Dylan said softly. "What is she doesn't make it?"

Lyla knew exactly what Ms. Snow was talking about. Ms. Lane had been shot in the abdominal area and the doctor warned them that some organs could bleed profusely causing death. Her injury required urgent surgery as they had to keep her from suffering of insufficient blood in the circulatory system. Ms. Lane would need procedures to extract the bullet and recover broken tissue. They had no news of her for a couple of hours and as good news for Hope and now Elle were delivered, the wait for good news on Ms. Lane's behalf became unbearable.

"I've never met a stronger, fiercer woman." Lyla smiled thinking about her relationship to Ms. Lane. "I'm sure she'll pull through."

Dylan's phone went off. She looked at the screen and gave it to Lyla, "You answer it."

Lyla looked at the screen. Marshall's name was flashing, "I think you should…"

"Please."

Lyla pressed the button and took the phone to her ear. "Hello?" She received the information struggling to keep calm. She assumed she wasn't doing very good at it, as Ms. Snow looked at her alarmed.

"What? What happened?" Dylan asked.

"It's Ms. Lane… the doctor wants to see you…" Lyla didn't get to finish her sentence when Dylan flew by her and was out the laboratory doors. A cold shiver prevented Lyla from reacting or even standing up. This was the update they've been waiting for but she wasn't sure she could deal with it.

"Ms. Novacek?" Nurse Joyce called. "I got your results." As on autopilot, Lyla dragged her feet to the counter. "Would you like me to put these in envelopes?"

Lyla grabbed one of the papers, "Uh, yeah. That other one, please." She skimmed through it. Pregnant it said. "Oh. This isn't mine."

"I apologize, then…" The nurse checked the paper she had folded into the envelope. She read and gave it to her, "Here you go Ms. Snow."

"Oh, I'm not Ms. Snow…" Lyla corrected. "Did you mix up or samples?" She said skimming through the second paper now in her hand. Pregnant, it read. "Are these from just one sample?"

"No." Nurse Joyce became nervous. She was tired from her shift, but never tired enough to start mixing things up. She wouldn't have agreed to do it if she felt such limitation. "Which one are you?"

"I'm Lyla Novacek."

Nurse Joyce put on latex gloves and checked the containers. She had written their names on the label as was always done and made sure she had written their names correctly. "I wrote them right, did I give you the wrong container?" She threw away her glove, washed her hands and revised the papers spread out on the counter.

"I don't remember?" Lyla explained. "I know I gave you mine back, but Dylan insisted so I took it back."

"It doesn't make a difference anyways, miss. The results are the same: you are both pregnant."

Lyla took the papers back from Nurse Joyce. Indeed the results where the same and her name did appear on one of them, versus that other one which had Ms. Snows.

"Can we do it again?"

Louis had gone to find Mr. Jeffries. Marshall had been instructed to keep put as Averil had volunteer to search for Dylan and Lyla. He didn't understand why everyone had to run all over the hospital so he took initiative and called Dylan. Besides, he was still debating whether to talk to her or not.

Mrs. Hammond loudly closed her laptop and let out an exaggerated yawn."It is getting late—or rather I should say early. We should head on home. We can do the same as here more comfortably."

Marshall watched. He couldn't believe Mrs. Hammond's attitude and didn't want to miss, Darling Diamond's reaction. Or Margene Boyer's who sat up straighter when the idea was suggested.

"Give me about fifteen more minutes," Darling said coolly. "I texted Nick and he finally answered. He'll be coming around shortly."

The doctor who had operated Ms. Lane came back out, "Is Ms. Andrea Lane's family here?"

"Not yet," Marshall answered, just as Dylan showed up.

"I'm here! I made it…" she walked up to the doctor. "What's up, doc? How's my sister?"

The doctor didn't smile so Dylan didn't think she had a reason to be humorous. Dr. Ellis took a deep breath and sighed. "Please follow me…" she said and took Dylan with her. Marshall decided to follow them regardless.

"Marshall?" Louis and Mr. Jeffries arrived. "What's going on?"

"I don't know," he returned to them. "Maybe you should go," he said to Mr. Jeffries. "The doctor and Dylan went that way. I think it's serious."

Mr. Jeffries ran after them just as Nick Agostino came in. The Connelly brothers decided to stay and watch.

"Finally!" Darling said to him.

"Excuse me, but my wife is in labor. I'm supposed to be on the seventh floor." He said to Darling and then pointed at Margene, "What is she doing here?"

"Where else would I be? I am your sister aren't I?" Margene said, provoking her brother.

"Melody was hurt. She was playing with some friends or something and a fire escape collapse while she was on it…" Darling explained, rather inaccurately. Louis wondered if she was hiding from Nick what really happened or if that was what she really understood. "The doctor says she'll be ok."

"That's why you called me over twenty times?" Nick was upset.

"I'm sorry it wasn't Armageddon." Louis said and Marshall chuckled.

"Stay out of this, ok?" Nick said to him and then turned to Darling, "Cora, you know that I'll always be there for you, but if the doctor says she was fine, what do you expect me to do? I'm not a doctor, I'm a musician…"

"Not a very good one…" Marshall mumbled, though clear enough for him to hear. Nick ignored it.

"Nick," Darling said taking hold of his shoulders. "She's still our kid. The hospital needed all sorts of authorizations and information that I don't have!"

"Oh and I do?" he chuckled. "Should have asked Margie."

"I did know some of that information, but I don't have the legal rights to her, you do!" Margene became upset.

"And whose fault is that?" Nick asked.

"Is that really important now?" Louis asked.

"You two seriously need to grow up!" Margene told Nick and Darling while grabbing her purse to go.

"I'm gonna go," Darling said grabbing her bag and signaling her publicist and manager. "I can't deal with any of this! I'll have my people call yours…" she said heading to the elevator with her team.

"Good, Darling!" Nick yelled. "I have a wife to return to!" He followed them out and called the elevator.

Averil came from their direction confused as to the spectacle that she walked into when the elevator stopped. "What happened?"

Louis sighed, "Elle was abandoned again…"

Ms. Lane resisted the operation, but wasn't doing very well. The doctors were unable to remove the bullet as doing so could have caused severe bleeding to the patient who'd already lost a fair amount of blood. She would need a transfusion and after speaking to the doctors, Dylan's pregnancy made her ineligible. Dylan was allowed to visit with her for a while in the Intensive Care Unit. It was heartbreaking to see her otherwise intimidating, fashionable sister lying in a cold, hospital bed and looking as vulnerable as she did.

"I'm tempted to paint her lips red," she said between sniffs when she felt Mr. Jeffries hand on her shoulder.

"That would make her seem a bit more like our Andy…" he said. Though Dr. Ellis refused to let a second person in, Dr. Foreman convinced her otherwise. "She'll be ok."

"I can't imagine you believe that," Dylan turned to look at him. "This must remind you so much of what you went through with Janine and Elmira. I know it reminds me of my parents."

Mr. Jeffries didn't want her to hear his voice breaking. It did remind him of Janine, especially because Janine had a chance to survive. She had opened her eyes and while she couldn't speak, having heard her daughter was dead limited all the chances for a full recovery. Her pleading eyes, begging Mr. Jeffries allow her to go with Mira, was forever fixed in his memory. Sometimes he wondered if he resented his wife for that decision.

"We haven't always gotten along, but she's all that I have left and I don't want her to leave me."

"She won't. Andy's very loyal…"

"That's true." Dylan chuckled, "Did you know she had the hugest crush on you?"

"What? No." Mr. Jeffries marveled at this new bit of information.

"She did. But I don't know why she was so intimidated. She practically forced Janine between you, but I guess it turned for the better. I'm just sorry I couldn't say goodbye. She was a good friend and Mira was a lovely young lady. I don't want to offend you or anything, but Hope reminds me of her. I don't know what it is, she just does…"

Mr. Jeffries was starting to underappreciate Dylan's talking. The subject was especially hurtful and she had to have known. He was rather relieved when Marshall knocked on the door asking them to come outside. Asking her, rather, and it was alright by him. Mr. Jeffries wanted some time alone with Andrea.

Dylan didn't want to go, but she was sure it would do Richard good to stay a while with her sister. She was on the fence about this imminent conversation, so it was safer for her to return to the waiting area where she assumed she'd find an audience. Marshall didn't appreciate what she was trying to do, but followed her anyways.

"I think I'm going to head on home now," Averil said to Louis when Marshall and Dylan came to sight.

"Yes, go get some rest. We're not much use here…" Louis said. "I'm thinking we might go to, if I can ever find Lyla."

"Here, I am…" Lyla walked slowly towards them. She didn't sit, but stood before him. "I'm tired." She looked around, "Where's everyone else?"

"Elle's family left a while ago." Louis answered.

"You know, I could talk to Grayson if you want to see her?" Averil offered.

"That's ok, Averil." Louis answered before Lyla could speak. "It would only cause more tension and she doesn't need it. Lyla, are you ready to go?"

"Yeah," she rubbed her eyes; she was tired. "Just…" she turned around and handed Ms. Snow a sealed envelope. They didn't speak during the exchange and after they were done Lyla picked up her things and left along with Louis and Averil.

Dylan sat grasping the envelope. Marshall sat silently beside her. For a while it seemed as not one of them would say anything. It wasn't like them to be in this position. They were adventurous free spirits and didn't think their adventure together would end up in a forceful tie-down. Marshall didn't know what her was supposed to do or what he wanted to do, but Dylan seemed just as conflicted. He'd always known they were kindred spirits. Sitting right next to each other they didn't have to speak to know what was being unsaid.

"I'm pregnant…" Dylan said softly. She didn't look at him but continued playing with the envelope in her hands.

"I know." He sighed and leaned back on his chair.

Louis couldn't sleep. He reached out to feel Lyla, but surprisingly she wasn't in bed. The floor felt cold to his bare feet but he welcomed the annoyance as it was a distraction from his whirlwind of thoughts. He found Lyla in the den organizing Elle's stuff. Louis couldn't tell if she was packing or unpacking the girl's things, but nonetheless she was folding her clothes along with the rest of the laundry, they had neglected to do in the last couple of crazy days.

"It's almost seven, Lyla. Why aren't you in bed?" Louis asked.

"We barely had any clothes left. Someone had to do laundry."

Louis looked at his watch. They had been home from the hospital for exactly four hours. There was something more to her being awake than the urgency for clean clothes, but Louis didn't press her. He simply stood next to her and helped her with the task.

"I'm not going to work today." She said.

"You need some rest. We all do…" he kissed her cheek expressing solidarity. "It's been a long couple of days."

Louis watched as she moved to fold anyone else's garments, but quickly changed her mind. Lyla refolded Elle's clothes as if the bin didn't have any others. When she realized what she was doing she went to the unopened bags they had bought the day of the makeovers. She carefully examined each garment and folded them along with her other clothes. "What a difference…" she said before turning to him, "Look at these. They are rags."

He looked at Elle's old clothes and then back at her, "Do you want to talk about it?"

Lyla sighed. She wasn't sure what she wanted or what she felt. "I hadn't done this for her before. I was worried about Evan and how she could affect him or whatever. She wasn't very nice."

"No she wasn't."

"She was a typical teenager wasn't she?" Lyla asked looking straight at him, "I just couldn't see it. I became jealous of someone else coming into our lives and… well, I don't know—I don't know what I thought might happen, but this was certainly not it."

He didn't know what to say to her. Louis didn't even want to pretend to know what she felt or what she was thinking. He could only attempt to organize his thoughts and wish to somehow be able to tell her.

"You weren't scared to bring her in. Why weren't you scared, Louis?" she was upset.

"I don't know… because of my dreams I guess." He answered, "Which also helped me to better relate with her."

"I didn't even try… not until recently—and Evan! He was so resistant to having to share our attention. He still is!" She threw one of her own shirts against the wall. The purple camisole top bounce off the wall and landed on the floor behind the couch.

"Lyla, what's wrong? Why are you so upset?" Louis put his hands on her shoulders.

For a moment Lyla didn't know what to say. Or she did know what she had to say, but didn't think she had slid well into the topic. "I couldn't handle it, Louis. I became just as scared and things never had to be a complicated as they turned. Elle was just another girl in need of a good home—even if it was temporary and it wasn't until just this minute that I realized her clothes are rags!" In his arms Lyla was expelling all frustrations, "How do I know that I can do this?"

"If this worries you so much, then I'd say you can," he smiled at her. "Besides it's not like you're doing this on your own you know…"

Lyla hugged him again. She knew better than to act this way and return to her insecurities. Talking to Louis made her fears disappear and, finally, that overwhelming joy she'd been expecting took over her.

"This might be crazy," Louis said, still holding on to her. "But…" Lyla pulled away just enough to look into his mesmerizing, blue eyes. "What—what would you think about expanding our family?"

'This is it!' she thought, gathered her strength and took a deep breath, "By how many do you mean?" She asked and he scoffed, confused. Louis was unable to answer her question. Lyla knew she had to speak before he did or she might coward back out of this perfect moment. "I'm… pregnant, Louis."