A/N: Thanks for the awesome reviews and comments to the last update, both here and on twitter. They really mean so much to me!
I couldn't resist pumping out the next chapter, so here it is! :)
It had been just over an hour since Carla was taken into the emergency room and Frank could do nothing except anxiously pace the asphalt in the car park of Weatherfield General. He couldn't risk being seen inside the hospital by her ex or by the bookie, and so he stayed outside, trying to figure out a way to see her, but remaining unsuccessful in concocting a plan. Just as his frustration began to get the better of him, he suddenly halted his pacing as he saw two Streetcars cabs pull up to the main entrance. He watched from afar, with unabated breath, as Michelle, Maria, Leanne and Ciaran filed out the cars, followed closely by Michelle's parents. A rather shaken looking Peter greeted them outside the emergency doors, and Frank used their momentary distraction to quietly edge himself closer to them, using the brick wall as a cover to eavesdrop on their conversation.
"Appendicitis?" He heard Maria ask incredulously
"All her symptoms point to that yeah," Peter responded grasping his wife's waist comfortingly as she encircled her arms around his shoulders
"Well do they know how serious it is?" Michelle asked, "shouldn't she be in surgery?"
"They need to run some more tests first. She's been slipping in and out of consciousness since her arrival here, but don't worry; Trevor's gone with her while they run an ultrasound, so we just have to wait until the results come back from that I'm afraid." Peter whispered, running his fingers through his hair.
"Leanne, why don't you and I go and get us all some coffee eh?" Ciaran offered, waiting for her to nod in agreement before turning back to his best friend, "will you all be waiting in the ER?"
Peter nodded his head, "yeah, I've got us a few seats there,-" he was interrupted by a small cough from behind him, and he turned sharply, his eyes falling upon a kind looking nurse.
"Mr. Barlow?" she asked curiously
"Yeah, that's me," Peter responded, and Frank craned his neck to better hear the conversation.
The nurse glanced at the rest of the people surrounding the bookie, "are you all awaiting news on Carla Connor?" At their nods, she pursed her lips and exhaled deeply, "I think it best if you all came inside then," she stated carefully, offering them all a sympathetic gaze before turning on her heel and striding in through the glass doors.
"I don't understand, she only just went down for the test," Peter breathed out apprehensively, not able to move from his place as a sudden fear washed over him, "they couldn't have got the results back that quickly."
"They must have noticed something straight away," Barry stated, "maybe the technician could see her appendix was inflamed and didn't have to wait for the radiologist to make the call."
"Well we won't know until we go inside, will we?" Michelle shakily stated grasping Maria's arm firmly and quickly wiping the tears from her eyes, "come on then."
Frank peered around the edge of the wall, watching as they all walked in through the hospital doors. He closed his eyes, exhaling deeply as he banged his head against the brick wall behind him in sheer frustration. He just wanted to-, no he needed to know that she was alright. At this point he didn't care if he was spotted anymore; he simply had to hear the prognosis on her condition. He carefully slipped around the corner, and slowly made his way to the glass doors. He peered in and caught sight of Carla's friends and family standing with their backs to him as the nurse addressed them. He quietly entered the hospital and slipped into an empty hallway, his back again pressing against the wall as he caught the tail-end of the conversation…
"…but she's gonna be alright?" Michelle asked, trying to stifle a sob
"We're hoping she will be," the nurse responded, "but that is why it is vital that we get her into theatre as quickly as possible."
"But surely you perform lots of these surgeries," Helen asked nervously, "and you've caught it early enough so she will come through it won't she?"
"To be honest ma'am, we didn't catch it early at all," the nurse responded sadly, "we generally say the 5-8 week range is average; to catch it early it would ideally had to have been anywhere in the 1-4 week range. Unfortunately, in Ms. Connor's case it's been inflamed on and off for just under 12 weeks, and to be honest I'm surprised it hasn't ruptured already."
"Car!" Frank heard Michelle cry, and he peered around the edge of the wall in time to see a gurney being pushed quickly past the group, a tear-stricken Trevor grasping Carla's hand as the others swarmed to her bedside, each trying to whisper words of encouragement to her.
"Stand back please!" came a male nurse's strict order as they pushed the gurney down the narrow hallway.
"I'll be waiting right here for you sweetheart," Trevor called as his fingers slipped out of Carla's, "everything will be fine, I promise," he called as he watched the doors she was pushed through quickly close behind her.
Frank couldn't believe what he was witnessing. Carla's appendix had been inflamed on and off for almost 3 months before it had finally been caught. He felt a wave of guilt course over him as his mind raced through a number of plausible scenarios; had it been sore and tender when he had forced himself upon her in September? Had he only further added to her suffering then? Not to mention the number of times since the rape that he or his mother had further added to her stress; berating her, taunting her, getting a rise out of her…the thought made him sick to his stomach. She had thinned considerably since that fateful night of September 21st, and he wondered if the rape and its subsequent affects had caused her to not notice the signs and symptoms of appendicitis.
He dropped his head into his hands, and slid down the wall, his body hunching over into a crouch. If she didn't pull through this, he would ultimately be the one responsible for her death. The very thought made him gag on the bile that now rose to his throat. He felt tears welling up in his eyes;
...he never wanted this to happen...
The night she ended their engagement, he had been so overcome with rage and jealousy. He simply wanted to punish her for using him, for making a fool out of him. But he loved her, he still did…and he wanted nothing more than to be with her in spite of everything.
He took a few deep breaths, as his guilt coursed through him more powerful than before; and in that moment, he considered turning himself in. Maybe he could plead that it were a crime of passion; after all, he sincerely believed that it was. As she had ordered him to leave her flat that night, everything before him turned a deep shade of red and it was as if he were outside of his body, watching as his likeness slammed the door shut over her shoulder and forced himself upon the woman he loved.
"Nurse?" Leanne's voice called to the health care worker's retreating back, "is there nothing that can be done to save the baby?"
'Baby?' Frank's head shot up from where it was rested between his palms, his brow furrowing in shock as his eyes scanned the wall in front of him, 'Carla's pregnant?'
The nurse sighed, "Unfortunately not Ms.," she stated sympathetically, "in cases of ectopic pregnancies, the egg has fertilized outside of the uterus; in this case, in Ms Connor's right fallopian tube. The fetus and the placenta will not be able to simply be removed from the tube and placed within the uterus. In these types of cases, there is no other option but to abort the fetus. It has no chance of survival as it has not had the proper implementation in the mother's womb in the first place, so our priority now is to the mother. And without removing the fetus as soon as possible, the risk of the mother's death is highly increased."
"But now that she's going to surgery she should be fine, right?" Maria asked, her voice cracking with emotion.
"Ms. Connor is almost twelve weeks along in this pregnancy. The fetus is almost 2-3" in size and putting extreme pressure on the walls of the tube; it is very close to rupturing," the nurse stated, "so I'm afraid she's not out of that danger as of yet."
"Wait," Helen Connor closed her eyes and shook her head in denial, "what are you saying exactly? That there's still a chance that she could-," she swallowed the lump forming in her throat, her voice hoarse and thick as she spoke the word she dreaded with all her heart, "die?"
The nurse pursed her lips and nodded her head, "It's a very high possibility I'm afraid."
"No…" Michelle whispered before breaking down into a fit of sobs, "no, no, please..."
"We're going to do everything possible to ensure that it doesn't happen," the nurse said reassuringly, "but I need you to understand that after what Mr. Dean has informed us of what she's been through the past few months, her body has been put under considerable strain. She may not have the fight in her to pull through this." She looked apologetically upon them all, "We'll keep you posted, but you should prepare yourselves for the worst." With a small nod the nurse walked down the hall towards the operating rooms.
"Twelve weeks…" Peter mumbled sadly, his eyes locking onto Trevor's tear-filled orbs.
"I know…" Trevor sniffled, "She doesn't know how far along she was. She assumed it occurred the night she was…" he couldn't finish the sentence, sinking instead into a nearby chair as an involuntary sob escaped his lips. Maria sat next to him almost instantly, her own tears cascading down her face as she wrapped an arm around his shoulders, silently encouraging him to continue. "The technician told me it were conceived sometime around the end of August, which means that…" Trevor trailed off again
"The baby was conceived through sex...not rape." Peter finished bitterly, his hands on his hips as he he paced back and forth, before angrily punching the wall.
"Yet another innocent thing in her life that Frank has tainted..." Trevor whispered, his hand coming up and massaging his forehead. He couldn't get the look of shock and utter despair that graced Carla's face as the emergency doctor informed her of her pregnancy, out of his mind. She didn't make a sound; her eyes had simply overflowed with tears as she stared at a distant spot on the gurney.
Trevor looked to Maria and shook his head softly, "how many more times is he going to take from her?" Maria bit the inside of her lip and rested her chin on his hunched shoulder as he spoke gently, "I can't lose her Maria...I can't lose her..."
'Conceived through sex,' Frank's mind raced as his breathing became erratic, tears coursing down his cheeks as he tried to pinpoint the time in his mind…
"What time is the first appointment?" she asked as she swallowed her toast, flicking some of the residue that remained behind off her fingers as they sat lazily on the couch in her flat.
Frank glanced up from his paper, "oh, we see our first potential reception venue at mid-day my dear," he had answered as he popped his remaining piece of toast into his mouth
"Hmm, well…" she began as she swallowed some coffee, and swung her legs off the couch, casually placing her newspaper down on the table, "after we've seen all three, can we grab a bite to eat maybe?" she asked as she rose to a standing position and sauntered around the sofa.
He placed his newspaper down, "that's a good idea, I need to keep my stamina up," he said rather pointedly as he watched her walk towards the kitchen. His eyes were engrossed on her backside as he took in the sway of her hips. God she looked gorgeous this morning, he thought; not that she didn't always look stunning, with or without makeup. But there was something relaxed about her on this particular Monday that made her all the more desirable to him. The fact that she had been extra snuggly with him in bed that morning didn't help his growing arousal.
"Oh yes you do," she said rather seductively, turning slightly to address him as she reached for another slice of toast, "I want you 'all systems go' on our wedding night," she stated knowingly as she took a sip from her coffee before setting the mug down.
From his place on the sofa, his eyes scanned her from top to bottom; taking in her satin robe and pyjamas and the way her hair was tucked behind her ears. He bit the inside of his lip before speaking pointedly, "I feel a bit 'all systems go' right now actually…"
She turned to face him, a large smile gracing her features, "oh do you?" she asked as she slowly and seductively walked towards him, biting her lower lip playfully as he grunted an utterance, and she let her eyes drop from his to his groin, "must be the coffee…" she teased playing with the toast in her hand.
He rested his temple against the fingers of his curled hand as he gazed lustfully up at her, his elbow leaning on the back of the sofa, "bedroom?" he asked, though it was more of a statement than a question
She chewed a piece of her toast and stopped a few feet from where he sat before smiling and leaning towards him playfully, "well seeing as it's bank holiday," she began, as she shifted from foot to foot in anticipation, "can I bring this with me?" she gestured to the toast in her hands.
He kept his cool façade as he eyed the food in her hand before stating calmly, "your flat, your rules." He was up as quickly as a jack in the box and Carla let out a playful squeal as she ran around her dining table and beat him to the bedroom, the both of them laughing as he ensnared her waist in his arms and turned her towards him in a passionate embrace. He grabbed the toast from her fingers and threw it to the floor before pulling her closer to him and pressing his lips to her neck.
"Hey!" she stated in mock annoyance as he bit and nipped his way around her collarbone, "I was enjoying that!"
"Well I want to enjoy you!" he breathed heavily turning her and slamming her back into the wall by the door before kissing her hungrily.
She knew he was a passionate lover; but the more times they slept together, the more aggressive he became. She couldn't deny that she enjoyed it, but it hadn't escaped her that he seemed to always want to be in control…and this time was no different. He quickly discarded her robe, and with a quick flick of his wrist her pyjama top flew open. His lips descended down her jaw, her neck, her chest, and he swirled his tongue around her left nipple as his fingers plunged anxiously down the hemline of the back of her pyjama trousers and gripped the tender flesh of her backside. His aggressiveness caused her to gasp and moan as his tongue continued to pleasure her breasts. She reached her hand down and masterfully stroked his bulge, causing him to groan and he rose back up to his full height so that he now towered over her. He hungrily kissed her again before pulling her closer to him, turning and pushing her back onto the bed…
Frank closed his eyes, as he took in a shaky breath, thoroughly hoping that that particular moment in their relationship was the one that resulted in their unborn child's conception.
'It was through an act of love, and not hate;' the thought made him smile in relief for just a moment before anguish befell him again, 'and that means she was pregnant with my baby when I—' His mouth filled with bile and he pushed himself from the floor. He ran down the hall and pushed himself into the nearest washroom, leaning over the toilet and retching. He must of remained there for minutes on end, retching violently until he had nothing left in his now burning stomach. He shakily flushed the toilet, and sat back against the wall in the stall. He had never been more disgusted with himself than he was at this very moment. As he closed his eyes and tried to quell the nausea that continued to rise in him, he prayed to anyone that would listen to let Carla pull through the surgery.
He already lost his son or daughter today…he didn't know what he would do if he lost her too…