Chapter 21

Steve settled Jaime into the backseat, with the clothes from her overnight bag as a pillow. She was barely able to catch her breath as she tried unsuccessfully to stay on top of the pain. As he pulled out of the driveway, he reached for his car phone. Hammond wasn't in his office and neither was Corinth...and there was no time to wait for a page. Where the hell did all this traffic come from? he wondered as he dialed Rudy's office.

Jaime sobbed quietly as wave after wave of pain hit her with no respite. Luckily, Rudy was in his office making notes in Jaime's file and he picked up on the second ring.

''It's me. We have a problem!'' Steve said urgently, trying to keep an eye on Jaime in the rear view as he pulled into traffic. ''She's in pain - a LOT of it - almost constant. We're in the car and -''

''You're what?'' (Why hadn't he just called an ambulance?)

''Do you want me to take her to Clayton, where Doctor Hammond is, or -''

''Don't waste the time,'' Rudy instructed. ''Bring her here. I'll page Hammond now.'' Quickly, he pushed the buttons on his second phone line and then got right back to Steve. ''Listen to me carefully,'' Rudy told him. ''There's a problem with the pregnancy's interaction with Jaime's bionics. Her blood pressure -''

''Steve, I need you...'' Jaime said from the backseat in a tight, frightened voice.

''Sweetheart, I'm driving as fast as I can. There's way too much traffic. Go ahead, Rudy.''

''Her blood pressure is probably the highest it's been...and there's a risk she could go into full rejection. You need to get her here fast! I'll start -''

''Pull the car over, Steve,'' Jaime told him, her voice small, thin and as shaky as she was.

''We're about halfway there,'' Steve told both his wife and Rudy.

''Jaime needs to focus on taking slow, deep breaths - as deep as she can manage,'' the doctor told Steve.

''Take some slow, deep breaths, Sweetheart -''

''Pull the damn car over, Steve! NOW''

Steve swerved from the fast lane over toward the shoulder, narrowly missing getting creamed by another car. He skidded to a stop, took a look at his wife...and nearly froze. ''Uh, Rudy?'' he began. ''We might be past the 'slow, deep breaths' thing. I see the top of a head...''

''I'll call an ambulance to come and find you. Meanwhile, here's what you have to do...'' He quickly but thoroughly walked Steve through the steps he'd have to take, since there was now no other choice. Then ''You tend to Jaime - and the baby - and I'll call the ambulance.''

The phone had no speaker, so Steve had to set the receiver down on the seat. In his head, he was thinking Please God...not this. Don't let this be happening... but he stayed calm for his wife's sake. It happened very fast. When the ambulance found them, Steve was straddling the two backseat foot wells...holding a very small but perfectly formed newborn in his hands.

He looked up with a grin that was stupid with relief. ''I...we...have a daughter,'' he told the paramedics. ''It's a girl!''