Chris paced nervously along the hospital corridor, his heart beating wildly in his chest as he waited for the news. The doors to the maternity ward opened and Doctor Lovett walked out, brown eyes quickly landing on his agitated form. Chris jerked to a stop in front of the Doctor, biting roughly on his bottom lip. “Are they okay? How are they? How’s Eve? How’s the baby? Why aren’t you answering me?” The Doctor chuckled and held up his hands at the rapid-fire questions from the anxious young man.
“Your girlfriend is perfectly fine. Eve is perfectly fine, and you are now the proud father of a beautiful baby boy. Congratulations.”
Chris’s eyes widened with shock and joy. He opened his mouth but a loud shout interrupted him, two nurses running out of the maternity ward followed by three nurses dashing in.
“-DOCTOR! Hurry! We’re losing her!”
Chris felt his heart stop as the older man’s face paled and he rushed after them. Feeling panic well up, he followed them, only to stop in his tracks with terror as he saw Eve through the window of her assigned room.
“-two, three, clear!”
Doctors and nurses alike had surrounded her, a defibrillator in the hands of Doctor Lovett. Chris clutched the window sill tightly as he prayed desperately to every god he could think of.
Tears welled up in his eyes as the process continued, none of them reviving her. Just as the heart rate on the monitor flat lined, his tears spilled over. Sobs tore from his throat as he slumped to the ground, clenching his hands to his chest in an attempt to alleviate the unimaginable pain that ripped at his heart. Moments later, he was pulled forward into strong arms as Doctor Lovett hugged him tightly, rubbing his back and allowing him to cry into his shoulder. The two of them sat on the floor, mindless of the activity around them.
“I’m sorry, Chris. I’m so sorry.” The man whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
They remained locked in the embrace for a long time. Half hour, a whole hour… Chris had lost all sense of time. His heart thudded painfully in his chest, reminding him of one that from this day forward would never beat again.
“Come see him, Chris. Come see your beautiful boy.” The Doctor coaxed him onto his feet and down the corridor until they reached a room that was currently housing all the new born babes. The nurses working inside allowed them in with sympathetic smiles. They all knew the situation. He was guided to a crib on the right of the room. A tiny, tiny baby swathed in a blue blanket lay in it, eyes closed in sleep and tiny hands clenched into fists.
Beautiful boy. His beautiful boy. His son. Fresh tears rolled down his cheek. Even with the flushed skin of a newborn, Chris could pick out every feature of Eve’s. Her small nose, her fine delicate eyebrows, the round shape of her eyes… He choked back a hysterical laugh when he ran a trembling finger down the baby’s cheek and saw the birthmark on his collarbone. A slightly distorted mark that resembled Australia identical to Eve’s, and on the exact spot.
“You must hate me.” He looked down, unable to meet the older man’s eyes.
“You should. Hate me, I mean. I’ve ruined everything. Taken her away from you.”
“Christopher.” His voice was firm. Stern, even. “I do not hate you. And even if I did, seeing how deeply you love Evelyn has washed it away. I could never hate you for loving my daughter, Chris.” Grey eyes so alike his daughters shined with tears as his own wrinkled hand reached out and stroked a pink cheek. He wrapped his arm around the young man, teen really, standing beside him and drew him close. “I’m glad that you gave my daughter the opportunity to experience a love so true. No matter your past, you treated Eve like she was your princess and you were willing to give up everything to be with her. No father could ask for a better boy for his little girl.”
“Clara if it’s a girl. Desmond if it’s a boy. Those were the name’s she wanted.” Chris said softly, to the silent man beside him. He sniffed as his eyes pricked with new tears. He blinked them away as his hand moved down to hold a tiny fist gently. “Little Desmond.”