Cole was sitting in his office updating patient files and thinking about the past week. He thought his marriage was over when Avery stormed out of their house after the announcement by his father. But exactly the opposite happened. Avery had done a total 180. He would never understand his wife.
She was helping more and more with the kids when she was home. What he thought had destroyed their marriage, had actually seemed to save it. The only explanation he could figure was Avery had embraced the fact that she wasn’t going to be running C&M. With the pressure off, she had redirected her energies to him and their children. Whatever the reason, he wasn’t going to complain. It was amazing, and he was happy.
A knock on his office door brought him back to the present. He looked up to see his sister peeking her head in.
“Do you have a little time for me?” she asked sheepishly.
“Ami? Of course I do!” said Cole, and hugged her before they sat down together.
“Cole, I have so much I need to talk to you about,” she said looking distressed.
He got a little pain in his gut wondering if she was going to tell him she couldn’t take over and Avery would wind up going back to working 18 hour days instead of 12. “Hey, what’s wrong Ami? You should be walking on air right now.”
“I am. But, well, I’m a little worried. Not so much of the work, although I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I think we all just assumed you would have the controlling shares. You are okay with me, right?“
“Of course. If Dad thinks you can do it, I know you can. I’m stuck here at the clinic, he’s right about that. Plus, Avery will still be around. She’s a workaholic, as I’m sure you well know.”
“She does work hard. She’s been really sweet and helpful the past few days. I have to admit, I was a little shocked. I always felt like she was just nice to me because she had to be.” Ami grimaced a little before continuing. “Sorry. I guess I was sort of flighty in the beginning, before I went to college, so probably deserved it. But, actually, there is something else I need to talk to you about, and I’m afraid of how Dad’s gonna react when he finds out…”
“Noah?” guessed Cole, so she wouldn’t have to struggle with it.
She looked surprised. “You know? We have tried to keep it secret. How?”
“Making out in the middle of a construction site isn’t exactly super stealthy Ami. Avery saw you two together.” Cole laughed, amused by the thought. “So, you two really are serious? You finally got the confirmed bachelor to commit?”
Ami cringed a little. “Oopsie,” she said and let out a little sigh, “Thank her for not telling Daddy. He would kill both of us. I owe her big time.”
“Avery’s not malicious Ami. And Dad won’t be upset. He likes Noah. And he has a healthy respect for your ability, or he wouldn’t have put you in charge. Just tell him.”
“You aren’t upset?” she asked.
Cole shook his head. “About you two? Nah, just that you two felt the need to hide your relationship. We could’ve been hanging out together.”
“Well, I had a horrible crush on him all through college. After I graduated and moved back, I chased him. Hard. Got him drunk one night…and,” she paused and looked at her hands, too embarrassed to finish what happened next.
Cole belly laughed. “I have news for you little sis, he knew exactly what you were doing. He wanted you to catch him. I highly doubt he was drunk, not even a little bit.”
“You think so?” she said, her eyes lighting up at the idea. “Cole he’s just so down to earth. He doesn’t take things too seriously, but then he doesn’t take crap off of anyone either.”
“I know so and I think you two are a good match. At least, now I do. You have grown up, and can handle Noah now. Before you left for college, I would’ve decked him – or at least tried – if he touched you. And, he knew it.”
“I hope so, because Cole, I’m in love with him,” said Ami with a goofy faraway look on her face.
Cole couldn’t help but grin at her. “Let me tell you a secret Ami. I’ve known Noah Redcliffe my whole life. If he is with you now, it’s because he loves you too. He respects you and Dad too much to just mess around with you. If he’s with you, Ami, he’s picked you.”
She frowned slightly. “I hope so. He wanted me to tell Daddy for the past year. I’m the one that said no.”
“A year? Damn, tell him sis. It will be okay,” said Cole with a smile. “Hell, you’re a woman now. One that will soon be running a multi-million dollar company.”
She let out a soft sigh and smiled warmly, then she wrapped him in a hug. “Thank you. I love you Cole. I gotta run. I’m meeting Noah for lunch. Cole, I think, um….” She paused and thought for a second. “I’m going to tell him we have your support. And that we have to tell Daddy, really soon.”
Cole smiled as he watched Ami walk out. She was positively glowing. Cole tried to remember what it was like when he and Avery felt like that. They had had so many ups and downs lately. But at least now they were in a really good place, and he was determined to keep it that way. He decided he would stop on the way home tonight and buy her flowers, just to say I love you.
Cole was a little disappointed when he got home and Avery wasn’t there yet. He decided to text her.
Cole let out a sigh and went to find Reagan and Ryan. They each had their own bedroom now. Avery had even helped decorate them. The fourth bedroom had been converted to a playroom, and that’s where the two spent most of their time. He knew he would find them there, probably along with Ms. Sarah.
“Hey guys,” announced Cole when he walked in.
“Daddy!” came the response in stereo. Reagan practically tackled him to the ground throwing her arms around his neck.
“Daddy, can you play with us for a little while?” asked Ryan, “We were playing Party Frenzy and I was winning!”
Cole stood up. “Sure. Just one game, then we have to get ready for bed.” He turned to Ms. Sarah. “Sarah, why don’t you make it an early night and relax. I’ll get them to bed. Avery won’t be home for awhile. Then we are just going to spend some time together.”
“Okay, thanks Mr. Cole.” She looked at her charges, “Don’t give your Daddy a hard time,” she warned, “Now give me goodnight hugs!”
After a round of video games, Cole got stood up and stretched. “Okay kiddos, bedtime. Get your pajamas on and I’ll come tuck you in.”
He went into his daughter’s room first. Reagan was such a sweet, tenderhearted little girl. She was always the first to give hugs and was the peace keeper of the two. Still, she always had her brother’s back. The two of them loved each other fiercely. Cole adored his own sister now, but growing up, she was just a pain in his ass. He was happy to see these two were so close. He figured it was a twin thing.
Next he went to tuck in Ryan, and as expected, he was dilly-dallying around. Still ‘brushing his teeth.’ More like playing in the water. At least had on his pajamas. Cole shook his head and bit back his smile. He reminded him a little of Noah at that age. Always pushing the boundaries. He was actually really pleased that Ami and Noah had found each other.
He finally got Ryan to bed and made his way downstairs. At the same time, the front door opened and his beautiful wife walked in. She greeted him with a smile and a kiss and on the cheek. “Hi! I’m so glad you are home,” he said.
“Bad day?” she asked frowning.
“Not at all, actually, it’s been really nice. I just put the kids to bed, and now, you are here. Oh, and Ami came by the clinic to talk.”
“Really?” asked Avery, suddenly very curious.
“Yes. You were 100% right about her and Noah. She has it bad. She said she owes you one for not telling Dad. God Avery, she was glowing. It made me think about when we first got together. I had it so bad for you.” He smiled at the memory.
“Had?” she said, perfect eyebrow arched.
“Have. I brought wine and a rose. Ami made me nostalgic for simpler times.”
“You bought me flowers?” she asked, and followed him to the bar.
“Avery, you are my everything,” he said while he poured them both a glass. “Dad got me to thinking the other day. Yes, I adore our children. They are amazing, but when they are grown and gone, it’s going to be just you and me. And I couldn’t be happier with that scenario.”
Avery rolled her eyes. “Oh God, Cole. How can you possibly be so fucking sweet?”
Cole laughed at her choice of words. He picked up his glass and took a drink. “I was sort of hoping, that, instead of questioning my apparent ‘fucking sweetness’, that you might allow me to show you just how happy you make me.”
“I’m sorry,” she said looking down, “It was a stressful day.”
He lifted her chin to look at him. “I have a sure fire cure for stress,” he said, and lowered his lips to hers.
They had barely gotten to sleep when Cole’s phone began to buzz. “Shit…” he mumbled as he sat up and grabbed the phone off the table. Please not Leroy, he thought when he saw it was his mom’s number.
He swiped to answer as his heart skipped a beat.
“Cole, thank god!” she said in tears, “There’s been an accident. It’s Ami. Dad and I are at the hospital. She’s in surgery. It’s bad Cole.”
Cole couldn’t breathe. He had just seen her. “Oh God. Noah….Is Noah there?” asked Cole.
“Noah? No…she was alone. Oh Cole!” she said and began to cry.
“I’m on the way Mom,” he said and hung up. He felt like he was floating and looking down at himself and Avery.
Avery got up and walked over to his side of the bed. “Cole….what is it? What’s wrong? Are you alright?” she asked.
He tried to slow down his breathing. “Call Noah,” he said, “There’s been an accident. Ami’s in the surgery. I have to go. Mom and Dad are at the hospital – they need me.”
“Wait – you are NOT going alone. I’m going with you!” insisted Avery, and immediately began to get dressed.
“What about the kids?” said Cole with a strange calmness.
“I’ll go wake up Sarah and let her know,” said Avery, taking over. “Don’t you dare leave without me. You are in no shape to drive. You just call Noah and get dressed and I’ll be right back. Can you do that?”
“Yes, okay. Okay. I’ll call Noah,” said Cole, “Hurry, please we gotta go.”
“Did your mother say what happened?” asked Avery as she drove them to the hospital.
Cole could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He never remember feeling this scared and sick before. He held fast to his wife’s arm as she drove. “No. Just an accident and that Ami’s in surgery. She sounded so scared.”
As they made their way to the surgery waiting area, he held Avery’s hand tight, needing the contact.
When he saw his parents, he was floored. They looked so lost and vulnerable. Especially his dad. This wasn’t like when Leroy had his heart attack. They were completely and utterly devastated.
He let go of his wife’s hand and ran to them. They engulfed him in one huge hug. When they released each other, his dad sat back down, staring at nothing, tears still rolling down his face.
His mother quickly explained what she knew about the accident through her own tears. Then she stole a glance at his dad. “He’s having a really hard time,” she said, “He’s reliving what happened when Grace, your mother, died. He keeps saying Ami’s going to die.”
Cole let out a slow breath to keep control, and sent his mom back to his dad’s side. They needed to hold onto each other. He needed his wife too and was very glad she insisted on coming.
He sat down with Avery and whispered quietly, telling her what he knew. “Apparently, it was a car accident. A hit and run. Whoever hit her, must have been scared and left the scene. If another car hadn’t stopped just a few minutes later, she may have died in that car.”
“Oh Cole,” said Avery, her own tears joining the mix.
Having his wife’s arms around him helped. “Where the fuck is Noah?” he mumbled.
“He’ll be here,” said Avery. “Remember, he’s in Willow Creek, so the drive is further.”
Just then Noah walked in. “Where is she? What happened?” He looked awful.
Cole left his wife’s arms and hugged his best friend. “She’s in surgery. Hit and run,” he said while he embraced his friend.
“Cole, she’s pregnant,” whispered a distraught Noah, “and I love her.” His voice cracked before he could finish and he inhaled sharply. “I can’t lose her, them.”
“Fuck!” said Cole and released his friend, “I gotta let someone know!”
Cole walked over to his parents and Noah followed him. “Mom! Look at me.… Ami is pregnant. You have to let the doctors know.”
She looked between Noah and Cole. “Yours?” she asked when her gaze landed on Noah.
Noah was about to lose his shit, but Cole couldn’t wait for whatever was going to go down between Noah and his parents so he went to the nurses station to let them know. A doctor was walking by and heard him. She went straight to the OR to inform the team.
When he walked back, he was shocked by what he saw. His mother was hugging his best friend. “I’m so sorry Noah,” he heard her say, but his dad was glaring.
They broke apart and Noah just started rambling. “She had just left my house. She did a pregnancy test while she was there. She was so excited. I should have made her stay. But she wanted to go back to her apartment and get some things. She was going to move in and we were going to tell all of you in the morning.”
“It’s okay Noah. It’s not your fault,” said his mother gently. She stole a glance at her husband. “I need ….” she said and motioned towards Ben.
Cole took that as his queue to give them some privacy. He took Noah’s arm and guided him back the bench where Avery was still sitting.
As soon as Noah sat down, he began to sob. This was only the second time Cole had ever seen Noah cry. The first was when he lost his parents. He suddenly realized, Noah had nobody. He was all alone and stood to lose the two most important people in his life. In fact, they all stood to lose someone they loved very much tonight.
Three hours later, the surgeon finally came out. His Dad made a horrible noise when he saw him and his Mom held onto him tightly. Cole grabbed both Avery and Noah’s hands.
“She pulled through the surgery, but she is still critical,” said the surgeon and Cole’s mother began to cry. His Dad was comforting her for a change.
“Is her husband here?” asked the Doctor.
Noah stood up. “I’m the baby’s father.”
“The baby is doing okay for now. But at some point, we may have to make a decision, to take the baby or try and save them both. As her husband, it will be your call.”
“We aren’t married,” said Noah, completely devastated.
“Regardless, as the father of her baby, you will have to make a decision if she is incapable of doing it for herself,” he explained.
Ben started to object and Sofia held him by her side. “No Ben, it’s up to Noah,” she said gently, and he sat back down, defeated.
Avery held Cole’s hand and asked the question everyone was afraid to. “Doctor, what is the prognosis?”
“It’s still too early to tell for sure,” he said mostly talking to Noah, “The pregnancy made it slightly harder. She is still in a coma. Her head injury is serious, but not likely impairing, as long as the swelling begins to go down. She may have a few memory problems when she first wakes up. The next 48 hours will be telling. The baby could also spontaneously abort, so we are keeping a close eye on him as well.”
When he was finished, Noah asked, his voice shaking, “Can I see her?”
“Yes. We have her in ICU. If you want, you should talk to her quietly. Sometimes that helps with comatose patients.”
“My baby!” cried out Ben, and Sofia quickly put her arms around him. She began to shush and rock him. Cole watched them and he almost came undone. His dad had experienced horrible loss before and it frightened Cole badly to see him like that.
Noah walked over to where Ben was sitting. “Ben,” he said, “I love your daughter very much, and no matter what, I will be here for her. But, why don’t you go see her first. Please, let her know the baby’s okay. She will be worried. She was very excited.”
Hi dad looked up at Noah. “I think….she will want…you…go…” said Ben through his tears.
Cole was dumbfounded at the exchange between his Dad and Noah. He felt a hand rubbing his back and looked around. Avery. He put his arms around her and held her tight while Noah followed the doctor to ICU.