Reaper's Fire - Joanna Wylde
My stomach cramped again, and I shuddered. There was blood in the toilet. Not a lot of blood, but not a little bit, either. Big, stringy clots and bright red drips and . . . squeezing my eyes tight, I forced myself to ignore the pain, focusing on the phone in my hand instead.
“I’m sorry, Tinker, but Mr. Graham can’t leave court right now.”
Craig’s always-smooth, professional voice cracked as he said the words, because we both knew what he was really saying: Mr. Graham wouldn’t leave court, because winning his case was more important than his wife’s health. Even Brandon’s own paralegal was ashamed of him.
“Craig, I think I’m losing the baby. I need my husband. Did you tell him that?”
“Tinker, he’s not coming. I . . . I don’t know what to say. You should probably get to a hospital. Do you have someone who can drive you?”
I looked down between my legs, watching as another drip of blood plopped into the bowl, creating a slightly darker spot in the pinkish water. It wasn’t easy to see past my stomach—my once-flat belly was long gone. God, how had this happened?
“Yeah, I can call my friend Margarita,” I said slowly. “Let Brandon know I’m going to the ER.”
“All right,” Craig said. “And, Tinker?”
• • •
My daughter, Tricia, was born still at eleven thirty a.m. She weighed just over two pounds and I named her for my mother.
• • •
The sun had gone down when someone knocked faintly on my hospital room door. I stared at the ceiling, ignoring the knock, wondering what I’d done wrong. I’d failed her . . . She was this tiny, precious thing, and I’d had one job—to carry her to term safely. What kind of woman couldn’t even protect her own baby?
The knock came again, and Margarita stirred in the chair next to me.
Maybe it was Brandon.
He’d texted an hour ago, saying that he’d be down just as soon as he could. I didn’t care. All that mattered was my baby girl. I’d wanted her so badly, even if Brandon didn’t, and now she was dead. Dead. What a terrible, ugly word.
The door opened a crack, and a man peeked through.
“Can I come in?” Craig asked hesitantly. I nodded at Margarita, who waved him in. From the hallway I could hear a baby’s cry—fucking sadists put me on the maternity ward, because apparently that was the best place for me medically. The sounds of other women’s happiness twisted the knife in my empty stomach.
My heart had exploded with love when I’d seen the positive pregnancy test, and then exploded again the first time I’d felt her kick. Every day was a miracle, and I’d followed her development on the maternity calendar religiously.
I’d held her for two hours before they took her away.
“Tinker, I’m so sorry for your loss,” Craig said, stepping inside. He carried a bundle of flowers. I stared at him blankly, wondering how the hell my husband’s assistant could make it to the fucking hospital when Brandon couldn’t. She’d been his daughter, too.
I hated him.
“Let me take those,” Margarita said, and while her words were perfectly polite, her tone was just this side of menacing. Fair enough. Craig worked for Brandon and Brandon was the enemy. She despised him. Always had. Most of my friends from before our marriage did, something I really should’ve paid more attention to when he proposed. My dad always called me stubborn, said I had to figure things out the hard way, even as a little girl.
Guess he was right.
“Unless you’re going to say Brandon isn’t here because