The Cowboy Earns a Bride (Page 66)

The Cowboy Earns a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #8)(66)
Author: Cora Seton

“Why don’t you sit down and put your feet up?”

“I’m sick of sitting. I’m sick of waiting for this baby. How am I going to last another two weeks?”

“You’ll manage,” Autumn said, eyeing her. “Maybe it won’t be two weeks. That baby looks like she’s sitting awfully low.”

“Everything’s uncomfortable. I just feel… ow.” She pressed her hand to her back again. “Oh… ow!”

“Mia? Are you okay?”

“Yes. Oh—oh—I don’t know. Ow!”

“Are you having a contraction?”

Mia couldn’t catch her breath. She couldn’t talk. A band of steel tightened around her midsection and squeezed until she gripped the counter in pain. “Oh my God! Autumn!” Something gave within her and wetness drenched the lightweight pajama pants she wore. “Autumn—my water just broke!”

“All right, we’re going to get you to the hospital. Let me grab my keys!”

But Mia was already in the grips of another contraction and this one nearly brought her to her knees. She didn’t recognize her voice in the sound that she was making—guttural and fierce. The vise that gripped her body seemed determined to push the life out of her.

“Mia! What are you doing? You can’t bear down. You just started your contractions!” Autumn’s voice rose as she juggled Arianna into her carrier car seat, strapped her in, then grabbed her phone.

“Nine-one-one? It’s Autumn Cruz.” She gave her address and a brief rundown of the situation. “Do I put her in my truck and drive? Or do I wait for an ambulance?”

Mia cried out again, sinking to her knees, still gripping the kitchen counter and arching her back with the pain. “Autumn!” She panted when the contraction was finally over and looked up to see Autumn staring back at her helplessly. “Call Luke!”

Autumn straightened. Ended the call with the emergency worker and made a new call. “Luke? It’s Autumn. Mia’s having her baby. We’re at the ranch. In the guesthouse. No—it’s happening too fast!” She turned back to Mia. “We’ve got to move you, honey. Can you walk?”

“I don’t think so.” Mia cried out with renewed force as a new contraction—an even stronger one—squeezed her so hard she could barely breathe.

As soon as it ended, Autumn moved to her side and got her shoulder under Mia’s arm. “Come on, we’re going to get you to your room.” Mia didn’t say anything, just moved in the direction Autumn pulled her. The stairs were the worst. A new contraction brought her to her knees halfway up and they knelt there together through the long round of pain. Afterward, Autumn half-hauled her the rest of the way to her bedroom. “I don’t think that ambulance is going to make it. Come on, climb onto the bed.”

“I can’t believe it’s happening like this. I thought it was supposed to take hours.”

“So did I.” Autumn faced her. “I think in both our cases, it actually took days. You’ve been complaining about pain for a long time now, just like I did. Neither of us put two and two together. I’ll be right back.”

Mia was barely aware of Autumn’s movements as her friend brought towels, a glass of water and other supplies. Mia groaned with the pain and tried to find a comfortable position, finally ending up on all fours.

“I’m never… doing… this… again,” she panted after a contraction ended.

Autumn laughed. “I remember that feeling. Luckily it passes. You’re doing great, honey.”

“Mia!”

Both women started at the sound of Luke’s voice downstairs. They heard his footsteps as he climbed the staircase, two steps at a time, by the sound of it. “Mia!”

“In here,” Autumn called.

A second later, Luke burst into the room. “Are you okay? Let’s get you to the hospital.”

A contraction overtook her before she could answer and Mia’s momentary embarrassment about Luke seeing her in such an extreme moment disappeared as she felt the baby move lower within her. The contraction seemed to go on and on, and the interval between it and the next one was so brief she could only say, “No time. She’s coming!”

Mia lost track of everything after that except her own body, her straining muscles, the band of steel that was the contraction itself. She gave in to the pain and cried out, the sound ending with a moan that tore itself from her lungs.

“You’re crowning. I can see her!” Autumn cried. “You’re doing great, Mia!”

“Honey, she’s coming. Our baby’s coming—I can see the top of her head. She’s got pretty black hair, just like you!”

Luke’s voice gave her the strength to push again, and this time Mia felt her baby being born.

“That’s it! That’s it!”

“Mia, I can see her face—just one more push, baby!”

Mia gasped for breath, waited for the contraction to start again and pushed with all her might.

“I’ve got her! I’ve got her, Mia!” Luke’s voice broke. “Darling, she’s beautiful! She’s as beautiful as her mother.”

Mia collapsed as she heard the high-pitched wail of a newborn ring out. Almost simultaneously, another voice called out from downstairs.

“Hello? It’s Emergency Services!”

Autumn rushed to go meet them, and in the moment of calm, Luke bent down to guide the baby up to Mia and laid her on her chest.

“Meet your daughter, Mia. Look at her.”

Mia did look at her, from the dark cap of hair on her head to her blue eyes to the tip of her button nose, to her little round belly and tiny feet. In an instant Mia fell in love with what she saw. “Luke—”

“I know, sweetheart. I know.” He sat down next to her and kissed the top of her head. “You were amazing, you know that? If we weren’t already engaged, I’d have to ask you to marry me right now.”

Mia laughed, but it came out half a sob from exhaustion and her high emotions. She couldn’t believe how fast it had all happened. She couldn’t believe how the process of giving birth had overtaken her body.

The emergency team swept into her bedroom and the moment was gone, but Mia knew that she’d always remember her first sight of her baby—in Luke’s hands.

When the ambulance crew swept in and took over, Luke staggered out into the hallway.