Author’s Note: Written for my best friend DebC, her husband, and their daughter, the real Brenna Leigh, who was welcomed to the world on March 15, 2000. Can’t believe both she and this story are twelve years old already!
He’d promised himself years ago that he’d never do anything to hurt her.
So much for that, Bailey Malone thought grimly to himself as he cast an anxious eye down the long hospital corridor where Sam had disappeared what seemed like hours ago.
No…it didn’t just seem like hours ago. It had been hours ago.
The linoleum was almost loud with little echoes of his impatient footsteps as he paced back and forth across the hall. There were chairs all around, but he was too restless with worry to sit. He brought one hand to his face and rubbed it hard. He knew he must look haggard–sleep had been an impossible task ever since Sam had been admitted to the hospital the night before.
Somewhere in the building, the rest of the team was waiting as well. Knowing Bailey needed to be alone for a while, Grace had hustled all of the men down to the cafeteria.
“Sam will be fine, Bailey,” she’d promised him quietly. “Stop beating yourself up over this.”
“I hope you’re right,” had been his feverish response.
Brown eyes slid reluctantly closed as all the energy seemed to drain out of him. Even though his spirit still paced, Bailey’s body was too weary from waiting, and it finally dragged him into one of the revolting orange plastic chairs standing sentinel against the walls.
Despite the protests of a protective instinct kicked into overdrive, exhaustion finally dragged him into a restless sleep.
I’m sorry, Sam. This is all my fault.
Bailey jerked his head up with a gasp, the rest of his body following when he recognized the surgeon assigned to Sam’s case. Within seconds he was towering over her.
“How is she?” he choked out through a cloud of breathless panic.
The doctor smiled. “She’s going to pull through just fine, just like I promised you.”
His coffee-colored eyes drifted closed again, this time in relief. “Thank God,” he whispered. “When can I see her?”
When Sam opened her eyes, it was to the delicious sight of two chocolate-brown eyes staring into her own mint-blue ones. She felt a pressure tighten on her left hand, and recognized Bailey’s grip. A weak but happy smile flitted onto her pale face.
“Hey, Kid,” he rumbled in return, his voice husky with relief. “Good to see you again.”
Her smile broadened at the affection in his tone. “Where is everyone?” she murmured sleepily.
“Grace dragged John and George down to the cafeteria. Don’t worry, they’ll be up here as soon as they hear you pulled through.”
“Mmm…not that soon I hope. I like having this moment just for us.”
Bailey chuckled, but his eyes didn’t remain merry. A sober shadow fell over his face. “Sam, can you forgive me for letting this happen to you?”
“Bailey, I’ve told you before, you are not the cause and solution for everything. Some things are out of our control–”
“Damn it, Sam, you know as well as I do you wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for me.”
He sounded crushed. As much as she wanted to deny anything that could crush him with this weight of guilt, she couldn’t. Because it was true. Oh, Bailey…
Suddenly, a thought seized Sam and she tried to sit up with a gasp. Bailey had his hands on her shoulders as soon as her body protested the movement, his gentle hands and soothing voice relaxing her with their touch. “Shh…Sam, it’s ok.”
“Bailey–” She didn’t even have to finish the sentence.
“She’s fine,” he promised. “She’s in good hands.”
“She is…” her voice sounded uncertain.
“Angel took Chloe home, but they’ll be back in the morning.”
Sam nodded, a smile touching her lips as she thought of her daughter. Bailey always knew what to say to set her mind at ease, even when his own was in turmoil.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “For everything?”
He opened his mouth in protest and her face lit up in an impish smile. “Even this. Especially this.”
Before Bailey could come up with another protest, the door to the room opened and the friendly face of a nurse peered in. “There’s someone who wants to see you,” she smiled.
Catching her breath and holding it for an impossible length of time, Sam opened her arms to her daughter.
Looking up over the little girl’s head at Bailey, she blinked back tears and gave him an ethereal smile. “So this is all your fault, huh, Malone?”
For a long moment, Bailey didn’t answer. Blue eyes just like Sam’s opened to stare curiously at him from Sam’s embrace. Then he stretched out one large hand to lay it reverently on the tiny head of brown curls. “Well, I certainly hope so,” he teased affectionately. He squeezed her hand. “You did good, Kid.”
“We did good,” Sam corrected with a smile. “Brenna Leigh?” she asked, confirming the name they had chosen weeks ago.
Bailey’s rugged face beamed as he nodded, eyes never leaving the baby. His wife’s blue eyes and heavenly smile glowed with an even more glorious light as he wrapped his arms around her and their child.
“Yeah. Good to meet you, Brenna. It’s Daddy.”