by Keyonna Davis
eBook ISBN: Unknown
Nadia Cassidy is one step away from being out on the street, but her pride won’t let her ask her family for money. With no experience, she applies for an ad for a live in nanny. How hard can living with three gorgeous guys and one tiny baby be?
note: Prologue omitted.
The phone ringing in the middle of the night should have been a clear signal to Jackson that something was wrong. After the long day at work, he wanted nothing more than to turn over and ignore it. Unfortunately, he was never going to be able to go back to sleep until he saw who was calling. He had no choice but to answer.
“Yeah, this is Jackson,” he grumbled, trying to clear his throat.
“Hi, I’m looking for a Mr. Jackson Burrows? Am I speaking with him?”
Jackson sat up in bed. His stomach dropped, knowing this call was not going to be good. “This is Jackson Burrows. Who is this, and what’s going on?”
“I’m Nurse Wilson from County Memorial Hospital, and I am calling to inform you that your sister Sarah was admitted tonight due to complications from her pregnancy. Your name was listed as next of kin to notify in case of an emergency.”
“Is Sarah okay? Can I speak with her?” Jackson was in shock. He hadn’t heard from Sarah in thirteen years. He’d been only twelve when she ran off as soon as she turned eighteen and hadn’t seen her since. He tuned back in to the nurse when he heard her speak.
“Again, I’m sorry, Mr. Burrows, but I can’t give any more information out over the phone. If you don’t mind coming down to the hospital, we can answer all of your questions when you arrive.”
Jackson hung up after informing the nurse he was on his way. He and his sister had never been close due to their age differences, but he never thought this was the way they would be reunited. If he had to be honest with himself, he’d never thought he would ever see Sarah again.
Jackson quickly grabbed a pair of jeans and a T-shirt off the floor and threw them on. After stuffing his keys and wallet in his pocket, he picked his cell phone up from the nightstand and walked out of his bedroom. Both of his roommates were still where he had left them earlier, on the couch playing video games.
“Hey, Jackson, I thought you went to bed,” Steve yelled over his shoulder without taking his eyes off the game.
“I did, but the hospital just called. My sister is there, apparently having some sort of complication with her pregnancy, and she had me down as next of kin.”
“Your sister!” Greg yelled in shock. He put the game on pause and turned to look at Jackson. “I thought you hadn’t heard from her since she left.”
Steve and Greg were his best friends. They’d all met in second grade when the school bully was trying to beat Steve up because he was so small. Jackson and Greg jumped in to help, and all three ended up getting suspended because they broke the bully’s arm. Needless to say, no one messed with them after that, and they all watched each other’s backs. They’d been there when Sarah fought with Jackson’s parents and left the night she disappeared. They’d also been there for Jackson when his parents let guilt and depression get the best of them and basically ignored him. As far as his parents were concerned, nothing existed for them but their grief after his sister left.
“I haven’t heard a word from her. She has obviously been keeping up with me because she knew what phone number to give the hospital. I’m headed there now to see what’s going on. I just can’t believe that, after thirteen years of wondering what happened to her and where she went, I’m finally going to find out,” Jackson shook his head and walked out.
He was so lost in thought he didn’t realize his friends had followed until he heard two more car doors shut. Jackson was glad they’d decided to come with him. He loved the fact that he didn’t even have to ask them to come. They were more his family than his parents and sister had ever been.
He couldn’t get to the hospital fast enough. It seemed that every red light was against him. Jackson finally arrived and pulled into the emergency parking lot. He ran inside and straight up to the emergency desk. At twelve-thirty in the morning, there weren’t that many people around. He waited until a nurse finished typing on her computer and looked up.
“Hi, I’m Jackson Burrows. I received a call that my sister was here.”
“What is her name, sir?” the nurse asked.
“Her name is Sarah Burrows. I received a call that she was admitted due to complications with her pregnancy.”
The nurse typed something in the computer and frowned. She turned without looking at him and walked over to another nurse down the hall. Jackson could see her whispering to the other nurse and pointing to him. Judging by the look on the new nurse’s face and the fact that she took a deep breath as if bracing herself for bad news told Jackson everything he needed to know. There would be no reunion between him and his sister tonight.
“Hi, Mr. Burrows. I’m Nurse Wilson. We talked on the phone. If you come with me, I will have the doctor explain everything.”
She didn’t wait for Jackson to respond as she turned and led him to a small room down the hall where that doctor was waiting. The room looked like it might have been a small private waiting room, but Jackson was too busy trying to brace himself for the pain he knew was about to come to notice anything more. He had lost his dad three years before, and his mom had followed a year later. Although they’d practically ignored him when his sister left, he still loved them and they had been his family. If the nurse told him that his sister was gone, then he would be truly alone. Yeah, he had his best friends, but he wouldn’t have any blood relatives any more. He had always held out hope that his sister was out there somewhere and she would eventually come home. When his parents had died, he thought for sure that Sarah would show up for their funerals. His hope dimmed a little when he had to stand with only his mom and two best friends by his side as they buried his dad. When he’d buried his mom and she still hadn’t shown up, he gave up all hope of ever seeing her again. Now, he was sitting in a hospital room waiting for a stranger to tell him that he no longer had any family left.
“I’m Dr. Fredricks. I was the doctor on call who treated your sister. I’m sorry to tell you, Mr. Burrows, but you sister was admitted earlier this evening with signs of early labor. We tried to stabilize her and stop the labor, but unfortunately we weren’t able to. The placenta detached from the uterine wall, and we had to perform an emergency Cesarean section to try and stop the bleeding. The baby is fine, but I’m sorry to inform you that your sister didn’t make it.”
Jackson thought he had prepared himself, but the pain in his chest caused him to double over. He resented his sister for leaving, but he’d never wanted her to suffer like she had. It hurt to know that she’d died alone. Why hadn’t she ever tried to contact him? He could have been there for her if she had only let him. Jackson didn’t realize he was crying until he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Greg standing over him with a look of concern on his face and Steve standing right behind him.
“Did you hear what the doctor said, Jackson?” Greg asked. “He said the baby made it.”
Huh? The baby made it? Evidently the doctor had noticed the confused look on Jackson’s face because he started explaining again.
“Yes, Mr. Burrows, the baby made it. She is considered premature because she was delivered four weeks early, but she is healthy and strong. Her lungs seem to be working fine, and that is always our biggest concern when babies are delivered early. She is a bit on the small side, but that is to be expected. We will keep her here for observation, but if everything goes well then you can take her home in a few days.”
The doctor shook Jackson’s hand, and he and the nurse left the room. Jackson was stunned. He had lost the last of his family, but gained a niece all in a span of a few minutes. A baby! Oh crap. Everything the doctor said began to sink in. What did he mean Jackson would be able to take the baby home in a few days? Where was the baby’s father? Jackson dried his face and looked up at his friends. Greg and Steve looked just as stunned as he did. They both knew his fears of having no family left, and Greg knew what he was going through since he had lost both of his parents at a young age and was an only child. Steve was the only one with family still left. He still had his mom, and she treated all of them like they were her sons, but it wasn’t the same.
“Are you going to be all right?” Greg asked. He still had his hand on Jackson’s shoulder.
“I think so. I don’t understand how I can all of a sudden miss her so bad when I haven’t seen her in so long. I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.” Jackson quickly changed the subject when more tears threatened. “I don’t understand what is going on though. What did the doctor mean that the baby could go home with me? Where is the baby’s father? Shouldn’t he be here instead?” Jackson fired off question after question, trying to hold his emotions back.
“Hey, man, we’re just as confused as you are. Let’s go find the nurse and ask her, and then she can show you where your niece is,” Greg said as he headed for the door. “I’m sure she’s scared right now, and she needs her family with her.”
In that moment, Jackson was truly grateful he had Steve and Greg with him. He didn’t think he would have been able to get through this without them. He followed Greg back to the nurses’ station where Nurse Wilson was sitting.
“I was wondering when you would be back up here, Mr. Burrows. I figured when you got over your shock you would have a few questions,” she said with a small smile. “I don’t have any answers for you, but your sister did leave this for you. She told me to give it to you if something happened to her.”
Jackson took the envelope the nurse held out and thanked her. He walked over to a chair and sat. He turned the envelope over and over in his hands, too scared to open it. What would it say? This would be that last thing his sister ever said to him. Would it supply him with answers or leave him with more questions? His hands shook as he flipped the letter over and started to open it.
* * * *
Gregory Ballantyne watched as Jackson got the letter from the nurse and took a seat. He could tell that his best friend was still in shock and not thinking clearly. Hell, Greg was still in shock himself. The whole situation was crazy. Jackson was still caught up in the fact that he’d just lost his sister, but Greg was thinking about what the doctor said. There was a baby included in this mess, and she was lying somewhere all alone. All Greg kept thinking about was that the baby was probably scared. Most babies came into the world and went straight into one of their parents’ arms. They were probably able to recognize their parents’ voices from hearing them for nine months and know they were safe. This baby didn’t have that. Was anybody holding or comforting her?
“Excuse me, ma’am, my friend is a little bit in shock right now so he may need a minute,” he stated to the nurse at the desk. “I know that you are probably not supposed to give me any information, but can you tell us where the baby is?”
“Sure, honey. She’s upstairs in the nursery. They have her in an incubator right now while they monitor her so don’t be shocked by what you see. It always looks worse than it is. Just take Mr. Burrows on up, and I will call and let them know he is on the way. He will have to show his ID, but after that, he will have access to the baby with no problem.”
Greg nodded and walked over to Jackson. The man was staring at the letter he’d been given with a dazed look on his face. He had tears streaming down his face, and Greg hated to see him like that. Steve was trying to comfort Jackson as best he could, but from what Greg could tell, the man was way out of his element. Steve was not a people person. He was more comfortable in front of his computer screen creating his programs. The closer Greg got, the clearer the helpless look on Steve’s face became.
Greg knelt beside Jackson. “Hey, buddy, I know this is hard, but there is a little baby upstairs that needs you right now. Let’s focus on her for the moment, and we will worry about the rest later.” He didn’t give Jackson a chance to answer. He just grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the chair.
Jackson followed him to the elevators, and Greg could tell that he was on autopilot at the moment. It was hard seeing his easy-going friend like this. Jackson was usually the outgoing one of the three of them. If it weren’t for him, Greg and Steve would have no social life at all. Between Steve’s job as a computer programmer and his as a video game beta tester, they weren’t the best at going out and meeting new people. Jackson took it upon himself to make sure they got out of the house at least once a week. Seeing him looking so lost made Greg’s heart ache for his best friend. He knew that Jackson was going to need a lot of help to get through this situation, and he had every intention of being there. Jackson wouldn’t hesitate to do the same for him.
If Greg were being honest with himself, he would admit he was kind of excited. His heart went out to Jackson’s sister, but he couldn’t wait to see the baby. She was Jackson’s niece, and he knew the man would not turn away his last living relative, so it looked like they were going to be gaining a new roommate. Greg loved babies, and he couldn’t wait to spoil this one.
When they arrived at the nursery, Greg led them over to the nurses’ desk. “Hi, this is Jackson Burrows,” he said, pointing at his friend. “We came to see Sarah Burrows’s baby.”
The nurse gave Jackson a look of sympathy and nodded. “I’m sorry for your loss Mr. Burrows. Nurse Wilson already let me know you are on the way so, if you could just show me your ID, then you can go right in to see the baby.”
Greg watched as Jackson handed over his ID, and the nurse checked it over. She handed it back and then placed a wristband on Jackson’s arm.
“What’s that for?” Greg asked when it was clear that Jackson wasn’t going to. His friend didn’t have a clear head at the moment, so Greg took it upon himself to ask questions and get as much information as possible.
“This is an ID bracelet, and it is identical to the baby’s. Every time we remove the baby from the nursery, we have to make sure the bracelets match. It is to prevent the babies being mixed up or stolen. They can only leave the hospital with the person wearing the matching bracelet. Normally the mother would wear it, but in this situation, Mr. Burrows has to wear the bracelet since his sister named him guardian.” The nurse motioned for them to follow.
Greg felt that Jackson didn’t need another shock and wanted him to be prepared for what he saw, so he asked the nurse, “Is the baby okay? I mean there is nothing wrong with her, right?” Not that it would make a difference if anything was. Greg just wanted to know what to expect.
“Oh, yes, she is a healthy baby,” the nurse said, looking over at Jackson. “You were lucky, Mr. Burrows. Many premature babies suffer from many health problems, but your baby is strong. She may be small, but she is a fighter.”
Greg felt the tension leave his shoulders. He was still worried about his friend, but the most important thing was that the baby was okay. Between the three of them, they could handle anything thrown at them, and at this moment, it seemed like fate was throwing everything she had. The nurse made them wash their hands and put on gowns. She then led them to a small private room located at the back of the nursery. Greg could feel the tension creeping back up into his shoulders as he watched the nurse go over and wheel a large plastic square toward them. The thing looked like something from another world with all the wires and tubes coming from it. She opened the case and lifted a tiny white bundle out. When she turned toward them, Jackson seemed to snap out of the trance he had been in and immediately held out his arms. Greg held his breath until the baby was safely handed over to his friend and the nurse backed away.
“What’s her name?” Greg whispered to the nurse. He watched Jackson slowly walk over to the rocking chair in the corner and sit. His friend had a look of awe on his face, but he also looked terrified and out of his element.
“I’m sorry, Mr….” the nurse said pausing.
“Greg. Just Greg.”
“Okay, I’m sorry, Greg, but she doesn’t have a name yet. Her mother never made it long enough to even see her. We have been calling her Baby Burrows, and that’s what’s on her wristband.” She nodded toward Jackson. “Once all the shock of the situation wears off, Mr. Burrows will have to name her.”
Greg just nodded. What else was there to say? The whole situation was messed up.
“It looks like the baby is in good hands between the three of you. I will leave you and let you get to know her.” With that the nurse left the three of them alone in the room with a tiny baby that none of them had a clue how to take care of.
Greg moved closer and got his first look at the baby. She was a tiny pink bald thing. Greg couldn’t help thinking she looked like she belonged in the alien tube she had just come out of. She was absolutely adorable. When she opened those eyes and looked straight up at them, he knew she would have all three of them wrapped around her tiny little finger in no time at all.
“Did the nurse tell you her name?” Steve asked.
“She doesn’t have one yet,” Greg said as he gave his friend a look that said drop it. He didn’t think Jackson needed a reminder so soon that his sister hadn’t lived long enough to see her own baby, let alone name her.
“Her name is Addison. When I was little, my mom told me my sister had this doll that she’d begged for one Christmas. My dad had to stand in line for hours just to be able to get it. My mom said my sister named the doll Addison, and she never went anywhere without it. She was devastated when she left it in a hotel room when they were on vacation. Addison Sarah. It seems fitting, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, it’s a perfect name for a perfect baby,” Steve answered.
Jackson nodded as if that settled the matter and went back to staring at the baby. She seemed just as fascinated with him because she hadn’t stopped gazing at him the whole time he talked.
They were quiet until Addison’s eyes finally drifted closed. Greg knew that their lives had drastically changed in the last few hours, and they needed to make a plan. Now that the baby was asleep, he could see the wheels turning in Jackson’s head, and he didn’t want him dwelling on the loss of his sister. He needed to keep Jackson’s mind occupied.
“Okay,” Greg whispered. “We need to figure out what we need to do to prepare for Addison coming home with us.”