Black Jack: A nail biting, hair-raising thriller (Jack Ryder Book 4)Willow Rose
Jack Ryder #4
About the Author
Books by the Author
What Hurts the Most
1. September 2015
2. September 2015
3. September 2015
4. September 2015
5. September 2015
6. February 1977
7. September 2015
8. September 2015
9. September 2015
10. April 1977
11. September 2015
12. September 2015
13. September 2015
14. September 2015
15. September 2015
16. September 2015
17. April 1977
18. September 2015
19. September 2015
20. February 1992
21. September 2015
22. September 2015
23. May 1977
24. September 2015
25. September 2015
26. September 2015
27. May 1977
28. September 2015
29. September 2015
30. March 1992
31. September 2015
32. September 2015
33. February 1978
34. September 2015
35. March 1992
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Copyright Willow Rose 2015
Published by Jan Sigetty Boeje
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Jan Sigetty Boeje
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sigettys Cover Design
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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BLACK JACK: A card game in which the player attempts to approach 21 but not exceed it.
Having a baby was by far the greatest thing to have happened to Susan Murray. She knew it would be, since they all said so, literally everyone who touched her stomach told her that it was the biggest thing she was ever going to experience in life.
And she believed them.
But they hadn’t told her the entire truth had they? They hadn’t exactly told her how hard it was going to be nor had they mentioned the many endless sleepless nights. Well that’s not exactly true, her friend Marley had said she would lose sleep, but she had added that it would be totally worth it.
She hadn’t mentioned the fact that Susan was going to feel like she was constantly run over by a dumb truck. Nor had she mentioned that she and her husband, Bob was going to be yelling at each other in the middle of the night because she simply couldn’t take being waken up yet again, because the baby had to eat.
And so far it had been only twenty-one days.
Susan sighed and looked at her husband sitting across the table from her while shoveling in granola and yoghurt. In front of her lingered a bowl of cereal that she was way too exhausted to eat. She had Chandelle on her arm, as she was still breastfeeding and had been all morning.
Doesn’t this baby ever take a break?
Susan knew she was supposed to sleep whenever the baby did, but so far she had hardly slept at all. Not more than an hour here and there.
“Try and eat something,” Bob said flatly, leftover milk in his beard. “You need the strength.”
Susan grabbed the spoon in the one free hand and leaned over to eat. But as she did, the baby started to fuss.
“She’s doing it again,” Susan said with a deep sigh and dropped the spoon back in the bowl. She gazed frustrated at her husband even if she knew he couldn’t do anything about it. “It’s like she can’t suck properly.”
Bob sighed and looked at his watch. “Listen, babe. I have to get to work.”
Of course he did. For the first time in their marriage Susan was actually jealous of him. She used to be a teacher, but when she married Bob and became pregnant he told her it was time to quit, that now she was becoming a mother and had to take care of their child.
Susan had loved the idea. She wasn’t very fond of teaching. It hadn’t quite lived up to her expectations when dreaming about becoming a teacher. Kids could be monsters from time to time.
But right now she would take a day with her second-graders anytime over this. The thought of spending yet another day alone with this small baby, doing nothing but breastfeeding and changing diapers all day, was devastating. She missed leaving the house; she missed talking to her colleagues at the school.
She even missed the kids.
Bob got up from his chair, grabbed his car keys and kissed Susan on the forehead. That was the most intimate they had been for weeks.
“It’ll get better,” he whispered. “I know it is hard right now. But that’s expected, right? Everyone goes through this, but they all say it’ll get better.”
Susan nodded and closed her eyes while thinking easy for you to say, you don’t have to stay inside all day while someone is literally sucking life right out of you.
“I’m really proud of you,” he said before he closed the door behind him and left her alone once again.
Chandelle fussed in her arms struggling to get enough out of her breast. Susan hushed her and stroked her head gently.
“There now. Just take it easy. It’ll get better.”
And just as she said the words, Chandelle reached out and grabbed Susan’s finger in her hand and held on to it. The emotion rolling through Susan’s body was overwhelming, overpowering and soon she found herself crying, sobbing in happiness, completely forgetting the sleepless hours and the loneliness. At least for a few seconds.
Yes, having a baby surely was the greatest thing that had ever happened to Susan. And even if it was tough right now, she was going to long desperately to have this time back, for many years to come.
“I think something is wrong.”
Susan held the phone close to her ear, her heart pounding in her chest, Chandelle on her arm, fussing and crying. Susan tried to swing her from side to side to calm her down, but it didn’t work.
“You always say that,” Bob said in the other end.
“No this is different. Something is off with her. She is burning up,” Susan said flustered.
“So she has a fever? Well that’s normal in babies. They have to get used to the environment outside the mother’s womb. Babies get sick and they can endure a much higher fever than adults.”
Susan nodded quietly while her husband spoke. He was after all a doctor. He had his own practice close to where they lived in Savannah. He saw many worried mothers come in with their babies.
“It’s probably just a virus,” he said. “There’s a lot of that going around these days. We’ll monitor it. She’ll probably snap out of it in no time.”
“Okay,” Susan said.
She hung up and brought Chandelle to the living room where she sat down and tried to breastfeed. But Chandelle suddenly wouldn’t eat.
“That’s not normal,” Susan mumbled to the baby who was now crying louder than before. “You usually always eat, almost all day long. What’s wrong with you, baby girl, huh?”
Susan tickled Chandelle on her stomach. When that only made her cry louder, she checked the diaper, but it wasn’t even wet.
That’s odd. She hasn’t peed since last night?
“It’s probably just a virus,” Susan repeated her husband’s words while trying to calm the baby down.
But nothing worked. Soon Susan felt the frustration rise in her body and she started to walk around the house swinging the baby in her arms, hushing her, but still nothing worked. She tried putting her down for a nap, thinking the virus and fever probably made her exhausted and she probably needed a nap, but putting her down made Chandelle scream even louder.
Susan let her stay in the bed for a few minutes, sneaking outside thinking it would be easier for Chandelle to fall asleep if her mother wasn’t in the room, but after ten minutes of standing outside the door to the nursery listening to the baby scream her lungs out, Susan couldn’t take it anymore.
She stormed inside and grabbed Chandelle in her arms and held her close. The baby suddenly stopped crying.
Susan took in a deep breath.
But the joy only lasted a few seconds before Susan realized there was a reason the baby had stopped crying.
She had become unresponsive.
The baby wasn’t looking at her at all. She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t babbling, she was hardly breathing. But she was burning hot. Susan let out a small shriek.
Oh my God, oh my God!
Bob was held up at the practice and arrived at the hospital an hour after Susan and Chandelle did. He stormed in the room, where Susan was sitting; holding her baby’s small lifeless hand. As her eyes met his, Susan stood up.
“What do they say?” he asked.
“She has an infection. Apparently she swallowed fluid during delivery and that caused it,” Susan said. “She had a 104 when we got here. They hooked her up on antibiotics.”
Bob breathed in a sigh of relief. “Good gracious.”
“We barely made it,” she said between sobs. She had been holding in her tears for so long now there was no holding them back anymore.
Bob grabbed her in his arms and hugged her. “Hey. Take it easy. She is going to be all right. The antibiotics will help and before you know it she’ll be back home with us again.”
“I just can’t…I was so scared, Robert. I was terrified.”
Susan only called her husband by his birth name when she was troubled or if he had done something she didn’t approve of or hurt her somehow. Otherwise it was always Bob, or Bobby, or Babe. She did it because she wanted him to know she blamed him a little for this happening. Because he didn’t react when she asked him to in the first place. Because it could have gone really wrong if she hadn’t walked back into the room and picked Chandelle up when she did. What if she had waited a few more minutes outside the door? What if Chandelle had gone quiet like she did and Susan had believed she had simply fallen asleep? Then what? Just because he kept telling her it was a virus, a simple virus that she would beat in no time.
“I know, I know,” he said. “But it’s all over now. She’s in the best of hands here. I know the pediatric, and he is excellent. She is getting the treatment she needs and she’ll be better in no time.”
Susan couldn’t help feeling angry with him. How could he be so casual about all this? Didn’t he realize their baby almost died?
“Look at me,” he said and grabbed her by the shoulders.
Reluctantly she obeyed.
“Chandelle will be just fine. I made a mistake. I am sorry, it won’t happen again. From now on I will take you seriously every time you fuss, all right? Could we focus on our baby now and the fact that she’s still here?”
Susan’s sobs subsided. She looked into the eyes of her beloved husband who had known her since they were both in high school. “You’re right,” she said with a deep exhale.
“Now why don’t you and I go downstairs and get something to eat?” Bob said with a gentle smile.
“I can’t,” she said.
“You have to eat, Susan. You need your strength.”
She sighed and looked at her baby. “But can we just leave her?”
Bob chuckled. “Well of course we can. All the nurses are here and the doctors too. She’s sleeping right now. She needs all the rest she can get. Plus all these machines right there will go off if anything is out of the ordinary. She is in the safest place in the world.”
Susan looked at her girl who seemed so peaceful. Her small chest was heaving up and down as she breathed.
“I still don’t feel like…”
“How about you and me go down there and buy a couple of sandwiches, then come back and eat it here, huh? Would that do?”
Susan nods. “All right. I am kind of hungry.”
She slept in the baby’s room. Bob went home to get enough sleep to be able to go to work the next day, since they knew Chandelle was going to be fine. It was hard to sleep in a chai
r, but if anything she had learned these past twenty-two days it was to get by without much sleep. She kept waking up with a start, looking at the baby, then realizing that Chandelle was still fine before she fell back asleep again.
Every hour a nurse would come in and check on Chandelle. They tried to do so without waking up Susan, but not with much success.
It wasn’t until they were changing shifts around 2 am that Susan gave in to the pressing feeling of having to go to the bathroom. She only stayed in the bathroom for a few minutes. Once she was done, she opened the door to the room and looked at the crib with Chandelle in it, then at the instruments monitoring her progress. She looked at them for a few seconds before it sunk in.
They are all turned off!
Susan stormed to the crib and looked inside. It was empty.
Where’s my baby?
Frantically Susan looked around in the room as if expecting to find Chandelle on the floor or somewhere else, before she stormed out into the hallway. Hyperventilating desperately she approached the nurses room. The door was locked as usually during changing shifts.
Susan knocked. The panic made her hands shake.
The door was opened and a nurse looked at her. She was about to get angry, but seeing the desperation on Susan’s face made her change her mind.
“Did anyone take Chandelle?” Susan asked.
“My baby,” she continued, finding it hard to say the words. “Chandelle Murray. She’s…she’s not in her crib. I thought maybe something happened, maybe you took her to some examinations or something.”
The nurse’s eyes stared at Susan, scrutinizing her. “I…I just got here. Let me just check with the others.”
The door was closed in Susan’s face. The wait was unbearable. A million thoughts ran through her mind until it was opened again. The nurse shook her head. “No one in here knows anything about it. Are you sure she’s not in her crib?”
Susan stared at the small woman. Was she kidding her?