As Justin crossed the lobby of the hotel, he found himself accosted by
an anxious looking receptionist, a piece of paper in her hand. "Oh,
thank goodness you're back. We didn't know how to get a hold of you -
but an urgent message came in for you about half an hour ago."
"An urgent message? For me?" Justin slipped his camera off his
shoulder, consternation filling his brown eyes as he registered the
woman's expression. A stab of panic shot through him as he remembered
his earlier fight with his wife, and he bit his lip.
"What kind of message?" He asked softly. "From my wife?"
"Not exactly, sir." The woman shook her head, clearly agitated. "I
mean, it was about your wife, but not from her, exactly."
"Just tell me." He said quietly. "What's happened?"
"It was a call from Chad's Memorial Hospital." The woman fumbled with
her piece of paper, holding it out and numbly Justin took it. "Your
wife was admitted there earlier this evening and they've been trying to
get a hold of you. I don't know what exactly the matter is - they
wouldn't disclose it to hotel staff - just that we were to pass on the
message to you about where she was and everything. I think an ambulance
had to be called out to her, and, well..."
"I'm sorry to have to bring the news." She added.
Justin was silent for a moment, his mind whirling as he digested
everything she had said. Then he nodded slowly.
"Thank you." He said levelly. "I'll go there now. Chad's Memorial
"Yes, sir. Can I call you a taxi? It's about half an hour's drive
"Half an hour?" Justin stared. "Why did they take her there?"
"Probably the closest hospital to where she was." The woman bit her
lip. "I really don't know any more than that, sir. Like I said, they
wouldn't tell me anything over the phone."
"I realise. I'm sorry." He said contritely. "Could you call me a cab,
then? The sooner I get there, the sooner I can straighten this all out.
"Yes, sir." The woman nodded, darting back behind her desk, and Justin
dropped heavily down into a nearby seat as he tried to get to grips
with his composure.
"I know what she went out there to do." He muttered to himself. "What
if she did...and something went wrong? What if she's badly hurt or sick
or something? What if it's a real emergency and I wasn't here to take
the call? I'm wasting time, but what else can I do but wait for a cab?
I don't know this damn city, not without her as my tour guide. I've no
clue where Chad's Memorial Hospital is or how to get to it on my own.
Dammit, why did she have to be so stubborn? What in hell has she
done...and dammit, what if she isn't okay?"
* * * * * *
It was almost half past seven.
Jetta glanced at her watch once more, chewing hard on her lip as she
watched the second hand tick slowly around to join the minute hand once
more. Another minute passed, and her gaze flitted to the door of the
little side room - but still there was no sign, and despite herself she
felt hollow inside. Only her fierce self control kept her from breaking
down and crying, but she knew that, after their conversation earlier
on, she had no reason to expect Justin to show up at the hospital.
"Words." She muttered under her breath, sinking back against the hard
hospital pillows with a discontented frown. "I open my mouth and shoot
them out far too much without thinking about the effect they have. I'm
a tactless, stupid bitch sometimes an' I always choose the worst bloody
moments to do it. I did it in Vegas, before 'e almost drowned 'imself.
An' I've done it today, when I'm stranded 'ere an' alone. You'd think
I'd learn to keep my bleedin' tongue still after all this time."
She sighed, biting down on her lip once more as she fought back her
The doctor had left her about ten minutes before, and even though she
had resented his inquisitive behaviour and his many questions, at least
it had been company. Now she was alone with her thoughts, and she
didn't like it.
A sound from the door made her glance up, her heart sinking as she
realised it was only the nurse. This was the woman she'd given the
hotel number to when she'd arrived, she recalled, and at her glance the
newcomer offered her a smile.
"Are you feeling any better?" She asked gently. Jetta shook her head
mutely, and the nurse hesitated, then came to sit down beside the bed.
"I shouldn't be hanging around like this, but you look a little lost."
She said kindly. "Do you want me to get the doctor? If you're feeling
"No, I'm feelin' fine." Jetta spoke quietly. "There ain't nothin' the
doctor can do, so don't worry yourself. I'm fine. Really. I'm
just...fed up with bein' here."
"Your husband hasn't arrived yet?"
"No." Jetta said shortly, and comprehension flooded the nurse's face.
"Do you think he won't come?" She murmured. Jetta started, then
"We 'ad an argument." She admitted. "I'm not expectin' to see him."
"About the baby?" The nurse pressed. Jetta nodded.
"Sort of." She agreed. She sighed.
"I shouldn't be talkin' about this to a stranger." She added. "It ain't
noone else's business an' that ain't my style."
"Sometimes it helps to tell a stranger." The nurse shrugged. "I'm good
at keeping secrets, you know. Nurses have to be. Otherwise, why would
our patients trust us?"
"Good question." Jetta muttered. "The lot of you are mad, to choose to
work in a place like this all the time."
"Maybe we are." The nurse acknowledged. "But we do it, all the same."
"My name is Lianna." She offered. "Yours is Sheila, I know that
already. Will you trust me and tell me what's wrong?"
"Everything, so unless you got all night, you probably don't want to
ask me." Jetta sighed heavily. "Besides, it won't change things.
Obviously he ain't comin' to get me...which speaks volumes in itself,
to be quite blunt. We 'ad words an' he's makin' 'imself pretty clear
with 'is lack of response on the matter."
"Does he want you to get rid of the baby?" Lianna asked softly. Jetta
stared. Then she shook her head.
"No." She said flatly. "Actually, that was me. That's why we fought. I
didn't want children. Still don't. It was one of the conditions of us
gettin' married...that babies an' all of that were off the agenda. An'
now I'm in this state an' I sure as 'ell don't know what to do about
"So your husband wants you to keep it?"
"He hasn't said it, but I know he does." Jetta grimaced. "The git keeps
sayin' we should discuss it an' work out this or that but I damn well
know what he wants. He's just not admittin' to it and it's drivin' me
crazy. I guess I reacted badly when I found out - hell, it's a shock,
what woman wouldn't? So I lost my temper with 'im an' said some things
I shouldn't 'ave. But damn him, he's got no right to jus' leave me 'ere
to stew, even if he's mad at me! Dammit, you jus' don't do that to a
woman! Especially considerin' everythin'!"
"You don't know that he's not coming." Lianna said sensibly. "When I
called the hotel, there was no answer from your suite. They told me
they thought he'd gone out and that they'd get a hold of him as soon as
possible. Maybe he just hasn't got the message yet."
"Maybe." She owned. "I'm sorry. Just twitchy, is all. An' wantin' to
leave here. It creeps me out. All the needles an' the solemnity of
bein' here on me own...I don't like it."
"Did you speak to Dr Callan about...about your options where the baby
is concerned?" Lianna questioned. Jetta faltered, then shook her head.
"I didn't really know what to say." She admitted. "People look at
you...like a woman is meant to be 'appy if she's expectin' and doin'
all them maternal things women do. They ain't supposed to come in 'ere
feelin' like I'm feelin' and I know how it would 'ave been if I'd said
anythin'. I'd have been looked at like I was unnatural. All women are
supposed to want babies, right?"
"Not all women do." Lianna shook her head. "And you shouldn't feel that
it's wrong to think that way, either. Things are never that clear cut
in any circumstance, you know. I don't think people would consider you
unnatural if you didn't want to be maternal. It's not for everyone,
"I'm just a fish out of water bein' here an' I hate it." Jetta toyed
absently with the edge of the bedcover. "I don't want this - any of
this! I feel like I've stepped out of my bloody life into the Twilight
Zone an' I want to step back into it an' get back to the way things
were before! Everything's been mental since I married Justin in Las
Vegas an' that's the bleedin' truth of it...I don't know if I'm comin'
or if I'm goin'. And now your blessed doctor 'as confirmed for certain
that I'm knocked up, well, that ain't 'elpin' anything. I don't want to
be a mother."
"I could speak to him for you, ask him to come explain your options and
what happens, if you like." Lianna suggested. "If you wanted to talk to
him - would that be easier?"
"I don't know." Jetta confessed. She rubbed her temples. "I really
"Well, in your own time." Lianna said softly. "There's not as much of a
hurry as you think there is. You're early along yet and you've time to
think it over. Really. You have time to consider all the angles and all
"That's almost what's botherin' me." Jetta laughed, but it was a hollow
laugh and lacked any real humour. "Time to think is what's drivin' me
At that moment an alert crackled over the loud speaker and Lianna got
to her feet, smoothing down her uniform.
"I have to go." She said apologetically. "Sounds like there's an
emergency and they'll need my help. But if you want me to talk to the
doctor for you, I will. All right? Think it over."
Before Jetta could reply she was gone, closing the door behind her, and
once more the Misfit was left alone to ponder her situation in silence.
She cast another glance at her watch, noting with some bitterness that
the minute hand had crept around to the nine.
"Almost time for visitin' to end." She muttered. "Bloody typical,
She stopped, her brows knitting together as she heard a commotion from
the corridor outside. Listening intently, she could just make out the
voices of two nurses, and then a third voice, which sent relief and
hope stabbing through her confused heart.
"Justin?" She whispered, then, "Oh dammit, girl, get a flaming grip on
yourself! Bleedin' hormones, what are they doing to me? Makin' me
"I don't care if it's almost eight o' clock!" Now it was clearer, and
Jetta knew that it was indeed her husband's voice. "I was told my wife
was here and I'm not going anywhere until you tell me where I can find
Jetta could not make out the nurse's response, but clearly it had not
impressed her husband any.
"Then please, get out of my way and I'll find her myself." He said, and
Jetta climbed carefully off the bed she had been resting on, moving
cautiously towards the door. "I've already told you, I don't care what
time it is. I haven't come all the way across the city to just go back
again. She's here and I'm going to see her...I don't care if you do
call security on me."
Another pause, then,
"No, you listen to me." Now it was clear Justin was losing his temper.
"My wife is pregnant and she's not been at all well in recent weeks. I
get a call telling me she's been brought to this hospital and that's it
- no information, no nothing. Obviously, I'm worried about her. If you
want to have me arrested, you go
right ahead. I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd love to hear
about the wonderful bedside manner available in some London hospitals!"
At this, Jetta pushed open the door of the sideward.
"I'm here." She said simply. "I thought you'd never bleedin' come."
"Well, I've been trying to get past these two ladies for the last ten
minutes." Justin shot the nurses a bad tempered glare, folding his arms
across his chest. "They seemed to think that because visiting time was
almost over, I shouldn't be allowed up here. Which is interesting
considering the hospital called me and asked me to come here...don't
"I think they'd better get lost before they 'ave a law suit on their
'ands." Jetta said levelly, watching as the young nurses exchanged
apprehensive looks. "But anyway. You found me."
She stepped back into the room, indicating for Justin to join her. Once
she had closed the door, however, she sank back down onto her bed,
taking a deep breath. Justin eyed her keenly.
"What the hell happened?" He asked softly. "I want the truth,
Jetta...and all of it, please."
Jetta eyed him sharply, taking in his expression as she did so. There
was a mixture of anguish and annoyance in his dark eyes, and his lips
were set in a thin line. He sat down on the end of the bed, his gaze
never leaving her face, and in the end it was her eyes that dropped
"Don't look at me like that." She muttered.
"Like I've broken curfew or somethin' stupid! I'm an adult, Justin. I
don't 'ave to account to you for anythin'."
"That depends on how seriously you take your marriage vows." Justin
said quietly. "Do you have any idea how scared I was when I got that
call? I didn't know what had happened, what you'd done...where you
might have ended up! When you left the hotel you literally just took
off and I had no clue where to find you! Not even a hint or a telephone
number. I went out with my camera to try and kill some of my tension,
but I wound up looking out for you half the time instead of taking
photos. And then I get back to the hotel and I'm greeted with this
message. Now you're not even going to be straight with me about why
you're here in the first place?"
Jetta did not answer at first, his words stinging into her as she
digested them. She had never heard him use that tone with her before,
and despite herself, she didn't like it.
"Well?" Justin sent her a piercing look. "Can you at least look me in
the eye when I'm talking to you? Because I'm annoyed, Jetta. No, I'm
more than that. I've about reached the end of my patience. I love you -
you know that, I've told you it about a thousand times since we got
together. But sometimes you frustrate even me with the way you change
your mind. Your moods. Everything has to be on your terms and I'm tired
of it. I don't know if I can do it any more and that's the truth."
"You can't make me do something I don't want to do." Jetta raised angry
grey eyes to his. "You know that as much as I do."
"I wasn't even talking about that." Justin said quietly. "I'm not a
confrontational guy and I'm used to life moving fast. But sometimes I
think you take it for granted that I don't have an opinion of my own to
add to the discussion. This afternoon you yelled...God knows what at
me, then stormed out of the hotel without a word to anyone as to how to
find you. I would never have forced anything on you - if you feel even
the slightest amount for me the way I do for you you'd know that. But
you weren't even prepared to talk about it. It was just my fault. It's
always my fault. It's always something I've done, never something you
were a part of. We got married - I forced you into it. You got
pregnant, I seduced you with intent and you're yelling about divorce
and a ton of other crazy stuff. I can't deal with that every time we
have an issue, Jetta. I can't. You have to start taking your share of
the blame too, else we're just not going to go anywhere."
Jetta stared at him, unable to speak, and Justin pursed his lips.
"I can't be your fall guy forever." He added softly. "That's not what
being married is all about."
Jetta swallowed hard, but it was in vain. With a choke, the tears came
and she shook her head slowly.
"Stop it." She begged. "Stop yelling at me. I can't take it either, you
know! Not right now. Not...not with these bleedin' hormones rocketin'
round my body!"
Justin sighed heavily.
"What are we doing?" He asked her wearily. "Are we playing at being man
and wife, or are we actually man and wife, Jetta? Do you trust me?"
"Of course I do, you git! Do you think I'd 'ave bloody well married you
if I didn't?"
"I wonder that all the time." Justin admitted. "I worry that Michigan
shocked you into choosing something you weren't ready for and that you
didn't even really mean. That it was something you did in the aftermath
of a big shock and that when it all came down to it, it's not what you
really want. You keep setting rules...boundaries for our relationship.
Things we can and can't do. Like it all has to be controlled and
organised and...and structured, I guess. You're so focused on things
not changing - the group, and your life, and everything else. Hell,
even your damn weight is an issue, apparently, if you're worrying about
putting five pounds on over Christmas! It just seems...it seems wrong,
Jetta did not answer right away, and for a moment there was silence
between them. Then she sighed.
"Those five pounds weren't Christmas indulgence." She said quietly, her
voice shaking slightly as she struggled against the tears that still
fell. "They were the baby, Justin. The doctor told me so. And the
dizziness, the sickness, my moods...all of that has been the same
thing. Maybe even my reaction to Michigan. Maybe that too. I don't
She paused, then,
"But I wasn't pregnant when I married you." She added, her tones barely
more than a whisper. "And when I did it, I knew exactly what the hell I
was doing. I might have got scared the next mornin', true enough. But I
knew what I was doin' when I made those choices in Vegas. An' I meant
everythin' I told you in Michigan, too. Whether you believe me or not.
I can't believe you're takin' this out on me right now, when everything
is so crazy an' when I'm in a bleedin' hospital t'boot!"
"Well, I'm tired, frustrated and honestly, frightened." Justin sighed.
"Frightened of what had happened to you, frightened that I didn't know
where you were, frightened that you really aren't as committed to this
relationship as I am. All those things, Jetta. It's been a damn long
day. And I understand why you wanted rid of the baby, but to go and do
it without even discussing the matter..."
"Woah!" Jetta held up her hands. "Is that what this is? I'm gettin' the
third degree because you think I took off across the city an' got rid
of it, an' that's why I'm stuck in this place? That I made a rash
decision an' wound up payin' for it?"
"Well, that's what you told me you were going to do." Justin looked
confused. "Didn't you?"
"I did." Jetta acknowledged, sinking back against the headboard. "But I
didn't do it. Not yet, anyway. I...I'm not rash or impulsive by nature,
Justin. I needed to think about it. Find out things. An' whenever I
came close to goin' for it, I kept thinkin' about our argument an' how
pissed you'd be with me if I did it."
She glanced down.
"I was afraid that you'd leave me." She admitted in a small voice.
"When I was sitting here, on my own, and you didn't show up. I thought
you weren't comin'. That you'd 'ad enough an' you'd gone already. An' I
was scared, Justin. Honestly, truly scared. Because I've always been on
my own...and I really don't want to be any more."
Justin's expression relaxed.
"You didn't get rid of it yet?" He echoed. Jetta shook her head.
"No." She replied. "The truth is I blacked out in the middle of a
shopping centre an' hit my head or somethin'. Someone called an
ambulance, an' that's why I ended up 'ere. That's all. Nothin' else."
Justin drew a deep breath of air into his lungs.
"Maybe I owe you an apology, then." He owned. "Coming at you like
that...but I thought...and well..."
"No, you are right." Jetta sighed heavily. "Every bloody thing you said
an' probably more. I know it as well as you do. But you did choose to
marry a bitch, you know. A Misfit. We ain't perfect. We 'ave our issues
an' you chose to deal with them 'ead on when you said I do. That works
both ways, you know."
"Yes, I know." Justin nodded his head. "And I didn't..."
"I guess it bothered me more than I realised, the idea of you getting
rid of our child." He admitted at length. "I wasn't really angry with
you until I saw you just now, and that's the truth. I was scared, yes.
Worried, definitely. But angry? No. That just...well, came out. I'm
sorry, I guess this means more to me than I thought. I guess it does
matter to me, whether or not I have children."
"Which is another of my rules an' boundaries, ain't it." Jetta sighed
again. She held out a hand, taking her husband's in her grip and
pulling herself closer to him, leaning up against his shoulder.
"I want things to just settle down and be normal." She said eventually.
"But things never are for me. That's what you don't realise. Everythin'
everyone else has, I don't get. Not ever. I ain't 'ad a family growin'
up. I ain't 'ad things other kids my age always 'ad. No proper
Christmases. No real 'olidays. Not many school trips unless Grandpa
forked out for them. And I came here to make money, because I never 'ad
any of that, neither - except I found out that makin' money doesn't do
anythin' but pay for clothes an' musical stuff an' nights out on the
town. It doesn't answer any questions, Justin. It doesn't change
anythin'. Just makes you a Misfit with money instead of one
without...it doesn't change the way the world treats you. Or you treat
She bit her lip.
"I'm gettin' weird on you now, so maybe I do have a concussion." She
owned ruefully. "But it's true, nonetheless. When you had your accident
in Michigan, I thought it was my fault. That I'd cursed you. An' that
somehow you were out there because of my perennial bad luck."
"That is the craziest thing you have ever said to me." Justin stared.
"And you've said some pretty crazy things recently, Jetta. I didn't
think you believed in all of that fate stuff anyway?"
"I don't, not usually." Jetta pinkened. "But it just seemed like my lot
-as usual. My family are gamblers, Justin - gamblers who lose more than
they ever win. The only time I've ever placed bets on the table an'
come away with cash at the end of it was when we went to Vegas. It was
like an omen. So I took another gamble. You asked me to marry you an' I
"When you survived the boat accident, I knew I'd gambled and won."
Jetta bit her lip, finally getting control of her emotions. She reached
up to dry her eyes. "I jus' didn't realise there'd be an askin' price
for it. But there always is, when you gamble. You always put up stakes
before you go in for the big one. I should've seen it comin'. Known
there'd be a reason you didn't drown out there. The baby is it. My luck
might 'ave almost drowned you, but the baby 'as your damn luck. It
brought you back. So I wouldn't be on my own any more."
"You're getting crazier by the second, you know that?"
"Yes, I know." Jetta sighed, closing her eyes. "I'm tired an' I'm
babbling, but you wanted me to trust you. The bottom line is, Justin, I
can't get rid of the baby. That's why I'm so freaked out. So upset and
scared of the whole deal. Even when I was tellin' you an' myself what I
was goin' to do, I guess some part of me knew I wasn't going to do it.
Because if I was, I would 'ave done it by now. If I felt that strongly
about what was right, I wouldn't 'ave hesitated. I might not be
impulsive, but I am decisive an' I don't go back on decisions made."
She swallowed hard.
"So here we are." She managed. "Guess this is where the rules an'
boundaries start to break down. I am a control freak - more than I
realised, actually - an' it scares me that I can't control this. So if
you back out on me too, I probably will need to be sectioned. I've felt
close to the wire a few times...so really, it's up to you whether you
can stand it."
Justin stared at her for a moment. Then, very gently, he took her in
his arms, holding her tightly. Jetta buried her head in his shoulder,
feeling strangely safe and comforted by his grip.
"We'll be fine. We'll just yell nonsense at one another at random
intervals over the next sixty or so years." He murmured in her ear, his
voice playful and light. Despite herself, she smiled, punching him idly
on the arm.
"Git." She said affectionately. "So even after all of this, you still
want to bother with me?"
"I take my vows extremely seriously." Justin nodded solemnly. "And I
think we can make it work...so long as you think we can."
"I don't know, but I want to try." Jetta admitted. "But Justin...about
"It's a lot for me to 'andle, emotionally an' physically an' I can't
promise to be logical or stable while it's all goin' on." Jetta said
honestly. "I may say things...do things...that make no sense. I
just...have to get used to it. To everythin'. To the way our life is
goin' to change."
"I guess I understand that. And probably need to understand it more."
Justin acknowledged. "I'll try and take that in, I promise."
"And you have to promise to be there when I need you." Jetta raised her
eyes to his. "When it's born...whenever that is. I can't do that alone.
I won't...I won't do that alone. So you better be there, else we'll be
having serious words."
"I wouldn't not be." Justin assured her. "That's easy to promise. I'd
want to be there."
"If only you could be there instead of me." Jetta looked rueful. "Bein'
tough really isn't about fist-fightin' someone you hate, you know. It's
about doin' somethin' that scares the crap out of you."
"I guess we all grow up sometime and realise we aren't the only person
in the world any more." Justin remarked philosophically. Jetta nodded.
"It's just 'it me a little later than most people." She agreed
sheepishly. She glanced at her watch. "It's half eight. Guess we
scared the nurses away, huh?"
"Guess we did." Justin nodded. "Hey, are they keeping you in here
tonight or are you fit to leave?"
"Doctor said I could go if you came to get me. Otherwise he wasn't
happy me leavin' on my own, with my propensity to dizziness, as he put
it." Jetta sighed. "But you are here, so please, Justin, can we go? I'm
tired an' I'm hungry...I couldn't face food when they offered it an'
it's gettin' late. I know we'll have missed dinner at the hotel, but
honestly, I jus' want a comfortable bed an' I'll eat pretty much
anythin'. Please? Will you sign me out of this hell-hole? God knows
today has been enough for anyone without spendin' the whole night here."
"I think the sooner we left Chad's Memorial Hospital, the better."
Justin said dryly. "You're not dizzy now?"
"No, just tired and emotional."
"Then we'll go." Justin stood, and Jetta allowed herself to be pulled
to her feet. "And if the doctor doesn't like it, well, that's just