Matt sat unable to focus, nervously looking at the clock. They had been married for almost a year and Amanda was now nine months along. The baby would be coming anytime now. At any moment, he would be getting the call.
He was eager to be a father again. He was so eager that he was pondering whether or not he should retire from his position. The music business had been exceptionally good to him and he hated to leave it behind but he also wanted to spend time with his new daughter.
“Hello?” He picked up the phone as it rang.
“Matt?” Came Marty’s voice. “How are things?”
“Dear God, Marty,” Matt heaved a sigh, “you nearly gave me a heart attack. I have been expecting Amanda’s call to take her to the hospital….it’s almost that time and I don’t want to be absent from another birth. You know how it is.”
“Yep,” came his cousin’s chortle, “and it only gets worse as you await grandkids and great grandkids.” Marty’s tone changed. “But that isn’t why I called.”
“Oh?” He felt the lump rising in his throat. It was never good when someone said that. “What’s going on?”
“Shasta asked us to call,” Marty replied, “and let all the family know that she is gravely ill. Her doctor’s visit didn’t come out good, Matt. She is dying.”
“What is it?” Matt felt the tears welling up in his eyes. Shasta had raised him and his brothers and sisters.
“It is cancer, Matt,” the tears could be heard in Marty’s voice, “it’s cancer.”
“How are the others taking it?” Matt asked, pushing back his own tears, trying to sound strong.
“Star and the others have rushed to her side,” Marty replied, “and sis is with her as well. AS soon as I get done making the calls, I intend to be there as well.” There was a pause. “Will you be able to come as well? I know that Iowa is out of your way, and that you despise the governor there, but she–”
“I will be there,” Matt promised, cutting Marty off, “and so will Amanda and Little Nattie. How is Dani taking it all?”
“Dani is the most broken up about this,” Marty paused uncertainly, “did you say Little Nattie?”
“Yes,” Matt smiled sadly, “We’re naming our baby girl Natalia Shasta Morrow. After her grandmother and great aunt. We thought it fitting, especially after all Aunt Shasta did for us. And no one has been named after mama…and I have been–thinking back.” the phone buzzed, letting Matt know that someone else was trying to get through. “Listen, Marty. I’m going to have to call you back. Someone is trying to buzz through. Talk to you later?”
“Yeh,” Marty replied in a tired voice, “may be a while, though. got a long list to call.”
“Hello?” Matt inquired, clicking over to the other line.
“Matt, Honey?” Came the frantic sound of his beloved Amanda. “I-I think it’s getting close to time. Mind making your way home?”
“I’m on my way, Baby,” He promised.
“Heading out?” T-Bone appeared in his office door.
“Yup,” Matt smiled, “it’s time to get my ass home.” He looked at his friend. “Can you handle things until I get back?”
“Sure thing, Bro,” T-Bone nodded, “go be a husband and watch your daughter being born. Things’ll be here when you get back.”
“I have to make a second trip after Amanda is cleared to come home with Nattie,” Matt replied.
“Family related?” T-Bone raised his eyebrow.
“Yes,” Matt frowned, “I just found out that my aunt is dying.”
“Shasta?” T’s mouth dropped open. Matt nodded. “Oh, God, man! Take all the time you need!”
“Thanks, man,” Matt replied, “I owe you.”
Matt arrived home just in time. Egypt and Amanda were both waiting on the doorstep for him. Egypt loaded the bags into the trunk and Amanda, and herself, into the backseat with Amanda arranged in a more comfortable position.
“Just remember to turn your hazards on, Dad,” Egypt winked, “And drive to the hospital emergency entrance as quickly as you can.” She noticed the sadness in her father’s eyes. “What is it?”
“Your great aunt Shasta is dying, hon,” he replied, “I want her to meet her new great niece before she goes.”
Matt turned on the hazards and put the car into gear. Carefully, he emerged from his drive and sped toward the hospital. He had to get Amanda to the emergency room before this child decided to make an appearance. He smiled. If Nattie was anything like the rest of the Morrows, she’d make a dramatic entrance.
For some reason, luck, or the fates, seemed to be on their side. Every light stayed green all the way to the hospital. No crazy drivers tried to drive through their red lights. And even the police seemed to be nowhere in sight.
Matt breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled the car into the hospital drive and around under the emergency room awning.They were met at the entrance by a nurse with a wheel chair.
“Mrs. Morrow,” she smiled calmly, “if we can get you into the chair, I will wheel you on into the hospital so your husband can park the car. We’ll try to keep the baby from emerging until he can get to where we are.”
Egypt helped Amanda out of the back seat, then went to the driver’s side door.
“You’re going in,” she stated, “I will park the car.”
Reluctantly, Matt got out of the car and handed it over to his daughter. Still, he realized that it was more important for him to go in with Amanda.
“Pop the trunk,” he instructed.
Egypt did as she was requested and Matt removed the bags, closing the trunk after. Picking up the bags, he followed the nurse as she wheeled Amanda into the hospital through the handicapped entrance.
“Nice girl,” the nurse commented, “family friend?”
“She’s my daughter,” Matt replied proudly.