Two days until Water and Fire is released in paperback, so I thought I'd release Chapter Two for you:
Water and Fire – Chapter Two:
“I'm sorry,” Miranda sobbed, before another scream sounded her next contraction.
“No need,” I replied cheerfully. I found myself singing under my breath. I lifted my voice a little so she might hear the soothing song, too. After all, it can't hurt. She's in enough pain already.
A wail heralded another contraction, Miranda's panicked panting punctuating the time between. I glanced at my watch. Five minutes. With the contractions so close, the next one should hit just as we get there.
I braked carefully as we reached the ambulance entrance, the sound drowned in Miranda's deep groan. I threw myself out of my door and pelted to hers.
“EMERGENCY. I NEED A WHEELCHAIR!” I bellowed as a stricken-looking ward clerk appeared at the door.
“Yes, Belinda,” Helen replied smartly, vanishing back inside. She returned in a moment with the small hospital's only wheelchair, angling it perfectly to catch Miranda as I levered her out of the car.
Helen pursed her lips at the sight of blood in the back seat of my car, but she said nothing. I passed her my keys as I took hold of the wheelchair. “Can you take care of my car, Helen?” I asked brightly, already rolling Miranda inside.
With the help of a sleepy orderly named Rob, I quickly ensconced Miranda in a birthing suite, her wail rising as another contraction hit her.
“Where's Jill?” I asked Rob, before he left the room.
“In with Mrs Barker. She went into labour and won't let Jill leave. Jill and the anaesthetist are trying to persuade her to have an epidural, but she swears she won't.”
Two difficult births in one night – Mrs Barker and now Miranda. This was going to be harder than I'd thought. I sucked in a breath, wondering who else would be able to help me. “Where's Dr Henderson?”
Rob shrugged. “He's not on duty – he's on the afternoon shift. We got a new intern for the morning shift – he's shaking in his office. I swear he goes whiter every time Mrs Barker bellows. Not like you – everyone knows you're the ice queen. Cool, calm and collected – no matter what.”
The last thing I needed was a terrified intern for this birth. Alone, then. “Can you send the anaesthetist to me, after he's done with Mrs Barker? Miranda Nelson was in a car accident, and it looks like she's gone into premature labour.”
Miranda let out another hoarse scream.
“And get someone to call her husband. He's up in Perth this week, I believe – tell him we'll have her flown up to King Edward Memorial Hospital as soon as we can. Call the Flying Doctors for transport, too.” I looked at Miranda, straining through another contraction.
Rob hurried out, leaving us alone.
“Just you and me, Miranda,” I said softly.
“No,” Miranda gasped out. “She's coming. She's coming…urngh!”
Not wanting to believe her, I examined her as quickly as I could. She was almost fully dilated. There would be two patients for transport, not one.
And it's up to me to make sure they survive.
“So she is,” I replied, keeping my voice calm. “It's time to push, Miranda. I hope you have a name picked out.”