Charlie and Max’s story has been out there for a week now and I’ve heard from many of you who want more! Abby’s story will be out September 6 with four (eek!) more coming in 2017! How exciting is that?
But we’re still having fun with Charlie and Max over here. I won’t give anything away, but you know Charlie… She’s sweet and kind and wonderful. She’s always there for her friends, but carries her own load. Max takes care of her when she needs someone to step in and take over.
Excerpt from Fluffy & Fabulous
When I brought his coffee out from the back I glanced over to Mandy. She had turned white and was gripping the edge of the counter. Mrs. O’Neill was leaning over her, talking quietly to her. I handed Max his coffee and got his muffins and cupcake while watching Mandy. “Is she okay?” he asked as I handed him the bag and box.
“I’m not sure. Do you have a minute?”
Max nodded and I went to the other end of the counter.
“Oh, Charlie, Mandy here needs to get to the hospital now. She’s in labor and probably about ready to push. I wouldn’t delay at all, you need to drive her there now, honey.”
My heart dropped to the floor and panic settled over me. I had no idea what to do. I was completely paralyzed watching my friend as another contraction ripped through her body. She gripped the counter again and leaned into Mrs. O’Neill, who held strong despite her advanced age.
“Are you sure?” I finally managed. “She wasn’t in labor a minute ago,” I pleaded, hoping Mrs. O’Neill was wrong, knowing as I said the words she couldn’t be. Mrs. O’Neill had six kids of her own and a gaggle of grandkids and great-grandkids. If anyone knew labor, it was Mrs. O’Neill.
“She’s been in labor all night, Charlie. The back pain she felt was labor pains and the heartburn was her body warning her. Now her contractions are stronger and she needs to get to the hospital. She’s going to have this baby within a few hours, if not sooner.”
Max seemed to spring into action, thanking the O’Neill’s and ushering them out the door with promises I would call them later. He asked me where my car was and if I had towels on site. “I live upstairs so yeah there are towels. Through the kitchen and up the back stairs.”
“Stay with Mandy. Are your keys upstairs too?”
“Keys, Charlotte. Where are your car keys?”
My brain skidded as I realized what he was asking. “Shit, my car isn’t big enough. I have a coupe. She won’t even be able to get into my backseat. Well, if she can, she won’t get out. We need Xander.”
Mandy clenched my fist and moaned as the pain ripped through her again. I was vaguely aware that it had only been a couple minutes since her last contraction. She was going to have her baby, soon. There wasn’t time to get Xander.
“Xander is Mandy’s husband.”
“We can’t wait for him to get here first. We have to go now. Lock up.”
Max directed us out the front door and I locked it behind us. We loaded up into Max’s Explorer, me in back with Mandy and Max driving straight to the hospital. He drove with one hand and dialed Mandy’s phone with the other.
“Xander?” Max said into Mandy’s phone, then paused. “Yes, my name is Max. I’m a friend of Charlotte’s and I’m driving your wife to the hospital right now. I was at Bite Me! this morning when we realized she’s in labor.” He waited, listening to Xander. I could hear his loud voice from the backseat, although I couldn’t understand what Xander said. “Apparently pretty far along.” He paused again. “We couldn’t wait for you to get there. Meet us at the hospital.”
Max hung up and asked for Mandy’s doctor’s name. At the next stoplight he looked up the number on her phone and called the office, telling them we were headed to the hospital. “Is there anyone else we need to call? Her parents?” Max asked when he hung up.
Mandy shook her head. “You can call Claire and everyone, but they don’t need to be there now. Let’s just get to the- AHHH!” Mandy howled and grabbed my arm, squeezing.
I held onto her and let her barrel through it. She looked so miserable, but I knew she needed someone to be there for her. Max saved my life driving us. I never would have made it driving while Mandy labored alone.
He pulled up into the emergency entrance and threw the car in park. He came around and helped Mandy out of the car, half carrying her into the ER. At the desk he explained what was going on and helped get her settled into a wheelchair. Xander burst through the doors while we were talking to the desk. He rushed over to Mandy and kissed her forehead before they disappeared with a nurse.
“Call your friends, I’ll go park the car.”
Max vanished and I whirled around to the desk. “Where will she go?” I asked the woman who’d helped us get Mandy checked in.
“Fourth floor. There’s a waiting room up there. Would you like me to tell your boyfriend where you’re going?”
I shook my head, not correcting her error, and stepped toward the door to start making phone calls.
By the time Max came back in I’d gotten in touch with almost everyone. Drew told Carrie what was going on once Xander left and she was already on her way with him following soon. Carrie called Riley and Sam by the time I got to them also. Addi couldn’t get away from school, but promised to stop by after work. Lexi promised to come after work too, but Claire was on her way.
“Do you know where she is?” Max asked when I hung up with Claire.
“Yeah, she’s on the fourth floor. I can’t thank you enough for your help. I don’t think I would have made it if you hadn’t been there.”
“It was my pleasure. Is there anything I can do for you?”
I shook my head, not really ready for him to leave, but knowing there was no reason for him to stay. Someone would give me a ride home later so I didn’t even need him for that.
But I wanted him to stay. I couldn’t explain it, but I didn’t want to be alone. I knew it wouldn’t be long before my friends would descend on the hospital, each with her husband. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t have a man to lean on.
“Do you, um… Do you want me to stay?” Max asked.
“No,” I said too quickly. “I mean, I’m sure you have other things to do today besides sit around the maternity ward and wait for a stranger to deliver her baby.”
Max smiled and stepped a little closer to me. He looked like he wanted to say something, like there was more lingering. “Is there anything I can do for you at your shop? We left in a hurry. A coffee pot to unplug? Lights to turn off? Anything?”
“Shit,” I said aloud. “I didn’t even think. I left everything on. Hell, I didn’t even lock the back door. I need to go-“
“Do you trust me?”