Ella glanced at the time on her phone to see it was 10:30, then looked over to find Mike drifting off to sleep in the seat next to hers. At this time of night, the waiting room at the hospital was virtually empty, besides herself, Mike, Byron, and Spencer. All of them were preoccupied in their own little worlds. They’d been waiting for hours already.
Ella tapped Mike’s knee and he shifted in his sleep. “I’m going to see if I can find anything in the cafeteria. Do you want anything?”
Mike looked up and nodded. “Surprise me,” he said, then closed his eyes again.
Ella stood and made her way down the corridor, but slowed her pace when she saw Ezra exit from Aria’s hospital room. He immediately leaned against the wall and let out a breath, then ran a hand through his hair. He was exhausted, scared and anxious, but he wasn’t displaying any of this on the other side of the door. He had to be strong for Aria.
“Hey,” Ella said, stopping in front of him.
Hearing her voice, Ezra looked to his left and managed to crack a small smile.
Ella gave him a sympathetic look, having been on the other side of the door twice before. “How is she?” she asked in a hushed tone.
“You know, this process is a lot faster in the movies,” he pointed out, talking in the same volume as Ella. “The doctor says that she’s progressing, but it could be another six to twelve hours before she’s even ready to push.”
“That’s often the case with the first one. Women can be in labor for days,” Ella told him, though it wasn’t exactly comforting, and she realized this immediately after she said it. “How are you doing?”
He looked away and leaned his head against the wall, staring at the wall across from him. “I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to see her in this much pain and not be able to do anything about it besides hold her hand, and tell her how much I love her over and over again,” he answered honestly. “I would switch places with her if I could, if it meant not having to see the heartbreaking look in her eyes whenever she has a contraction.”
Ella knew where Ezra was coming from. Having been through labor twice before, she knew there wasn’t a way to properly describe the level of pain that you must endure before you’re able to meet your child. Knowing Aria was going through that at this moment was difficult for her as well. In a way, she and Ezra were sitting in the same boat. “Is that why you’re out here instead of in there?”
“No,” Ezra answered immediately. “I wouldn’t leave her without a good reason. She wants pie, but not hospital pie. She says she wants ‘good pie,’ which apparently cannot be found at the hospital, and at this time of night, I don’t even know where—”
“I’ll handle it,” Ella interrupted him. “Mike and Byron are bored out of their minds and could use a trip to the grocery store.”
“Thank you, Ella.”
“Now go back to your girlfriend. She needs you.”
Ezra laughed softly. “She doesn’t need me. She says she needs pie because, as she said,” he used air quotes,”’pie didn’t knock me up.’ And I said ‘I hope not, because then your child would be half pie with blueberries running through its veins.” His smile transformed into a serious expression and he sighed. “She did not laugh.”
Ella smiled, and decided not to inform him that you’re not supposed to make jokes when the mother of your child is in labor; she figured he had already learnt his lesson. “Trust me. I told my husband I didn’t need him either, and if she’s anything like her mother, she’s lying. She needs you.”
Ezra nodded in agreement. “I suppose i’ll see you in six to twelve hours,” he told her, putting his hand on the hospital door.
“Ezra,” Ella stopped him and he turned around to look at her. “If you treat this baby with the same amount of love that you give my daughter, then I know you’re going to be a wonderful dad.” After years of trying to accept their relationship, and after finding that her daughter was pregnant while still trying to finish her college degree, this was a difficult thing for her to say to the man.
He smiled appreciatively and walked back into the room, while Ella went to send Mike and Byron on a brave quest for pie.