‘Do you know when your baby is due, Freya?’

‘No. Not really. I just kept hoping it wasn’t actually happening.’ She looked up and Bella’s heart ached when she saw the fear in her eyes. ‘My mum and dad are going to kill me when they find out! They’re always banging on about me not getting myself into any trouble.’

‘I’m sure they will be fine once they get over the shock,’ Bella said soothingly, mentally crossing her fingers.

She quickly examined the girl, her heart sinking when she realised that the baby’s head was engaged. As she’d suspected, Freya was at full term and, when she let out a groan, Bella realised that there was no time to waste; the baby was about to be born. Hurrying to the phone, she rang Maternity and asked them to send over a midwife as soon as possible. In the meantime, she would have to manage as best she could, although it was a long time since she had delivered a baby. Poking her head out of the cubicle, she beckoned to Trish, who had just finished seeing her patient. She lowered her voice, not wanting anyone to overhear. Although there was little hope of keeping the baby’s arrival a secret for very long, at least Freya should be able to tell her parents before her classmates found out.

‘We’ve a bit of a situation in here. It turns out that Freya is pregnant and the baby is on its way. I’ve asked for a midwife to attend but I don’t know how long it will be before she gets here, so we’re going to have to manage as best we can. Can we move her into Resus to give her some privacy? Apparently her parents have no idea that she’s pregnant.’

‘Blooming heck!’ Trish exclaimed. ‘I know her parents and, believe me, they’re going to have a fit when they find out. They’re very strait-laced, from what I know of them. Pity help the poor kid is all I can say.’


‘Great!’ Bella sighed. ‘I’ll get onto Social Services as soon as I can, but my main concern right now is keeping a lid on this so that the rest of the school doesn’t find out. Has Mac finished in Resus, do you know?’

‘I’ll go and check. Won’t be a sec.’

Trish hurried away as Bella went back into the cubicle. Freya was moaning softly and clutching her stomach, obviously in the throes of labour. Bella checked her over once again, grimacing when she discovered that Freya’s cervix was fully dilated. From the look of her, it wouldn’t be long before the baby arrived.

‘It shouldn’t be long before your baby is born,’ she told her gently. ‘I know it hurts, sweetheart, but once the midwife gets here she’ll sort out some pain relief for you. Do you understand what happens when a baby is born?’

Freya nodded. ‘We did it in biology, how the cervix has to dilate and soften so that the baby can make its way out of the birth canal.’

‘Good. At least you have some idea of what’s happening and that will help.’

Bella looked round when she heard the curtain open, feeling her heart leap when she saw Mac coming into the cubicle. Although it was barely an hour since they had parted, it was as though she was seeing him through fresh eyes. Her gaze ran over him, taking stock of the dark brown hair falling over his forehead, the midnight blue of his eyes, the strongly masculine set to his features. There was no doubt at all that Mac was an extremely attractive man and she couldn’t understand why she had never realised it before...

Her breath caught as she was suddenly forced to confront the truth. Deep down, she had always been aware of his appeal, only she had been too afraid to admit it.

CHAPTER FIVE

FREYA’S BABY ARRIVED just twenty minutes later. It was a little girl and she was absolutely perfect in every way, despite the fact that her mother had received no antenatal care. Mac gently placed the little mite in her mother’s arms, wondering what was going to happen now. Bella had explained the situation to him and although he understood what a shock it was going to be for Freya’s parents, surely they would support their daughter during this difficult time?

He sighed, realising that it could be wishful thinking. He only had to recall what had happened to his own mother to know that the happily-ever-after scenario wasn’t guaranteed. His maternal grandparents had refused to have anything to do with his mother after he had been born. As his father had been brought up in care and hadn’t had any contact with his family, it had meant that his parents had had to struggle along on their own. Although his dad had done his best, his lack of qualifications had meant that he’d had to take a series of low-paid jobs, so money had been tight. Coming from a comfortable middle-class background, his mother had found it very difficult to adapt to the change in lifestyle, so it wasn’t surprising that she had left.

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