For Better or Worse
Scarlett never expected to lose a baby at twenty-two. And she certainly never expected the marriage to her high school sweetheart to fall apart before they’d even made it to their fifth anniversary. But one cold, gray December morning, that’s exactly where she finds herself—childless and desperate to escape Aiden’s suffocating affection.
Aiden wants to take away his wife’s pain. Something inside her broke the moment their unborn baby died, but instead of letting him help, she's pushing him away.
Is time all Scarlett needs to heal her broken heart, restore her faith in God, and reunite with Aiden, or will the excruciating sting of loss leave her cold and forever alone?
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Scarlett’s breath caught at the site of blood. She’d never been pregnant before now, but she understood the implications. Panicking, she screamed for her husband. “Aiden! Something’s wrong!”
Seconds later, Aiden burst into the bathroom. “What is it, babe?”
With trembling hands, Scarlett pointed to the contents of the toilet, her blue-gray eyes clouded. The expression on Aiden’s face confirmed Scarlett’s fears. She slumped to the floor, arms clasped around her abdomen.
“Come on. We’re gettin’ you to the hospital.” Aiden moved immediately into protector mode, scooping Scarlett into his arms and rushing through the front door of their tiny one-bedroom apartment. He carried his shaking wife down two flights of stairs and set her gently in the front seat of his old truck. Brushing golden brown hair from Scarlett’s face, he planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
“Shoot! The keys. Sit here. I’ll be back.” Aiden backtracked and exploded into the apartment. Once he found the keys, he dashed back to the truck, jumped in, and slammed the door. He paused long enough to notice his wife’s pale skin, wide eyes, pursed lips. He took a deep breath and attempted to reassure her. “It’s gonna be fine, Scar. I promise. Everything’s gonna be fine.”
A sob escaped Scarlett’s throat. “It doesn’t feel fine,” she choked out.
They rode the rest of the way in silence as Aiden navigated through traffic with lightning speed. Scarlett stared straight ahead, silent.
Aiden prayed, begging God not to take their baby. Pleading with Him to spare his wife this horrendous, debilitating loss.
Early the next morning, Aiden and Scarlett made their way home from the hospital with heavy hearts. The baby couldn’t be saved, and surgery completed the process of the miscarriage. The doctor had given Scarlett the option of waiting for her body to pass the remains of her child on its own, but the thought was too much for her to bear. She needed the pain to be over. She needed to move on with her life.
But she could no longer imagine a life without her little one.
It had been only twelve weeks since conception, but already she’d begun dreaming of decorating the nursery. She’d even chosen baby names, one for a girl and one for a boy.
Remembering those names now stabbed at her heart. She would never get to meet her child. Her perfect, precious, innocent, unborn child to whom one of those names belonged. And she couldn’t comprehend how to even begin to deal with it.
What had she done wrong? She’d been careful of her diet, completely cut out caffeine, and avoided alcohol. She exercised every day, with the need to be in control of her changing body right from the start. Maybe she’d overdone it?
Tears escaped and flowed freely down her cheeks. She’d held it together at the hospital, but there was no controlling her grief now—not in the stillness suffocating her in the tight quarters of Aiden’s truck. The thought she’d done something to hurt her baby played repeatedly in her mind.
This is my fault. I killed my child.
Aiden took her hand in his as the first sob escaped her throat. He didn’t say a word, and for that she was grateful. Her emotions didn’t leave room for speech.
Back at the apartment, Aiden helped Scarlett out of his truck and led her into their home as she leaned against him. Thank God for my husband. He was her rock. Maybe she’d get through this someday. As long as he didn’t leave her... Oh, God, will he leave me now? Would he blame her for this? Then she’d be all alone.
But he should blame her. It’s my fault.
“Can I do somethin’ for you?” Aiden asked quietly as Scarlett sank into the cushions of their hand-me-down sofa.
“I’m gonna lay down for a while,” she responded. “I’m so tired. So, so tired...” Her eyes drifted shut.
Sleep didn’t come easily for Scarlett. She tossed and turned for hours, dreaming of her unborn baby.
A little while later, Aiden woke her from the disturbed slumber. “Darlin’, it’s lunch time. You should eat something. What can I make you?”
Blinking, Scarlett shook her head. “Not hungry,” she muttered before rolling over. After her nightmares, she couldn’t bear to face him. An overwhelming dread filled her soul. He’d leave her eventually. He’d blame her for the death of their baby. While she would understand, that didn’t mean it would hurt any less when it happened.
Scarlett drifted in and out of sleep the rest of the day. When she finally awoke, it was dark outside and past dinner time.
“You feel like eatin’ yet?” Aiden asked from his spot next to her.
“No,” Scarlett responded, still lying down.
“I know you’re upset, babe, but you gotta eat something. Tell me what you want, and I’ll make it or go get it. Anything.”
“I’m not hungry.”
She bolted upright. “I can’t eat! OK? So stop asking!”
He winced. “I’m only trying to help. I get what you’re feelin—”
“No! No, you don’t. You don’t have a clue how I feel right now. If you did, you wouldn’t keep buggin’ me about eatin’. My baby just died. It was livin’ inside me, and then it was dead. Inside me. You don’t ‘get’ how it feels. So, please, stop tellin’ me to eat. I don’t wanna put anything into my body right now.”
The taut, pale expression on his face pierced her. She’d hurt him. But for some reason, she couldn’t help it. He made her so angry, worrying about food at a time like this.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, a tiny voice told her he wasn’t actually worried about food—he was worried about her. But she wasn’t in a place to listen to reason. Only turbulent emotions controlled her mind, leaving no room for logic.