Hell. This isn’t good. What if something’s wrong with her? What if she’s having some sort of medical emergency? I should’ve had Sydney call 9-1-1 first. What the hell was I thinking? Now I’m alone in this hall in a crowded restaurant with no goddamn phone and an unconscious woman lying in my lap. The same woman who watched out for me when we were kids and I was always up to no good. Yet she never held that against me. Ever.
I owe Fable everything. I owe Drew everything too.
Icy cold fear races through me and I glance around, looking for someone. Anyone. But I don’t want to cause a scene either. Drew and Fable are private people. They’ll do the occasional media spread to please the press, but otherwise, they try their best to remain out of the limelight. The last thing I want to do is call attention to a potential health problem.
Fuck, I don’t know what to do.
I find Drew in the video game room, smiling and laughing at something his daughter said. He’s hauling his tall body out of the racecar game seat, clutching Jacob to him as Autumn bounces up and down near his feet, shouting “Daddy!” over and over again. He spots the panicked expression on my face and immediately rushes toward me.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, his voice low.
“It’s Fable,” I whisper. “She fainted over by the bathrooms. Wade is with her, though.”
He shoves Jacob in my arms and takes off, calling over his shoulder, “Stay with Sydney, Autumn. Daddy will be right back.”
I turn to look at Autumn, who’s watching me with big green eyes that match her mother’s. I didn’t even notice the purple lollipop she’s sucking on. She’s clutching the tiny stick tightly, her lips wrapped around the purple candy, her face smeared with it. I bet she’s a sticky mess. “Where’d Daddy go?” she asks once she pulls the sucker out of her mouth.
“Um, he had to use the potty,” I tell her. So lame, but what else could I tell her? That her mommy fainted?
I don’t think so.
She starts to bounce up and down again and sings a song. “Potty time, potty time, everybody go potty time. I need to go too, Sydney. Can you take me?”
Oh. Crap. Fable fainted right in front of the bathrooms. I can’t take Autumn back there. No way can she see her mom like that, passed out on the floor. I’m doing my best not to freak out, and I know Autumn will lose it if she spots her mom unconscious.
“Give me a minute.” I jiggle Jacob in my arms, who’s starting to fuss. “Let’s see when Daddy comes back.”
“But I really have to goooooo.” She’s still hopping, the sucker in her mouth, her hand covering her crotch, like if she lets go she’ll pee everywhere. And who knows? She just might. “Right now. Right now.”
I’m in full-blown panic mode now. I glance over my shoulder to see if anyone’s emerging from the dark hall that leads to the bathrooms, but I see no one. What if something’s seriously wrong with Fable? I should call 9-1-1. I should tell someone else to call 9-1-1 for me. I can’t just stand here and try to manage their children. This is freaking serious.
God, I feel so helpless, and I think of my parents. How they never taught me to take care of myself. How they always had someone taking care of me, though it usually wasn’t them. It was a nanny or a servant. The housekeeper or the driver they hired when we were younger. That guy drove us to school every day, and he watched over us too. It wasn’t until I was thirteen did my brother Gabe finally tell me he was a bodyguard.
I don’t know what it’s like to take care of myself. But I do know this: the world is pretty freaking scary when you’re on your own.
“Hey.” I turn to find Drew standing in front of me and I sag in relief. I’ve never been so glad to see someone in my entire life. “We need to go outside and get the car.”
“We do?” I frown.
“Yeah.” Drew steps closer, his voice low as he says, “Fable’s fine. She just woke up, was a little disoriented, but otherwise she seems fine. But I don’t want to make a big scene, and neither does she. So bring the kids with you and let’s go out to the car. We’ll load them up, drive around to the back of the restaurant and pick up Fable and Wade. Then we’ll get out of here.”
I nod, not bothering to say anything else as I grab hold of Autumn’s sticky hand. “Let’s go, sweetie.”
“But I gotta go potty,” she starts to protest as I lead her out of the game room, following after her father.
“I’ll let you have another sucker if you wait a little bit.” Drew kneels down to look her in the eye, his big hands engulfing her shoulders.
“You will?” Autumn breathes, those green eyes wide with wonder.
“I will. I know how much you love those things, but Daddy needs you to wait a few minutes before you can go potty. Okay? Can you do that for Daddy?”
“I can, Daddy! I can! I’m a big girl,” Autumn says excitedly.
We go to our table and I grab the diaper bag, slinging it over my free shoulder. Jacob protests as I jostle him in my arms, but otherwise he’s fine. I grab Autumn’s hand once again and follow after Drew as we make our escape out of the restaurant.
The moment we’re outside, a barrage of flashing lights hits us, one after the other. I try to dash behind Drew, but he slips his arm around my shoulders, guiding me around the side of the building toward the parking lot.
The photographers won’t stop screaming at him, and they have a lot of probing questions.