"Derek Webster?" a male voice on the line asked.
"This is the Austin Sheriff Department. Your sister Ashlynn has been involved in an automobile accident. She's at University Hospital."
Derek sat up abruptly. Sweat beaded on his forehead. "I'm on my way." Derek disconnected the call, tossed the covers aside, and hopped out of bed. No time to get Mitch. I can drive myself. He pulled on his clothing and pushed his feet into his shoes. He shoved the cell phone, wallet, and keys into his pocket and hurried down the stairs. Derek ran through the living room and outdoor to his Porsche. Moments later he sped down the paved road toward the gate, only pausing for the metal contraption to open. He didn't even look back to see if it closed properly. Every minute counted.
The Austin University Hospital was less than a mile away. Derek shifted gears of the expensive sports car, pressing his foot down on the accelerator, willing the automobile to go faster down the virtually empty highway. He wiped the sleep from his eyes, trying to imagine what had happened. The deputy hadn't given him much information. Ashlynn had gone out to dinner earlier with her fiancÃ© Neil Carson. The young couple was expecting their first child in less than a month. He hoped Ashlynn and the baby were okay, because they were his only living relatives. Once there, Derek hopped out of the car and ran inside.
"Are you Derek Webster?"
Derek nodded. "Yes, where is my sister?" he asked excitedly.
"Calm down, son. She's in surgery," the deputy said.
"An eighteen wheeler ran a red light."
Derek groaned. "Oh no!" His stomach cramped just imagining the scene in his head.
The deputy continued the explanation. "From what we gathered at the scene, the driver must have fallen asleep behind the wheel."
"Is she okay? What about her fiancÃ©?"
"I'm sorry. The young man behind the wheel didn't make it. We're trying to notify his family."
Derek's voice broke. "He doesn't have any. His name is Neil Carson, aged twenty." He paused. "How is my sister?"
The deputy took him aside. "She's in pretty bad shape. The doctors are trying to save the baby."
"Oh, my god! She's just nineteen." He couldn't lose Ashlynn, not after losing his parents just six years ago.
Another deputy approached. "The triage nurse needs you to fill out some forms and maybe notify your parents."
"Our parents are deceased." His voice cracked. "It's just her and me." He left the officers and went over to the desk. "My name is Derek Webster. My sister Ashlynn was just brought in."
The nurse handed him a clipboard of paperwork. "Does she have any insurance?"
Derek frowned. Damned parasites. All they were interested in was the co-pay, not his sister. Derek pulled out his wallet and took out his identification and medical cards and handed them to her. He quickly filled out the forms the best his could. His hands continued to shake. He handed the clipboard back to the nurse.
She handed him back his cards and a receipt. "Please have a seat."
"What about my sister?"
"She's in surgery. The doctor will come out when there is some news."
The deputies were still present, talking amongst themselves. A few minutes later the emergency entrance doors opened again and paramedics rushed a gurney through the waiting room then through another double set of doors beyond the nurse's station. An elderly couple entered. The woman cried all the way up to the triage desk. They got the same treatment from the nurse. Another set of deputies entered and talked to the couple. Apparently their son had been involved in a traffic accident as well.
Derek sat down and rocked back and forth in his seat as he waited on word of Ashlynn's condition. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number. The phone rang a couple of times.
"Hello?" a groggy-sounding male asked.
"Matthew, it's me, Derek."
"Ashlynn and Neil have been in a car accident. I'm at University Hospital."
"I'm on my way," the attorney said.
Matthew Brown lived about ten minutes away. He came running through the door, still in his pajamas with just a coat over them.
Derek hopped out of his seat and ran to him. The two old friends hugged.
"Their car got hit by an eighteen-wheeler. Neil didn't make it."
Matthew walked him back over to some seats. "Everything is going to be okay."
The emergency room doors behind the nurses' station swung open and a white man dressed in scrubs exited. "I'm looking for Derek Webster."
Derek fought back the tears. He could tell by the expression on the doctor's face that something bad had happened. Matthew helped him to his feet.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Webster, but your sister didn't make it," the doctor said.
The tears he'd been holding back slid down his cheeks. "But she's just nineteen years old. She was about to get married and have a baby."
The doctor patted Derek's shoulder. "I delivered the baby. It's a healthy baby boy."
Derek cried more. Matthew joined him at his side and put an arm around his shoulders.
"You have to get control," the doctor said. "Your sister's last words were that she loved you and for you to please take care of her baby. I'm sorry." He walked away.
Derek sank down to the floor sobbing uncontrollably. What do I know about raising a baby? I'm just twenty-four.