One more excerpt from Forever Innocent

web-Forever-Innocent-3DThe countdown is really coming on now! Just 12 days to release!

I’m going to post another excerpt from Forever Innocent, but I also wanted to quote a few advance reviews for the book — there are some 40 already up on Goodreads for those who got an Advance Reviewer Copy.

  • Yesterday i started reading it and stayed up all night until my eyes were shutting down but I didn’t want to put it down.
  • This book absolutely murdered my poor beating heart.
  • Have a box of Kleenex handy, you’re gonna need it.

So, I’m putting up this excerpt with that warning firm in hand. We’re heading into the NICU now, where Corabelle and Gavin are with Baby Finn in the last hour before they have to let him go. This is in Gavin’s point of view.

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The nurse Angilee popped around the corner. “I’m so sorry, Gavin. Finn is such a beautiful little boy. You two can decide what time we remove the ventilator. We usually do it around eight in the evening, as that is a quiet time here. Does that give your family time to be here? Or do you want another time?”

I tried to answer her, but my mouth had gone completely dry. Finally, I managed to say, “I will ask Corabelle if eight works.”

She took my hand, her dark fingers surrounding mine. Her braids were tied together in an intricate weave, like a halo on her head. “Do you want to have Finn baptized?”

“I don’t know,” I croaked out. “I need to ask Corabelle. Our families aren’t very religious.”

She squeezed my hand. “Let me know. We have a chaplain here. I’ll just need some notice to make sure he can fit it in sometime today.”

“So what happens?”

“Well, first we’ll seat Corabelle in a chair, and then we’ll take off the monitor wires so we can move Finn out of the bed.” She pointed to the disks on his chest. “He’ll still be on the ventilator.” She let go of me and moved around the machines to point out the thick air tubes that led to his mouth.

“This we can move with him, and we’ll untape it. When you both are ready, we’ll take it out.”

I gripped the edge of the bed. “Will he die right away?”

“Not usually. He’ll breathe a little on his own for a little while. But he won’t be pumping enough oxygen.”

“He’s going to suffocate?”

Angilee came back around and rubbed my back. “We will not let Finn be in any pain whatsoever.”

“He’s sedated, isn’t he?”

“He has been since he was given the ventilator, for his safety.”

“But it’s more now.”

She hesitated. “Yes.”

“He doesn’t feel anything?”

“Nothing at all.”

So he really was already gone. Anything we said to him, any touch we did. I had made that choice. I had signed the paper and now it was too late to even say good-bye.

“He’s still with us, Gavin. He’s still here.” She pulled a clipboard from the shelf above the machine and wrote his statistics on it.

“How long will it take, once he’s off?”

“That’s up to Finn. He’ll decide when he’s done.”

Corabelle came back, her eyes all red. “Mom wants him baptized. Can we do that?”

“Absolutely,” Angilee said. “Come here, child.” She wrapped Corabelle into a deep hug. “Is she going to ask her minister or should I get the chaplain here?”

“I guess someone here.”

“I’ll call him. He’ll come talk to you about it.” She pulled away from Corabelle and looked into her face. “So much to bear for someone so young.”

Corabelle started crying again, and Angilee walked her over to me. “I’ll be back. Someone will be with you pretty much from now until it’s time.”

Corabelle looked over to me. “When is it time?”

“Eight o’clock, unless we want to change it.”

She whipped around to look at the clock. “Eight more hours! Eight more hours!” Her legs seemed to give out, and I helped her to the rocking chair. “What can we do in eight hours?”

I didn’t have an answer for her.

“I have to read him a storybook!” Corabelle said, popping back out of the chair. “And sing him a nursery rhyme.” She walked up to the enclosed crib. “I have to teach him ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’” She looked up at me, and I knew I’d be haunted by her expression for a long time as she said, “We’re never going to take him to Disney World, are we?”

I stood next to her, wishing I were anywhere but there, but at the same time, that I would never have to leave.