"God Damn you Jon. How could you do this to me?" She screamed clutching her distended belly as yet another pain gripped her.
On the street below she heard the shrill horn of a New York City cab. She opened the door, gathered up the bags that sat nearby and left the small but tidy apartment, closing and locking the door behind her. Gina waddled down the two flights of stairs, through the foyer and out onto the sidewalk to the waiting cab.
"To the hospital please."She said as he slid into the back seat frightened and very alone.
"Hey lady.... you aint gonna drop that thing in my cab are ya" The scruffy middle aged cabbie asked as he made to close the door.
"Not if you get me to the hospital in time." Gina responded sharply as another pain began to take hold.
"Awe geez lady, why me? Where's your husband, he should be with ya?" The man asked as he slipped behind the wheel.
"I don't have one." She responded though gritted teeth.
"Well the father then, where's the father?"
Gina had had enough of the questions. "With his wife. Now will you please just drive!"
The cabbie made it to the hospital in record time, safely depositing Gina in the Emergency room with her bags, and then he was gone, much to Gina's relief. She had suffered more than enough of the unwanted enquiries and dirty looks. She didn't need to be judged by an unkempt, odorous, ill educated, old fool. Another pain took hold this one substantially stronger, causing her toes to curl and attracting the attention of the ward sister.
"Hello honey. Did you call ahead?" The kindly matronly woman asked.
"Mm Hmm" Was Gina's only reply as she breathed through the latest contraction.
"Is hubby nearby?" The woman asked.
"NO!" Gina screamed, then lowered her voice at the woman's wounded expression. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to raise my voice. No there is no husband, no boyfriend either; you can however contact this social worker. An adoption has been arranged." She said as she handed a business card to the woman.
"Oh.... I see! Well then, let's just get you settled in the delivery room shall we. I'll be here every step of the way to hold your hand. Don't worry about a thing honey, don't you worry about a thing. I'll take good care of you. My name's Cheryl by the way." The sister fetched the nearest wheel chair and Gina plonked down in it, and was wheeled off down the hall.
"Nice to meet you Cheryl, I just wish the circumstances were a little more....yeouch" Gina paused as a contraction took hold again, her hands in a white knuckle grip on the arms of the wheel chair. She took a deep breath when the pain subsided "A little, more pleasant"
Once in the delivery room Gina was moved onto the specially designed delivery bed and hooked up to a foetal monitor before a midwife came in to examine her.
"My name is Ruth, Miss Romeo. I will be delivering your baby. Now I just want to have a look and see how far along you are. Could you put your feet up in the stirrups for me please....Thank you" Ruth said as Gina did as she was asked. "Now open wide."
There was silence for a few moments while Ruth completed the examination. The snap of rubber gloves echoed through the small sterile room as she came to Gina's side, and rested her hand assuredly on Gina's forearm, giving it a gentle pat. "Everything looks just fine Gina, is it ok if I call you Gina?"Gina nodded and Ruth continued. "Looks like this little one isn't far from the world at all actually. How far apart are your contractions?"
"Ummm, I guess about three minutes now." Gina responded on a pant, another contraction was on its way.
"Good...good everything is coming along nicely." Ruth said calmly then turned to Cheryl "Cheryl could you time those contractions for me. I'm just going for supplies, I'll be back in a few moments"
While she was waiting for Ruth to return, Gina revisited the last nine months in her head. She was overjoyed when she found out she was pregnant. She was on the phone to Jon's hotel the second she walked through the door to her apartment after the doctor's appointment, but when she rang through to his room there was no answer, she left a message with reception and waited. When she hadn't received a phone call the next morning she called again, this time Richie answered the phone. She remembered that conversation as if she'd had it that same day.
"Hello, Kidd's room." Came the voice that was distinctly not Jon's.
"Hey Rich...it's Gina. How are you?"
"Gina, darlin' great to hear that sexy voice of yours, it's been too long?"
"It has been a while. Is Jon around Richie, I need to speak to him and it's kind of urgent" Gina was over the small talk.
"I'm sorry darlin' he's kinda tied up." Gina sensed some hesitation in Richie's voice before he continued "Awe shit... I'm sure he won't mind me telling you. He and Dot got married in Vegas last night. Asshole didn't even tell US til it was done. Can you believe that?" Richie was answered by silence on the other end on the line. "Gina....Gina you still there darlin'?" He did not know about her and Jon..if he did he would likely kill him.
"Ahh...yeah Rich, I'm here." Gina answered quietly doing her very best to keep the tears out of her voice.
"Bit of a surprise huh?" He asked.
"Um... yeah. I guess that's what you'd call it. How long was this planned? He didn't say anything last week when I spoke to him." Or a month ago when he made love to me, she thought.
"Honestly...I don't know. I think it was just spur of the moment. Doc's absolutely going off his head. The boys are royally pissed. Still can't believe they didn't even tell us. They just took off...."Richie's voice droned on, giving the details of the wedding, at least what he knew of them, but Gina had long since stopped listening. ".....and they are supposed to be back in time for the next show. That's all I know. How about I get the ass to call you when he calls in or gets back?"
"Nah Rich, that's ok. I just rang to let him... well all of you really, know that I'm going to Italy for a while. Mom and Dad want to show me the old country, they say before they are too old to enjoy it, so I'm taking an extended vacation." Gina lied, nothing could be further from the truth, the moment she had told her parents of the baby they had disowned her, telling her she was no longer their daughter and never to contact them again. "Just let him know I'll call him when I get back, I'll be moving around a lot so I don't think I'll catch up with him til then"
"K darling', I can do that. You sure he can't catch you before you go? He'll be real upset that he missed your call. He's been talking about you for over a month now, singing your praises to anyone who'll listen, more so than usual that is. You know if it weren't for Dot, I'd say he was head over heels in love with you." Richie's words hit her hard.
Gina struggled to retain her composure "Now Rich, you know we're just good friends...it's been like that forever...I'm just one of the guys. Look man I gotta run, my cabs here" She was rapidly losing the battle to hold back her tears "I'll catch you when I get back, ok? Give my love to the boys...and don't forget Obie, and the families. I love you and I'll miss you heaps, all of you."
"Back at ya babe. Have a safe trip ok? And at least try to call."
"OK Rich,I'll try but no promises ok? Now I really do have to go or I'll miss my plane. Bye"
"Bye" he said as the receiver clicked in his ear.
That same day, after spending hours crying on the floor near the phone, Gina packed her belongings and moved as far away from Jersey as she could, she went where she could still work, and yet blend in so as not to be noticed, she went to LA. She bought a cheap wedding band, and told anyone that asked, that her husband was overseas on business. She supported herself waitressing by day and singing in clubs by night. She stayed away from the recording industry she was used to for fear that word of her condition would get back to Jon. Thankfully he had always made his feelings about LA clear, so she had little reason to think he would stroll into a club there.
During her last month of pregnancy Gina returned to the East coast, but was hiding out in New York until after the birth. There were arrangements to be made. Shortly after learning of Jon's marriage, she had decided the best thing for her baby was to put her up for adoption. She had learnt that it was a little girl at her last ultrasound, a piece of information she was now regretful she had discovered. Gina went to Child Services and arranged the adoption. She wanted it to be legal, but she didn't want it to be blind. She wanted to choose the parents for her little girl. It was out of the ordinary for anything but private adoptions to be open, but the kindly woman from Child Services took pitty on her.
Gina spent days pouring over the applications and finally decided on a prominent New York couple whose lives were cultured and focussed in the Arts. They lived off Central Park and ran an exclusive Art Gallery. These people could give her little girl everything she couldn't. She knew she had made the right choice for her daughter's future, but she also knew it would kill her to go through with it.
Once the arrangements had been made with Child Services and the parents chosen, Gina sought the services of a long standing law firm, one she believed would endure the test of time, it was required for her plan to be executed. She gave them a letter and instructed them that it should be given to the child on her eighteenth birthday. She also had them arrange her will with a similar stipulation, in the event of her death, her daughter would inherit her most treasured possessions on her eighteenth birthday, as things stood there wasn't much, but she hoped that over the next several years she would be able to build a legacy for her only child. Already she was sure there would be no others.
With her little girls future mapped out, at least what of it she could control, Gina relaxed and enjoyed the last two weeks of her pregnancy. She marvelled at the tiny life growing inside her, a life borne of love. For she had been, this tiny gift, Gina loved Jon dearly and while she knew her feelings might not have been reciprocated she did know that he loved her in his own way.
In the early hours of that morning, on a chilly day in mid November 1989, Gina awoke to a clenching pain in her abdomen. Her labour had started. She spent the day at home alone, pacing the tiny space, cursing Jon and timing the contractions as they got closer and closer, finally it was time to get to the hospital so she called herself a cab and had waited until he had come and delivered her here to The Sloane Hospital for Women, the chosen hospital of the wealthy adoptive parents.
Ruth re-entered the room, snapping Gina out of her reminiscing. "How are we going now sweetie? Can I get you anything? Is there someone who can come and support you?"
Gina just shook her head in response. Her lifestyle was not one that fostered many close relationships, and the ones that it had....well they were all tied to Jon. He and Obie had been her best friends for the last six or seven years...My God had it really been that long. And she had loved him from the first moment he walked into the Power Station Studio, a contradiction, so shy and unsure yet oozing sex appeal and confidence. Gina knew even then that he would be a big star. He had IT. The IT that couldn't be measured or defined, but was instantly recognisable and required for any kind of longevity in the entertainment industry.
"Ok sweetie, legs back in those stirrups, let me have another look." Ruth instructed.
Gina did as she was asked and Ruth was surprised to see the baby's head crowning. "It's time honey. On the next contraction I want you to give me a big push. This little one is ready to say hi to her momma"
As the next contraction gripped her Gina did as instructed and pushed. Nothing! This continued for the next several hours, Gina was exhausted and it didn't look as though her daughter was in any kind of rush at all. Finally Ruth suggested a caesarean.
"I just want to try one more time...please Ruth" Gina pleaded exhausted. She knew the recovery from a caesarean would be much longer, and she didn't have time to spare. She needed to earn a living...her money was just about gone now and she planned to be back at work in just a few short days.
Cheryl who had been by her side as promised through the entire ordeal urged her on "OK hon this is it, it's this time or its theatre and believe me you don't want to go there. I need one big push. Ok here we go...Push Gina....that's it just a little more sweetie."
"That's the way Gina" Ruth said from between Gina's thighs "She's coming Gina...keep pushing"
Gina clenched her teeth and a chilling scream escaped her as her daughter finally saw the light of day, in the posterior position looking up at the world. Moments later her body followed with the next contraction and she began to scream. Ruth whisked her away and had her examined, returning a few minutes later.
"She's perfect Gina. Do you want to hold her? Child Services are here to take her when you're ready." She said kindly.
"No, just take her" Gina said turning away from her daughter.
Ruth was at the door when Gina called out urgently. "WAIT. I changed my mind. Can I see her...please?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I have to say goodbye properly or I'll never forgive myself."
The tiny bundle was placed in Gina's arms. Never had she felt so much love. This tiny little person, a total stranger, yet not. A part of her, and a part of him...she had her daddy's eyes. How could she possibly give her away? This little girl was the only part of Jon she would ever possess. She tried so hard to hold her resolve, but Gina knew then that she couldn't do it.
"Ruth, I can't do it. I can't give her up. I just can't. Can you tell them." Gina had tears running down her cheeks as she looked into her daughter's eyes. "Hello Frances, my little Frances Gina Carol Romeo, welcome to the world." Gina was absorbed in her daughter but somewhere in the distance she heard and alarm sounding, then another.
She heard Ruth call out "Cheryl call a code blue, she's haemorrhaging. Shit we're losing her. Hang on Gina, stay with me sweetie"
Ruth was at her side. "Her name is Frances, Ruth. Remember that, ok? Frances Gina Carol Romeo. The last thing Gina saw before she slipped into unconsciousness was the eyes of her lover, looking up at her from the face of her newborn daughter."