CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and NINETY
Tuesday evening — 7:25 P.M.
Mike was in their small kitchen making popcorn when he heard Valerie say something. Knowing they were alone, he assumed she was on the phone. Her contractions were coming strong and fast. Bumpy had already stopped by to check on her. Valerie would do most of her labor at home and zip to the hospital to have the baby. They’d even worked out a way for her to get up the coal tunnel if she couldn’t walk. Delphie and Sam were downstairs waiting for his signal. She’d wanted to hang out on the couch and watch a movie.
He finished putting the last drops of butter on the popcorn and went out into their living area. Valerie wasn’t there.
Nothing. He could still hear her talking. He checked the bathroom, their bedroom, and the nursery he and Jill had decorated. Nothing.
He could still hear her talking.
“Val? I don’t know where you are,” Mike set the bowl of popcorn down on the changing table to listen.
He could still hear her talking. It was as if her voice was coming through the walls. He pressed his head against the nursery wall. Her voice was on the other side of this wall. His heart pounding in his throat, he hammered the wall with his fists.