I was so exhausted from the pregnancy lately, so Jeremy would sleep over whenever he could, his brother was oft times busy with a new girlfriend so I guess he felt a bit more at home here? He’d hold my hand or rub my belly as his soft dulcet voice sang me to sleep. It brought back so many pleasant memories of falling asleep with my head on my mother’s lap as the rest of the tribe sang or talked late into the night. Once I even heard him whisper, “I love you,” just as I slipped into sleep’s embrace.
“Jere…” I mumbled sleepily from where I lay uncomfortably on the bed, I had two pillows propping my swollen ankles up as I drew some concept art for work.
“Mmm?” He opened one eye and smiled slightly as he reached for my hand and gently squeezed it.
“Can you make Catori some breakfast please? I would but…” I motioned towards my feet. He raised an eyebrow before placing a soft peck on my forehead.
“Of course.” And with that he rolled out of bed. “Yo, squirt!” He hollered once he was dressed. “Let’s scrounge you up some grub and make your mom breakfast.”
“I’m not a squirt!” Catori whined with indignation.
“I’ll stop calling you squirt when you can get cookies from on top the fridge.” Jeremy said with a chuckle before yelling, “It’s just an expression, get down from there!!!”
Those two didn’t get along, but they sure were energetic.
With a grunt I straightened up and inspected the art table I put together for Catori, she’d been hounding me for days about wanting to have a place to do art like me. She doesn’t ask for frivolous, temporary things, I suppose the recent going ons have made her grow up a bit faster that intended…
“What do you think?” I asked, putting my hands on my hips while I stretched my back, my large tummy straining against my shirt while I waited.
“I love it soooo much! I’m going to draw you lots of things, and you can put your favorite in a gallery or something.” She bounced around a little and I adjusted her hair tie before planting a kiss on the top of her head.
“Alright, sounds like a deal, love.” I gave her a large smile before heading out to do some painting of my own.
Before I headed in for work, Catori ran up to me and handed me two pictures she’d colored and added glitter on. Ah, art herpes, my favorite. I made a note to myself to clean her room when she was gone for school later that week.
“These are lovely, sweety. I don’t think I’ll be able to pick a favorite between them, so how about we put them both up?” I offered. She beamed at me and I walked her to the kitchen and ran my hands over the bare walls, “This is going to be your gallery.”
“You mean Clementine and mine!” I simply laughed and nodded at Catori as we hugged for a bit, looking at her pictures. I explained to her a few art terms, while we just enjoyed each other’s company.
“I love you, mom.” she whispered softly.
“I know, my little flower.” I whispered back, giving her a small squeeze and contented sigh.
I was dropping off my canvases across town when my water broke.
“It’s time…I’m trying to make it home, can you get things ready for me?” I spoke calmly, trying to not let the pain enter my voice as I broke into a cold sweat, I struggled to maneuver the car down the mostly empty streets.
“Oh my Watcher.. okay.. um.. crap, I was on a walk. I’ll run over to your house and get everything ready for you. Is Catori home?” Jeremy responded through the phone, I could hear him breaking into a run already.
“Ah… Jeremy, how far are you from the house…?” I asked hesitantly.
“Doesn’t matter, I’ll get there. Just focus on driving. Love you.” He promptly hung up before I could say anything. I think that was the first time he ever said those words to me…
“Catori! Get some hot water going for your mom!” Jeremy yelled as he let himself into the house, he ran about getting down towels and rags for me as I carefully entered behind him. “The midwife is on her way over, Han, just get over here.” he fretted over me a bit, but with practiced ease as it was his second time being with me while I gave birth.
“Have you been practicing?” I asked him with a tired grin as I leaned against the wall to regain my strength.
“Read a lot of books…” he whispered nervously, before placing a soft kiss on my lips, “Just breathe deeply, okay. You and the baby are going to be just fine.” He checked my temperature before turning his head to speak with the midwife as she entered.
It was a long and painful birthing process… eight long hours of torture before I gave birth to a baby girl, Una.
“It means lamb.” I said softly as I looked down at my newest daughter, answering the anticipated question from Jeremy and Catori.
“We knew it was a girl!” they shouted at the same time, before running around a bit. Like father like daughter, I suppose. Though it was nice to see them getting along.
“I have a small announcement of my own to make…” Jeremy said nervously, looking between Catori and I. I raised an eyebrow at Cat and she raised one back at me.
“Well… what is it?!” Catori finally broke down and asked impatiently, causing her father and I to smirk.
“I’m going to be retiring so I can take care of all three of you better. I’ll be sticking to composing and no longer going on tours and the like. I’m.. sorry, for taking so long. Please allow me to play a bigger role in both of your lives.” he looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and I felt myself falling in love with him all over again. Before I knew it our arms were wrapped around one another, I could feel his heart racing as he held me tightly.
“AHEM!” Catori grunted loudly, we both blushed slightly before looking at her. “Don’t I get a say in this!?” We both nodded mutely and promptly sat on the couch to listen to her speak. “Does this mean we can hang out in public as a family? Can I call you daddy for real now?” her eyebrows drew together worriedly and Jeremy just smiled and opened her arms to her, she quickly rushed towards us and settled herself on his lap.
“Of course. You three are the most important women in my life, and I plan to treat you all like the desert flowers you are.”
Needless to say, Catori was head over heels in love with her little sister. All of her free time was spent doting on Una. If that baby so much as sniffled, Catori was over there to check on her. It was cute, though it did lead to some extra competition between Catori and Jeremy, as Jeremy wanted to spend time ogling at his daughter.
“Our daughters are amazing…” Jeremy said, rocking Una as he looked into her large brown eyes. I blinked, not sure how to respond to that so I stuffed a fork full of my disgusting salad in my mouth, and gave him a tense smile when he looked over his shoulder at me.
“Hania. I’m going to be straight with you. I saw her birth certificate.” he watched me carefully as I choked on my food. “I knew for awhile now, I just… I was scared. Th– well…” he struggled to put it his feelings into words, I stood and swiftly kissed him to stop his yammering.
“I love you too, Mister Boyd.” I murmured.
Is this what forgiveness feels like?
“So… Dad was really my daddy the whole time?!”
“WHAt?! WHAT?! Ugh… mom, why do you adults have to make everything so… so…” Catori trailed off, her little temper making it hard to put things to words.
“Complicated?” I offered with a grin.
“Yes. That! Oh and mom?” she looked at me, and I raised an eyebrow as I waited for her to ask her question. “Why aren’t you and daddy married, and why doesn’t he live here? When I grow up can I do that?” I tried really hard not to laugh and simply rubbed my face before answering her.
“Ask your father.”
“You like saying that, don’t you?” she asked, noting my smile. I simply nodded and gave her a kiss on the forehead before we settled down to watch some television together.
I felt like a new woman, no longer pregnant, I could finally sleep a full night without having to wake up and go to the bathroom. I had a new appreciation for the simple things, perhaps it came not only from having a new child and the surgery… but because I was now older. I could consider myself a full-fledged adult, not just a young mother struggling to make it day to day.
Everything tasted and looked different, like I had a new lease on life. The sky hadn’t been this blue in days, and a smile seemed to be permanently attached to my lips.
After eating a carefully made breakfast of blackened eggs and some mystery meat I gave Catori a big hug as she ran off to start school, the air was the perfect temperature and the garden was ready to harvest.
Too bad good things don’t last forever…