The Third Season

Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!


Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

Fanatic and TNovan


Episode Two: Blinded by the Light

The sun feels warm on my back. I have always loved this room for that very reason – the morning sun spills directly through the French doors and lands on the bed. I am curled around Kels, my right hand resting on the swell of her belly. Our twins are awake too, if the activity level is any indication. I’m still amazed that Kels can sleep through them romping around like this. I guess it’s something you get used to. I’m not sure I could.

I roll over onto my back and take a deep breath. My eyes flutter open and I immediately flinch. The light is so bright.

The light.

Is so bright.

Because I can see it.

Thank you, God.

I turn my head, wanting Kels to be my first conscious sight. She’s covered in our wedding blanket, her hair glowing as if lit by a halo. Perhaps it is. She is certainly an angel in my life.

I study the slope of her neck and shoulders, the dip of her waist, less pronounced with the presence of our burgeoning children.

She’s a bit blurry though. I blink several times, but it doesn’t seem to help. I sit up and lean over her. There. Now I can see her face. God, she’s beautiful, even when she’s a bit out of focus.

I reach out and push back some hair from her eyes, tucking it behind her ear. She murmurs something unintelligible and keeps sleeping. So I bend down and kiss her cheek. "Good morning, chér."

"Early. Sleep."

I chuckle at her protest. She’s not a morning girl. "Nah, I’d rather watch you sleep." I press my lips to her cheek once more. "But, you go right ahead."

"‘kay," she agrees, sleepily.

Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Cue Kelsey.

She flips over far more rapidly than a woman in her condition should. Her eyes are bright and alert and boring into mine. "Watch me sleep?"

I smile, cup her cheek. "Yeah. I always enjoy doing that. You look like you’re a little kid, having sweet dreams."

Tears begin spilling out of her eyes, over her cheeks, mingling with my hand. "You can see me?"

"I always could," I whisper as I lean in for a kiss. "Now my eyes can too."


* * *


Long minutes later, Kels holds me an arm’s length away. I grouse. I preferred what we were just doing a hairbreadth’s apart. The expression on Kels’ face warns me to comply with her wishes right now. She holds up her hand. "How many fingers?"

"You had ten, last I took inventory."

She slaps my upper arm. "Behave. How many?"

"Two." She changes her configuration. "Four." Again. "None."

I am rewarded with a kiss for my correct answers. "You really can see." Her fingertips trace the curve of my eyebrows.

"I really can. Things aren’t quite razor sharp, but … I can make out everything I need to. I’m able to see you. I’ll be able to see the babies." I choke on my last words. I am so relieved to know that I will get to look at Brennan on the day she makes her appearance. And that I won’t have to rely on the doctor to tell me whether Shy Baby Roo is a boy or a girl. I will get to watch Kels nurse our children. Their first smiles. First steps. First everything.

"Yes, you will," Kels assures me, her voice as choked up as mine.

I capture Kels’ lips once again. I know we should go share the good news. I know Mama and Papa and all the family will want to know as soon as possible. But, right now, I want to see a few of the sights I’ve been missing most. And, all of them are in this room.


* * *


One of the things I love most about Harper is her thorough attention to detail. She is meticulous about that sort of thing. This is to my benefit, I must admit. After making sure all my body parts were accounted for, we shower and dress for breakfast. It’s almost lunchtime. Mama will be having a fit.

We enter the kitchen and I watch the transformation of Harper. She goes from attentive and playful to very cautious and careful. What are you up to, sweetheart?

Mama looks up from her reading at the kitchen table. "I was wondering when you two would join the rest of us."

Harper pauses. "Rest? Is the kitchen conspiracy here?" She makes a show of cocking her head, as if to hear the people she can clearly see aren’t in the room.

I keep myself from laughing. This will come back to bite you, Tabloid. I guarantee it.

"No, just Papa and I. He’s out back, in the garden."

Holding her good hand out in front of her, Harper carefully steps toward the table and takes her seat, feeling her way. I go sit beside her. Though I make sure I am out of range for when Mama swats her.

Mama gets up and goes to the refrigerator, pulling out milk, eggs, bacon, and other food items I shouldn’t be eating. While her back is turned, Harper changes the page on her mama’s book and moves it to the right.

"Have you had breakfast, Mama?" Harper asks, knowing very well her mother ate long ago.

Mama turns and stares at her daughter, her eyebrow arching exactly the same way I’ve seen on Harper. "Mais oui. How long have you lived in my house, chér?"

"Well, on and off, twenty-six years."

Mama cracks an egg and drops it in a bow, quickly adding several more. "Then I do not have to answer that question, do I?"

"No, ma’am."

I snicker. God, I love being home.

As Mama begins preparing the bacon and eggs, Harper busies herself with the salt and pepper shakers on the table, switching their tops.

Tabloid, Tabloid, Tabloid.

She finishes this stealth maneuver seconds before Mama comes over and places glasses of juice in front of us. The smell of sizzling bacon at the stove is one of the most wonderful things in the world and one I have come to associate with home and family. I may have to break down and have a piece. Or two. For the children.

Yeah, right, they need bacon.

Harper quickly drains her juice and walks over to the refrigerator for a refill. Mama, intent on fixing breakfast, doesn’t pay her much mind. Harper refills her glass easily and then reaches over and steals Mama’s glass from the counter. She brings them both over to the table.

Why don’t you just tell her, sweetheart? It’ll be so much easier on you later.

Mama reaches for a drink, but her hands meets empty countertop. She mutters something in French, then looks over at the table. Harper has placed the glass at Mama’s seat. Mama walks over and picks it up, dropping a kiss on Harper’s hair as she does so. "You’re awful quiet today. Tous va bien?"

Ah, yes, everything is very all right. I say, "Yeah, I’m good, Mama."

"You want some gravy with your biscuits?"

"Yes, ma’am."

Mama picks up the salt and pepper and carries them over to the stove. As she begins preparing the gravy, Harper turns in her chair to watch the inevitable explosion.

It comes.

"Mon Dieu!" She exclaims as she watches far too much salt go into the gravy, instead of the anticipated pepper. Continuing on in sour French, Mama turns around and fixes her gaze on Harper. "Vache! Tu n'as pas fait ca depuis que tu etais enfant!"

Yes, Harper is a troublemaker. And I believe she has been that way since birth.

A pause.

A hitched breath.

"Tu peux me voir?"

Yes, Mama, she can see you.

Mama’s eyes spill large tears down her cheeks. She forgets about the bacon, the gravy, the eggs, everything and rushes over to embrace Harper.

I get up and go over to the stove. I don’t think Mama cares much about cooking right now.


* * *


"Very good, Harper," Dr. Radson praises as she finishes up the eye exam. After we finished celebrating Harper’s recovery, we called her to schedule an appointment. Fortunately, the doctor had left word with her office to fit us in her schedule immediately should we call with news – one way or the other.

My spouse is barely able to sit still. She is completely high on the good news. So I am. I have to keep looking down to make sure my feet are still on the ground. This phase of our life cannot be over soon enough for me.

"I think you can expect gradual improvement of both eyes over the next few days. Right now you have 20/100 and 20/80 vision. There’s a strong possibility that both eyes will return to normal, or close to it."

"I’m not going to go blind again, right?" Harper asks, warily. "I’m not going to wake up to lights out tomorrow, am I?"

Dr. Radson places a reassuring hand on Harper’s shoulder. "I very much doubt it. Your eyes needed time to heal and for the swelling to go down. Unless you suffer another injury, I think you have a lifetime of vision to look forward to."

Harper’s gaze shifts to me and she looks at me hungrily. I know I am blushing. She’s never looked at me quite that way in front of another person before. "Harper," I chastise, for propriety’s sake only.

"I want you to see a friend of mine up in New York," Dr. Radson continues, seemingly oblivious. I think she just has good manners. "She’s an excellent ophthalmologist and she’ll make sure everything continues to go well."

"Thanks, Doc, for everything." Harper hops off the exam table and saunters over to me. She extends her hand and helps me to my feet. Soon I’ll need a crane to help. Of course Kingsley babies are big. Everything else about the Kingsleys is larger than life.

"Good luck to you both."

I smile in reply. Things are looking better and better already.


* * *


Harper and I are at the breakfast table. She’s being quite silly this morning and I’ve nearly choked on my juice three times. The gradual improvement of her eyesight has made her just plain dippy these last few days.

"Okay, if you didn’t like that one," she says, referring to her last bad joke, "how many fingers am I holding up?" She holds up one that Mama would snap off at the knuckle if she caught her.

"Harper!" I laugh, swatting her hand down. "Behave; before your Mama comes back in here."

"What?" She puffs up a bit, wiggling her eyebrows at me. "I’m not afraid of my Mama."

I bite my tongue to keep from bursting out laughing. Mama is now right standing behind her. For her little boast, Tabloid gets a playful slap to the back of the head.

"You’d better be. I can still turn you over my knee."

Harper flinches with the slap, then levels her glare on me. "You set me up."

"Nope. You did it to yourself, Tabloid." I sip my juice.

"This came for you, Kelsey." Mama passes me a large yellow envelope.

It’s from Langston. This can’t be good. Damn. What a way to ruin my day.

"What is it, Kels?" Harper’s tone is very serious.

I tear open the package and remove a videotape and a note. ‘Thought you would want to see this. We will discuss upon your return Monday.’

"Kels?" Harper intones again.

The tape distracts me. It definitely can’t be good. "It’s a video from Langston," I inform her and then I read his note to her. Her eyesight isn’t still quite good enough for reading.

"Any label?" She means on the tape.

I swallow hard before answering. "Yeah, it says True TV." Harper’s old show before joining me at KNBC. I really don’t like it.

"Let’s go see what it is." Harper carefully gets to her feet, holding her hand out to me. Her vision is blurry enough for her to need a little help getting around without any problems. Together, we go to where the VCR is.

Once there, Harper and Mama take a seat on the couch as I slip the tape in and switch on the TV. I stand there wondering what could be on this tape that Langston would send it down here. The tape starts and I prepare for the worst.

"Celebrity moms-to-be: who is and who isn’t." The male anchor gives a phony smile to the camera and I drop my head.

Oh God.

"Kels, come here." Harper pats the couch. Without taking my eyes from the screen, I back over to where she is. The report ‘profiles’ various members of the media and Hollywood, everyone from Madonna to Rosie. Then it hits home in a big way.

"And let’s not forget the shocker of the new century." The correspondent’s voiceover is way too chipper. I’m going to find out who he is and kill him. "In case you haven’t noticed, on CBS’ hot news show ‘Exposure,’ correspondent Kelsey Stanton has been shown in a lot of tight shots lately. Well, True TV found out why. It would seem that Miss Stanton, shown here leaving a posh NY eatery, has also decided to join the ranks of moms-to-be."

I simply cover my mouth, hoping it’ll keep me from being sick long enough to finish watching the tape. Harper’s hand is on my back, alternating between rubbing it and giving me gentle scratches.

The shot on the screen clearly shows my pregnancy. No hiding that. I am as big as whale. I close my eyes. I know when they got that film. It was right before our vacation. Harper was working late. Brian and I had gone to dinner to make sure my schedule was clear before we came home.

"You might remember Kelsey lost longtime boyfriend Erik Collins in a personal tragedy earlier this year. But the engagement ring on her finger, and her obvious pregnancy indicates she has apparently managed to get on with her life."

"Christ," I mumble, dropping my head even further. They didn’t need to bring Erik into this. I open my eyes and stare back at the screen as they cut back to the two fools sitting behind their desk.

"Well, I, for one, think -" Well, there’s a great big shocker. I’m surprised the bleached blonde has the ability to do anything without a teleprompter. "It’s great Kelsey is recovering so well. I hope she’s happy." Bite me, bitch. "We all wish her, her baby and whoever the lucky guy is, all the best." Well, at least Langston should be happy I’m heterosexual.

Her dimwitted co-anchor continues, "Stay tuned to True TV. As further details – and stomachs – develop on these famous moms-to-be, we’ll keep you updated." Please Lord, save me from more brainless banter between these two. I use the remote to stop the tape.

Leaning back, Harper slides her arm around me, pulling me into her shoulder. Her lips press against my forehead.

"I’m sorry," I whisper. I don’t know if I should cry or be mad. I have a real feeling mad is going to win out very shortly. Right now, I only need to be with Harper.

Guess I better start polishing up my resume.

If anyone will have me.


* * *


"Can I ask you a question?"

I smirk. "You already did. Want to go for two?"

Kels shakes her head. "I always walk into that one." She comes up behind me and slides her arms around my waist, resting her head on my shoulderblade. "It’s nice being here."

I glance over my shoulder. "Is that a question?" We spent the night in our house last night. It seemed easier since we had been over celebrating my returned eyesight with Robie and Rene until late in the evening. I can’t wait until we live here full-time.

"No, silly, it’s not." She scratches my stomach. "Why haven’t you gotten your Harley back from Robie yet? We have a garage now, too."

I take a deep breath. "Nah, no need. Robie likes taking it out every now and then." I try to step away, but Kels won’t let me.

"Wouldn’t you like to take it out? When your arm heals and your eyesight is back to normal, why don’t we come down here for a weekend road trip?" She chuckles. "For you, of course. I will be as big as a trailer tractor."

I shrug. "I don’t know if I want to ride it anymore." There. I said it.

"Why not, sweetheart?" She asks the question softly, still holding me.

I bite my lower lip. I really don’t want to get into this right now. Even thinking of it brings up far too many memories. Memories of when I almost lost Kelsey. I take a deep breath and force back tears which threaten to spill out. "I just don’t."

"No good, Tabloid," Kels whispers and she begins turning me around to face her. Her eyes turn a deeper shade of green when she sees my expression. "I want to talk about this. I think we need to."

"It’s just a stupid motorcycle."

"Right. A stupid motorcycle that was your baby up until the time I was kidnapped." I flinch as she hits the nail on the head immediately. "Talk to me, sweetheart."

I go over and sit down in the overstuffed chair, pulling Kels down onto my lap.

"Oh, baby, I’m too heavy." She tries to squirm off me, but I won’t let her.

"I never should have left you."

"Left me?" Then, "Oh. Sweetheart, there’s no way you could have known what was going to happen."

"No way?" I shake my head vehemently. "That’s not true, Kels. You were being stalked, threatened, harassed. And what did I do?" Please God, don’t let her hate me for telling her this. "I went out for a ride."

"And?" Kels is playing with my shirt collar, tugging it gently.

"I lost you."

She kisses the tip of my nose. "No, you didn’t. I’m right here."

Now is not the time for word games. "Well, I almost did. All because I loved that fuckin’ motorcycle." I should take the Harley and toss it into Lake Pontchartrain. After dismantling it and setting the parts on fire.

"No. That’s not true, Harper."

I am forced to look at her again. "I should have been there."

"Do you realize that by not being there, you probably saved my life?" As always, Kels is sneaky and puts my hand on her stomach. She knows when I have it there, I can’t be quite so despondent.

And that last statement got my attention. "How so?"

"You were able to put the pieces together. You brought the police. He was armed and he was determined. He killed three people to get to me. Harper, if you had been there," Kels’ voice gentles, "he would have killed you too."

Ouch, goes my ego. "Do you really believe that?"

"Do I believe what? That you saved my life? Or that he would have killed you? I know you saved my life." She rubs her hands over my shoulders. "But, yes, I know he would have killed you." I can tell she’s back in that place. Remembering. "You didn't see the look in his eyes. He struck quickly and quietly. He killed everyone in that apartment to get to me, including an armed police officer."

"I’m so sorry, Kelsey." I hug her tight to my body. "I’m so sorry you went through all of that. It sounds logical when you say it, but, my heart has a hard time believing that I couldn’t have stopped him." I snort. "I am supposed to be your knight in shining armor and all that. And I can’t forgive myself for being out on a drive when you were going through hell."

"Harper, I've had a hard time getting over what happened because I still believe, to some extent, it's my fault all those other people had to die." I start to protest, to bring up the old arguments, but Kels silences me with a look. "They died because they looked like me, or because they tried to protect me from him. He was determined to have me. Once someone finds a determination like that, there is nothing that will stop him." She cocks her head to the side and regards me carefully. "Do you know what got me out of that hell?"

"What?" I sound like a child, but I think I can guess this answer.

"My love for you." I guessed her answer correctly. Kels takes a deep breath and once again returns to that dark room where he held her prisoner. "He told me he killed you. He told me he cut your throat. I thought you were dead and I wanted revenge. I wanted to get out and make him pay for hurting you, but the truth is I don't think I would have made it out. I was hurt. If you hadn't brought help ... if you hadn't put it all together and brought me the help I needed ..." Her voice breaks. She blinks and clears her mind of bad memories, or at least, I hope she does. "I probably would have died in that house. You saved my life."

I lean forward and kiss her, wanting to make that sad expression go away. "You saved my life from the moment I met you. But, I still can’t ride my Harley. Not right now, at least." I rub her stomach, smiling as Brennan or Shy Baby Roo gives my hand a kick. "Maybe I just need a little more time."

"Well, of course not, you have that cast on your arm. I wouldn't let you get on it right now anyhow." My Little Roo is truly becoming a mother. All protective and fussy. I love it. "But I really think that after it comes off, we need to come back down here, and you and Robie need to take a road trip together. Get on the bike and go ride. Let the past go. Don't give up something you love. Just make it a positive part of our future."

Our future. I like the sound of that. I decide to tweak her a little. "Maybe I’ll get a little sidecar for you and the kids to ride in."

I am rewarded with an emphatic shake of her head. "Umm, no. You and your brother can play all you want with the bike, but you're not putting our children on that thing for quite some time."

I chuckle. We’ll see about that, chér. "You’re right. We’ll start them out with a little 50 cc cycle when they’re in kindergarten."

Kels groans and drops her head on my shoulder.


* * *


I miss New Orleans all ready. We've been back in New York less than twenty-four hours and I want to go home. I miss the family and I miss our house. I think it has something to do with this overwhelming feeling I'm starting to have about wanting to be settled. The baby books call it 'nesting.’ They say it'll get worse the closer I get to the due date, but it's pretty bad now. If I need to nest, I want to nest in New Orleans. I'm having the babies there if all goes well, so let me go home and collect sticks.

I'm too grumpy for my own good today.

"Have I told you today how beautiful you are?" Harper smiles at me, while helping me on to the table.

I use the strength in her hands and arms to lay back. I’m getting to a point where I need her assistance more. "You may have mentioned it earlier this morning." I try to stifle a groan as I begin to relax. I’m not very successful.

"Honey, are you all right?" She is sitting at the top of the table, running her fingers through my hair.

God, that feels good. I had always wanted to run away with my hairdresser for this very reason. "I’m fine. Just huge and tired."

"You’re beautiful," she whispers again, kissing the top of my head.

"Do you think I’m fired, Tabloid?" I can’t hold the question back any longer. We’re going back to work day after tomorrow and I’m dreading it. "If that’s what he’s planning, maybe I should go in and get it over with."

"Kelsey, baby, don’t worry about it. They can’t fire you for getting pregnant. If they try, we’ll file the biggest lawsuit they’ve ever seen. I happen to know a couple good lawyers."

"Harper, it may be for the best. We’ve only got a few months before the babies get here. I’d be taking my maternity leave in a few weeks anyhow and…"

Before I can continue, Dr. McGuire comes in. He stops briefly in the doorway, looks to my file, then to us, and back to my file again. "Is this the right room? I’m looking for the Kingsleys. They’re always necking when I come in."

Harper lifts the arm in the cast and gives a wave. "Hi there, doc."

"Ah, I see she finally got tired of your breathing," he jokes, indicating the cast. "My wife used to smack me with a rolled up magazine, but she never actually broke anything."

"I’m a grumpy, pregnant woman. I do not need this humor in my life at the moment."

"Ooo, sorry." Kevin takes his normal seat and begins my exam. "I received exam notes from Dr. Maxton about your last visit." He seems to be taking a real interest in my hands at the moment. He holds them in his, pressing them and rubbing them with his thumbs. "Kelsey, I think you should take your wedding rings off until after the babies are born. You’re swelling up a bit and they could cause you problems. I’d hate to have to see them cut off your hand."

"But…" I finger my rings and start to protest. Harper simply takes my hand and slips them from my finger.

"I’ll keep them safe for you, sweetheart."

"But…" I am so angry with her for taking them. Those are mine. She gave them to me.

"Kels, you can argue with me all you want, but don’t argue with the doctor, okay?" She whispers, even as Kevin continues the exam. "You know I won’t let anything happen to your rings. I’ll have them on me all the time, so if you want to see them, you need only ask."

"But…" I don’t want to have to ask. I want to look at my hand.

"Little Roo, it’s okay," Harper soothes.

"Those are my wedding rings. I never planned to take them off." This is upsetting me more than I can explain at the moment.

"I know, baby. Look," she’s trying to calm me down, I can hear it in her voice, "we’ll figure out another solution, but, for right now, I’ll hang onto them."

I grip her hand, realizing for the first time how upset I was getting. "All right, Tabloid. I’m sorry."

"It’s okay, babe. I’m glad you’re so attached to them. Makes me feel good."

Kevin has been very quiet, continuing with the exam and making notes in my chart. He finally gives me a grin and waves the wand of the ultrasound machine at me. I nod. I definitely want more baby pictures, especially now that Harper can enjoy them again. I still need to give her the ones I had Dr. Maxton take when we were home.

"I hear we ‘re having a girl," he says, getting ready to do the exam.

"When you figure out how to give birth, we’re having a girl. Until then, I’m having a girl."

"Yes, ma’am." He gives his nod, then looks to Harper. "I think someone needs to go home and nap."

I manage to refrain from biting his head off, mostly because he’s right. I’m tired and irritable and I feel like I’m on overload.

"We have our first Lamaze class tonight, but I’ll bet we can get in a nap before then." Tabloid is eagerly waiting for Kevin to show her the babies. Her vision isn’t back to normal yet, but, she just moves closer to the monitor.

"Yup, let’s see, there’s your daughter." He points to the screen.

"Brennan." When I hear Harper breathe her name, I look over to the screen too. Our little girl is moving around and we can watch it on the monitor. "Look at her, Little Roo. There’s our baby girl."

"Sounds like you’ve already picked a name for her." Kevin moves the scope to show us Shy Baby Roo.

"Yeah," Harper pipes up. "Brennan Grace Stanton Kingsley."

"Very nice. Well, her buddy in there is still being modest. I can’t really tell anything about the gender."

"Can you guess?" Harper really wants to know.

"Educated guess: I’d say another little girl, but I could be wrong."

He finishes up, making prints for Harper, then he helps me sit up. "Kelsey, you haven’t had any symptoms of early labor, have you? No contractions or anything I need to note or chart?"

"No. Should we be concerned about that?"

"I’m afraid so. Your blood pressure is still a littler higher than I like and you’re starting to show signs of swelling. I want you to go home and rest today. I’m going to give you a scrip that I want you to take with your vitamins. And I want to see you next week. You’re starting to show signs of a condition known as Pre-eclampsia. But we found it early and we can treat it. We just need to stay with it and make sure we keep it in check. But, I will tell you right now, except for the final flight to New Orleans for the births, your flying days are over. Further, if I don’t see any improvement in your condition over the next week or so, I’ll put you on total bed rest until the end of this pregnancy."

"Doc, what exactly is pre-eclampsia?" Harper swallows hard.

"It’s one of the leading causes of maternal mortality."

"What about the babies?" I ask, gently caressing my stomach.

"It depends. Babies have been known to survive the mothers."

I take a deep breath and look him square in the eye. "Worst case scenario."

He does me the courtesy of being forthright. "You seizure, enter a comatose state, and we keep you on life support to try to save the babies."

"Try?" I hear the fear in Harper’s voice. She is holding onto me for dear life.

"Look, guys," Kevin sits back a bit, "we’re talking absolute worst case here. I’m confident we’ve caught anything that could become a problem before it actually has. Right now, Kelsey, you’re having fairly normal reactions to pregnancy. We’re going to make sure they stay that way and don’t get out of hand. Which means more rest for you and taking it easy. I know I can trust you to be good." He pulls the pictures off the printer, handing them immediately to Harper. "Go ahead and get dressed. I’ll have my nurse set up your appointment and I’ll write that scrip. It’ll all be ready for you when you come out."

"Thanks, Kevin."


* * *


All right. I have a couple hours to get my girl calmed down. Kevin managed to scare the hell out of us. Nothing like being told you might die and never see your children. And she’s worried about her job. Ironic, since she’s been trying to convince me to not worry about mine. And then there’s the issue of her wedding and engagement rings. She only calmed down when I promised to buy her a necklace so she could wear them on around her neck.

The other issues remain, however.

I guide us into the living room, to our favorite place on the couch. I give Kam a cursory hello. I’m not in the mood to play. Not with my girl so upset. "Chér, you need to relax. You’re too upset." I pull her back against me, wrapping her up in my arms.

"I know. I’m trying," her voice trembles. "I’m sorry."

I press my lips to her hair and rub her back gently. "No, no, darlin’. Nothing to be sorry about. Everything is okay. I promise you that. We just need to take a little nap here together." I stretch out on the sofa, and settle my girl on top of me.

"Am I a bad person, Harper? I mean, everything that has happened this year … and now, the babies may be in danger. I tried to do everything right. … I thought I was …" She stops, unable to continue.

I lift my head up and meet her eyes. "You look at me." I wait until her eyes meet mine. Her eyes are the color of Ireland – wet green. "You are my heart. You are the best thing in my life. There is nothing wrong with you. And you are the best damn mother around." I stroke her cheek. "There is nothing to worry about. Brennan and her sibling are absolutely fine. And, so are you. I swear it."

She nods and swallows hard. "I want to believe that, Harper. I want to believe everything is going to be all right and in a few months we are going to have a beautiful family." She rests her forehead on my collarbone for a moment and draws in a deep breath. "But, I need you to promise me … you promise me, that if a choice needs to be made, you know the one I want you to make."

I wonder if she can hear my heart stop beating in my chest. I don’t even want to think about that possibility. I have no desire to raise our children alone. They need her. "I promise," I reply, "but I will never have to make that choice. Now, close your eyes and take a nap with me, baby."

"I love you, Tabloid. No matter what happens, please don’t ever doubt or forget that," Kels murmurs, her voice trailing off as sleep finally claims her.

"I never could, Little Roo."

And, fortunately, I feel sleep tugging at my coattails, as well.


* * *


I found a class where Kels and I can be happy and comfortable. Specifically, a birthing class where all the participants are lesbian couples. The last thing my girl needs is more stress. I want her happy and relaxed right now. I want this to be the best time of our lives, not something we have to be afraid of. I nearly strangled Kevin for his so-called bedside manner this afternoon. I think I’ll be making a little call to his office tomorrow. I don’t mind him warning us, but no scaring the hell out of my girl. Not again.

We enter the classroom and it’s pretty much what I expected, except for the fact there are no chairs. Okay, I’m not stupid. I’ve seen movies and TV shows and I know how this works. We sit on a mat and learn to breathe.

And I thought breathing was like sex. It just comes naturally. Next thing you know, we’ll be taking classes in … nah, we pretty much know how to do that okay. Hell, we could give lessons. The in class demonstrations would be interesting, to say the least.

Kels is very cute tonight. She’s all dressed down in jeans and a baggy maternity shirt and her baseball cap. She seems more relaxed now that she got a little sleep this afternoon. It also helps that we found a solution to her stress over her wedding rings. We agreed the best place to put her engagement ring would be in our safety deposit box, but her wedding band is now on a chain around her neck.

There are about a half a dozen other couples in the room when we arrive. We slowly introduce ourselves and try to get comfortable in a crowd of strangers. I have a feeling over the course of the next few weeks, though, we will make some new friends.

There is one couple who, for some reason, seems distressed when Kelsey introduces herself as Kelsey Kingsley. They know her from Exposure. When she doesn’t introduce herself as Stanton, they obviously have a huge problem with it.

Then there is a couple who, I swear, remind me so much of Elaine and Rachel I’m having a hard time keeping the grin off my face. One look at Kels tells me she’s thinking the same thing. Leaning against a wall, I pull Kels into an embrace. "I don’t how I’m gonna get through the next six weeks without giggling." I whisper in her ear while I give her a hug and a belly rub.

"It’s not going to be easy," she agrees, clearing her throat and returning my embrace. "Eerie, isn’t it?"

"Very. Wait until Elaine and Rach hear about this."

"They’ll never believe it." She chuckles a bit.

A tall woman enters the room. Her arms are full of folders and she seems a little frazzled. Looking at my watch, I note she’s about five minutes late.

"Sorry everyone. I’m Dr. Weaver." She juggles the files and I can tell she’s going to lose them. Kels lets go of me and I manage to give the doctor a hand before anything hits the floor. "Thanks," she says to me.

"No problem." I set the files on the desk next to me and our instructor does the same before she removes her jacket. She smiles at Kels and I, shaking her head. I can tell it’s one of those ‘I need one free moment in my life’ type of shakes. Kels and I do them a lot.

"Okay." She rolls up her sleeves. "Like I said, I’m Dr. Anne Weaver. I’m really sorry I’m late, but I had a baby who decided he was going to come three weeks early. His moms kinda thought I should be there as well. Dunno why, this is their fourth baby. They’re better at this than I am. I’ve only had one myself."

Her friendly demeanor and the joke relax the room immediately. I look at Kels and wink. She gives me a smile in return that is so sweet, I wish I could capture it forever.

"So, it looks like everyone is here, so let’s get started. Go ahead and take a seat on the mats there and we’ll dive right in, so to speak."

Oh yeah. I like her. She even knows how to crack nearly dirty jokes. This may be fun after all. Looks like we’re all pretty much in the same boat. All the non-pregnant partners are assisting their better halves down and resting against them. I like holding Kels this way. I can reach the babies and have her close all at the same time. Kels relaxes into me and I wonder if she’ll be able to stay awake for class. Personally, I don’t care. She can sleep all she wants. I’ll learn whatever we need to know. But, nothing and no one is going to hurt my girl.

Once again, we all introduce ourselves like you do in kindergarten. Several of the women haven’t recognized Kels until our radical little friends make a comment about the Stanton-Kingsley thing.

I gather they are among the more radical of our community, who don’t like the idea of ‘traditional’ concepts from the heterosexual community creeping in to corrupt us. They’d no doubt keel over if they ever heard my family refer to Kels as my wife. You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time and I’m damn tired of trying. What Kels and I have works for us and that’s all that matters.

My main goal right now is to keep her happy and healthy and to welcome Brennan and Shy Baby Roo into the world in about fifteen weeks.

Fifteen weeks. That’s not very long is it? Oh God. We need a nursery and a nanny and…

"So now that we know each other here," Dr. Weaver leans against her desk, "this is the first class in the course. We’ll be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks to get you ready for the blessed event. Tonight we’re going to go over the basics and I’m going to show you a couple of movies to show you what you can expect."

Very soon the lights are lowered and the first film starts. Glancing down, I see Kels is still with us. She’s rubbing a spot on her tummy with her right hand, the fingers of her left hand interlaced with mine. She moves my left hand over a bit and once again I feel the babies moving.

"See, everyone is fine," I whisper in her ear. Watching the movie, I begin to get concerned about how much pain the woman seems to be in. God, I guess I didn’t realize how bad it can really be. My Little Roo will be going through this too. Not once, but twice.

And she wants to do it without drugs. What? Is she nuts? I’d tell ‘em to give me all the drugs they could find. Ship them in from out-of-state if they had to. Oh Kels, my love, you are a braver woman than I am.

The scene shifts to the birth. Okay, now that’s just plain messy. We need to find a method for making that a little neater. I feel Kels chuckle, she is obviously enjoying my discomfort. But I also notice that I’m not the only partner who is cringing a little.


* * *


When I roll over, reaching out, I find myself alone in the bed. Harper is already up. I’m torn between getting up to see if I can find her and simply going back to sleep. I’ve pretty much decided on sleep when the bedroom door opens. Looking over the top of the covers, I find I’m about to be served breakfast in bed.

Sitting up against the headboard, I grin a bit. "And what did I do to deserve this?

"Well, darlin’, I dunno. I think carrying our children is reason enough." She places the tray on the bed, then feeds me a strawberry. I nibble on her fingertips because I can. "I, personally, think we should plan on camping out here today and relaxing. Except, we need to run around the corner and pick me out some glasses sometime this afternoon."

A plan I can definitely get into. "How about we make camp in the living room and watch really old, sappy movies until then?"

"Perfect. Maybe we’ll get on line and start ordering baby furniture too."

I sip my juice and give that some thought. I had hoped to do that shopping in person, but now I guess doing it online might be easier on the babies and me. "You have a deal, Tabloid."

After breakfast in bed, I find myself carefully moved and tucked into a nest which has been prepared for me on the couch. Kam is curled up on his bed watching the whole thing, tail thumping against the floor. "I’m not made of glass, Harper."

"You are now," she states simply. She leaves the room to get her laptop so we can start shopping. I can’t help but laugh at how final that sounded. Most definitely a ‘don’t argue with me, woman’ tone. I look at my hands. They are still slightly swollen, but the pounding in my ears and behind my eyes has stopped. I hope that means my blood pressure is coming down.

I could die. I might never get to hold my babies. I run my hand over my stomach.

Your Mama will take such good care of you. And there will be Grandmere Cecile and your grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins to make sure you never lack for anything. No matter what happens to me, my little ones, I love you. And if I can’t be with you here, I’ll be watching over you. I will be with you always, no matter what. Even if you don’t know I’m here, I will be. I promise you that.


* * *


We finally wander out of the house at Kam’s insistence. The poor thing nearly had yellow eyes. I don’t know why he doesn’t like going on our terrace. Strange dog.

We walk slowly down the avenue, heading to an eyeglass shop Harper spotted earlier. We’re still hopeful her eyesight will return completely to normal, but, in the interim, she has a prescription for eyeglasses. She’s so cute, all nervous about wearing them. It’s almost as if she’s afraid she’ll look like a nerd with them. I hope to control my libido with her wearing them. I’ve always been a sucker for glasses. So damn sexy.

The boutique is gracious and allows us to bring Kam in. New Yorkers are funny. They worship their dogs. Never seen anything like it. And, this is a very expensive boutique and we look like we have money. That also buys a lot of tolerance. At least for our canine.

A European woman is behind the counter. She begins showing Harper a selection of frames that are very stylish. I settle myself on a chair next to her and watch as she tries on the various frames.

When she puts on a rectangular-shaped tortoise shell pair, I feel myself flush. Oh yeah. Those are the ones. God, yes. Can we take them now?

"What do you think, Kels?" she asks the question and then bursts out laughing, reading my reply from the expression on my face. She hands the frames over to the sales clerk. "I’ll take these."


* * *


Harper won’t even look at me. She’s sitting across from me with her hand over her eyes, and a silly grin on her face. She only moves her left hand from her eyes long enough to sip her beer. "You sure you don’t want a bite?" I offer a piece of the sushi.

"Quite. Thanks, but no…" she mumbles, sipping her beer again. "And just keep your comments about other things to yourself, Little Roo."

"Would I make any comments about your sudden aversion to fish?" I laugh a little, turning the roll over in the soy sauce and preparing a nice piece of wasabi.

Harper glances up for the briefest second to try to give me ‘the look’, but the food on my plate causes her to abandon that thought. "Dunno how you can eat that stuff. And don’t blame MY children. They’d never even consider it."

"Maybe not, but MINE would." I pop the sushi roll in my mouth, enjoying it immensely. Oh yeah, this is good. Cravings are temperamental, I have discovered. Almost as much as I am lately, I think. "I should probably apologize now."

This causes her to look up, although she’s looking directly at me, still ignoring the food in front of me. "For what?

"For the fact I’m going to be a raging witch during labor."

This causes her to laugh out loud. "Well, after that film we saw tonight, I can’t say I’ll blame you. It doesn’t look like a pleasant process."

"No, but think about it, Tabloid, when it’s over, we’re going to have a beautiful family." I smile at the thought of seeing Harper hold Brennan for the first time. I am so looking forward to that. I can imagine it now, but I know the reality of it will no doubt reduce me to tears.

"Of course we are." She takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Kels, if something should happen and the network should release you from your contract early…"

"Oh, now, that’s a diplomatic way of saying ‘fired’."

"Regardless." She rolls her eyes. That’s really a very cute, endearing, little quirk of hers. Not that I’ll ever tell her that. "I will ask to be released from mine as well."


"No." She takes my hand, giving it a squeeze. "Kels, listen to me. We both want to go home. I feel it, and I know you feel it. We can both find jobs in New Orleans and I think we should just go home if push comes to shove."

You can’t argue with logic like that.

"So," she gestures at my plate, "what is all that?"

Hmm, oh boy, here’s my chance. "Well, this is Kappa Maki, rice, cucumber, a hint of wasabi, rolled in nori."

"Rice and cucumber I understood."

"Nori is a form of lettuce." I avoid the word seaweed like the plague. I know if it leaves my lips I’ll never get her to try it. "And wasabi is a spice that makes Cajun spices seem like they should go in Girl Scout cookies."

She rolls her eyes. "Un-huh."

She hates it whenever I do this. The part of her that can’t resist a challenge is having a terrible argument with the part of her that can’t tolerate the thought of trying the sushi.

I take a small piece of ginger from the tray, chewing it slowly as I watch her. "Come on, Tabloid. There’s no fish in this. How bad can it be?" I offer her a pair of chopsticks and pour a small dish of soy sauce for her. "I’ll talk you through it."

She eyes me, taking the utensils. She growls a little, adjusting her chair, waiting for my instructions. "Let’s get this over with, or you’ll never let me live it down. I only want it made very clear I’m doing this under protest."

"Fair. Okay, there are several ways to do this. You have to find the way you like the best."

"Kels, I don’t need to give it that much thought. It’s not like I’m going to start eating it on a regular basis."

I snort and nod. "That’s fair too. I consider getting you to try it a major victory."

"You should. So now what?"

"Take the Kappa Maki and place it in the soy sauce." I watch as she does so, now for the interesting part. "Now take a very small serving of the wasabi and either spread it in the top of the sushi or mix it with the soy sauce."

"What’s the difference?"

"If you mix it with the soy sauce, it flavors the sushi. If you spread it on top, it clears the sinuses and sometime leaves first degree burns in your mouth." I tease. It’s not much of a joke though. I watch as she takes a very healthy amount of the green spice. "Ah, Harper, you don’t want that much of it. You should put about half of that back."

"Can I put it all back?" She grins before she puts about a fourth of it back then proceeds to spread the rest on top of the sushi.

It’s been nice knowing you, Tabloid.

I move my juice and her beer closer to her hand as she takes the sushi and pops it in her mouth. She chews, her eyes grow wide. After swallowing quickly, the search begins while her eyes water. She finds my juice first, draining it, then she goes for the beer.

The best part about sushi bars is that they know this happens a lot. With a slight chuckle, our chef hands her a glass of milk. She nods and takes it, drinking it straight down. Amazing. She didn’t even require chocolate. I’ll have to tell Mama the secret. Once the fire is contained, she turns to me.

"That was mean."

"I tried to warn you." I wave her off with my chopsticks as I prepare another piece of my dinner. "One of these days you’ll learn to listen to me. I figure I should have you properly trained in, oh, say, sixty or seventy years."


<fade out>


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