"But what if I don't like school?" Emma pouted, looking adorable in her new jumper with its matching sweater. Her Mary Jane's sparkled and were completely intact. Tessa looked at her younger sister with pride, thankful that she was able to provide for Sadie, Lucas and Emma in a way she had only dreamed about two years ago.
"You'll be fine, love. Lucas will be there too and you'll be home before you know it!" Tessa said enthusiastically, a big smile on her face.
"But what if the baby comes today, Essa?"
Tessa laughed and pulled her sister against her tightly. It had become more and more difficult to give hugs, her abdomen expanding with every passing day, but she did her best. "He's not coming today; he's not supposed to come for a couple weeks now."
"But Mama had me early and that's how she died!" Emma exclaimed, tightening her grip.
It took quite a bit of effort, but Tessa crouched down in front of her sister, wanting to look deep into the eyes that reminded her so much of her mother. "Mama didn't have a doctor to help her, but I have Parker. When the baby comes I'll let you stay home for a day to help me take care of him. How does that sound?"
"Just me? Sadie and Luke will still go to school?"
"Alright," Emma decided, finally letting go. She stood, straightening her jumper and fixing a button on her sweater, then looked up an amused smile on her young face. "It's a boy today?"
Tessa laughed, remembering how much she had always loved hearing her mother's predictions each day. She always thought it was ridiculous, her mother changing her mind every day, but now being with child, she understood. Each day she had a different feeling about the baby snuggled inside her. If it kicked too ferociously she imagined it a boy, if it squirmed while she hummed a tune she believed a little girl to be dancing inside. It seemed that Emma enjoyed the predictions just as much as she once had. Tessa nodded and pulled Emma in for another quick hug.
"Now, I want you to pay attention and remember every detail because you're going to have to tell me all about it when you get home." Tessa smiled, brushing a few fingers through her sister's tightly curled hair. "And Aunt Julia and Uncle Keith will be over for dinner, and I hear Aunt Julia is bringing an apple pie just for you!'
"Alright, Essa." Emma agreed, using the nick name that managed to stick despite her ability to pronounce Tessa's name correctly.
"Now, let's go find Parker, he'll want to say goodbye too."
Emma smiled brightly at the mention of Tessa's husband and skipped down the hallway toward his office, where he usually spent his mornings. Tessa followed her with a smile on her face, enjoying the love that her sister and husband shared. Two years ago she was terrified of the burden she might be putting on Parker by loving and marrying him and bringing her siblings into their new life. Now as she looked at him behind his desk with her sister snuggled on his lap, she realized how foolish she had been. She discovered this truth anew every day as she watched him with each member of her family.
He had become a confidant and friend to Luke and another shoulder for Sadie to cry on when her heart was broken by some foolish boy. And Emma treated him like her own father, enjoying his cuddles, attention and ability to read a bedtime story. Parker was whispering something to Emma as Tessa watched on, undoubtedly giving her advice for her first day of school. Emma listened intently, a serious expression on her face. When he was finished, she nodded fiercely and wrapped her hands around his neck, saying something to him while she held on.
Parker agreed to whatever she said, and stood, keeping her in his arms. Walking past Tessa, he wrapped his free arm around her waist and led the bunch out to the foyer where Sadie and Lucas were waiting, dressed in their newest school outfits. Parker deposited Emma on the ground, where she adjusted her jumper again. He kept his grip on Tessa, who rested her head comfortably on his shoulder.
"You two watch out for Emma, make sure you're all together on the way home," Parker instructed, getting nods in response from the two older children.
With one last nervous hug from Emma, the children left the house, leaving silence in their wake. Tessa, who was already feeling her youngest sister's absence, turned to her husband for comfort, "The house will be so quiet without her."
Parker reached down and kissed her sweetly on the lips. "Not for long," he smiled, placing a hand on her stomach with care. Tessa lifted herself up on her toes and pressed a kiss to Parker's lips, more thankful every day that she had married him almost two years ago.
Tessa thought of her new family; Parker and his parents and siblings had become such a foundation and blessing in her life. She knew that she could depend on them for anything, and more than that, she knew that she was not only treasured by her husband, but by his entire family as well. Life had certainly turned out differently than she had expected, but she wouldn't trade it for anything. God had brought her through the most difficult times in her life to the most wonderful man and family, only He could have known they were exactly what she needed.
Wow, I am so sorry for the delay on this one! It was soooo difficult to write! I know it's really short, but it's better this way, I promise. I just want to thank all of you who read and reviewed one more time! I have loved hearing your thoughts on the story, good and bad. I hope that you'll check out my new story. I'm not quite ready to post the first chapter, but it is definitely COMING SOON, so watch for it! Again, thanks!