"Are you ready to go home, little girl?" Seth asked his daughter as he helped Mira slip her into a pair of pink footed pajamas.
"I'll bet she's done being wrapped up in a blanket like a fajita," Mira said. Once they had Lucy in the pajamas, Mira cradled her tiny head against her shoulder.
It was the two days later, April twenty-first, the day she was released from the hospital. She wanted to stay at the hospital longer, but her parents and her doctor told her she could go home.
A nurse walked in with a wheelchair. Adam and Audrey were pulling the car to the front. Seth and the nurse helped Mira into the wheelchair and wheeled her out. Seeing as it was getting dark, she was grateful that she would be able to go straight to sleep.
"You're gonna get to see your room, Lucy," Mira was saying to the sleeping baby in her arms. Seth chuckled and continued pushing the chair down the hall.
When they reached the front doors, Adam's car was there waiting for them. The older Pascals got out of the car to help. Audrey took Lucy in her arms while Seth and Adam gently helped Mira out of the chair.
Audrey secured the baby in the car seat and kissed her tiny forehead. She looked so adorable in those footie pajamas and little hat.
Adam helped Mira into the seat of the car, in the middle beside Lucy. Seth hopped in beside her and buckled both their seatbelts. Adam and Audrey got back in the front.
Adam looked over his shoulder at the three, "You ready to go?" he asked. Mira placed her head on Seth's shoulder and nodded.
"Let's go home, daddy."
The first thing Mira did when she got home was head up the stairs to go to sleep. Audrey was about to call after her to get back down and tend to the baby, but the older woman saw the way Seth gently picked Lucy up from the car seat and cradle her to his chest.
Carolyn and Dave agreed that it would be best for Seth to stay with the Pascals for a few days, to help Mira out with Lucy. Seth would go to school the next day, come back to the Pascal house, and stay there for about a week until he could come home.
Seth rocked his daughter in his arms before looking up at the Pascal parents, "I think I should take her upstairs," he said. At their nod, he carefully began up the stairs.
He tiptoed into Mira's room to see her curled up in her bed. she had changed out of her clothes into sweats. He placed Lucy in the crib on the side of the room.
"'night, Sunshine," he whispered. He glanced over at Mira's sleeping figure and slipped in the bed behind her. Wrapping a gently arm around her waist, he joined her in slumber.
It was about three hours later, around eleven at night, that Lucy's crying woke them up.
Seth and Mira's eyes snapped open and they both groaned.
"You take care of it," Mira mumbled. Seth shook his head and burrowed himself deeper into the blankets.
"I took care of her earlier so you could sleep," he objected.
"I gave birth to her!" when Seth made no move to get up, she swore under her breath and yanked the covers off her body. "I hate you so much."
She walked over to the wailing baby and leaned over the crib, "What's the matter, baby?" she cooed. "Are you hungry?"
Mira carried Lucy into Matt's old room. Adam and Audrey still hadn't painted it pink yet, but it was where they kept the pink glider chair.
She sat herself down in it and lifted her shirt and bra up so her baby could feed. After a few seconds, it began to hurt. She sighed in pain and leaned back. She was completely beyond exhausted and just wanted to get back in bed.
When Lucy finished feeding, Mira hoisted her over her shoulder and gently patted her back until she let out a small burp.
Mira carried her back to her room and clicked on the lamp beside the bed. Seth groaned in protest and pulled the covers over his head.
"Hey!" came his muffled answer.
"I need to change her," she said simply. She placed Lucy on the changing table and began undoing her pajamas.
Within minutes, she was clean and changed and quiet, so Mira gently placed her back in the crib.
"Goodnight, sweetie," she whispered.
Mira climbed back into bed beside Seth, who wrapped an arm around her waist and pressed up against her back.
It was almost two hours later before the baby started screaming again. Both teens groaned again.
"Your turn," Mira mumbled.
Lucy woke them up three more times after that.
"But you promised that you were going to take a week off!" Mira exclaimed, but her point was ruined as she let out a long yawn.
"Mira, Lucy came a lot earlier than we thought, I can't just take off from work on such short notice," Audrey said, looking at her daughter and granddaughter through the mirror as she pulled her long blonde hair into a ponytail.
"I can't be home alone with her… I'm-I'm not ready!" Mira was scared out of her mind. After being woken up four times last night, she was completely exhausted. She had hoped her mother would help take care of Lucy so she could sleep.
Audrey walked over and kissed the top of her head.
"It'll only be a few hours. You know what to do."
"Mira," Audrey cut in firmly, "You wanted to keep her, so you need to take responsibility for her."
"Mom, I just gave birth a few days ago! I'm exhausted." She was close to tears, but she blinked them away and absentmindedly jiggled the sleeping baby in her arms.
"Mira, I'm sorry but there is nothing I can do. Now I've got to leave. You have all the emergency numbers and there are bottles of milk in the fridge for Lucy." She ducked her head down so she could look her daughter in the eyes, "you'll do just fine."
A small crowd of people surrounded Seth's locker. It consisted of a bunch of girls from the baby shower, Seth's other friends, and Ashley.
"Well?" they asked in sync.
He smiled and held up his phone with the picture of Lucy as his screensaver.
"It's a girl."
Everyone burst into applause, tears, or cheers. Seth's friends either shook his hand or patted him on the back.
"Congratulations!" the group minus Ashley squealed. She just stood there with a cool indifferent expression on her face.
When the group parted, Ashley uncrossed her thin arms and held her hand out, "Well, I guess congrats are in order," she said.
Seth shook it, "thanks Ashley,"
She opened her mouth to say something, thought for a moment, and said, "You love her, don't you?"
Seth didn't need to ask who she was talking about. He nodded. "Yeah, I really do."
Marli was taking her books out of her locker when Zack approached her.
"Hey I've been looking everywhere for you," he said with a grin. She gave him a tight smile in return. In all honesty, she had been avoiding him since he had gone home from seeing Lucy in the hospital. They hadn't talked about their kiss, and she was nervous about what he would say.
"Hey," she replied simply. She twirled a pink and blonde strand of hair between her fingers nervously.
Zack frowned, "so I was hoping we could talk about… you know…" he said. Marli gulped slightly and hugged her book to her chest.
"I really can't talk right now; I have to talk to a teacher about making up a test."
"Can we talk later?" Zack really wanted to get to the bottom of this. While he knew Marli was a girl of many emotions, she was never the type to just kiss someone then completely ignore him. She just wasn't like that.
"Sure," she answered, walking around him toward her class.
"Hush little baby, don't say a word," Mira sang sweetly to her crying daughter. She was exhausted. How much did a newborn need to cry? "Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird."
It was almost noon and she was already tired of doing this. She just wanted to curl up in her warm bed and sleep. She shook her head fiercely to wake herself up.
Clad in her pajamas with a pink bathrobe over it and bunny slippers, she walked into the kitchen and placed Lucy in the baby car seat that was resting on the table. Lucy stared up at her mother with her big blue eyes.
Placing her thumbs in the baby's grasp, she leaned down. "Please go to sleep. You were up all night, you have to be tired."
Mira adjusted the little pink cap on Lucy's head and smiled when her wails turned into little whimpers.
"There we go," she whispered. "Just go to sleep. Mommy will be here when you wake up."
Lucy's eyes slipped closed as she fell asleep. Mira leaned forward and pressed a tiny kiss to her head.
Maybe being a mom wasn't so hard after all.
"So you wanna go to the mall after school?" Paige asked. Sara looked up from her make-up mirror and grinned.
"Yeah, that sounds great."
The girls were in the hallway in between classes. Paige snapped open her own mirror and expertly applied her lip gloss.
"I was thinking we could get Lucy a onesie or something."
"You're overcompensating, Paige," Sara said with a chuckle.
"What? Just because I want to buy my best friend a gift for her baby doesn't mean anything."
"Paige," Sara interrupted, "Mira forgave us for abandoning her, remember?"
"Yeah," she mumbled. At that moment, Zeke and Ava came walking up. "Hey guys."
"Hey," the couple replied. Zeke had his arm draped over Ava's shoulders while her arm was around his waist.
"We were just talking about going to the mall after school. You wanna come?" Sara asked.
Zeke glanced down at his girlfriend, "Sure that sounds great. But Ava needs to ask you something."
Paige and Sara turned their attention to the shorter girl, who looked somewhat embarrassed.
"My uh, my dads found out that I have two more female friends. They want to meet you."
"They want to meet us?" Paige asked in surprise. Ava nodded.
"I told them that you probably wont want to…" she trailed off.
Sara gave Paige a sideways glance and said, "Well, I for one would love to meet your dads!" Ava looked up in surprise.
"I'd love to go," Paige said.
"Really?" Ava asked. She didn't think it would be that easy.
"Of course, why wouldn't we want to meet our best friend's family?" Sara asked. Ava raised her eyebrows.
"So we're best friends now?" she asked. While Sara blushed slightly, Paige jumped in.
"Yes, you are our best friend. Aves, whether you like it or not, you're one of us," Paige declared. Sara nodded. The blonde and the brunette hooked their pinkies together.
Ava's eyes looked from one girl to the other before she managed a smile. "I guess that's fair. You two have a tendency to grow on people. You're like moss."
Sara and Paige looked at each other, smiled, and yanked Ava into a group hug.
"Hey what about me?" Zeke asked. Paige grinned and held her arm out for him to join in.
He wrapped his arms around the three girls and lifted them clear off their feet, crushing them to his chest.
"That's great. Okay, bye Leda." Adam hung up the call and looked at Audrey as she slid across from him in the booth at the café.
"Who was that?" she asked, handing him his sandwich and coffee. He sipped at the cup.
"It was Leda. She just wanted to tell me that she has a new case right here in town."
Audrey smiled, "That's great!"
"She said she'll be by either today or tomorrow to see the baby again." Adam took a big bite of his sandwich. Audrey leaned her head on her elbow.
"It's still so hard to believe that we are grandparents," she commented. Adam shrugged his shoulders.
"I know, it's a shocker."
"I mean, a year ago, who would have thought that Mira would be a mother?"
"Who would have thought that we would still be together?" Adam asked after a moment, eyes looking at her over the rim of his coffee cup.
Audrey blinked in surprise and took a bite of her salad to hide it. It was true. They had been having so many problems last year that they had spoken of getting a divorce.
He brought his hand across the table and placed it on her arm, "I just want you to know… how much I love you. I'll never leave again, I promise."
She brought her eyes up and nodded slowly.
"I love you too, so, so much."
"What color is this?" Matt asked the young toddler on his lap.
"Gween!" Luke exclaimed, clapping his hands.
"Very good!" Matt praised, turning the book to the next page. "And what color is this."
"B-blue!" Luke said excitedly. Matt laughed heartily and ruffled the little boy's hair.
Jamie leaned against the door frame and watched the two interact. A smile graced her pretty face. It made her stomach flutter every time she saw this amazing man with her son. He was so good with Luke, and it came to him so easily. She knew if he kept it up, there was a good chance she would completely fall for him. Not that she hadn't already.
She pulled her hair back into a loose ponytail and sat on the couch beside them. "Hey boys," She said.
"Hey mommy," Matt said, playfully tickling Luke's tummy. The toddler shrieked with laughter. "Luke here was just telling me how ticklish he is right here." He tickled the same spot again, causing him to laugh louder.
"Right there?" Jamie asked, poking at the spot. Luke thrashed with laughter until he was out of Matt's arms and on his feet on the floor. "Sweetie, why don't you get a book for us to read to you?" He took off running into the other room.
Matt leaned back against the couch with the hint of laughter still in his breath. "He's such a cute kid."
"He adores you," Jamie observed, kicking her shoes off her small feet and propping them up on the coffee table. Matt tilted his head to the side.
"I didn't know you had a tattoo." Over Jamie's ankle and top of her foot were a long chain of stars. Around those stars were three purple butterflies.
Jamie lifted her foot in the air, "Yeah I have a few tattoos actually."
Matt raised a blond brow, "Oh really?"
"Yeah." She pulled side collar of her shirt down her back to reveal two symbols on her shoulder.
"What does that mean?"
"It's Japanese for 'Bulletproof'," she replied. Releasing her shirt, she tugged the front down until he could see her bra. Just above the lacy fabric of her bra, in elegant calligraphy, was 'Luke'. He smiled.
"You got his name tattooed? That's adorable."
"What about you? Any tattoos, piercings, scars?"
"Wouldn't you like to know…?" He said with a smirk. Jamie scoffed playfully and hit him with a pillow.
Luke came running back with a cardboard book in his little hands. "Read this one, dada!" He yelled.
Matt and Jamie froze. "Did he just call me…?" He trailed off.
"I think he did," she answered, brown eyes shifting from her son to her boyfriend. Her heart was frozen. Matt was the first real man in Luke's life. And for the last three months, Matt had been like a father to him. While Luke had never really had a father, Ross had run off when she got pregnant, he knew what a daddy was. She held her breath. This was the ultimate test to see how Matt really felt about dating a girl with a baby.
Matt's face broke into a large grin and he leaned forward to pick Luke up and put him in his lap.
"What book you got, buddy?" he asked. The toddler held it up. "That's a good choice!"
He opened the book so they both could see it and began to read.
Jamie stared at them, her eyes wide and filling with tears. Matt just looked over at her and smiled.
There was no doubt; she had completely fallen for Matt Pascal.
After school, Marli just wanted to get on the bus and go home. Unfortunately, Zack caught up with her. She was right about to step on the bus when he gently gripped her arm and pulled her back.
"Zack I have to get on the bus…" she said weakly.
"I'll get you a ride home," he promised, "but we need to talk."
Marli sighed and they walked back into the building where it was warm. She crossed her arms and leaned against the lockers.
"Okay, talk," she said. He closed his eyes briefly and took in a breath.
"Don't do that," He said softly.
"Don't shut me out and act all aloof."
"I'm not acting aloof! I just have a lot going on right now and I'm not really thinking about you at the moment!"
Zack's hazel eyes stared into hers for a long time before he spoke, "I know you have a lot going on right now, but I want to know how you can kiss me like that then act like it never happened."
Marli turned her head away stubbornly and scowled slightly. He gripped the strap of his back pack tightly and said, "Marli, you know how I feel about you. I like you, a lot. You've been my best friend since I was born and I don't want to lose that."
Her expression softened and she slowly turned her face back to him.
"I don't either," she whispered. This was weird. Never in her life had she ever let herself be vulnerable. What was it about Zack Taylor that made her like this?
"Then just tell me how you feel about me. Because if this is one of your mind games, I am walking out that door," he gestured to the wide double doors of the middle school, "and I'm not talking to you anymore."
Without thinking, Marli reached forward and grabbed the sleeve of his shirt. "No!" she said quickly. "I'm not trying to mess with you, Zack. I'm just… I don't know, confused."
"Confused about what?" he prompted.
Marli took a deep breath. He wasn't going to let her off easy. "I… I know I have feelings for you. I just…" she trailed off. He took a step closer to her.
"You were the only one I have relied on this year," she whispered, "and I never thought I would think of you like this. But I'm scared…" Marli finally raised her head up and met his gaze. "I don't want to get hurt."
Finally it clicked in Zack's brain. Marli was always so strong and stubborn, and her feelings for him had scared her. She was afraid of losing their friendship.
He took a step forward and rested his hand on her shoulder.
"Mar, you know that I would never, ever hurt you," He assured her. Marli's eyes rose up to meet his.
"And I don't want to hurt you," she whispered.
Unknowingly, they both leaned their heads closer.
"We'll never know how things will turn out until we try," She continued.
Marli wasn't sure at what point their lips met. All she knew was that she was kissing him and it felt right. It felt like coming home.
The broke apart a minute later and chuckled nervously.
"C'mon I'll call Paige to come pick us up." He held out his hand, which Marli took.
Together, they walked out of the building.
"Be sure to eat something healthy for dinner tonight if you are staying over there," Carolyn said, cradling the phone between her ear and shoulder.
Seth couldn't help but smile. "I will mom," he said into his cell phone.
"And make sure that to carry the baby monitor with you if you leave the room."
"Mom!" he said with a laugh, "I know what to do. I'll be fine."
From the Ramsey house, Carolyn smiled. Her son was so grown up. It made her heart swell with pride whenever she thought about the man he had become the last few months.
"Dave and I were thinking of bringing Julie to see Lucy in a couple days. Would Mira be alright with that?"
"I'll ask her but I'm sure she'll be okay with it," he answered. From the backseat of his car, Cujo stuck his head out the window to enjoy the breeze.
"Great. Well I better go so you can focus on the road."
"Okay. Bye mom."
"Bye." She hesitated, and then added, "I love you."
"I love you too, mom." He hung up the call.
Carolyn hung up the phone and hugged the phone to her chest and took a long, happy breath, tears glistening in her eyes.
Seth pulled up in the Pascal driveway and turned to his dog. "You excited to see your little girlfriend Carrie?" Cujo let out a bark and began pawing at the window. He laughed and hopped out of the car. He let his dog out and they walked up to the front porch.
Seth used his key and unlocked the front door to the Pascal house. Cujo eagerly ran in and was greeted with an excited Carrie. The two dogs pawed at each other and let out friendly barks. Seth shushed them and opened the back door to the back yard. They ran out and began playing in the yard.
"Mira?" He called out softly, in case she or Lucy were asleep. He gripped the railing and walked up the stairs.
When he reached Mira's room, he smiled as he saw her standing over the baby's crib, a light smile on her face. The room was dark; the only light coming from the cracks from the curtains.
Seth walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She placed her hands on top of his and leaned back against his chest.
"She looks so peaceful when she sleeps," She whispered, eyes never leaving the tiny miracle asleep before them. "It's nice to not hear her crying for once."
Seth gave her waist a light squeeze and rested his chin on her shoulder, "Did you get any sleep today?"
A long yawn was his answer.
"I guess that's a no?" he asked with his trademark smirk.
At that moment, Lucy's tiny face crumpled as if she were about to cry. Seth heard Mira groan, so he kissed her cheek.
"Get some sleep, I got her." Mira carefully untangled herself from his arms and padded her way over to her bed.
Seth leaned down and gently slid his hands under Lucy's head and legs, lifting her into his arms.
"Hey little girl," he whispered. "Don't cry. Daddy's here. Daddy's got you."
Mira had slipped under the covers and watched Seth cradle their daughter to his chest with care. They had both changed so much this year, she thought. Seth wasn't some asshole who knocked her up, he was the father of her baby and she loved him.
Seth looked at Mira from his standing position and smiled lightly.
"I love you, Seth," she said softly. His smile widened a bit.
"I love you, Mira." The words, though he had only first said them for the first time a few days ago, felt so natural and easy. It felt like he had been saying them his whole life.
He walked over to the bed and sat on it beside her. They leaned their heads forward until their foreheads touched. Mira brought a hand up and placed it on Seth's that was under Lucy's head.
"I really, really love you," Seth continued. He pulled away and kissed her forehead. "Get some sleep."
She settled back into the bed as Seth stood up and began to walk out of the room.
"Will you still be here when I wake up?" She asked softly.
He turned his head and nodded, "Of course."
The bottle warmer beeped quietly. Seth pulled the now-warm bottle out of it and shook some out on his wrist. Satisfied with the temperature, he picked Lucy up out of the car seat on the table and held the nipple of the bottle to her mouth. She opened it and began drinking the warm milk.
"That's a good girl," Seth whispered. He walked out of the kitchen and slowly headed up the stairs so as not to disturb his daughter.
He kicked the door of the nursery closed with his foot and settled into the pink glider chair. He was willing to overlook how girly the chair was, seeing as Lucy and Mira were girls.
He sat patiently as she drank her fill, then brought her over his shoulder and gently patted her back. When she burped lightly, he brought her back down so she was cradled against the crook of his elbow.
She was so… innocent. So beautiful. Not for the first time, he wondered how his father, any father, could look down at their children and see them as something to be used for pleasure. As he stared at Lucy, all he saw was an angel. A beautiful, tiny angel who had saved him from the life of emptiness he didn't know he was living.
Lucy squirmed in his arms, sweet little baby noises escaping from her mouth. He smiled and bounced her in his arms to silence her. Seth reached a hand up to adjust the little pink cap on her head. She looked so adorable in her pink outfit and matching cap.
"You ready to go back to bed, Sunshine?" he whispered. When she closed her eyes, he smiled. "I'll take that as a yes."
Seth slowly opened the door to Mira's room. He stuck his head and, when he saw she was sound asleep, tiptoed over to the crib.
He brought his daughter's head up and gently kissed her forehead. "Goodnight sunshine, I love you." He lowered her onto the padded mattress in the crib. For a moment, Seth stood there, watching her tiny figure sleep.
Seth kicked off his shoes and tugged off his jacket before he cautiously lifted the covers off the other end of Mira's bed and slipped in beside her.
Immediately, Mira snuggled her back against his chest. "Hmm, is she asleep?" She asked groggily.
"Yeah," he answered, wrapping an arm around her waist. She turned her head to look over her shoulder to look at his face. They stared at each other for a moment before she rolled over so she could face him.
"Seth I-" she trailed off.
He leaned down and gently pressed his lips to hers. His hand cupped the side of her face. She responded to the gentle kiss, carefully moving her lips against his.
"I know." He did. He knew how she felt. So overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts that the words couldn't come together. "Me too."
Mira's face showed what she was feeling; love, devotion, and happiness.
"Are you… staying the night?" she asked.
He ran his hand down her arm so he could lace their fingers together.
"I'll stay whenever you need me."
She smiled and lightly kissed him again. When they parted, both teens snuggled into each other's warm embrace and closed their eyes. They fell asleep with thoughts of the future. Their future together. Their daughter's future.
Seth Elsen and Mira Pascal were going to do just fine; they had each other to rely on. They both loved each other and they both loved Lucy.
SEQUEL IS UP!
Read and Review!