Chapter 21 - Swept off Her Feet
The next visitor came already in the afternoon. Clara had just sent Theo grocery shopping, so they would have something to offer to all the people who would be coming over the next few days. She was a little worried as he wasn't used to driving in the right side of the road, but he had assured her that he would be fine and bring back her car in one piece. It wasn't really the car she was worried about, though.
Clara opened the door for Sabrina, who came carrying a huge basket with all sorts of snacks from work. There was also fruit, a bottle of wine, and those crackers that Clara always snacked on, not to mention a beautiful bouquet of pink and purple flowers.
"Sabrina, that's way too much," Clara said and felt a lump in her throat. "You shouldn't have."
"It's from all of us. And I doubt Julia actually paid for those snacks."
"Tell everyone I said thank you," Clara said. "Would you mind putting it on the kitchen table? I'm not supposed to carry that much weight yet."
"Sure. How're you doing? Giving birth was harder than it was supposed to be, I hear."
"I'm doing fine. I'm tired, and I need a lot of rest. I get a little dizzy from time to time, but otherwise I'm feeling fine."
"And the baby?"
"She's perfect. And doing so well. Come have a look."
Sabrina put the basket on the table and followed Clara to the living room, where Lily was asleep in the cradle.
"Aww, she's so cute and tiny!" Sabrina exclaimed and touched Lily's little feet, careful not to wake her up. "I want one."
"Well, you know the recipe."
"Speaking of which, where's her dad?"
"I sent him grocery shopping."
"Look at you playing the married couple!" Sabrina said with a teasing smile.
"That's not what we're doing. He's just helping out until I can manage alone," Clara said and rolled her eyes. "And don't you dare say anything of the sort when he gets back!"
"I wouldn't dream of it," Sabrina said with a twinkle in her eye. "Has his girlfriend been here to see her yet?"
"No. I don't think she's very interested in seeing her, but that's just a feeling I've got. He didn't say anything."
"How can anyone not be interested in seeing their boyfriend or girlfriend's newborn child?"
"Beats me. But apparently, she can't find the time in her busy work schedule."
"What about the weekends?"
"Don't ask me." Clara sat down in the rocking chair. "Won't you sit down? And if you want anything to eat or drink, do you mind getting it yourself?"
"I'm fine," Sabrina said and sat down on the couch. "Is there anything you need?"
"I just had a bite to eat before you came."
"No, I mean, is there anything you need me to do for you, or buy, or people you need me to talk to, or...?"
"No, but..." Clara hadn't thought of it before. "Everybody at work knows?"
"Yes, they're not supposed to?"
"Uh, well, we were trying to keep it a secret for a few days."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I should've thought of that."
"No, it's alright. It's not supposed to stay a secret forever, anyway."
"Will there be journalists outside?"
"There was no one when I came."
"It's fine, really. Don't worry about it."
There was someone at the door, but no one rang the bell.
"It's just me," Theo called from the entrance and made Sabrina look at Clara with an expectant smile.
"The rock star," she whispered excitedly.
Clara just rolled her eyes at her.
"Hi, I'm Sabrina," Sabrina said as she got up and reached out her hand to Theo.
"Nice to meet you," he replied and shook her hand. "I'm Theo."
"I can see that," Sabrina said and continued, "though you look so much different from the pictures on Google."
She did not just say that!
"Yeah, well, a haircut will do that to you," Theo chuckled. Then he looked at Clara. "Has everything been okay while I've been gone?"
"Yeah, she ate not so long ago. How was driving in the right side of the road?"
"You mean the wrong side? No big deal," he said with a smile. Then he looked back at Sabrina. "Is that your car outside?"
"The green Honda? Yeah."
"Why?" Clara asked.
"Just making sure we're not being watched."
"Speaking of which," Sabrina said, and Clara thought she seemed a little uncomfortable, "I may have told everyone at work about Clara becoming a mum."
"Okay, well, they've been really good at keeping quiet, then, because I don't think the word is out yet. Kevin would've told me."
"Who's Kevin?" Sabrina asked.
"My manager. He's stalling the press as long as possible."
Lily made a small, squeaky sound, and everyone looked at her.
"Aww, she even sounds adorable," Sabrina exclaimed.
The newborn yawned and stretched and opened her eyes for a moment. She didn't do that very often yet, but Clara loved it whenever she got a glimpse of her eyes.
"She's got blue eyes?" Sabrina asked and looked from Clara to Theo. "Hm."
Yeah, Lily definitely had her dad's eyes.
"But she's got her mum's blonde hair," Theo said with a fond look at the little girl, who didn't seem to want to go back to sleep just yet. "Do you think she's hungry?"
"No, she just ate," Clara replied. "Maybe she's just well rested. Do you want to hold her?" The last part was for Sabrina.
"Yes, give her to me," Sabrina said with an excited smile. "Where do you want me?"
"Just sit down," Clara said and was about to take Lily from the cradle, but Theo was faster.
"I know you can carry her, but you should still take it easy," he said with a reprimanding look at her, before he put Lily into Sabrina's arms.
"Oh my Goodness!" Sabrina exclaimed with a very close look at Lily. "I'm totally gonna steal her."
"Yeah, well, just give her back when she gets hungry," Clara said and sat down next to Sabrina.
Under normal circumstances, Clara would've wanted Sabrina to stay much longer, but due to her blood loss and energy drain she couldn't help yawning after a while, though Sabrina hadn't left yet.
"I'm so sorry," Sabrina said when she noticed. "I've more than overstayed my welcome. You should be in bed, shouldn't you?"
"I don't have to stay in bed, but I do need a lot of rest," Clara said and felt extremely tired.
"I'll kick myself out, then," Sabrina said and got up. Lily had been asleep in her cradle for a while.
"Thank you so much for the basket," Clara said and got up as well to follow Sabrina to the door. "Tell everyone I said thank you."
"I will." Sabrina gave Clara a big hug, and when she let go, Clara had to reach out for the chest of drawers for support. "Are you okay?"
"I'll be fine," Clara said and just waited for Sabrina to leave, so she could go lie down for a while.
"Okay. See you soon."
Clara smiled and nodded, and as soon as she had closed the door behind Sabrina, she turned around to go back. She didn't get that far, though, as her vision became blurry, and she had to lean against the wall for support.
"You don't look too well," Theo said with a frown as he came into the hallway. Clara didn't reply. She was extremely dizzy and felt like she was about to black out.
"Oookay," Theo said and caught her, right when she was about to fall, "we gotta get you to bed. Can you walk?"
She still didn't reply. She just needed to close her eyes for a moment.
"Apparently not." Theo kept talking to himself, when he put her arm around his neck and his own arms under her back and her legs. And then... Nothing.
A moment later Clara woke up in her bed. Theo had slapped her cheek.
"Don't ever do that again!" he reprimanded her, but he was smiling. "I'm gonna call the doctor."
"I just need something to eat," Clara said and tried to sit up.
"Stay!" he told her with his index finger raised as if she were a dog. "I'm calling the doctor, and then I'll find you something to eat."
Clara didn't object again. She was too exhausted.
The doctor told Clara to stay in bed or at least on the couch, until she was feeling better. She hadn't had enough fluid, which had worsened the situation, so the doctor told Theo to make sure that she got enough to drink. It was okay to have company, as long as she would stay on the couch and let other people do the work. No waiting on the guests. The child's father could do that, if necessary.
When the doctor left Clara could no longer hold back the tears. She wasn't sure why she was crying, but probably from exhaustion. And probably from hormones, too. The tears just streamed down her cheeks, though she had no real reason to feel so sad.
Theo came back with a sandwich and a bottle of water after showing the doctor out.
"Hey, don't be sad," he said and sat down on the edge of the bed. He took Clara's hand and caressed it a little, and the tears just kept coming. "Tell me what's wrong?"
"I don't know," she cried. "I just... I'm so tired and..." She didn't know what else to say.
"Hormones?" Theo asked and put his arms around her.
Clara nodded and let him hug her. She held on to him for a while and felt how he caressed her hair to comfort her. It sort of worked, and after a while her sobbing decreased.
"How long will you stay?" she asked, afraid to let him go.
"As long as it takes. I've got all the time in the world."
"Thank you," she sobbed again. "I don't know how I'd manage alone."
"You won't have to. I promise."
"When will your family be here tomorrow?" She let go of him again and took the sandwich he had brought her. Her mood was a lot better than a moment ago.
"I'll tell them not to come. Don't worry about it."
"No, they should come. I'll just have to stay in bed."
"Are you sure? 'Cause they'd understand if I cancelled."
"Yeah, but will they go back tomorrow as well?"
"I don't know, but they definitely won't be staying here."
"Good. As long as they don't stay too late, and as long as they don't mind me going to bed."
"I'll throw them out before it gets late."
"Thank you. This looks delicious, by the way." Clara looked at the sandwich. "Did you make it? Or did you buy it?"
"I actually made it myself," Theo said proudly, "but if you don't like it, I can order takeaway?"
"It's actually really good," Clara mumbled with her mouth full of sandwich. "There's still hope for you."
Clara fell asleep shortly after feeding Lily, and Theo took the baby to the bathroom to change her nappy. Then he went to the kitchen with Lily in one arm to clean up with the other after making sandwiches. It was getting darker inside, though it wasn't dark outside yet, so he turned on the light and began to put everything back in the fridge. It took some time, as he had to be careful not to make too sudden movements because of Lily, but he didn't mind. He actually enjoyed it. She wasn't asleep yet, but she was quiet. Every now and then she would open her eyes for a moment and then close them again. He wasn't sure how much she could see yet, but he imagined it wasn't much.
He was facing the window when he thought he saw a movement outside. He tried to focus in the twilight, though the light inside made it harder. But there it was again - the movement. There was definitely someone out there, and that someone was pointing a huge camera lens at Theo.
Theo moved away from the window and sighed to himself. So, they found out. Then he closed the blinds, put Lily in her cradle, and called Kevin.
"They know," he said, when Kevin answered.
"Dammit," Kevin exclaimed. "I thought I'd sent them to Argentina."
"Yeah, at least we had a few days. Can't keep it a secret forever."
"What do you need from me? Security?"
"No, just tell me how to handle it."
"Make sure your friends and family know."
"They already do."
"Yes, and her 500 colleagues. Her friend didn't think about it."
"Okay, then you just post a photo on social media and tell people that your daughter has been born. It's fine to say it was a little early, but leave out the complications."
"Is a photo necessary? I'd rather just keep that on my private Facebook account."
"You don't have to, but it's what they want. It'll buy you a little more privacy. And... Your private account? It'd be out in no time, anyway. What about that niece of Clara's? Has she kept quiet?"
"I think so. She seems bright enough."
"Good. How's the baby?"
"She's fine. She's eating and sleeping. Crying a bit, but not that much."
"I had to call the doctor earlier. She's still weak from the blood loss, even though they gave her a transfusion. She passed out in front of my eyes."
"But she will be okay? You want me to find a specialist?"
"She'll be fine. It's not complicated. She just needs to rest, eat, and drink. I may have to stay for a while to take care of Lily, though."
"No problem. You don't have anything scheduled for a long time. At least not in my calendar."
"We talked about going away sometime in July."
"You and Cathy?"
"No, the band. To do some songwriting."
"Well, it's your decision, of course, but you've spent the last year and a half on the road together. Don't you think you'll need a longer break from each other than that? Especially now that two of you have children?"
"Yeah, you're probably right. I just feel like I have a lot of songs waiting to be written."
"There's no reason why you can't write alone, is there? You've done it before."
"I do it all the time," Theo sighed. "Yeah, I don't know. We were just talking about it."
"If you want my advise..."
"Take some time off. You've got plenty of time before the next album has to be done, and there's no need to rush anything. Focus on your daughter for now. Write if you want, but don't push yourself."
"Don't worry. Nothing could make me stop focusing on her right now. You should see her, Kevin. She's the most beautiful little creature ever."
"With you as her father? I very much doubt it," Kevin chuckled.
"Oh, shut up! She looks a lot like her mum."
"I guess that does help," Kevin teased.
Lily gave a loud cry, and Theo went back to her.
"Gotta go. She's crying."
"Okay, let me know if there's anything else you need."
Theo hung up and put the phone in his pocket, before he took Lily from the cradle and put her on his shoulder like when she needed to burp. So far, that had proved to be just as effective as the rocking chair.
A/N: I meant to post two chapters tonight because this one isn't that exciting, but something came up and it's getting rather late at my place, so I'll post the other one tomorrow instead. I'm too tired to check for spelling errors and commas and all that stuff now. The last part of this chapter was checked just now, and I may regret that decision tomorrow. XD