Next thing I know, a mangled pancake is being shoved into my mouth. Not just any pancake. The one I threw across the room and into Asher’s face before running like I stole something and locking myself in the bathroom.
Stupidly, I thought the coast was clear.
So now I must eat said mangled pancake. And I eat it with pride.
I chew loudly through my whimpers mixed with giggles while Pizza and Donut jump up and down at our feet knowing mommy and daddy are being silly.
Asher laughs, “You better eat the whole thing. Don’t make me get the syrup, girl.”
Just as I swallow, the doorbell rings.
Ash and I look at each other through narrowed eyes before he walks over to the door and throws it open. He snatches Tatiana out of Nik’s hands and throws her up and down in the air. Smiling like a fool, he walks her into the apartment and says to Nik and Tina, “Well, this is a surprise. A good one, I mean. Come on in, guys.”
Even though I only saw Tina a few hours ago, I tightly hug her and kiss Nik’s cheek. I ask in mock horror, “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I would’ve at least tidied up!”
Tina chuckles. “Oh please, you should see our place. We came here to be somewhere cleaner!”
Tina follows me into the kitchen while Nik and Ash show Tatiana the doggies. She can’t walk yet but can stand with little assistance. Pizza and Donut jump around her playfully. She smiles and kicks her little legs out.
Tina helps me make coffee for everyone and we bring them over. Nik and Tina sit on the sofa while I sit on Ash in the single armchair. Nik looks at Tina with a sly smile. I look down at Ash through narrowed eyes but he just shrugs.
Nik smiles so hard his dimple pops out, “We were hoping to discuss something with you guys…”
Good things come to those who wait
As soon as I say it, I know I’ve fucked up. “Should you be eating that?”
Her face falls and she throws the donut aside.
Great work, ass.
I quickly amend what I said, “No, no! I meant are you allowed to eat that?”
Nat looks at me through wide eyes and mouths, “What is wrong with you?”
Fix this, quick!
Walking over to the box, I pick out two new donuts and bring them over to Tina. I tell her, “Here, I know you like the glazed ones.”
She smiles up at me and cups my cheek, “Ghost, honey, you don’t need to watch me like a hawk. I’m not ill. And it’s kinda creepy.”
But I want to watch her!
Playing it cool, I utter, “I know but I just want to make sure you’re comfortable.”
Tina throws me a sweet smile, “Ash, are- are you nervous?”
Fuck yeah, I am.
I scoff, “What? No. You’re crazy.”
Nat sighs, “Well, I’m nervous. When is Nik coming home?”
Tina explains, “He called, he has to meet us there. So we can leave anytime you like.”
We make a move out to Nat’s car and I help Tina sit. When I try to buckle her in, she slaps my hands away, glares at me and says in warning, “No.”
Commence project drive like an old lady.
Nat says, “Babe, I think you can go a little faster than this.”
Tina agrees, “Yeah, you can at least go the speed limit, honey.”
I ignore them both. I’m driving, therefore, my rules.
We finally arrive at the big white building and I spot Nik out front waiting on us. He comes over to me and says, “Nervous, bro?”
Yep. So much that I might just barf.
I wave him off and utter, “No way. Let’s do this.”
When I reach for Tina’s arm to escort her in, she karate chops me and scowls at me. I throw my arms up in defeat and back away.
Okay. I get it. Overkill.
Nat walks next to me and says out of the side of her mouth, “Calm the fuck down, ass.”
Nat and Tina are escorted into a room leaving me and Nik out in the hall. Nik says reassuringly, “This is all procedure. Just the way it goes, man. You’ll see, everything’s fine.”
Ten minutes pass and I’m officially anxious as fuck. I’m ready to knock down the door, throw Tina over my shoulder and run like the wind. Just as I say, “What the fuck’s taking so long?” the door opens and Tanya steps out. Smiling, she says, “Come on in guys, we’re ready for you.”
Nik and I follow her in to find Tina lying on a reclined medical chair with her belly showing. Nat stands next to her holding her hand.
Okay. More like squeezing the shit out of it.
Tanya squirts some lube-looking goop onto Tina’s belly and swirls around a microphone looking device onto it. I watch Tanya’s face. She searches for a while before she smiles. And that’s all I need.
Relief settles through me.
I know everything’s okay.
Tanya looks around at everyone and smiles, “Wanna see?”
Nat squeaks, “Yes!”
Tina laughs and squeezes her hand. Tanya turns to me and I respond hoarsely, “Yeah.” Nik’s hand squeezes my shoulder in a show of brotherly support.
She brings up a static-looking screen and says softly, “There they are.” Pointing to what looks like bits of nothing.
Leaning closer, I frown, “Where?”
Tanya points out two little spots and almost whispers, “Right there.”
I rear back. Turning to face Tanya, I query, “They? Two? There are two babies?”
Tanya chuckles and nods. And I suddenly want to do a nudie run down the halls in triumph.
Raising both my hands to my head, I grip my hair and mutter, “Two. Instant family.”
Turning to a smiling Nat, I see her shake her head at me. I move forward and take her mouth in a deep kiss. She chuckles against my mouth. Tina smiles up at me and I lower myself to kiss her forehead. I whisper, “Thank you. So much.”
Tina cups my cheek and says, “Ghost, you’re gonna make me cry. Stop.”
Nik smiles at me and I almost jump on him. I wrap my arms around him and lift him. He laughs, “Take it easy, bro. You’re gonna tear something if you don’t calm down.”
Standing back, I look at everyone through wide eyes and shout, “This is the best day of my life!”
Then I pass out.
I watch Ash fall back onto the floor in a dead faint.
Everyone watches him closely for a second and when it’s clear he’s not waking anytime soon, I wave a hand at him and tell Tanya, “Show me more!”
Tina and Nik chuckle at me and Tanya says through a choked laugh, “How about I print off all the photos I have and make you an album.”
My throat clogs with emotion. I whisper, “I’d love that. Thank you.”
Tanya steps over Ash as she exits the room and I turn to Nik and Tina. Unsure where to start, I blurt out, “You’re making my dreams come true.”
Tina squeezes my hand and says, “No. We’re not.” Pointing to her belly, she goes on, “This. This is you and Ash. Just call me an oven.”
Nik comes forwards and kisses my forehead. He says, “Good things come to those who wait, babe.”
I look over at my husband on the floor. He’s waited his whole life for happiness.
He deserves this.
I deserve this.
A large smile spreads across my mouth. I tell my friends, “I love you both, and I’m going to love these babies like no one else could. I will cherish and protect them. And Ash is going to be a great daddy to them. We’re finally going to be a family.”
Warmth spreads through my belly.
My family is almost complete.
And my happy has returned to stay.