Karly Starch was intent on finding her birth father, even if that meant moving back to Bridgeport and living in a tiny apartment. What she doesn’t plan on is catching the eye of Miguel Drake, the hottest celebrity in town. Unfortunately for her, Miguel is married, and Karly just can’t seem to say, “No.” Read on and see what it’s like to be the “other woman”.
So, I just finished creating a blog for my newest story: The Jameson Legacy! It is going to be a non-traditional legacy that is filled with drama, adventure and so much more! So here’s the link: The Jameson Legacy
There’s not much in the way of content there, but I do have chapter or two posted…just sayin’………
~ 3 Years later ~
~Karly’s P.O.V.~ *Flash!* The bright light stunned our eyeballs. It seems as if the last three years had flown by just as fast….. *Flash!* Aurelia had gone from baby to toddler almost overnight. She looks just like her father but with my blue eyes. We are so blessed to have such a beautiful girl.
Rory and I shared our third wedding anniversary last week, hence the family portraits. On Aurelia’s second birthday, I found out I was pregnant again. *Flash!* Nine months later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Titus Montgomery Weston. *Flash!* The snap of the shutter brought my focus back to the present. I surveyed my family proudly.
*Flash!* Peyton sprouted overnight, smart as a whip, and has a sense of humor like no other. He and Leo are closer than I could ever imagine.I love them both more than they’ll ever know. *Flash!* I’m brought to the present once more. I look around at my family and sighed in contentment. All of this…..was worth it….. I had my share of troubles. I sure as heck didn’t start off right, but I am now a mother of four, I have a doting husband and a well-known midwife career. I am not who I once was, but I am glad that it got me here. This was all worth it.
I want to say thank you to all of my faithful readers and any new ones! I hope you enjoyed this story. I had lots of fun writing it! (Sorry the finale was so short) I’ll keep you all posted for when I start my new story. Thanks
~Karly’s POV~Rory’s gentle grip on my shoulder had me buzzing with excitement, “Are you ready to be my wife, doll?” I kissed him fervently, until we were both standing there breathless. I glanced down at my very obvious thirty-two week baby bump, and put his hand underneath mine on my belly. The kicking inside of me increased, and we both laughed, “I think she’s excited too!” We parted ways with another kiss, promising to see each other at the altar. Before I knew it, I was placing a ring on my loved one’s finger. I was trying my hardest not to tear up and ruin my vows, “Rory Weston, you came into my life when I needed you most…..You’re the love of my life and I am so happy to have met you. It makes my heart so happy to watch you with our children. You make the best father and I love you all the more for it. You’re everything I could’ve have asked for in a husband and I will love you for always.” I slid the ring on his finger at looked into his tearful eyes. He cleared his throat and earned a few soft chuckles from the guests, “Karly Starch, we met under difficult circumstances, but my love for you is strong, despite all of the bad things that have happened to you and to me. You and the boys make me so happy, sometime I’m afraid I’ll wake up and find that it’s only a dream. I vow to hold your hand and protect you through whatever life decides to throw at us, Karls. I am madly, deeply in love with you.” He slid the ring on my finger and pulled me in for a kiss. The rest of the ceremony finished up without a hitch. The reception was a blast, everyone had fun.
Until I was hit with a strong contraction, and then everything rushed to a halt.
3 days later…..
Well…they put me on strict bed rest. No moving around, nothing for the next 6 weeks. I’m allowed trips to the bathroom but that’s it. Summer had just begun, and the air conditioning decided it wanted to break down. So I resorted to spending my bed rest in my bathing suit. It helped, but only so much. Rory and Leo were a big help, trying to make me comfy, but it was just so hot…..
I was now resorting to telling stories to the kids, to entertain them. This weekend, Rory was going to install a T.V. for us. I was really trying to be thankful, but it was hard, feeling like a prisoner in your own home. Let alone, confined to one room. As the weeks went on, I grew more restless and irritable. I could tell it was wearing on the boys and Rory. One weekend, 3 weeks into my bed rest/prison sentence Leo wanted to feel the baby. I couldn’t get her to move around or kick when I was laying on my back, so I stood up and I walked the floor of my room, trying to get the baby to kick. It took some time, but eventually she began to move around, “Come here, Leo. She’s moving now.” He placed his hand to my belly and laughed when she tried to kick him away. He placed his ear to m belly and the baby wiggled fiercely. We both shared a laugh, only mine turned to a gasp. A pain shot up my spine, and wrapped around my middle. I grit my teeth and told Leo, “Go get your dad, OK? Look, Momma’s fine, it’s just a little pain.”
The minute Leo left the room, I dropped to my knees and arched my back as the contraction made it way up my back. Once it was over, I saw back on my knees and willed them to stop. By the time Rory made it into the bedroom , I had been through two more tight contractions. He knelt down and rubbed the small of my back, “Babe, are you okay? Leo seemed pretty upset.” I gave him a strained smile, “Rory, I know you wanted a hospital birth, and it totally makes sense, considering what happened before with your wife, but it’s happening….right now. I’m in active labor.” Rory stood up and began pacing, “What are we going to do, Karly?” I sighed and tried to stand up, and with a pop, my water broke. I groaned as my fears were confirmed, “Rory, I need help getting onto the bed, and then, if you can keep the boys occupied, I can do the rest.” He scooped me into his arms and said, “Are you sure that I can’t do more?” I shook my head and bunched my fists in his shirt, as another contraction swept through me. He nodded his head and reluctantly left my side.
I groaned in agony as contraction after contraction hit me,”This was so much easier with the drugs!” A few minutes later, I could feel my body shift inwardly, I knew this wasn’t a great sign. I tried to keep calm as I did what I would do if it were any other person giving birth and I was their midwife. I tried to feel down there and to my shock, the baby had turned and was all of a sudden breech. Tears of sheer terror ran down my cheeks.
I flipped over onto my stomach and leaned my head over the edge and stuck my rear in the air. I felt down there again and began to painfully maneuver the baby around to help her come out face up. I knew, that she might not survive this birth, but I was going to try my damnedest to give her her best chance. I finally was able to turn the baby and get her in a good position for delivery.
s the next contraction hit, I sat back up and placed my hand over my stomach. I bore down my weight and pushed with everything in me. All the while uttering deep guttural groans. After several more contractions and lots of pushing, I had delivered our baby single-handedly.
A few hours later, I was all cleaned up and resting on the bed with a perfectly healthy baby girl. I was past exhausted but I knew the boys would want to meet our girl. (I know this picture isn’t perfect, but I had to work with the poses I had)
We all cuddled on the bed, and stared in wonder at our girl. I have a girl! I couldn’t believe it. Rory laid his chin on my shoulder and put his hand on her, “You are amazing, Karly.” He kissed my cheek before continuing, “So, are we sticking with our name?” I nodded and said, Leo, meet your little sister, Aurelia Jane Weston.”
Previously on The Other Woman: Karly took the kids to Bridgeport to go find Mary Kay. Upon arrival, Isabella appeared and rose questions from Leo about his father. Later, we find Mary Kay meeting someone on the corner of the street, only to realize she wasn’t hired for a waitress gig. It turns out, Carlos, Miguel’s son, has begun working in a prostitution ring, and Mary Kay was his next victim. His twin, Nico, learns that Karly and the police are looking for the girl, so he begs Carlos to dump her somewhere. After raping Mary Kay, he shoves her in his trunk and leaves her for dead in an alley after shooting her in the shoulder. Karly is called to the hospital later and is able to be by Mary Kay’s side when she passes away.
~Karly’s P.O.V~ The service was beautiful. It was simple but a great reminder of how bright and strong Mary Kay was. We all left, emotionally exhausted, but it was well worth it. In the next month or so, I made regular phone appointments with a therapist I had met back when I was in Fortress Rock. Anna Whitman was exceptional at her work and knew exactly what to say and how to give a unique perspective.
One such Saturday, I was walking around outside on the phone with her, “I don’t know how to describe it. I’m overwhelmed and at a loss with feelings all at the same time. I try to be happy but I’m surrounded by these thick, gloomy thoughts that fog up my head.”
“What sort of thoughts, Karly?”
“Things like the feeling that I’m never going to be able to be a good mom. Feeling like I’m not good enough for Rory. He’s so…..perfect it’s hard to be around him sometimes.”
“Well, it sounds like your mind is focusing on the negative aspect of things because you’re just waiting for the next thing to go wrong. Think of all that’s gone wrong in your life…”
I followed her advice and began thinking of the different times in my life when I had felt like I had hit the bottom….. When I was in love with the man who abused me. If it weren’t for Leo, we’d probably still be together. When he’d beaten me into unconsciousness and sent me into early laborWhen I’d felt the worst fear any mother could ever experience, a child taken from their very arms.
When I found out that I was deeply in love with my brother…….. When I’d lost my unexpected patient and her baby, which led to Rory becoming a widower at the age of 26. When I watched my best friend die because I wasn’t a good enough parental influence…… I was crying softly into the phone when I heard Anna’s voice in my ear, “You overcame all of those things. You are stronger and better off because of them. Do not let those memories dictate your life. You’re scared to let yourself love Rory because you’re afraid to lose him. Don’t be afraid to tell him these things. It’s okay to talk about your feelings. Now I want you to recall your happiest memories,”
When my son was born and gave me the best job I could ever have, his mom.
When that little boy grew into a toddler who was so sweet and caring, it brought me to tears sometimes. The day I was reunited with my son after three long, agonizing months. When I delivered Audriana, and began my unofficial career as a midwife. When my son and I got a new fresh start, away from that awful city. When I met my best friend who was like a daughter to me, and we tried to figure out as plan to make sure she and her baby had the best life possible. When I met my one true love, though he doesn’t know it yet, because I’m too afraid to say the words.
When little Peyton joined our family and made everything better and harder all at the same time.
Anna’s words resounded in my head and I visibly saw my mentality shift. I am a survivor. I survived for a reason. I have to keep on living my life and not be afraid to take chances. I thanked Anna profusely and made a mental note to put a card in the mail, telling her how much I appreciated her. It felt as if a giant weight had been unwrapped from my shoulders. I smiled for the first time since coming home from Bridgeport. I ran off to find Leo and make an effort to give him 100% of my attention for the rest of the day…………….
~6 Months Later~
I watched Rory interact with Leo, never looking down on him, never brushing him off because he’s a kid. Rory was destined to be a father, that was something I was certain of. They went outside to play while I got the house ready for Peyton’s birthday party. It was only going to be the four of us until Rory suggested inviting his grandparents. I scoffed at first but then realized it wasn’t a terrible idea. I was disappointed that they hadn’t been at their daughter’s funeral but this would be one last attempt to get them involved in Peyton’s life. Everyone arrived on time. June gave me a small but friendly smile, obviously as uncomfortable as I was, “Would you like to hold him?” I offered. She shook her head and smiled sadly, “I think Mary Kay will be furious if she catches me with him.” I did a double take and said, “Excuse me? Mary Kay?” She nodded her head, “When will she be arriving exactly?” I shifted on my feet uncomfortably, “Um, well, I thought you had gotten the notice but apparently you didn’t so……June, Mary Kay passed away six months ago.” June’s eyes widened, “What! You didn’t tell me this when it happened! When! How? Oh, my baby!” I stood there, unsure of myself, “Well, you left here pretty pissed at me and I tried to contact you over the course of the pregnancy but you s-screened my calls. I tried to call when she passed away but someone answered and said she wasn’t allowed to take calls from me, so I sent you a notice in the mail.” June covered her face in her hands. I handed Peyton to Rory, and put my hand on her shoulder, “June, Mary Kay knew you loved her. She told me so.” June sniffled for a while before declaring, “Well, I am thankful she had you in her life but my husband and I shall continue to care for Peyton from now on.” I shifted on my feet, “Well, actually, because you weren’t a part of Mary Kay’s life at that point, I have gained legal guardianship of Peyton. He is legally my son now.” She looked ready to yell but I quickly added, “But that doesn’t mean he can’t visit you, or see you and share special occasions with you.” She seemed to calm down at that before pulling me into an unexpected hug and whispered in my ear, “Thank you for taking care of her, when I should’ve.” I nodded respectfully, biting back words that would only cause more pain. Instead, I said, “Now who’s ready to blow out some candles?” I stood in front of the cake and held Peyton while everybody sang to him. He smiled wide and clapped his hands as I helped him blow out the candle. I set him on the ground and watched as the birthday sparkles began to age him up. Before me sat a goofy little boy who was nearly identical to his mother. June burst into tears and ran from the room, while her husband shrugged his shoulders, “June and I will come see Peyton more often, but right now I think we just need time to grieve.” I nodded my head understandingly as I watched them leave. Peyton looked at me and I began to cry too. Rory picked him up, “I think we need a park day tomorrow.” Leo pumped his fists in the air, “Yes!” I smiled through the tears and nodded. Rory smiled at me before saying, “Okay, it’s official. Tomorrow is declared Park Day. No one make any plans.” The next day, the whole gang was found at the park. We all ran together, Leo in the middle and Peyton being carried by Rory. We watched Leo scamper off to the jungle gym and Peyton playing with some of his toys that we had brought. Rory grabbed me by my waist and kissed me before dipping me. I laughed, “What was that for?” He shrugged his shoulders, “You’ve been so tired and emotional lately, that I just wanted you to know I cared.” I sighed and put my head on his shoulder, “I love you,” I murmured. His back grew rigid and he took a step back while placing his hands on my shoulders, “What did you say?” I blushed and whispered again, “I love you.” HIs eyes immediately filled with tears as he drew me in for a long passionate kiss, “I’ve been waiting for you to say it, but I didn’t want to push you. Karly, I love you.” I melted at his touch and stood by his side the entire park day, waiting for the minute we got home. My stomach began rolling and I was trying to think of what I had eaten last. I decided that it might just be dehydration, sop I grabbed a water bottle from the cooler. The minute the water was in my mouth, I knew it wasn’t going to stay there. I rushed into the bathroom and let the contents of my stomach empty into the toilet. I panted heavily by the time I was done. I stood up and tried to gauge whether it was going to happen again or not. I washed my hands and tried to think of why I would be sick. I had been eating fairly healthy, Maybe it was that overripe watermelon we ate last night, but even as I said this I knew it wasn’t so. The minute it hit me, I glanced up at the mirror and looked at the reflection, deep in thought. I have been more moody lately, and I have been pretty exhausted. I wasn’t 100% certain because I only knew the symptoms from what they taught at the midwife school. When I was pregnant with Leo, I was in a coma for the first three months, Could it be? Later that night, I took a pregnancy test after I laid Peyton down for bed and the boys were playing some sort of football game. I could hardly stand the five-minute wait to see the results. I gasped and cried tears of something when I saw the little pink plus sign. I couldn’t decide if I was happy or scared. Maybe I was both. I wiped my eyes and tried to act normal. I stuck my head into the living room, trying to keep my voice steady, “Guys, five minutes until Leo’s bedtime. I’m going to bed myself.” I heard Rory helping Leo get ready for bed and then he joined me on the bed and wiggled his eyebrows, “Care to make out, m’lady?” I giggled and he began softly kissing my neck. I let myself enjoy it, but I had to stop him. I put my hand on his shoulder, “Rory, wait. Stop please.” He immediately sat up and looked at me with concern all over his face, “You okay, Karls?” I smiled and lifted the pregnancy test from underneath the covers and put it in his lap, “Don’t worry, I washed it off.” His eyes nearly bugged out of his head, “Are you serious, Karly? We’re having a baby?” I nodded and laughed at his expression. He put his hand on my stomach and said, “Hello there. I’m your daddy. I love you.” I started bawling like a baby and he tried to calm me down, “Shh…Karly, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’ll stop okay?” I shook my head through my tears, “No….Rory….I love you…….and you love……our baby….and you….make me………..so happy.” I was trying to talk while crying and it just wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. He leaned in and kissed me gently, shutting me up and stopping the tears. I wiped them away and held onto him for a long time. He sat upright suddenly and sprinted out of the room, calling over his shoulder, “I’ll be right back!” He came back soon enough with his hand behind his back. He nearly tackled me as he jumped onto the bed and lay on top of me, practically. He brought his hands from behind his back and showed me a little velvet box, “Karly Starch, I loved you the minute I heard you talking to my wife’s grave. Wow, that sounded better in my head. Anyways, we’re a family and I want to make it official. Will you marry me?”I felt my eyes grow bigger and I gasped at the beautiful ring. I flung my arms around his neck and shouted softly, “Yes! I will marry you!”
Just a heads up, this chapter contains foul language and it includes images of a rape. If you don’t want to read, I’ll leave a summary of what happened in the beginning of the next chapter. 🙂
“I just don’t know what to do, Rory. I can’t just sit here to wait for any sign from her, but I’m completely terrified to go back to that awful city.” Rory put his hands on my shoulders and kissed my forehead, “I don’t know, Karls. I can take a few days off and we can go into the city together to look for her.” I smiled at his sweetness but I heard Peyton’s cry as I began to respond.
I went over to the bassinet and scooped him up. I held him in my arms and just let him snuggle against me. I took a deep breath and tried to rationalize why I was so afraid of Bridgeport. Miguel was dead after all, so there was no rational reason for me to be afraid. But at the mere mention of the city, my stomach would begin churning and I would nearly throw up. Rory came to stand behind me and rub my shoulders, “I think that we need to go to Bridgeport, honey.” I nodded my head dejectedly, if there was any chance that Peyton was going to see his mom again, I’d need to go back. Before we did that though, I had to take care of some business. I found myself with Peyton in my arms down at the courthouse later that day. I began the application for full guardianship, explaining my relationship with him and his mother. They gave me a temporary guardianship with 30 days for Mary Kay to make contact with her son.
I began to pack our bags, deciding at the last moment to bring the boys with us. After all, Leo did have a baby sister and older siblings that he has yet to meet.
~Mary Kay’s P.O.V~
It took three days on four different buses and one looooong subway ride until I finally reached the city. I glanced around, trying to get my bearings. I finally found the right street and called the man who hired me,
“I made it! I’m here on the corner of 4th and S street.”
The deep voice of the man who hired me replied, “Alright, sweetheart, Carlos is on his way to pick you up and show you around.” I hung up the phone and waited on the corner. I tried not to notice how crisp the fall air was as I shivered in my tights. Before I knew it, a taxi pulled up and the driver stepped out. My stomach immediately clenched with fear and some other unknown feeling. He was a dark-skinned man with long dark hair who looked as if he needed a good grooming. He looked me up and down from head to toe “You, Damarius’ new girl?” I shook my head slowly, “I don’t know a Damarius, sorry.” He shrugs his shoulders and steps closer to me, “You ain’t the snowbunny?” I gasped and tried to step back but his hand wrapped around my fist as he held me close, “Where you think you’re going bitch?” I struggled and tried to remember my self-defense training I took in middle school. I tried to give the good sir a swift kick in the nuts, but I missed and hit his thigh. He grunted with slight pain but it wasn’t as debilitating as I had hoped it would be. He wrapped his arms around my waist and threw me into the back of the taxi. I tried to scream for help, but a swift backhand to my face, shut me up really quick. I held my smarting cheek in one hand, as I watched the city swiftly disappear as the car raced toward the hills. “Where are you taking me?” I cried. The man smirked, “Oh Damrius has a special place for the snowbunny bitches like you.”
Upon arriving in Bridgeport, Isabella offered Rory, and the kids and I complete access to her guest house. I was very grateful for her hospitality. We all unloaded pour bags and went to sleep. The next morning, Isabella popped in with Audriana. We hugged and took a minute to catch up, “All right. Well I know you guys aren’t here for long and it’s definitely not a vacation, so we’ll be heading out. I hope everything works out Karly.” She lifted Audriana’s little hand, and helped her wave goodbye. And as quick as she had appeared, she had gone. Leo came up to me the minute she had left, bursting with questions, “Who was that Momma? Why did she bring her little girl? How long are we gonna stay here, Momma? Where does that woman live?” I laughed and held out my hand, “Hold on, sweetheart. One question at a time.” He nodded excitedly before repeating, “Who were those people?” I smirked, and sat down with him on the couch, “Okay. Leo, I was waiting to tell you until you were older. That woman, her name is Isabella, she was married to your father.” His eyes widened, “My father? I thought you said he died.” I put my hand on his shoulder, “The thing is, your dad had two families, and that’s not usually a good thing. Your father, was a very bad man.” Leo’s eyes filled with tears, “Did he hurt you, Momma? Did he hurt me?” I tried my hardest not to cry as I pulled him close to me, “Your father never hurt you. I made sure of that. It’s okay. We’re safe now.” I made sure he understood before letting him scamper off to go play video games with Rory.
I managed to get a hold of the police department, but they were almost no help. I tried to describe Mary Kay but according to Leo, she had changed everything about her. The policeman on the phone with me took down my number and absently agreed to call me if she ever showed up. I hung up with a frustrated sigh. Just as I put my phone away, an idea hit me. I yanked my phone put of my pocket and dialed Isabella’s number.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Hi, Isabella. Is Nico still doing that police-youth outreach program?”
“Uh huh. What’s this about?”
“Well, the police are of absolutely no help, so I was going to see if Nico could put out some feelers for me.”
“Oh, okay!” She gave me his number and I thanked her before we hung up.
As I dialed Nico’s number, the delighted shrieks of Leo met my ears. I glanced over to where they stood in the middle of a pillow fight. “Guys!” I tried to be heard, while covering the phone, “Hey, boys, I hate to rain on your parade, but I’m on the phone. Do you think we can keep it down a little?” Rory flashed a smile that made my heart flip over, “Sorry, Karls. Leo and I will go scout out the pool for a while.”
I rested the phone upon my shoulder and continued, “Sorry, Nico. Boys…whadya gonna do huh?” We shared a laugh but we both grew sober pretty quickly. “Nico, I know someone who came here, well more like ran away here. And I think she might be becoming a prostitute without realizing it. Is there a way to find her? I’ve tried the police but they don’t seem to think it’s a big issue.” Nico took a minute to reply,”I can keep my ears out. Unfortunately, my sister, Bianca, started as a stripper and then decided she would become a prostitute. My twin, Carlos, decided he would be her pimp and trade her from handler to handler, working his way up the chain of command. Now it’s only him and this bastard, Damarius, who I have yet to meet. I can ask Carlos discreetly, but I can’t guarantee.” I thanked him before hanging up the phone in defeat. I muttered to myself, “Mary Kay, I hope you’re all right.”
~Mary Kay’s P.O.V.~
I sat in the dirty basement, avoiding eye contact with this…this monster. He glared at me darkly, as if deciding what to do with me. How could someone look so evil and so bored all at the same time? His cell phone rang and he stood up to answer it, ” What!” he barked. I tried not to flinch at his harsh voice. I slowly retreated into myself. I put my hands over my ears and shook my head, This isn’t real. It’s not happening. It’s just a dream. I repeated this over and over for hours or minutes, time was an abstract concept down here. Carlos slammed his phone into his pocket, his looks growing darker with each second. I looked down avoiding any and all eye contact. It was a mistake on my part, for I didn’t see him lunge at me and pin me to the bed. He stripped me of my clothes as I thrashed and pushed him away. He grabbed my hair and knocked my head against the bed, which was really just a piece of plywood with legs. He climbed on top of me and fumbled with his pants. I had my arms pinned above my head, and I’m pretty sure there was blood on my face. I licked my chapped lips, band began begging him to stop. I beat my fists against his back as he pushed me up against the wall the wall, forcing his way inside me. I cried out only once, but his fist clocked my jaw, and I shut my mouth quickly. When he had finished, he threw my clothes at me and ordered me to get dressed. I trembled as I tried to summon the courage to ask him, “Where are we going?” He banged his fist against the bed, “Well, it seems that someone is out there looking for you. My brother called me earlier and said I had to dump you somewhere, lest I be caught and hauled off to jail. So it’s your lucky day, snowbunny. I just needed to show you that you’re nothing more than a piece of property. My property.” I watched as he stuck his hands in his jacket and pulled out a gun, “Now move!”I followed him, as far as I could until my legs gave out with fear. He kicked me in the side before carrying me over his shoulder to the trunk of his car. I was surrounded with blackness for a long time. I felt the car go up, down, left, right, and every which way. I refused to close my eyes, certain that if I did, they would never open again. The car stopped abruptly and the trunk was opened. Carlos, stood over me, his gun pointed right at me. His finger rested on the trigger. I swallowed hard and looked him in the eyes. A sudden movement, a booming thunder, and a flash of white, all at once. I blinked against the searing hot pain in my shoulder. Carlos dragged me from the car, every movement creating an agonizing roar. I whimpered softly, as he dropped me in a heap. My vision went in and out of focus, and the last thing I heard was his dark laugh. I finally closed my eyes, with only one thought going through my head, Peyton.
I walked into the room in complete disbelief, unable to reckon the blonde haired girl in front of me with the dark-haired Mary Kay I know. I knelt down by her bed and grasped her hand in mine. She was in a medically induced coma after severe blood loss. The doctor’s words still ringing in my ear. A nurse brought in a chair for me and set it next to the bed. I moved to the other side of the bed and sat down, still grasping onto her hand, “Mary Kay….I’m sorry. I don’t know what I could’ve done differently but I’m sorry.” I hung my head and began to sob. The sudden grip of her hand against mine, ceased any words I was about to say. She blinked her eyes open slowly, her words coming hoarsely, “I’m……so…sorry, Karly……… Tell Peyton…………..I love him.” I gripped her hand harder, “No! Mary Kay, don’t you leave us! No!” My sobs continued as her eyes fluttered closed slowly. She smiled softly, “Let me go.” I cried harder as she held my hands and breathed her last.
I smiled comfortably as I helped my patient off of the exam table. She waved as she went out the door and I proceeded to flop into my office chair. My phone rang and I tried to resist the urge to roll my eyes, “Hi, Mary Kay. What’s up?” A muffled voice with the sound of a screaming baby in the background replied, “Karly! I need your help! He won’t stop! He’s been crying and crying.” I took a deep breath, “Ok, have you tried to feed him?”
“No! I never thought of that- Of course I have! He won’t take the bottle!”
I sighed and tried to remind myself that she was still just a teen, “Ok. Give me five minutes and I’ll walk over.”
I put away the papers on my desk and shut down my computer. I was about to grab my coat when the phone rang, “Mary Kay, I said I just need five minutes!” I snapped. A low voice hit my ears, “Sounds like you’re having a tough day.”
My eyes widened and my cheeks instantly flushed, “Rory! I’m so sorry-”
“Don’t even worry about it.” He laughed.
I cleared my throat awkwardly, “So how can I help you?”
“I was actually calling you to……well…..ask you out.”
“Oh. I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
“I think I get why you’re hesitating but let me clarify something. I loved my wife. Just because I’m not waiting a whole year or some ridiculous, amount of time set by society and other people who don’t know. It’s been ten months, I am a lonely man. I’ve been on a few dates and you’re the only person who’s made me feel even a tiniest shred of happiness. And that was at the cemetery. Imagine how happy we could be on a date!”
I tried not to smile at enthusiasm in his voice. Before I knew what was happening, I heard myself agreeing, “Alright. Let’s go out.”
“Well, don’t sound so excited. Meet me at Dragonfly Falls, tonight at 7.”
We said our goodbyes and I hung up the phone.
A few minutes later, I was walking through the front door, sounds of a screaming infant hitting my ear.
Mary Kay proceeded to thrust the baby into my arms. I cooed softly at the red-faced baby. I sniffed his diaper and began to rock him slowly. Eventually the baby grew calmer. Mary Kay hung her head, “How did you do that?” I put my hand on her shoulder reassuringly, “Honey, he’s only a month old. Peyton is just a fussy baby.” She put her hands over her face and shook her head, “Can you watch him while a grab a nap and a shower?” I nodded my head, but stopped her before she left the room, “I’m going out tonight and I need you here to watch Leo and Peyton.” She rolled her eyes, “No, Alicia is coming over and we’re going shopping for bathing suits.” I arched one eyebrow, “So, you got someone to watch Peyton?” She shook her head, “No, I figured it was a weeknight and that you’d be home.” I put a hand on my hip, “Well I’m not going to be home, so I need you to stay here. I’ll pay you, just like every other time you’ve watched Leo before. She sighed dramatically and left the room, letting the door shut behind her.
I began wondering anew, how I got into the middle of this. Of course I would do it again if the situation presented itself but nevertheless, I’m the one caring for Peyton. As if he knew I was talking about him, Peyton began to holler again. I grabbed a clean bottle off of the shelf and mixed in the formula. I managed to get the baby to drink the milk, while rounding up Leo and helping him with his homework. I burped the baby as I made dinner for the kids. When the baby was finally changed, fed, swaddled, and sleeping, I set him in his bassinet while I got ready for my date. Yeah, you read that right, Peyton sleeps in my room with me, because Mary Kay needs to sleep so that she can do well in school. I keep telling myself it’s only temporary, but we are on the cusp of summer, and I’m not seeing any indication that this bassinet is moving. Don’t get me wrong, I love Peyton as if he were my own son, but I wish Mary Kay didn’t rely on me so much for everything. I realized I was muttering to myself when I began to work on my makeup. I shook my head to try to clear all of the bad thoughts and create a happy mood for this date. I was pretty nervous. I had only gone on a few dates since Leo and I moved. Most guys my age aren’t ready for a ready-made family.
Once I had finished, I grabbed my purse and kissed Leo on the forehead, explaining what was for dinner and where it was. I went to go let Mary Kay know that I was leaving, but there was no response as I knocked on her door. I gently pushed the door open, only to find her sleeping form snoring softly on her bed. Peyton began to scream, so I rushed back into my room, grateful for the perfect alarm. I walked back into Mary Kay’s room and set Peyton beside her. His cries grew louder and she finally popped her head up, “What’s going on?” I tried not to smile at the very confused tone in her voice before replying, “I’m leaving now. Dinner is in the microwave so that it stays warm. Peyton just wants to be snuggled. He’ll be ready for a bottle around 8 and Leo is to be in bed by 9 at the latest, okay?” I kissed her forehead before saying, “I’ll be back probably closer to 11 or 12. I’m not really sure. If I’m not home by the time you want to go to bed, just crash in my room so that you have the bassinet for Peyton, okay?” She nodded sleepily before grabbing Peyton and snuggling him close. I left them both that way before walking out the door. Rory and I arrived at the same time, so it worked out fine. Upon setting up our blankets, Rory handed me a present. “What’s this?” I asked. He smiled wide, “Just open it.” I ripped it open, hoping and praying it wasn’t expensive. It turned out to be a set of sparklers, one for him and one for me. He laughed at my expression of confusion, “As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted there to be sparks between us on our first date.” I playfully pushed his, “Well, I’m glad to know that you realize how corny this is. Thank you.” We sat down and took in the stars, making small talk all the while. I had thought this would be so awkward, considering how we first met, but to be honest, I think it’s better. Okay, that’s a weird way to put it, but I know his situation. I know how he became a widower and how long. There’s none of the uncomfortable ‘death talk’. I sighed and tried to focus on what he was saying. He stopped and turned to look at me, “You’re bored aren’t you?” I shook my head vigorously, “I’m sorry. It’s been a long day and I’m tired but I’m definitely not bored. I’m having a great time, I promise.” He looked at me with a curious glint in his eye, “An adrenaline rush is just what you need, eh?” I couldn’t tell if he was joking, “Um….yeah….I guess that would be nice….maybe.” He jumped to his feet, “Well, then let’s light those sparklers!” He led me over to a darker area of the park, “I took the liberty of coming up here earlier and setting this up.” He gestured to the nearby area, and my eyes began to focus on fireworks? He grinned mischievously and handed me my sparklers which were now lit. I had never done this before, so I was really nervous at first. I kept them a safe distance from my face, until I saw him next to me, dancing away to some kind of beat in his head, with his sparklers in hand. I decided that it was my night off and I didn’t care who saw me doing what, so I threw my head back and began to twirl my sparklers around.
He glanced over at me and laughed, “I told you this was fun! Now you’re getting it.” We danced until the sparklers ran down to the bottom of their sticks and we collapsed in a fit of giggles on the ground.
I stared in confusion at the blonde haired girl before me, “Mary Kay?” I asked nervously. She glanced at me over her shoulder as she finished moving her clothes around, “What, Leo!” I tried my hardest not to make her even more mad when I asked, “Why’d you change your hair color? and your face looks weird.” I blurted that last part out on accident. I quickly clasped my hands over my mouth. She snorted, “It’s so no one will recognize me, and the reason my face looks weird is because it’s makeup. It’s supposed to make you look different.” I scratched my head, curious now, “Why don’t you want anyone to recognize you?” She put her hands on my shoulders and looked around, as if she were afraid of something, “You can’t tell anyone, okay?” I nodded, unsure of what I was agreeing to. She took a deep breath, “Someone offered me a job as a waitress in Bridgeport. They said I will make great tips and be very welcome up there. So I decided to take the job and leave town.” I tried to stop myself from crying, but a few tears escaped before I could stop them., “Why?! Don’t you like it here?” She nodded, “Yes, I’m so grateful to your mom for putting up with me and Peyton, but I can’t be a burden anymore.”
I tried to think of something that would make her stay, “What about Peyton? He’s going to miss us if you take him away!” This time, a few tears slipped down her cheeks, “Oh Leo, Peyton’s going to stay here, okay?” You’re going to look after him for me, alright? You can be his big brother!” I got on my knees and cried, “Please! Please don’t go! Peyton needs his mom! And I’m only seven! I don’t know how to watch a baby! Please!” I stood up and wiped my cheeks with my shirt, embarrassed that I had been crying. She knelt down in front of me and said, “I promise you, it’s better if I leave.” We stood there for a while, I was unsure of what to say next when Mary Kay interrupted the silence, “How about this? I’ll stay until you’re in bed. You can sleep in your mom’s bed and I’ll wait until you fall asleep before I leave, okay?” I nodded my head, but I secretly planned to stay awake until my mom got home. Bedtime came too swift, an hour later I was told to crawl into bed. I snuggled under the sheets and asked her to read to me. It was our usual routine when she watched me, but tonight she just shrugged and walked out of the room. I proceeded to jump out of bed and follow her, “Why are you being so mean?” She pointed her finger at me and yelled in my face, “Go to bed! I need to leave!” I stood stone still as she blasted me with her words. When she was finished, I stood there with my arms crossed, waiting for an answer to my question. She sighed in annoyance, but answered me anyway, “It makes it easier to leave, if I’m mean.” I looked at her, confusion all over my face. She sighed again and said, “You know how I’ve been real moody with your mom and Peyton this last week or so? I am doing it on purpose so that my leaving will be a relief and not make anyone sad, okay? So please, just hop into bed.” I couldn’t argue with that so I went to bed and tried to keep my eyes open, but the covers were so warm, and my eyelids….were……….so……….heavy……………….
Rory and I began to light the fireworks, one by one, to make them last longer. I think he might have awakened some sort of inner pyromania that even I wasn’t aware of, because even just lighting the little suckers was nothing short of a thrill rush. We watched in awe as firework after firework painted the night sky in color. When it was over, I pulled Rory into my arms and kissed him. I immediately pulled away, ready to apologize when his lips met mine. We made our way back to the blanket we had laid out and proceeded to have quite the intense makeout session. Before it could turn into…well more, I pulled away for just a minute and whispered breathlessly, “I hope you realize that I don’t usually do this on a first date.” He winked at me before ripping off his shirt. I held one hand up to stop him, “See the thing is…um….I’ve never done it outside before. I’m a little nervous.” He sat up and held my hand, “We can stop if you need to. I am perfectly happy just sitting here looking at you.” I was glad for the darkness because I turned tomato red. I realized that we were in a secluded area and that no one was around this late at night. I began to unbutton my shirt, but I kept fumbling around like some kind of senseless floozy. His strong hands guided mine as I made my way down my shirt. Before I knew it, we were making passionate love….in nature! Me, Karly Starch! Who knew? When things ended, it wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought it would be. He helped me get my clothes back on, and we gathered our stuff up. He kissed me on the cheek, “So, can I call you this weekend?” I went for a full on kiss on the lips before answering, “You can call me tomorrow.”
When I got home a short while later, Peyton’s loud cries were heard, even before I entered the door. I took a deep breath and opened the door. “Leo? What are you doing up? Oh baby, what’s wrong?” His eyes were gleaming with tears as he held Peyton in his arms, “Oh Momma. She left. She left and I don’t know what’s wrong with Peyton. He just cries and cries!” He was crying again as he finished the outburst. I moved closer to him and put my hand on his knee, “Okay, honey, tell me what happened.” I saw him take a deep breath as he launched into his story, “Mary Kay said not to tell you but she left Peyton here with me for some job. Peyton cried the minute she left she was just mean cuz she loved us momma. I don’t know what to do.” I racked my brain, trying to make sense of what I had just heard, “Okay, let me get this straight, Mary Kay left you and Peyton here, and she said something about a job. Peyton’s been crying for a while and then something about loving us and being mean?” He held on tighter to Peyton before nodding his head, “Uh huh. She was mean this last week cuz she didn’t want to be a burden. She had a job in Bridgetown or something like that. She’s not coming back!” I took Peyton from his arms and tried to soothe both of them at once. We all ended up on my bed in an exhausted heap. The next morning, I awoke to find a note on Mary Kay’s dresser,
I can’t thank you enough for all of the support you’ve given me. I am so sad to leave, but I will be back someday! I have received a job offer in Bridgeport, waiting tables. The guy who hired me is so nice! He even calls me his snowbunny! Isn’t that cute? Anyways, I need you to look after Peyton while I’m gone. I know it’s a big thing but I promise I will repay you as soon as I can. Thank you again for all of your help!
The days flew by once Mary Kay moved into the Starch home. Karly was kept on her toes between raising a child and trying to parent a teen without seeming too parental. She was still trying to find the right balance.
Mary Kay thought her stomach was huge when she first moved in….. but before she knew it, she was in her last trimester and feeling like a whale. She cried all of the time and ate chocolate. She dared not look in the mirror in case she burst into tears at the sight of her swollen bosom and belly. Her stretch marks itched, and she was just miserable all of the time. One day after school, Mary Kay was at home with Leo. They were both doing their homework. Mary Kay helped him as much as she could while trying to concentrate on The Great Gatsby. Karly came through the front door, a mischievous look on her face, “Man, today was such a busy day in clinic.” She continued to talk and make light conversation while she worked on dinner. Once everyone was seated around the table about to eat, Karly announced, “I have a surprise for Mary Kay.” She settled her gaze on the young girl sitting before her, “I know you’ve been pretty miserable these last few weeks. I am so proud of the way that you’ve stayed in school and managed to keep up your good grades. So…..I talked to your brother, Dallas, and he said that he’d escort you to the prom if you want to go.” Mary Kay began to speak but Karly raised her hand, “Let me finish….I know going to the prom with your brother sounds pretty lame, but , think of it this way. It’ll be your last night to have fun and not worry about any responsibilities. Dallas will only have to drive you. He doesn’t need to be your date. I think you’ll have a lot of fun.” Mary Kay smiled wide, “You’re right! I’m gonna have a great night of no responsibilities, no picking out cribs, no lamaze classes, no breast pumps, nothing! I’ll go.”
Karly laughed, “Well, that was easy. So the next part of the surprise is that….I got a you a dress! It’s nice and loose, and I think it might be your favorite color!” Leo looked up at his mom, “What’s the big deal, Momma?” Karly ruffled his hair, “Buddy, it’s a fun time for bigger kids who like to dance.” Leo folded his arms, “I want Mary to stay here.” Mary Kay looked at him, “I promise I’ll come back home and kick your butt in Candy Land, okay?” They stuck their tongues out at each other and everyone went back to their dinner. A week later found Mary Kay and Karly in the master bedroom. Karly was fixing up Mary Kay’s hair. She rummaged around her jewelry box before presenting an elaborate hair clip, “This was my mom’s when she got married.” Mary Kay thanked her softly before looking down at her belly, I’m going to be the laughingstock of the entire prom. She shook her head and tried to make her doubt go away. For awhile, the room was quiet while Karly concentrated on getting the braid just right. Mary Kay let out a huge gasp as a slight pain squeezed her stomach,. Karly stopped and knelt in front of Mary Kay, “Are you alright?” Mary Kay let out a deep breath, “Yes. Just one of those Braxton Hickey things.” It took some convincing on Mary Kay’s part to get Karly to calm down. Mary Kay agreed to rest on the couch until her brother arrived. An hour or so later, Mary Kay’s brother arrived. Mary Kay felt like she was floating on a cloud, as she left and climbed into the awaiting limo. Of course, Dallas’ real date was there, but Mary Kay was so ecstatic, she didn’t even mind. Until the staring started, that it. Mary Kay felt like every eye in the limo was trained onto her and her telltale stomach. She averted her gaze to the window and tried her hardest not to cry. When the limo arrived at the dance, she was the first one out the door. She rushed inside and was pleased to see that they had a bubble machine. Mary Kay sat down on the stool and began bubbling her sorrow away with Mint flavored bubbles. She took in the sights of the surrounding dance floor, debating whether or not to get out there and dance. She made eye contact with a few people, but only one of them made her stop what she was doing. Justin Ortez. He was only just the head of her school’s basketball team. He was definitely coming her way. Mary Kay tried not to panic as he approached her. She hopped off of the stool she was sitting at.
He held out his hands as he asked, “Care to dance?” Mary Kay flushed a bright red as she heard herself agreeing. He led her out into the middle of the dance floor as a round of slow songs began. Mary Kay tried not to notice how her round belly rubbed against his tuxedo. Instead, she maintained eye contact and just let herself enjoy the moment. She hadn’t felt like this since before Zane had died. She had the time of her life for about half an hour. Then, without thinking, she made a move to try to kiss him. He awkwardly patted her shoulder and said, “I’m sorry, but I am not really into you like that.” She stomped her foot angrily, “Well, why not? Why dance with me like that?” He shrugged his shoulders and mumbled, “Honestly? Your brother paid me 100 bucks to dance with you.” Mary Kay stomped again but this time her foot found his. She watched as he yelped in pain and went off to find his real date. Mary Kay wiped her eyes and hoped she wouldn’t lose it here. Before she knew what was happening, a flood of warm liquid slid down her legs. She looked down, hoping no one had noticed. But it was too late, everyone was staring now. She was about to run into the bathroom, when an intense contraction froze her in place. She gripped her stomach in fear, and just screamed until she saw her brother coming towards her. She silently went with him to the limo. She had two more contractions on the way home, each just as painful and harsh as the last. When she got home, she flung herself onto the couch, sobbing quietly. Karly came out in her pajamas with her toothbrush in her hand, “Back so soon?” Mary Kay opened her mouth to reply but another contraction seized her and made her arch her back. She slid down off the couch and kneeled against it for support. She laid her head down and just began sobbing even louder. Karly knelt down and rubbed the small of her back, “How bad are they?” Mary Kay only whimpered in reply. She sniffled loudly and began to stand up, “I’m going to go change.” Karly nodded and tried not to pounce on her with question, “How far apart are your contractions?” Mary Kay shrugged, “I don’t know, 5 minutes maybe.” Karly nodded, “Okay,. I’ll get your bag.” As Mary Kay left the room, Karly noticed the wet spot on her dress, “Mary Kay, did your water break?” Mary Kay waved her hand, “Oh yeah, that’s why I had to come home early.” Karly looked bewilderingly at the amazing calm and nonchalantness of the young girl before her, “You do realize that means you’re close to delivery?” Mary Kay’s eyes opened wider and she waddled faster into her room to change clothes. They were out the door less than five minutes on their way to the hospital. Karly had called the taxi company while Mary Kay had been changing, so the cab pulled up just as they were exiting the house. Once in the cab, Karly rubbed Mary Kay’s shoulders while a contraction gripped her. When she was breathing regularly again Mary Kay asked, “Wait a minute, where’s Leo?” Karly smiled at her, “Well, he is having an impromptu sleepover at his grandfather’s house tonight.” MAry Kay chuckled before apologizing. Karly gave her a big reassuring hug. Before either of them were ready, the taxi pulled into the hospital’s drop off circle. Mary Kay was glad to see that they had an orderly waiting to take her to a room. They wheeled her into the elevator and set her up directly in the delivery room. After four more hours, it was time for Mary Kay to push. Two hours later, Mary Kay was a mother to a squalling little boy. Two days later, Mary Kay was able to bring little Peyton Zane Shallow home from the hospital.
I looked at the hysterical teenage girl in front of me, “Mary Kay? What’s wrong?” She clutched her chest and sobbed harder, if that were possible. I tried to grab her arms and get her to pat attention to me. I looked down at her swollen belly and tried to assess whether she was talking about the baby, or someone else. I wrapped my arms around her and just let her cry on my shoulders, patting her back like I used to do with Leo. She snuffled loudly and took a deep breath, “Wow. I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have even come here-” I stepped in her way as she tried to leave, “Mary Kay, what’s wrong?” She looked like she was going to shake her head but then the tears quickly filled her eyes, “My boyfriend, Zane, died yesterday.” She cried softly while I scrambled for something to say, “Uhm, oh…..dear. Mary Kay, I am so sorry.” She lifted her chin but her lip quivered, “I’m sorry to have come here. I should get back to school but it was all anyone could talk about and……” she trailed off. I patted her shoulders comfortingly. She buried her head in her hands, “I never even got to tell him about the baby.” I swung my gaze to her eyes, ‘You never told him?” I tried to keep the midwife and judgement out of my voice. She shook her head ever so slightly before whispering, “No one knows…..” I didn’t know what to say sop I shrugged my shoulders, “Well, would you like to see what the baby looks like now?”
Fifteen minutes later, mary Kay was on the exam table, and I winced as she sucked in a deep breath, “Ow! You never said this was going to hurt!” I apologized, ‘Sorry, but pap smears are essential to prenatal checkups.” I said in my midwife spiel before remembering how inexperienced Mary Kay was, “Sorry, I’m checking for any growths or extra tissues on your cervix. It also makes sure you don’t have any STDs. I finished up and moved over to the ultrasound, “Ok, Mary Kay, it looks like you are around 22 weeks along. Do you want to know what you’re having?” She bit her lip indecisively before nodding. I moved the ultrasound wand around a bit more before exclaiming, “It’s going to be a boy!” She started crying and I moved behind the curtain to give her privacy.
A short while later, we sat in my kitchen, eating lunch, “So are you going to tell your parents?” She looked at me with a weird expression on her face, “I don’t think I can do it. I’ll never be taken seriously.” I wondered what she meant by that, but I figured she was just being a dramatic teenager. “If you want, I can help you tell them,” I heard myself tell her. I ended up calling her mother, June, “Hi Mrs. Shallow, this Karly Starch. How are you doing today?”
“I’m…..fine….. What’s with the formality? Is something wrong with Shayla?”
‘No. It’s actually Mary Kay. And nothing’s wrong but I need you and your husband to come over to my house as soon as possible.”
“What? What’s all this about?”
“I think it’s just something that needs to be said in person.”
“Okay. Tom and I will be over when he gets home from work.”
We hung up and I readied the house for company. Leo walked in, crunching on apple, “Momma, can Jake come over and play?” I smiled wide, “Uh, honey, why don’t you go over to his house and play?” He whooped and punched the air, “Thanks, Mom! Bye!” and like that, he was gone.
Before I was ready, the doorbell rang. June and Tom Shallow were standing on my doorstep. I welcomed them in and we made ourselves comfortable in front of the fireplace. I cleared my throat as Mary Kay emerged from the hallway. She couldn’t look anywhere but the floor. I waited for her to begin, but saw that I was going to have to address the issue, “so, June, Tom, thank you for coming….um….Mary Kay is going to be alright…..she’s just……….. pregnant.” They both looked at each other an d began to snicker until it turned into a full-blown laugh. June wiped her eyes, “Wow, Mary, you really got us. I thought that something was really wrong.” Tom nodded his head as he finished chuckling, “That’s a good one! Our little Mary! Pregnant? Bahahah” And the laughter began again. I shifted uncomfortably unsure of how to recapture their attention. Mary Kay looked at me with her cheeks burning red, I told you so, she mouthed to me. I was about to interrupt when Mary Kay jumped to her feet, ‘It’s not a joke! I’m having a baby! It’s a little boy and I knew you’d never believe me!” She began sobbing and ran down the hall into Leo’s room. I stood with my hands on my hips in front of her parents, “She’s right y’know? She told me that you’d never believe her. I thought that she was just being dramatic but now I realize she was right. I don’t know why you don’t believe her, but I’m going to go and undo the damage that you just did.” I walked into the bedroom, but stayed quiet upon seeing Mary Kay. She was leaning against the bed, with her eyes closed. I didn’t want to startle her, so I waited until she noticed me. It took a while but she wiped her eyes when she saw me, and put a hand protectively against her belly. I put my arm around her shoulder, “Why didn’t they believe you back there?” She shrugged her shoulders and looked down, “I am the ‘nerd’ in my family. I get good grades I do my homework and all of the teachers love me. My parents never even knew I had a boyfriend. Last week my mom signed me up for fat camp this summer because she thought I had gained too much weight. I couldn’t tell her that it was because I was pregnant.” She looked down at the floor, “We used to go to family reunions and everboy’d say how’s my smart girl doing?’ or ‘You still getting those straight A’s?’ Now it’s going to be, ‘Look, there’s Tom’s daughter who was pregnant at 16.'” She had several tears flow from her cheeks, “I’m going to be the little slut who ruined the good Shallow family name.” I put my arms firmly at the top of her shoulders, “Hey, look at me. No one. I mean no one, can ever change who you are. You are an amazingly smart girl who just made a few questionable decisions.” I hugged her tight before resuming my position in front of her. She seemed a little more at ease but she still mumbled something under her breath. “Can you repeat that? I didn’t catch it. ” I said as calm as possible. “I…erm…said..it wasn’t an accident, or a mistake.” I lifted my eyebrows in surprise but she continued before I could say anything, she continued, “Zane had a rare form of cancer that no one but his family and I knew about. He asked me to have his baby, so that he could leave a piece of himself behind. He waited. He waited for me to get pregnant before he started chemotherapy. He knew that he might not survive and that he might be infertile if he did. We loved each other. I was going to marry him. He wasn’t supposed to die!” She was growing hysterical again, so I put my arms back on hers, “Mary Kay, you are going to be okay. I have no judgement s for what you did or why you did. I’m here to support you. Now you lie down in Leo’s bed, while I work things out with your parents.” As I left the room, I shook my head gently,I don’t know how I came to be Mary Kay’s advocate, but I did. And boy did she need it, and still does. I mentally prepared to do ‘battle’ with her parents, and help them come to a decision that was best for everyone. June stood up the moment I entered the room, “I’m sorry but my husband was called into an emergency meeting at work but we were talking about what to do about the situation while you were gone.” I subconsciously put my hands on my hips, “The situation? Your daughter is pregnant, it’s not going to go away.” She snorted at me, “Pah! I know that, you smartass!” She paced back and forth, “Tom and I are not unreasonable. We see no reason to shun our daughter just because she’s made one mistake, “I cringed inwardly at the word, ‘mistake’. “She is to continue schooling until she reaches full term, then once the child is born, she will let someone else adopt the kid and care for it.” I threw my hands up in exasperation, “What!?! When do you think you’ll tell Mary Kay that plan? When she’s popped the baby out and she watches you hand it over? She’s already lost her boyfriend, don’t make her lose her baby too.” June snorted again, “Ha! She never had a boyfriend. She’s probably just telling you that so that you feel sorry for her.” I nearly yelled, “Oh my god! Does Mary Kay seem like the kind of girl who has one night stands?! She was in a committed relationship with Zane Dungaree. She is pregnant with his child!” I blew out a deep breath and tried to calm myself down. June put her hands on her hips and said, “well, I’m sorry. Those are our terms, if she doesn’t abide by them, she can stay elsewhere. I put my foot down exaggeratedly, “Fine! Then she’s staying here with me!” June grabbed her purse and slung it over her shoulder, “Mary Kay, Louise Shallow! We are leaving this second, get your ass out here!” Mary Kay came down the hall, and stood before her mother and I. June nearly yelled in her face, “If you want to come home with us, you’ll need to stay in school, and give the baby up for adoption.” I watched Mary Kay’s eyes widen at the word, ‘adoption’. She stamped her foot, not unlike a little child, “No! This baby is mine! I am keeping him and he is going to be my son. Scratch that, he is my son!” June [stuck her nose in the air(people actually do that!) before walking out the door without looking back.
I turned to Mary Kay, “Stay here with me. I’ll give you regular checkups and I’ll even pay you to watch my son when I’m out on calls. She smiled really wide before giving me a spontaneous hug, “Thank you thank you thank you!!!” I hugged her back while mentally calculating how we were going to be able to fit three and a half people in a two bedroom home. I shook my head and decided to worry about that later.
A week later, it was the 3th month anniversary of the death of Quinn Torres and her daughter.
I grabbed one of Leo’s old teddy bears and headed to the cemetary. I looked around and thankfully found myself alone. I walked over to their section of the cemetary.I sat in front of the headstones and didn’t even bother to stop the tears. I always cried at the thought of Quinn and the baby buried together. I cried for a good long time before trying to speak, “Quinn, I just want you to know how sorry I am. I should have taken you straight to the hospital. Maybe then you would still be alive.” I began to sob quietly, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
After my ears were spent, I wiped my eyes and whispered once more, “I’m sorry.” I turned around nearly collided with Rory Torres. I saw that he had teas on his cheeks and I wondered how long he had been there. The first thing out of my mouth was, “Oh, Rory, I am so sorry. I can’t even imagine how much you must hate me.” Rory looked at me funny, “Hate you? How can I hate the woman who did everything she could to save my wife and child? If nothing else, I should be thanking you for your efforts on their behalf.” My head grew very foggy, trying to comprehend his words. Before I knew what happening, I was crying against his chest, not letting him thank me. I needed to take the blame. I needed to. Why else would a man have to lose both his daughter and his wife on the same day. He pulled me close in a warm hug, “Shhhhh Shhhhh.” I quieted down and wipe the tears on my embarrassed red cheeks. “I should be the one comforting you.” I blurted out. He smiled slightly and said, “Maybe. But as weird as it sounds, I have come to peace with my wife’s death. I know that she and our daughter are together, somewhere. My wife wouldn’t want me to be sad all of the time. Of course, I was sad when our anniversary passed two weeks ago but I am going to treasure the fact that I can still be happy. I might be alone now, but who’s to say that in five-ten years, I won’t be remarried with my own family.” It was his turn to have red cheeks at the end of that speech. He cleared his throat and broke the silence, “That being said, Karly Starch it would be a pleasure to run into you again.”
**** I want to say, this chapter includes a graphic birth scene and a death. I wanted to warn you before you read****
~ Karly’s P.O.V~
After my stay in Fortress Rock, was amazing, but I missed my Leo terribly. I hurried through the door to get to hug my baby. Leo squealed in delight when he saw me. We spent the rest of the weekend preparing for his upcoming birthday. On monday, it was back to the grind. I had a routine check-up with June Shallow and baby Shayla. I knocked on the front door, and June promptly answered, “Hey, Karly! How was your trip?” I began telling her about my adventures in Bridgeport while she handed me Shayla and I began I began the examination.
Shayla began to fuss once I undressed her to check her weight and heartbeat. I rocked her gently, realizing how much I missed this. I felt an ache in my heart that had been long ignored. After making sure that she was healthy, I placed her gently in her mother’s arms, “How are you feeling, June?” She nodded tiredly, “I forgot how much they cry when they are first born, but this one’s a sweetheart.” She continued talking until her oldest daughter walked into the room, “Oh, Karly, this is my oldest daughter, Mary Kay.”
I shook her hand and tried not to notice how much it was shaking, “Hello, Mary Kay. I’m Karly Starch. I am the midwife who delivered your baby sister.” Speaking of Shayla, she began to fuss and scream. June looked at me desperately, “Karly, I wish I could walk you out, but looks like I am otherwise occupied. You’ll be alright?” I gave her a reassuring nod. After she walked out of the room, I put my hand on Mary Kay’s shoulder, “Are you okay? You don’t look like you’re feeling so well.” She looked down at her feet, “Yeah, I’m ok. So………………..you’re a nurse?” I smiled slightly, “Not really, I’m a midwife, so I am a nurse technically for delivering babies and making sure they’re nice and healthy. I also make sure the moms who deliver them are not having any contractions. She nodded and opened her mouth to say something, but she clutched her stomach and ran outside. I quickly followed her to make sure that she was okay. When I got outside, she was bent over the porch railing, emptying the contents of her stomach. I held her hair back and rubbed the small of her back. When she was finished, she sank to the floor and curled up into a ball on the porch swing. I sat down gently next to her, “Mary Kay, do you think that you might be pregnant?” She nodded her head once as a single tear poured down her cheek. “Do you want to tell me about it?” She shook her head firmly and squeezed her eyes shut. I handed her a tissue from my purse and my business card, “If you ever need to talk, and I mean ever. You come see me, okay? And don’t go too long without making a doctor’s appointment. You want to make sure you’re healthy.” She smiled weakly before waving me off. I walked down the path unsure of what to do. I decided that if she needed me, she’d call. I made way home, trying not to be too concerned about it. Leo clapped his hands happily and began to babble away while I paid the sitter. He held his arms up towards me and I threw him into the air before settling him on my hip, “Mama….play?” I nuzzled his cheek, “Sure, Leo.” He clapped his hands and wiggled down my legs. I watched him play and sighed contentedly. He was starting to talk again. I sat beside him on the ground but he shook his head, “No..Mama, play panyo.” I smiled at his cuteness and moved to the piano bench, ” Alright, Leo. What shall I play?”
He clapped his hands excitedly, “Star song! Star song!” I proceeded to play and play…and play……and play. He never grew tired of this song, but my hands did. So I scooted off the bench and scooped him into my arms, “Give Mama one more snuggle before you grow up into a big boy.” He gave me a big, sloppy kiss on the cheek. I laughed a gave him a big bear hug before setting him back on the ground. He stood up on his feet as the birthday sparkles surrounded him. He giggled nervously, I could tell that he didn’t know whether to be happy or scared. It was so weird to watch him age before me. His little body grew and grew. It stopped and I looked at this beautiful little boy who stood before me. I couldn’t stop the tears from sliding down my cheeks. He rolled his eyes at me, “Momma, are you going to do this every time I grow up?” I gave him a big hug, “I’m your mom, it’s my job.” I ruffle his hair, “Okay, kiddo, go check out your big boy bedroom and let me know what you think.” He raced ahead of me and I followed slower behind him. The doorbell ringing and it stopped me in my tracks. (Sorry about the buy mode lines in the next pic. I didn’t notice until too late) I opened the door to find a young man holding his wife in his arms, “You gotta help us! My wife’s water broke and she says she has to push.” I showed them around the corner to where the clinic sat, before saying, “I’ll be with you in a moment.” I ran back into the house to where Leo was. I poked my head into his room, “Hey buddy, I have an emergency to take care of in the clinic. I want you to go to bed and if you need anything, I’m going to leave my cell here. Okay?” I gave him a quick kiss on the forehead and ran into the clinic. I scrubbed my hands as the woman moaned in pain on the bed, “You guys came to the right house. I’m a registered Midwife here in Riverview.” I tried to release the tension in my shoulders. I asked questions in between the woman(who I learned was named Quinn)’s contractions, “So how far along are you, Quinn?”
“Only 32 weeks.”
I tried not to cringe at how early that is, “Ok, who is your primary Obstetrician?”
“Dr.Houssen in Moonlight Falls. We’re from there, we just came into town for his brother’s wedding.”
I had her sit on the table as I checked her to see how far along she was. Quinn’s husband, Rory, stayed by her side faithfully, as her contractions gripped her. I was distressed to see that she was 10 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. I did my best to keep my cool, and tried to keep my voice level. “Okay, Quinn, I want you to push on the next contraction. Rory, I need you to call an ambulance so that we can get the two of them transported to the hospital the moment the baby arrives.” Rory gave Quinn’s arm a squeeze before stepping past the curtains. OI could hear him on the phone and I gave an inward sigh of relief. I noticed that Quinn seemed to be managing the pain really well. As the next contraction came around, I noticed something very startling. I had no time to prepare, I just started giving orders and managing to keep myself calm enough, “Rory, I need you to go outside and flag down the ambulance. The second you see them, you bring them in here. Ok, Quinn, I need you to get up on your knees. I know it’s not easy, but you need to do it as soon as possible.” She started shaking, and I knew she was scared. “Shhh…..shhhh. Quinn, I can see the baby’s head, okay? The thing is, the cord is stuck in between the baby’s shoulders and your cervix.” I helped her get on her hands and knees. She gripped the sheets as her muscles tightened with another contraction. I massaged her low back as I told her to avoid pushing. She screamed in agony and I can’t say that I blamed her. As soon as the contraction passed, I had to maneuver the baby away so that I could loosen the cord. Another contraction stopped me from getting very far. After five minutes or so of this, I delivered the baby. She was so tiny, I could fit her in the palm of my hand. I swaddled her in a thick blanket so that she would stay warm. I watched as she struggled to breathe. I rushed around the room and set her in the crib, praying the ambulance would arrive any second now.
I turned back to Quinn and found her face white as a sheet. I examined her cervix and saw that she was majorly hemmoraghing. I ran out to the driveway, hoping to see red and blue lights, only to see an anxious Rory. “Where are they?” I asked hurriedly, “I dunno, they said something about an accident on the bridge and it took nearly all of their team.” I ran back inside and began redialing 911 as I tried to stop the bleeding.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“Yes. This is Karly Starch, I am a local midwife. I have a woman who birthed a baby at 32 weeks, the baby is barely breathing, and the mother is beginning to bleed profusely. I am trying to stop the bleeding, but so far nothing is working.”
“OKay, Ma’am. I see that responders are about 5 minutes away.”
“5 minutes! I don’t have 5 minutes!”
I hung up the phone in frustration and tried to keep the tears from flooding my vision. Three minutes later, Quinn Torres, was pronounced dead upon the arrival of the paramedics. I tried not to cry as I watched them cover her body with a sheet. I watched as they worked to clear the baby’s lungs of fluid. I collapsed into sobs as I saw the paramedic give a slight shake of his head, and they wrapped up the baby and set her gently on the bed.
I went up to him and put my hand against his shoulder gently, “Mr. Torres, I am so sorry for your loss. I just want you to know, that this was not your fault. This would’ve happened even if you both had gone to the hospital.” He sniffled and touched my hand, “Thank you.” I motioned toward the curtained off bed, “Your baby had a great an unknown amount of time without oxygen and I was unfortunately not able to give her the proper care.” He uttered softly, “It was a girl?” I gulped before nodding slightly. He cried harder and I could feel my heart breaking along with his. I hesitated slightly before asking, “Would you like to see her?”
He hesitated before whispering, “I can do that?” I nodded and smiled sadly. He went over to the bed and gently picked up the baby. I couldn’t help but cringe at how cold and gray she was. I slipped behind the curtains and left a note by his jacket saying he was welocome to stay here as long as he needed.
I crossed the yard and entered the house. I visited Leo’s room and watched his sweet little face. I lay down next to him and sobbed into his pillow, trying not to wake him. He rolled over in his sleep and nestled into my arms.
The next few months were a little touch and go, I began to cry at the drop of a hat and going to Quinn Torres’ funeral did not bring closure, but only more guilt. Even my midwife job had taken a hit as word spread around that someone had died during a delivery that I oversaw. I understood though, and was glad that Leo and I had our savings. It was a rainy evening in March, and I was helping Leo figure out his homework when a soft knock on the door interrupted us. I gave him a reassuring smile as I made my way to the door. I opened the door, only to have my arms fill with Mary Kay Shallow as she cries onto my shoulder, “He’s gone! He’s gone! I can’t do this anymore! He’s gone!”
***Karly’s new House!*****
Leo and I were snuggling in our cozy new home on a Sunday evening. It had been ten months since we left Bridgeport. Since then, my experience with delivering Leo’s half-sister, Audriana, I had been inspired to become a certified midwife. So a few classes and a TON of hours of practice and labs and such, I was now running my own clinic from my home. It was really exciting! I had my first client appointment tomorrow. I was so stoked! “Leo, Grandpa Kevin is coming to watch you tomorrow while mommy goes to work okay?” Leo smiled shyly and rubbed his face into my neck. He hadn’t said much of anything since we had been reunited. The doctor assured me that it was completely normal for Leo to react this way. I was just happy to have him with me. I had barely let my dad watch him a few times until they got used to each other.
My dad. Those words were so foreign to me. I was still getting to know Kevin, but he and his wife moved here about 3 months after we did. Leo love his grandpa and I was slowly getting to know him. It was still an awkward relationship since we had first met via my ex-boyfriend, aka my brother. Speaking of my brother, he had come out to visit Leo and I about a month ago. Things were becoming more normal for us, in the sense that I didn’t turn bright red every time I looked at him. He was still really sweet with Leo. I was blessed.
Leo put his hands on my face and I kissed his hands and then his forehead, which then led to a tickle fight. His face bright pink as he giggled, I couldn’t help but hug him tighter to my chest. We both fell asleep on the sofa. The light streaming in the window woke me up in the morning. I sat up straight and checked the time. Phew! Only 7 a.m. I woke up Leo gently, “Hey Bubba, Grandpa is going to be here soon.
Once he woke up, I fed him a quick breakfast while trying to get myself ready. I kissed Leo goodbye as my dad out him in the car.
“I’ll come pick him up at 3 if that’s okay.”
My dad put his hand on my shoulder, “Why don’t you let Leo stay the night? You need a night off.
I shrugged reluctantly, “Let me see how today goes.”
My dad nodded understandingly, “Alright. Love ya.” He climbed in the car and I watched them drive away.
I went to the building at the edge of our property, and opened the door. I turned on the lights and beamed at my little clinic I had just finished putting away the last few things when i heard the door open. I made my way out to the front and was greeted by a very pregnant woman. I held out my hand, “Hi, I’m Karly Starch. Are you June?” She nodded slightly, “Hello.”
There was an awkward pause as I tried to think of the best way to make her comfortable,”So, how far along are you?” I looked to her for permission to hold my hands against her belly. She nodded while saying, “I’m 39 weeks.” I blew out my breath, “Wow. That’s pretty far along. Have you been checked out by anyone yet.” She nodded slowly, “I want to have this baby naturally, but because of my ‘advanced age’ I will most likely have a C-section or an epidural.” I tried not to seem nervous, “How old are you?” I asked as I whipped out a new chart for her. “39.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Anyone over 40, I had to strongly recommend that they go to the hospital to deliver.” I smiled warmly and helped her up onto the examination table. “Do you know what you’re having?” She smiles,”A little girl.” I give her a smile as I measure her belly and take some other notes, “Is this your first?” She stares wistfully at the ceiling, “Nope I have two 16-year-old twins.” I try not to show my surprise as I finish up her exam, “Okay, Mrs. Shallow. You’ll come back next Monday and see if we need to induce you. If you feel like you’re going into labor, call me, no matter the time. Oh and I think that since you’re considered an advanced age in the medical field, I want you to give birth here in the clinic. I have a comfortable bed and as soon as we make sure that you’ll be okay, you’ll be free to go home.” She nods and thanks me and then she walks out the front door.
The minute she’s gone, I do a happy dance in my office. I check my watch and call my father, “Hi, Kev…er-Dad.”
He chuckles softly, “You realize you do that every time you call me?”
I grin sheepishly, “Haha okay. Maybe I do. Anyways, I was seeing if your offer to take Leo for the night was still open?” He answered with a surprised yes, and we hung up shortly thereafter.
I made my way into the house, trying not to think or worry about Leo. I tried to get some work done on his room for his upcoming birthday. I ended up giving up and going to bed early. It was a good thing too, because the phone rang around midnight, jarring me awake. I groaned softly and pulled my body out of bed. I sat up slowly and grabbed the phone, “H-hello?”
I heard June’s pained voice on the other end, “I’m…..ouhhhuh……having contractions.” I tried not to jump around excitedly, “Okay, head on over to my house and we’ll get you on the table to make sure.”
I sent a quick text to my dad, explaining why I may or may not be there to pick up Leo in the morning. I tugged on my clothes and went to make a huge pot of coffee. The doorbell rang shortly and I let June in. I looked behind her but no one was there, “Is anyone with you, June?” She shook her head as her body tensed with a contraction, “My…….husband has a business……… convention in Moonlight…………… Falls.” She panted once the contraction ended. “How long have these been happening?” I asked as she laid on the exam table. She winced as I checked her cervix , “Since about o’clock in the evening. I thought it might just be……owwwwwowwowowow…..Braxten-Hicks but then they started getting more intense.” I nodded, and then met her eyes, “Well, this is the real deal, you’re 3 centimeters and about 70% effaced. If you want to have this baby at the hospital, now’s the time to go.” She shook her head fervently, so I helped her off of the table and said, “I’ll go grab you a gown, and then we’ll move you onto the labor bed.” She looked down at her feet, or rather her belly which was hiding her feet, “I was kinda hoping I could uhh just..be…..well, naked.” I nodded understandingly, many women like to hold their babies, skin to skin, when they were born. I led her past the curtains and to the bed, where she undressed while I prepped the fetal monitor.
An hour later, she had made a lot of progress and was about 5 centimeters and 100% effaced. In another hour or two, she’d be ready to push. I helped her in any way that I could. I’d rub her lower back during contractions and I made sure she was drinking enough water. When she reached 10 centimeters about three hours later, I had her scoot to the edge of the bed and begin to push. I held her knees for her while she grunted and moaned. Her contractions began happening every 20 seconds, and I started to see the baby’s head. I bent over, ready to help the baby, “She’s almost here, June. You’re doing amazing. On your next contraction, push really hard and we might just get to meet her.” At the next contraction, June bore down and pushed and pushed and pushed. She panted heavily when the contraction ended, her eyes closed, “Is she out yet?” I smiled and said, “Her head is fully crowned, so this next contraction you’ll pant like heavy short breaths and push in sync with your breath. Make sense?” She nodded her head as the next contraction hit her like a wave. Pretty soon I was laying a pink globby baby girl on her chest, “Oh! Oh! I did it! I did it!” June began to cry and I rubbed her back, trying to contain my excitement. I had just officially delivered my first baby! “What are you going to name her?” June gazed lovingly at her baby girl, who was squalling and whimpering, “I think I’ll call her Shayla.” I smiled as I began to take Shayla to make sure she was healthy, “That’s a really pretty name,” I cooed to the baby as I weighed her and checked her heart and eyes and gave her a good once-over, “All right, June, you have a healthy, beautiful baby girl.”
I spent a few more hours there, cleaning up June and the bay, making sure the placenta delivered easily. I took June home, at the end of the day, where I found that she was sooooo rich, her garage probably cost more than my house. I felt like I was walking into a castle. Once she was all settled, the maid took over for me so that I could go pick up Leo.
I swung by Kevin, my dad, whoever he is’ house and grabbed some dinner.
When we got home, I swung Leo in the air, “Hey lil’ guy! Mama missed you. Did you have fun at Grandpa’s?” He nodded his head and stuck his thumb into his mouth,. I set him down before tickling him and saying, “Mama’s going to go check the mail, do you want to come?” He shook his head no and wandered off to his toy box. I was startled to find a package shoved into the mailbox, I don’t remember buying anything off of Simazon lately. I quickly opened the package and pulled out a fragile card with baby boots on it. It read,
We have yet to meet in person but I contacted your school that you trained through and I hear you’re one of the top midwives they’ve trained. My husband and I would love for you to fly out to Fortress Rock and deliver our first child for us. Of course, all travel expenses and ample compensation will be made. We will need you to come and join us this Friday because I am due the following Friday. In total, it should be about a two-week trip at the max.
Thank you in advance,
Cambria and Carter Logan
(Karly is being featured in AtlasSims’ story, The Logan Legacy. Go check it out!)
I quickly mailed my response to the Logans. I would leave here Thursday night and arrive there Friday morning. I debated about bringing Leo with me, but I decided that I would have to take a huge step(for me) and have him stay with my dad one week and then my mom would come and stay with him at our house the second week. I smiled excitedly and rushed inside to get out of the rain!