Ben joined me on the deck when he finished. Tom was apparently busy rearranging my bedroom. I didn't even care. Ben sat in the lounge chair next to me gazing at me silently while I ignored him and watched the waves. He soon sat up and placed his hands on my stomach where the girls were actively kicking me and each other. A bittersweet smile slowly spread across his face. "They are quite the active pair this afternoon."
"Yes, they can be at times," I replied while I still refused to look at him.
After a few more minutes of feeling the babies move, he lifted the hem of my shirt, leaned over and kissed my belly. He then got up and went back inside. All that did was make me cry harder.
Once the tears subsided, I eventually wandered back inside and to my bedroom. Tom was just finishing up. I ignored him and curled up on the bed and soon drifted off to sleep. Ben was the one I really wanted and I felt completely heartbroken. I was being forced to accept something I could not.
Over the next couple of weeks, Tom and Ben prepared the nursery. They wanted it to be a surprise for me, so they wouldn't even let me in the room. Tom promised me it was going to be cute and girly for our little princesses. That's what he had taken to calling the babies: his little princesses. It seemed to take longer than two weeks, but they finally finished it and surprised me with it.
Ben literally put one of his ties around my eyes as a blindfold and led me into the room with Tom trailing along behind, his hands on my sides like he was guiding me. When Ben stopped pulling my hands, Tom yanked the tie off my eyes and I gasped. It was beautiful! They'd painted the walls a lovely shade of lilac trimmed in white. The cribs, dressers, changing table and rocking chairs were all in white. The bedding in one crib was lilac while in the other it was pink. The curtains at the window were pink as were the cushions on the rocking chairs and matching ottomans. On one wall near the closet was a large painting of ballerinas while on the opposite wall was one of Cinderella's carriage going toward the castle at night. Above each crib were wooden letters that spelled out their names: Morgana in a dark purple and Jocelyn in Pink.
"I didn't realize we had decided on names. I had just suggested them..."
Tom replied, "Ben and I talked about it and we decided we could live with those names. You did really like them right?"
"Yes, but what about the middle names?"
"Tom and I were thinking that maybe you might let us pick the middle names? I like Aurelia for Jocelyn; Jocelyn Aurelia," Ben responded.
"I sort of have a request for a middle name to go with Morgana," Tom stated.
"What is it?"
"Rhiannon. I would like for her middle name to be Rhiannon, after your character from Immortal."
I just stared at him in surprise. "Why would you want that?"
"Well that wonderful story of yours is how you and I met. If you had never written it, Joss never would've read it and contacted you about turning it into a series, so you and I never would've met. So I just...I don't know...I guess it's kind of corny." He was actually blushing.
"No, not at all. I love it. Morgana Rhiannon and Jocelyn Aurelia. They're both great names. I love the nursery guys, it's beautiful."
I gave each of them a gentle kiss on the lips and a hug in thanks for all the work they had done. Now that I had some where to put them, I would need to go shopping for baby clothes. They both liked that idea and wanted to go with me. I wanted to do something for my babies on my own; without the smothering duo. They finally relented on the condition that I not go completely alone; even though I was only twenty-five weeks along, they were both nervous about me being alone. I groaned and left the room to go to my own room and get ready. "Guys, I'm pregnant, not helpless!"
"Yes, but it's also a high risk pregnancy with twins. I'm not comfortable with you being alone," Tom stated.
"I don't really have any friends here, Tom. Who am I supposed to go with?"
They were both quiet while they thought it over. Finally Tom chimes in with, "What about Susan? Her and Robert don't live that far away. I'm sure she'd be willing to go with you."
"Susan? Susan Downey? I met her once!"
Ben piped up and said, "You can go with Susan or you can go with me. Which will it be?"
I groaned loudly and said, "Fine! Call her and see if she's available to go right now. I'm not willing to wait for another time."
Tom dialed Robert's cell phone number and left the room after he answered. I stayed seated on the bed, sulking like a petulant child. They both did have a point, I just didn't want to admit it. Ben stayed in the doorway, leaning against it silently.
Tom returned in a few minutes and said, "Susan would love to go with you and was actually planning to do some shopping this afternoon anyway. She said she'll be leaving her house soon and would come pick you up in about twenty minutes."
"Bloody lovely," I replied with a scowl as I got up to grab my purse and go sulk in the living room. They were treating me like a child and it annoyed me.
Ben joined me in the living room, sitting on the opposite end of the sofa. Neither of us spoke for several minutes. I finally asked, "So when are you moving out?"
"I've actually decided not to for right now. We only have a couple more weeks until we wrap up for a couple of months and I'm going to England for a month after that. I decided I should probably just stay where I am for right now. I'll look for my own place when I get back from England."
"I didn't know you were planning to return home. Are you going to be here when the babies are born?"
"It was a last minute decision; I have a short project to do. You'll only be...thirty-two weeks at that point right? Unless you have those babies very early, I'll be here. I do want to be here when my daughters are born. I'm not completely heartless."
"I didn't say that you are. So you're convinced they are yours?"
"I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm convinced, but I definitely hope they are. I'm almost forty years old, so if I'm going to have children, now would be a good time. I'm still young enough to enjoy them."
I said nothing in reply. It wasn't long until Susan arrived. She was thrilled to be going baby shopping; it was her favorite thing to shop for. She took me to her favorite mall downtown and we spent the next three hours shopping. I ended up with a lot of baby clothes, in various sizes so I wouldn't have to worry about rushing out to get new clothes when they began outgrowing sizes. Between two newborns and work, I was going to be busy. We even bought some onesies, shirts, and sleepers in preemie size because I was pretty sure they'd end up being born a little early and twins are usually small anyway. We went to a nearby restaurant after to have an early dinner before she took me back to the beach house.
When we arrived, Tom came out to help carry in the bags while he thanked Susan for going with me. Susan hugged me and wished me well before leaving. I had Tom deliver the bags to the laundry room as I planned to wash all of it before the babies wore them. There was so much that I decided to just wash the preemie and newborn clothes first, so Tom ended up taking the rest to the bedroom and hanging them in the closet. Ben soon wandered in while I was snipping tags and tossing garments in the washing machine. He picked up one of the tiny preemie sized pink sleepers. "Wow! This is really small!"
"It's a preemie size for tiny babies. I do expect them to born early, I just don't know how early."
He put it down and picked up a pink and white shirt in newborn size. "I hope they aren't born too early. I mean, the later, the better, right?"
"Yes the closer to forty weeks they are born, the healthier they will most likely be."
I had just finished loading the washer and starting the cycle when I got hit with sharp pains in my pelvic area. I started rubbing my abdomen while I groaned in pain, turning away from him so I could leave the laundry room. Ben was immediately at my side asking what was wrong.
"It's just some pains. I do have scar tissue in my uterus, so it's going to hurt when it's expanding. Sometimes the pains are quite sharp. I just need to go lay down."
I made it as far as the kitchen island counter before I got slammed with another very sharp pain that made me groan. Ben stopped me and bent over to scoop me up in his arms and carry me to my room. He laid me on the bed and went to get a wash cloth that he wet with cool water. He returned and folded it to place on my forehead. I was curled up on my left side so it kept slipping. He finally removed it and sat next to me to wipe my face with it. I was hurting so much I had broken out in a sweat. He leaned over and turned on the fan that was perched on the corner of my dresser, next to the bed. After a few minutes he said, "Darling, are you sure you're going to be all right? You seem to be in a lot of pain to me."
"I'll be fine Ben. It's not contractions; I do know the difference."
"I'll have to take your word for it since I've never been a woman or pregnant. You know your body better than I do."
A few more minutes passed while Ben sat there holding my hand and wiping my face. Finally I asked, "Where's Tom?"
An annoyed look passed through his eyes and he took a deep breath before he replied, "He went out for a run on the beach. I am capable of sitting here with you while you endure the pain."
I caressed his face gently with my free hand. "I didn't mean to imply that you are not. I think you forget that my heart belongs to you. I just didn't want Tom getting upset because he doesn't know what's going on. If he's not here, then he can't complain."
I slid my hand behind his neck and tugged gently to pull him forward. He resisted at first. "Please Ben?" I said softly.
The look in his eyes softened and leaned down to kiss me gently on the lips. My lips parted and I began to kiss harder. At first he responded and I could feel a surge of passion and longing come through his kiss. He came to his senses and pulled away from me. He was breathing heavily. He got up from the bed and said, "Please, Clarice, don't make this harder for me."
He then heard the French doors at the rear of the house open so he quickly composed himself and went to inform Tom of my pain. In mere seconds, Tom came rushing into the room and kneeled next to me in the floor. "Darling, are you all right?"
"It's just some growth pains. My uterus is stretching through all the scar tissue and it hurts some. I'll be fine."
He leaned over and kissed my cheek while he stroked my hair back from my face. As soon as he sat back I said, "Oh for the love of Loki, Tom! Go shower! You're a stinky, sweaty mess!"
He laughed heartily and agreed to it on the condition that Ben would come back and sit with me. "Oh, Tom, I'm fine! It's barely even hurting now. I'm just going to lay here and rest; I may even doze off to sleep."
"OK sweetheart. If you start hurting more or need anything, call for Ben please. Don't get up and try to do it yourself. We'll make sure the baby clothes get washed, dried and put away too. Don't worry about anything; just rest." He kissed me quickly again before going to take a shower.
He no sooner left then Ben appeared in the doorway with a large glass of ice water. "I thought you could use a drink," He gestured with the glass.
"Yes, I could. Thank you," I replied as I sat up.
He entered the room and handed me the glass. I took a big drink and then sat it down on the table. I lay back down while he stood over me for a while gazing at me. I could see from his eyes that he still wanted me; he had intense desire burning within them. He sighed heavily and told me he would be in the living room if I needed him. I thanked him again as he left the room.
Those two weeks until we wrapped up our second season and Ben left for England just seemed to fly by so quickly. His flight was fairly early in the morning and Tom was driving him to the airport. I was awake, but not out of bed yet. I sat on the bed and listened, hoping he would come to say good-bye like he promised he would. I soon heard a soft knock on my door and called to him to enter. He opened the door and walked in, closing it behind him. He smiled and sat on the bed next to me.
"Well...I guess this is good-bye," he said.
"Not for good, I hope."
"I promise I will be here when the babies are born. If there's a chance you are going to have them before I return, please call me. A flight from London to here is almost eleven hours and that doesn't include any delays, so I'd appreciate knowing as early as possible."
"I will let you know. I promise to do my best to hold onto them until you get back."
He chuckled at that promise and leaned over to kiss my forehead. Before he could pull away from me, I grabbed the back of his neck and kissed him on the lips. He tried to pull back at first, but I wouldn't let go so he relaxed and returned my kiss. I stopped to catch my breath, but he grabbed me and kissed me passionately again. He only let me go once we were both sufficiently breathless. He then sat there with his forehead against mine, breathing hard, with his heart racing. "Clarice, we have to stop doing this. You have no idea what it does to me."
"Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea what it does to you. I want to hear you say it Ben...admit it to me."
"You know how I still feel about you. I shouldn't have to say it."
"Please, Ben; I need to hear the words."
He kissed me passionately before saying, "I love you Clarice. You will always have a place in my heart no matter what, but we can't be together. Please, stay with Tom; he loves you a lot and will make a wonderful husband and father. I'm not what you need, but he is."
He kissed me once last time and then left. I heard the front door close then the sound of the car as Tom started the engine. Ben was gone and my heart was broken. I hoped over the next month it would mend and I could go on like he wanted me to, but for now I lay curled up in my bed crying for a love I would always feel, but never have again.
The Twins Arrive Early
The Twins Arrive Early