Life After You

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Chapter 24

“I can’t believe you made me circle the parking lot twice.” Riley sighed as he wheeled me next to his seat and then sat down beside me.

“I just... don’t know what Dr. J is going to say. I’m nervous.” I began fidgeting with my fingers as I sat beside Riley.

“You don’t need to worry; the hospital said you and the baby showed a lot of progress.” Riley reassured as he placed his arm around my shoulders. “Plus your ankle is almost healed so you can be done with this wheel chair soon.”

“I know, but still. It’s normal for me to be on edge Rie, this is my first child.” I defended.

“You’re right. Let’s just hold off on the spiraling until we hear what Dr. J says.”

I gave Riley a slight nod and then looked out of the window beside me. Flocks of birds swooped through the grey sky, probably heading north due to the storm brewing. I hated being out in this weather, but I could not reschedule my doctor’s appointment – nor did I want to.

“You’ll get used to it.” Riley suddenly said.

“Used to what?”

“The rain. Happens here a lot actually. Good ol’ Florida huh?” He smirked as he peered out of the same window I did.

“Maybe we should have considered this before we moved here?” I teased, raising my eyebrows.

“Nah, I like it here. It’s different. Plus, it’s way hotter in Nevada.”

“I can agree there.” I replied, leaning back against my seat and staring up at the ceiling.

“Plus the beaches here are great. The ladies love the Riley in his speedo.” Riley smirked, casting me a goofy grin.

“Yuck, please don’t make me vomit right now. I did enough of that this morning.” I sighed, scrunching my nose up in disgust while giving my brother a flat look.

“Don’t hate sis, appreciate!” He smiled proudly while flexing his left arm.

“Can’t hate when there’s nothing there.” I teased, lifting my arm and flexing my own small muscle.

Riley glared at me for a second and then let out a laugh.

“Screw you.”

“Thankfully, that’s Tori’s job.” I chuckled, readjusting my cardigan around my stomach.

“Speaking of Tori, why isn’t she here with us?” Riley asked, pulling out his phone.

“She’s at school Rie. She had some classes today, and she agreed to go to my classes and grab all of my work that I can do from home. I love that my teachers are so understanding, because if not, I would have definitely flunked out by now.” I smiled happily.

I managed to buy a laptop and do majority of my classes online, but some classes cannot be done online so I have arrangements worked out with my teachers for each class that I have to attend. It’s only until after the baby is born, and then I need to figure out child care.

Maybe I can store my baby in my bag and take him to class with me? Maybe the teachers won’t notice the crying and the breast feeding. One can dream, right?

“Well, if anyone can juggle all of this, it’s you Liv. Even growing up, you never let a hectic schedule keep you down. You buckled down and got through it all, no matter what it took.” Riley smiled, taking a sip of his iced Latte.

“I suppose I got that from mom. She never looked frustrated or stressed. No matter what she was always in the best of moods. I don’t know how she did it every day.” I lightly laughed, smiling when her face popped up inside of my head.

“You know, at the hospital I had a dream about her.” I said. “It was so real Rie, like she was actually there lying in bed with me. I could feel her hugging me and playing with my hair. I honestly didn’t want to wake up.”

“Really? That’s amazing. I had a dream like that once.” He confessed with a slight frown. “Didn’t last long though.”

“We talked and she told me that she misses us so much, especially dad. I almost starting crying when she started talking about dad. I suppose dad and I have a lot in common now that we’ve both lost someone we love.” I sighed.

“Hey, you and dad are the strongest people I know. Dad didn’t falter once when mom died. He was there for us unconditionally and he never made us feel alone. He stood up and continued to care for us as if everything were fine. Yeah, he had his moments of break down... but who wouldn’t?” Riley smiled in reference to our dad.

“You’re the same way. You lost Landon but you are still going strong. You didn’t go back to your old habits like you did after mom died, you stayed focused and you are doing whatever it is that you have to do for this baby. You’re very brave sis.” Riley smiled.

“Gee, thanks!” I smiled. “This is too mushy for me though; let’s talk about guns and zombies.” I laughed.

“Hey, works for me.” Riley laughed too, leaning over to give me a side-hug.

“Olivia Harper.”

“Crap, it’s time.” I sighed while motioning for the nurse to come wheel me back.

“Hang in there. If you need me, I’ll be right out here.”

“Um I don’t think so, let’s go!” I grabbed Riley’s hand and yanked him with me almost spilling his coffee.

“Geeze Liv, a little warning next time. This Latte wasn’t cheap!” Riley glared as he followed me and the nurse into the back.

“Pipe down you sissy.” I teased, making the nurse laugh at our expense.

“You’re the sissy, sis!” Riley retorted, crossing his arms over his chest while taking small sips of his drink.

“Okay Olivia, please step up and onto the scale.” The nurse instructed.

“You got it Britt.” I smiled. I motioned for help as Brittany helped me up and onto the scale. I can stand on my foot, but it isn’t easy just yet. I used Brittany to lean on as I stood still and allowed her to get my weight. After she noted my weight gain, she helped me back into my wheel chair.

“Good, you’ve gained five pounds since your last appointment.” She beamed, writing down her notes into my chart.

“Five pounds!” My eyes widened. “Great, at this rate I will be a cow by the time this baby arrives.”

“Ha, moo.” Riley muttered under his breath.

I sent him a chilling death-glare to which he immediately looked away from me and focused on drinking his coffee.

Brittany wheeled me into the exam room with Riley slowly following behind.

“You sure you want me in here?” Riley asked.

“Yes. I need support. It’s not like you’re going to see anything but my stomach, which you’ve already seen at the hospital.” I sighed.

“Okay sis.” He replied, taking a seat in one of the empty chairs near the exam bed I am currently being helped to lay down on.

After the nurse got me situated on the exam bed, she left the room.

Around five minutes later, the door opened again.

“Dr. J!” I smiled wide.

“Hello Olivia! How are you feeling?” He frowned while looking at my stomach. I already had my shirt lifted up and my bandages were showing.

“A lot better actually. Still a little sore, but nothing I can’t handle.” I smirked causing Dr. J to laugh.

“Now that I don’t disagree with!” He looked to Riley and smiled.

“This must be the famous Riley!” Dr. J smirked.

“Why yes actually, it is.” Riley smiled wide, standing up. Dr. J reached out to shake Riley’s hand, but instead Riley leaped forward and hugged Dr. J, startling him.

Dr. J eventually hugged Riley back and then Riley took his seat again.

“Thank you for taking such great care of my sis and nephew. They’re my world.”

I looked over at Riley and smiled, almost feeling a tear settling into my eye, but pushed it away. There is no time for hormones when I need to find out how the baby is doing.

“You are absolutely welcome Riley. Now, let’s get to it shall we?” Dr. J smiled over at me.

He began by slowly peeling off the bandages. The hospital said I could take them off two days after I went home, but I kept them on an extra day just to be safe.

“Wow, you’ve healed up nicely.” Dr. J began rubbing a soothing cream around my stomach. I didn’t have any major scaring, but the hospital said I will have very minor scaring. The burns were just under second degree, but still enough to cause some damage especially since my shirt stuck to my skin and took some time to remove.

“Thank you! I’m glad the pain is minimal now.” I smiled, letting a breath out. “My ankle should be back to normal by the end of the week too!”

“That’s wonderful, nothing worse than needing a wheel chair while pregnant. It makes getting around that much harder.” Dr. J slightly frowned.

“Tell me about it.”

“So, you are just at six months pregnant. How do you feel going into your last month of your second trimester?”

“I feel good. A lot of my energy is coming back and I don’t get sick as much anymore. Not like I used to anyway.” I sheepishly smiled while glancing over at Riley who rolled his eyes.

“That’s amazing.” Dr. J began putting the cool gel onto my stomach, so he can take a few ultrasounds of the baby to check his progress.

“Well, the good news is, your baby’s heart beat is back to normal. I don’t see any need for any type of special treatment as far as that goes. We are still going to monitor you closely, since he did hit his head a few times with the fall, but other than that he looks perfectly normal. You’ve got a strong one in there Ms. Harper.” Dr. J smiled as he pointed to the screen, showing me the baby’s head all the way to his feet.

“Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!” Tears began to fill my eyes as I took in the sigh of my little boy. “I was so scared. You have no idea how bad I have been beating myself up over this. This is the second time I’ve fallen while pregnant and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will NOT fall again.” I declared, firmly placing my hand over my stomach.

“Hey, accidents happen. Sometimes more than once. All we can do is learn from them and try to do better the next time around. I truly believe both you and your baby will be just fine.” Dr. J smiled reassuringly. I love how comforting he is, but not too overbearing at the same time. He is the best doctor I have ever had.

“Riley, the baby is fine!” I smiled, peering over my shoulder at Riley.

He returned the smile and lifted his coffee into the air, almost as if he were giving a toast.

“I knew he would be. He’s tough like his uncle.” Riley smirked.

“Um, yeah no. Pretty sure he gets his toughness from dad.” I laughed, shaking my head.

“Rude.” Riley mumbled, though I could just barely hear him.

Dr. J laughed at our brother/sister banter, and finished up with the ultrasounds.

“So, have any big plans for Christmas next week?” As soon as the question left his mouth, my eyes widened and my heart sunk.

Christmas.

I felt the sadness wash over me in large waves, threatening to swallow me whole. My first Christmas without Landon. How am I going to get through this? How am I going to get through any major holiday without Landon by my side?

I immediately began sobbing, bring my hands up and over my face to hide my tears.

“What did I say?” Dr. J looked over to Riley alarmed and afraid.

Riley immediately stood up and walked over to me placing his hand on my shoulder.

“I have no idea, but it’s best if you just stay quiet for now.” He said, warning Dr. J that I was a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment without warning.

“Goodness.” He mumbled, taking a step back.

“Olivia, why are you crying?” Riley slowly got closer to me, risking his own life for Dr. J.

“Riley... Christmas.” I peered down at my belly, and Riley’s eyes widened at the realization.

He immediately pulled me into a hug and began patting my head. “Don’t worry Liv, Christmas will not be ruined. Landon would want you to enjoy it, even if he isn’t here.”

“I just... How am I supposed to celebrate Landon’s favorite holiday without him?” I cried.

“We will do whatever it takes to make this day special for you. I’m so sorry.” He hugged me tighter before pulling away.

“Please forgive me Olivia.” Dr. J began. “I didn’t know that-” but I cut him off.

“It’s okay Dr. J. You didn’t mean any harm.” I smiled. “Must be more of these hormones.”

He gave me a weak smile, but I could tell he became more alert after I suddenly burst into tears a few minutes ago.

“I promise I’m fine.” I smiled.

“Here are the pictures from this ultrasound.” Dr. J handed them over to me.

“He’s getting so big!” I smiled, turning to show Riley the pictures.

“Have you decided on a name yet?” Dr. J asked.

“Actually no. I bought one of those baby name books, but nothing has really stood out to me yet. I guess it will just come to me when I least expect it huh?” I laughed.

“I’m sure it will come to you soon. Mother’s normally settle on a name in their third trimester.” Dr. J smiled. “You’ve got plenty of time!”

“Thank you for everything Dr. J! You’re the best!” I smiled, slowly starting to stand up.

Riley and Dr. J helped me back into my wheel chair and Riley stood behind me, ready to wheel me out of the office.

“Of course! See you for your next appointment... and um...” Dr. J looked around before quietly saying, “Have a great Christmas.”

Riley’s eyes widened and he gave an alarming glance over to Dr. J for being so bold as to bring up Christmas again, but I just laughed and said thank you.

“Have a great Christmas yourself!” I yelled as Riley wheeled me out to the front office.

I said goodbye to Brittany and made my next appointment before Riley wheeled me out to the car.

“I can’t wait to get rid of this thing.” I huffed as Riley struggled to help me into the car.

After folding up the wheel chair and placing it in the back seat, Riley got up front and began driving towards my apartment.

“I really hope you don’t let Landon keep you sad during Christmas. Tori and I decided we should go home for Christmas, to be with dad. I know you’re going to need him there.” Riley softly smiled while quickly peering over at me, but then immediately bring his eyes back to the road.

“That sounds amazing actually! Gives me a chance to see Barbara and B too!” I smiled, thinking about Landon’s parents.

“See that, something to look forward too.” Riley grinned, happy that I was smiling and not crying like I normally do.

“You are the best big brother ever!”

“Aw, thanks. I’m glad you think that right now and please remember that when I tell you that I may have accidently broken your Xbox earlier today.” He frowned, tightening his hands on the steering wheel in preparation for the storm about to unleash inside of this car.

“You WHAT!” I yelled. I let Tori borrow my Xbox a couple days ago because she wanted to have Netflix and I honestly didn’t care about not having it for a little while as I’ve already binge watched all of my favorite shows more times than one.

“It was an accident!” He pleaded. “I was trying to sexy dance for Tori and I may have slipped over my boxers and fell on top of the Xbox...” He mumbled towards the end of the explanation.

My eyes widened at the disturbing image of Riley trying to strip for my best friend, and my eyes turned to slits as I glared directly at him, making his hands squeeze the steering wheel even tighter.

“You are the worst big brother ever.” I crossed my arms over my chest and turned my glare towards the window.

“Well... the best lasted all of five seconds...” He mumbled just loud enough for me to hear.

Brother for sale! Anyone? No?

Dang it.

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