Carters' red convertible sped into the driveway, as the roof closed. The new girl in his life was just inside of those double doors. He grabbed his duffle bag, inside was the present he was to use as a bribe for her affections. Carter glanced at his watch. It was almost midnight, but the activity indoors made it sound more like daylight hours. Callie was at the door before Carter could knock. "Hey little brother hold her for me." "Lily, this is Uncle Carter." She quickly thrust the screaming baby in his arms. Carter juggled the baby, and bouquet. Carter's twin connection had been warning that something was amiss. Callie's voice had sounded strained their last two conversations. He had chalked it up as new motherhood. It was more. He bounced the child around in an effort to soothe her cries. As Callie threw her things into a bag,
"I thought I could do this, but I'm doing everything wrong." Lily's cries were too much for Callie to handle. "Rub her back in a circular motion, and she'll calm down." The baby rubbed her eyes, and replaced the screams with small crying and sniffles. Callie's voice quietened. "You can give her a life that I can't."
"I can't give her you, her mother." Carter thought his reasoning was beginning to work, and sat down with Lily. Without Carter realizing it she had resumed packing, and her bag was almost full. "DAMN IT CALLIE STOP!" Carter felt like he was in court pleading a case. For Lily's sake it was one he couldn't lose."You just can't leave her here with me. I don't know anything about kids other than I was one." He moved toward Callie. Maybe the effect of Lily's closeness would awaken her from this ridiculous idea. " You're her mother. " "She needs you." said Carter. "I've tried for six months to be the mother she needs. I can't do it, Carter. I can love her, but I can't support her." "Cal, she doesn't even know me. I have only read one book about babies. That hardly makes me qualified to raise a child." "That's only a handful less than me." Callie was amused, but not surprised. When Carter was out of his element he headed straight for the books. She had been counting on his predictability. "Trust me. She will love you as much as I do." "I left a list on the top of the T.V., and her favorite toys are in the basket, beside her crib."
Callie wiped away the tears to speak to Lily. "This is mommies brother. He's going to take care of you now. Try not to give him a hard time to begin with. He will catch on to how this Uncle-kid relationship works. Callie took in the sweet smell of her daughter's duck-like head of hair. She wanted to remember Lily's scent, but if she lingered any longer the strength it took to leave would disappear. " Callie this was supposed to be a Christmas vacation! I forbid you to go!" "Forbid! That never worked for dad. Why would it start to now!" " If I stay sooner or later my bad decisions will affect Lily. She's the only thing I've done right in my life. I have to go before I screw it up again. Callie grabbed her bag and ran. As usual, leaving others to pick up the pieces.
Lily's crying heightened as Callie left the driveway Hey, slugger you should be too little to understand all of this. I'm not even sure I do. The whispering and swaying had silenced her for the moment. Lily's eyes blinked shut leaving Carter alone with his thoughts. He had been tricked by his sister. Every time he stepped foot into her life turmoil ensued. Lily was supposed to change that willful part of his sister, but how could he expect one small baby to achieve what Dad and he had never accomplished. He lay the baby on his chest, and covered them with a blanket. Carter wasn't willing to chance waking Lily by putting her in the crib. Callie had exhausted all of his mental energy. They both needed a good nights sleep, and with a little hope Callie would be home by morning. Snow plows still hadn't treated the ice covered roads. Noel's diaper deliveries were something that couldn't be put off because of bad weather. Noel packed her pink, SUV named Noel's Nappies, with the days deliveries. She had twelve stops to make. Noel had added two more customers than last week. At this rate, her new snow, tires would pay for themselves, and with any luck Middletowns population would grow before Christmas. The wind blew snow off of the evergreens lining Noel's driveway. The cold crystals clung to her cheeks. She had delayed the route as long as possible. It wasn't going to get any warmer, and she wasn't ready to tangle with a diaperless mommy. She circled the homemade, crotched scarf snug around her neck, and headed down the snowy Middletown street. Noel checked the list for the days deliveries. It would have been easier to deliver the diapers by the most close location, but Noel was a kindergarten teacher, and by habit everything was in alphabetical order. First delivery was Callie Evans, a customer since June. Hopefully, she could make her delivery without the chaotic drama that shadowed Callie daily.
Carter hadn't thought it possible, but Lily and he had made it through one whole day without either of them shedding too many tears. Every oxford long, sleeve shirt he owned had been decorated with various degrees of baby barf , but they had survived the first twenty-four hours. Lily was beginning to fuss. She couldn't be hungry this quickly, and had gotten tired of being held. He was puzzled at why she was upset until he moved closer to the baby bed, and an aroma hit him strait in the face. Now they had a problem. Carter had just changed her into the last diaper before breakfast. The box was empty.How was he going to make a trip to the grocery? He could barely keep Lily content within the confines of the four walls. Carter felt like a kid that had been abandoned at the deep end of the pool, with his head barely above the water. He absent mindedly picked up Callie's list. According to it, Lily had a doctor's appointment this afternoon. He placed Lily back in the bed, and went to raid his duffle bag, but unless he could create a hat trick the search for a shirt would be fruitless. Noel knocked on the door and announced "Noel's Nappies." A shirtless Carter opened the door to find an angel with brown hair and blue eyes. "Are you my guardian angel, or Lily's? Because right now one of us could really use one." " I'm not telling . If any more of your wishes come true you can start becoming suspicious." Let me take this." said Carter. As he traded Lily for the box of diapers. " I didn't know how I was going to make it to the store." " There's three inches of snow out there. You can't put a baby in that death trap." He grinned at her description of his convertible.
"I guess it's not kid-friendly, but it's my only option. According to Callie's list, Lily has an appointment with Doc Turner."
Noel tipped her head sideways and spoke." I should be through with deliveries by then. You can use my van."
"It's pink, and you don't even know me." said Carter. "Your Callie's twin brother Carter, and since high school it looks like you started wearing perfume." Carter's face beamed. "Lily wouldn't stop crying. A baby book I read said a mothers scent helps calm the child."
"Did it work?" said Noel. "Not long enough to put up with the smell." said Carter. Noel stifled a giggle.
Are you one of Callie's friends?" Carter asked changing the subject."No, we didn't really hang around the same crowd."
"I can't really picture you causing the sort of mischief Cal usually surrounded herself."
"How could I forget the most popular guy in high school." You were captain of every team ." "Callie and you were like walking Barbie and Ken dolls." "I have to go finish my route. I'll try to stop by early to see if you need help." "Thank you. The morning would have been a disaster without you." "Your welcome."
As Noel started her van she thought back to her high school days. She had wanted Carter Evans girlfriend. For years she had kept her heart from other men. For now she was his guardian angel.
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