Chapter 13: Mom to mom
Alex woke up earlier than everyone else to make sure he got down to Violet’s before opening. Knowing Sam and Austin, Alex figured they would already have a list of ideas and color themes. Austin did have a book for every occasion on the planet. Weddings, birthdays, including sweet sixteen’s and twenty-first parties, Thanksgiving, New Years Eve, and of course baby showers, which had pages among pages of stuff. Alex always thought that it was a pastime for all the waiting Austin had done. He and his boyfriend, Ethan, had been trying to adopt a baby for two years. One time they had almost got one, a little Asian girl who was just a few weeks old. But the adoption fell though at the last minute because they adoption agency said they weren’t a good fit. Everyone knew that it was basically just a better way of saying, ‘we aren’t going to let you adopt this girl because you are gay.’ But no one ever said that out loud because it was too painful, and it made everyone have to come to terms with the fact that there were still so many rights the LGBTQ+ community did not have.
Austin didn’t talk about it much, and everyone knew better than to bring it up. They had a name picked out and everything. Alex had never seen Austin so broken. He had always been the person who had a smile on his face, no matter what kind of day he was having. Nothing could ever bring him down, except for that. But he bounced back, just as everyone else had expected. Alex soon made the connection that planning Maria’s baby shower was the closest thing to planning his own party.
The restaurant smelled of orange juice and bacon when Alex walked in. No one else was in the diner because it didn’t open till eleven. Everyone was sitting at the booth in the back of the diner, and Alex put his coat on the hanger before walking over to them.
“Alex! How’s it going?” Austin said as he jumped up from the booth. “I’m so excited to plan the shower. We have a few things figured out, but we think you should have the finale say. You know her best after all. Come on, sit.”
Austin pulled out a chair from a nearby table with two chairs and brought it to the head of the booth.
“So, Camilla and Rumi’s grandma said they would be on food, Rumi and Sam are on decorations and games, and you are me are on the guest list,” Austin added.
“But first we have to work on colors,” Sam interrupted. “I know you said it was a boy, so we obviously have to do blue, But I’m leaning towards blue with yellow and grey so it’s not all blue.”
Austin jumped, making Alex’s eyes shift back and fourth between the people talking. “Yeah, plus yellow and grey look perfect with blue. But we were also thinking streamers- Oh! And elephants. Or maybe ducks. I haven’t decided on a theme,” Austin turned to Rumi. “Have we decided on a theme?”
Rumi shook his head. “Not yet.”
Rumi, Sam, and Austin went back and fourth while Alex sat there, his mind thinking about other things.
After getting through almost everything, Austin looked over at Alex who was staring at them hazily. “Alex, are you okay? You’re not talking.”
“Yeah, it’s just that you guys are really going all out for this. Sam and Camilla you guys haven’t even met her.”
“Listen Alex,” Austin spoke softly, with the touch of empathy he was always able to have even when he was fuming with anger. “We may not know anything about Maria, but we know you. And that’s close enough. Plus, its been kind of boring around here. We could use some excitement.”
“Maybe you should bring her over again before the shower so we can actually become somewhat of friends,” Rumi added.
Alex pushed his lips to the side. “Alright, alright. I agree.”
“So what are you guys?” Sam asked.
Alex knitted his brows together, confused. “What do you mean?”
“Like are you dating, or is this one of those things where you are going to aren’t in love with her, but you actually are?”
“Who said I was in love with her?”
“Your face. Everyone knows you love her, Alex. We’re just waiting for you to officially tell us.”
Alex hesitated before answering. “Okay you’re right. I love her. I really, really love her. But I haven’t told her that yet.”
“When are you going to? Are a you going to do it at the shower? Please tell me you are going to do it then?” Alex wiggled in his seat.
“We’ll see about that.”
Alex met up with them again to get the final details set. They had set the shower for Friday, which was two weeks away. It turned out Maria’s favorite food was actually spaghetti, or anything pasta related. She said her father used to always cook pasta because he spent a lot of time in Italy as a kid. Rumi’s grandma and Camilla had thought of a few ideas as to what to make, including cupcakes, baked pasta dishes, and creative desserts. During their meet up, they had created a guest list which consisted of Adam, Enrique, Armstrong and his wife Ellie, Austin’s boyfriend Ethan and mom, and few other people. Alex would have asked if Maria wanted to invite her parents or siblings, if she had any, but she never mentioned anything, so he didn’t ask. And as for Alex’s mom, he hadn’t even told her about Maria, even though he knew he was going to have to at some point.
Rumi’s grandmother had given them the clear to use the restaurant, and he and Sam had gotten decorations and said they got a baby gift for Maria. Alex would have gone with them, but he already had something up his sleeve.
The rest of the week had past rather quickly, and Alex and Maria found themselves back in Dr. Martinez’s office. Because the appointment was on a Tuesday, Elena had school, and Natalie being only four, had to tag along. But Maria was having a hard time being away from her anyway.
Natalie had grown more comfortable around Alex and Elena. Not that it was much trouble though. She was very outgoing and social, which, Alex figured probably came from Matthew.
Ever since Natalie’s return, Matthew had been put on the backburner. Natalie was safe, Maria was safe, and the baby was safe. That was all that mattered. Besides, there were only so many places he could hide, and he would be found eventually. Especially with more people keeping their eyes out for him. But that still didn’t change the fact that Alex wanted to put him behind bars. Not only was he a danger to Maria, but he was also a danger to women in general. Any person who had the nerve to treat someone like that does not deserve to be walking freely.
Currently, Alex sat with Maria and Natalie in the waiting room. Natalie usually came with Maria, considering Matthew would never put Natalie in the hands of someone else. Or leave leave Maria alone with someone she would tell everything to.
The appointment had gone well, and Dr. Martinez said that Maria’s expected due date was December 19th, which was now six weeks away, and those five weeks did not seem like a lot to anyone. Alex had told Maria multiple times that they could move into Alex’s old room, and he could turn the guest bedroom into a nursery, but naturally she refused, telling Alex once again that she didn’t want him to change his life to fit her. Alex didn’t listen though. He did his best to keep Maria occupied for the week before the shower in order to not spoil the surprise. If they were out of the house, Rumi and Sam brought in paint cans, stuffed animals, and furniture into the house. During the nights, Alex had snuck out of bed while Maria and Natalie were sleeping and had repainted the walls in his old room to a light grey with elephant stickers. There was a crib that he bought, and changing table courtesy of Rumi’s grandmother, and Alex had made sure that the room was left locked when he wasn’t there so no one could get in and see what he was doing.
As the days past, Alex worried he wouldn’t have finished in time, but on Tuesday at 4am, he finally did. He had decided early on to keep the queen sized bed in the nursery because he had a feeling Maria would want to be as close to the baby as possible, and if he was anything like Natalie, he would be crying every five minutes. He knew from experience that babies were a handful and be able to get him a few feet away would be way easier.
Alex fell against the wall and admired his work. The walls were painted to perfection, and the white furniture looked great with them. The changing table was in the left corner along with a rocking chair that Alex planned on bringing to the shower to he would have something to give to Maria there. The bed now had a blue and white comforter with the crib next to it. Alex had planned on putting the baby’s name on the wall, but she said she hadn’t chosen one yet. Next to the crib was drawers that had four baskets on top that were purposely left empty for whatever Maria decided to put in them.
He closed his eyes and pictured Maria sitting in the rocking chair with the baby sleeping in her arms, Natalie sitting next to her.
Pulling him from his thoughts was Elena knocking on the door softly.
“Dad,” she said, looking around the room as she walked in. “This looks really good. She is going to love it.”
Without opening his eyes, he responded with, “I hope so. I really wanted to do something nice for her.”
“This is more than nice.” She went and sat down next to him and closed her eyes too. “Hey dad?”
“I just wanted to tell you that whatever is going on between the two of you, I support you.”
Alex scoffed, his eyes still to tired to open. “Thanks chico.”
“No problem. And there is something else I wanted to talk to you about too. First thing, I know I have been hiding stuff from you and sneaking around, and that’s because, well, I’ve been trying to find myself. Try to find out who I am. And, I know now.”
“What are saying?”
“I, uh... I like girls,” she said simply.
He finally opened his eyes, and looked at her. “Really?” He tried to sound as surprised as possible. He knew Elena was lesbian long before she told him. Just like she saw the way he looked at Maria, he saw the way she looked at Tilda.
She nodded. “Me and Tilda started, well... uh, we’re dating. That’s why I’ve been at her house a lot. Are you mad?”
Alex smiled and put his arm around her and pulled her into a side hug. “It doesn’t matter who you love, because I love you no matter what. And I knew before you did.”
Elena rolled her eyes and leaned on him even more. “Oh god. But now that that’s out of the way, I think you should call grandma, and tell her what’s going on. She’ll be mad if you don’t tell her she’s having another grandbaby.”
Alex gave her a look, hating that she had to bring this up. “But she isn’t. I’m not the baby’s dad.”
“Oh please, we all know you love Maria and she loves you. We’re basically all family now. I heard Natalie call you daddy the other day.”
Alex widened his eyes.
“Don’t act so surprised. I know you’re happy. Now let yourself.”
“Alright that’s enough out of you,” he joked. “I’ll call her soon. How would you feel though if me and Maria got married one day though? Do you see her a mother figure?”
“You’re not planning on proposing Friday are you?”
“No, I’m not. There is to much going right now. But how would you feel? Do you think you would ever see her as mom?”
She shrugged, unsure of what it would be like having mom. That was something she never in a million years thought she would have. Her birth mother left too early in her life for her to really know what it was like to have mom. “I don’t know. I haven’t really even had a mom. But I like Maria. She is nice, even though we really don’t spend to much time together.”
“I know we don’t talk about your mom much, and I’m sorry for that. The truth is that it’s hard to talk about it. But now since we are talking about this stuff, we can talk about her. She left when you were a few months old. Her life was just falling apart. She started doing drugs, and going out a lot, and eventually one day she didn’t come back.”
He pushed his lips together and nodded.
“Don’t be. Because I got you all to myself,” he leaned his head on top of hers, and there was a pause in conversation until Elena spoke again.
“But you really need to tell grandma. You should invite her to the baby shower too.”
“If she is okay with this.”
“She’s going to be happy. Confused, but happy. Now you better tell her.”
“I will, now will you relax? Why are you up at 4 am anyway?”
“Couldn’t sleep. But I’m tired now, so I’m going to go back to bed,” she said standing up, but stopped when Alex kept on talking.
“Here is an idea, bring Tilda to Maria’s shower. It’ll be your first date.”
“Yeah, we’ve already had one of those, but I’ll ask. Night dad.”
“Night,” he said, getting up and following behind her quietly walking back to the room.
Just as Elena had kept saying, Alex knew that he would have to tell his mom what had been going in his life at some point, and he figured the sooner the better. While on patrol, he decided to finally call about everything he was keeping from her.
She answered after a few rings, much to Alex’s dismay.
“Alexander! How are you? You haven’t called in forever.”
“I know, there’s been a lot going on.”
“So tell me, has that boss of yours given you a good case?”
Alex squinted his eyes while passing a car by. “He did, actually. I’m helping people which is why I wanted to start this job in the first place.”
His mother waited for him to continue. “Are you going to tell me what it’s about?”
He was hesitant before he answered. “Uh, yeah sure. So it’s a domestic violence case. Maria, who is the victim, was left in the hospital after her husband beat her, and while she was there one of the nurses called us and reported it. When she was in the hospital her husband took her daughter and kidnapped her so Maria and I drove to Dallas but didn’t get her till a month later because we had some difficulties. But we did her back. Anyway, they have been living with me because Maria’s having a hard time, and she is pregnant which makes things even harder for her, so I’m helping her out while I try to find her husband and put him in jail.”
“...Well bless her heart,” we’re the only words she could find.
“Yeah, she’s been through a lot, but she’s doing a lot better. But there is more...”
“I... actually... um... well we are...”
“Just say it, Alexander.”
“Are you dating her?” She interrupted, which he was grateful for. “Alexander Kyle Rivers. You fell in love with abused woman who is pregnant and has a kid with her husband?”
“Her husband who is MIA and abused her. Listen mom, before you go all crazy and judge me, listen. She is amazing. I love her. I would marry her. I haven’t felt this way about anyone since Lilly, and you know that’s been hard. But she perfect. Everything about her. And it doesn’t matter to me that she has kids because I love them too.”
Apparently his mother was easy to convince. “How long has this been going on?”
“A couple months.”
“I’m happy for you Alexander, I just wish you told me sooner.”
“I know, I know. I was just scared because I didn’t know how you would react and I love her, so I wanted you to love her.”
“You overthink everything. So when can I meet her?”
“Wait, your okay with this?”
“Of course I am. You’re my son, and I love whoever you love. Just don’t break her heart.”
“Well in that case, we’re throwing a baby shower for her at Violet’s on Friday. You can come if you want. It’s just a small get together, nothing big.”
“Is her family going to be there?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. She never talks about her parents, and I don’t think she has any siblings. I’m going to bring it up though. I just want her to be happy. She has been through so much. She deserves to be happy.”
There was a brief pause before his mother spoke again. “I’m happy for you Alexander. I’ll see you on Friday. Maybe we can go for lunch before so we can talk.”
“Sounds good mom. I’ll see you soon.”
“By hun. Call me if you need anything. Love you.”
“Love you too, bye.”
Once he hung up, he let out a breath of relief. He knew all along that his mom would support him, but this wasn’t the typical relationship and telling her about the circumstances made him anxious. However, knowing that she was on board with everything took away a few of his fears.
With the baby shower only being in three days, Alex was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Between still having to find Matthew, the baby going to be here in four weeks, and having the work at the station piling up, it was becoming a lot. He had originally planned to finish the many piles of work he had to finish before the party, but his plans came to a halt when Maria woke up and had little desire to get out of bed. It was one of those kind of days where she was feeling the symptoms of pregnancy to an extreme. To Maria, the day dragged on. Every once in a while she would have to throw up, but then would go right back to bed because of her pounding headache. That left Alex to watch Natalie, but Adam and Austin, who had become good friends, offered to take her out so the house was quiet. But Alex wanted some time with her, so he declined.
“Feeling any better?” He asked, shutting the door gently behind him.
She responded with a groan.
“I’ll take that as a no. Do you need anything?”
“No. Can you just lay... down with me?”
She didn’t have to ask twice. Alex then laid down next to her, his stomach against her back. He brought his arm over her chest and pulled himself closer to her. “Has this happened before? Should we go to the doctor?”
“No. It happened a lot with Natalie and a few times before I met you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, stop worrying, I’m okay.”
“I’m never going to not worry about you, you know that right?” He said, taking in the sweet smell of her dark hair.
“I know. Is Natalie asleep?”
“Yeah. She had a hard time without you tucking her in though, but she understands.” He took a breath before continuing. “I talked to my mom yesterday.”
She was diffident before she answered, and Alex thought she was fallen asleep, so he continued talking.
“I told her about you and I invited her to the shower tomorrow, if that’s okay. She was pretty excited to be having another grandbaby though.”
Maria hummed, trying to keep herself from drifting off into sleep. “She wasn’t upset at what’s going on?”
“Whatever do you mean?” Alex joked innocently.
“The fact that I already have a daughter and am pregnant with someone else’s baby. Someone else who I am technically still married to.”
“Oh right, that. No, she didn’t mind. A little appalled at first. But she was happy. She understands. My mom is pretty good.”
“What about your dad?”
“Don’t have one. Well, I do, but I don’t know him. My mom, she isn’t my birth mother. But I don’t want to get into that. What about you?”
“I don’t talk to them anymore,” she said quickly, like it was hard for her to say. “My mom is... tough, and my dad passed when I was ten. I lived with my mom until I was eighteen and after that I moved out and never saw her again. But she was on meth and crack and had a new guy in the house every other day. She could be dead for all I know.”
“Yeah. I never really had that good of a relationship with her.”
“Well you can use my mom for the both of us,” he told her, kissing the back of her neck.
“If she likes me.”
“Believe me, she is going to love you.”
Maria shifted to her other side and let out soft groans while doing it. “I hope so. Now can you help me get up? I have to use the bathroom but I just get really dizzy when I stand up.”
He kissed on her cheek before crawling over her to help her stand.
She sat up slowly, holding his hands.
She nodded before standing up, shutting her eyes tightly. “I’m okay, I’m okay,” she said, waving him off.
“You don’t look okay, babe. Do you want to take a bath or something? Maybe it will help you feel better.”
She was slow to answer, her head hurting to much to even speak, so she just nodded.”
“Alright, come on.” He wrapped his arm around her waist and helped her into the bathroom feeling terrible that she was in pain and couldn’t help her. And even though she told him it wasn’t a big deal, he couldn’t help but to worry about her. When his ex-wife was pregnant with Elena, this never happened.
“Are you sure you don’t need to go to the doctor?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” she said, resting one hand on the sink out of breath. All of a sudden her face went pale and she turned her head into the sink and heaved. Alex was quick to adjust his hands, and helped to hold her up while his other hand held her back.
Once she had thrown up everything that was left in her stomach, she looked back up at Alex with tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”
“Hey, hey, it’s fine. We can just wash it away. No worries.”
Her voice cracked and her eyes filled with even more tears. “I know, it’s just... I am so sorry.”
“Maria, it’s okay.” He cradled her head with one hand and wrapped the other around her body. “It’s just throw up. It’s no big deal. You’re okay. It’s okay I’m not mad.” He paused, realizing a reason why she might be upset. “Sit down, babe.” Listening to him, she trudged over to the toilet that had the cover down, and sat on top of it.
“This isn’t about throwing up on the sink is it?”
She shook her head, not looking his way.
“Then what is it about? You can talk to me.”
“I know. I just forgot for a second that you are you and not Matthew. Because when I was with him, whenever I would do something wrong, he would hurt me for it, and throwing up was wrong. Being in pain was wrong. Everything was wrong. And I know you are you, but I forgot and I was afraid I was going to get hurt again.”
“Well he isn’t here, and he is never going to hurt you again. And I know you thought it was him, but I want you to know that I would never hurt you, or touch you, or do anything to you if you didn’t want me too.”
She let out a breath, and rested her head on his chest, relaxing the longer he held her.
Luckily Maria was feeling better by Friday because it was the day of the baby shower. Alex had to work the first half of the day, but came back to the house later to make sure he was there when his mom got there. And sure enough a few minutes after he got back, he saw his mother’s electric blue Mazda pull up in his driveway. She got out the driver’s seat, her purse hanging over her shoulder.
He waited until they got to the door to open it and greet them. Natalie was in Elena’s room watching a movie on her computer, and Maria was standing behind Alex, anxiously waiting to meet his mother.
Alex grabbed her hand and squeezed it before opening the door. The cold air flew through the air when he opened it.
“Alexander, hi sweetheart,” his mom said, instantly hugging him.
“Hi mom,” he answered, pulling away before she started kissing him.
They all stood there for an awkward silence before Alex started speaking. “Right, so uh... this is Maria. Maria that’s my mom Bonnie.”
His mom stepped towards her and stretched her hand out. To Alex’s surprise Maria took it. “Oh, look at you. You are absolutely gorgeous. And your glowing. You are so adorable. I’ll tell you, Alex hit the jackpot with you.”
“Okay mom, calm down.”
“Right, sorry dear, just got a little excited. Alex hasn’t met a girl in sixteen years,” she said innocently.
Alex rubbed his temples in embarrassment. “Mom, she probably doesn’t need to know that.”
Ignoring him, she continued over to Maria. “I’m so happy to meet you my darling girl. Now, I heard there was also another one.”
Alex had to leave on a call not longer after Bonnie got there, but his mother was thankfully a very friendly person, and he could tell by Maria’s body language that she was comfortable around her, so he didn’t worry about leaving her alone. Elena eventually left for Tilda’s, and Maria made Natalie take a nap because she knew that the four-year-old wouldn’t make it to the end of the night without one. Not without getting cranky.
Now it was just Maria and Bonnie sitting in the couch together, talking about little things and stories of Alex and Elena and her late husband.
“So tell me dear, what do you do for a living?”
“Well I used to be a middle school language arts teacher, but some personal issues got in the way and I had to resign.”
“Oh yes, I can only imagine what that was like for you.”
Maria went quiet, but felt the warmth of Bonnie’s hand on her own. She gave a heartfelt smile, and Maria smiled back. “It was... well, I’d rather not talk about it if that’s okay.”
“Say no more, dear. Now, how does your other little one feel about you being with someone other than her father?”
Maria sipped from the warm cup then placed it on the table. “She’s okay. But I don’t think she really knows what’s going on. She never asks about her dad, and I hope it stays that way. I don’t want him anywhere near her. Or anyone.”
“Is Alex good with her?”
“More than good.” Her cheeks went red. “He treats her like she is his. She calls him daddy, and he calls her princess.”
Bonnie smiled and looked over at the room Natalie was sleeping in. “What about this one,” Bonnie motioned toward Maria’s growing bump. “How does he feel about...”
“Oh, it’s a boy, and he seems happy. I think he is excited. I’m not exactly sure how men are supposed to act. But he is definitely more excited than me it seems.”
Bonnie tilted her head and put the mug up to lips. “Why is that?”
Maria shrugged, and she felt tears start swarm her eyes. “I don’t know,” she said, her voice cracking. “I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be silly. It’s alright. Emotions are all out of proportions at this time.”
Maria wiped her eyes. “I’m scared, and nervous all the time. So many things have gone wrong, and I just want this to go right.”
Bonnie took her hand and rubbed it with her thumb. “It will go right, dear. Life sometimes brings us happiness in ways we don’t expect it.”
“I know. I’m lucky now to have people that care. I haven’t had that in a long time.”
“Well get used to it, because I can tell you are going to be in this family for a long time,” Bonnie said, a smile gleaming on her face. “The way you two look at each other. The way Elena looks at you and Natalie, and the way you look at Elena and Alex says something. You all have something special. And even though it’s not how families normally work, you all are extraordinary together. Now, we best be getting ready for the party. Alex will be here soon.”
Before they left, and right when Alex got back to the house, Bonnie ran over to him and talked about how amazing and perfect Maria was, and he was more then relieved to hear that. But before she could continue, Maria walked out of the bedroom, Natalie right beside her.
Alex felt his heart skip a beat when he saw her standing there. She looked perfect. Her light purple dress that was long sleeved, looked perfect with her hair and facial features. He bit down on his lip hard as it tingled slightly.
“Natalie, go get your shoes please.” She pointed next the couch and at Natalie’s pink and silver light up sneakers on the floor. Maria then walked over to Alex and Bonnie, a submissive smile still on his face.
“What?” She asked him, his look confusing her.
“Nothing,” he started, taking one step closer to her. “You just look beautiful.”
Now it was her who bit down on her lip, trying to hide her bashful smile. “Thank you.”
He pulled her in and kissed the top of her head, Bonnie standing next to him and mentally jumping up and down.
Natalie then came running over, one shoe in each hand. “Mommy, I need help with my shoes!”
“Shoes? Shoes? Who needs shoes?” Alex picked her up and lifted her on his shoulders spinning around. The little girl giggled and held on tightly, dropping the shoes on the hardwood ground, only for Bonnie to go and pick them up. She handed them to Alex who set Natalie on the ground and put them on. Bonnie said farewell and left to go pick up Elena from Tilda’s house and bring her Violet’s because there wasn’t enough room in Alex’s truck for all of them.
They played Disney songs the whole way their, and Alex was finally at peace because of Maria’s smile the entire way there.