24 - All Cards Down
The next video James clicked was taken on the first New Year they shared. It was merely a 90-second clip of fireworks with joyful chatter and laughter of their families in the background but the memories that came with it will last a thousand years.
Shine placed the tray of food on the table that James had set up under a canopy tent by the beach. It was New Year's Eve and their families were coming over to spend the occasion with them.
She felt her fiancé's strong arms slip around her waist and his hands settle on her belly.
"How are my darlings doing? That's enough. Sit down and get some rest. When they get here, we'll be really busy again." He said.
She smiled and leaned her back against his chest and her head on his shoulder. "We're okay, love, but you're right. We should sit."
He kissed her hair and led her to one of the lounge chairs beside the tent. The front side of their home has now turned into what looked to him as a high-end beach resort with all the expensive furniture and tent Shine’s parents sent for Christmas. They even hired a landscape artist for their garden and front lawn.
"Shine likes staying outdoors. This is where she will usually stay. We should make it look the best for her, right?" Ann said.
"If that's what you think, Auntie. We'll listen to you." James hesitantly answered. He was not used to receiving expensive gifts but Shine seemed really happy with the changes. He was relieved that she refused her parent's offer for a complete home renovation because he really can not allow himself to receive such an extravagant present.
Shine laid back and closed her eyes. She was clearly exhausted but just did not want to admit it. James smiled softly and sat by the foot of the lounge chair. He picked up one of her legs and started gently kneading its muscles. He slowly massaged his way down to her foot and applied pressure there too.
She moaned and smiled. "That feels so good. Thank you, dearest."
"You're welcome. Just relax and have a good rest, my princess." He said as he continued to massage her leg.
"Sunshine?" He whispered.
"What do you think? How will they take the news when we tell them about the baby and... And the risks? How about we don't tell them? We'll just keep it a secret. Let's just say you ate too much if anyone notices your baby bump then after a few months… Bam! We have a baby!" He chuckled nervously. He was trying to make a joke out of it but they both knew how serious the matter was.
She laughed so hard she had to sit up straight to avoid choking. "You're crazy! Just ate too much? Really?" She giggled. "But, darling, serious, it's better to tell them everything. They're our family. Who else could help us through this?" She smiled, "It's better to lay all our cards down. That way, no one can blame anyone in the end. We'll all know what we would be dealing with as a family. Whether they choose to stay with us or not, at least, we were honest with everyone, right?"
He nodded his head. "You're right." He sighed. "I'm sure they will all be happy for us and excited for the baby." He tried to encourage her and himself.
"You're right. I also think they will be happy." She held his hand and looked deep into his eyes. "I'm really very happy right now, James. You know what will make me happier?"
"A kiss. Come here." She grinned and tugged on his hand so that he leaned forward and kissed her.
"You guys can say something, you know?" Shine said to break the tensed silence that followed after they broke the news at the dinner table.
"Congratulations, kids." Rick was the first to break the silence although his felicitations were devoid of any trace of enthusiasm.
"I'm going to be an Auntie." Rina smiled awkwardly as she weighed the gazes that landed on her when she spoke.
Everyone, especially Shine’s parents, was quiet again after that. They all ate their meals in silence.
It was after dinner when they finally spoke.
"Are you happy, Shine?" Ted asked quietly.
She looked at her father and smiled. "I am. I'm really happy, Dad."
Her parents exchanged glances and sighed in their hearts. They blinked back their tears and bit down their fears. "And that's what matters, sweetheart, that you're happy. To have a child is a blessing and if God willed for you to receive this miracle, I believe that He will make sure that you and your baby are safe and healthy. Congratulations." Ann said.
Shine smiled as tears of joy formed in her eyes. "Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad." She started sobbing and buried her face in her hands.
James wrapped his arms around her and kissed her temple as he caressed her hair. Then as if on cue everyone else got up from their seats and enveloped the couple in a reassuring family hug.
"Don't worry, Shine, James. We'll all be here for you and the baby." Ted said.
James and Shine now stood on the beach with their families. They were chatting along the shore while waiting for the clock to tick down the final minutes of the year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Everyone shouted as horns were blown and confetti poppers were set off.
"Happy New Year, my Sunshine." James smiled down at Shine.
"Happy New Year, my love." She smiled back and held her belly.
"Happy New Year, baby." They both looked down and smiled at her tummy.
When they looked back up, their eyes met and they felt the joy and love surrounding them.
He cradled her face in his hand and then slowly leaned to kiss her gently on the lips.
"I love you." She whispered.
"I love you more." He said just as fireworks started lighting up the sky.
They both turned and watched the beautiful pyro display, hand in hand as she leaned her head on his shoulder with hopeful wishes for the new year and many more after that.