It was hard sleeping with the knowledge of Logan just being a few feet underneath me. He watched me out of the corner of his eyes when I moved about the cabin before I finally retired for the night. His attention to my body gave a delicious shiver down my spine but was it because of me or just the fact I had been the only non-pregnant female in close proximity?
An awkward ‘good night’ followed as he quietly watched his phone in the main room, and I laid motionless staring at the ceiling wondering what he thought of me. The creaking of the bunk below alerted his intention to his own sleep, but it wasn’t until I heard the faint sound of his even breathing indicating he was out that I could even let myself drift off into oblivion.
My sleep was restless enough without having to be woken up to a crying baby. Cole was still getting up in the middle of the night and before I managed to crawl out of the top bunk without falling and knocking myself unconscious, I saw Chelsea lift him out of the crib across from me. She must have been awake because he hadn’t been crying for long. As I started to reach for him she just shook her head and brought Cole to her bedroom. Relieved I didn’t need to attend to him, I climbed back into the comforts of my blankets, managing at least somewhat better sleep. This time my dreams weren’t of Logan but of me in my interview for a new job and new possibilities.
In a deep fog, I awoke sometime later to hushed voices outside my sleeping quarters. “Logan, Logan, get up.”
“What? Chelsea?” A groggy Logan snapped to and addressed Chelsea through the curtain enclosure of the bunk.
“Logan, I need you to drive me to the hospital.” My eyes opened wider, and I flung open the curtain looking into Chelsea’s eyes just a foot from my own as she patiently waited for Logan to emerge from his own area. She fought to stay calm through the panic teeming below the surface.
“Chelsea, what is wrong?” She was better at keeping the worry out of her voice than my own.
She smiled her fake bravado, “Rea, I need you to watch the twins. I... I started spotting and I need to go to the hospital.” I sprung up and out of bed as well as Logan below me now completely dressed. The fuzziness of waking made it hard for me to determine what needed to be done but Logan didn’t seem as off as he currently scurried around the cabin locating his shoes and asking questions.
“Did you call Brandt?”
She nodded, “Yes, as soon as I saw the blood. He is on his way and will meet us at Mercy hospital. It was the closest I could find.”
He shook his head taking control. “Rea, put some clothes in a bag for her.”
It broke me out of my stupor as I started for the bedroom, but Chelsea stopped me nodding to the couch in the cabin. “I already packed a bag.”
“Let’s go to the main house. The farmer will let us use his car.” Logan draped a jacket around Chelsea’s shoulders as he grabbed her bag and I could tell how much he cared about her just by the concern in his voice. As he guided her towards the door, our eyes met briefly. Tears of concern danced behind my lids unable to voice my fear with Chelsea within earshot. Luckily Logan had figured that out too as he said, “I will call you when I know anything.” He gently put his hand over mine and the touch was heartwarming, telling me he cared about me too. I nodded unable to make my voice work but relieved I didn’t need to.
The whole day was in a daze keeping the twins occupied and my fears at a minimum. I took a million walks with them around the vicinity of the RV not wanting to go too far in case they returned. On the property, I noted a farmhouse with an abandoned barn close by, and pretty much farm field for farther than the eye could see making it a desirable secluded spot for Brandt’s tour bus. Logan was true to his word and gave me updates when he found out any information, but it was late afternoon before they returned from the hospital in an older sedan the farmer let them borrow.
Logan came in the camper first with Chelsea behind and a very worried older brother keeping his arm around his wife. The hospital performed an ultrasound and the baby was still alive and seemingly healthy. Through the text updates, I knew the obstetrician on call let Chelsea come back to the bus with a strict warning of taking it easy.
“How were the kids?” Chelsea kept her voice low as an almost palpable tension surfaced in the air between her and Brandt, increasing my uneasiness with the situation.
“The kids are down for their nap right now. How... how are you?”
She smiled her same fake smile as before, “Oh, I am fine. Really. I am so sorry to worry you.”
“She will be fine as soon as she stops breastfeeding.” Chelsea gave Brandt a quick glance before looking away ashamed, leaving me confused.
“Breastfeeding?” I inquired not understanding the connection. Brandt gave me an exasperated look as he walked around me in the RV and planted Chelsea in a captain’s chair. Next, he went to the freezer, rummaging through it with a sense of hostility.
“Yeah, it seems that when you breastfeed it produces some hormone called oxy-something and it is the same hormone that helps in labor.” He looked at Chelsea, but she disregarded his glare choosing to study her hands in her lap instead.
“I wasn’t in labor. It just gave me some spotting. People breastfeed all the time while pregnant. They aren’t even sure it caused the bleeding.” It came out softly defiant.
Brandt slammed the door to the freezer. “My ass it didn’t cause the bleeding. You told me you were going to wean the kids and here I find you still breastfeeding them.” Crying erupted in the back bedroom alerting me to the twin’s sudden end to their naps.
Tears filled my eyes when Brandt turned my way giving me an intentional look. I was certain he knew I let her get away with nursing them without saying anything to either of them. My mind went to the middle of the night where I was relieved she took care of them, so tired and selfish I didn’t care to help her. If I had thought of someone other than myself, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Brandt’s misplaced anger at Chelsea was all my fault although Chelsea didn’t see it the same way. “Now Brandt...” The rest of her sentence trailed off as I raced out of the RV unable to stand another minute in there knowing I screwed up once again.
Once free of Brandt’s accusing stare, I ran to the abandoned barn making my way around the corner and out of sight before breaking into a sob. Leaning on the barn, I cupped my hand over my mouth to stifle my weeping. The rustling of the dry grass nearby alerted me to a presence, and as I looked up, Logan came around the corner. Instantly I turned away from him, ashamed at what I had done.
“Rea.” His sympathetic voice too much to bear, I tried to walk away from him, but he grabbed my arm. “It isn’t your fault.” Pulling me around to face him, I stumbled into his arms. We both held our breath for a little while before my tears return.
“Hey, Rea, she is fine. The baby is fine. Nothing is going to happen to it. You didn’t do anything.” He was so close I felt the warmth of his breath across my damp face.
“It... It is just I... I didn’t say anything. I... I... knew she still fed them and I didn’t tell Br... Brandt.” Stuttering and unable to talk straight, he only hugged me closer letting me sink into him all with his arms around me, making me feel secure and safe even if I shouldn’t.
“C’mon, I know Brandt as well as you do, and I know he doesn’t blame you.” Lifting my chin gently with his fingers, he wiped away my tears with his thumb. The touch was tender, and I felt as if I didn’t deserve it. “Besides, even he knows how stubborn Chelsea can be when she puts her mind to it. I don’t think you will need to worry about it from now on anyway. Chelsea promised him she would stop.” A hitch to my breathing forced a hiccup as I tried to calm myself down. My mind went over all he had said. Would Logan lie to me to make me feel better?
The sincerity in Logan’s look soothed me until all I noticed was the feel of him holding me and caressing my face. Strong arms held me up to him and I could feel the athletic muscles of his body pressing against mine making my own body come alive. After he dried all my tears, we locked our eyes holding a silent discussion of permission. Transfixed in each other, I retrained all my breathing rights waiting for the next move, either his or mine.
And then his phone vibrated between us.
It forced us out of our trance making him step back as he relinquished his hold on me. Slowly he reached in his back pocket and looked to see who intruded on our moment. He sighed and answered, “Yeah.” Pivoting away from me, he continued. “I found her. I can do that.” After hanging up he looked at me thoughtfully, “Brandt needs me to run and get cabbage leaves of all things. He also wants you back by the RV so he can leave for soundcheck.”
I nodded at him although I dreaded going back not wanting to face Brandt. No matter what Logan said, I still felt guilty about what had happened. Drying my eyes with the palms of my hands, he waited until I had my wits before following him back to the bus at a comfortable distance. Brandt figured out he had come to find me but he may have not realized the way he would comfort me. My older brother had threatened all of them to stay away from his little sister, and I did not want to make trouble for Logan.
“Cabbage leaves?” Logan said as soon as we saw Brandt outside of the RV. Chelsea must be quarantined to it until the immediate danger was forgotten.
“I guess. Something about helping her to dry up or some shit like that.” His face took on a disapproving look when he saw me walk up behind. “Ah, could you just go quick and pick me up when you come back?”
Logan narrowed his eyes, “Don’t they need you at the concert hall?”
Brandt nodded, “They can do without me for the meantime while I talk to my sister.” Logan softened when he understood my brother wanted him out of the way to talk to me. He gave me a nervous glance that also conveyed a smile of encouragement as he lent me strength knowing my state of disarray. The thought of Brandt talking to me alone worried me, but I swallowed and nodded in his direction as he turned back to Brandt.
“I can do that. Be back shortly.” Logan gave me another brief look of encouragement before heading to the vehicle.
As Logan drove off Brandt guided me over to an old wooden picnic table resting under a tree. We both sat on the tabletop with our feet on the bench facing the old red barn in the distance. Clearing his throat, he started, “I am not sure exactly why you left in tears, but I want you to know that none of this is your fault.” His calloused hands lay limp as he rested his elbows on his knees and bowed his head.
“But I--” He stopped me.
“Chelsea can be pigheaded, and I already knew she wouldn’t stop breastfeeding, but in no way was it your fault. If anyone needs to take the blame it would be me.”
“Why would it be your fault? You weren’t even here.”
His eyes closed in the same disapproving glance as before but now I realized it wasn’t directed toward me. “That is exactly why. You have been here a week and how often have I been in the RV with my wife and kids? I brought her on this tour so I could help take care of her. So I could be a part of my kid’s life. Instead, I am at meet and greets and discussing lighting for hours while I missed watching my son take his first steps.” My eyes widened as my breath held wondering how he knew.
“Yeah, it kind of slipped out of Chelsea. Man, I wish I could have been here to see it. And I am not going to miss Veronica’s first steps either. She is probably already jealous and scheming at how to show him up.” I laughed. Brandt’s perception of his children’s intricacies was accurate even if his busy schedule kept him away. The kids usually did things together and it wouldn’t be long until she took her first steps too.
When his head returned from the disinteresting anthill below him, he sighed, “Chelsea gave me my dream. She was always there in the shadows to push me to shine. I took that dream and ran with it. My life has been so blessed. I mean, how many men can say they lived their fantasy and had the best of both worlds. A career I couldn’t even fully imagine and a supportive wife with two healthy, beautiful kids.” Placing his hands on his knees he straightened up. “But I can’t do it all. It is time I slow down. I need to slow down for their sake. My family needs me. After this tour, I am taking time off to be with Chelsea full time.”
“Brandt, she will love it.” I gushed, amazed this was where the conversation turned.
“And she deserves it. She stood back and let me ride my ambition to the top never complaining once and I love her all the more for it. It is time I let her follow her wish and all she wants is to have happy, healthy children. I need to be the superman she always thought me to be.”
“You love her so much.” It was a statement. I could only aspire to have a love so giving and caring. My life until now had been filled with one-night stands and guys no good for me. But not anymore. I wanted what Chelsea had. A guy who would do anything for me and love me enough to put his career on hold when I needed him.
“Yes. I love her more than anything else in my life. I didn’t want to. She sort of snuck up on me but thank God she did.” He looked over at me and smiled, “Be careful of the ones who sneak up on you like that. They will take your heart and hold it forever.”
Clapping his hands together, he stood on the side of the table, “So, you will be seeing a lot more of me. I am going to let Ryder manage all the bullshit from now on. Lord knows he can handle it but I had been too much of a control freak. Won’t he be amazed when I hand him the reins.” He chuckled at the idea, and I could almost see Ryder’s look of shock with Brandt giving up his domineering ways.
“I know Chelsea and the kids will love to see you more.” And then sheepishly I add, “and I would too.”
“Yeah, me too.” Putting out his hand, he helps me off the table giving me a heartfelt hug. We walked to the RV and entered to find Chelsea with the twins playing on the floor. “Angel, I just wanted you to know...” he didn’t finish, too engrossed in watching Ronnie stand up and wobble over to him. A smile a mile-wide washed over his face and a tear appeared in his eye at her first steps. It made me realize there wasn’t anything more important for me to do this summer but to be part of this special family.