Finding a Hart

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Chapter 16

Stephanie

“And Jared Hart is the father of Baby Boy Doe.”

Jared Hart was Chris’s father. Elation filled every inch of me, leaving me feeling both invigorated and exhausted. “Oh, man. That’s great. That’s the best news I’ve had all day.”

“It really is,” Valerie agreed. “We’re going to notify him next and we have the arrest warrant for Angela Roberts being signed now. I just wanted to let you know.”

“I appreciate it, Val.” I paused for a moment. “Tell Jared I can meet him at the hospital this afternoon if he wants to meet his son.”

“Will do. Thanks, Steph.”

I jumped up from my desk, not bothering to put on my heels and stuck my head into Robin’s office.

“He’s the father.”

She looked up from her computer and smiled at me. “That’s amazing.”

“Right?” I didn’t wait for her to respond before I headed back into my office. I had to confirm with Jared, but just knowing I could potentially cancel the foster family I’d lined up for Chris felt great.

Valerie text me to ask if I could meet Jared at the hospital around five and I immediately replied that I would. Throughout the day, I prepped the file for Jared and Chris so I could have it with me and I waved to everyone as I walked out of the office a bit later.

I was buzzed into the maternity ward easily and I walked towards the nursery that Chris was kept in. A man was standing in front of the window, just staring inside. I stopped a few feet behind him but he hadn’t heard me. Without seeing his face, I knew exactly who it was thanks to the way my whole body awakened just being close to him.

Like always, he was dressed in a suit. His blonde hair was sticking up in the back and his hands were stuffed into his pockets as he shifted nervously. I took a few steps forward and cleared my throat.

“Hey, City Roast.”

He turned his head quickly, as if he’d been caught doing something wrong, and a grin filled his handsome face. “Vanilla Latte. Long time no see.”

I chuckled and shrugged one shoulder. “Two times in one day. You should consider yourself lucky.” I looked to a small alcove that was adjoining the hallway. “Before we head in, I want to go over a few things if that’s okay.”

“Yeah, of course.”

He took the seat next to me and I pulled my iPad out of my bag. I turned to give him another smile as I brought up the file for the Hart family.

“So, congratulations are in order. How are you feeling?”

Jared let out a small laugh. “Overwhelmed, honestly.”

“I can only imagine,” I replied with a nod. “Despite how cool you’ve been trying to play it, I know this had to be on your mind all week.”

“It’s been all I’ve thought about,” he agreed quietly.

“Good. What decisions have you come up with?”

He furrowed his brow in confusion. “What do you mean?’

“Well,” I began cautiously. “You have options. If you don’t want to assume custody of Chris, we can arrange to have your parental rights absolved and he’ll go up for adoption. There’s no shame in that, either.”

“He’s my son,” he stated, a hard tone to his voice to match the expression on his face. “I’m his father. I’m going to take care of him.”

Even though he was frowning at me, I couldn’t help but smile. “Good. I was hoping you’d say that. That little boy deserves a family who will love him and who will fight for him.”

Jared stared at me for a moment and his green eyes would have burned holes into my face if they could have. Finally, his expression softened. He swallowed and looked at the floor.

“I plan on doing that.”

“Perfect. I’ve prepared everything assuming you would go in this direction.” I moved the iPad so he could see it and went over how everything was going to work. I told him about how I would be filing to have Angela’s parental rights terminated as soon as the law allowed. I also detailed how I would be doing home visits for the first year of Chris’s life since he was abandoned at birth.

We also arranged for me to go by his place on Saturday so I could do a quick inspection of where the baby would be living. I normally didn’t do home visits on the weekends but with him having to request time off of work so suddenly, I didn’t want him to have to miss anymore during the week than necessary.

After I was done explaining everything, I had him sign in a few different places and put the iPad away in my bag.

“They’re just going to give him to me?” Jared blinked at me and shook his head. “Even though I’ve never even held a baby?”

“Yeah, they are.” I reached my hand out and placed it over his, a gesture that I was becoming far too comfortable with doing. “A lot of parents don’t have much experience with kids when their first is born. You’ll learn. Your instincts will kick in and we can get you help.”

Jared looked down at his lap without replying and I could feel the trepidation rolling off of him in waves. I knew that he would get over it once he had that baby in his arms.

“Would you like to meet him?” I asked quietly, squeezing his hand. He paled at my simple question and reached up to run his free hand through his hair, causing it to stick up in even more areas.

His eyes held mine for a moment before he jerked his head slightly. “Yeah. I really would.”

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