The nurse at the hospital directs us to Harper’s delivery room. I’m not sure I really want to go in there. I mean, I’m kinda curious about how this is going to happen because I honestly don’t know shit about it, but I don’t want to see Harper that way.
I hear screaming as we walk down the hall. I exchange looks with Avery. She lifts her brows at me and I just shrug. We’re both totally fucking clueless. Maybe I should buy that book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
“You fucking did this to me, Drew! This is all your fault!” Harper screams when we’re right outside the door.
“I’m going to stay out here,” I tell Avery. She nods and takes a deep breath before walking into the room.
“Get the fuck out, Avery! You don’t need to be here!”
Avery comes scuttling out the door like a scolded child and drops into the chair next to me.
“Well, she obviously doesn’t want company. Maybe we just stay until the baby is born, see the thing, then go home,” she says resting her head on my shoulder. I kiss the top of her head.
We’ve been here for hours. Hours of Harper’s fucking screams, grunting, and yelling at Drew. Avery and I get up to walk around, grabbing some flowers in a little duck vase from the gift shop to pass the time. It’s almost four in the morning when Lorna comes out of the room with a satisfied smile.
“It’s a girl,” she tells us.
“Can we come in?” Avery asks.
Lorna hesitates, looking at me for a second, but Avery’s got her hand clamped on mine. She lets out a heavy sigh, then nods. We follow Lorna into the room and Avery gives Harper the flowers. Harper looks more at peace than I’ve ever seen her. Drew sits on the bed next to her with his arm draped around her as they look at the little bundle in Harper’s arms.
“Oh, Harper, look at her. She’s so tiny,” Avery says, and there’s a definite wobble in her voice. I give her a solid minute before she’s crying.
“What did you name her?” I ask, directing my question at Drew.
“Rosalyn Jane Montgomery,” he answers, not looking away from the baby.
That’s all it takes for Avery to lose it and start crying. I pull her into a hug and let her cry out the emotions running through her. Lorna and Harper gaze at her with looks bordering on dirty, like Avery’s ruining a moment or something.
“What’s wrong with you, Avery? Quit blubbering,” Lorna snaps.
“Sorry. My emotions have been all over the place.”
Harper’s eyes narrow at her sister, and I know she’s figured it out. We might as well tell everyone now. I nudge Avery, and when she looks up at me, I give her a subtle nod.
“Um, we had news to share earlier before all this happened, so—,” Avery starts only to be cut off by Lorna.
“All this was your sister giving birth.”
“Yes, well, I’ll be doing that too around June nineteenth.”
“You’re pregnant?” Lorna asks.
“About eleven weeks. We had an appointment yesterday. Saw the baby and everything,” Avery answers and she tries to smile under the scrutiny of her mother and sister.
“How could you be so careless? You went six years and didn’t get pregnant when you were with Rich, who at least had money, then the second you open your legs for this bad boy with no future, you get pregnant. How could you be so stupid, Avery? I raised you to be better than this.”
“You thought now was a good time to share? Are you trying to diminish my daughter’s birthday?” Harper screeches.
Avery stares at her family like she doesn’t understand what’s happening. She opens her mouth, then closes it again when nothing comes out. She looks at the floor and I can see the tears start to fall. I’m about to say something, but Drew beats me to it.
“That is enough!”
Lorna and Harper look at Drew like he’s sprouted an extra head. He must not tell them off very often and can’t possibly fathom why he doesn’t agree with them.
“What do you mean, honey? She couldn’t wait to tell us? She had to choose right now?” Harper complains.
“You two should be ashamed of yourselves. She was going to tell us earlier before you even went into labor, Harper. And you, Lorna, how could you be so heartless? This is your daughter too, and regardless of your opinions on the baby’s father, that is your grandchild. Avery does not deserve to be spoken to that way ever, but especially now.”
“Are you keeping it?” Lorna asks like Drew didn’t speak.
“Yes. We’re very happy. We’re moving in together and there’s a room picked out for the nursery already,” Avery responds in the smallest voice. It breaks my heart.
“Are you getting married? That would be the respectable thing to do.”
“No, we’re not,” I say.
“So, what? You can knock her up but not make an honest woman out of her?”
“I’m not marrying her just because we’re having a baby. It will happen someday, but because we want to be, not because we have to be,” I answer.
“That seems to be a nice way of saying you don’t want the commitment,” Lorna says with a sneer.
“I am fully committed to Avery and our baby. A piece of paper doesn’t change that. I will be as involved as I would be if she were my wife. And I assure you, I am more than capable of taking care of them both. I make decent money anyway, but I also have a trust I barely touch. I may not inherit billions but I’m still set for life.”
“Congratulations on your baby, Harper, but I think we’re going to go,” Avery mumbles, not looking any of them in the eye.
Drew walks up and folds Avery into his arms. He kisses the top of her head and whispers something into her ear. She nods in understanding, then he releases her to me. I pull her tightly to my side as we leave the room.
I can hear Harper and Lorna talking from behind us, but I can’t tell what they’re saying. Avery keeps it together until we’re back in the car. As soon as the doors shut, she sobs, wrapping her arms around her middle like she’s trying to hold herself together. Seeing her like this makes me want to tear the heads off her mom and sister and cry with her all at the same time.
“Why am I never good enough for them? Nothing I ever do is good enough.”
“You are not alone, Avery. Lots of people feel how you feel, but I am here. You are and will always be good enough for me. More importantly, you are good enough for you. I’m sorry you might never get the approval from them, but your worth is not tied to their opinions.”
“I miss my dad. He would have been so happy for me. He would have smiled and pulled me into a big bear hug. Why did he have to die?”
“I’m so sorry, baby. It’s not fair.”
Avery cries some more and I try to hold her as best I can over the center console. Eventually, she calms enough that we can drive home. I have a surprise for her and I hope she likes it. I park in my garage, pulling her out of the car. She looks blankly ahead as I walk her into the house.
“Come here. I have something to show you,” I say holding her hand.
I open the door to what was once my gym. It’s completely empty now except for a white and grey rocking chair and a stuffed bear wearing a little Queen shirt sitting in the seat.
“Surprise! I didn’t want to buy much without you and obviously, we don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl so we can’t paint yet or anything, but I thought this rocking chair was neutral enough. It’s pretty comfortable,” I say in a rush when she doesn’t move or say anything.
Avery still just stares, but at least she’s moving now. She walks toward the chair and picks up the bear. I can’t see her face since her back’s to me, but she brings the bear to her chest and sits heavily on the chair. She puts her feet up on the footrest, rocking back and forth, holding the bear against her chest.
“It’s wonderful. Thank you,” she says. Her voice is husky from crying.
I walk towards her and kneel so I’m level with her face. I kiss her red cheeks and smile a little.
“I love you, Avery. We will be fine. Your mom and Harper will come around soon,” I say, brushing my thumb across her jaw.
“Maybe, maybe not, but I know I’m not alone. Thanks for letting me have my breakdown. I love you,” she responds. I sit on my ass next to the chair as Avery continues to rock. We go on that way for several hours, even though we should be sleeping.
The sun’s up, and it’s a new day. Both our families may suck, but I have a pretty great one in my friends. I know they’ll accept Avery like she’s been there all along and she’ll know what it feels like to be loved and supported unconditionally no matter what she does.