I scrubbed my hands over my face, blowing out a slow breath while I listened to the weather alert. A blizzard was tracking toward Maine, bringing upwards of ten feet of snow.
That was a fuck of a lot of snow.
Ellie came down the stairs with a look of defeat.
“Now is not the time, Ellie,” I warned before storming out the front door. I leaned on the porch railing, studying the ominous sky. I had to find a way to get Kinley to Houlton.
But my wife was deep in pregnancy hormone hell. I couldn’t get through to her. Nobody could. Ellie was my last hope. Kinley was two days overdue. The doctor was out that morning to check her, and she was one centimetre dilated. And she still wouldn’t get in the damn car and go to a hotel in the city.
I heard the front door open, turning to find my mother standing behind me. “If you want to be alone, I’ll leave,” she offered.
My mother and I had come a long way in our relationship over the past several months. After Kinley and Ellie convinced me to forgive her, we started talking. She divorced her latest husband and moved in with us, leaving her assistant to manage her gallery. She was going to run an art therapy program at the retreat when it opened.
“Ellie really gave it her all,” she chuckled. “Your wife is one stubborn woman.”
“Tell me about it,” I sighed.
“She’s bawling her eyes now.”
“What set her off?”
“She peed her pants.”
She glanced at the sky. “You’ve got to get her to town.”
“I am aware. She’s not delivering the baby here. Enough is enough.”
I opened the bedroom door slowly, peeking inside to assess the threat level. Kinley was lying on her side with her back to me.
Our bedroom was cozy, with a king-sized bed and a fireplace. The walls were adorned with paintings by my mother and Ellie. I wasn’t completely sold on the modern farmhouse design at first. I went from living in a mansion littered with antiques, to an ultra modern penthouse in New York City. But the first time I stepped into our completed house, I knew it was perfect. It was home. Our home.
I smiled when my eyes landed on our wedding picture on the dresser. We got married on the beach in Florida a few days after our hospital room engagement, with only Ellie and the grandparents in attendance. It was a perfect day. As was every day that followed. Because I was married to the woman I loved.
I tiptoed across the hardwood floor. Maybe I could carry her out to the car without waking her up.
Yeah right, dumbass.
“I’m not deaf,” she snapped. “I heard you coming. And I can hear your annoying wheezing.”
Okie-dokie. Threat level is high. Don’t provoke her.
I circled the bed, sitting down next to her. She glared at me when the bed sank down, causing her to roll backwards. “Do you know how long it took me to get comfortable, Harland?”
“Saying sorry is completely useless. How does it undo the damage?”
“The disruption of my pillows, Harland.”
“I can fix them,” I assured her.
“You never get it right. Only Ellie knows how I need them.”
“Would you like me to fetch her?”
“She won’t come!” she cried, her eyes exploding with a powerful rush of tears. “I was horrible to her!”
“I’m sure she will still help you. She understands you’re not feeling like yourself right now.”
“No, she doesn’t,” she hiccupped, her chest shaking with violent sobs.
I took a deep breath, covering my balls with my hand, just in case. “Kinley, we really need to head to town. Right now.”
“It’s starting to snow,” she said, gesturing to the window.
I cursed under my breath when I saw the snow swirling around outside. “We need to leave right now.”
“Help me up, then.”
I reached under her arm, hoisting her up.
“I have to pee before we go.”
“No time for that, Kinley.”
“Harland! It will only take a minute.”
I closed my eyes, my patience dwindling.
“Dad,” Ellie called, stepping through the partially open door. “It’s starting to snow.”
“I have eyes,” I grumbled, watching Kinley shuffle across the floor like we had all the time in the world. “You need to hurry, babe.”
“I’m moving as fast as I can,” she barked.
I glanced at Ellie, rolling my eyes.
“I saw that,” Kinley snapped.
I paced back and forth, watching the storm worsen by the minute. “What the fuck is taking her so long?” I muttered.
“She’s probably stuck on the toilet,” Ellie suggested.
“For fuck’s sake.”
I shored up the tiny bit of patience left in my body before knocking on the bathroom door. “Honey, do you need some help?”
“I’m coming in, Kinley.” I turned the knob, opening the door slowly. My wife was standing in the shower, her face writhed in pain while stuff leaked from between naked lower half.
“Please don’t be mad at me,” she begged.
“We need to get you to the hospital, Kinley.”
“No kidding!” she cried, bracing her hands on the wall as she doubled over. “The baby is coming!”
“I can see that,” I said, shoving down the panic bubbling in my gut. “Let’s get you out of there before you fall.”
“No,” she panted. “I don’t wanna make a mess.”
“I don’t care about the mess, sweetheart,” I said, reaching for her arm. “C’mon, baby. Take my arm.”
“I need some pants,” she snapped. “We have a houseful of people. Do you want them to see my cunt?”
I cringed, wisely suppressing a laugh that would undoubtedly earn me a tongue lashing or worse. Ellie didn’t possess the same level of self-control. I heard her chuckling on the other side of the bathroom door.
“Can you grab Kinley some panties?” I called.
“Yes.” I heard her opening drawers, muttering to herself about boundaries before she knocked on the bathroom door. “I’m gonna go downstairs. Everything you need is on the floor outside the door.”
“I need to lie down,” Kinley moaned.
“Okay, honey.” I helped her to the bed, her concern about mess and modesty clearly forgotten.
“The baby is coming!” she cried.
I glanced at the window, fear coursing through my veins with the realization that we were having a home birth. One we were totally unprepared for.
“Harland!” my mother called, knocking lightly on the door. “Ellie said you might need some assistance.”
“Crystal!” Ellie screamed. “Get in here!”
My mother entered the room and immediately took over, barking orders at me while she tended to my wife. I wouldn’t hand control over to my mother in any other situation, but the truth is, I’m squeamish when it comes to bodily fluids and females and anything related to that department. And I was terrified. So much so, that I almost had a bodily fluid situation in my own pants.
“I need to push!” Kinley screamed.
“Hold on, honey,” Mom said. “We’re almost ready. You have the doctor on the screen, Ellie?”
“Yes,” she replied, holding up her tablet.
“I’ll take that,” I said. “You need to go out in the hall.”
“Yes, Harland,” my mother chuckled. “Why does Ellie have to leave?”
“Because she’s a kid. It’s not appropriate.”
“Dad,” Ellie sighed, shaking her head. “I’m thirteen. I know where babies come from. I’ve watched several births online. And I’ve seen a vagina before. I have one.”
“Please don’t say things like that.”
“Stop being such a weirdo.”
“I don’t give a flying fuck who sees my vagina!” Kinley cried. “Please!”
“Ellie stays,” my mother ordered, glaring at me. “You hold your wife’s hand and coach her. That’s your only job.”
I sat next to Kinley, brushing her sweaty hair from her forehead. “Are you ready, sweetheart?”
“I was ready twenty minutes ago!”
“Okay. Let’s do this.”
I gazed down at the baby sucking on my wife’s breast. His eyes were closed, his mouth going at her nipple like he was born knowing how to do it. I guess it’s a natural instinct.
“Does that feel weird?” I whispered, brushing my fingers over his bald head.
“A little,” Kinley giggled.
“I can’t believe he’s here. We have a son.”
“I know.” She smiled up at me, tears swimming in her beautiful eyes. “Thank you, Harland. You’ve given me everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m so lucky.”
“I’m the lucky one, sweetheart.”
“Can I come in?” Ellie asked, hovering in the doorway of our bedroom.
“Of course,” Kinley said, patting the bed.
She crossed the room and climbed in next to us, grinning at her brother. “What a little pig,” she chuckled. “Take a breath, kid.”
“He’s a big boy,” I said. “Let him eat.”
“What’s his name?”
“Go ahead,” Kinley offered, glancing at me.
“Harrison George Hollingbrook,” I announced, my heart bursting with pride.
“I like it,” Ellie whispered. “Welcome to our family, Harrison.”
“I feel so content,” Kinley sighed. “Our family is complete.”
“No way, Mrs. Hollingbrook,” I teased, leaning down to kiss my wife. “We’re just getting started.”
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