Connor asked me about fifty more times if I was going to be okay with Hope, before proceeding to put every way to possibly contact him into my phone and sending me the details for her doctor. I’m not quite sure what he thought I was going to do with her but I tried not to laugh when he attempted to give me a crash course in CPR.
Hope was a pretty chilled kid and I loved how little things could make her face light up. She was fascinated the whole ride to the Manor that you had to twist a handle to get the windows in the bug to go up and down – maybe it was time for a new car, this one’s so old you practically have to put coal in it..
Her eyes however grew exponentially when she saw the size of the Manor, I walked her through the house and all she kept signing was ‘wow’ at everything she saw. I remember being her age and seeing this place for the first time, my reaction was very similar.
As we stepped out into the yard I could see Tara already starting to set up, with Jayce helping whilst Aleah seemed yet to realise anyone was even around her as she sat on the bench with her nose in a book.
“Beebee!” May almost knocked me over as she jumped on me, her face much happier than it was yesterday.
Hope looked up to me signing. ‘Beebee?’
I smiled. “This is my sister May, it’s her little pet name for me.” Everyone else stepped up towards the back door. I made sure to sign everyone’s names and introduced Hope. Al immediately started wiggling her eyebrows at me suggestively at the fact I’d brought Connors kid with me and I knew she was going to have a field day with this for the rest of the day.
I hadn’t realised Tara could sign until she knelt down and started talking to Hope, she was a woman of many talents. I knew Kallie could too when she got here, her little brother is autistic and was non-verbal until he was seven so she’d had to learn to communicate with him.
May and Milo immediately went into mum and dad mode, taking her over to the mini basketball hoop. May wasn’t great at remembering to look at Hope when she talked but Milo made sure she understood everything.
Milo is a special kid, he reminds me a lot of Harley sometimes. There’s a compassion there that most people don’t have, an understanding that means he just let the world wash him over and accepts it all exactly the way it is. I wish more people were like him.
Hope’s face when stood next to Jayce was a picture, it was like she didn’t know they made people that big. Of course it took him all of two minutes to win her over, that guy just had a way with ladies no matter their age.
By the time everyone else had arrived Jayce was getting Hope to shoot baskets from across the yard, god help this poor baby if they inherit Aleah’s capacities for sport. He may trade them in for another one.
I hadn’t seen Elizabeth or Coach for a while so it was nice to catch up, and Jayce was over the moon when his friend from the nuthouse made it in time with her rather good looking girlfriend. They were travelling when Jayce came home so they’d jumped on the Wilson and sailed it back here for him, he didn’t think they’d make it back in time to be here so I could tell how overjoyed he was.
Al settled in the seat next to me as Kallie and Josh grabbed some drinks. “You excited?”
She nodded. “I just want everyone to know now, we found out what we’re having yesterday so there’s a little surprise in there for you too... Do you think my Dad’s going to be happy? I think he always hoped I’d get married first...”
“Babe he’s going to be a grandfather, he’ll be the happiest guy on the planet no matter what situation it’s in. He loves you almost as much as Jayce does.”
She leans her head down on my shoulder. This girl and me, we’ve been through it all. Every journey, every heartbreak, every high and every low. We’ve done every single one together, I know she’s going to be the best mum and with that boy over there by her side, I’ll never have to worry about her being alone again. Even if I’m not there, this is the first journey I feel like I can’t actually be a part of – it’s theirs.
Jayce gives her those eyes and she smiles. “Show time.”
Just as Cole goes to put the burgers on the grill Jayce coughs loudly, drawing everyone’s attention to him as he slips his arms around Al’s waist.
Hope sprints over to sit on my lap as we all face them patiently.
“So first you guys, I want to thank you for coming. We had a long trip and we missed you all so much. We wanted to get everyone together though for a very different reason..” He looked down at Aleah smiling. “A very special reason.”
Al turned her loving gaze from Jayce to the rest of us. “... We’re having a baby.”
There was an immediate outpouring of love as everyone jumped from their seats to hug them, Al’s eyes were filled with tears as her Dad pulled her into his arms. “I’m gonna be a Bampa?” She nodded as the tears started to flow down his face too. I could cry myself when I saw Jayce get a bit emotional as his mum held onto him sobbing.
Josh and Milo were already fighting over who was going to be the better uncle and May seemed delirious as it hit her she was going to be an aunt. This baby wasn’t even born yet and they were already so loved.
Everyone was talking at once, happy and merry. It seemed like a hundred voices all said congratulations at the same time.
Hope needed a moment to understand but when I explained what was happening she got all giddy, apparently babies were the coolest.
I was squeezing the life out of Al with Josh adding to the hug when the realisation came across me that there was someone that hadn’t added to the festivities. Turning I saw Kallie hadn’t moved from her seat, she seemed completely frozen.
Breaking away from the hug I walked over to see her face coated with tears. “Kal?”
I seemed to snap her from her trance but she didn’t even look at me, pushing past and making a run for it down the side of the house.
“Tara, watch Hope for me?” She nodded as I ran after Kal.