'So what do you have planned with the boys while us women folk get to be a bunch of gushing mamas?'
Esposito smiled as he snagged a carrot off the tray of crudites while Meredeth finished putting out plates and cutlery. The guests for the baby shower had finished arriving with the exception of the ladies of honour, but part of the ploy to get both of them there at the same time had been so Ryan and Castle could meet Esposito since he would have the car for driving out to the Giants stadium. 'Oh the usual manly things, monster trucks and football, maybe grunt and whistle at a hot blonde like cavemen.'
'What, no beer-pong or hammering up drywall or auto-repair?'
'No, we save that for pre-birth baby showers,' he teased her, coming around the counter to wrap his arms around his beautiful wife. There were still days when he couldn't believe his good fortune that this amazing woman was his wife and the mother of his child, and hopefully soon, mother of his children. 'But they all end the same.'
'Mm-hmm. I come home, we play with Tessi before she goes to bed, then it's time for Mami and Daddy to...play.'
Meredeth giggled in her low, sexy way that made Esposito's head swim. 'I do love to play with you.'
He turned her in his arms and gave her a steaming kiss, the kind that made her forget they were expecting a house full of party-guests in a very short time, hell the kind that made her forget her own name. Meredeth felt the blood bubble in her veins as his lips hit hers and wondered briefly if they had time for a little extra icing on the cake.
The fantasy was interrupted when they heard a throat being cleared; they glanced over to see Lili there, massively pregnant and rubbing her belly. 'Mere, you mind if I go lie down for a little while in the guest room?'
'Of course not, sweetie, you want me to wake you when Honey-Milk and Kate get here?'
She waddled off and Esposito made a sympathetic face. 'Poor girl, she's really feeling it this time around.'
His phone chirp-chirped and he checked the incoming text - it was from Ryan. Just left 25th subway, walking up the street. 'Looks like you've got some new mamas headed your way.'
'Oh yea! Nothing I like better than throwing a party,' she grinned and gave him a steamy kiss. 'Well, maybe one thing more.'
'You're making it very difficult to leave you right now.'
'I know, it's always hard to resist you when you've got that look on your face,' she teased him, making him groan. 'Think about football, baby, that might help.'
It did, and as they said their 'love yous', he texted Ryan and Castle back simultaeneously. Taking Artie out now.
He clipped the dog's leash to his collar and took him out to the curb where he saw the crowd of them coming up the street and couldn't believe Meredeth had actually pulled it off - both women thinking they were going to a baby shower for the other, and the rest of them in the know the entire time. She'd even gotten them to drop their gifts off early so they wouldn't look suspicious as their men met Esposito for the Giants game when they arrived on Sunday afternoon.
Arturo, being the inquisitive one, forgot about his reason to be outside and wandered over to sniff at the new additions when they were close enough, making Dell giggle.
'Artie, you leave our babies alone, they are very little, we have to puh-lay nice with them.'
'Good advice Dell. Come here, you.'
Beckett laughed as she put a hand on RJ's back while he snuggled against her breasts. He liked being cuddled up there, mostly because he could hear his mother's heartbeat she suspected. He was so big already, a whole nine days old and he loved being held close. 'That's called a puppy, RJ,' she told him, though he was sound asleep. 'That is Tessi's puppy and he's very big but he's very gentle.'
'He likes to suh-niff and tickle your toes,' Delll added, looking from one baby to the other. 'And he's loud but he's a big softie.'
'Yes he is,' Honey-Milk agreed, switching Mallory's carrier from one hand to the other. 'You want a dog like him when you're big enough Dell?'
'I think so.'
'Okay the dog's taken care of, so the men are off, ladies enjoy your afternoon of Christmas baking,' Esposito said with a wink to his friends that both the mamas missed. He jogged up the stairs and let Arturo into the house first, the signal to the others waiting that the guests of honour were there. 'Have fun.'
Honey-Milk and Beckett watched as Esposito jogged down the stairs to the Nissan and the men piled in, then drove off. 'One afternoon of manly bonding and suddenly they're the Dukes of Hazzard.'
'Come on, Mere's already waiting for us.'
They opened the door and stopped short when they saw the crowd of women in the living room, all yelling 'Surprise!' simultaneously.
'Oh my god, what is this?' Beckett asked in a delighted voice.
'Are you blind, they... oh!' Honey-Milk set Mallory down and pressed her hand to her mouth as she laughed.
The living room was crowded with people - Robina and Kelley, Carol Thornton, Lanie Carey and Violet, Tessi and Rosie, even Andrea was there, the grown-ups taking pictures as they arrived. Over the fireplace was a painted banner that read Congratulations Kate and Jenny (Gotcha!) Happy Double Baby Shower. The room was decorated with blue, pink and white, right down to the napkins and the colour of the soft cocktails while near the newly acquired Christmas tree, there was a little blue stocking that read RJ and a little pink one that read Mallory. In each of the chairs that book-ended the coffee table was a plethora of wrapped parcels and gift bags.
'I can't believe you guys didn't catch on!'
Both new mothers glanced up the stairs, saw Meredeth coming down with her video camera in hand, having cleverly concealed herself to get their reactions. She paused the recording to give them each a hug. 'You have no idea how much I was sweating getting this planned!'
'But...how?' Beckett asked, adjusting RJ against her body.
'Easy,' Alexis piped up as she helped Dell with his winter coat. 'She told each of you about the party and said that it was a surprise for the other one. Since you were both so wrapped up with your new babies, it didn't really take much more than that.'
'Who do you think handed out the list of ideal baby gifts for the part-goers? Come on, Dell, let's go find some snacks.'
Beckett shifted RJ to give Meredeth a hug. 'Thank you so much, Mere. I had no idea...oh, damn.' She waved her hand in front of her face to staunch the tears that were still springing up without warning. 'I thought this was supposed to stop after the baby came.'
'Your hormones are still finding their balance, sweetie, it's not the end of the world. I'd wake up sometimes to feed Tessi and after she was done just sob my face off or start laughing uncontrollably.'
'Just remember it's perfectly natural to have the weepies, but if you're feeling like this all the time, call the doctor,' Honey-Milk added. 'Now, I'm starving and I just bet there's a bunch of tasty treats here with my name on it.'
With the babies unwrapped from their snow-clothes, the gifts in each of the armchairs were moved and they took a seat. Once settled in, Tessi and Rosie each came up to them and gave them a plastic princess tiara with rhinestones and faux-satin sashes with 'Welcome Baby' printed in gold script. Tessi patted Beckett's knee, and tilted her head inquisitively so much like her father is freaked her out a little.
'Dat RJ? He dute.'
'I think so too.'
'She means hung-uh-ry, Katie,' Dell informed her brightly and took Tessi by the hand. 'Come on, Tessi, we are gonna find some snacks.'
Honey-Milk watched her little man go with his beloved into the kitchen, then glanced up when she saw the enormous Lili make her way downstairs. 'Hey, how you feeling?'
'Huge. This baby is going to be at least seven and a half pounds and still hasn't dropped yet,' she pouted, making her way to the couch. 'But today is for you and Kate so we're not going to worry about me. I've still got two months to go.'
Beckett nodded, then realized she could offer her comfort. 'I remember feeling that frustrated too, but mostly because I thought Rick was trying to baby me.'
'It's what our boys do,' Honey-Milk agreed. 'They're cops, they're protectors and the one person they want to protect the most from pain and hurt will experience the most excruciating kind in the name of love, so they do what they think they can to make us as happy as possible.'
'Datie! Denny! Munch!'
Tessi walked in proudly with a little plate loaded up with cheese and crackers and fruit, Dell following behind her and hovering like a little mother hen himself. He helped her pass the plate to Beckett, then took his own over to and for a brief moment, the women in the room wondered if in twenty-five years time they would be having a shower of another kind for these little sweethearts.
They passed the afternoon talking and eating and passing around the babies for holding, even letting the new big brother hold onto his marsh-Mallory-mellow; when Lanie asked why Dell called her that, he replied it was because she was so soft which had all the hearts in the room going to mush. When it came time for the presents, it wasn't a surprise that the Three Musketeers were back already.
'Great game, Mere, you'd have loved it,' Esposito told her, giving her cheek a kiss before giving his daughter a little peck as well. 'Are the men forbidden still or can we join in?'
'Join in, we're just about to do presents.'
'Oh sweet.' Always a fan of unwrapping shiny new things in brightly coloured paper, Castle parked himself on the floor beside his bride, who was babyless. 'Where's our little man?'
'Napping upstairs. He just finished his snack and now it's time for a break.'
'This one, on the other hand, she's little miss party-party,' Honey-Milk told her husband, who'd sat in the armchair with her. 'She's been awake and looking around at all these new sights since two.'
'Takes after me that way.' Ryan flicked a fingertip over Mallory's cheek and grinned when she cooed happily. 'I bet she's digging on all this loot.'
It was true - though the number of party-goers was small the amount of swag they were drowning in was remarkable. For Beckett it was more about the gadgets and the clothes in equal measure for a new baby entirely while for Honey-Milk it was all about dressing up the new little duchess since she had things like a baby-bath and a breast-pump and glass bottles for Ryan to participate in the feeding of the newborn. By the time the last one was unwrapped, both women were wondering the same exact thing - how the hell were they going to get it all home?
'Thank you, so much, all of you,' Beckett said, looking around at them with great gratitude. 'I never thought I'd be this fortunate to have a family like this.'
'Well, don't get too mushy on us yet,' Esposito assured her, his arm around Meredeth. 'There's something else on the tree for you both. Kev, Rick, give them a hand.'
The four new parents approached the beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the corner of the Esposito living room, searched high and low until they each found what they were looking for: a glass orb ornament, the one for the Beckett-Castles a bright crystal blue while the Ryans was cotton-candy pink, and a little note printed in silver calligraphy: Baby's First Christmas.