Author's Note - Congratulations to Sara. Here's your story.
Todd heard the doorbell ring. "Great!" he said. "That must be my pizza. I'm starving."
He rushed to the door with his credit card in hand, but as he pulled it open, he didn't spot the delivery person with his pepperoni and extra cheese large pizza he had ordered over an hour ago. In fact, there was nobody standing on the steps at all.
"This sucks," he grumbled.
That's when he heard a gurgling sound. It sounded like a ...
"Baby?" Todd gasped when he looked down and saw the infant in a basket.
What was a baby doing on his doorstep?! And more importantly, HOW did it get there and WHO was the baby's mother?
Todd looked around, but didn't see anyone nearby. The street appeared deserted. There wasn't another person in sight, but someone had dropped off a baby and rang the bell.
Todd picked up the basket and carried it inside, looking down at the sleeping baby girl. He assumed it had to be a girl because of the colorful bow atop the infant's tiny head. "Whose kid are you?" he asked the child.
He found a folded sheet of paper tucked into the basket next to the little one who was wrapped up in a blanket. He lifted the paper without disturbing the slumbering baby and read the note.
Todd, I love this baby with all my heart, but I find that I am unable to care for her. I know you'll do the right thing. You're her father.
Todd recoiled as he read the letter, dropping it onto the floor. "Father?! I am a father?!" he said a little too loudly. He woke the baby and she began to cry.
I love this baby with all my heart, but I find that I am unable to care for her. I know you'll do the right thing. You're her father.
"Ohhh no," Todd said when he saw the fussing baby in the basket. She was turning red in the face and waving her tiny arms. Todd wasn't sure what he should do. He hadn't even finished reading the mysterious letter.
He reached down and picked it up to read the last sentence. It said:
By the way, her name is Ellie.
Todd was suddenly struck by a pain in his head as the baby let out a ferocious wail. He assumed she was hungry, unhappy, or something. He didn't know what he should do.
"I know. I'll call Marty," Todd said as he ran toward the phone.
He dialed her swiftly. She could barely hear him as he managed to get out, "Marty, I need you. There's a baby..."
"There's a WHAT?"
"A baby! Someone left her on my doorstep. She's crying and sad... and I don't know how to make her stop crying. Could you come over and bring bottles and diapers or something? PLEASE?"
Todd sounded frantic. "I'll be right over," Marty promised.
Not even fifteen minutes later, Marty appeared at the door, but still the pizza delivery person hadn't arrived with Todd's meal. Todd was hungry and apparently the crying baby girl was as well. She was squalling loudly as Todd held her against his chest and tried to comfort her.
"You're a cute little thing, but you sure are loud," Todd said as he approached the door and opened it for Marty.
"Marty, what took you so long?!" Todd demanded. "Can't you see that this baby is half-starved and in need of a clean diaper?"
Marty walked in carrying a bag containing some supplies for the baby. "What's wrong with her, Todd? And did someone just leave her here... on your doorstep?"
Todd nodded. "Yeah, her mother apparently. That's what the note said," Todd said with a scowl. "We'll talk about that later. Please make her stop crying."
Todd handed the little one to Marty. She spoke to the infant in a soothing voice, quieting her almost instantly. "How'd you do that?" Todd asked, looking at Marty suspiciously.
"I don't know," Marty said as she lightly kissed the baby's fuzzy head. "Why don't you get out a diaper and fix a bottle?"
Todd looked into the bag. "I see a few diapers, but I have no idea how to fix a bottle."
"Well, you better learn."
"No way. I'm not keeping her."
The baby startled again, this time as Marty held her. She lightly rocked the little one in her arms to calm her as Todd said, "Look, Marty. I don't know how to take care of a baby... and this one just showed up at my door without any warning. I was expecting a pizza."
"But she's so tiny and adorable," Marty stated.
"I know she is and even if the note says I am the dad -."
Todd showed Marty the note, so she could see it in black and white. "Wow, Todd, you're a dad."
"No... no. No way."
"Yes. The note says her name is Ellie and you are her father."
"I don't care what the note says."
Marty handed the baby to Todd carefully so that she could prepare the bottle. Once she had the bottle filled with nourishing formula, she brought it back to Todd. It was just the perfect temperature.
"You feed her."
"Come on. She's your baby."
"Alright," Todd said reluctantly. He placed the nipple against the baby's tiny mouth and watched as she began to hungrily devour the formula.
Todd actually smiled. "Hey, she has my appetite."
Marty was beaming as well. "She does."
"She's better than a pizza. I can order a pizza any ole time. She was a special delivery."
"Todd, have you thought about who this baby's mother could be?"
Todd frowned. He was gazing at the baby, then he looked at Marty. "No. I didn't want to let myself actually believe..."
"You better start thinking."
"Well..." Todd said as he mulled it over a bit. He gazed at the infant, then he looked at Marty again. "I haven't seen you in a few months. Where have you been?"
"I was in Ireland, visiting Aunt Kiki."
"You just got back to Llanview a few nights ago."
"How old would you say this baby is right now?" Todd asked as the little one in his arms was chugging the bottle of formula.
"About three months, I'd say."
"What are you thinking, Todd?"
"You and me... about a year ago..."
"We met at Rodi's and we had a lot to drink."
Marty nodded. "I remember."
"Then you took me back to your place and we..."
"I remember that, too."
"Marty, is this our baby?" he demanded. "Because if she is, you better tell me why you can't take care of her anymore and why you just left her with me. Why didn't you call me up or come by the normal way and tell me - 'Guess what, Todd? You're gonna be a dad.' Why would you just drop her off on the doorstep?"
"You didn't drop her off?"
"No. I mean..."
Suddenly the doorbell rang again. Todd's hands were full, so Marty answered the door. It was the elusive pizza boy with Todd's pepperoni and extra cheese. "Hey, dude, you're really late, so you don't get a tip!" Todd grumbled. He tossed his credit card the pizza delivery person's way.
After the pizza was purchased and the guy had left, Marty closed the door. Todd gently withdrew the nipple from the baby's mouth. "Shouldn't I burp her now or something?"
"Raise her up to your shoulder and gently pat her back."
Todd carefully placed the baby against his shoulder and did as Marty instructed. A few moments later, the baby let out a humongous belch. "Yeah, she's definitely my kid," Todd quipped. He handed the baby to Marty so he could grab his pizza.
"You change her and I'll eat," Todd bargained.
He scarfed down a slice as Marty expertly changed the baby girl's diaper. "Okay, Marty, you need to answer my questions," Todd insisted as he stared into Marty's eyes.
Marty held the freshly changed baby, cuddling her close against her chest. "If I told you I wasn't this baby's mother, would you still want to keep her?" Marty asked.
Todd placed his gaze on the sleeping infant. "She's kind of cute... No, she's freakin adorable as far as kids go..." Todd observed. "If she is my daughter, of course I want to keep her and even if she's not, I would like to have her around... that is if I can figure out how to take care of her. It would help if I knew her who her mother might be and how she came into existence."
"Have you had a lot of lovers in the past year?"
"What kind of question is that - Have I had a lot of lovers? What about you? How many lovers have you had?"
"I find that a little hard to believe... I mean, Marty, you have quite the reputation..."
"I am not like that anymore."
"What changed you?"
Marty looked down at the baby. She then stared off into the distance, pain in her gaze.
"You did this, didn't you? You left the baby on my doorstep," Todd said quietly.
"I'm sorry, Todd. I had no other choice."
"You better explain."
"Aunt Kiki sold my house. She took my inheritance - ALL of it. That bitch took everything from me. All I had was her; the baby... and I was afraid. Todd, I didn't want to go back to drinking and partying, but I was so tempted."
"Yeah, but you didn't, right?"
"No. I didn't, but I wanted to."
"What stopped you?"
"I couldn't stop thinking of Ellie and what was best for her... and I couldn't stop thinking about you," Marty admitted. "I got scared, so I put my sweet baby girl in a basket and I brought her to you... but I couldn't go. I was right outside the whole time, crouched down in the bushes. I couldn't really leave her."
Tears clung to Marty's lashes as she added, "I hope she forgives me. I hope that YOU forgive me."
"Marty, why didn't you tell me we were having a baby?"
"It was just a one night stand."
"It wasn't JUST a one night stand. You begged me to stay. I should have stayed and held you. Besides, we created a baby that night, so it can never be just a one night stand. Marty, if you need help with the baby, I'll help you. Hell, I'll even share some of my pizza with you."
His words made Marty cry even more. "What's wrong? You don't like pepperoni with extra cheese?"
"Ohhh Todd, you're too much," she said as she couldn't help but give him a little smile.
Todd tossed the box with the half-eaten pizza aside. He reached out to Marty who was holding the baby. "I'll hold you now..." he said. "...whenever you want. I was coming back to you... but you left."
He wrapped his arms around Marty as she stared at him with glassy eyes. "You came back?"
"Yeah, but you were gone."
"I went to Ireland. I wasn't even there three months when I found out I was pregnant. I didn't know what to do, but I was sure you didn't want me."
Todd took the baby from Marty and gently lay her back down in the basket. She was sleeping like a little angel. "I do want you, Marty - you and this baby. When the kid showed up at the door, you were the first one I thought of calling."
"How did you get my number?"
"I asked around about you when I saw you were back in Llanview. I almost called you the other night, but I thought you probably hated me."
He brushed a kiss against her forehead. "I never hated you, Todd. That would have been so much easier."
"I don't hate you either. In fact, I think we could have something good together and I am not just talking about our daughter."
"Truly," he said as his lips lowered onto hers.