Chapter Two: For Better or For Worse
With Simon and I living at the opposite sides of the 90 Freeway, we were bound to run into some heft phone bills due to our separation. To compensate, we were staying in Glen Oak for the summer, after the Camden's returned to the house. It didn't come as a shock when Ruthie got into Crawford College with her boyfriend, T-Bone, harkening to the days when Matt himself had gotten his preliminary degree from there before attending med school. With Lucy and Kevin living in Crossroads with Savannah, their house was available, and I agreed to house-sit for them for the summer, on the condition that Simon and I did so separately. I was permitted to entertain the Camden family, in groups, or Simon solo, up until eight o'clock at night, and then Simon had to return to his childhood home.
This was an arrangement I was perfectly at ease with; although I knew full well about Simon's history with Georgia, Sandy, and Rose, he never put pressure on me, of which I was very happy. Sooner or later, however, I knew that Simon and I would have to have the sex talk, something my mother and father never really had to do with me. I was so committed to my studies over the years, and had a lack of boyfriends until Simon came along, that it just never came up. Given that my father's younger brother, Andrew, was a minister in New York, I think I got the right idea from my four cousins as well.
We were having dinner at the Camden house in mid-July, about three and a half weeks before Simon and I were due to head to Massachusetts, when Reverend Camden decided to bring up religion. Evidently, Simon had mentioned in passing what my uncle did for a living, and I'm sure after the whole fiasco with Sarah's father being a rabbi, he wanted some answers. He was able to overlook Kevin being raised Catholic, but maybe he just wanted to be sure about everything before Simon and I said "I do".
"What church is your uncle a minister of, Eve?" Reverend Camden asked casually as he popped a green bean into his mouth.
I blinked, proceeding to take the back of my fork and make competitive rows in my mashed potatoes. Mrs. Camden's roast was my favorite thing she made, other than her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and I didn't want anything ruining the meal. "That would be Southpine Communal Church," I reply.
"Southpine? Nice area," Reverend Camden put in.
"We think so," I reply, taking a bite of my mashed potatoes.
"When did he go to seminary?" he asks next.
"I think he graduated in the late 1970's," I reply. "1978, 1979. Somewhere around there, I assume."
"Where did he go?"
"Cobell Seminary, like you," I say, hoping that he'll like that.
"He is married, isn't he?" he questioned further, taking another slice of roast under the watchful eye of Mrs. Camden.
I nod, smiling ever so slightly. "Yes, he and his wife Esther got married around three years after he graduated. They grew up together, but Esther went to art school in Chicago and they lost touch. Then Esther moved back to Southpine after she graduated and she and Uncle Andrew got back in touch."
"Well, isn't that lovely?" Mrs. Camden asked.
I nod. "It was—or, I assume. I've seen pictures of the wedding, and everyone looked really happy. That was just before my father divorced his first wife."
"Oh, they divorced?" Mrs. Camden said, looking saddened. "That's so sad; I hate hearing about divorce."
I shrugged. "She just realized she didn't want to be married. I still see my brothers now and again."
"You have brothers, too?" Ruthie asked with a grin. "How many?"
I smile across the table at her; I liked Ruthie very much. "I have two, Theodore and Franklin. They're twins, actually."
"Like us!" cried Sam.
"Yeah, just like us," seconded David.
"Just like you," I said, grinning at them both. "Except they're a little older than you, so they can't get into as much mischief."
"And what do they do to occupy their time?" asks Eric, chewing his green beans rather thoughtfully.
"Theodore is a playwright on Broadway, actually," I reply, cutting into a bit of my roast. "He just put on his latest show—maybe you've heard of it? It's called Sir Isaac, about Sir Isaac Newton."
"Oh, I've heard such good things about it!" Mrs. Camden gushed. "Mary and Carlos just saw it and they said it's the best thing they've seen in a long time when it comes to stage productions."
"How can they go out at all?" Ruthie wanted to know. "I mean, not only do they have Charlie to worry about, but they also have Emma and Grace to worry about..."
Mrs. Camden smiled. "Nannies exist for a reason, Ruthie. And now that Carlos has inherited his father's business, they can actually afford someone halfway decent for their three kids."
Ruthie turned back to me, curiosity in her dark eyes. "You meant what you said, right?" she asks me, eagerness in her voice. "That me and T-Bone can come to visit you guys sometime?"
"I..." I begin, looking from Reverend to Mrs. Camden, who look concerned, and know that I have to be diplomatic about all of this. "I said that once Simon and I are married and have a home of our own that can have guests, and once you and T-Bone are eighteen and have an idea of what degrees you may want, and if your parents think it's all right. Not necessarily in that order, of course, in respect to your parents," I say quietly, lowering my eyes to my half-eaten dinner and proceed to start eating again.
"Do I get to be in your wedding?" Ruthie asked.
Simon laughs. "I think that's up to Eve," he tells Ruthie gently. "I don't get to make any decisions when it comes to her bridal party."
I nod at him, looking up again. "That's right—and I have no say in his groom attendants," I tell Ruthie. "But, now that we're on the subject, Ruthie, yes, you will be in my wedding," I tell her. "You're going to be a bridesmaid, of course."
"Can I pick out my own dress?" she asks, and Mrs. Camden laughs.
"Let's wait a while before we make any decisions like that," I reply. "All that Simon and I have agreed on at this point is maybe getting married close to Christmas, but we're going to stay engaged for a while. We may have only known each other for a while, but we got engaged on our one-year anniversary. It's a good place to start, but we're only twenty-one, Ruthie. We've got time."
"Yeah, time," Ruthie says, falling back against her chair. "Wouldn't it be nice if it were all that simple?"
. . .
"You didn't mention what your younger brother did," Simon says after dinner, as we are cleaning up the kitchen for the Camdens. "Franklin?"
I shrug as I put dishes into the dishwasher. "I didn't?" I ask casually, filling up the trap door wish soap and sealing it. "I thought I did..."
Ruthie had gone upstairs to put Sam and David to bed, while Martin—who had come by later to say a quick hello with Sandy—had taken Baby Aaron and gone across the street to visit his dad. Reverend Camden was working on a sermon in his office at the front of the house, while Mrs. Camden was upstairs with Ruthie and the twins doing a bed and bath time routine. T-Bone, on the other hand, was down the hall in the living room, starting on some homework and waiting for Ruthie to join him in there later.
"You didn't," Simon confirms, just as he's finished scrubbing out the roasting pan and has begun on the pot that Mrs. Camden has made mashed potatoes in. "I mean, is there a reason why? Is he okay?"
"As far as I know," I said quietly, deliberately not making eye contact with him as I did a final once-over on the dishes before turning it on and shutting the door. I approach Simon then and take the tube of Clorox disinfecting wipes and begin wiping down the various counters of the cooking areas of the kitchen. "It's not really that important, Simon..."
Simon fishes scrubbing out the potato pot and moves on to the green bean pan, and obviously mulls over my words in his mind. "You can tell me anything, you know, Eve. I mean, we are going to be married..."
I bite my lip and turn to look at him. "I don't know..."
Simon looks at me, concerned. "Hey, come on, it's okay," he says, leaning in and kissing me. "After what we all went through with Mary, believe me, I think we Camdens can handle anything thrown our way..."
I sigh, shoulders slacking. "Well..." I begin, but Mrs. Camden comes downstairs and I hastily move back from Simon, embarrassed, and proceed to continue wiping down the various countertops.
"Oh, you didn't have to do that, sweetheart," Mrs. Camden says, lightly scolding, although with a fair amount of touched sandwiched in there. "Just for that, I think you should have more of my chocolate cake."
I flash her a grin. "That's one thing that I'll never say 'no' to," I reply. I finish wiping down the counters before washing my hands and putting the tube of wipes away, beneath the sink. "I love fresh-baked goods..."
"Did your mother bake at all?" she asks, not unkindly.
"Mom," Simon says, for fear that the mere mention of my mother will end up upsetting me somehow.
"It's fine," I said, flashing him a smile and turning back to Mrs. Camden. "Yes, she would bake at least once a week, if not more. In fact, she did win some county fair competitions in baking."
"Really?" she asked curiously. "What was her specialty? Pie? Cookies?"
"Cake," I replied, taking a bite of Mrs. Camden's cake myself. "Wow," I whispered once I'd swallowed it. "This is amazing. It's as good as my mother's, but it's so different, which I think really matters most."
"That's right," Mrs. Camden replied, motioning for us to sit down at the kitchen island as Simon continued scrubbing the dishes. "Listen, I know Eric can be a bit good cop/bad cop when it comes to interrogation tactics, but you need to know that he doesn't mean any harm, Eve..."
I smile at Mrs. Camden. "Don't worry—I know," I assure her.
"So, what division is Southpine Communal Church?" she asks.
"Protestant," I reply.
"Have you ever missed a Sunday?" Mrs. Camden joked.
I nod. "A few, over the years. I got the flu twice in elementary school—once in first grade and once in fourth grade, and that got me out of commission for a while, let me tell you," I said with a smile. "Then I got measles after an outbreak during some volunteer work I did in middle school—I was about thirteen..." I trail off, trying to remember if there was anything else. "My mother's chemotherapy took over quite a bit of our lives, and so my father and I would trade-off on Wednesday nights, when we went to church then, too, so that he would go one week, and then I'd go with her the next week..."
"Didn't your brothers help out with this?" asks Mrs. Camden.
I shrugged a bit, chewing on my cake. "Sure, a little—but we didn't have the same mother, so the whole closeness thing was different. Theodore did, sure, but he was in college at the time and couldn't get away as much as he would like," I reply. "I would say Theodore was the nicer of the two..."
"And Franklin?" she wants to know.
I shake my head. "Franklin took his inheritance early and did some traveling—off the grid, so to speak. No cell phones, stuff like that. He liked to backpack in remote forests in South America and Africa."
"Is he traveling again?" Mrs. Camden asks. "We weren't introduced to him at your graduation..."
I nod. "Yes, he's in Africa right now, living with this tribe," I tell her. "He's putting all his experiences down in journals and then he's going to write a book one day, when he's done traveling."
"I really commend people for doing that and discovering new things," Mrs. Camden tells me. "But it can't be an altogether fulfilling existence, can it? I mean, I'd miss my family too much..."
"Nobody's asking you to go and live like that, Mom," Simon joked, and Mrs. Camden waved away his words.
"Very funny," she said, turning back to me with a smile. "Are you feeling all right, Eve? Would you like a glass of milk?"
"Lactose intolerant, I'm afraid," I say, smiling at her. "But thank you for asking, that's very nice of you."
"Finished, Mom," Simon says, washing his hands and moving up behind me. "If you don't mind, my fiancée and I are going to take a walk before I take her over to Lucy and Kevin's for the night."
Mrs. Camden smiles. "No, of course I don't mind. Just let me get your father so he can say good night." She gets up and leaves the room, peeking over her shoulder at us with a slight smile as she walks over to Reverend Camden's study.
"She likes you, you know," Simon tells me, putting his arms around me and holding me close to his chest.
I giggle ever so slightly and turn to look up at him. "Does she?"
"Yes—she considers you an improvement from Rose."
"Isn't everything?" I joke.
"Maybe," Simon allows, running his hands up and down my sides. "If someone were to prove it..."
"Simon!" I cry out, gently slapping his hand and moving away from him. "On our wedding night, yes, but not a moment before."
"Music to my ears," says Reverend Camden as he steps into the kitchen, Mrs. Camden just behind them, a smile in her eyes.
"Eric," she admonishes gently.
"Well, we should say good night," Simon says, apparently uncomfortable as he helps me to my feet. "Mom, Dad, I'll probably see you tomorrow, because I don't know when I'll be getting in..."
"There's church tomorrow," I say before either of them can say anything. "So not after eleven, and probably before that—walking around in the dark isn't as idyllic and safe as it used to be."
"I love her, Simon," Reverend Camden declares.
"So do I," says Mrs. Camden.
I smile at them, crossing to them and accepting their hugs welcomingly. "Well, I love you both, too," I reply.
"Crashing Simon's wedding was the best thing you could've ever done," Reverend Camden tells me.
"Now, Eric," Mrs. Camden cuts in.
I laugh. "Well, I just couldn't keep quiet," I say lightly. "But, I guess one good thing about us getting married is that I'll have a mother again... Would you mind if I called you 'Mom'? After the wedding, of course..."
Mrs. Camden smiled, kissing me on the cheek. "Of course not—Kevin does, and even calls Eric 'Dad' sometimes."
"Well, the two of you have been more like parents to me in the last year than my own father has ever been," I tell them. "I thank you for that."
Mrs. Camden pulls me to her steadily, and whispers, "Don't ever change," before letting me go and Simon and I walk out into the sunset together.
. . .
"Why won't you tell me about your brother?" Simon demands for the fiftieth time as we make our way up the walk of Lucy and Kevin's house. "I just want to know what's so bad about it..."
"Nothing!" I cry out, exasperated, and turn around to face him. "Look, I'll tell you, okay? I promise. Just not tonight, please?" I ask.
Simon sighs. "Promise we'll talk about it at some point?"
I nod. "Of course we'll talk about it," I assure him. "It's just not something I like discussing at all. Not just with you, but the only person who knows about it outside my family is Sandy..."
"But you're going to tell me?" Simon asks.
I nod at him, leaning in and kissing him. "Of course I'm going to tell you about Franklin—promise, solemnly swear," I say, crossing my heart. "It's just something that requires a lot of time to explain everything... And it's late."
Simon smiles. "Look, I get it."
I nod, leaning in and kissing him again. "Good night. I'll see you tomorrow morning. I'll walk over myself and meet you in the yard and we'll head over to the church together."
"Do you want to drive, or should I?"
"Either," I say, putting my arms around him and kissing him one last time. "See you in the morning," I tell him quietly, turning around and unlocking the door of Lucy and Kevin's house before shutting it behind me.
. . .
The next three and a half weeks passed by in a blur full of summer holiday fun times, sermons, and Lucy and Kevin's return just a week before Simon and I were due to leave for New York. At two, Savannah was babbling and saying small words and short sentences to anyone and everyone who would listen to her. She took a particular liking to me, unexpectedly, and would give small shouts and reach for me whenever I was around. I was pleased that Lucy nor Kevin seemed to mind this, and were happy for the break it gave them.
Lucy was blooming in her eighth month of pregnancy, and was all too pleased to have her mother fawning over her and making her every little thing she was craving this fall. Lucy was all excited to hear about Simon's and my upcoming class schedules, which had come in the mail just the week before, and was eager to hear about the professors and what we'd mutually heard about them. It was nice to catch up to her, and it was then that I made the decision to ask her a very important question the night before Simon and I left for New York.
"How are the wedding plans going?" Lucy asked casually, as we were up late having a hot drink the night before my departure.
I smile at that. "Slowly," I reply. "All things are preliminary at this point. We still have another three years of school, so we've got plenty of time."
"I love that you're not rushing into anything," Lucy commended me with a rather large smile. "Rose was so all over the place and... Oh," she says, quickly covering her mouth and shaking her head. "Probably shouldn't have said anything. The whole ex-fiancée territory is just uncharted waters and is probably so not an appropriate topic for conversation with the current fiancée..."
I smile and shake my head at her. "Luce, really, it's cool," I say, lifting my mug to my lips, the black tea going down my throat, soothing it, as I'd been screaming most of the afternoon while playing with Sam, David, and Savannah. "I knew Rose for a long time—we practically grew up together."
"When did you meet her exactly?" Lucy asked.
"My mother's older sister was a single woman and she didn't think that my father constantly relying on me for assisting with my mother's care was a good thing," I replied carefully. "So, my father agreed and I actually moved here for kindergarten and I lived here until I graduated middle school."
"But my mom said that you hardly missed a Sunday in church," Lucy said. "She also said that your father's younger brother was a minister in New York..."
I smiled at that, drawing my knees up to my chest. "Well, that's true, but the timeline wasn't altogether true," I tell her quietly. "Your dad was doing his whole interrogation thing and it kind of threw me off, plus, I'm not used to being questioned like that. Up until I was thirteen, my aunt just gave me the bare minimum interaction, and, well..." I square my shoulders then, not wanting to weasel out of a proper explanation. "It's just that, I don't know, this whole big family thing... It's going to take some getting used-to."
Lucy nodded, stirring her mug of tea. "Simon mentioned that you had two older brothers—Theodore and Franklin."
I nod, taking another sip of my tea. "That's right."
"I heard a lot of good things about the Sir Isaac show from Mary and Carlos," she said with a smile. "If it doesn't come over here eventually, Kevin and I were kind of thinking about taking a second honeymoon to New York."
"All because of one show?" I asked, impressed.
Lucy shrugged. "Well, when we have the time, we'd like to," she explained. "I mean, other than the good reviews, we could see Matt and Sarah, and Mary and Carlos, plus you and Simon. You're all in New York as it is..."
"Well, Simon and I decided to get married here and that we want to raise our family here as well," I reply.
"Give any thought to who you might want to officiate?" she asked, albeit a little more hopefully than I thought possible.
"Your dad," I say, and, to her credit, she doesn't look as crestfallen as I'd initially thought she would be. "Simon did suggest you, but I had other ideas..."
Lucy nods, getting to her feet and moving to put her mug in the dishwasher. "A more traditional ceremony?" she asked, slightly bitingly.
I blinked, shocked at this change of pace. "No, no. It's not that way, Luce, I promise," I said in a rush. "It's because I want you to be my Maid of Honor—it's just that, I swear."
"Don't swear," Lucy said, her back to me.
I laughed slightly then. "Simon said your dad always told that to you all when you were kids," I tell her.
"Mm-hmm," Lucy manages to get out, and it is then that I see she is gripping the kitchen counter, and is breathing heavily.
"Luce?" I ask, getting up and circling around the island, looking at her for the first time. I see that her brow is damp and that her face is red, her cheeks puffed out as if breathing too quickly. "Luce! Are you okay?"
"N-no..." She managed to get out, trembling slightly now. "I don't know what's wrong, but something's wrong..."
"Here, why don't you sit down?" I ask, taking her gently by the arms and guiding her out of the kitchen and towards the living room.
"Oh, no!" she shouts then.
Lowering my eyes then, I see that she is standing in a puddle of water, which has also soaked her jeans and the tops of her sneakers. I find my mouth is open at the very sight of this—it couldn't be, could it? "Luce, stay with me," I say as she sways a little before going down. "Luce!" I shout, managing to catch her before she falls. "Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear..." I say, nearly biting my lower lip off as I consider the predicament ahead of me.
Kevin had taken Savannah to get dinner in the center of town, while Reverend and Mrs. Camden were at a luxury hotel for the night, intending to come back early to see us off the following morning. As for Ruthie, she was out with T-Bone, and Simon was being their reluctant chauffer for the evening. Sam and David were at a sleepover birthday party, so that left the Camden house empty.
"Why me?" I whispered then, knowing enough about the layout of Glen Oak from living there for so many years of my life to know what to do. I grabbed my keys from the island and shoved them into my pocket before opening the front door and navigating my way through the driveway and across to the Camden house, where my car had been parked. I managed to get Lucy into the passenger seat and myself into my driver side seat and pull out of the driveway.
Lucy moaned from beside me, where I'd just managed to buckle her in as we drove along the street. "Where am I?" she managed to get out. Looking over at me, her eyes took on a look of fear as she sat up a little straighter in her seat. "Eve, what's going on?!" she demanded, her voice rising. "What's happening?!"
I sigh inwardly then, not knowing exactly what to say. "Luce, your water broke," I manage to get out then as we continued towards a main street. "I'm driving you to the hospital, and then I'm going to call your parents while they take you back there to check you out..."
"No!" Lucy screamed, grabbing me by the arm and nearly causing me to swerve off the road. "No, I need you with me..."
"We'll have to tell them I'm your sister-in-law," I say as we get closer and closer to the hospital.
"Whatever works," Lucy says, groaning slightly as a contraction hits her, and she throws her back against my passenger seat in a moment of pain. "No... No, not again," she whispered.
"Again? What are you talking about?" I ask her.
She sighs, alternating between talking to me and breathing carefully. "When Matt and Sarah had John and James, and when Mary and Carlos had Emma and Grace, I was pregnant with twin boys, too," she tells me quietly as I make another turn. "I lost the babies over the summer... I was barely showing," she said softly to me. "I was pretty broken for a while, and then when I got pregnant again, it just felt like a miracle..."
"I guess pregnancies can't always be planned—after you're married, of course," I say, attempting to reassure myself.
"Do you want to have children, Eve?" Lucy asks.
I nod at the road in front of me. "Yes, one day. After I'm married, and have my career, and enough of a nest egg, and a house... So many things to consider when you're going to have a baby," I said quietly.
"You and Simon...? You're not...?"
"Not once," I reply.
"And you...? You know he's...?"
"Yes," I assure her. "We tell each other everything. Which is why it drives him nuts that I won't... Not until we're married," I say softly.
It is when I sense Lucy's eyes widening beside me that I finally force myself to look at her when we come to a stop before a red light. "You've... You're a virgin, aren't you, Eve?" she asks me, flat-out.
I feel myself flush all over again as the light turns green. I turn away from her and step on the gas, getting us through the intersection and onward towards Glen Oak Community Hospital, where the bright lights momentarily blind me. I pull up the hill and into the parking lot, heading directly to the Emergency Room parking structure, and punch in for a ticket, paying for the maximum amount of time as Lucy writhes in pain beside me. Thankfully, we are close enough to the main entrance that my shouts for help attract the attention of some orderlies, who come straight outside with a gurney to help us.
"I need to stay with her!" I shout as they move to block me from going back. When I am met with questioning looks, I nearly lose my temper, if it weren't for Lucy suddenly intervening.
"She's my sister-in-law!" she shouts.
The orderlies shrug as I run as fast as I can, heading into the hospital room just after they do, and am told to stay put beside her. I whip out my cell phone, pulling up my past messages from Simon, and order my phone to allow me to write out a new one to him. I write, 911— Lucy is in the process of having the baby at Glen Oak Comm. Hospital—tell everyone, especially Kevin! Room 224; please get here ASAP! Love you!
I lie back in the chair, watching the sudden flurry of nurses paging doctors to come in here and to help Lucy. When a doctor finally does arrive, he is kind and friendly and checks Lucy, telling her that it is not a false alarm and that she is definitely in labor and will be having the baby that night.
"You're at about eight centimeters, Lucy, so it hopefully won't be long now, but unfortunately..."
"What?!" Lucy demands, looking over at me.
I get to my feet and place a hand on her arm. "It's too late for pain medication—but don't worry!" I assure her. "You'll soon be pushing, and I told Simon to get Kevin to come. Don't worry—it'll be fine."
"And you are?" the man asks, looking at me askance.
"Well, I'm..." I say.
"Hank," Lucy says with a sudden amount of amusement. "This is Eve—she's Simon's fiancée."
"Oh, a thousand pardons," the doctor says, snapping off one of his gloves and immediately putting out his hand. "Dr. Hank Hastings, wife of Julie, Eric's younger sister."
"Oh, of course," I say. "Evelyn Matthews. Nice to meet you."
"Evelyn?" Lucy asks, peering up at me.
I smile at her. "Eve is technically a nickname, but I prefer it," I said with a smile before turning back to Hank. "It's 'Eve' of course, Dr. Hastings."
"It's Hank," he replied, smiling at me. "I actually have quite a history with the Camden clan, and did so before Julie and I even got involved," he says with a slight chuckle.
"Oh, really?" I ask him.
"Can't this wait, Hank?" Lucy asks. "Can you go and see if anyone is out there looking for me, please? I just want Kevin..."
"Of course," Hank says, squeezing Lucy's hand briefly before leaving the room to see if Kevin was there yet.
"How did Hank meet the family initially?" I ask.
Lucy sighed, reaching out and taking my hand through another contraction. "That's an interesting story," she said. "When my mother was pregnant with Matt, Hank was the doctor on call. He was young and on a shift that was too long and he made a bad call, nearly killing Matt—"
"Killing Matt?!" I demanded, shaking my head. "You have got to be kidding me right now, Kinkirk..."
Lucy laughed. "Not kidding," she replied. "Anyhow, he made good when my mother was in labor with Sam and David, and got her to deliver both of them naturally, thank goodness..."
I nodded, looking away and reacting in pain when she squeezed my hand again, this time slightly too hard. "I texted Simon to get here, and he's usually so reliable at checking his phone when it's me... I just hope that Ruthie and T-Bone didn't want to see a movie..."
"I think they wanted to see Stardust," Lucy put in.
"Ruthie's far too intelligent for that one," I muttered.
"You saw it?" Lucy asked casually.
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, and believe me, one of my regretful purchases of the last several weeks," I reply with a laugh. "I just can't fathom seeing Claire Danes in any kind of romantic lead, with a face like that..."
"You don't think she's pretty?"
I shake my head. "It's not about physical attractiveness. It's the notion that she always looks like she's asking anyone and everyone she comes across in her life for directions..."
Lucy laughed aloud then, but then let out a pretty well-contained scream as yet another contraction came. "Call button—call button!" she screamed. "I need Hank back in here, now! I can feel the baby coming..."
. . .
Kevin finally arrived with Savannah in tow, who I took to the waiting room to see if anyone else had arrived. I saw Simon, Ruthie, and T-Bone in there and I smiled and promptly went to join them. Simon immediately got up as I approached, kissing me and taking Savannah while I sat down, causing Ruthie and T-Bone to roll their eyes at each other, although they, meanwhile, were hand clasped. I turned at the commotion by the main hospital doors in the next several minutes, only to see Reverend and Mrs. Camden running in and ultimately towards us, questions in both their eyes.
"What room?" Mrs. Camden demanded.
"224," I replied without hesitation.
She was about to go before she cupped my face in her hand and kissed me on the cheek affectionately. "You're an angel," she declared. "Thank you for taking care of my daughter," she said before running off.
"What happened?" Reverend Camden asked.
I lean back in the hospital chair, soothing Savannah, who was utterly confused with the situation at hand at being separated from not one but both her parents. "We were having a cup of tea and talking and then she started having contractions," I reply steadily, rubbing her back in an effort to sooth her.
"Just like that?" Ruthie asked.
I nodded. "Just like that," I reply.
"Well, she was really lucky to have you there with her," Simon said, leaning in and brushing his lips with mine.
"Good on you, Eve," T-Bone said, reaching out his hand to fist-bump me, which I returned with enthusiasm.
"We can't thank you enough, Eve," Reverend Camden told me.
I smile up at him. "Thank you, Reverend Camden."
"Eric," he said with a heartfelt smile. "It's Eric. Annie and I discussed it and we would love it if you would call us by our first names from now on."
"So, what do you think the baby's going to be?" Ruthie asked.
"Girl," T-Bone said.
"Girl," Simon said, nodding at T-Bone.
Eric nodded at that. "Could be a girl..."
"What do you think, Simon?" I asked.
He smiled, leaning in and tickling Savannah's chin. "Girl," he replied.
I shake my head. "No. No, I think it's a boy."
It is when Annie comes out from the hospital room a few minutes later, that we all of us immediately get to our feet. Tears of joy are streaming down her face as she steps forward, approaching Eric and kissing him on the cheek. "Can't tell you," she says to everyone's questions, shaking her head. "But she would like to see all of you immediately. Come on," she says, and proceeds to walk back to the hospital room at a quick clip. "Come on, everyone."
We walk down the hallway again, this time at a more relaxed pace, with me still holding onto Savannah. Annie opens the door to Room 224 where we are greeted to the sight of Lucy sitting up in bed, with Kevin standing proudly next to her, gazing down at the little bundle in her arms. As we step closer, I nod at Savannah's mother and father, and Kevin smiles at me, motioning that he will take Savannah from me. Once the handover is complete, I move back to the foot of the bed, where I remain with Simon's arm around me.
"Hi, everyone," Lucy says, her voice slightly hoarse. Her hair is smoothed back with sweat, but she has a glow about her, and happiness in her eyes, all from the tiny bundle in her arms wrapped in blue. "This is our son."
"What have you named him?" Ruthie asked.
"They didn't even tell me yet," Annie said quietly.
"We wanted you all to be here," Kevin put in inching closer to Lucy's side with Savannah, who was altogether curious at what lay in her mother's arms. "So, Luce, do you want to tell our family—or, the family that's here—what we've decided to name our son?"
Lucy looked up at her dad with a smile before turning to the rest of us. "Everyone, Kevin and I would like you to formally meet Eric Cassius Kinkirk. Eric for my wonderful father, who inspired me to take this path in life, and Cassius as a male form of Cassandra, which is Eve's middle name. If Eve hadn't been there for me tonight, who knows what would've happened?" she asked, smiling at me, tears pricking at her eyes. "I am forever in your debt, Eve."
I stepped forward then, bending down and kissing Lucy on the cheek. "God bless you and keep you, Lucy," I said resolutely.
"And you, Eve. Forever," Lucy replied.
"Amen," Eric replied softly, and, when I looked at him, tears were filling up his eyes as well.