I'll be posting to my other story this week. Here's some more Teddy I had written in the meantime. Thank you for all your reviews! And there will be more Teddy in the future. xo
"If you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow..."
My Little Prince-
Don't roll your eyes. Your mother says I'm crazy, but I swear you were doing it on that 3D ultrasound and again last night when I rocked you in my arms and told you you were perfection in an eight pound package sent from the angels. You're so much like her already. I can see it in that determined little fist you make. I know you're ready to grow up, purposely defy me and not do as your told, but you have a lifetime for that. Right now, pay attention. This is my letter to your future self, so let your old man have his day. You'll have yours well before I'm ready.
You will not understand this quote for many years. I didn't begin to understand until I met your mother. And only now, watching you snuggled in her arms as she feeds you, do I really get it. Don't think about it too much. It's not something you get by thinking. Nothing really good ever is. One day, when you're much older, and you're sure you have life exactly the way you want it, it'll fall out of nowhere and hit you like a ton of bricks. It fell through my door and landed at my feet. Literally. Even though you don't understand it now, hold onto this quote and remember that your father, who once likened taming to being caged or broken or losing all precious control, gave it to you. Also, remember the way he looks at your mother.
I'm a powerful man. I've worked hard to get to where I am in life, and I hope you will, too. I won't hand you everything on a silver platter or whatever the well-to-do kids are using in this next quarter century to cheat the system, but I will give you whatever you need to get there, including a soft place to land when you screw up. You will screw up, trust me. As your mother can attest, I have done my share of it. But, you have to fall down, scrape your knees a few times and get up in order to learn how to ride a bicycle. I'll teach you that, too. It'll be tough for me to let you learn the hard lessons. I'll want to fix it, shelter you, and lock you up in an ivory tower so no harm can ever come your way. It'll be your mother that will hold me back. As she taught me, being locked up in an ivory tower doesn't save you from anything, it only keeps you locked away.
Listen to your mother. Not everyone is lucky enough to have one like her. She's the one who will kiss your wounds, hold you when you're scared and heal you with her chocolate cake. I know first hand. She'll yell at you when you do wrong and comfort you when you cry. She'll be the first woman you'll ever love and who will love you unconditionally in return. That's worth more than a billion dollars. And unlike most saps who make such comparisons, you can trust me on that, because I know what a billion dollars is really like.
I'm terrified of you. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I don't know the first thing about being a dad. And I want to say in advance, I'm sorry if I screw up. I hope you'll afford me that same soft landing. Just know, I have tried my best. I haven't slept for weeks worrying, reading book after book, trying to figure out how to do it right. Your mother says all I have to do is love you and the rest will fall into place. If that's true, I'll be father of the year, because I do love you with all my heart. I never knew I could. Turns out you can love two people with all of it at once and take nothing away from either. Your mother has always shown me my capacity for more is greater than I realize.
Another thing- Take me for granted. I don't mean to show me disrespect or lack affection, I am still your father after all. I mean, I want you to never doubt my commitment to you and to our family. So take for granted that that I'll always love your mother and we'll always love you. No matter what. And when you leave for school in the morning, don't worry if I'll be there for you at the end of the day. I will be. Always. You're stuck with me, kid.
Okay, get back to your eye rolling. You know it's funny, when anyone else does it it makes me so mad. But, with your mother and now you, it makes me smile. I can't explain it. I guess you could say it's like music calling me out of my burrow...
I've always had a fascination with doors. The ones that open to something and the ones that close to leave something behind. The ones that slam in rage or widely part in welcome. Or the old ones, weathered by time and vocal when moved, that only a rare key opens. I know the language of doors. Maybe because I spent my early childhood watching one, waiting for my mother to return from God knows where and hoping for someone else not to. It was a closed door that protected me as a boy in my closet. A playroom door that kept my heart locked away. But, it was an open one that she fell through when I wasn't watching that set me free.
The first time I saw Ana, looking up at me from that floor with her blue eyes, I was unlocked. She held that rare key. I thought about her day and night; was consumed with worry for her safety and well being. I didn't want to share her for one single second with anyone else, ever. And if harm came her way, my Claude perfected one-two punch was ready. The ends of the earth became a crossing point, rather than a final destination when it came to how far for her I would go. None of that has changed, except it's happened again. Someone else, too, holds that key to my heart. Someone younger, even more innocent, but with those same blue eyes...
"Theodore Raymond Grey," I say, a swell of pride catching in my throat as I introduce our son to the family. "Teddy for short." He coos on cue, much to the delight of the familial flock of onlookers, wrapped up in my arms in his little duck hooded snugly, as we perch on the edge of Ana's bed. If there was any question of who belongs to who, they'd be notified by the trio of rubber ducky yellow matching family robes we are wearing that this child now owns us.
"Teddy! Like Teddy Bear!" Mia jumps up and down, nearly knocking down a vase of wildflowers. With all of my flowers and the flowers people have sent us, it's like we're living in a new reality show: When Springtime Attacks.
"He looks like Christian," Kavanagh says. "If he was cute and tiny and wore a little duck head."
"Christian's little duck head!" Elliot roars with laughter only a hyena could appreciate. He and Kate were made for each other.
Everyone's over the moon. Mia squeals. My mother sobs. So does the photographer, for different reasons, I'm sure. When did his father get here? He brings that old man everywhere. He's pleasant enough, but I always get the feeling he's trying to place a voodoo curse on me so Ana can be with his son.
I meet the eyes of my grandfather and hold Teddy, his namesake, up for him to see. He adjusts his wire rimmed glasses on the bridge of his bulbous nose and gives me a nod. It's the same nod he gave me when I hit my first home run in little league, when I headed off to Harvard, and after he saw me kiss my bride.
I remember frolicking in his apple orchard as a boy. Well, Elliot frolicked. I mostly just sat under the shadows of fruit heavy limbs and thought about stuff no child should ever know. There's something tragic about a kid who just sits beneath the branches of good climbing trees. Gramps would join me sometimes and pull out his map. It was a neat old one he said he snagged from a pirate. He'd hold out the tattered paper scroll and say 'Where to, Calamazoo?" I'd point to a random spot and he'd tell me the wild adventures of a copper haired boy who looked a lot like me and wasn't afraid of anything.
"Look at that," my grandmother says, motioning to Grandpa Theo. "You've made this tough old bird cry."
"No, it's just all the damn vegetation in the room," he waves a hand at all the flowers. "Allergies..." Same excuse he used at the wedding. He reaches under his glasses to wipe his eyes.
"Where to, Calamazoo?" I say to my son, so my grandfather can hear. He stops and looks up, no hiding his emotion now.
"I'll have to dig up that map when he gets a little older." My grandfather laughs with childlike glee, his loving, watery eyes resting on my son. "Oh the adventures you will have, little man."
I smile. Adventures of a copper haired boy, who looks a lot like me and who's not afraid of anything.
"We wanted to name him after two of the most important men in our lives," Ana says, a teardrop sliding down her face. I reach over and wipe it away with my thumb. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my mother smiling at me as I care for my family. She gives me a wink and I know she's proud.
"Oh Annie," Ray says, moving to her and placing a gentle kiss on her head. "You two sure make a beautiful baby." He's right, we sure do. It makes me wonder if how in love the parents are when they create the life has any affect on the child that is born. It may not be science, but I truly believe that part of the reason he's so magical and perfect and angelically beautiful is because he's made of pure love.
"Christian," Ana's voice snaps me back. "Don't you want to ask Kate and Elliot something?"
"Ask them what?"
"What we talked about last week." She shoots a brow up to jog my memory.
"Oh." Fuck. The fight we had, that I lost after a really intense loofah wash in a really hot shower with my really hot girl. I thought with all the laboring and delivering she'd let it slip her mind. "We could do this later-"
"I think now is a good time." She gives me a look whose physical expression would be an elbow in my ribs.
"Elliot. Katherine." I clear my throat. "Since you two are coming together, shortly..."
"Hey, bro. Not in front of Mom." They both laugh.
"Elliot!" Mom just shakes her head.
"Married. You're getting married." Honestly, these two should have box seats in the gutter. "So, Ana wanted to ask you both..."
"We would like to ask you both," Ana says.
"Yes, we." I smile at Ana. "We would like to ask you to be Teddy's godparents."
"Is this for real?" Elliot asks.
"It's not a practical joke." Although, I wish it was. The thought of my brother and Kavanagh second in line to raise my son is terrifying.
"So, I'd be in charge of the baby's religion?" He looks at me like I just blew the smoke and made him Pope.
"No!" I can just imagine it. He'd hand my kid a stack of Hustlers and call it the man bible, and then pop in a porno and call it church.
"Then why do you want me?"
"You're my brother, Elliot. You've always been my best friend."
"Your only friend," he says.
"Yes, well, out of one, you made it to the top."
"Let's do it!" he says, with a hand clap. "I can't wait to teach the little man everything I know."
"Cute bathrobes, by the way," Elliot says, pointing to the Papa Grey embroidered over the right side of my chest. "You guys kinda look like one of those families that sings together on a bus." I glare at him.
"Don't you have something to say to Kate?" Ana asks like she's asking me, but she's really telling me. Only a husband knows the difference.
"And you, Katherine..." I look at her. She wears that old Kavanagh scowl on her mug. I'm not sure if she's really scowling or she just suffers from resting bitchy face. Either way, it suits her. "I know we haven't always been close..." Understatement of this century, the last one and the one before that. But, in this moment I am sincere and heartfelt. "You're Ana's best friend and well, I would be miserable right now if I met you that fated day. So, thank you. For not doing your job and not showing up."
"Thanks, Grey. Who knew you could be so warm and gushy." She looks to Ana. "I'd be honored." She moves to hug her.
"Watch it there, she's just had major surgery!"
"I'm fine, Christian." Ana smiles, and she and Kavanagh share a weepy cheek to cheek.
"Oh Ana!" With the speedy slink of a serpent who's starved for mouse meat, the photographer moves in for the hug. "We'll always be the three amigos, ladies. Like college forever."
"Get off of her! Both of you! She's got sutures!" I give the photographer an icy glare. The only three amigos in here that will be together forever are the ones wearing the robes!
"Nice bed, Ana," he says to her, while still looking at me, trying to out ice my glare.
"Thanks, Jose," Ana says sweetly." Christian got it for me."
"Did he now?" He keeps icing me down. Good try, asshat. But, I'm a fucking polar bear!
"Yes, he did!" I say, and finally the fucker tucks his camera straps between his legs and goes back to his daddy.
"I want to hold him!" Mia calls out. All of a sudden, like a god damn dam has burst, everyone pushes forward; all non-germ-sanitized hands reaching for him in unison. Jose's even snapping off a few photos.
"Everyone back off from the baby!" I demand, standing with an outstretched palm, like an officer stopping traffic or rather the onslaught of a riot as I serve and protect my son.
"Christian," Ana says, "The family just wants to see him."
"They can see him from afar. He's like fine art. You can't appreciate a piece with your nose smushed into the canvas. It's better from a distance."
She rolls her eyes. "Christian-"
"Ana, there's a reason the Mona Lisa is behind glass. Touchy hands and..." I glare at Jose. "Flash photography."
"I'm surprised he lets you hold him, Ana." Kate gives the patented Kavanagh side eye. She does it so much, I hardly recognize her straight on.
"Well, I have to breast feed," Ana shrugs.
"Don't talk about that in odd company." I don't want anyone, especially the photographer, having images of lips, baby's or not, sucking Ana's nips.
"What's odd about my company?" Elliot asks. Oh, the opening he's given me, but I don't take it.
"Let me hold my grandson," my mother says, talking in the silliest baby talk I've ever heard. Is this how she sounds with her patients? Or is this newly acquired grandmother speak?
"I don't think so, Mom."
"I think it's okay for his grandmother to hold him," Ana says.
"I don't want anyone holding him. Not until he's older."
"His first birthday sounds like a reasonable goal."
"Are you kidding?"
"He trusts me. I'm his anchor in a scary world. I don't want him to think I'm just passing him off to a perfect stranger!" I look to Grace. "No offense, Mom."
"He's only an hour old, everyone's stranger," Ana says.
"Better the stranger you know, than the stranger you don't."
"Give the baby to your mother."
"Yes, Mommy," I grumble. I start to break out into a cold sweat. Luckily, my robe is an extra moisture absorbing variety.
"Are you sure you know how?" I ask my mother.
"I'l try to remember what they taught me in medical school." Is she being funny or does she seriously not remember?
I reluctantly hand the baby to her. I brace myself for his crying. It's like someone is knifing my soul every time he cries. He fusses for a second, but she's so good with him, my worry momentarily subsides. As I watch her talk to him and rock him, it really hits me. That's my mother, his grandmother. Not that woman who gave birth to me. The woman who loved me even when I gave her nothing in return, who cried for me when she saw me hurting and my heart was too frozen to cry for myself, and most importantly the one person who never stopped believing that one day I could have all this.
"I love you, Mom."
"Oh Christian," she tears up. "I love you so much. You're going to make such a wonderful father." I smile as Ana takes my hand and gives it a reassuring squeeze.
"I'm going to do my best." I squeeze Ana's hand back as we both watch my mother rock our son to sleep.
"Look at this," Mia reads from her iPhone, bringing us abruptly out of of this soft, tender moment. "Christian Grey, head turning billionaire and father-to-be, marches with moms for "labor" reform." She holds up the phone. There's a picture of me holding up a fist in the air like some sort of revolutionary. Oh god. I look like I've been living on the street for a week.
Ana looks. "Who's calling you head turning?" She's still such the green eyed goddess.
"No one!" I push the phone back towards Mia, hoping nobody has really seen it.
"The Nooz!" Mia says. That fucking Nooz again. Always up my ass.
"Why are you always reading that shit?" And making public announcements about it?
"What were you doing?" Ana asks.
"Nothing! They caught me taking a walk." I look to the photographer and give him a shut the fuck up or else your balls will be hanging on my Christmas tree look.
"Better than taking a leak," Elliot says and he and Kavanagh laugh.
"Are you fighting with police?" my father asks. Leave it to a lawyer to notice details.
"They aren't the police! They're hospital bouncers."
"Is that a bed?" Kavanagh asks.
"Is that my bed?" Ana asks.
"I don't see a bed," I say, looking right at the bed.
"Listen to this!" Mia reads on. "He vows to redo the entire maternity ward and name it in honor of his wife, Anastasia, who is delivering their child as we speak."
"All right, Mia! Enough!"
Ana looks at me and I'm not sure what she's thinking. "That's so sweet. Were you going to surprise me with this?"
"Uh, yes." I smile. "Surprise."
The baby starts to cry and on instinct I rush over and scoop him up from my mother's arms.
"Okay, everyone out. He's hungry." I point to the door.
"Why do we have to go?" Elliot asks. "We could all have sandwiches."
"Elliot is not trying to look at anything," Kavanagh says. "He has me."
"Good, go outside and show him something."
"We'll check in later," my mother says and scoots Elliot along.
I usher them all out as they say their goodbyes to Ana and the baby. Ana squints her eyes and twists her mouth, looking at me with suspicion, after I shut the door and they're all gone.
"You know full well I just fed Teddy before they got here. And he's stopped crying now."
"So he has." I stroke his little cheek. "And now the three of us can be alone."
"But, that's our family."
"And I love them. In segments." She giggles as I sit down with Teddy next to her on the bed. "I just want to be with my little family right now ." She smiles and rests her head on my shoulder in that tender way she does. I lean forward to kiss my son, inhaling his lovely scent. "He smells like you."
"I hope his diaper isn't dirty." She laughs.
"No, fresh like apples."
"I smell like apples?"
"I never told you that?"
"It's one of the first things I noticed about you."
"That I smelled like I apples?" She crinkles her nose and I nod. "I hope you like apples."
"I love apples." I nuzzle her hair and take a good sniff, which makes her giggle. "I especially love a good apple pie."
"Maybe in in six weeks." I give her ear a little nibble. "What else did you notice about me?"
"That you wore a lot of jeans." We both laugh. Then, I rest my head on top of hers. "I remember you talking about having kids in a few years when we were in Georgia driving that morning I took you soaring..."
"Oh yes, we were talking about your overzealous interest in my period." She laughs.
"It made me sad." She stops laughing and just watches me. "I thought you having a baby would have to be with someone else and I didn't want you to be with anyone else, ever."
"Little did you know a few months later..." She smiles against my neck as she touches our little boy's cheek.
"I'm so glad you left me."
"Me, too." She sighs, contented, snuggling into me. She puts her hand on the center of my chest. I can't believe I used to be scared of her touching me there. I put my hand over hers as her palm rests on my heart.
"That's so sweet of you to redo the maternity ward. But, what's the real truth?"
"What do you mean?"
"You can't fool me. There's more to this story." Of course I can't.
"Let's just say you have this bed because of it."
"So, it was my bed!" I nod. "Wait." She lifts her head up and eyes me. "You agreed to redo an entire hospital floor to get me a bed?"
"Not just a bed. An adjustable queen with heating and massage options."
"It's not crazy. It's smart business."
"The next time we do this, the room will be all ready. We won't have to send out for everything. Cost effective."
"Next time?" she asks, her eyes light.
"Next time." I smile and kiss the tip of her nose. "I think we're going to have to keep coming back to get our money's worth."
"Oh really?" I can tell she's surprised, but delighted.
"I'm a shrewd businessman. I want my investment to pay lots of little dividends."
"You want more?" she asks, her blue eyes sparkling up at me.
"Yes, Mrs. Grey. I always want more with you." I cover her mouth with mine. Sealing the deal with a kiss.
I don't remember what I looked like on the day I was born, or if my mother held me. Nobody took a photo, or if they did it was lost or forgotten or left behind. Maybe somebody's looking at it now and wondering who the hell I am. I wondered that for a long time. Seeing my son today, in Ana's arms, I finally know and I can lay all of that to rest. He's the only blood I have in all the world and, of course, my Ana gave him to me. Another first...
"Why did you put it in backwards?" I ask, examining the car seat in the back seat of the SUV.
"That's how it's supposed to be," Taylor says, matter of factly.
"The law, sir."
"Well, why do they make it forward if it's supposed to be backwards?"
"You're supposed to put it forward later."
"When is that?"
"According to the manual, when he's two."
"Two? I'm not going to squeeze him into this thing when he's two! I'll buy him a new one."
"I have to say, sir, this is one of the nicest car seats I've ever seen."
"Well, I didn't want all of us riding around in luxury, while he's sitting in some plastic shit." Christ, I can remember Ana taking me to that God forsaken Baby Town or Kids on the Cheap or whatever the fuck it was called...
"Why are we here, Ana?" I ask, pushing a cart that's the size of our guest bathroom down an aisle of a warehouse. Why is everything in suburbia sold in glutinous quantities in warehouses now? And why am I taking part in this consumer madness? Taylor could've done this. He likes warehouse type areas. Reminds him of his war days.
"To register for my baby shower." She lifts up a little hand held scanner I didn't know she swiped. She's got a quick wrist, that one. I know it well.
"Anastasia, put the gun down!" I think I said it a little too loudly. A mother with a brood of four hanging off her cart just alerted security, or rather the ninety year old man standing guard over the thousand count diapers in an economy crate, who probably wears diapers of his own. I give him a wave to say all is okay. What's she doing here with four kids, anyway? Doesn't she have everything she needs by now?
"It's customary." Ana rolls her eyes. Why does she insist on having one of these ridiculous parties? And worse, it's not going to be some ladies high tea that she can have at the house while I golf. She wants it to be co-ed, so I have to sit with a bunch of idiot fathers-to-be from Lamaze, my brother and the photographer eating blue cake and guessing how many jelly beans are in the jar for prizes.
"For people with no money. It looks tacky for us to ask for gifts."
"Why is it tacky?"
"Because we're billionaires! It's like you're Marie Antoinette asking the impoverished for their cakes. And we all know what happened there." I can't believe this place sells rubber nipples by the double dozen. Reminds me of that online sex store I used to use.
"Nobody coming is impoverished and we're giving them cake. They want to give us something. It's not about money. It's about love." She scans a thermometer that goes up the ass and a breast pump. How is this place for babies? Half of it is X-rated. There's a picture of a tit being suctioned right on the box!
"I don't need any love from the photographer and neither do you." I take the breast pump out of her hands and put it back on the shelf. "I'm the only one who gets to buy you that!"
"They can all leave us alone. That's gift enough for me." I take look at a display. A picture of a baby boy with some paper cone like thing covering his man parts and a caption that reads: 'Don't be caught sprayed again'. "What's a Pee Pee Teepee?"
"Something they'll give us at the shower." She scans it. "Let's just pick out his car seat."
I follow her down an aisle that I'd have to look both ways if I was crossing. Trying to turn this thing is like picking up a house and moving it next door with a shovel.
"Fine, I'll buy it for our son. Not some shirttail relative and especially none of those idiots from Lamaze."
"They are not idiots. You liked Simon. You were laughing."
"At him, not with him." Simon. Anything he says to do, I don't.
"Can I help you folks?" An overly friendly man in a shirt with the company line- 'We Go Goo Goo Over Deals for Baby, So You Don't Go Ga Ga Over the Bill'- comes up.
"We're looking for a quality car seat, but we don't want to spend a fortune,"Ana says, efficiently. I swear, she can never get used to the idea that she's rich.
"Yes, we do, Ana," I say, adamantly. "We want to spend as much as we can on it. Why don't you want to spend money when you shop?"
"You're the first husband I've heard say all that," the little fucker man laughs.
"Just show us what you have," Ana says, giving me a look that tells me to shut my mouth or I'm not getting sex tonight. I zip it, so I can unzip it later.
"This is the best deal," he says pointing to something plastic, with padding so thin, it would be jealous of a pancake.
"We don't need a deal! Show us the ones that aren't on sale."
"Well, you came to the wrong place." He laughs, pointing to the tag line on his shirt.
"Yes, I think we did." I try to move the cart, but a fast getaway isn't possible with this monstrosity. At least they can be assured nobody will get away with that double dozen of nipples easily.
"This is foam, Ana. My child will not sit on foam." I look to the little man. "Stop with the build up. Show us your best!"
"This is our most expensive." He points to another one, but it's only $10 more.
"It's the same thing!"
"In red. Limited edition."
"Why is red $10 more?"
"I thought you didn't care about a deal?" He laughs. This fucker is getting on my nerves.
"Don't you have anything higher end, soft leather, in a sleek chrome, ergonomic and adjustable with top safety rankings?"
"If you want to buy a car, you got the wrong dealer," he laughs.
"What's it?" Ana asks, looking concerned.
"I know where we're getting our son's car seat!"
"Here!" the sales guy says.
"No!" I say back.
"Where?" Ana asks.
"Where else? Audi."
"I didn't know they could make a car seat at Audi," Taylor says, stroking the fine leather that matches the interior of the SUV perfectly.
"I am their best customer. They'll do anything for me." They're already making plans for a miniature R8 for his 5th birthday.
"Sir," Sawyer says on approach, consulting with a walkie talkie. I think he likes looking like he's part of the secret service.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
"Mrs. Grey and the baby..." he says it so seriously.
"What about them?" My chest tightens in panic.
"They have been released." Why does he only speak one sentence at a time? Is it just to fuck with me?
"Where?" My breath escapes me, fearing they've been thrown out there somewhere in the wilds of downtown Seattle.
"They're in the room, waiting to go home."
I find air again. "I'll be right up." I look to Taylor. "Ana and the baby are ready!" I think I screamed it, because a woman close by nearly lost her walker to some hydrangea bushes.
"I heard, sir. I was standing here with you." Is he trying to be cute? Fucker.
"I'm going to get them now. Do your duty!"
I rush off, doubling my paces up the hospital walk, fighting my way through a crowd of paparazzi out front. Questions are thrown at me by "reporters"- 'Mr. Grey, how's the baby?' 'What's the name?', 'Sex?', to which I reply 'Yes!' as I wave them off with an erect middle finger. Taylor's pulling the car out back, so Ana and Teddy will miss all of this. No one is getting a picture of my son to sell to Harvey Levin!
As I round the hallway corner, I see flashes coming from Ana's room. Oh my god, one of the paps has broken in and cornered my family. I race to her door.
"Smile for me, Ana." It's the photographer! He's taking pictures of my mother and my son. Well, Ana, not my mother. But, she belongs to me and she's mother to my child, so technically my thoughts can be construed as correct.
"What the hell is going on here?" I ask and the flashing abruptly halts.
"Jose stopped by to take a few pictures of me and Teddy before we left." Ana says, like it's nothing.
"I'm sure he did. Why?"
"Just some photos for the baby book I'm making," Jose says. He's making a baby book?!
"Okay, let me rephrase the question- Why?"
"It's my gift to you."
"To me?!" Is this man really that depraved? I grit my teeth. "Well, isn't that considerate of you," I say with sarcastic bite. "Taking photos of my wife and son in bed when I'm out of the room."
"I have a problem!"
"Christian," Ana says, stopping me from solving all of our problems with my fists on his face. You hear about those celebrities who beat the shit out of photographers for taking pictures of their families. I'm suddenly their fan club president. Only those photographers just want to make a sale, this one wants to make my family his own.
"Okay, here's one for the baby book, Jose." I sit on Ana's bed, my arms around her and the baby. "My wife, my son, and me. Mi familia. Got it?"
Jose reluctantly raises the camera and takes a shot. He gets the picture.
"Make this page número uno and get me a wall size print," I say. Although, he'll probably just cut my head out and photoshop his in for his daddy's latest voodoo curse.
"Sure thing." He smiles, but only for Ana's benefit. "Take care Ana, I'll drop by with the photos next week." She waves and he takes off.
"No, dropping anywhere! Taylor will pick them up!" I yell as he leaves, but he doesn't turn back. Fucker. He's all wham, flash, thank you, ma'am.
"Christian, you don't have to be rude."
"Rude? I'm rude?!" I take a deep breath and close my eyes, trying to temper the volcano about to erupt in my body. "I tell him not to take any pictures and as soon as I leave the room it's like his camera exploded all over you." Kind of like his two inch dick when he beats off to his pictures of Ana.
"The photos are for us," she says. For posterity."
"Oh, trust me, he keeps copies for his own posterity."
"You're being ridiculous."
"He still wants in your panties."
"I just had your child," she says, like that's an explanation.
"That makes a guy like him want you even more. Now he knows you produce solid male offspring."
"But, I don't want him. I want you." She kisses me and immediately I melt.
"We have our own camera, if you recall, Mrs. Grey. From now on I take all the pictures and I make the baby book." She kisses me again. Argument over.
"Okay, time to go home," says that nurse, interrupting our conversation as she enters the room. She's back. The one with the Miss Piggy pageant ringlets and the fake pink nails. "Let's get you out of bed, Mrs. Grey." Ana passes the baby to me as the nurse drags her up.
Ana cries out in pain, holding her belly.
"She's just had surgery!" I rush up, place Teddy in the bassinet, and take Ana in my arms and away from Nurse Piggy. "Do you get some sort of perverse pleasure out of watching her suffer?" Did I just ask that? The irony is not lost on me, and judging from Ana's giggle, on her, either.
"She has to walk," Nurse Piggy says. "It's part of recovery. Plus, that baby will have her hopping faster than a grasshopper in a sack run."
"I wasn't aware grasshoppers had sporting events. I don't know where you are from, but around here new mothers and insects in sack runs are not comparable."
"My wife needs to heal, so during this time I will do all of the walking and hopping for the family, thank you very much."
"Christian, I'm fine," Ana says, but I can see her wince.
"No you're not." I help sit her in the wheelchair. "Let me take care of you, Ana." She brushes my cheek with her fingertips. "I want to take care of both of you." Panic suddenly strikes and I fly up. "Where's the baby?"
"Teddy's in the bassinet," Ana says. "Where you just put him."
I race over to my little man and scoop him up.
"I'm sorry I left you alone, son." I cuddle him and kiss his forehead. Nurse Piggy looks at me like I'm crazy, Ana just looks at me like usual.
"I think he's going to be more of a handful for you than that baby," the nurse chuckles.
"So, what do we do now?" I ask her, but she seems more interested in one of her cracked talons than my question.
"You go home, live your lives and make him go to college." She snorts a laugh, living up to her ringlets.
"There's a lot stuff between going home and college," I bite. "I can't believe you just let babies go out there into the world. What if parents don't know what the fuck they're doing? Don't we get a manual or something?"
"I gave you a pamphlet in Mrs. Grey's going home bag." With one free hand, I pull it out and look at it.
"Half of it's on nipple care! I already know all about that. There's no real directions about the baby! Where do I find detailed information?"
"Google." She gives me patronizing smile. "Good bye Mrs. Grey." She walks out. She and Dr. Greene must come from the same school of work ethic—breaks every five and charge by the word.
"Maybe we should hire a nurse to help us along," Ana says.
"No, we'll take care of our child. I don't want some stranger doing it for us. We have my mother and Gail.
"But, with my c-section I won't be able to do as much as I wanted. We can't ask them to do everything."
"I told you, I've taken off some time. Aside from breast feeding and mother-son bonding, whatever needs to be done, I'll do it. Just call mr Mr. Megalomaniac Mom."
She laughs. "It has a nice ring to it. But, are you sure?" She looks at me with concern. I'm not certain if it's for my over-taxed workload when we get home or my sanity.
"Yes. Plus, I have Taylor to help me and we've got the whole operation down. Trust me, it'll run smooth as silk."
"Slow down!" I yell out to Taylor as the three of us sit in the back of the SUV. I hold a protective arm out over the baby and Ana, so they won't fly through the windshield.
"I just pulled away from the curb, sir."
"Well, stop doing it like you're a bat escaping hell. You're terrifying the child."
"Christian, he's asleep." Ana says, pointing to our little man, who's gurgling contentedly, as he sinks into the soft leather, in his own little dreamland.
"I don't want to give him nightmares!" That's a great fear of mine. I will do whatever it takes to make sure his sleep is never troubled.
"He's fine," Ana says, stroking my shoulder. "You need to relax. I don't want you having a heart attack before he's a week old."
I touch his cheek. He coos. "I think he likes me, Ana," I marvel. I was so afraid he might not.
"He loves you. Like me." She kisses my cheek. "You're very easy to love." I take her hand and kiss her fingers. I'm a lucky bastard.
I straighten his crooked collar. As a man, I'll teach him keep himself looking sharp. I can't wait to have his first gray suit made. It should be ready next week. He's in a going home outfit Mia brought him. It's got little paws for mitts and a hood with bear ears and 'Bear Bum' written on the rump. It's cute, but cliche.
"Ana, we need to talk," I say, in all seriousness.
"About what?" She looks at me like I'm about to say I've got a diseased limb that needs to be cut off or I'm leaving for war in the morning.
"I don't want Teddy wearing bear outfits all the time just because of his name."
"Are you serious right now?"
"Yes. Everyone and my mother is throwing bear wear at us! It's not healthy. It'll give him a complex."
"He's three days old."
"Three days turns into twenty-four years and working the fast food service window because you were humiliated by your parents as a child..." She's fighting laughter, but I don't care. My point needs to be made. "What if Ray dressed you like that crazy Russian princess, just because of your name? Or my father made me some biblical character?"
"That would be so wrong." No fighting it anymore, she bursts out laughing.
"I mean it. I want to incorporate other animals into his wardrobe."
I can see Taylor eyeing me from the review mirror and even he's chuckling.
"What are you laughing at, Taylor?"
"Nothing, sir. Just thinking how much the backseat conversation has changed in a year." He looks so fucking delighted laughing at me.
"Yes, well. I'm glad I'm amusing to you two, but this is a matter of all seriousness."
"Okay, Christian," Ana says. "We'll add more ducks and frogs."
"And manly animals like tigers and horses and elephants."
"Elephants are manly?"
"No, I don't want him to want to be an actor," I snort.
"I'll talk to Caroline Acton on Monday," Ana says. Now they're both laughing. I have to admit, even though it's at my expense, it is kind of infectious. It's nice to be riding home with our baby in a happy car.
"No chickens!" I say, and they're both in hysterics. Yes, things have certainly changed. I have to laugh, myself.
"Oh, he's just beautiful!" Gail says, looking at the baby in my arms. "I don't think I've ever seen a more perfect little one!" I smile. She's right.
"Just think, we weren't supposed to meet him for three whole weeks," Ana says, leaning over and kissing his toes. "I just wish we had finished the nursery." I smile, with something up my sleeve.
"About that. I have a few surprises for you," I look down at my son and whisper in his tiny ear. "For both of you."
"What kind of surprises?"
I catch Gail smiling as she moves to the kitchen. "I'll work on your dinner."
"Come," I hold out my hand to Ana and she takes it. "Let me show you his playroom." I wink and she giggles.
We walk hand-in-hand down the hall and stop at the last door, directly across from the master suite. I turn the knob and open the door to Teddy's new wonderland. Ana's eyes light up as she takes it all in.
"Christian, this is amazing." The room smells of lavender and vanilla with a faint hint of sugar, like when you pass by a candy store and you're drawn inside. The aromatic system I had installed is working.
Lights on the dark blue and purple swirled ceiling, made to look like stars, twinkle.
"It's like sleeping under a night sky," she says, in awe, I think.
"If he cries or fusses, there's a sensor that turns a night light up and a lullaby plays." I press a button and the mobile of blue birds above his gray wooden crib illuminates and turns in time with a soft melody.
"I don't ever want him to have nightmares."
I flip a light switch to reveal walls of sky blue, dusted with soft white clouds. A mural of a boy on a small planet, tending to a glass covered rose is painted, along with the words 'All grown ups were children once, but only few remember it'.
"The Little Prince," she says. "I'm speechless."
"Here," I lead her to her rocker, draped with a patchwork quilt, and help her sit, then place the baby in her arms.
"It's all so beautiful," she says. "It's like you bought out FAO Schwartz." She looks out to a toy chest with his name painted on it that's heaping with blocks and games and stuffed animals of so many species, Noah would be envious. A life sized toy baby giraffe overlooks a real cotton candy machine, next to a child sized Ferris wheel that turns with stuffed animal passengers in every car. A carousel of fine hand painted horses turns in the far corner.
"I kind of did," I say with a smile, marveling as a fair plays out in his room. I even got one of those gigantic pianos you put on the floor. I figure he can learn that way and I can have fun teaching him happy songs.
"You're going to spoil him, Daddy."
"Good. It's my life's mission to spoil both of you." I kneel down beside her and give her a quick kiss. "This is for Teddy." I reach to the end table and pick up a white papered package tied with lavender ribbon and hand it to her. She slides the bow off and rustles the paper to open it. Teddy, distracted by the noise, fusses a bit, but Ana strokes his face and he falls back to sleep. She's so good with him.
"Oh, Christian." She discards the paper to reveal a first edition of 'The Little Prince'. "This is unbelievable."
"I know he probably won't be able to read for a few years yet.."
"Probably," she teases.
"Hey, he's an exceptional child." I pat his belly and he gurgles. "But, I figured my first gift to you was a set of first editions, so I should give him one, too."
She smiles, then touches my face. I can see she's getting weepy.
"Thank you, Daddy." She lifts him up and waves his little bear paw covered hand. I, of course, can't resist kissing it.
"Don't thank me. It's what I do."
"What's this?" She pulls out an envelope addressed to our son that's nestled between the pages at the appropriate quote.
"It's a letter I want him to have in a few years." She kisses it and puts it back in its place, reading the bookmarked page.
"I love the part where he tames the fox," she looks up at me, knowing.
"I do now, too." I kiss her softly.
"I love the gifts." She smiles contentedly and lays her head back, softly rocking back and forth in her chair, cradling our child.
"Hey, don't get too comfortable. I'm not done." I reach over to the end table. "Don't think I forgot about you, Mrs. Grey." I open the drawer and pull out a red box she's familiar with.
"You didn't have to get me anything. It's too much."
"Ana, please. Open it." I'm so excited, I'm about to burst.
She smiles as she slowly lifts the lid to the box. When she gasps, I know she's seen it.
"Christian!" She lifts out the necklace I had made for her. A large dazzling green emerald surrounded by diamonds hanging from a platinum and diamond roped chain. "This is like a crown jewel. It must've cost a fortune."
"Do you like it?" That's all I care about.
"I love it. It's breathtaking." I smile, knowing she's pleased.
"It's an emerald, which is our son's birthstone and it's surrounded by diamonds. Like wedding diamonds. Symbolizing us. We'll always be with him."
"It's perfect." A large teardrop falls off her lashes.
"Like both of you." I kiss her and him, then move behind her to help put it on.
"I wish I could give you something so beautiful." She touches the jewel, gently.
I look down at our child. "This is nothing compared to what you've given me." I kiss the side of her head and secure the clasp. Standing, I admire her. "Stunning," I say, and I'm not talking about the jewel.
Teddy starts to fuss.
"I think he's hungry," she says.
"I'll let you feed him while I check with Gail on our dinner. You need to eat, too, Mrs. Grey."
I stand up and walk to the door and before leaving, I turn around. Ana is cuddling our son as he nurses, rocking back in forth in her chair. The starlight from the ceiling sparkles down on both of them as the lullaby floats in the air. He looks so much like me and she is nothing like my mother. She's an angel. I never thought it was possible to love Ana anymore than I do, but in this moment, as she feeds and loves and comforts my son, my heart is near bursting. The heart I told her I didn't have. With her, everyday, my heart grows so much more.
She looks out the window at the sunset. "It's a beautiful view," she says.
"My favorite," I say, not taking my eyes off of them.
As I make my way to the kitchen, I marvel at these past few days. We're finally home, with our son. I'm finally home with my family.
I can't wait for more.