Taylor was confused – 'What, he's outside my room?' She frowned, which was a mistake, because it really really hurt. 'Ow!' She raised a hand to her head, feeling the stitches, but before she could probe further, Steve gently but firmly pulled her hand down. 'You have stitches Taylor, leave them alone. What hurts? Is it your head or your eye?'
'My head…..my eye, it really hurts, feel a bit sick Ste..' and with that she was throwing up into the bowl Steve hurriedly pushed under her chin. 'Jesse!' he yelled at the door, willing Jesse to come in – and let out a huffed breath of relief when he did.
'What is going on? Right Steve, out – NOW – this is too much, Taylor needs to be resting, not talking. Go on , out now!' Jesse was furious, Taylor was his patient, and he'd made an error in judgement in letting Steve in so soon. Steve eased Taylor back onto her pillows, and whispered, 'I'll be back as soon as I'm allowed, Taylor, promise'. Moving out of the room, he glanced at Jesse, 'I'll wait outside'.
Outside the room Jack and Mark stood, having heard Steve shout they were anxiously waiting to find out what was going on. Steve knew the restraint they were showing – as doctors, not going to someone who needed medical help – it showed their level of trust in Jesse and his skill.
'What's going on now Steve?' asked Mark. 'She's been sick, and she's hurting so much, Jesse threw me out – but I'm waiting here till I can go back in – I promised Taylor' Steve stated firmly, but his shaking hands showed that he was feeling more than a little thrown by how Taylor was doing.
'I'm going to check into a hotel, I don't think my hanging around is going to help anyone,' said Jack quietly, watching Steve carefully. But Steve put out a hand, 'Wait Jack, I really need to talk to you. Let's grab a coffee – I have a feeling Jesse won't let me back in for quite a while.' Steve hesitated, the conversation with Jack wasn't going to be easy, but he needed it…..he and Taylor needed for him to get a grip and do this, and for her he'd do anything.
Jack thought carefully for a moment, 'ok Steve, let's go, I'm sure the cafeteria coffee is as terrible as it always was – I think I actually missed it!'. Both men managed a small smile and walked towards the elevator. Mark watched, perhaps this was a terrible idea, but he had a feeling it wasn't, and he had an even stronger feeling he shouldn't interfere.
Jack and Steve sat nursing their paper cups of brown liquid….the hospital claimed it was coffee, but both men had their doubts. 'Go on Steve, say what you need to say' Jack was ready for the tirade he had a feeling was on its way.
'I screwed up Jack. I heard Taylor on the phone to you, and I saw red. I got jealous. I've never reacted like that – and Taylor got hurt when I wasn't there, and she got hurt thinking I never wanted to see her again. I really screwed up.'
Jack was stunned; this was Steve at his most open, vulnerable. He really loved Taylor, really did. Jack had thought maybe he did, but here it was – all Steve's fences down and all his feelings raw.
'Don't be too hard on yourself Steve, you've told her now, apologised – and she heard you.'
Steve took a shaky breath – 'She said she loved me, and that even if you walked in and said you'd changed, she'd still pick me Jack – is that why you're here – to tell her you've changed and you want another chance?' He waited for the answer. Not realising he was holding his breath, not realising Jack could see the tears behind his eyes.
Jack paused, 'No Steve, I'm not that dishonest. I haven't changed. Taylor was the best thing that ever happened to me, but she happened too soon for me. I'm just not ready, and I hurt her alot pretending I was. And look, someone up there knows what they're doing, cos you're ready for what she has to offer – lucky bastard.'
Steve exhaled. It felt as though the weight was off his chest – all through his relationship with Taylor something had been niggling at him and he finally realised what it had been. He'd been so unlucky in love, he really hadn't let himself believe that finally, this time, he would get want he wanted – someone who loved him as much he loved them, someone who wanted the same things – marriage and children – a really strong family life. When Taylor had shown she was still closely in touch with Jack, the fear that she would go back to him had taken hold and taken over. Now he knew – she was his.
Jack sat back sipping his coffee, watching the relief play across Steve's face. He wasn't lying – he didn't want to go back to how things had been before – engaged and tied down, but it felt a little odd knowing Steve would be building a future with a woman he had once believed he would spend the rest of his life with.
Back in Taylor's room, Jesse had finished checking Taylor's reaction times and responses. She'd calmed down and was feeling much better. He pulled up a chair and sat down next to the bed.
Taylor glanced across at him – waiting to hear what he had to say – he looked so serious. 'What Jesse?'
'Taylor, you took quite a bump, and combined with the quantity of alcohol you drank in such a short time you are going to have quite the headache. You need to rest and I think, in light of what else is going on, you should stay in hospital for a couple of days.' Jesse was expecting resistance, he was so used to his friends arguing with him, but Taylor surprised him. 'Ok Jesse, as long as Steve can visit and I can speak to Jack'.
'Ok Taylor, who do you want to see first?' cautiously Jesse asked. He hoped it was a good idea, but had a feeling this should get settled sooner rather than later.
Walking into the cafeteria Jesse saw Jack and Steve drinking coffee together. He crossed over to their table and pulled up a chair. Steve immediately reaching over to lay a hand on his arm – 'How is she Jesse?'
'She's doing much better – quite a concussion and the mother of all headaches but she'll be fine. I've told her I want her to stay in for a couple of days – just to get some rest, and she's ok with that. Actually Steve, she wants you to visit, but first – she wants to talk to Jack' Jesse was expecting tension from Steve at least, and he wasn't disappointed, but it was so much less than he expected, and Steve managed to answer graciously 'Sure thing, I understand. I'll walk with you Jack, so I can go straight in when you've finished chatting.'
All three men rose, and began to walk back to Taylor's room. At the door Jack paused, 'I meant what I said Steve' and quietly entered the room.
He stopped for a moment to look at Taylor. 'Hey you' he said quietly, leaning over to place a chaste kiss on her forehead. She looked up – 'Hey yourself'. Jack found himself frowning at the bruising on her forehead – 'That's some bruising Taylor, way to go'.
'Jack, have you seen Steve?' Taylor came straight to the point – she didn't want Steve to carry on worrying that she would go back to Jack, and she needed to put her own doubts to rest. She'd been worrying that things had moved to fast, that she'd rebounded from Jack into Steve's arms. Now she knew, yes things had moved fast, but that was because she'd suddenly met the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with – not because they could make it work – but because he just was…..corny but true…her other half.
'We talked Taylor. He knows I'm not here to talk you into coming back to me – I'm an idiot when it comes to relationships, but I've learned my lesson where you're concerned. You and I – I ruined it deliberately Taylor, I just didn't want to commit, but couldn't give you up, just not that honourable – sorry.'
'Oh Jack, I don't want to muck this up – I never told him, never explained what he means to me. I can't lose him.'
'Ok Taylor, if you get all upset again Jesse will skin me alive….Steve's crazy about you, seeing stars in love with you – he's not going anywhere and he knows you love him'
…Outside the door, open just enough, Steve heard every word. He stood leaning back against the wall, eyes closed and a warm smile playing on his lips. Journey over –he'd come home.
….Mark sat behind the nurses station, with Jesse, listening and watching. As Jack stepped out of the room and Steve went in Mark looked at Jack, and very quietly mouthed 'thank you'. Jack nodded. 'I'll check into a hotel – and invite myself to breakfast at yours!' he added cheekily. 'See you in the morning'.
Three months later.
Birdsong. Lots and lots of birdsong. Steve snuggled deeper under the duvet and wished the birds would shut up, he wanted to stay right where he was. Abruptly all thoughts of sleep rushed straight out of his head when an arm crept round his waist, fingers brushing his stomach. Suddenly he was wide awake, taking notice and very very aware of the lips brushing against his neck.
'Morning' she whispered.
Rolling over and gathering her into his arms, Steve started his morning the way so many started – giving thanks that Taylor was in his arms, in his life and in his heart.
'Good morning' he smiled as he returned the kisses. 'Did you realise it's only about 5.30?'
'Well, if you will bring me to a cabin in the forest, surrounded by birds, and then get me into bed before 8pm, what time do you expect me to wake up?' Taylor grinned.
Their weekend away was nearly over – today they had to make their way back to the real world. This had been a quiet haven from the madness of work and more work which kept them apart so much. Steve had been trying to pluck up the courage to ask Taylor to move in with him all weekend, and he knew this was the moment.
'Taylor, waking up with you is the most perfect way to start my day, whatever the time – move in with me – let's do this everyday'.
Quietly she contemplated for a minute. Blue eyes staring into blue eyes. Steve wondered what she was thinking about. 'Ok'.
'You mean it? God I love you' Steve kissed Taylor, the passion building. Running his hands down her back he cupped her backside, fingers brushing lower and lower. Bringing his hand round her hip he continued exploring, till his fingers swept between her legs, finding her moist and ready for him. Lowering his head he swirled a tongue round her nipple teasing hit to hardness, and gently began to slip one finger into her, flicking over the little nub that sent her back arching as she moaned. He slid further down her body, stroking his finger in and out, before his tongue joined in – her moans increased as he added a second finger. He stroked at her core as he licked – penetrating her with his tongue. Adding a third finger, his cock hardening even more as she spread her legs wider. As she began to writhe under him he stopped and looked up. Her eyes were closed, mouth open, hair streaming back on the pillow – if he didn't take her now he was sure he'd come anyway. He moved up between her legs and drew one around his hip – 'I am going to make love to you every day for the rest of our lives Taylor' he whispered as he slid his aching leaking cock into her heat. Steve had to hold his breath, bite his tongue – anything to stop him from coming – and at last began to move. He wanted to take it slow, but Taylor grasped his hips and pulled – she wanted him to move harder and faster, so he did. Taylor began to shudder around him as she came – her muscles clamping down on him – and he couldn't hold back. Groaning incoherently as he came – pumping into her. Shaking as they came down from their high, they kissed gently. 'Wow, that was amazing Steve – love you so much' Taylor murmured.
Reaching down between them instinctively Steve froze. Taylor looked at him – 'What?' 'Oh crap Taylor, God I'm sorry, I just forgot' Steve looked panic stricken 'I didn't use anything'. Taylor didn't speak for a minute, then she put her hands either side of Steve's face 'I was here too, I didn't stop you, neither of us thought about it, it'll be ok'.
'We can get an emergency prescription as soon as we get back Taylor….if you want to' Steve spoke gently. He'd got carried away – he couldn't help feeling guilty and responsible.
'Why don't we get up, have breakfast, and talk about it when you're heart rate has slowed down!' Taylor grinned at Steve, trying to lighten the mood. She felt a bit panicky too, but it wasn't Steve's fault, they would decide what to do together.
Breakfast was quiet. Sitting on the porch with bacon sandwiches and coffee, watching the sun finish it's rise to daytime. Steve gently reached over and took Taylor's hand, 'What do you want to do – head back now? I don't know how those prescriptions work Taylor, when do you have to take them?'
'We have hours Steve, but…well, is that really what you want to do?' Taylor was nervous, perhaps she was reading him wrong, but Steve had waited so long to be with someone, she just wasn't sure he would want to do something that might rob him of the family he'd wanted so long.
'You mean, you'd wait and see – take the chance…really, you're ready to do that with me?' Steve felt a wave of excitement building within him – have a baby with Taylor, watch her belly grow with his child….suddenly he was hoping she was pregnant.
'Yeah, I am Steve…we didn't plan this, but I don't think I would want to destroy your baby just because it's not planned. I love you, so yes, let's just wait and see.' Taylor felt the excitement too.
'You know, we could help Mother Nature along a little….'Steve grinned, watching Taylor's face.
'I don't know what you mean Steve!' Taylor smiled too, even more broadly when Steve pulled her to her feet and began to kiss her – his intentions perfectly clear.
Back at work, Steve and Taylor moved her belongings into his apartment. Mark was thrilled – and even more thrilled when an engagement ring quietly appeared on Taylor's finger. There was no announcement. One wasn't needed – no-one needed to be told they were planning on spending their lives together.
Steve watched Taylor carefully as the next few weeks passed….and she noticed him watching. Over breakfast one morning she quietly spoke 'I haven't had my period Steve'.
It was a few moments before Steve began breathing again. 'Wow, are you…do you think we should…wow'.
Taylor laughed softly. 'We can do a test Steve, but a home one, I don't want to run the risk of anyone at the hospital accidentally telling your Dad. You and I should do that when we know for sure…' She leant over and ran her hands through his hair, 'I love you Steve, just breath for me okay?'
'Okay, sure….let's go now' Steve stood and threw on his jacket.
'Where?' Taylor looked up confused.
'The pharmacy, to get a test. I want to know now Taylor. Come on, this is more important than anything else today. I'll call in – say I'm going to be a bit late…what time's your first appointment?' Steve was frowning, why wasn't she rushing?
'Steve, relax. My first patient is at 10.30….we can go, but just relax would you….you're way too wound up.' Taylor paused, 'are you hoping…I mean ….did you change your mind or something?'
'No way! I want you to be pregnant more than anything Taylor. I've waited so long for this moment, I don't want to wait another minute….please' Steve gently pulled her to her feet and wrapped his arms around her. 'I am going to cherish you, wrap you in cotton wool and take care of you completely Taylor.'
Taylor smiled happily, 'I won't break Steve….'. But she didn't mind the loving way he looked at her…and how excited he was.
One Hour Later
Steve could barely contain his impatience. He'd driven at exactly the speed limit to the pharmacy, parked carefully, watched Taylor select a home pregnancy kit from the shelf, queued up with her, paid, driven carefully home, parked carefully, paced outside the bathroom door whilst Taylor pee'd on a stick (she wouldn't let him in), and now he was sitting on the edge of the bath tub waiting.
Taylor sat on the toilet lid, watching Steve fidget, smiling gently as she took in his nervousness. 'Steve, would you just go make a cup of coffee or something? You're driving me slightly crazy'.
'Coffee isn't good for pregnant women' Steve said distractedly.
'No, maybe not, but you could have some' Taylor was full out grinning now as she stood up. 'Never mind, I think that's time up – do you want to look or shall I?' She was suddenly as nervous as him, this was a huge deal.
Steve stood up, 'Ok….wait…what am I looking for?' Taylor picked up the box the test had come in and read the instructions. 'Ummm, one blue line means…' she looked up 'that we're not pregnant…and two means we are.' For a moment they looked at each other, then Steve lifted the tissue off the test stick and picked it up…..
'Oh wow Taylor, we're having a baby!'
Taylor found herself suddenly grinning at moments during the day, passing a hand over her stomach. She would be totally absorbed with a patient, and then after they'd left, and she'd written up her notes, filled in charts – she'd remember. And then she'd grin.
Mark noticed that Taylor was in a particularly good mood this morning. Mark had noticed that she and Steve had gone out, come back home, then gone out again….. Mark had noticed that Steve had held the car door open for Taylor, and closed it, and driven so very carefully off the driveway and given Taylor a lift to work….. Mark had remembered being that tender around the woman he loved. Mark was grinning a little bit too.
Steve had found himself being a little too hard on a suspect in the interrogation room, in a case involving a child….Steve had found himself resisting the temptation to ring Taylor twice an hour, every hour, all day. Steve got totally absorbed in phone calls, paper work, case discussions – then he'd remember. And then he'd grin.
A month later.
Taylor watched Steve hand his Dad a cold beer. They were barbequing on the deck – Amanda, Jesse…all their family around them, and the time was right to share their secret. 'Um, guys, we have something to tell you,' Steve started.
'Oh wow, you guys set a date for the wedding!' Amanda exclaimed gleefully. Everyone else looked at them expectantly….
'No, but I guess we're gonna have to now…..Taylor and I are having a baby…'Steve said proudly.
There was so much noise and whooping you'd have thought there were more than the five of them, but it was Mark whose reaction was the quietest. He simply hugged Taylor, tears of joy in his eyes, he'd been right he thought, everything today was just perfect. Steve was so happy, Taylor was glowing….and he was looking at a future with family around him….a grandchild to spoil and teach and love.
There were times in his life when Steve stopped and sent up a prayer of thanks, for Taylor, for their marriage and for their life together. Times he remembered reading the first pregnancy test, then the second. Remembering holding Taylor's hand as she gave birth to their daughter, remembering moaning about the pain in his hand as she squeezed it and then Taylor's face as another contraction hit….and feeling like a total whiner for complaining, and then their sons…..remembering the shock when the sonographer had said 'it's twins!'. Today was one of those days…one he'd look back on and be thankful for…..
Taylor had fallen asleep in the lounger on the deck, her paperback book resting on her baby bump. He grinned remembering the day Taylor had come to him….'I think I might be pregnant again…' and they'd done the test. Admitting to each other it wasn't great timing, the boys were so young, this would have to be the last. The grin disappeared as he remembered agreeing to get a vasectomy. Being so relieved it was only one….one healthy baby...but she was such a good mother, and Elisa, the live in housekeeper they'd all agreed on hiring, was such a lifesaver, allowing Taylor to work two days a week…life was good. Mark was on the sand with Bella…building the biggest fairy sand castle they could. The boys were having a nap in the shade…Elisa was humming as she fussed around, tidying, making sure everyone was ok. Life was very good.