Reba Hart was getting ready to enjoy her time alone at the house since her ex-husband was going to spend the night in the treehouse with their son, and she was planning on calling it a lazy night, just hanging around, maybe watching TV or reading a book or any other relaxing thing.
She had just picked up her book and a cup of hot milk and she was about to sit down on the couch when she heard a loud banging on the front door.
With a sigh she set her book and cup aside, getting up and slowly walking to the front door. When she opened it, she found herself face to face with Barbra Jean.
And she slammed the door closed. Right in her face.
Taking a few seconds to realize what she had done, she sighed and opened the door again, looking at Barbra Jean. It wasn't that she really wanted to slam the door in her face, but honest to God, Barbra Jean's appearance had startled her. She had no make-up on, she was smelling and covered in baby food and, Reba wasn't actually sure but it might be, some traces of vomit were on her robe too. Plus, she had black, ugly bags under her eyes, indicating that she hadn't gotten much sleep in the last few weeks, if she did ever sleep at all. All in all, she was pretty much terrifying.
"Reba, I need your help…" Barbra Jean cried, balancing her screaming baby on an arm as she adjusted the strap of the bag on her other shoulder.
Reba took a deep breath and nodded, opening the door a little more to let her in, "All right, come in…"
Barbra Jean stepped into the house, tears of frustration still sparkling in her eyes as she tried to calm down her baby son.
"What's wrong?" Reba closed the door and motioned for Barbra Jean to sit down on the couch, walking over to the chair next to it.
"I don't know… I really don't know what's wrong with him, Reba… I tried everything, I just can't turn him off… He keeps crying and screaming…" Barbra Jean whined and rocked her baby a little more, but it was no use.
"Have you tried with the dryer?" Reba asked, lifting a hand to her head and rubbing her temple as she started to feel a headache approach.
Barbra Jean looked at her in shock, "Reba! He is just a baby! I can't put him in the dryer!"
Reba rolled her eyes and scoffed, "ON the dryer, Barbra Jean, not IN the dryer… Vibrations seem to soothe babies…"
Barbra Jean shook her head and tears started to fall again from her eyes, "I don't know, Reba, I seriously tried with everything and he just won't stop crying… I checked the diaper, I tried to feed him, I rubbed his stomach in case he was having a colic, I sang to him… He just doesn't like me…" Then she looked up at her, "Can't you just take him and calm him down, Reba? I bet he would like you, everybody likes you…"
Reba swallowed and glanced at the baby in her arms, shaking her head, "No, Barbra Jean… Don't ask me that…" She looked down and took a deep, calming breath. She couldn't do that, she couldn't just take that baby in her arms and soothe him like she did with her own children when they were babies. It would have felt wrong and she wasn't sure she could really bring herself to do that. That baby was the real reason why her marriage had fallen apart completely. Even though he didn't know that and she hated herself for blaming a tiny, little baby, she couldn't help thinking that.
She would have been glad to take Brock back after their separation, she felt he had been away long enough and she missed him, she really did. And she didn't really care that much about the affair, he had slept with Barbra Jean only once and that was it, she could get over it. Forgive and forget, that was what she kept telling herself.
But when Brock had come to her saying that he couldn't go back home, that he actually wanted a divorce and needed to marry Barbra Jean, that was when everything hit her right in the face. Every little piece of her marriage was slipping away like water through her fingers, and everything because of that baby.
Henry. That was how they named him. A nice name. A cute baby, too…he looked like Brock. But that little, cute baby was the reason why she was now alone and miserable, crying her heart out over a marriage she didn't have a chance to save. That little, tiny baby was the reason why she had lost the most important person in her life.
"Reba, please…" Barbra Jean's voice snapped her out of her thoughts. "I spent the past few hours trying to talk my mother into helping me with the kids, but she keeps saying I should figure it out on my own, without no one's help… that is the way she raised my siblings and me, she said…"
Reba tried to hold back a tiny, amused smile, "Well, maybe I should help you then… we don't want another Barbra Jean around the house, do we?" She quipped, and before she knew it Barbra Jean was shoving the baby into her arms, taking for true every word she said.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you so much, Reba, you are such a good friend… I really feel the urge to hug you right now…" Barbra Jean smiled through tears and tried to hug her, but Reba held up her hand, balancing the baby on her other arm.
"Fight it." Reba glared at her and grabbed Henry's blanket and pacifier. "I'm already doing you the biggest favour ever, don't make me regret it."
"Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank-"
"Oh, cut it out!" Reba snapped, cutting Barbra Jean off and getting up to walk out of the living room, rocking little Henry at the same time. "Just shut up, will you?"
Barbra Jean nodded silently and smiled, leaning back against the couch and quickly falling asleep.
Reba took a deep breath and walked into the kitchen, setting Henry's stuff on the kitchen table and keeping on rocking the baby in her arms.
"So you are the little monster, aren't you?" She mumbled, looking down at the baby who was already calming down. "You don't really look like a monster…" She added as the baby closed his eyes.
She kept looking at the baby as her slow walking and rocking pace soothed him to sleep. So that little angel sleeping in her arms was the reason why her marriage never had a chance to make it. That sweet little bundle of joy was the one that got to decide who was the winner in the end.
"The winner takes it all…" She murmured to herself, humming a tune to the baby. "And you took away everything, baby boy…"
Should she hate him? Maybe. Could she find in herself reasons to do that? Several. Did she hate him? She didn't think so. How could she hate him when he was so tiny and helpless peacefully sleeping in her arms, allowing her total control, trusting her with his life.
They had just started a relationship, a bond running through them when he had allowed her to soothe him to sleep. She had complete control over everything and she was shocked to catch herself thinking of how things could be different if he wasn't there.
'Accidents happen…' A voice in her head suggested, and she suddenly felt like someone had punched her in the stomach. How could she be thinking of something so disgusting? That little boy never had his chance to live at all, and just because he had destroyed her life when had been conceived, that didn't mean she had a right to destroy his life now. Did it?
"If you were never born everything would have been a lot different, you know? I would still be with your daddy and your mother would be away and out of our lives… of course you would never be here, but that's the price to pay sometimes, isn't it?" She quietly said, almost scared of her own thoughts.
Right at that moment she had the power to decide of the life of the baby sleeping in her arms. She could easily let something happen and no one would ever suspect she did it on purpose. She could let him fall… she could 'accidentally' cover his mouth with his blanket… she could hold him too tight and crash him without meaning it…
Her eyes started to get misty as the evil voice in her head suggested more and more ways to get rid of the baby. 'Think of how shattered Brock will be…' It said in an appealing tone. 'He will look for comfort and he will come to you, and you will be able to give him all the comfort he will need… He will forget about Barbra Jean completely and you will live together happily ever after, like it's meant to be. You will grow old together and he will never think of the baby again… he will never know what you did… and what is the life of a silly baby that destroyed your marriage compared to happiness and love? That is what you need, Reba… happiness and the love of your husband…'
"No…no…" Reba shook her head vehemently, tears shining in her eyes as she tried to get rid of the voice in her head.
'Think of it… he will love you forever and you won't have to worry about a thing anymore…' The voice went on and Reba felt a few tears roll down her cheeks as she clung to Henry's body for dear life, afraid to accidentally let him slip out of her arms and fall to the ground, subconsciously doing what the voice was telling her to.
"No…stop it… I can't… I don't want to…" She shook her head again and held Henry even tighter. She was scared out of her mind. She didn't know if she might accidentally let something happen but she didn't want to risk it.
Subconsciously she knew she was somehow letting the voice get to her, and she didn't want that to happen.
Or did she?
She swallowed hard, trying to get rid of the feeling and the thoughts. Of course she didn't want that to happen, she wanted the baby to be safe and healthy. She wanted every baby to be safe. She didn't want anything to happen to him. But still she knew that she wasn't sure. That could be her chance to be happy again.
Unconsciously she tightened her grip around Henry's body and the baby's eyes shot open as he looked up at her with tears dwelling up in his eyes. He trusted her and she was betraying his trust.
How could she be so selfish? How could she be so cruel?
She looked down at the baby and smiled between tears, loosening her grip around him and kissing his forehead lightly.
"I will never hurt you, baby boy… I swear, I will never ever hurt you…" She smiled again a little more and held him close, letting her tears fall as she kept rocking him, soothing him back to sleep.
"Reba?" Brock's voice reached her like from a distance as he entered the kitchen through the back door.
She turned around, startled, and instinctively pulled the baby closer, "Brock…you scared me…" She wiped her tears and chuckled nervously.
He gave her a little smile and walked over to her, his smile fading away a little, "What are you doing with Henry? Where's BJ?" He sounded slightly worried and Reba couldn't quite figure out if it was because of Barbra Jean being missing or because of Henry being alone with her. Anyway she felt a little offended at his tone.
"She's passed out on the couch. She asked me to soothe the baby and look after him and she just fell asleep. I guess she needed that, huh?"
Brock sighed and rubbed his hand over his face, "I know, it's being harder than I thought on her… I thought she would do just fine but apparently she hasn't even bonded with the kid yet…"
Reba nodded and looked down at the baby, feeling her heart break a little as flashes of a few minutes ago ran through her mind.
Brock followed her every movement with a mixture of tenderness and worry in his eyes, he didn't want her to stay with the baby, he didn't want to hurt her more than he already did by asking her to look after his son, a baby who was born from the affair that had broken her heart and their marriage.
He really thought she had a great strength and patience by being okay with that, and he didn't want to push it. "Come on, give him to me…" He smiled a bit and held out his hands, waiting for her to hand him the baby.
Reba swallowed hard and nodded slightly, laying the baby in his arms as she unconsciously let out a little sigh in relief.
"Was that so hard to do?"
Reba frowned, not quite understanding his question.
"I heard you sigh… was it really so hard to soothe him to sleep?" He smiled and rocked the baby who started to stir in his arms.
She glanced at the baby and gave him a tiny, sad smile, "No, it wasn't… sorry, I am just tired… How come you are inside, by the way? Shouldn't you be sleeping in the treehouse along with Jake?"
Brock sighed and nodded, "I should, but it's killing my back… I hope he won't be too disappointed but I really can't do that… Besides I wanted to take BJ and Henry home… I don't want to bother you any more than I am already doing…" He gave her a sheepish grin.
"I'll ask Van if he still wants to sleep there… You don't have to worry, he will be probably thrilled about it… Just get your wife and your son and go home, you need to rest for once…"
"Thank you, Reba…" Brock smiled, then his smile turned to a frown when he saw her face, "Are you really sure you are okay?"
Reba just nodded, "I'm tired…that's all…"
"Hi…" The kid sheepishly looked up at her and smiled, waving his hand.
"Hey Henry…" Reba felt her throat get tight as she looked at the kid, forcing herself to smile.
It had been a long long time, almost five years, since she first saw that kid, and she still tried to avoid staying close to him, she didn't want anything to happen and she didn't quite trust herself. She was scared she might let her anger out on the kid or yell at him or anything else. She was just scared that she could still blame him for everything happened to her marriage and she was terrified at the thought of that creepy, evil voice sweet-talking her in her mind on how easily it could be to get rid of the kid.
She didn't even want to think of it, and she honestly hoped they would leave her alone, but Barbra Jean and Brock were always over with their kid, even asking her to babysit sometimes. Not that she minded doing that, but still she was scared.
"Thank you for agreeing on watching him, Reba… I promise he will be a good kid… right, Henry?" Barbra Jean smiled and knelt down next to her son, looking him straight into the eyes.
Henry nodded and smiled a little when his mother kissed his forehead.
Reba just tried to look away, not wanting to step into the sweet moment, nor letting her heart break any more than it already had.
"It's okay, no big deal…" She said without really expressing her feelings through her voice.
"I will be gone for a couple of hours only… again, I'm so glad you said yes, I really owe you big time…" Barbra Jean smiled and tried to pull her in a hug, but a glare from Reba stopped her. "So, behave with Reba and I'll see you later, baby…" Barbra Jean hugged her son and smiled at Reba again before walking out of the front door.
Left alone with the kid, Reba tried to smile at him, without much success, "Are you hungry, Henry?" She asked casually.
The kid nodded and smiled up at her.
Reba nodded slightly and started to walk towards the kitchen as Henry followed her close, "I will get you something to eat, okay?" She asked, sitting him on a stool and trying hard not to sigh as she walked to the fridge.
Henry nodded again silently, looking at her with his curious, kid's eyes, then he slowly climbed down the stool and walked to her, hugging her from behind, "Do you hate me, Reba?" He just asked in the most innocent tone.
Reba felt tears shoot up into her eyes and she seemed to have lost her voice for a second as her throat got awfully tight and she could barely breathe.
He asked her if she hated him. Was it that evident that she wanted to keep her distance? Was she doing the right thing? That child seemed to have some kind of a bond with her, and that crept her out more than anything else, because she couldn't see how he was so close to her after what she had almost done to him.
'Maybe you're just overreacting…' She told herself, taking a deep breath and turning around to face Henry.
He looked up at her and in her eyes, with his intense blue eyes that looked so much like Brock's…but with Barbra Jean's innocence. She could do nothing but fall for that look, feeling her bond with that kid growing stronger and stronger by the second as she kept looking back into his eyes.
How could she even think to do anything to that sweet, little kid? How could she be scared of being alone with him for fear of hurting him? He was just too cute and sweet to be true and even if he did destroy her marriage, she knew that it had been dying for quite a while before Brock even slept with Barbra Jean at all. They probably would never have a chance at making it, and that kid meant nothing but happiness for both sides of the family.
With tears shining in her eyes she knelt down next to him and smiled a little, "Why would you even think so, Henry?"
He shrugged, "You never hug me or kiss me… I see you do that with Lizzie…but never with me… are you mad at me?"
She felt her heart break a little more and wiped away a tear rolling down her cheek. 'It's so true… the winner takes it all… Brock and Barbra Jean won and they have the cutest, sweetest kid ever…' She told herself as she looked for the right words to say.
"Of course I'm not mad at you, buddy… It's just that… Lizzie is my granddaughter, I know what I can do with her… but you have your own mommy and daddy and you don't need me, do you?" She said, almost afraid that the answer could make her break down completely.
"I do… I love you, Reba… and I want you to hug me like you do with Lizzie… I don't want to be different…" Henry looked up at her with a frown spread across his face and Reba just pulled him close to her, taking a deep breath as a few tears fell down her cheeks.
"I'm sorry, Henry… I'm so sorry… you don't even know and… I'm just so sorry…" She mumbled, picking him up in her arms and holding him closer to her, kissing his hair.
"Don't cry…" He whispered, looking at her and patting her face with a little smile, "You don't look beautiful when you cry… and I don't want you to cry…"
She smiled a little between tears and kissed his forehead, "You just don't know how happy I am right now, baby…"
"Why?" Henry frowned a bit and looked at her.
"Because you said that you love me…and that you want to be hugged…and that means a lot to me…"
"Reba!" Henry ran towards the woman in front of him, hugging her waist.
"Hey buddy… daddy asked me to pick you up…" She smiled and kissed his hair. "He was still at the office and couldn't make it…"
Henry sneaked his hand into hers and smiled up at her as they started to walk towards Reba's car. She quickly waved at Henry's teacher before letting him jump into the car and fasten his seatbelt, then she took his backpack and put it in the trunk.
"So, how was school?" She questioned when she got into the car and sat on the driver seat, driving off and on the road.
"Boring…" Henry giggled. "But we made pictures…and I made one for you…" He smiled proudly.
Reba smiled back at him and stroked his hair, "Wouldn't it be nice if you made one for mommy too, though?"
Henry nodded, "I did… but I will give it to her when she gets back from Little Rock and picks me up… you can have yours when we get home…" He grinned and leant over to turn on the radio, tuning in on Reba's favourite country station.
Reba chuckled to herself when she heard Henry singing along with some of the songs she liked. She loved spending time with the kid and he apparently loved spending time with her too. And luckily they got to spend a lot of time together since he was living with her now that she and Brock had gotten back together. Barbra Jean had left for Little Rock as soon as she and Brock got divorced, so she could take that job offer at the big Little Rock TV station, and she was only back for the weekend every couple of weeks, during which she spent time with Henry, but the kid had stayed in Houston with his dad because he was attending school there already.
He and Brock had been living with Reba for almost eight months now, and Reba and Brock had been together for a little longer than a year. Everything seemed to be finally falling back in place, things were normal again and they were happy. Every day Reba thanked God for giving her happiness back and for bringing Henry into their lives, because without him she and Brock would probably never get back together. In fact it had been Henry that pressured his father to take him to Reba's place, and he always wanted them to go out all together, part of which because he missed his mom and Reba could perfectly fill her shoes while she was away.
"Are we going home for lunch?" Henry suddenly asked, snapping Reba out of her thoughts.
She shook her head, "I should stop by the office for a while, sweetie, you don't mind coming with me, do you?" She looked at him.
Henry grinned, "Can I play computer games again?"
Reba giggled, "Sure enough you can…" She winked and pulled in the parking lot of her office, getting out of the car and going around it to open Henry's door and help him out.
"Yay!" He exclaimed, taking her hand as they walked to the building door. "Are we going to eat at your office?"
"Hmm…" Reba nodded and let him hit the button for the floor in the elevator, smiling, "Yes, we are… would you rather have McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken?"
"McDonald's!" The kid almost shouted, making her giggle.
"Okay, okay… McDonald's it is…" She made her way into the office still holding Henry's hand, only letting go of him when they reached her desk. "Okay, you sit here and play computer games and I'll go order the food… if my cell-phone rings pick it up, okay?"
Henry nodded and sat down on her chair behind the desk, smiling, "Okay… what do I say if they want to talk to you?"
Reba chuckled, "Just say I'm not here… I'll be right back…" She kissed his hair and walked away, leaving him alone to play.
Henry had been playing the computer for a few minutes when Reba's cell-phone started to ring in her purse. He quickly went through it and found the phone, answering it, "Hello?"
Brock Hart smiled at the voice of his son, "Hey buddy, it's me…"
"Daddy!" Henry grinned.
"What are you doing?" Brock asked, leaning back against his chair.
"Waiting for Reba in her office… I was playing computer games…" Henry quickly answered.
"Sounds cool… you said you are waiting for Reba? So she's not there?"
"Nope…she went to get food… We're having McDonald's!" The kid said excitedly.
Brock chuckled, "I'm glad to hear that you're happy about it… look, can you tell Reba to call me when she's back?"
"Sure I can…" Henry replied with a smile.
"Great… I'll see you later, buddy…" Brock blew him a kiss through the phone before hanging up.
Henry hung up as well and put the phone back in her purse, waiting patiently for her, who came back a few minutes later.
"Sorry it took me so long, baby, I met a friend down the stairs…" She apologized, setting a Happy Meal in front of him.
"No problem…" Henry grinned and moved from her chair, letting her sit down and then sitting down on her lap. "Daddy called your cell and said I should tell to call him back."
"Good… I'll do that now…" She smiled and kissed his forehead before taking her cell-phone out of her purse and dialling Brock's number.
"Hey…you called?" She smiled and leant back, opening her salad.
"Oh, hey honey… yeah, I had called… I wanted to tell you not to make any plans for tonight because we're gonna call it a lazy night and watch family movies on the couch in our pyjamas after dinner." He said casually.
Reba laughed softly, "So family time, huh? Are the kids going to be home?"
"Nope… just you, Henry and me… family time…" He smiled somewhat nervously, waiting for her reply. It was probably the first time that he referred to the three of them as family.
Reba felt her heart filling up with joy at the words he used. Family time that only included Henry and him and herself. The first time he talked about them as a family.
"It sounds great to me… family movies, you said?" She answered, trying to hold back her grin.
"Yep… Disney movies and stuff like that… What do you say?"
Reba grinned and looked at Henry, who was feeding her a French fry and placed a big kiss on her cheek, "That I can't wait for tonight…"
Brock grinned, "Great… I'll see you later, I love you."
"I love you too…" She smiled and blew him a kiss through the phone before hanging up.
"Reba, open your mouth…here comes the plane!" Henry giggled as he picked up some of her salad with her fork and fed her.
Reba chuckled and let him feed her, enjoying the feeling of spending time with the kid, "Hey Henry, does the pilot of the plane know that he should eat too before little spiders and ants crawl all over him trying to steal his food?" She joked, starting to tickle him and kissing his cheeks.
Henry started to laugh, trying to pull away from her embrace, "Stop it… Rebaaa, it tickles…" He giggled, finally wrapping his arms around her neck and grinning at her, "Okay, I eat now…"
Reba smiled and nodded, "Would be about time…" She winked and fed him one of his French fries.
Henry giggled and wrapped his arms tighter around her neck, hugging her and placing a kiss on her cheek, "I love you, Reba…"
Reba hugged him back and kissed his forehead, smiling lovingly at him, "I love you too, baby…"
And as she watched the kid sitting on her lap and how they close they were, for once she really felt like a winner. Because she had it all.