Six months later.
'If you get any bigger one of us is gonna have to sleep on the floor! Are you sure there's only one in there?' asked Shannon, rubbing his hand across Chloe's huge stomach affectionately.
'I'm due in six days sweetie, I don't think I'm getting any bigger than this!' laughed Chloe.
'I swear you've got bigger just in the last week, it's like a zeppelin!' he said, followed with 'Ow! Quit it!' when she grabbed him by the mohican and pulled. She hadn't been fond of his choice to cut all his hair off again, but she was slowly getting used to it. He was still the most adorable thing she'd ever seen, and no words could express how much she loved him. The only regret Chloe had was that she hadn't met him years ago, before Mike, before Crystal.
Ah, Mike. He still refused to give her a divorce, even though his verbal abuse had ceased after he figured it was doing nothing to even slightly bother them he still tried to hold that trump card over her. Yet again, it didn't work. The final piece of correspondence she sent him sealed that for him-
You can refuse to divorce me all you like, but it can't stop me changing my name legally, which is Moore now in case you wondered. You spitefulness won't stop me from having the same surname as my family. Besides, Shannon and I weren't planning on getting married in a rush so waiting until you stop behaving like a child suits us just fine. Honestly, have a good life, because I won't be around to witness it. I'll be too busy enjoying my own, without you in it at long last.
Ms. C Moore.
Nothing was going to stop her being happy, least of all him. She loved her life, her man, her friends, her horse who still wondered what was going on with the large lump in his mommies' tummy, and her job which she still continued at despite being the size of the following, depending who you asked.
'Baby elephant' – Chad.
'Zeppelin' – Shannon.
'Water balloon' – Shane.
'Mount Kilimanjaro' – Kerry.
It was no underestimation, she was huge. Which was confusing since the estimated birth weight of their son was 7lbs 9oz and she'd hardly put weight on anywhere else except her ass (which Shannon told her she shouldn't be in too much of a hurry to lose since it looked so good). She often joked the baby must have been stashing food down there, and would probably be born clutching a fistful of Oreo's. Her little Henry, she couldn't wait to see him. The name had been Shannon's idea since she had lost her grandfather the previous year, and she'd thought it the perfect idea for their son's name. It took her grandmother about a week to stop crying she was so touched.
'If you're stressed, this is what you gotta do. Baby feet kicking you in the face always works' said G from behind the counter as he sat with Chloe, his head rested on her stomach and his arms rested either side.
'How long have you got to go now? Can't be too long' said one of the girls they were talking to.
'Six days, and I can't wait! I feel like I'm carrying an army backpack with me everywhere, but attached to my stomach! Only get pregnant if you can stand the back ache' said Chloe, laughing at G as Henry really began to give him beats.
'Little rebel, just like your dad. Shit he's really giving it some in there!' exclaimed G as he felt his cheek pounded by little feet.
'Yeah he's saying 'PISS OFF FOOL!' Well, if he's anything like Shan he will be' she said, resting her hands either side of her bump as G sat up and wincing a little as the kicks got more savage.
'Arrrrgh! Dude chill! Mommy wants some insides left!' she said, looking down at where her hands rested.
'Good luck with it, and once again thanks so much for this' said the girl, gesturing the dressing on her shoulder of the tiger Chloe had just tattooed there. After chilling out and having a coffee Chloe left early, wanting to have a quiet walk around the mall and buy a few things for Claire's upcoming 28th birthday. She'd seen a rare vinyl release of 'Cowboys from Hell' by her favourite band Pantera in a record store specializing in rarities so had headed there first. She was just in the middle of a clothes store looking for the pair of jeans her friend had seen and loved before, but couldn't buy since they had none in her size when Chloe felt a sharp pain in her stomach, followed by a shortness of breath.
'Okay this ain't no kicking fit' she thought to herself, pulling the jeans off the rack and taking them to the counter to pay.
'Excuse me, do you mind if I take a seat over there for a minute? I feel a bit out of breath' said Chloe after she had retrieved her credit card from the girl behind the counter.
'Of course, come with me' she replied brightly and gently lead Chloe by the elbow round to the corner facing the other side of the counter where there was a large plush looking decorative chair, matching decadent yet hippy looking decor of the rest of the store. She politely asked the lady sitting on it trying on shoes if she would mind moving, and then offered Chloe a drink once she'd sat down.
'A watch with a second hand would be handier to me right now. I don't want to scare you but I might be going into labour' she said, watching the girls eyes widen a little as she continued to smile.
'Right, here take this. I have to get back behind the register but just gimmie a yell if you need me to call for an ambulance or your other half or anything' she said after removing and donating her watch and then running back behind the cash desk after Chloe had nodded.
'Okay, five minutes so far. You better get to at least nine before I have another' she said, looking at the watch and keeping calm. She wasn't a born worrier and she knew at some point or another she'd probably loose it and succumb to screaming, crying and shouting but saw no point in getting herself worked up this early in; if Henry was about to make an entrance that was.
Five minutes later, and another searing pain hit her. And before she had chance to think about what she should do next, the choice was made for her.
'It's about time I repaid being such a pain in the ass by making myself useful. And my newly trained nurses eye tells me you're going into labour and need a ride to hospital' came the voice of Lauren from behind her, also feeling her hand on her shoulder. 'Past forgotten, I just wanna help you out' she then added as Chloe took her outstretched hands and eased herself up onto her feet.
'And I think I'd be a fool to pass up on that offer. A ride to hospital from a trained professional sounds pretty good to me' said Chloe, walking by her side out of the store and having Lauren usher her outside.
'Okay wait here and I'll be right back. It's a little much to expect you to climb the stairs and too risky to use an elevator that might get stuck so I'll drive down to you' said Lauren, rubbing her arm and smiling before running at quite a speed in her stiletto heeled boots back to the elevator to take her up to where she'd parked her Buick. Chloe was pleased to see the shiny red car pull up and walked over as quickly as she could manage and climb in, Lauren helping her stretch the seatbelt around her bulk before pulling out into the flow of traffic and heading for the hospital.
'How frequent is your pain?' asked Lauren, indicating to turn left as she slowed the car.
'So far I've only had two really sharp ones. But I've had false alarms for the last few weeks and they've been nothing compared to this' Chloe replied, watching Lauren nod.
'Just keep taking deep breaths and try to relax. The more you tense up the more uncomfortable you'll feel. It took the midwife about three hours of hammering that point home when I gave birth, I was so tensed up' she said, then cursed softly when they got stopped by a red light.
'I didn't know you had a child' said Chloe, turning to look at her.
'I don't. She died three hours after she'd been born. Inoperable hole in her heart the poor soul. I was only seventeen at the time and she wasn't planned, but I wanted to keep her all the same, even though when the doctors found it on my scans they said she probably wouldn't survive' said Lauren, shifting the car back into gear and pulling away.
'Oh my lord, that's............that's heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for you' said Chloe, reaching out to gently touch her arm. Lauren looked over and smiled kindly before continuing.
'Ever since then I've had problems losing the things or people I love. After my outrageous behaviour a few months ago I decided to go and seek counselling again and well my therapist stated that that's probably a big part of the reason I acted the way I did. I find it hard to let go' she said, Chloe nodding.
'I understand that something like that could stay with you for a long time, but I can't even imagine how you must have felt, or possibly coped. You're very brave' she said, shaking her head in amazement. It was then that it hit her just how strong Lauren must be, and how much it must have really punched her in the guts to learn of her pregnancy with the man (at the time) she was still in love with. Yet she still had done what she said she would, walked away and let them get on with their lives once she'd realized she was the one in the wrong. Chloe couldn't help but respect her for that, and the kindness she was showing her right at that moment as they drove through the busy streets on the way to the hospital.
'I think I'm a whole lot braver than I give myself credit for. And becoming a nurse has really helped me, it's why I chose midwifery and as soon as I can I'll be starting to train to become one too.
Obviously it's something close to my heart and it makes perfect sense for it to be my career too. It's therapeutic for me' said Lauren, indicating right to enter the hospital complex. 'Oooooh you having another contraction? Hold my hand' she then added, doing a nice job of driving one handed while Chloe clutched her other tightly.
'You need to get me outta here before my water breaks all over your nice clean seats!' said Chloe, taking a deep breath as Lauren parked up.
'It's no biggie if it does, my new boyfriend is a valet guy so he'll be able to clean it off for me!' she laughed, getting out and locking her door before racing around to help Chloe out. She got her inside and straight up to the maternity suite with no waiting (flashing her security card issued to all hospital staff) and then got her checked in at the desk and a room organised so she could wait comfortably for her doctor to come and check her over.
'Isn't this supposed to be your day off Nurse King?' asked Dr Morris when he entered the room to find Lauren there making Chloe comfortable.
'It was but I had to help, erm...' she paused.
'She wanted to help her friend in need' Chloe finished for her, giving her a little wink as Lauren smiled at being referred to as a friend.
'Well let's check you over then, see if it's a false alarm or if little Henry is about to make an appearance!' said her Doctor. After a ten minute check over it was deemed Henry really was on his way, so Lauren stepped outside the room and called Shannon to let him know. It was quite a shock to hear, firstly because Chloe wasn't due for another six days and secondly because Lauren was the last person he expected to hear that news from. But he thanked her warmly for getting Chloe there all the same, and after yelling 'I GOTTA GO! MY BOY'S ON HIS WAY OUT LIKE NOW!' as he ran across the shop and through the front doors he was on his way.
'He's on his way so I'll leave you to it. If I stay any longer they'll only rope me into doing some work!' said Lauren as she came back into the room.
'Thank you, you didn't have to do what you did for me' Chloe replied, smiling up at her.
'Neither did you when you pulled be back over that bank; you could have just left me there. But I think it takes certain situations to really see what's important in life. Good luck, oh and blaming the man who got you in this situation in the first place is a wonderful way to get through it, worked for me! I hope the three of you'll be very happy, and I might see you around before you go home, but if not I wish you the best for everything' said Lauren, laying a little kiss on the side of Chloe's head, giving her bump an affectionate stroke and then turning to leave.
'Lauren?' she said, making her stop and turn back at the door.
'Yes?' she replied.
'You're an angel' said Chloe, blowing her a little kiss Lauren comically pretended to catch against her cheek.
'No worries, bye sweetie' she said, waving and then leaving the room. She only had to wait for twenty minutes before the door opened again and Shannon came in.
'I called Claire and she's gonna bring your stuff up soon with Jeff. How are my babies doing then?' he asked, sitting on the edge of the bed and kissing her.
'Not bad so far, the midwife is coming in to check over us soon but they think it's going to be a slow labour since my contractions are so far apart. Ooooh speak of the devil' she said, wincing as she clutched her stomach, Shannon pressing his hands over the top of hers.
'C'mon Henry, be a good boy for mom' he joked, kissing her huge belly and laughing a little.
'I don't think there's much chance of that over the next however many hours! He's gonna put mom through the mill but it'll be worth it, I think' she replied.
'I'll remind you of that when he hits thirteen and refuses to do what either of us says' he said with a smile. Shortly after the midwife came in to check her over and see how the labour was progressing, which was still very slowly. And so Chloe sat back and prepared for the long wait ahead of her, doing fine for the first two hours until the pain really began to kick in; and then she was terrified and sat in Shannon's arms having a bit of a cry.
'Baby, can you get my mom in for a bit please? It's not that I don't want you here but I just really need her right now' said Chloe, before groaning again as another contraction gripped her.
'Okay, I'll go get her when you've finished sinking your claws into my shoulder' he said, making her raise a little smile through her tears. And so once her contractions had calmed down again he went out into the waiting room to fetch Karen, and then got himself ushered outside by Hank.
'I know you quit son, but you look like you need one' he said to Shannon, handing him a cigarette he gratefully accepted.
'Thanks, it's hard to see someone you love so much going through so much pain isn't it?' said Shannon as he lit up from the flame his 'father in law' provided.
'It is, you got that feeling of being completely helpless yet?' asked Hank, putting his lighter back into his pocket.
'It kicked in about an hour ago' said Shannon, running a hand over his hair and returning his cap to his head in its usual backwards fashion. Hank just laughed gently and patted him on the shoulder, hoping he wasn't feeling as freaked out as he had when Chloe was born thirty four years ago. They went back into the hospital and it was another forty minutes before Karen resurfaced; telling Shannon Chloe wanted him there to shout at.
'Okay, hit me with the 'I'm never letting you near me again you vile asshole' line, I can take it' he said, sitting on the edge of the bed and holding her hand.
'I was only joking, I have to think of ways to keep myself amused through all this and...............SHIT THAT FUCKING HURT SO FUCKING MUCH!' she said, the pain becoming too bad for her to finish her sentence. Ten minutes later she finally gave in and decided on an epidural to see her through the rest of the birth, which had to be topped up another two times since her labour stretched on long into the night. And by the end of it even though she couldn't feel the intense pain she was exhausted, but relieved when she first hear Henry draw breath and cry at exactly 2.30am.
'Awwww man look at him! He's so gorgeous' said Shannon, looking down to where a heavily drugged up Chloe held Henry in her arms, all wrapped in blankets after he'd been weighed.
'Because he looks just like you' she said, turning her head and kissing him, feeling tears well in her eyes when she saw he was crying with happiness.
'Henry, this is your dad and I think he'd like to have a cuddle while mommy asks the nice nurse if she would mind fetching her a drink' she said to her tiny son, carefully passing him to his daddy while the nurse asked her what she'd like.
'Hey champ' he said, kissing his little pink head and feeling absolutely amazed. He couldn't put his finger on just how he felt at holding his first child, but he knew from that moment on he was the number one person in his life next to Chloe; there wasn't a single thing he wouldn't do for either of them. And it just went to show that sometimes playing with fire did get you burned, but in this case it got two people something beautiful; a family of three. Shannon, Chloe and Henry Moore.
A huge thank you to each and every person who read and reviewed this story, I loved writing it and loved to see it was so well enjoyed! You guys make all the difference, you really do! Of course there is more work to me in the coming, if you haven't read my fic 'The Dream' yet please do!