"Stefano!" Richard called up the stairs, "You've got five minutes before your mother gets here!"
"Coming Dad!" a young voice called back. A small backpack came tumbling down the stairs, followed by a 4 year old boy ambling down to collect it. He put it on,
"Daddy, why aren't we with Mommy already?"
"Your aunt Annie didn't trust me to drive. Besides, who can get the place looking as wonderful as we can?"
"No one!" Stefano pumped his fist upwards cheerfully. He took off his backpack and tipped the contents onto the floor. Out poured a banner, some streamers and a teddy bear wearing a pink t-shirt. Richard grinned at his son and scooped up the streamers, adding them to the vast collection already in the apartment.
He personally found them really tacky, but his wife loved them and, with the display of tasteful artefacts and his own paintings in their apartment, he was willing to compromise. It was a great change to be living on the outskirts of the city, allowing them to have more space to work and overlooking a park where Stefano could play with his friends without his mother trailing behind him at all times.
The lock on the front door clicked, so Richard grabbed the banner and Stefano picked up the teddy bear,
"Places!" Richard said with excitement as he unfurled the banner.
The door opened and Annie and Del walked through with big overnight bags. They stepped aside as Caroline walked in with a baby in her arms, wrapped in a pink blanket.
"Mommy!" Stefano cried with joy and ran over to Caroline, dropping the bear to hug her legs, as that was what he could reach. Del picked up the bear to give to Caroline later.
Richard let loose a smile filled with more joy than he had ever felt. He still found it bizarre to hear Stefano refer to Caroline as his mother, but the two of them had gained full custody after their marriage when Julia decided that the baby would be better off with someone who wasn't partying all of the time. And now there was another little person who would be calling them Mom and Dad soon.
As Stefano let go of Caroline, Annie picked him up to get a better look at the baby. Caroline giggled with her stepson and kissed him on the forehead. Richard came up to her and hugged her as delicately as possible before delivering a kiss on his wife's lips. He felt more love for her every day, and he was ecstatic to finally have a family with her. He could barely fathom how, a few years ago, he was adamant about not having children.
Del began jumping impatiently,
"Caroline, tell Richard what you're going to call her."
"For the last time, we're not calling the baby Della." Caroline laughed. Richard rolled his eyes and kissed Caroline on the forehead. Del shrugged impishly, as though saying "worth a try".
"Oh my God, look at this place! It looks great. Aw, and Salty's wearing a little hat!" Caroline exclaimed, waving hello to her fluffy Siamese cat modelling a sparkly pink party hat. Salty looked displeased by the hat but she was swishing her tail back and forth, happy to her human again. Caroline noticed the banner in Richard's hand and craned her neck to see the writing.
"It says 'welcome to the world, baby Karinsky'" Annie gloated, "I had it personalised. And I picked out the decorations." She was much more organised now, having to pick up the slack from forever scatty Del.
"It's what the bear says too. Then Daddy and I decorated." Stefano boasted proudly.
"We have ourselves a little artist, honey." Richard beamed with the same amount of pride as his son. He stroked the forehead of his sleeping newborn daughter, "and who is this?"
"What we agreed on." Caroline smiled, "Mona Karinsky, meet your daddy."
Mona's eyes opened and locked on Richard's. He took her from Caroline and held her close. She had his eyes, Caroline's dimples and crazy dark blonde hair. She was perfect.
At last, everything was perfect.