In the years I had known Ripley Gannon-Jaci, I had learned many thing. I had learned about love, loyalty, sarcasm, fun, frustration, and above all things, patience.
Ripley gave me patience in many aspects of my life. Most recently, she gave me patience in waiting for our son to shoot out of her.
I was always eager. Eager to hear the heartbeat, then eager to find out the sex of the baby, and then eager to meet my son. Ripley however would cluck her tongue at me and tell me to be patient, he'd come out when he was fully invested in it.
Throughout Emily's pregnancy, all she wanted was the baby out. She had been sick the entire time, and always uncomfortable. Ripley was the direct opposite.
She was calm and blissful, and the baby echoed that attitude. He even kicked subtly.
When Emily and Ripley were just short of six months, we were able to find out the sex of both babies. And wouldn't you know it, it was a girl for the Uley's and a boy for the Jaci's.
Soon after that, Embry and Amber eloped, which would have angered us all if we weren't so caught up in baby fever. Instead, we were happy for them, and our family felt tighter than ever.
I didn't even lose patience or my temper when a coven of vampires tried to pick off a few drunk teens during Ripley and Emily's eighth month. The pack and I took them on, and though I felt fear that we'd lose and I'd never see my kid, we won, and gained a new pack member.
A seventeen year old who reminded me of me at that age, phased the night the vampires showed up. Owen was almost relieved at the change in his life. Having an unstable family, much like Sam's, he enjoyed being a part of something. When he met Sue, he enjoyed it even more.
Though his imprinting on my baby sister would have usually angered me, one look at his and Sue's face mellowed me.
My up and coming son might have mellowed me as well, even from Ripley's womb.
I was beside myself with excitement. We all were.
The excitement came to a halt though when Emily went into labor early. It was like a slap of cold water to the face. It reminded us all that life wasn't about floating through a wave of excitement. There were bumps and glitches.
As we all huddled in the hospital yet again, we wondered if our luck was running out, and we'd lose something we couldn't stand to.
It was the first time I ever saw Ripley pray. Even the baby was somehow disturbed by it, as if he had an attachment to the baby as well. He kicked more vigorously then he ever had, and I grew more worried that Ripley would go into labor too.
Our fears were subdued when Sam came out into the waiting room, beaming about the healthy newborn, Annemarie Joy Uley.
Our werewolf, imprint, vampire, human family was a step closer to becoming complete. Though as it grew, I wasn't certain we could ever have enough. There was always room for more.
Holding the little pink baby girl only made my patience tested more. All the excitement glossed over my nerves of impending parenthood. I just wanted to meet what Ripley and I created.
It seemed that the boy was not as eager to meet us though as we were to meet him. He even decided to stay in his mother an extra week.
Ripley was fine with this however, and took the extra time to put the finishing touches on his room, do some business with a self defense class that wanted to sell her line of kits, and gush over Annie.
Then finally, on the last day of April, we checked ourselves into the hospital. Ripley had demanded that my mom be one of her nurses, and asked for her mother, and me to be in the room with her. I took my place by the side of her head, and held her hand as she fought to bring our son into the world.
She cursed me, I praised her. She laughed and smiled at me, I held her. Throughout the whole labor process we grapsed fists, feeling our heartbeats mesh, as she pushed and pushed and pushed.
Then as easily as labor had started, it was over. In a split second my life had changed forever. The mushy beautiful baby boy that the doctor held up at us was one I couldn't imagine having lived without.
He didn't scream or wail like most newborns. He whimpered softly as he stared at Ripley and I. Ripley let out an astonished laugh and leaned back against the pillow, a proud warrior.
Mom took him away to clean him up and check his health, then brought him wrapped up to us, a few tears streaming down her face.
"Here's my grandson." She said as she placed him on Ripley's chest.
We both stared at him for the first few minutes in awe. How had we thought we could wait for this for a few more years? Why did we think we needed time by ourselves? This was what life was about.
As we looked into his solemn blue eyes, we found the life we belonged to. Our son's.
"Wow." Ripley said as she played with his fingers, and I with his toes. "No offence to you dude," she said to me, "But I think I just met the love of my life."
"I was just thinking the same thing." I said and stroked his cheek as I leaned down to kiss her. "I like you a little more than I did this morning though too."
"I was just thinking the same thing." She said with a grin. "I suppose we should name him."
"I have a request, can we name him after me? Toad."
"Toad Junior. TJ. No that's not him." She looked at him and considered. "He looked like the sky. I've always liked Skylar. What do you think about that?" She asked the baby who blinked.
"I like it. What about Skylar Lucas?"
"Skylar Lucas Jaci." She leaned down to kiss and sniff him. "Ding we have a winner."
Ripley and I both took Skylar's little hand in ours, making one complete fist. I felt the pulse and thrill of it shoot through me. I had found the life I belonged to once when I held the hand of a curly haired Frog. Now I found it again in a chubby baby boy.
Paul POV….present day.
As the story had drawn to it's end as I told it, I sat back on the couch and watched the eyes of my granddaughter grow soft.
"I like your life Grandpa." She said. "I miss Daddy and Mommy now more though. And Papa Sam and Maga Emily."
"What about the woman you were named for?" Ripley said from the doorway and our granddaughter jumped up from the floor.
"Grandma, you're home! Grandpa told me a story."
"I was lucky enough to hear my favorite part of it." She grinned at me the same way she had all these years. "Now I know why you are up so late Miss Ripleyanne."
"Did you know Grandpa calls me Frog cuz I look like you?"
"Not only do you look like her, you remind me of all the best parts of her." I said and rose from the couch. "Which I imagine is why your parents named you partly for her."
"That and because they have a cruel sense of humor. No child should have to hold the name of Ripley, even if you only half do. But you were it well butterbean. As do I. Now since you are up this late, how about we go into the kitchen and make hot chocolate?"
Granddaughter and Grandmother beamed at each other as they skipped into the kitchen. I turned to look at the pictures adorning the mantle. All the years they spanned. All the memories they held.
"Are you coming Toad?"
I turned back to see my wife, smiling warmly at me. She held out a hand and I took it, meshing my fingers through hers, a habit that also spanned the years.
I looked in her still youthful eyes and saw the same things in them that the pictures and story held. All the memories of love, strength, anger, and magic. I could see it, as if it were for the first time.