"Are you ready?" Adam looked over at the woman in the passenger side of his beige station wagon. She was twisting the simple gold band on her left ring finger, and staring down at her hands. She seemed lost in her thoughts, and Adam almost felt bad for having to pull her back to reality.
"Hmm?" She asked, just realizing that he had said something.
"I asked if you were ready," Adam repeated, pulling the station wagon into the driveway. It thumped over one of the cracks, and Adam remembered how, whenever Eli would drive over it, he'd curse and say that someday he'd fix that. Now he never would. Adam rolled his eyes upward to try and get the tears to go back inside so Clare wouldn't see them.
"I suppose," she turned and looked to the baby carrier in the backseat. Annabelle Lee was still asleep, and Clare didn't really know what to think, or what to feel. She was thrilled about bringing her baby home to the house she and Eli had picked out together and made into a home together. It was the day she had looked forward to even since before she found out she was pregnant. She had always imagined carrying her baby through the door, and Eli waiting on the other side with a video camera, ready to capture each moment.
Adam didn't really know what else to say, so he threw the gear into park, and hopped out to help Clare inside. Her parents would be stopping by that afternoon, and Ali would come by to stay with her that evening. No one really wanted her to be alone right now.
"My parents said that Bullfrog and Cece were going to handle everything for me," Clare said as Adam opened her door for her, "Which makes it a bit easier I suppose. I can't even imagine how they feel right now. I want them to meet Annabelle, but when I talked to Cece yesterday on the phone, she told me they just weren't ready yet."
"Don't think on that too much," Adam held her hand and helped her out of the car, "I am sure they really want to meet her, it's just hard on them right now."
"Yeah," Clare nodded as Adam opened the backseat passenger door. He moved aside and let Clare unfasten the carrier from the seatbelts holding it in place, "Annabelle," she said – her voice barely a whisper, "We are home, sweetie."
Adam shut the door behind her as they made their way up to the front door. It was a sunny July day, and it was hot. Clare could feel the cinnamon curls sticking to her forehead as she waited for Adam to unlock the door. She didn't really know what to expect when the door swung open, but a feeling of loneliness swept over her. This was her home – hers and Eli's home – and now here she was, bringing their baby home…alone. She looked to Adam who was locking the door behind them, and felt grateful. She knew she wasn't really alone, but still, it wasn't the same.
Clare placed the baby carrier on the dining room table, and lifted Annabelle out, "Here is the living room, baby girl," Clare took the blanket off of her baby, and let Annabelle slowly stir herself awake, "Welcome home."
"What do you want me to do?" Adam asked, feeling useless. He knew he had been a big help to her, but he still felt as though he should be doing more. Also, he didn't want to be left alone with his thoughts. He needed something to do to get his mind off of everything. He needed to focus on something other than the death of his best friend, his brother.
"I don't know," Clare answered honestly, "I wasn't expecting it to be like this. Eli…he's supposed to be taking pictures of everything and…and the grandparents are supposed to be here…and it's supposed to be like a huge Welcome Home party."
"I know," Adam felt so sorry for her, "What did your parents have to say yesterday when they visited?"
"Just that they were stunned, and sorry. They were like me – happy about my baby, but at the same time…" she didn't want to continue with that sentence, "They told me they'd be over this afternoon to help me, and they told me Eli's parents were going to get everything squared away concerning all the technical matters. Mom said when she spoke to Cece on the phone, she sounded at a complete loss."
"They loved him very much."
"Everyone did," Clare let a small smile cross her face before the tears glazed her eyes again, "I still can't believe that this is it…that he's really gone. I keep thinking that…that he's just out of town and will be back soon. I keep thinking he's going to call…or that he'll walk through the door…or that he's going to…"
Adam placed a hand on her shoulder, and Clare felt a sense of comfort, "You're such a good friend, Adam. You've always been…to both of us."
Adam shrugged off the compliment, "Let's put this little one in her crib. Do you want me to get you something to eat?"
"I don't feel much like eating," Clare admitted, "I just don't really know what to do. I feel like I'm in a daze right now. Like I'm walking through fog, or a dream."
Adam gently pushed her towards the hallway. Once inside the nursery, Clare shut the blinds to keep some of the light out.
"This is your room, sweetie," she said, "This will be where you'll sleep and play and…" her voice was cracking again. Clare laid her daughter in the crib and turned on the mobile that Eli had installed, "He picked this out," Clare explained to Adam, "He liked the Peter Rabbit characters, and the music it played. He was…he was so excited to meet her, Adam."
"He loved her so much," Adam reached down and ran his finger along the tiny hand, "He told me that he felt as if he felt such a connection with already. He couldn't wait to…to hold her in his arms. He couldn't wait to…"
"He'd have been such a great father," Clare shook her head, "I really wish he could be here."
"Would it be totally cheesy if I told you he's smiling down on us right now?"
"Yes," Clare glanced up at him, "But it's something I needed to hear."
Author's Note: Thank you guys for your reviews of Chapter One, and I hope y'all liked Chapter Two. It's hard for me to write because I can't even imagine being in that situation. I am glad Adam and Ali are such good friends though, and I am sorry if I made Cece and Bullfrog the "bad guys" but I just think they need some time to come around before meeting Annabelle. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed! I'll try and update too!