I stared at the little blue stick in my hands in disbelief; the Sea Gods were surely playing a practical joke on me. I was pregnant again. I was torn between joy and worry. I loved being a mother and I missed having babies in the house. All of my children were school aged now. My eldest child would be graduating from high school soon and I wasn’t the young, attractive nymph I used to be when I first came to the surface, yet here I was, about to welcome my fifth child into the world.
My first thought was Cycl0n3’s reaction. He’d already taken on so much more than he was required to in order to take care of my children and me. I had four children and he was only the father of one of them, but he acted like all of my children were his children, too. They all called him dad. He was the reason my children had a home and good education and food in their bellies and clothes on their backs. He’d taken all the bad times in stride but would he be able to take this bump in stride as well? Things had been calm for so long in this family and now all of a sudden, that had changed again. We’d both been under the impression that I was too old to have any more children, so we hadn’t planned for any more. This was so unexpected.
I decided the best way to break the news would be to just tell him straight out as soon as possible, so as soon as I disposed of the pregnancy test and left the bathroom, I pulled him aside…
“Wait… you’re… ? Seriously?” he asked me in as much disbelief as I had been in when I found out for certain a few moments ago. I nodded hesitantly.
“I thought I might be for a while now. I’ve had enough children to know, but I wanted to make sure and… the test said yes…” I admitted. I wished my heart would stop hammering so hard. It was making me feel nauseous and I already didn’t need any help with that right now.
For one horrible moment, I had all these nightmare scenarios swim through my head. The memories of Gus and Lane walking out on me, the first time Cycl0n3 left because of my own stupid mistakes. I had all these fears of him leaving again and it hurt so much, I couldn’t breathe. If this was the last straw for him and he left, what would I do? I couldn’t picture my life without him anymore. I loved him. After all these years and everything we’d been through, I still loved him.
I don’t know why I was so worried, because of course, none of those horrible fears became reality. Cycl0n3 stepped forward and hugged me tightly. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to find some more space in this little house for a new baby, won’t we?” he smiled and not for the first time, I wondered how he always managed to make me feel like everything was going to work out just fine even when I was terrified that the worst was going to happen.
Cycl0n3 was very protective of me through the whole pregnancy. Apparently, having children was dangerous when you passed age forty. Nymphs usually have all of their children between fifteen and twenty-five, so I wasn’t aware of this. It scared me, but Cycl0n3 assured me that as long as I went to the doctor regularly, everything would be fine.
“Are you excited to have a new baby brother or sister?” I asked Turquoise one night while she rubbed my belly. She frowned.
“I dunno… I guess…” she mumbled. That wasn’t very reassuring.
“Well, babies are cute, but I like being the baby. Me and Aqua. Now we’re not going to be the babies anymore,” she admitted. I kneeled down as best as I could with the extra weight in the front and hugged her.
“You’re always going to be my baby, Turquoise. All of you are, but you can’t be a little baby like the one in my belly forever. Your birthday’s so close. Aren’t you excited to start high school and be a teenager?” I asked her and she grinned and nodded. “See? You’ll be able to do big grown-up things that the new baby won’t be able to do for a long time,” I reasoned and that apparently cheered her up immensely. I really hope the girls can adjust to having a younger sibling. I told Wade and Alton the news over the phone. Wade didn’t seem too happy, and Alton was worried. He calls me every day and interrogates me about my doctor’s appointments and vitamin supplements.
I’d been hoping that the boys could come home for their sisters’ birthday, but their exams conflicted with it and they had to stay at school. I’m glad they’re getting a quality education where they’re at, but I feel like they’re both missing so many important events at home; birthdays, ballet recitals, promotions, new babies… they’ve been away for all of it. I hoped they could at least be here for the birth of the new baby. I was due any day now, as my swollen ankles and aching back constantly reminded me.
“Mommy! Mommy Mommy Mommy! Is the cake ready? Can we blow out our candles? Is it chocolate flavoured? I want chocolate! Oooh, when can we open our presents?” the twins both chatted away at me excitedly as I carried one of the cakes to the kitchen counter. Cycl0n3 followed close behind with the other one.
“Girls, stop harassing your mother. It’s hard enough for her to get around without you two running around her feet. Be patient,” he scolded them. I gave him a smile of thanks as I set the cake down. He really was a huge help. It wasn’t easy carrying a baby in my belly and planning a birthday party and reining in two excited little girls all at once.
“Alright, alright… you can blow out your candles,” I told the two of them. If I tried to keep them away from those cakes any longer, the place would dissolve into chaotic madness. The girls didn’t need telling twice. They blew out their candles faster than Cycl0n3 and I could sing happy birthday and I had to hold back my tears. My two little girls weren’t little girls anymore. They had become beautiful young women.
I think my emotions were what triggered the contractions because almost as soon as the sniffles started, so did those familiar labour pains. I clutched my stomach and doubled over. I didn’t need to announce that the baby had decided to come now; Cycl0n3 knew what was going on immediately and was ushering me out the door before I had a chance to congratulate the twins.
“Your mom’s in labour. I’m taking her to the hospital. You two stay here and behave. Oh, and happy birthday!” he shouted to them as he dragged me down the front lawn and into a taxi. I waved goodbye to them from the car, feeling awful that their party had been cut short, but it’s not as if I get to choose when my baby is born.
Great Sea Gods, hospitals are terrifying places! I’d forgotten how cold and sterile and white everything was. Although I’d been to Sunset Valley’s hospital before, this was my first time giving birth in a hospital. I didn’t like it one bit. All those strangers standing around me, giving me orders about when to push and when and how to breathe. I almost smacked one of the nurses standing next to me. Cycl0n3 had to hold me back, which only made me smack him, instead. I was having a baby, for crying out loud! Couldn’t everyone give me some space to breathe?!
Eventually, I walked out of the hospital carrying our newborn son, Lake… and Cycl0n3 walked out right behind me carrying our newborn daughter, Brook. All of that state-of-the-art human technology and those doctors had somehow missed the fact that I’d been carrying twins around inside me for the past nine months.
We brought the old cribs out of storage as soon as we got home. I was glad I had decided to keep them now. Right after we got the babies settled in their cribs, Cycl0n3 ran out the door without a word of explanation as to where he was going. I asked the girls if they knew where he had run off to in such a hurry, but they had no idea, either.
“He is in for a world of trouble when he does get home!” I fumed. How dare he run off to Sea Gods know where when his partner was at home with two new babies and a couple of teenagers to look after?! I was beyond furious and both Aqua and Turquoise left to go to friends’ houses in order to avoid being caught in the crossfire when their dad returned.
Cycl0n3 walked in the door a few hours later and I was all set to tear into him… before he produced a gorgeous bouquet of red roses from behind his back with a giant smile on his face. Needless to say, my anger was doused very quickly.
“What’s this for?” I asked curiously, accepting the bouquet and sniffing the flowers. They smelled wonderful.
“Just to say I love you… and to butter you up,” he admitted a little sheepishly, looking off to the side and I could see him fidgeting. Oh Sea Gods, what did he do? My eyebrows raised instantly.
“Butter me up? For what?” I asked suspiciously. That was when Cycl0n3 knelt down on one knee in front of me and held my free hand in both of his.
“It’s so crazy, Azure… I met you when I was practically a kid and you were so beautiful and enchanting and exotic. How could I not have fallen in love with you? Then Alton came along and we were torn apart and I missed out on so many years with you. Somehow, we found each other again and made a family and a home together. I went from having one child whom I didn’t even know to having four… and now six,” he chuckled, glancing fondly over at Brook and Lake in their cribs. “It just… hit me that all this time, it’s like we’ve been husband and wife. I’ve always felt like you were my wife, but I never actually officially asked you, so I thought I’d fix that.”
My heartbeat started racing and I took in a sharp breath. I had been a surface nymph long enough to know what was coming and what being someone’s wife actually meant. This wasn’t like the last time when I had been ignorant to human customs and misunderstood the word ‘girlfriend.’ I knew what being Cycl0n3’s wife meant and I was nodding my head before he even asked the question.
“Azure, I love you and our kids more than anything in the world and I want to stay here with you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?” he asked and let go of my hands to pull a beautiful diamond ring out of his pocket.
“Well it’s about time! We’re nearly old and grey!” I laughed, accepting the ring. “Yes, of course I’ll marry you. I love you.”