Authors: Brenda Kennedy
Tags: #romance, #love, #military, #abuse of prescription drugs, #recovery addictions
I would like to think that once you are
home, you’ll continue coming to the meetings at Addicts Anonymous.
You are always welcome there and it helps being with people who can
relate to what we have been through. Not everyone will be
understanding and/or supportive outside of the group. Call me
anytime to talk seriously or to just hang out. I would really like
to see you again. Take care, Adam.
I read his letter again and tuck it under my
pillow with Bobby’s letter. I fall into a restful sleep.
Alec and I sit under the
gazebo of our new house; we have just set a wedding date. On
Veterans Day, November 11
, I’ll be Emma Grace Collins,
aka Mrs. Alec Ray Collins.
Less than three months
doesn’t give us a lot of time to plan a wedding.” I look at Alec
and he is watching me.
It’s the right amount of
time to plan a wedding.”
I ask, “How do you figure?”
Because you don’t have time
to focus on things that don’t matter, things that in a year, no one
Like the color of carpet
you walk on that leads you down the aisle. Or the brand of birdseed
you have for our guests to toss at us.” He smiles and winks at me.
“We’ll have three months to prepare for our wedding. We’ll focus on
our guest list, the food to serve at the reception, and the time of
day that I want to make you my wife.”
I think you’re right. What
time of day are you thinking for the wedding?”
Is 6:00 a.m. too
I laugh and lean into him. “I think it’s a
little early for a wedding.”
I guess we’ll have to
discuss it later. In the meantime, would you like to see your
surprise?” he asks.
I would love to; lead the
way.” I stand and take his hand. We walk up the cobblestone walk
towards our house. It is dark with only the moonlight illuminating
the walkway. Alec opens the kitchen door and turns on the
I walk into the house as Alec locks the door
behind us. I am in awe. I look around and ask, “How did you do
Don’t get too excited. I
paid a moving company to move our things. They set up the beds, but
that’s about it. The unpacking is left for us to
Oh, Alec, I can’t believe
it. As of now, this is our house? This is where we’ll be staying
from now on?”
It is. I hope it’s all
I look at him and hug him. “Thank you. I’m
thrilled and besides, I hate moving.”
He laughs before he kisses
me. “Me, too. I did it for you
for me. I hate moving, too. They left James’
wall-mounted train set. I didn’t want to risk them damaging or
losing parts to it.”
Good point, dad and Danny
will probably want to
that. I think there is some scientific method of
installing it or something,” I joke.
I’m afraid that is beyond
my capabilities. To me that looks very complicated. I’m glad we are
leaving that to the experts. Danny and Gene will need to dismount
We walk through the house and all the boxes
seem to be in the right rooms. The beds are all set up and I wonder
how they knew where to put James’ bed. We walk downstairs, and I
feel like a princess. Never have I ever dreamed of living in
someplace so extravagant. Max and I were just a simple couple. Of
course, that was a long time ago. “This place is amazing. I can’t
believe it’s ours.”
Once we get everything
unpacked and get the kids in here, it won’t seem this big. Plus we
still need some furniture for the living room and formal dining
Emma, don’t be mad,” Alec
I look over at him and I wonder why he
thinks I would be mad. “How… why?” is all I can say. I brush the
tears away, but they continue to fall.
I think Max deserves a
place in our home. I know he will always be a part of your and
James’ life, and I can respect that.” Alec holds me close and
brushes the tears from my cheek. “Any man who gives his life for
our country deserves space on our mantel.”
Thank you, this means so
much to me and to James.”
I know and you’re welcome.
I love you, I just want you to be happy.”
I am incredibly happy,” I
Do you want to stay the
night in the house or do you want to return to the
Do you mind if we stay in
No, not at all. Let’s make
the beds and unpack the kitchen first. I could use some
Ok, sounds good.” Alec and
I go upstairs and luckily find our sheets and bedding right away.
Once the bed is made, we arrange the furniture where we want it.
Alec goes downstairs and I call to check on the kids. They speak
with excitement as they tell me about their day at Disney World,
including getting pictures with Mickey Mouse and playing in the
awesome pool at the hotel. They are staying at the Hilton Hotel on
Bonnet Creek in Orlando. The hotel is a vacation by itself. I smile
as I listen to them. I tell them I love and miss them before
When I smell coffee, I go downstairs. Alec
hands me my cup and continues with his phone conversation. I stand
at the counter and try not to listen. When I hear the word “labor,”
I can’t help but listen. He takes a sip of his hot coffee and says
we are on our way. He hangs up the phone and I say, “Angel’s in
labor.” It’s not a question but a statement.
Her water broke. Mason
called an ambulance and they are taking her to the hospital
Was that Mason on the
No, it was Vincent. He and
Brea are heading to the hospital, too.”
I hope it’ll be all right.
She’s what, 30 or 31 weeks?” I ask.
I think so. Let’s change
into some sweats and then we should go.”
We pull up at the hospital and walk into an
already crowded waiting room. Alec holds my hand and walks us over
to Mason’s mom and dad. “Hi, Bruce and Lilly. Is there any news on
Angel or the babies?”
No, nothing yet. Mason
hasn’t been out with an update. We are all just waiting and
praying,” Bruce says as he holds his wife’s hand.
All right, thank you. Let
me know if there is anything I can do.”
Thank you, Alec,” Lilly
I knew of the possibility of
her having preemies because she is carrying twins.
Alec hands me a coffee and I look around the room.
I see Angel’s aunt and uncle, the older couple from their wedding
and the gender reveal party, and Madison, who is with some
Do you think she’ll deliver
Alec speaks up and says, “If she doesn’t
deliver, she’ll definitely be put on bed rest.”
We all are quiet when Mason walks into the
Everyone turns their attention to him. He
stands there, looking defeated. My heart drops as I wait for what
he has to say. “It looks like Angel and I will be parents sooner
than we thought. The babies aren’t wanting to cooperate with the
doctors or the medication. They aren’t able to stop her
contractions, so it’s just a matter of time.” He runs his hands
through his hair and says. “They are currently administering
corticosteroids to Angel in hopes to increase the lung development
in both babies. She is in some pain and is dilated to only 3 cm.”
He looks around the room and adds, “Everyone is very optimistic
that both babies will be born healthy.”
I look around the room; everyone looks like
they are crying. I’m not sure Mason said that for their benefit or
I also want to thank
everyone for coming,” he adds. “Angel will be pleased when I tell
her our family and friends have filled up an entire waiting
Alec says, “Wait until the staff in the E.R.
hear the news that their former co-worker is in Labor and Delivery,
waiting on the birth of his own children.”
Mason laughs, too. “I don’t want to be out
here for that. But, really, thank you for coming and don’t worry.
Angel and the babies have the best medical care possible. N.I.C.U.
has already been notified and they are on standby and ready to
receive both babies if they need to.”
I watch as Mason walks over to his and
Angel’s families. “What’s N.I.C.U.?” I ask.
N.I.C.U. stands for
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit,” Alec says softly.
The room is quiet with only whispers coming
from Mason and the family. His mother and Angel’s aunt cry, as
their husbands try to comfort them.
Sara and Brea stand close to Vincent and
Donovan without saying a word. I whisper to Alec, “Do you think the
babies will be all right?”
I don’t know, I hope
Mason comes over and
announces he is going back to be with Angel. He tells us he
believes everything will be all right. Christina,
a nurse from the ER, comes up and smiles when she
sees Mason. She walks over to us and says, “Hi, Mason, I just heard
about Angel. How is she doing?”
It looks like we’ll be
How many weeks is she?”
Angel is only
You know we had twins born
here last month at 29 weeks,” Christina says.
Mason smiles and says, “No, I wasn’t aware.
The outcome must be good or you wouldn’t be telling me this.”
The last baby went home
yesterday. Hey, I got to run. I just wanted to check in with
everyone. I’ll be back on my break.”
Thanks, Christina, I
appreciate you coming up. I need to get back there to Angel. I’ll
see everyone in a bit,” Mason says as he turns to walk away from
Mason, please let her know
we are praying for her,” Brea says.
Of course, Brea. Thank you.
We appreciate it.”
Mason leaves and we all congregate around
the coffee maker. Brea, Sara, and Emma talk about work. I know they
are doing this as an attempt to take their minds off of the babies’
While the girls all sit and talk, the guys
stand and keep a protective watch over the girls. “Alec, do you
think the babies will be all right if they’re born this early?”
I look at him and I can see the worry in his
eyes. “I honestly do. Modern medicine has come a long way. Right
now, while the babies are in utero, they are increasing their lung
function. I think the chance of both babies being born healthy is
Mason and Angel have both been through so much. I
don’t know how they would handle…”
I interrupt Bruce and say, “I think the
chance is good this will work out for all of them.”
Thank you, son. I
Mason’s dad, Bruce, Angel’s Uncle Raùl, and
their neighbor Carl pace the floor as we wait for news. I walk over
and sit with Emma.
A few more people arrive, and Bruce walks
them over so he can introduce them to me. “Emma and Alec, this is
Carla. Carla is Mason’s office manager, and your office manager,
I hear you’re my new boss
now, too. It’s good seeing you again, Alec,” she says, hugging me
and saying hi to Emma.
Bruce says, “That’s right, you two worked
together here in the E.R. I keep forgetting that.”
I laugh, “That’s all right. I haven’t seen
Carla since she left here to work for Mason.”
Carla introduces Emma and me to Cathy, who
also works with her and Mason. I haven’t met the office staff yet.
I was planning to go in next week to make my introductions.
Is there any news yet on
Angel and the twins?” Carla asks.
No news, other than they
are coming. Mason said the medication didn’t work to stop her
They both are fighters like
their mom and stubborn like their dad,” Carla says.
I watch as Carla scans the room and waves to
Vincent and Donovan.
Carla excuses herself, and Emma and I sit
If the babies hurry,
they’ll share their birthday with you,” I say, stroking her
knuckles with my thumb.
That would be something;
they have about 24 minutes to make it on my
With us rushing out of the
house to get to the hospital, I didn’t have time to give you your
Emma turns to face me and says, “Alec, we
stayed all night on the boat, you arranged to have all of our
things moved into the new house, you even arranged to have Max’s
awards displayed on the mantel. I think that’s enough.”
I have one more gift for
you.” I reach into my hoodie pocket and pull out a small box. It is
wrapped in pink foil paper with a small white bow and ribbon. “I
wasn’t sure what to get you for your birthday, but I think this is
perfect.” Emma reaches for the gift and smiles. I watch as she
holds it up to her ear and shakes it. “If it rattles, it’s the
wrong gift,” I say, laughing.