The silence was deafening. Alex gripped my hand, and then closed his eyes. My gut told me that this wasn’t good. “Alex, you know what, forget what I said.”
I slowly tried to pull my hand away, but he grabbed my hand tighter, still silent. “Umm, are you going to say something?”
He never answered. At this point, the silence in the room was about to swallow me whole. I leaned back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. My mind was racing in all different directions.
Alex, for months, had been hinting around that he wanted to make our relationship legal. Make us official. He felt that we should, not just because we loved each other, but for the baby. He said he never wanted to be just a baby’s daddy. He wanted to be my husband and Alexander’s father.
The longer it took him to respond, the more I began to think that he didn’t want to marry me, and that left me horrified. As tears welled up in my eyes, I saw what Alex and I had disappearing.
A soft knock at the door helped me to swallow some of the sadness rushing over me. “Hey, you two, would you like to visit Alexander?” My mother barely finished her question, before her own expression resembled mine.
“Ms. Juanita, would you mind giving us a few minutes?” Alex quietly asked. “I’ll walk Starlet down the hall in a moment.”
“Sure, baby.” She peered at me, like she was waiting on me to say something. “Are you two okay?”
My mother was boring holes in my head, so I winked at her, letting her know that all was well. Still not totally convinced, she studied us a moment before leaving the room.
The chuckle that rose from Alex’s throat caught me off guard. “You know, Starlet Marie—”
“I must have done something really wrong for you to call me by my full name,” I replied, cutting him off.
He shook his head, his smile dissolving. “Baby, you have done nothing wrong. Instead, you’ve done one of the most amazing things a woman could ever do.”
Now I was confused. “Alex, what’s really wrong?” I raised the back of the bed, bracing myself for what he had to say.
“I’m hoping you could tell me. For months, I’ve been trying to get you to marry me. Now, all of a sudden you’re okay with it?”
“I’ve always been okay with it—it’s just that I felt you were asking out of obligation. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I see how much you adore our son. I see how you look at me, and how you take care of us.”
“So, is it a done deal?” he asked, flashing his pearly whites.
“It certainly is.” I leaned against his shoulder, soaking up his warmth.
He slowly detached himself from me, a mischievous grin on his face. “I have one stipulation.”
“You heard me, woman. I got a stipulation,” he said, chuckling.
“Alex, you know better than to give me a rule.”
“Starlet Marie Lovesome, you have to agree.”
“I thought marriage was about love and honor? What the hell!” I turned up my nose as if I was truly offended, though, I had no idea what I should be offended about.
“Okay, this is the deal. You have to promise you’ll let me do all the dirty work. That means no more snooping. Your major functions are to be a mother to our child, a wife to me and to grow your career. Nothing else—no detective work, no snooping. You got that?”
Alex waved a hand. “I mean it. Promise.”
“I guess—all right, damn, I promise,” I slowly replied, crossing my fingers in my lap.
Alex had a silly glint in his eyes. “Somehow I’m not totally convinced.”
I raised my crossed fingers, and he burst into laughter. “Come on,” he said, helping me from the bed, “let’s go see my son.”
“Umm, hello, I’m the one who gave birth to him. Don’t I get any acknowledgement in any of this? Plus, there is a such thing as a mama’s boy.”
“We are not raising a punk,” Alex declared as we strolled out into the hallway.
“Being a mama’s boy doesn’t make him a punk,” I huffed. “Look, we’ll fight about this later, since we got a few years before he completely understands anyway. Right now, I want to see my son—our son—and tell Yanni my news.”
I picked up the pace. The spirit of the moment had taken hold of me.
“Hey, what’s the rush?” Alex asked. “It’s not like he’s going anywhere.”
“Yea, I know. I’m just excited. I got a lot to be excited about.” I winked at him and squeezed his hand.
Alex pressed the button located next to the double doors of the NICU. A nurse glanced at us through the glass-enclosed partition next to the doors. She slid the partition open. “Hi, may I help you?”
“I’m Starlet Lovesome, and I came to see my baby—Baby Lovesome.”
“Oh, yes. You’re Ms. Juanita’s daughter. She just stopped by and said you were on your way. I asked her to tell you that Alexander had been taken upstairs for some final tests.”
Tests? No one had told us anything about any tests. Rain would surely have remembered to tell us that. Wouldn’t he? Don’t get upset, I cautioned myself. “How long has he been gone?” I asked the nurse.
“And why didn’t anybody tell us he was going for more tests?” Alex’s grip tightened on my hand.
“And who took him?” I blurted out.
“Don’t worry, he’s in good hands. Since the nurse is new to our floor, one of Ms. Juanita’s assistants accompanied him.”
“How long have they been gone?” Alex bellowed, eyeing our surroundings.
She checked a chart sitting on the counter. A worried frown creased her brow. “Mmm . . . maybe I need to call up there. It’s been over forty minutes. It should have only taken about ten minutes or so . . .”
I didn’t hear the rest of what she had to say. Everything had gone black.