Over the next few days, after a few trips to the local hardware store, and a few discussions with my mother and Michael, we’ve decided how to paint the baby’s room. The tan color will be on the top part of the walls, the border that matches the bedding will be at chair-railing height, and red plaid wallpaper that matches the sheet will be on the bottom half of the wall. I’m certain it will be gorgeous.
Almost everyone’s coming to help. My parents, Michael’s mom, Will and Angie, Weiss and Melissa. Marshall and Carrie are out of town, otherwise they would be coming too. The older women plan to keep me out of the room while the others do the painting. We’ll also be handling all of the cooking.
My parents are the first to arrive. Mom had gone back to the baby store this week and bought the border for me as a kind of gift so the walls would be completely finished by the time everyone leaves at the end of the day.
Vaughn’s mother comes next, followed closely behind by the two couples. After hellos and hugs, we all go into the room to explain how we want it to look. A few minutes later, everyone’s ready to get to work, and they tell me to leave the room.
“I wish I could stay and at least watch,” I whine, wanting to see it come together.
“No, Sydney. The paint fumes aren’t good for the baby,” Michael reminds me. “You can see it after the room is aired out.”
I roll my eyes. “Okay, I’ll go. But you’d better do a good job.”
“Don’t you trust me?” he teases, leaning in close to me for a kiss.
I lightly brush his lips with my own, ignoring the others in the room. “I trust you with a lot of things, especially me.” He kisses me again and Weiss groans.
“Oh, give it a rest you two. We have work to do,” he says, waving a dry paint roller for emphasis. I reluctantly go into the kitchen with a mother on each side of me, giving me more reasons why I shouldn’t be in the room.
Everyone works continually, only stopping for lunch and dinner, and by the time they leave that evening, it’s all done and cleaned up. I’m stunned at how pretty the room looks, even devoid of furniture. “Do you like it?” Michael asks from behind me.
“It’s beautiful.” I shake my head amazed, and walk toward the center of the room, gazing at the walls. “Our lives are going to change so much in a few months,” I say more as an observation than a sense of fear.
He walks up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist, letting one hand rest on our baby, as we both just cherish the moment in silence. I cross my arms and run my hands up his forearms wrapped around me and lean back against him contentedly. “It seems so empty in here.”
“Yeah. Well, it won’t be for long,” he assures me, turning me around for a kiss. His lips on mine are making me want more of him, when the doorbell suddenly rings. Michael releases me asking, “Who could that be this late?”
“I don’t know,” I answer as I follow him to the door. He looks through the peephole before unlocking and opening the door. It’s our next-door neighbor with what looks like a full garbage bag in her hands. “Jodi?” I say quizzically.
“Hi, Sydney,” she says politely. “I’m sorry to bother you this late, but I saw your company just leave and your light still on, so I thought it would be okay to come over.” She holds up the bag. “I found this in my closet today. It’s another bag of maternity clothes to add to the others I gave you last week.”
“Oh my gosh,” I say, judging by the size of the bag that I definitely won’t need any more. “Thank you so much,” I say, reaching for the bag, before Michael stops me and takes it himself. “Oh, Jodi, this is my husband Michael.”
He sets the bag down inside the house and reaches out to shake her hand. “Nice to meet you Jodi.”
“You too. My husband Mitch and I have wanted to have you two over for dinner sometime…That is, if he can ever pull himself away from work.” Michael and I both nod, knowing that feeling. “He’s a doctor—actually a resident right now, and he’s hardly ever home.”
“Well, if you ever need anything…” I offer automatically.
“Actually I was going to say the same thing. Now that my kids are in school, and Mitch works so much, I’m bored. If you ever need a babysitter or just want to talk, I’m almost always home. Feel free to come over anytime.”
“Well, goodnight,” she says with a smile, turning back to go to her house.
After we close the door, I say, “That was so nice of her.”
“Yeah, it was.” He stops me before I completely turn away. “Now. Where were we?” he asks with that half-grin, pulling me back into his arms.
“I think we were on our way to bed,” I tease right back.
“Oh, good. Then you were thinking what I was thinking.”
Two days later, sheer boredom takes over, so I take Jodi up on her offer to visit. “How’s life as a housewife going for you?” she asks after we settle at her kitchen table with two glasses of iced tea.
“It’s a little slow,” I answer honestly.
She laughs. “Well, you’ll get used to it.”
“It’s just that I’m used to being a slave to my job, working sixteen-hour days, working out to keep in shape. I was always busy. And now…” I gesture with my hands, trying to think what I do every day that could be considered just as important as saving the world from terrorists like Sloane. I know that once I’m a mother I’ll have the most important job in the world, but just staying at home by myself right now seems pointless. I just keep telling myself that my new life is good for the baby’s development.
“What did you do for a living?” she asks, snapping me back to the present.
I hesitate, wondering if I should even say, and decide it wouldn’t hurt to be somewhat honest. “I worked for the CIA, actually.”
“That’s exciting,” she says with envy.
Oh, the irony. “Not really. It was more stressful than anything.”
She nods in understanding, “Does…Michael work for the CIA too?”
“Yes, he still does. But he’s working in a lot better position now. Less hours and a lot less stress.” I’m not going to mention that I was the one causing him most of the stress.
“That’s good for when the baby comes. So, how’s the baby’s room coming along?”
“It’s all painted and wallpapered, but it’s empty. We won’t be getting any furniture or anything until the baby shower.” I can picture the room in my mind. “It’s kind of depressing like it is, just an empty room. I just wish it was over and the baby was here already.”
She smiles, “It’ll go by fast, don’t worry. And before you blink twice, they’re off to college.”
I laugh with my new friend, and decide that I should probably be getting home to make dinner. Jodi and I agree to talk every once in awhile or whenever boredom hits me like it did today. But we arranged for her to come to my house tomorrow so she can see the baby’s room. I can’t wait. It’s good to have a female friend close by again.
Two weeks later, it’s my birthday. Michael insists on taking me to my favorite steak restaurant, and spoils me with whatever I want on the menu. Little did I know while I was eating my delicious prime rib dinner, what I had waiting for me at home.
Michael unlocks the front door when we get home, and I’m talking about how fat I’m starting to feel when the light comes on and a room full of people yell, “Surprise!”
I was completely shocked and I can’t help but smile and look over at my husband. “You did this?” I ask, surprised that he would be able to pull this off without me figuring it out. I guess my spy skills are getting a little rusty.
He doesn’t answer as hugs were suddenly coming from all directions. I’m pretty sure everybody I knew was there, including our parents, our friends, and even our neighbors, Mitch and Jodi—he’d actually gotten off of work for a change. There were gifts of all shapes and sizes; clothes I wouldn’t fit into again for a while, books and CDs, candles and bath salts. I look over my stash of gifts at the end of the night and smile at everyone. “Thank you guys so much for everything.”
“There’s one more,” Michael says and holds out his hand.
I take his hand and get up suspiciously, as he leads me to the baby’s room as the rest of the crowd follows to where there is now one piece of new furniture in the empty room.
A rocking chair. “It’s…from me,” Michael says quietly, watching and waiting for my reaction.
“Oh, Michael,” I sigh as I walk over to inspect the old-fashioned, Victorian-style chair, running my hands along the rich cherry wood and rose brocade fabric. “It’s perfect.”
“Try it out,” he gestures, and I sit down and rock it a few times.
I look up at him in amazement. “How did you know…” I can’t even voice what I want to say, but I can’t figure out how it’s possible to have such a connection between us that I don’t even have to say what it is I’m secretly wishing for. He just knows. He always knows. “It’s…exactly what I wanted,” I try again.
He grins sheepishly and glances over his shoulder at the others. “Actually, I can’t take all the credit. Jodi gave me the idea. She said you had mentioned you didn’t like how empty the room was.”
Getting up, I walk back to my husband, place my hand on his cheek, and kiss him with a smile on my face. “Thank you.” Then I turn my attention to Jodi and thank her too with a hug.
It takes a while before everyone is gone, and I’m counting the minutes so that I can have some more alone time with the man I love. As soon as the door closes behind the last person, I turn and step into my husband’s arms. “You’re the best.”
“I am?” he says with that half-grin.
I kiss him. “I can’t believe you planned all this.”
“Anything for you.”
I take his hand and lead him toward our bedroom. “Haven’t I told you that you better stop making that promise? You might live to regret it.”
“I don’t think I will. I’m pretty sure I’ll like how you thank me.” His grin matches my own when we face each other once we reach the bedside and we face each other.
His hands slip around to my back and slowly unzip my dress while I lean into his chest, just loving the feeling of his arms around me again. Each time, it feels like its been days since I last felt this way, but in truth, it’s only been since this morning. I love it. It keeps our relationship fresh, always feeling so new.
Once we’re both undressed, he lays down on the bed with me beneath him, and I laugh when I feel the baby move between us, getting squished. “This isn’t working,” I tell him.
“I think you’re right,” he answers, and rolls us both over until I’m on top.
But I can’t lie down on him anymore either. And I consider kissing a big part of making love. I shake my head. “Nope.”
I sit up, straddling him, and he follows, but still my stomach is a barrier. “I’m beginning to hate this,” I say in frustration, and he cups my face in understanding, kissing me lightly.
“I have an idea. Let’s, um…try something.”
He guides me until I’m lying on my back again, and I let him, knowing I would never be afraid of anything he wants to do. Once there, he rolls me until I’m facing away from him on my side. “What’s this?” I ask with a smile.
Without answering, he lifts my thigh and enters me from behind and I breathe in sharply at the sensation. His arms are around my body, one hand caressing my breast, the other rubbing my stomach, feeling our baby kick as he enters me over and over. It feels great, but I know I won’t orgasm like this. Yet the thought barely crosses my mind when Michael’s hand drifts lower and starts to rub my clit. “Oh, god,” I moan, suddenly feeling that out of control feeling I love when we’re having sex.
As much as I love it, I’m disappointed that I don’t get to touch or kiss him, so I turn slightly until I can reach his lips with mine, and kiss him fully. When my body is close, I break away from his lips, feeling the orgasm building inside me. Within seconds, we both come, and I can’t help but stare at him in awe as our breathing slows.
“I was right when I told you this before: you’re a genius,” I say and he smiles.
“You liked that, huh?”
I smile back at him. “So much that it’s almost scary.” I adjust my position a little so we’re both comfortable, but stay where our bodies are still connected.
“I liked being able to touch you,” he confesses.
“I did too. But I didn’t get to touch you,” I say with a twinge of guilt.
“No, it’s not right. I wanted to thank you, remember? For the rocking chair?”
He grins, pulling me closer to him. “That’s right. That was why we started this, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was. Can I make it up to you somehow?”
He raises his eyebrows. “I like the sound of that.”
“What would you like me to do?” I ask, looking up at his face.
“Anything. Just name it.”
“Okay. I’d like to go to sleep just like this.”
I look up him puzzled. “What? That’s all?”
“Yeah. I just want to hold you and our baby.”
I shake my head slightly, completely dumbfounded. “You’re incredible. Are you sure that’s enough?”
“It’s more than enough. It’s everything.”