Chapter 23

The click of the door closing echoed through the condo and Howie looked around for Sarah and Jesse. It was eerily quiet and a chill ran down his spine. Something wasnít right. He should at least hear Jesse doing something.

"Jesse? ĎAngelí?" called Howie tossing his keys on the table in the foyer.

He was met by silence. Going to the kitchen first, he set the bouquet of flowers on the counter, and then headed to Jesseís room. Maybe she was listening to her CD player with her headphones on.

No dice. Jesseís room was empty and clean.

His heart began to race, beating so hard that it echoed in his ears. Was Sarahís van in the driveway? He hadnít really paid attention. No, if something was wrong, she wouldnít try to drive herself. Maybe she had called someone to come get her.

Panic was taking over quickly as he called out, "Sarah?" as he headed to their room.

Passing through the living room, he glanced out the doors towards the beach and a flash of brown caught his attention. "Damnit, Sarah!" he swore realizing that flash was Jesse playing on the beach.

From their bedroom door, she sleepily asked, "What have I done now?"

Surprised, Howieís eyes were wide. "Whoís with Jesse?"

"Kryss and Dusty," yawned Sarah as she waddled her way into Howieís arms.

Relieved that his worst fears hadnít been realized, Howie held her close, his face buried in her hair as his hands slipped under her shirt to caress the taut skin of her belly.

"What are you doing home early?" she whispered.

"I thought since I had to be gone tomorrow that Iíd spend the afternoon with you," answered Howie. Setting her back to look in her eyes, Howie smiled, "I got something for you."

"Really?" Sarahís eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. Excitedly, she asked, "What is it?"

"Thatís my wife," laughed Howie touching the tip of her nose. "Get comfortable on the couch and Iíll go get it."

Howie led her to the couch where he helped her down and started to go to the kitchen but she stopped him.

"I love you, ĎDí."

Leaning to her, he gave her a kiss and whispered, "I love you too, ĎAngelí. Iíll be back before you miss me."

Sarah watched him disappear into the kitchen. Sounds of an opening and closing cabinet reached her ears first and she called, "What are you looking for?"

"Just be patient!" was his answer as she heard the water turn on.

Seconds after hearing the water cut off, Howie appeared in the door with a large bouquet of wild flowers with a single white rose in the middle. A wave of emotions washed over her intensifying the morning sickness sheíd felt all morning and she struggled to get up. Leaving him standing, she rushed to the bathroom.

Setting the vase down, Howie shook his head and followed her. After eight months of this, the drill was the same. He grabbed a face cloth, ran the cold water getting the cloth wet, and he knelt down beside her to wipe her forehead and hold her hair back.

Standing up, Sarah groaned, "I will be SOOO glad when this is over."

"Are you okay now?" he asked as he wiped her face for her.

"I think so."

Taking her hand, Howie led her back out to the living room where they sat down together. Sarah cuddled in the warmth of Howieís embrace and closed her eyes to listen to the sounds of his heart beating.

Softly, she said, "The flowers are beautiful. Thanks."

"Youíre welcome!" Howie kissed her hair as he held her. He had seen that she wasnít feeling well when she came out of the bedroom but heíd been too focused on the worst to be worried. Now he had time to worry. "Were you asleep when I got here?"

"Yeah. Kryss and Dusty came by to visit and when they realized I wasnít feeling well, they offered to take Jesse out to the beach to play."

"Why didnít you call me? Iíd have come home sooner."

"I didnít want to worry you and the morning sickness is because youíre leaving tomorrow for the day." A tear rolled down and dropped on his hand as she added in a whisper, "And youíre gonna miss my doctorís appointment."

There it was. She wasnít even trying to hide how she felt about him missing it and he felt like a heel to boot. Running his fingers through her hair, he waited to say something trying to get his own emotions under control. Then, as cheerfully as he could, he said, "I have something better for you than me going with you."

"How can you find something BETTER?" she questioned.

"Youíre gonna spend the day with AJÖ.a chance to get out of the house," he said brightly hoping that it would make her feel better.

Grumbling, "Thatís NOT better than being with my husband."

"Come on, Angel. You and AJ havenít been able to do anything together since we got back from Japan. I would think youíd be happy to see him."

"I didnít SAY I wasnít gonna be happy to see himÖ.just that itís NOT better than having you with me," explained Sarah.

"I know and Iím sorry. I donít want to be away from you either but I canít get out of this. Please donít be angry."

Hearing the sadness and remorse in his voice, Sarahís tears began to roll. "Iím not angryÖjust disappointed."

Wanting to spend time with just Sarah, he asked, "How long are they going to be down on the beach?"

"I donít know. Why?"

"I just wanted to be able to hold you and make you feel better without being distracted by Jesse."

"Dusty has his cell phone with him. I could call him and ask him to take her to lunch. I donít think sheís eaten yet."

"What about you?"

Sarah frowned. "Iíve been throwing up all morning, ĎDí. I donít think I could keep anything down."

"Iíll call Dusty and then Iím gonna get you something light to eat," Howie informed her as he reached for the phone.

In a matter of minutes, arrangements for Kryss and Dusty to keep Jesse for the afternoon had been made and he was easing out from under Sarah to go fix her some lunch. Before he left her, he tucked a pillow under her belly, put a blanket over her, and gave her a kiss on the tip of her nose.

"Iíll be back in a few minutes. Want to watch TV?"

"No," she answered pitifully.

Howie looked at her. "How about the stereo?"

"Thatís fine, I guess."

Turning on the stereo as he headed to the kitchen, Howie looked back as Sarah lay on the couch. He knew she was miserable and he was trying everything he knew to make her feel better. The only thing that was going to help was for her to have the babies but even THAT had him concerned.

That afternoon Howie and Sarah spent together alone in the condo. They talked; they listened to music; and they simply held each other as Howie did his best to reassure her that everything would be fine.

Chapter 24            Index