All the ‘thank you’s out of the way, Howie turned his attention to his wife. "I promised you a dance. Feel up to it?"
"To be in your arms, of course," whispered Sarah.
As Howie and Sarah were about to join the other couples on the dance floor, Shannon came up. "Howie, you’re needed downstairs to introduce the act."
"I’ll be there as soon as I dance with my beautiful wife."
"’D’, go on. We can dance later," conceded Sarah.
"But I promised you a dance," pouted Howie.
"I know but I can wait."
Howie saw the look in Sarah’s eyes. She was doing everything she could to hold it all together. Giving her a kiss, he whispered, "I’ll be back as fast as I can."
She followed him with her eyes until he disappeared down the steps and then closed them in an attempt to block out the pain. It was a useless effort though.
In her ear, Nick whispered, "Turn so I can reach your back easier."
Nick had seen Howie leave and slipped unnoticed by Sarah back into his spot beside her and now, as Sarah turned, his large hands began to work their magic. It felt so good as his fingers worked the tight muscles that she began to relax. What was it about Nick that he was always there at the critical moments….when she’d miscarried, when she’d lost it in the hospital over Danny’s death, and now? They had a bond that was uniquely special and Sarah cherished it more than she would admit to Nick.
The other couples returned to the table as the DJ announced that he was taking a break. A few minutes later, Howie stepped out onto the stage down front.
"Welcome to Tabu," greeted Howie as the crowd cheered him. "The official Valentine’s Day Party isn’t until tomorrow but my wife and friends and I are celebrating tonight. Looks like I’m gonna be busy with the birth of my children." The crowd cheered wildly hearing the news and Howie had to wait for them to quiet down. "From my beautiful wife, the staff here at Tabu, the other Backstreet Boys, and myself, Happy Valentine’s Day. Be sure to get your complimentary glass of champagne before the night is through. Now, I have a very special surprise for my wife. I know that the acts here are traditionally hip-hop but tonight, just for my ‘angel’…there’s going to be a change. Please welcome to Tabu, country music artists Faith Hill and Tim McGraw."
That thin, fraying thread that had been holding Sarah together snapped as the couple she most admired joined Howie on stage and tears cascaded down her cheeks. There was no way possible to love someone as much as she loved Howie. He went to all extremes to give her her every dream.
Kevin reached over to wipe Sarah’s tears and Nick continued to rub her back as Becca reached over to take her hand. "This is so amazing."
The couple gave Howie time to get back upstairs to Sarah before starting to sing ‘Let’s Make Love’. As the music played, Howie reached the table and held out his hand. "May I have this dance?"
Everyone moved to allow Sarah up and she took his hand allowing him to lead her to the temporary dance floor where he wrapped his arms around her from behind. Moving slowly to the music, Howie held her close, pressing against her and placing moist kisses along her neck. Tonight had been far better than he’d expected. Seeing the way Sarah’s eyes danced when she opened each of her gifts was far better than anything she could give him and having her in labor, about to give him two incredible gifts, was a part of it too.
The next song was The Way You Love Me and Sarah’s tears began again. Tonight had been so special and in her hormonal state, she just couldn’t control her tears. She loved Howie so much but she didn’t know how to tell him. There just weren’t words to describe how she was feeling.
Giving a soft chuckle that she felt against her back, Howie teased her, "If I’d known you were going to cry this much, I would have bought stock in Kleenex."
"Ewww….you. You knew full well how I was going to react," shot Sarah playfully smacking him on the arm.
"Yeah, I did," laughed Howie. Turning her in his arms, he put his finger under her chin as he said, "Sarah, every dream you ever had growing up and when you were with Russell…I want to make come true. I want to always be your knight in shining armor riding in to take the nightmares away. If you want the moon and the stars, all you have to do is ask and I’ll do whatever it takes to give them to you."
"You are so good to me," whispered Sarah as more tears fell. She reached to touch his cheek. "You make….oh….." Sarah’s eyes grew big as she grasped her stomach.
"Sarah, what’s wrong?" asked Howie with concern.
"Ummm….my water just broke," answered Sarah as she grasped his hand with her other free hand.
From behind them, Nick cracked, "Oh, that’s really romantic! Sarah couldn’t you at least TRY to make it to the bathroom?"
All eyes turned to Howie and Sarah as Howie helped her to the chaise. "Don’t be so crude, Nick," shot Howie. "Her water broke."
Becca was up before anyone could realize it only to be followed closely by Kevin and AJ rushing to Sarah. "Do you feel like you have to push?" asked Becca.
"No," whimpered Sarah as she grasped Howie’s hand. The reality that this was all about to happen had hit and Sarah’s grip on control was already gone.
"I’ll call 9*1*1 for you," offered Brian pulling out his cell phone.
"NO!" Sarah practically screamed.
"’Angel’, calm down," soothed Howie as he stroked her hands with his thumbs. "No, Brian. I’m going to take her myself after I call her doctor. ‘J’, my cell phone is in my office. Can you get it for me?"
"On my way," said Alex as he rushed to Howie’s office.
Looking into Sarah’s eyes and forcing her to look at him, Howie said gently, "Sarah, you need to relax."
Kevin was beside Howie and he too saw the beginnings of Sarah’s panic attack. "Baby, take a deep breath and think about all the memories you have of here," urged Kevin, his emerald eyes twinkling as he too remembered the first time they had ever made love. It had been here, on this very chaise and it had been so hot.
Sarah tried to smirk through the pain but a contraction was starting. "Oh…god…not now, Kevin. That’s what got me here in the first place."
Howie laughed, "’Angel’, this could very easily be where we made these little ones."
"With the way you two go at it all the time, I wouldn’t be surprised," added AJ as he handed Howie his cell phone.
“You….hehehe…..three can ….hehehe ….be ….hehehe …..replaced," Sarah breathed through her contractions.
"Uh huh…sure. That’s why you were upset that Howie was gone for a day last month," challenged AJ playfully. "You know you love us and would be lost without us."
Sarah groaned because she knew AJ was right but she went back at him with, "Sure, I love Howie…but you and Kevin…don’t be so sure."
"Oh, baby!" came Kevin, his hand over his heart and with a sad pout, "that hurts. I thought you still loved me."
"Get over yourself, Richardson. Not everyone is a sucker for your gorgeous green eyes, killer body, and Southern charm," teased Lynne pushing at him.
"No, just you," grinned Kevin giving her the nose scrunch.
Sarah loved her friends for all that they were doing and it was helping but she needed to focus. Closing her eyes, she listened as Faith continued to perform. The songs were ones Sarah had listened to herself a hundred times over and even used when doing sound checks or when she was playing around with Howie. She loved the songs because they said how she felt about him and at any given moment, they could bring tears to her eyes. Of course, right now, she couldn’t seem to stop the tears.
A gentle hand reached out to touch Sarah’s shoulders. "Where are you?" asked Becca knowing that Sarah would focus on a place and paint a mental picture for herself to help ignore the pain.
"Right here…listening to the words of the songs."
"’Angel’, I need to call Dr. Johnson," interrupted Howie.
Sarah opened her eyes, fear blazing once more. "Don’t leave me."
"I’m not going far…just so I can hear. You’ve got Becca and the others here with you," reassured Howie as he squeezed her hand. Leaning to her, he kissed her gently. "You’re gonna be okay, ‘Angel’…I promise."
Lynne had done a quick visual check of Sarah and she now told Howie, "You need to make sure you tell Dr. Johnson that her water was clear when it broke."
Howie nodded his head as he moved away from the crowd and the noise but making sure to be in sight of Sarah. As he dialed the number, he watched their friends doing all they could to keep Sarah’s mind focused on the positive. It was going to be a long night.
Returning to the group, Howie said, "Sarah, do you think you can make it downstairs on your own?"
Before Sarah could answer, Raoul, Tommy, and Marcus appeared and Raoul gave her a huge grin. "So, Shorty…you ready to stop holding those babies hostage?"
A scared smile spread seeing her bodyguard. "Looks like it."
Gathering Sarah carefully in his arms, the giant lifted her easily as AJ explained, "I called them to get you two in and out of the hospital. Billy and the rest of his crew are going to meet us at the hospital. I figured once the word got out that Sarah was having the twins, the fans would try to get a glimpse of us and the babies."
"There’s a limo out back, ‘D’," said Tommy, "to take you and Sarah to the hospital. I’ll make sure your car is taken care of."
"We’ll meet you there," offered Kevin for the group.
"And make sure we get all your stuff together," added Brian.
"Thank you, guys," said Howie gratefully.
Before Raoul started down the steps with Sarah, she said, "I need my stuff from the car, ‘D’."
Becca spoke up, "I’ll get it for you."
With all the details taken care of, Howie followed Raoul and Marcus down the steps and out to the waiting limo. The long wait was almost over but the toughest part was still in front of them….the delivery. If he could just get Sarah through it, he knew everything would be perfect.
Chapter 47 Index