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I respond breathily ,“Hard and fast.”

He pulls back a little and smirks, “God, I love you.”

Nik moves between my legs, positions himself at my entry and slowly pushes himself in til we’re crotch to crotch. I hold him tight around his neck and beg, “Move, baby.”

He pulls out half way and thrusts back in hard.

Fireworks explode in my eyes. My stomach flutters.

Nothing compares to this. Nik fills the missing pieces of my heart and makes it whole again.

His hands move under my ass, he grips me and lifts me a little. The small change has made a great thing fantastic. We’re perfectly positioned and Nik drives into me, rolling his hips with every thrust.

It’s perfection.

I feel my heart rate increase and my core tightens. Nik reaches down and pulls on my bra. Both my breasts come free. He takes one stiff peak into his mouth and sucks hard on it.

And that’s that.

I’m flying. I moan long and contract around his swelling length.

Ecstasy.

He lets my nipple go with a pop. His eyes close in bliss. He kisses me deeply, holds me tight and thrusts once, twice, three times before he moans deep into my mouth, wraps me tight, stills and jerks his release into me.

We stay together like that catching our breath and basking in the glow of our love making for a long time.

I begin falling asleep. Nik rolls us to our sides, still connected and whispers, “You’re going to be a mama, baby.”

With my eyes closed, I smile and claim, “I’m going to be the best mama ever.”

I hear his amusement when he replies, “Even if you wanted to be a bad mama, you couldn’t. It’s not in your nature, sweetheart.”

I open my eyes and find his. I whisper, “Do you think Mia would mind?”

Nik shakes his head and smiles a sad smile, “No way. You don’t think she’d be excited about being a sister? She’d be over the moon, babe. And we’ll make sure our little bean knows all about her sister Mia who’s watching her from heaven. Mia will be a guardian angel to her brothers and sisters.”

I widen my eyes and whisper, “We’re having more?”

Nik rolls his eyes and states, “Of course! At least another one.”

I blink then ask, “Can I have this one first before we add anymore to the list?”

He smiles and replies a sarcastic, “I don’t know. I thought we could get two going at once. It’ll save time.”

I chuckle and rub the back of his neck. I tease, “You’re going to be one of those annoying daddies, aren’t you? Like the ones who tell everyone how much better their kid is than everyone else’s.”

Nik laughs and admits, “Yeah, I probably will be.”

We chat about our new family til late into the night.

Nik is over the moon and so am I.

We’re having a baby.

***

Every Sunday since I came home from hospital Nik has put on dinner for our friends and family.

Dad left a few weeks after I woke but we talk almost every day. He likes Nik and is so grateful I’ve found someone to love. I told my dad I was pregnant and he actually cried, which meant I cried. It ended up we were both sobbing and couldn’t talk so we just hung up on each other and spoke later that day. My dad is excited about becoming a grandfather again. Being a carpenter he told me not to bother buying baby furniture apart from a crib because we’ll design some together and he’ll make it himself by hand.

That’s a great gift which will hopefully become a family heirloom.

So, it’s Sunday. Everyone is here for dinner and we’re all talking outside.

Ceecee is attached to my hip as always and I love it. I play with her hair, hug and kiss her. She’s going to have a little cousin running around soon enough and I know she’ll be a good role model.

Nik announces the food is ready and we all sit down at the new outside dining set I insisted we get.

Nik and I sit next to each other as always, it makes our food exchange easier.

Everyone is reaching over each other to get food. Nik packs my plates for me with three times as much food as I eat. He’s a little crazy protective over my pregnancy.

I start taking things off my plate and put them onto his. I remove the olives, feta cheese, and bacon out of my salad. He adds tomatoes to mine. I haven’t noticed Nat watching us. She narrows her eyes at me and offers me some wine which I kindly refuse.

Nat gasps and stands so fast her chair flies back. She smiles, points at me and crows, “You’re pregnant!”

Everyone stops eating at looks up at me with shocked and stunned faces.

My face flushes, my neck itches and I try to deny it with, “What? You’re crazy! You’re all crazy if you think I’m pregnant, right Nik?”

Nik nods and looks around the table. He puts on a serious face and states, “She’s pregnant.”

The table erupts in cheers. They all get up and hug us. Nat laughs and cries at the same time, she asks, “Did you really think you could hide something like that from me?”

I say loudly so everyone can hear, “It’s so early, guys. I’m not in the second trimester yet. I wanted to wait til I was at least twelve weeks. But yes, we have a little bean growing in my belly.”

Nik’s mom, Cecilia, smiles big but is crying. I go over and hug her.

She says, “You saved him. My Niki. You saved him from a lonely life. I was always worried he would never live and he didn’t until he met you. I’ll be forever in your debt.”

Tears stream down my face and I tease, “You can pay me back by babysitting every now and again.”

She laughs, “Of course, even if you didn’t need me to I would.”

Nik’s sisters hug and kiss me, they’re all delighted.

That makes me happy.

Max, Ghost, and Trick all take turns hugging me. I ask each of them “So, you all ready to be Uncles again?”

Max smiles and nods vigorously, Ghost smirks but his eyes are wide and he looks a little frightened and Trick yells out, “Hell, yeah!”

The girls jump all over me. They catch me in a group hug and I blurt out, “I own Safira!”

Nat smiles and Mimi and Lola look at each other and burst out laughing.

They’re actually crying with laughter!

I put a hand on my hip and demand, “What’s so funny?”

Mimi says between fits of laughter “Oh, bless her. She thought we didn’t know.”

WHAT?!

Lola giggles and tells me, “Sweetie, we’ve known for almost two years. Our pay checks come out of a Safira account with you listed as the owner!”

I did not know that!

I blink and whisper, “I did not know that.”

We all burst into laughter, I wipe tears of mirth away from my eyes and mutter, “I’ve wanted to tell you for a while but I thought you might treat me differently if you knew I was the big boss lady.”

Mimi straightens, shakes her head and states, “You’ll always be my savior, doll. No matter what.”

Lola smiles big, “Yeah, T. You gave us a chance. You’ll always be our friend.”

Nat squeezes my waist and says, “You’ve always got us, honey. And, by the way, you can’t lie for shit.” We all giggle.

I excuse myself and head to the kitchen to get a glass of water. I sip at it and look out the window to the yard we’re all my friends and Nik’s family chat together, laugh and goof around.

This is all I ever wanted.

I didn’t get it the first time round but I’m a firm believer of second chances.

I look down at my belly, put my hand to it and smile.

Being granted a second chance is a gift.

I’m going to use it well.

Epilogue

It’s a baby!

Seven and a half month later…

“NIK, YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH! I HATE YOU!” Tina yells.

I look over at the doctor in panic and shout, “Give her the drugs! Give her the drugs!”

Gail smiles and explains to Tina, “Tina, you’re doing so well but it’s too late for the drugs. Your baby is almost here and wants to meet its mommy. So when I say so, push.”

Tina squeezes my hand, throws her head back and moans long. She is flushed, sweating, her hair is a mess but, by god, she looks beautiful. She’s a soldier.

Gail looks up at Tina and says, “Now, Tina. Push hard, honey.”

Tina clenches my hand hard and lets out a long strained moan. Gail whoops and tells us, “And the head is out. One more push and you’ll have a baby!”

Tina pants and Gail says, “Now, Tina. One last push!”

Tina pushes with all her might and then…crying.

Oh, god. That is a beautiful sound.

Gail smiles and hands me a pair of surgical scissors. She holds the umbilical cord and I cut through it. It’s tough like thick rubber!

She takes our baby over to the corner, wipes it down and weighs it before bringing it back to us.

She hands our baby over to Tina, who attaches its small mouth to her breast, and announces, “Congratulations, you two. You have a healthy little girl.”

I look down at my wife and baby girl and try hard to hold myself together.

Tina looks sheepishly up at me and advises, “I can’t be held responsible for what I say in the middle of childbirth, Nik. We shall not mention my potty mouth ever again. Amen.”

I chuckle and touch my daughters little face. She makes fussy little noises and wiggles a little but continues suckling.

She’s so small.

Tiny.

But I helped make her. She’s mine. I’ll do anything for her.

God, she was just born and I’m already wrapped around her finger.

I ask my beautiful wife, “What are we naming our little princess?”

Tina looks up at me and whispers, “I like Tatiana.”

I smile big and whisper back, “I love it.”

Tina looks down at our daughter and asks her quietly, “Tatiana, do you want to meet your family?”

Tatiana whines softly and wriggles. Tina says, “I’ll take that as a yes.”

I go out into the hall and call our friends in. Nat, Mimi and Lola are openly crying. Max, Trick, and Ghost are swallowing hard and looking at our daughter in awe.

Nat croaks, “What’s her name?”

I reply, “Tatiana.”

Mimi whispers, “It’s beautiful.” Everyone smiles and nods in agreement.

The guys try to leave. Something about breastfeeding women we aren’t married to makes us uncomfortable. Tina calls out, “Guys? Can you stay for a minute? I want to ask you all something.”

The guys re-join the group and Tina looks up at me and smiles. That’s my cue.

I ask them all, “How would you all feel about being Tatiana’s godparents?”

All six of them stare back at me open mouthed.

Lola whispers, “All of us?”

Tina nods and smiles, “We couldn’t decide on just two of you. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair. We love all of you, not just two of you. We’d be honored if you would.”

I straighten and ask the guys, “Any objections?”

They all smile widely and shake their heads. I look to the girls and ask, “Objections, ladies?”

Mimi clears her throat and whispers, “Are you sure you want me as a godparent?” She looks down and continues, “I’m not exactly godparent material.”

I begin to speak but Tina beats me to it. She assures Mimi with, “That’s just not true. When Tatiana needs help with a bully you’ll be there.” Tina looks around the room and goes on, “When she needs someone to make her laugh, Trick will tell her awful jokes. When she wants to hear love stories, she’ll have Lola who’ll read them to her by the dozen. When someone looks at her the wrong way, she’ll have Ghost watching her back. When she’s older and needs help with fashion and makeup, Nat will help her look chic. When she has a bad day and needs to vent, she’ll have her uncle Max to give her a pep talk. And when she feels like the world is coming to an end over some teenage tragedy, she’ll have Ceecee to remind her bad things get better. So, you see, Tatiana has the best family anyone could ask for. We might all be misfits but we fit together perfectly.”

Mimi smiles a wobbly smile, clears her throat and says quietly, “Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

We all laugh and everyone says goodbye to Tatiana who has stopped feeding and decided to sleep instead. I take her from Tina and place her in her little cubby. I sit next to Tina on the bed, put an arm around her and ask, “How are you feeling, baby?”

She plays with the fingers of my other hand and smiles softly, “I’m wiped, honey. But so, so happy. Best day ever.” She lifts her face to mine and I kiss her softly.

I whisper against her lips, “I love you, Tina. You’re my everything.”

I feel her smile against my lips and she says ,“I love you more.” Then she asks, “Can you get me some water, honey? I’m parched.”

I get up to bring her some water. I walk back into the room and smile.

My two beautiful girls are sleeping soundly. I take a moment to think about how I’m feeling.

I’m nervous as hell about being a daddy. I’m excited about watching Tatiana grow up. And I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

I look to the little slip of a woman asleep in the bed. The strong, golden-hearted, sweet woman who randomly sent me candy one day. My wife and the mother of my child. The love of my life.

Warmth swells inside of me.

I realize I’m finally at peace. I smile.

It was worth the wait.

The End

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