Out-of-breath and damp with sweat, Stevie’s eyes slowly fluttered open to make out Lindsey’s form standing beside her bed in the dim light of the bedroom. The room was noiseless, save for her heavy breathing that rung in her ears, deafening her. All of a sudden and like a lifeless bag of bones, Lindsey collapsed into the chair beside her bed and buried his face in his hands. Stevie tried to reach out to him, but he always seemed just out of reach. His shoulders shook cripplingly and his sobs were muted by the suffocating silence that hung around them like a fog.
“Where is my baby?”
Stevie’s words pierced the silence, but no one responded. She screamed it, again and again, until her voice ceased to make a noise and her words dissipated into the all-encompassing darkness of the silence. Just then, the faint sound of a baby’s whimpering crept into the room and Stevie’s eyes searched the bedroom in desperation. Paralysed in her distress, she writhed around on the bed and pleaded for Lindsey to comfort her, but he was unmoving and distant, not once lifting his head from his hands. The whimpering grew louder and louder until it was all that she could hear.
It grew so loud, in fact, that it shook her from the depths of her subconscious and her eyes suddenly flashed open in a panic.
She scoured her bedroom in confusion, just as she had left it the night before, yet now bathed in the pale morning sunlight that had crept through the cracks in her drapes. Stevie heaved a sigh of relief, still reeling from the nightmare that reminded her all too well of one particular night fifteen years earlier.
Before she had too long to dwell on it, a tiny whimper came from beside her in the bed and Stevie turned to find Lily wide awake and staring up at her with her big blue eyes. The feeling of waking up next to her daughter took her breath away and Stevie took a moment to gaze upon the tiny baby as she lay on her back, kicking her little legs out excitedly in her soft white onesie and gurgling up at Stevie.
“Well good morning, sweet girl!” Stevie chuckled.
Unable to resist her any longer, Stevie scooped Lily up into the air and planted several little kisses all over her face.
And just like that, for the first time, the most precious sound in the whole world filled the room, as Lily giggled and gave Stevie a bright, open-mouthed, toothless smile as she held her out in front of her face.
“Lily!” she gasped in delight. “Are you smiling for Mommy?!”
The joy that she experience in that moment was like no other she had ever experienced before. It was in a whole new realm of feeling, and one that surpassed any other level of love she had ever felt before.
“Oh my baby girl, I love you so much!”
Stevie could have lay in bed for the next few hours, but her maternal instincts had kicked in hard and so she swung her legs out of bed, slipped into her slippers and made her way downstairs to make Lily a bottle.
It was only then, when Lily was happily making her way through her breakfast that Stevie’s mind finally returned to the nightmare she had had.
Although not a flashback of what had happened, as such, Stevie knew that it had stemmed from that night back in 1975 when she had miscarried unexpectedly. Lindsey had been inconsolable; no matter how hard she tried to get through to him, he just seemed to push her further and further away. It took a lot longer for Stevie to come to terms with the loss than Lindsey, and so when she had woken up that morning to find Lily lying by her side, it was almost as if she had put the demons to rest. That now, after fifteen years, things were finally as they were supposed to be.
Or so she thought.
Whether she liked it or not, Lindsey was constantly on her mind. He had always been the first person she would turn to when things were good or when they were terrible; she craved his presence and felt lost for so long without him.
Stevie was jolted from her reverie at the sound of the front door opening and clicking shut.
“Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!” Karen gasped playfully, placing a few grocery bags on the kitchen table. “What has you up and about so early?”
“I have a baby now, Karen! In case you hadn’t noticed…” Stevie laughed as she gave Lily the last of her bottle.
“If I knew that’s what it would take to get you out of bed earlier, I’d have told you to adopt years ago!”
“Ha ha ha, very funny!”
“How was last night then? Did you get much sleep?”
“I got her to drift off to sleep three times, but every time I left the room she would burst out crying! I didn’t know what else to do, so I brought her into my bed with me and she slept through the night! Didn’t you, baby girl?” she cooed.
“Ah, you see! She knows her Mama already!” Karen said, and Stevie’s heart fluttered at the thought.
“Oh and guess what?! She smiled at me for the first time this morning!”
“She did?!” she gasped.
“Yeah! Like a big, gummy grin! It was so precious, Karen!”
“I’ve honestly never seen you this besotted before, Stevie. After everything you’ve been through, well… I am just so, so happy for you!”
“I have everything I’ve always wanted,” Stevie said softly as she looked down at Lily.
Karen did not say a word, although they both knew, on different levels, that that was not entirely true. There was still something else that she had always wanted, but did not have.
Not wanting to ruin the moment with further probing on the matter, Karen decided to change the subject.
“So, when are you going to start letting people know? I mean, it’s not like you’ll be able to hide her here with you for much longer.”
“I was going to talk to you about that actually… I was wondering, do you think we could hold a little party here, this weekend maybe? We could invite everyone so they could all meet Lily and we could have a little celebration!” Stevie announced excitedly.
“I’m sure I can arrange that! Let’s do Friday, that will give your parents enough time to get here and the band have a long weekend planned, so it works.”
Stevie nodded along happily as Karen ran plans by her.
“Is there – anyone else – you’d like me to invite?”
With no spoken word, the look in Stevie’s eyes explained all and Karen’s heart broke for her.
“No that’s it.”
“What about Lindsey?”
“What about him?”
“Don’t play that game with me, Stevie. Ever since you two met, he has always been the first person you’ve turned to, if it was ever anything important, he always came first. Why is that any different now?”
“What’s changed is that he abandoned m– the band…” her voice trailed off. “Even if I wanted to invite him, we don’t know how to contact him! And besides, if somehow we did, who says he would even show up?”
Despite her convincing speech, Karen knew that deep down Stevie wanted him there more than anything. She was not able to say anything more before Stevie stood up from the table and walked out of the kitchen.
“I’m just going to put her down for a nap and then we can discuss the party some more.”
A/N: Something, or rather, someone, is playing on her mind. It's party time in the next chapter!