Had he been foolish to wait so long? All he had wanted was to know that Stevie still loved him, but had he expected too much from her? Why had he not come back sooner?
There he was, having just poured his heart out to her, only for her to have found someone else and already had a baby with him. He felt like his heart had been ripped from his chest.
Suddenly, he heard her voice ring through the monitor, and it began to ache even more.
“Liiilyyy,” he heard her sing softly over the monitor. “Ohhh, what is it baby girl?”
Lindsey listened heartbrokenly as she talked in a baby voice, picturing in his head what was going on in the bedroom upstairs.
“Are you hungry, sweetie? Hmm? Okay, let’s go and get you a bottle,” she continued and Lindsey heard the sound of her footsteps slowly coming down the stairs.
The baby had stopped crying and Lindsey breathed a sigh of relief, just as distressed as the baby had sounded before. He fidgeted in his seat, knowing that Stevie would be coming back into the room any minute with the baby… but he did not know whether he was ready for that yet. Ever since he had heard from Karen three days earlier, he had envisioned how this day was supposed to go, but not once had anything like this ever crossed his mind.
The sound of her footsteps echoed into the room and he could just about make out the faint sound of her humming a melody he knew all too well.
Lindsey looked up from where he was sitting on the couch and was met with a sight that took his breath away.
Stevie slowly walked into the room, cradling the baby in one arm against her chest and feeding her a bottle with the other. She glanced up bashfully, only to find Lindsey’s eyes fixated on the baby in her arms. She took up her place on the couch and settled back into the pillows so that she could give Lily her bottle comfortably.
The only noise in the room was the sound of little breaths whistling from Lily’s nose as she guzzled her bottle, and it made Stevie smile as she gently rocked from side to side. Even though she had not looked up at him once, Stevie could feel Lindsey’s eyes roaming all over her, and her cheeks burned under his gaze.
“You’re a natural,” he said softly, suddenly breaking the silence.
A smile crept onto her lips.
Lindsey had so many questions he wanted to ask her, but felt guilty about interrupting the precious moment in front of him. His heart sank and a sense of longing overwhelmed him; he needed answers if he was to know what to do next. And so he asked the question he dreaded the most, but the one he most needed the answer to.
“Who, uh…” he cleared his throat nervously. “Who’s the dad?”
“I don’t know,” she replied honestly, still smiling down at the baby.
“You – you don’t know?” he repeated, shock noticeable in his voice.
Lindsey could not believe his ears and Stevie decided to set the record straight before he went jumping to any hasty conclusions.
“That’s right. I don’t know who the dad is, because I’m adopting her.”
In a wave of relief, Lindsey suddenly let out the breath he did not know he had been holding in anticipation, and everything slowly began to make sense.
“Do you know what it was like for me, Lindsey? Three years without as much as a phone call. How could you have done that to me?” she paused for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts and keep her voice steady.
“After all of those years we spent together, for you to then just up and leave without a trace...? It broke me, Lindsey!”
As she spilled her heart out to him, Lindsey’s face dropped with the realisation of what he had done.
“I didn’t know what to do without you here with me. For three years, I felt lost and so alone. I needed someone in my life...”
“Is that why you’re adopting?” he interjected.
“I’m adopting because I want a baby, Lindsey!” she exclaimed, soothing Lily as she began to become upset in her arms.
“I always thought that in the end, we’d somehow find our way back to each other and we’d start a family. That was what I had been hoping for when I left rehab and we went into the recording for Tango In The Night,” tears brimmed in her eyes and Lindsey felt as though someone was driving a stake through his heart.
“But then you left... and I knew I’d missed my chance.”
Lindsey hung his head, ashamed.
“I’m here now, Steph… And I want you. If it’s a baby that you want, then I can give that to you!”
Stevie shook her head dismissively.
“No, you can’t…”
“What do you mean? Of course I can! We’ve done it once befor–”
Before he even realised what he was saying, it had already tumbled out and he watched as she winced at the pain of the memory.
“I went to get tested. The doctor says I have a ‘hostile uterus’,” she laughed incredulously and broke eye contact with him.
“Knowing that even if I’d wanted to do it on my own, that I couldn’t? Well…”
A tear escaped her eye and fell down her cheek. Lindsey did not know what to do or say, but he felt guiltier than he ever had in his entire life.
“And then Lily came along…” she smiled, looking down lovingly at the baby who had just drifted off to sleep. “Her birth mother abandoned her on the steps of the adoption agency when she was only four weeks old. She hadn’t stopped crying once since she had arrived there, but the moment I held her, she stopped crying... I knew she was the one.”
Stevie let it all sink in for Lindsey; she knew it must have been a lot to take in for him and if she was completely honest with herself, this whole conversation was a lot for her to take in as well.
Lindsey had to take a moment, before he plucked up enough courage to speak again.
“You’re really doing this, aren’t you?”
She nodded tearfully and pulled the soft pink blanket away from Lily’s face.
“Look at her, Lindsey…” Stevie cooed and Lindsey leant in a little closer to get a good look at her. “She’s all alone in this world. I’m all that she has now.”
Lindsey lifted his eyes and he could see the look of love Stevie had on her face as she looked down at the baby in her arms. He had not seen her this happy in a long time, and that is when he knew that this is exactly what she needed.
Shifting on the couch a little, Lindsey cocked his head and held out his hands timidly.
Stevie could not hide the surprise on her face at his request. She chuckled breathily and wiped a tear from her cheek, before gently passing the sleeping baby to him.
The baby felt so tiny and fragile in his hands that Lindsey was petrified to move. He simply sat there, cradling her head with one hand and her body with the other.
“You won’t break her, Linds,” Stevie laughed, helping him cradle the baby properly in the crook of his arm.
“She’s beautiful, Steph,” he swooned, running the back of his finger over the baby’s cheek, lax in sleep.
Stevie’s heart melted and the true magnitude of her love for both of the people in front of her crashed into her like a wave.
Everything that she had ever wanted was suddenly staring her in the face. Her thoughts had become crystal clear and she did not even have to think about what she said next.
“She’s going to need a daddy.”
A/N: Someone pass me the tissues... I love you all for reading this, I hope you're still enjoying it!