Twenty-One; Real Life

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Valentina stood with Seb on the back porch of Lizzie's home, her gaze sweeping across her friends who were gathered on the lawn, all chatting together about something or another. Even Lizzie — who turned out to be surprisingly organised party planner — was taking a break from running around and making sure everything was perfect to stand and talk with Chris and Scarlett.

         "This is so weird," Seb muttered, not particularly to anyone, but more so to himself.

         Val glanced up at him, smiling softly, "A good weird, yeah?"

        "Oh, definitely." He nodded, "I just... I wasn't expecting to feel like this. I'm so excited, Val. I feel like I could take on the world so long as our baby's here and good."

        "She will be." Val's hand moved to her stomach, still nothing more than the slightest of bumps, but still there— visible now to her friends and family, who would sometimes randomly come up to her and just place their hand on their stomachs. Some of them, particularly Olivia, would even nod their heads and state, quite confidently, 'yup, that's a boy' or 'definitely a girl'.

        "I think you mean he," Seb grinned, throwing his arm across Val's shoulder and pressing a kiss to the side of her head. A habit he'd picked up on when they first started meeting up regularly after discovering she was pregnant.

         "Yeah, yeah, whatever." She waved him off.

Lizzie drew Val's gaze as she advanced towards them, another grin plastered to her face, as she nodded towards Alondra. She clapped her hands together, "It's time, Val!"

         Alondra was passing out scratch cards and coins to the smiling guests, all of whom had come dressed in varying shades of blue and pink to support their guesses. Robert had come decked out in pink— pink shirt, pink pants, even his shoes were pink. Susan stood at his side, opposing him in her blue dress, and Val smiled at her when she caught her gaze.

         "Here you go, darling," Alondra kissed her daughter's cheek as she handed her the scratch card, before moving on to do the same with Seb. Lizzie had returned to the others, standing in between Chris and Will, who were both wearing blue. Alondra turned to face the guests, still grinning, "Okay, everyone! The rules are simple. On the count of three, you will all begin to scratch the gender you believe the baby is. On these scratch cards, the pink vest is for girl and the blue is for boy, alright? If you're right, you will get a 'correct', but if you're wrong, you'll get a 'try again'!" She paused, glancing sideways at Val, then smiled again. "Alright, here we go. One... two... three!"

         Valentina wasted no time in scratching the coin against her scratch card, over the pink baby vest that had been so carefully printed onto the card. Beside her, Seb was doing the same over the blue one, and so were all of their guests— their friends. Most of them friends Valentina would likely have never met if it weren't for the baby currently growing within her. Her baby had brought them together, and already she couldn't imagine a life without them— without the baby, or the friends she'd made because of the baby.

        "Oh my god," Val muttered, staring down at the result. She heard laughter, and whoops, from their friends, but instead of looking to them, she lifted her eyes to Seb's. He was smiling, eyes wide and almost tearful, at her.

        She dropped the scratch card, choosing instead to wrap her arms around Seb's waist instead. He chuckled, wrapping his arms around her shoulder, and pressed another kiss to the side of her head. "Now, all we gotta do is think of a name," he said.

         "We have time." She pulled away, still smiling.

        "I still can't believe it," he murmured, picking up their discarded scratch cards from the floor.

        "I can."


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