‘This will be a little chilly.’ The Doctor says as his squirts some gel on my abdomen. He starts rolling the device around while he watches the screen, and the small room is instantly filled with a wishy-washy distortion of crackling and whirring. He hums and makes odd noises as he flicks switches with his spare hand and pushes the grey contraption firmly into my stomach. It doesn’t hurt. Nothing hurts because I’m still totally numb. And then he stops moving his hand and stops flicking buttons on the huge machine. I sneak a peek at the Doctor, finding him looking intently at the screen. He eventually looks at me. ‘Everything is okay, Ava.’
‘I’m sorry?’ I whisper. My dying heart has suddenly roused and is climbing up to my throat, set on choking me with shock.
‘Everything is okay. Light bleeding in early pregnancy can be perfectly normal, but given the circumstances, it’s wise for us to be cautious.’
I can feel Jesse’s hands tightening around mine, slowly constricting until I hiss a little with pain. He eases off immediately and slowly raises his head until his eyes find mine. They are wide green pools of shock and his cheeks are drenched. I shake my head mildly, like out of all the horror today had brought; it’s this bit that I must be dreaming about. We’re both just staring at each other, neither one of us knowing how to handle this news. He goes to speak, but nothing comes out. I go to say something, too, but no words materialise.
He stands up, sits back down again, and then re-stands, letting go of my hand. ‘Ava’s still pregnant? She’s… she’s… there’s… we’re…’
The doctor laughs a little ‘Yes, Ava is still pregnant, Mr Ward. Sit down, I’ll show you.’
Jesse turns stunned eyes to me briefly before directing them at the monitor of the machine. ‘I’ll stand, if you don’t mind. I need to feel my legs.’ He leans over the bed slightly, his eyes squinting. ‘I don’t see anything.’
It’s hard, but I pull my eyes away from my dazed husband and take a look myself, but all I can see is a black and white jumble of fuzz. The Doctor points at the screen. ‘There, look. Two perfect heartbeats.’
I frown to myself. Two heartbeats?
Jesse recoils and almost scowls at the doctor. ‘My baby has two hearts?’
The doctor laughs and turns amused eyes onto us. ‘No, Mr Ward. Each of your babies has one heart, and both are beating just fine.’
His mouth falls open and he starts walking backwards until the backs of his legs hit a chair and he collapses, his arse colliding loudly with the seat. ‘I’m sorry, say that again.’ he murmurs.
The Doctor chuckles. He finds this funny? I don’t. I’ve gone from having one baby, to having no baby, to having two babies? At least, that’s what I think he’s saying. The white coated man turns his body fully towards Jesse. ‘Mr Ward. Let me put this into plain English, if it will help.’
‘Please,’ Jesse whispers.
‘Your wife is expecting twins.’
‘Oh fuck,’ he gulps. He looks at me, but if he’s expecting any words, a facial expression, or anything, then he’s looking in vain. I’m still numb and truly shocked. Twins?
‘About six weeks, I would say.’
Yes, I’m stunned, but I know damn well that that’s impossible. I had a period five-ish weeks ago. I can’t be any more than four weeks. ‘I’m sorry, that can’t be right. I’ve had a period within that time and was on the pill previous to that.’ He doesn’t need to know that I missed a few here and there. It’s irrelevant now.
‘You had a period?’ he asks.
‘That’s not unusual.’ he flips casually. ‘Let me do some measurements.’
It’s not? I glance across at Jesse warily, seeing nothing but a lean physique frozen in place. He looks like he’s been fossilised. Is he so excited now? I don’t know, but he had better get used to it. This is revenge at its best. He didn’t bargain on this, and if I wasn’t so shell-shocked, then I think I’d be smug. I think I would laugh in his stunned, handsome face and tell him that he asked for this. He’s going to be a daddy, all right. My challenging, neurotic ex-playboy has a challenge on his hands, and it’s called a hormone frenzied wife and two screaming babies. I actually smile to myself as I lie back on the pillow and drift off to a fantasy land of chaos, a place where Jesse is pulling his hair out while I look on, smiling as our two toddlers run around his ankles, vying for his attention—a fantasy land that’s going to be all too real very soon. My Lord is going to have some stiff competition in the demanding department because one thing I wholeheartedly wish for most is that both of these babies have every irritating trait that he does. I hope they take after their father, and I hope they challenge him every day for the rest of his life. I look at his motionless frame and smile on the inside. I also hope they are just like him because he’s beautiful and bursting at the seams with pure intense love. Love for me, and love for our babies. I’ve just landed softly on Central Jesse Cloud Nine.
* * *
After being told to take it easy for a day or two and being checked for whiplash, the doctor printed off a picture and sent us on our way. We strolled out of the hospital hand in hand, with Jesse holding the little black and white scan picture gently at the corner. I guided him the whole way because he was too rapt by the photo to look where he was going. John picked us up and dropped us at Lusso, and laughed the hardest I’d ever seen when I told him the news that we’d just received. I told him because Jesse still wasn’t talking, not even to ask John if he caught the DBS. So I did. He lost the mother fucking thing.
We passed Casey, who looked a little shocked that he wasn’t growled at, and I directed Jesse into the elevator and just about coaxed the new code from him. He didn’t tell me it. He just absentmindedly punched in the four digits.
I fall apart on the inside, but maintain all seriousness on the outside.
We’re now in the kitchen, Jesse slumped on the stool, still staring at the picture, and me sipping a glass of water, waiting for him to spring back to life. I’ll give him half an hour, then I’ll chuck some cold water over him.
I go upstairs, call Kate, and listen to her gasp in shock—first at the news of my dramatic car chase, then at the news of twins. I take a shower and dry my hair, then throw on my Thai fisherman pants, smiling when I realise that these will grow with my belly.
When I get back downstairs, Jesse is still sitting motionless at the island, staring at the scan picture.
Feeling a little frustrated, I sit next to him and pull his face to mine. ‘Are you going to speak anytime soon?’
His eyes roam all over my face for so long, until they eventually land on mine. ‘I can’t fucking breathe, Ava.’
‘I’m shocked, too.’ I admit, although clearly not as shocked as him.
His lip slowly slips through his teeth which seem to clamp down severely, his cogs firing into action in his head. It makes me immediately wary.
‘I was a twin.’ he says quietly.
I shrink back on my stool and drop his chin, and for the millionth time in one day, I can’t form any words. Nothing. Absolutely zero inspiration is coming to me. I’m more shocked now than at any other point during this long day.
He smiles mildly. ‘My spirited girl is speechless.’
I am. Well and truly floored, in fact. You would think I’d be used to shock and surprise from this man, but no, he gets me every bloody time.
Reaching up, he strokes my cheek gently and slides his hand onto my neck, circling his thumb on my throat softly. ‘Have a bath with me.’ he says quietly, rising from the stool and pulling me up. ‘I need to be with you.’
I’m lifted up to his body, my arms sliding around his shoulders and my legs finding their favourite place as he walks us upstairs. It takes no thought or any mental encouragement for my lips to find his neck and kiss him. Just kiss him and smell him and feel him, all of his minty freshness and all of his hard edges comforting me deeply. I’m not going to press him for information. He could’ve easily used our recent news as the reason for his shock and I would have believed him, but he didn’t. He’s shared something, a part of himself. He’s confessed that he was a twin, not that he is a twin. And now his wife is pregnant with twins, and it has clearly unearthed something from deep within him.
He places me on the vanity unit in the bathroom and sets about his usual bath time routine of testing the temperature, pouring in the bath soak and swishing to instigate some bubbles. He collects the towels, arranges the toiletries by the side of the tub, and then returns to me once he’s done and the bath is full. He reaches to pull my vest up, resting his lips on mine as he does, and we fall straight into a slow massaging of each other’s tongues as he works my clothing, only pulling away briefly to get my vest past my face before we find ourselves again and continue with our sweet, lingering kiss. It’s a special kiss. A really special one, and I delay pulling off his t-shirt, just so I don’t have to leave his lips. This kiss is not leading to an intense love making session. This kiss is leading to him sharing something painful. Right now, when he’s pouring his love into me through our kiss, is his way of finding the strength to tell me his story. It’s his way of ensuring that I’m real before he off loads a past of pain.
My hands find their way under his t-shirt and to the hard, rippling waves of his stomach. ‘Take it off.’ he says between our mouths. ‘Please, take away everything between us.’
His request makes me falter slightly, but when his lips press a little harder, I find my flow again. That wasn’t just a plea to remove his clothes. I work fast. The urgency to get his bare skin on mine is very quickly my top priority, so I drop his mouth and pull his t-shirt up, then start on his jeans, pushing them down his legs so he can kick them off. I’m pulled down from the unit, my Thai pants are removed and my lace knickers are drawn down my thighs. I don’t miss the quick check for blood. There is none. Our babies are okay. I’m lifted to him, my hands sliding straight into his hair and my lips falling straight to his mouth as he steps into the bath with me wrapped around him and lowers to his knees.
‘Is the water okay?’ he mumbles as I settle on his thighs.
‘Fine,’ I press my body into his, my breasts flattening against the vast hardness of his chest, my elbows resting on his shoulders while my hands roam all over his head and my lips work relentlessly but softly.
‘Always fine,’ he whispers.
‘Always perfect if I have you,’
‘You have me,’ His fingers thread through my hair and grip before he pulls me back. I’m breathing all over his face. ‘You do know that, don’t you?’
‘You married me, of course I know.’
He shakes his head and grabs my hand, pulling off my wedding ring and holding it up. ‘Do you think this signifies my love for you?’
‘Yes,’ I admit quietly.
He smiles a little, as if I just don’t get it. I don’t. ‘Then we should get these diamonds removed and have it re-encrusted with my heart.’ He slowly slides it back onto my finger.
I dissolve in his lap and reach forward, resting my palm on his chest. ‘I like your heart exactly where it is.’ Leaning down, I place my lips on his skin. ‘I like how it swells when you look at me.’
‘Just for you, baby.’ He pushes our mouths together and spends a few moments reinforcing exactly that. ‘Let me bathe you.’ he mumbles, working his lips down to my throat. ‘Turn around for me.’
I begrudgingly let him shift me from his lap so he can come off his knees and sit back before he arranges me between his thighs and starts with his bathing routine. I sigh contentedly but say nothing. And I don’t plan on instigating tub-talk, either. Not this time. This is for him to lead. Of course, my curious mind has gone into overdrive, but I will not be the first one to break the comfortable silence. Besides, I’m lapping up the affection on Central Jesse Cloud Nine, and I’m revelling in it. My Lord’s past holds no significance to our future. He has said that before and now, more than ever, I know just what he meant.