Don't forget to stop in at the Mine today!!
I hope everyone is okay with me changing the time I post my blog. I noticed if I post it later in the day I get more views. :)
~ Chapter Twenty-Five ~
The streetlight outside the apartment shone brightly. Justin’s eyes popped wide, the glare wakening his senses. He didn’t remember much of the drive home. The thought scared him. What if he’d wrecked? Having a family was going to change his perspective on a lot of things.
He switched the car off and turned to the back. Arianna insisted on sitting with the baby. He smiled. She was so lovely, even in her emaciated state. Something swirled in his gut. It was love. He turned to the passenger side. “Mary Jo, we’re home.”
Mary Jo jumped. Her head came up and she wiped at her mouth where slobber had begun to dribble down her chin. “Whu…what’s wrong?” She sat up and looked around.
Justin laughed. It’s fine, we’re here.”
She gave a laugh. “Oh, okay.” She pulled her handle and stepped out of the car.
Justin followed suit and they helped Arianna unbuckle the baby from his hospital-issued car seat and walked up to the door.
Justin stopped his arm midway to the door. The lights were on. And so was the television. What in the world…?
With his extended arm he gestured behind him. Step back, someone’s inside. The women stepped back and he tried the door knob. Locked.
Heart pounding, he stuck the key in the lock and pushed the door open, staying outside. After a few seconds of silence, with no one coming out to kill him, he stuck his head in the door and gazed around the living room. His eyes stopped on a figure sitting on the sofa in front of the TV. His heart went into overtime, beating so hard he figured he could see it through his shirt.
The figure turned.
Sweat poured down Justin’s stomach and back. He was half-afraid to ID the interloper, but forced his eyes to look. He must’ve been holding his breath because it whooshed out, leaving him light-headed and dizzy. “Mom…” Then the ramifications of her being there pushed through his fuzzy brain. “Mom!”
She arose from the couch and walked toward him. “Justin, I know you said to only use the key in case of an emergency, but I wanted to come apologize— for how I talked to you. I…” She stopped mid-sentence, her mouth falling open in surprise. She looked at Justin, questions plain on her face. “Son, what’s going on?”
Mary Jo led Arianna and the baby through the door.
Justin turned to watch as the came into the room. Mary Jo led with a protective arm around Arianna, and Arianna had the ‘deer in the headlights’ look.
“Mother, I’d like you to meet Arianna; my wife.”
Janet Hollander gasped. Her mouth fell open.
Justin couldn’t help thinking for the second time that night he’d laugh if the situation wasn’t so dire.
Brows knit in confusion, Janet said, “I don’t understand, Justin.”
He shrugged. She’s the one I tripped over in the park. I married her.” He gestured to the car seat Mary Jo held like a shield in front of them. “This is your new grandson, Chance.”
Janet shook her head. “Son, you’re not making sense. How could you have a son? Didn’t you just meet this young woman?”
Justin nodded. “Yes Mom, and she has a newborn son. Come look at him.”
Janet Hollander hesitated then began taking small steps toward the women.
Mary Jo stepped back, but Justin stayed her with a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay.”
She stopped and pulled away the light blanket shielding the baby from view.
Janet looked down into the car seat.
Justin saw many different emotions cross his mother’s face. Finally, joy settled there. She looked up at her son. “Is he really ours?” Her hands came together, fingers interlocking.
“Yes. Do you want to hold him?”
Her eyes brightened and the smile she shined lightened the tension in the room. “Yes, could I?”
Mary Jo moved forward and sat the car seat on the oak coffee table in front of the sofa. She went about unstrapping the baby.
Arianna smiled at Janet Hollander and held out one bony hand.
Janet gave her son a look of surprise, the unspoken question hanging between them: What happened to her?
Justin walked between the women and whispered into his mother’s ear. “In due time, Mom. Please welcome her.” He stepped back and let his mother step closer.
“Arianna, I’m so glad to meet you.” She pulled the younger woman into a bear hug.
Justin smiled. That’s more like it. His mom was a good woman.
Assured everything was okay, he looked to Mary. Can I ready a bottle, or is not time?”
Mary smiled and nodded. “That’s a good idea. You’re going to make a fine daddy.”
Pride swelled within him. “Thank you.” He took the bottle and headed for the kitchen.
He heard his mom ask, “And who might you be?”
Mary Jo gave her low chuckle. “I’m the nurse/nanny. Your son was smart enough to realize they might need one.”
His mother’s reply warmed him to his toes; “Yes, my son is a smart man. He’ll be an awesome dad for this little boy.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. She was in her element. Maybe he’d helped out in more ways than one with this marriage. Smiling, he returned to the living room with a bottle for his son.