‹ Prequel: God Please
Status: Will try to post once a week or more. Alot going on. If this story is up, it is active.

Second Chance

Through Thick and Thin

The couple could only do so much in the wee hours of the morning before they ran out of options. Or willpower. Though it wasn't mentioned aloud, it was obvious that both were on edge. Yes, the last update they had received was that baby and mama were sleeping soundly, but the fact of the matter was that they still weren't at home. That bothered the younger couple. Things could change so quickly in a hospital.

They had gotten coffee, indulged in a few donuts, spent some time walking along the beach, and they had even gone to grab an early breakfast in an attempt to busy themselves. While it was nice to have the time together, neither were really able to focus on anything much other than their own internal struggles. It was greatly apparent that their thoughts resided with the Martinez family. Their hearts were heavy with everything they had been through, and the current round of pain and illness little Mateo was having to endure. He was just too young for all of that. He didn’t deserve it, and his parents certainly didn’t either.

It was inevitable that they would end up joining them again at some point, and all it took was a glance at one another to decide it was finally time to go. They just couldn’t pretend this was a leisurely late-night outing anymore. On the way, they made a pit stop for more coffee, and picked up some for James and Nicoletta as well. It was the least they could do.

Though the older gentleman was a bit surprised to receive the phone call, he was certainly grateful for the support and hot beverages. After carefully pulling away from his wife and baby boy, he was able to greet them in the waiting room. The walk wasn’t really all that long, but it seemed that way with all the twists and turns of the different hallways. Brian hated them. He had paced too many, far too much recently and they made him uncomfortable anymore. Who could blame him for that?

Inside the private room, it took a couple of minutes for the pair to bring themselves to be able to sit. Stark white walls, cold tile floor, and penetrating silence, save for the rhythmic beeps of the machines that surrounded the bed, made it a morbidly somber atmosphere for sure. Unnerving.

“Oh, my.” the groggy mother mumbled with a long pause as she tried to sit up from the bed without disturbing the boy who laid in a co-sleeper beside her. “What time is it?”

“Just before five, my love.”

“What brings the two of you out so early?” she wondered and thanked Emily for the coffee that was handed her.

“We couldn't sleep. You guys were on our minds and we just felt of better use if we were here with you,” she answered with a look to Brian, who just nodded.

“He really likes his elephant, by the way. Thank you again.” glancing towards the sleeping babe, she smiled as she ran her hand over the toy. “He seems comforted by it. And the blanket is so soft!”

“That's why I decided on that one. I'm glad you like it.”

“When was the last time someone was in to check on him?” the stringsman asked now.

“About an hour ago. His temperature is a little high, so they gave him something for it. Everything else looked okay, they said. He should still be able to go home sometime today. Hopefully this morning.” James replied and sipped at his coffee. “We didn't expect for you two to come up today, but it is nice to have someone with us.”

“My mother wants to be here, but she is the only one we have to watch the other children.”

The younger woman caught herself wanting to volunteer to help with that. She just felt so terrible for them. At the same time, she had to protect herself. While she was positive this family was on the straight and narrow, there was much to be said about emotional attachments. She was still in the grieving process herself. She didn't want to bite off more than she could chew.

“How are they handling everything?”

“As well as can be expected.”

“That's good. I can't imagine having a sibling going through this,” the blue-eyed woman said with a shake of her head.

The little baby began to fuss and the adults fell silent. His mother did her best to lull him back to sleep, but his cries only got louder.

“He is going to want to eat, I'm sorry,” she told them with an apologetic smile.

The couple left the room with the promise to return when they were finished. They did not want to be in the way, nor did they want to invade their privacy. They linked hands and made their way towards the garden on the other side of the hospital. It was a place both of them found peaceful, and it would allow the lead to have a much needed smoke break.

*

It had been quite a while since they had gone out for dinner at a nice restaurant, just the two of them. Eating at an out of the way cafe, diner, or family restaurant was nice, but there was something about dressing up in formal attire and spending the evening in a more upscale atmosphere. Despite what one might think, they didn't do so all that often.

They had chosen a place about fifty miles from home, on recommendation from Johnny and Lacey. It turned out to be the perfect place. Quiet music, soft lighting, and out of the way seating for more privacy. It reminded both of them of the night Brian had proposed. Tonight, there was something along a different line that was on their minds. It was no secret it had to do with the family that was slowly stealing their hearts.

“So, there’s something I want to talk about.” her words took the guitarist out of his thoughts and a tender smile graced his features.

“Okay baby. What's that?”

“I think we should invite James and his family to the gathering.” with a bit to her lower lip, she added, “I know it might sound a bit strange, I just feel like--"

“I don't think it's strange. I was thinking the same thing, but I didn't know how you'd feel about it.”

“Yeah. I mean, we should at least ask them. I don't know if they'll come.”

“We can always ask. Worst that can happen is they say no.” he agreed with a shrug. “I think it would be nice.”

“What are we supposed to do for it, anyway?”

“Zack said to leave everything to them. They want to take care of everything.”

“I'm not used to that,” she laughed lightly.

“Me either, but honestly I don't know if I could handle planning it.”

“Agreed.”

Leaning forward, he took her free hand in his and brought it to his lips, “I love you.”

“I love you, baby.”

“I think this is going to be a good thing for us.”

“I do too. I'm just a little….I don't know.” she breathed quietly. “It's like this whole thing has been one long, terrible nightmare. The gathering is going to make it real. I know that sounds weird, but do you know what I mean?”

“To come out and talk about it with everyone, yeah. It definitely makes sense to me. What's hard for me, too, is seeing and hearing how it's affected everyone else. Honestly, before Zee said anything, it didn't fully register that we aren't the only ones it hurt.”

“Oh, I realized it. I just haven't known how to process it. But, yes. This is going to be a good thing. And I think it will do us all good to have James, Nicoletta, and the kids there.”

“I won't ask him tonight, but here in the next day or two I'll give him a call.” Long fingers now brought his napkin up to his lips to dab them as they turned up into a gentle smile. “Now that that’s out of the way, may I have this dance?”

“Seriously?” an eyebrow raised at the outstretched hand before her.

“Yes ma’am.”

“It’s been a long time.” The statement definitely was not a complaint. Her hand laid atop his, and she allowed him to help her from her seat. “My, my, Brian Haner. What did I do to deserve the full treatment?”

“Full treatment?” he snorted with a smug smile now. “This is just the build up. The full treatment comes when we get home.”

“Ooh. I’m looking forward to that. Can we go home now?” she mused.

“Hey….” He tugged on her arm as she pretended to move away. “Come here.”

“I’m just playing.” Her head nestled into the crook of his neck now, and their arms wound around one another snuggly. “This is awesome, baby. Thank you.”

“I just want my love to know how much I love her,” he whispered into her ear before his lips dropped a kiss in front of it. “We’ve been through a lot and I don’t want you to forget how special you are to me.”

“Thank you, baby. You’re my one and only. I feel special every time you’re near me.”

“Still?” the response shocked him, and he pulled back enough to look into her eyes now.

“Yes.”

“I thought I was the only one who was still a softy.” He smiled.

“Don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to keep,” she smirked and leaned forward to press a kiss to the tip of his nose. “You rock my world, and there isn’t a soul on the planet who could have kept me sane through all of the ups and downs of life.”

“Same, baby.”

Leaning back in now, they nestled their heads into one another’s shoulder and continued to sway with the music. It was not often they were able to just pull away from the world like that, and they were going to relish in every minute of it.
♠ ♠ ♠
They just can't stop thinking about this sweet family, can they? But through all of the stress and all of the junk that life throws at them, they're still softies for each other. Say it with me now, "Aww!"

So I have an announcement to make. This won't initially make a difference to you guys but I finally, finally got a laptop. Mine went down about three years ago. About two years ago, I was able to shell out the money to have it fixed. Which would have been great if the guys I had fix it actually solved the problem. They didn't and suddenly up and moved to a new location which I wasn't able to find. (Don't get me started.)

But thanks to hard work and a couple of raises my husband and I each received recently, I have a new laptop. It's a pretty amazing one. More memory than even I could ever use. Which has always been a problem for me as much as I write. But, the coolest thing ever, I also get to write on it. No, no. I mean like, literally. I can push the screen completely back on itself (so, essentially, think along the lines of closing it backwards) and it becomes a tablet with a feature that I can use my finger or a stylus and actually write on it.

I can sense your indifference to this through the internet and miles between us, lol. I'm an old school writer. Being able to physically write while writing on my laptop is a huge deal to me. Anyway:

THE POINT is that I finally have a new one, which means no more trying to write on a tiny tablet or a phone. That means quicker updates, hopefully. I still have the same work schedule, but it will cut down on the time it takes to write, edit, and post everything because whether I wrote it on tablet or not, I had been trying to finish editing and posting it via phone. It was ridiculous!!