By Jamie Sommers
Rated: P/G 13
Synopsis: The next chapter in the A/U story of Landon and Jamie’s life.
The minute she lied down she felt the boom boom boom coming from within her. “Mommy’s tired, honey. She needs to sleep,” Jamie spoke quietly to her unborn baby and rubbed her engorged stomach.
Landon walked out of their bathroom with a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth mumbling, “Hmmmm?”
“Oh nothing.” Jamie rolled onto her side and faced Landon. “I was just telling our child that I needed to sleep and that this was not the time to start playing.”
Landon lifted up his chin as though acknowledging her and went to finish his nighttime routine. He began speaking to his wife, once his mouth was free of toothpaste. “She really likes to start kicking whenever you decide you want to rest, huh?”
“Yeah,” Jamie smiled down at her swollen tummy and began rubbing it in a slow circle. “The doctor says it’s because when I’m moving during the day, it’s like I’m rocking her to sleep.”
“You don’t suppose that will make her think that she should sleep all day and be up all night do you?” Landon asked while drying his face off with a hand towel.
“Well,” Jamie yawned. The long day had finally taken its toll on her. “That could be the reason why parents have been getting absolutely no sleep at night for generations and generations.”
“Damn.” Landon shut the light off to the bathroom and sat on the edge of their bed. “Here I thought this was going to be the perfect baby and it turns out she’s just priming herself to be like all the others.” He leaned over, laying his hand upon Jamie’s stomach and began whispering into her navel. “You’re not going to be like all those other baby’s are you honey? You’re not going to keep your daddy up all night are you?” He laid his ear where his lips had been, as though he were listening to the infant’s response. He made faces like the child were speaking to him, furrowing his brow and lifting his finger to silence Jamie when she tried to interrupt. “Okay,” he said brightly as he placed a kiss against Jamie’s belly. “I didn’t think so, but I just had to check.”
Jamie looked at her husband with a tired grin, “So what did she say?”
“Well she said that her daddy wasn’t wrong about her and that she is the perfect infant and that she would never,” he kissed Jamie’s hand and laid it down upon her stomach. “Never,” he kissed her other hand. “Keep her daddy up all night.”
“Oh really,” Jamie asked with raised eyebrows.
“Yes really.” Landon stretched himself out next to her. “Now her mommy on the other hand…” his raised eyebrows finishing his thoughts for him.
“Yeah, I know. She’s going to be rumbling around in there all night,” Jamie said.
“Hey,” Landon fluffed up his pillow and settled in for the night. “Do you think she’s getting upset with us for calling her she because she’s really a he?”
“Huh?” Jamie looked at Landon as though he had two heads.
“Well,” he flopped onto his back so Jamie could curl herself into his side. He smiled inwardly as he felt her stomach brush against his ribs. Her head rested in the crook of his arm and her leg wrapped around his. “Ever since we decided to call the baby a she instead of an it, she… I mean he…well…the baby’s been giving ya a hard time.”
Jamie looked up at Landon with a smirk and shook her head, “You’re a nut Carter.”
“Well,” he yawned. “It’s something to think about.”
Landon lied there for a moment and then reached up to shut the lamp off. Their bedroom was instantly bathed in moonlight. It streamed in through the French doors and left a luminous glow about the room. Landon looked around and tried to let his mind wind down. Lately he seemed to feel physically tired a lot earlier than he felt mentally tired. He knew he had been doing more around the house, preparing for the baby and trying to keep as much of the household responsibilities off of Jamie as possible, but tonight for some reason his mind just wouldn’t stop racing. He lied there for minutes on end letting the warmth of Jamie’s body seep through his skin. He reveled in the touch of her flesh, the smell of her hair, the wonders that pregnancy had bestowed upon her body. He was in awe of his wife’s changing figure. From the back she looked exactly the same as before but from the side she has the cutest little pouf in her belly. She had recently started wearing maternity clothes that accentuated her maternal state and it made Landon’s pulse race whenever he saw her. Her skin would glisten even before she applied any form of make up, and Jamie very rarely wore any make up at all. Her hair had been growing quite rapidly as well and was just above her waist. When he mentioned it to his mother, she had made a comment about the pre-natal vitamins doing its job. So many thoughts seemed to be overlapping in his head when suddenly a sound, a hum came from Jamie. She began to snore. Landon smiled down at her as her quiet buzz vibrated against his chest. “I guess that little baby of ours isn’t going to keep you up after all.” He leaned his head down, placing a kiss against her brow and whispered into her hair, “I love you Jamie. Sleep well.” His eyes closed as he concentrated on the gentle purr coming from his wife. Within minutes he fell asleep.
Tap, tap, tap. “Mmmmm, t’is okay baby. Go back to sleep.” Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Landon’s eyes fluttered as he felt the tapping against his spine once again. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. A look over his shoulder confirmed what he had suspected. He wanted to wake up Jamie and ask her to roll over, but he knew that she would never get back to sleep if he had done that, so he simply lied there and tried to ignore it. Tap, tap, tap, tap. What happened to our little talk, he thought to himself. Earlier, you told me you wouldn’t keep daddy up all night. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. “I guess you changed your mind,” he said under his breath.
Jamie snuggled her belly into Landon’s back and buried her head into his pillow. Her hand gripped his hip and she let out a loud breathing sigh. “If you want a bowl of ice cream I’m okay with that.”
“What?” Landon asked trying to peer at her from over his shoulder.
“I could go for a scoop of daiquiri ice right now.”
“Jamie,” Landon asked quietly. “Are you awake?”
“Or maybe just some butter pecan, with salsa on top.”
Landon felt her head settle deeper into his pillow and the now familiar, tap, tap, tap of the baby against his back. He tried to roll over, to face her, but to no avail. Her grip on his hip and the position of the baby behind his back left him stuck in a precarious position. “Jamie,” he whispered again. “Baby?”
“When I was a little girl I would walk with my daddy to the ice cream parlor and we would get a cone after church on Sundays. He told me stories about my mother. Tell our baby stories about me Landon,” Jamie’s voice got thick with emotion. “Tell our baby about me when I’m gone.”
“Jamie?” Landon’s voice got louder when he realized that Jamie had been talking in her sleep and that she was on the verge of a very unpleasant nightmare. “Baby you need to wake up.”
“I don’t want to die Landon. I’ll pray. I’ve been praying, but what if God decides to take me away now? What if he takes me away?”
Landon thrust himself quickly over, trying his hardest not to hurt her. “Jamie,” his hands were placed on her shoulders, his face a breath away from hers. The tap, tap, tap that had been beating gently against his spine was now rapping on his stomach. “Jamie, you’re having a bad dream baby. Please get up?” He shook her gently, placing a kiss against her brow. “Please,” he cleared his throat when he saw the tears slowly leaking out of the corners of her eyes. “Oh baby, please?” He pulled her to him and surrounded her with his arms. “You’re not going anywhere Jamie. I won’t let you go. I’ll never let you go.”
She felt the familiar warmth of Landon’s arms surrounding her, and the pressure of the baby against her bladder. She was wondering what was wrong with Landon. He seemed to be upset. He was speaking in hushed tones. “Landon?” Her arms reached up and she began stroking his back in a comforting caress. “Are you okay?”
“Jamie?” Landon pulled back and cradled her face in his hands. “Oh baby,” his thumbs brushed away the teardrops that were beginning to dry upon her cheeks. “You were having a nightmare and…and…”
“Just breathe Landon. Breathe.” Jamie didn’t remember a nightmare. All she knew is that one-minute she was sleeping and the next Landon was waking her up as though he were petrified of something. “I’m fine Landon, and it couldn’t have been that bad if I can’t even remember it, right?”
“Yeah,” he laid his head upon her brow and blew out a cleansing breath. “It’s just… Jamie?” He looked deeply into her eyes; “You know you can tell me if you’re afraid of anything right?” Maybe, he thought, she was afraid of the same thing happening to her that had happened to her mother. “You know that I’ll always be here to talk, don’t you?”
“Yes Landon,” the corners of her mouth lifted in a gentle smile. “I know that. It’s one of the reasons I chose you.”
“You chose me, huh?” He smiled as she snuggled into his arms.
“Mmmm hmmmm. I chose you.”
“What makes you so sure I didn’t choose you and I was just playing hard to get?”
“Hard to get?” she looked up at him with a lifted brow. “Impossible to get is more like it.”
“Hah!” He laughed into her hair.
“What are you laughing about?” She poked him in the ribs and kissed his jaw.
“Well if I was impossible to get then what am I doing here?”
“Like I said,” she squeezed his torso even tighter and closed her eyes against his chin. “I chose you. I wanted you. I prayed for you and God knew that I needed you.”
After a long pause he lifted her face with one finger to look into her eyes, “He knew that I needed you too.”
They kissed softly.
Her lips tasted like warm milk, like home. Landon felt the moist tip of her tongue trace the edges of his mouth. He opened his lips and invited her in. Their lovemaking was slow and beautiful and when they were through, Jamie curled once again into Landon’s back with her stomach pressed against his spine.
Tap, tap, tap. His chuckle was low and vibrated through his chest. Tap, tap, tap. It was going to be a long night.
~ ~ ~
She stood at the front of the church wearing a simple dress of crushed pink silk. It wrapped snuggly around her breast and tied above her belly. The rest of the dress flowed in soft waves around her slim form, accentuating her curves. Her svelte hips, her shapely legs and her round belly. The choir stood behind her in their white robes singing back up as she began her solo. Her hand automatically rested against her swollen abdomen when she began to sing in her usual soft and melodious tone, but today she sounded as though she were serenading her child. Rocking it to sleep with a lullaby that the rest of the congregation was privileged to hear.
Landon watched her with adoration filling his eyes. She was the most beautiful woman in the world to him. Her pregnancy just accentuated that beauty. It’s funny, he thought, how whenever he was in church, he felt closer to Jamie then anywhere else. This place is what brought them together. He was never big on religion but the longer he was with his wife he believed more and more in the powers of God. The most miraculous thing God had ever done, in Landon’s eyes, was standing at the front of the church in pink. He smiled at her form and thought how blessed he was. Thank You Lord for blessing me with the most incredible woman in the world. It was at that moment that Landon realized God had been there for both him and Jamie during the most crucial times of their lives so he thought he would bring the nightmare thing up to see if perhaps God could help with that as well. Lord, he prayed to himself. She’s been having some bad dreams lately, which I’m certain you’re aware of. I’m not sure if she knows what she’s dreaming about or not, but I’m hoping you can help her through them. I don’t know if it’s the cancer she fears or if its what killed her mother during her own childbirth, but I do know she’s afraid of something. She’s talking in her sleep at night and sometimes she’s crying. I hate to wake up to the sound of her crying in her sleep. It must disturb the baby and it can’t be good for her either. I’ve tried talking to her about it but she seems to be oblivious to it. I’m not asking for much, like for you to take them away completely or anything, I’m sure they’re happening for a reason, but maybe you could help me figure out what that particular reason is. Thanks for listening and… God? Landon looked up at his wife as she lifted her face to him staring him directly in the eyes. Thank you God for giving me the love of my life, for not taking her from me, and for letting our love grow into a child. Amen.
~ ~ ~
“So what you’re thinking is the room closest to yours instead of that second room?”
“Well, yeah. That’s what we thought. Unless of course you think that we should use that second room for some reason.”
Jamie watched as her father and her husband sat deep in conversation discussing the best place for the nursery. Jamie knew that it really didn’t matter because for the first three months they were planning on having the baby stay in their room, but she let her father revel in the role of Grandpa, and from the looks on his and Landon’s faces, he was doing a great job.
She lifted her fingers and ran them lightly across the piano keys, focusing on the photos above her. “Mom,” she whispered. She began to play. Tinkering softly into the afternoon breeze, her voice began to hum the melody and her eyes closed.
“Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
There’s just something about that name.
Master. Savior. Jesus.
Like the fragrance after the rain.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Let all heaven and earth proclaim.
Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away
But there’s something about that name.”
Reverend Sullivan listened as Jamie sang quietly and he laid a hand on Landon’s leg as if silencing him. He gestured towards Jamie with his chin and smiled a pleasant smile, but there was something eating away at him from behind it. He worried about his daughter on a daily basis and was concerned about her going through such a physically challenging thing as childbirth after facing her leukemia. He wondered if she was able to handle it and in the back of his mind was that nagging feeling… that what if…
Landon’s smile faded as he saw the tears caress his wife’s cheeks. He knew they weren’t tears of sorrow, but he could feel her aching within as her voice echoed through the quiet house. He watched as her eyes opened once, she focused on the ceiling, then she closed them again. Landon listened to the words she sang and wondered if there was some sort of hidden message within it.
“Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away
But there’s something about that name.
Yes there’s something about that name.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”
Jamie plunked out the last of the notes and laid her fingers upon the piano’s cover, pulling it out and covering the keys. She backhanded the tears away from her eyes and smiled once again at the photo of her mother. When she turned she fully expected her father to be in the same state as her.
Reverend Sullivan sat with a grin upon his face from ear to ear. “She would’ve loved that Jamie. She would’ve been so proud of you.”
Jamie was relieved to see her father smiling instead of aching as she was. “Do you think so daddy?” She stood and walked towards her father’s open arms.
“I know so.” Reverend Sullivan stood in front of his favorite chair waiting with open arms to comfort his daughter. “She’s watching you know and I know she’s very proud of you, and I’m sure she’s very excited about being a grandmother.”
Jamie chuckled into her father’s broad shoulder and sniffled. “I hope so.”
Landon wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but he stood up and comforted his wife just the same. “Baby? Are you okay?” He laid his hand upon her back waiting for some form of response.
“Landon,” her father answered. “That song was Jamie’s mother’s favorite. I used to sing it to her when she was a baby, but when she got old enough to realize that I was tone deaf…” they all chuckled at his stab at humor.
“Thank you daddy,” Jamie whispered in his ear. She leaned up on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. “I’ll be right back.” She excused herself and left the room saying she needed to clean up.
“Reverend?” Landon looked at his father-in-law, and wondered if he should take him into his confidence about the nightmares.
“Don’t worry son. All pregnant women get emotional like this. One minute they’re happy. The next they’re crying their eyes out.”
“No sir, that’s not what I was concerned about. It’s uh…” Landon looked between his feet and lifted his head up to face his father-in-law. “Reverend, would you mind if I asked you some questions about your wife and how she uh…she…um…” He began to fidget in his seat, his hand scratching aimlessly at the back of his head.
“How she died?” he finished.
Landon cleared his throat and summoned up all of his courage before facing him again and saying, “Yes.”
“Why don’t you meet me at the church next week monday for a little while. I’ll be free around 10:00 in the morning. Maybe Jamie could go shopping with your mother for a bit,” he hinted slyly.
Landon got his message loud and clear; Jamie should be left out of this.
“Daddy?” Jamie called from the other room. “Landon???” Her voice began getting louder and more worrisome. “Quick!! Quick!!”
Both men were petrified and ran to the back of the house, fearing that something horrid had happened.
“Do you see it?” She stood staring out the window into the back yard. “Do you see it?” she repeated.
“What?” Landon’s heart was racing. He was frantically searching the floor for signs of her water breaking early or hemorrhaging. “What is it??”
“The mother deer and her baby. Look,” she pointed.
Both men sighed with relief when her worry free smile adorned her face.
“They’re so beautiful. I’ve never seen them come so close have you daddy?”
“No Jamie,” he ran his hand through his hair and blew out a gust of air. “I’ve never seen them so close to the house before.”
Landon’s chuckle started vibrating through his chest until finally it came out as a full and boisterous belly laugh. He sank down against the wall and looked up at his father-in-law as he joined him in laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Jamie asked innocently.
Landon shook his head and looked up from his crouched position. “You.”
“Me?” she asked innocently, the deer forgotten. “What did I do?”
“You scared the living shi…uh…” Landon stuttered.
“What your husband is trying to tell you Jamie is that when a woman five months pregnant starts screaming the way you did, you tend to think the worst, and to put it mildly… you scared the living hell out of us.”
Landon’s jaw dropped as his laughter continued. “Do me a favor baby? The next time you see a deer, just call out, hey Landon I see a deer, instead of come quick. Let’s leave the come quick’s for deliveries, water breaking, labor pains…” he stood up and kissed her before looking over her shoulder, “now…where are these deer?”
~ ~ ~
They curled together preparing themselves for an evening of quiet slumber, his arms securely wrapped around her waist; his hands lie gently against her bulging stomach. He could feel their baby moving, rolling back and forth underneath his palms as Jamie settled deeper into their bed.
His soft sigh tickled her neck, causing her to smile against her pillow. “Landon?” She said tenderly.
“Do you ever worry about after the baby comes?”
“What do you mean?” He wondered if she was going to tell him about the nightmares now.
“Like… do you wonder if we’ll still be like this or do you think that we’ll become like so many other married people and let carpools and soccer games take over our lives?”
“Well,” he rested his chin against her shoulder and spoke quietly into her ear. “I suppose it’s up to us. I mean there may be times when being a parent will probably take it’s toll on us, but it will only come between our marriage if we let it.”
“I guess I just worry sometimes…” she trailed off.
“Jamie?” He wondered. “Where is this coming from?”
“No where especially. It’s just that…” she laid in silence for a moment and then rolled over to face him. “Yesterday I was at the market and I saw this family, a little boy, he must’ve been around 5 or 6 and his parents. When you looked at them they looked like the ideal family. Beautiful, you know, but I could tell that there was something missing. The little boy was telling them about his day at school and the mom just kept saying, ‘that’s great honey,’ but you could tell she wasn’t really listening and the dad… well he just seemed to be oblivious to everything. It was like he was there because he had to be.” Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes as she looked at Landon. “Promise me Landon. Promise me that we’ll never be like that. That we’ll never take life for granted.”
“I promise baby. I promise I’ll never take you or our children for granted. I’ve come too close to losing you and there is no way in hell that I’ll ever take that for granted.” He bent his head little down and placed a kiss against her tear-streaked face. “I love you so much Jamie.”
“I love you too.”
It was as though their unborn child heard their declarations of love and decided to chime in by kicking as hard as it could. Jamie and Landon looked down at her stomach and watched a tiny little fist sized lump try to push its way through her belly.
“It’s amazing isn’t it?” Jamie asked as they looked at the baby making its presence known, between them.
“Yeah, it is. We created that.”
“Yes we did,” Jamie’s hand cupped Landon's cheek. “Oh Landon,” she sighed. “Thank you so much.”
“For everything. Marrying me, loving me, the baby…”
“I should be the one thanking you. You’ve given me so much baby. If it wasn’t for you I’d probably be dead or in jail by now.”
“Oh I don’t know about dead…” Jamie chided. “Now jail…” she tilted her head to the side and giggled slightly.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I was a major screw up before I met you.”
“I wouldn’t say you were a screw up.”
“Oh,” he pulled her body closer to his own. “What would you say I was then?”
“You were just a little confused about which path to take Landon.”
“Mmmm hmmmm. You weren’t sure if you should go down the right path or the wrong path so you just kept drifting in between the two.”
“Oh I see. So you thought I was a drifter so to speak?”
“NO. No not a drifter. Definitely not a drifter.”
“Well what then?”
“Hmmm,” she wondered.
“No I think that title definitely belonged to me, not you.”
He laughed softly. “A rebel?”
“Yes…maybe. More like a…a…” she looked deeply into his eyes and remembered how she felt the day after Clay Gephardt’s accident. “I guess I always felt bad for you Landon. I always thought of you as misunderstood.”
He questioned her silently with his eyes.
“You said, and did, so many things that would definitely qualify you as a rebel, yet you constantly contradicted yourself by your actions.”
“What do you mean? What actions?”
“Oh little things like, giving me your star frame in the sixth grade or telling Dean to laugh at my joke that day you were doing your custodial duties during my Stars and Planets meeting.”
Landon thought back to that day and although, it was only just over two years earlier, it seemed like a lifetime ago that he was sweeping the gym.
“I was actually pretty frightened of him that day,” Jamie continued, “but for some reason I stood up to him.”
“You were scared of him?”
“Well it didn’t show.”
“I took pride in hiding my fear when it came to your group of friends back then.”
“Did we scare you babe?”
“Usually I was okay, but every now and then… yes. Dean scared me.”
“Why? I mean I know we were mean to you,” his voice cracked. “but…geez Jamie… We never did anything… I mean…” A thought suddenly occurred to him. “I never did anything violent towards you, but… did Dean?”
“NO! No. Not at all. He’s just got that kind of personality. Sometimes I worry for Tracy.”
“Nah. Dean’s all talk baby. He wouldn’t hurt her.”
“I don’t know Landon. I just think that there’s some sort of hidden anger there.”
Landon’s eyes focused on the wall behind Jamie as different memories popped into his mind. Dean and Tracy fighting the night of the incident with Clay. “He pushed her,” he said out loud without realizing it.
“He pushed her. The night that we went to the cement factory I remember Tracy telling Dean that he had had enough to drink and Dean started yelling at her, telling her that he’d had enough of her shit and he pushed her.”
“Oh,” Jamie said.
“I never thought of it much. None of us did. I guess we were just so used to them either fighting or kissing that things like that never really bothered us much.”
“Well didn’t you notice him pushing her at the time?”
“No. Not really. I mean… I remember him doing it, but at the time I had a little too much beer in me and I…” He had never admitted to Jamie that he was drunk that night and he wondered for a moment how she would take it. When she simply waited for him, in silence, to continue his story he released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding in. “Anyway, I know I told him to calm down and I tried to just make light of the subject, but then Clay got there and… well you know the rest.”
“Yeah… I know the rest.” Tilting her head to the side she asked, “Landon? Do you ever wonder if we would’ve gotten together if you hadn’t pressured Clay into jumping?”
“Oh no doubt about it. We would’ve definitely gotten together.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I would’ve done something wrong that would’ve gotten me punished by principal Kelly sooner or later so…” he shrugged.
“Oh Landon,” she chuckled lightly. “I really do love you.”
~ ~ ~
“Have you never been mellow? Have you never triiiiiiiied…to find the comfort from insiiiiiiiiiiiide you?”
Landon cringed as Jamie continued to sing along with Olivia Newton John’s Greatest hits as they drove from the church to Landon’s father’s house. He loved his wife and found some of her quirks to be charming, but this particular one…
“Oh I love this one!!!” Jamie cheered and joined in as Olivia sang on. “Please mister pleeeeeeeeease…”
Landon’s eyes squinted in pain as she continued to serenade him with the worst music he’d ever heard in his life. He had been listening to Jamie sing along with the CD for almost twenty miles now and he had finally hit his breaking point when she began to beg someone “don’t play B-17.” Now he just had to ask her to stop singing without hurting her feelings. Lately everything hurt her feelings. He considered saying that he had a headache but then they’d have to sit in silence for the remainder of the trip or she would tell him that soft music would sooth it and put on her classical CD. He could tell her that his CD player wasn’t used to this 1970’s crap and it may cause permanent damage, but he didn’t think that would go over too well. How about accidentally hitting the button and shutting it off, or perhaps he could just lower it down and say he wanted to talk to her about something important. Ooooh, he thought, that’s a good one. Then he could just lower it down until it was at that bug out stage. When you can’t make out what song is playing, but you know that there’s music on in the background. As he leaned in to lower the song down he hit a bump in the road and heard Jamie’s cry of pain.
“Oh geez baby! Did I hurt you?”
“Well not exactly. It was that pothole that did it.”
Both of Landon’s hands were on the wheel now, Olivia Newton John forgotten. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see it in the road.”
“That’s okay. The baby just bounced on my bladder but I’ll survive.”
“Good,” Landon picked up Jamie’s hand and brought it to his lips to place a kiss upon her knuckles. Then he laid it upon his thigh as he continued to drive. Within seconds Jamie started singing again and Landon’s eyes grew wide as he was tortured with yet another song from a decade that should have been forgotten.
“Let me be there in your mornin’. Let me be there in your night.”
Well, he thought, he couldn’t lower the music down now because then he’d have to let go of Jamie’s hand, and that felt too good. This song wasn’t that bad. It was a bit more upbeat than the others and…and… oh who was he kidding. It sucked. Landon took a deep breath and tried to think of other things as Jamie performed her little show in the passenger’s side of the car. His mind roamed back to their conversation they had a few nights earlier. He wondered if they would get lost in the world of parenting when the baby came along. He supposed that they would for a little while, but eventually they would go back to their playful selves again.
Since the pregnancy Jamie was quite flirtatious and a bit on the adventurous side when it came to…
“Xaaaaaaaaaaaanaduuuuu…” Jamie bellowed.
“What the hell????” Landon couldn’t help his response. He had never heard the song before and prayed to all that is good and holy that he’d never hear it again.
“What’s wrong?” Jamie paused for a moment and looked at Landon with a dumbfounded expression.
“Oh baby please…please…” he trailed off not knowing how to tell her that he couldn’t stand this music anymore. “I love you baby and you know that I would never try to… It’s just that this…” That’s when it came to him. “Number forty-two.” He looked at her with raised eyebrows and a hopeful expression in his eyes.
Jamie’s giggle started to bubble up in her throat and spilled out in a boisterous belly laugh. “Oh Landon…”
“Well I’m glad you’re getting a kick out of this, but baby if I hear one more Olivia Fig Newton song I’m gonna take a hostage.”
She tried to control her laughter, but couldn’t quite do it. “I…pfffft…I was…pfffffffft…pffffffffffft…wondering how…hee heee heee… how long it would taaaa…taaaaa….” Her laughter erupted once again as Landon’s expression said, he finally caught on.
“You. You… I can’t believe it. You…” He made a lame attempt to glare at her from the corner of his eyes but to no avail. “You knew I couldn’t stand this stuff and yet you still sang it at the top of your lungs???” It wasn’t long before his laughter joined her in a harmonious duo. He couldn’t believe this wife of his at times. He knew she had a good sense of humor, but this was probably one of the better jokes she played on him.
“Oh,” she sighed, “I wasn’t sure how long I could continue to sing along with her without cracking up. I thought for sure you would lose it during ‘Please Mister Please’ or that song from Grease.”
“Yeah well I was being polite.”
“Well yeah. I mean I considered asking you to shut it off, but I wasn’t sure how you would take it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she smiled knowing the answer already but enjoying the sight of him squirming in the seat next to her.
“It’s just that…uh…well…sometimes you get a little…ummm…. I mean I’m sure it’s the hormones, but sometimes you get a little…emotional.” He took a deep breath and held it waiting for her response.
“What does emotional mean?” Oh, she thought, this is even more entertaining than torturing him with sappy love songs.
“Well I mean… emotional you know.”
“No. I don’t know. Explain it to me.” She sat back and crossed her arms, staring, waiting.
Uh oh, he thought. “It’s just that at times you get a little sad. I mean more than usual.”
“Mmmm hmmm…” she nodded while tilting her head to the side.
“And sometimes you get kind of… well…”
“Well?” she asked.
He took a deep breath and said it. “Grouchy.”
“Grouchy???” Her hands dropped onto her lap as she asked him, “You think I’m grouchy??”
“NO! No. I didn’t say you WERE grouchy. I just said that sometimes you can get a little…uh…”
“Well…uhhhh….” He stared straight ahead as though the road had transfixed him.
She started to laugh again and said, “Oh Landon. You’re such an easy target lately.”
“Hey,” he chuckled. “I resent that.”
“Oh honey,” she adjusted herself in her seat and leaned her head against his shoulder. It was a stretch, but it was worth it. “I was just teasing you.”
“Yeah…uh… I know.” He didn’t know, but he was grateful that she was in such a lighthearted mood today. He had thought that the trip to his father’s would be too much on her, but she seemed to be fairing well. “So uh baby?”
“Yeah.” She sat upright, placing a hand against her bulging stomach.
“Can we please shut this shi…stuff off?” His mischievous look, and the wink of his eye, told her that his flub of words had been intentional.
She giggled a lighthearted, “Yes.” Then closed her eyes for the remainder of the trip.
~ ~ ~
Worth Carter opened up his front door and watched as his son pulled up to the curb. His excitement was bubbling up from deep within to see his son and his daughter in law. He walked briskly towards the Camaro, opening the passenger side door for Jamie. He watched as she fumbled with the seatbelt and then held his arms wide open to hug her. Once she had freed herself from the confines of the contraption he began to greet her, “Jamieeee…ugh.”
She hadn’t meant to push him out of her way, but she had to use the facilities and she couldn’t wait. She rushed past Landon’s stepmother and practically jumped the front steps to make her way through their living room, down the hall, to the left… AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
She emerged minutes later with a look of relief on her face and apologized to her father in law for being so rude. “I was just in a bit of a hurry,” she blushed.
“It’s okay. I remember what it was like when Landon’s mother was pregnant with him. We couldn’t go anywhere because we had to pull over every ten minutes so she could use the bathroom. It seems Landon liked to use his mother’s bladder as a trampoline.”
They all laughed before resigning to the back of the house. They spoke of inconsequential things such as the weather, and the rising cost of gasoline. They drank iced tea and had a pleasant lunch before they turned to the reason they went there to begin with.
“So Landon, I was a bit surprised when you asked if you and Jamie could stop by after church today. To what do we owe this honor?”
“Well…” Landon reached over and took hold of Jamie’s hand. He looked at her as she smiled a soft and reassuring smile. “Jamie and I would like to ask you to be in the room when we deliver.”
“Well of course. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Worth was thrilled that they had asked him to share in that joyous day, but he had never expected them to ask him the next question.
“We thought it would be great if the baby’s Godfather would be there to greet her on her big day. You will be the baby’s Godfather won’t you dad?”
“Uh huh.” Jamie and Landon replied in unison.
“Of…of course.” Worth sat for a moment as the tears began to well up in his eyes. Taking a deep breath he thumbed away a few loose teardrops and said, “I would be honored. Truly honored.”
“We were hoping you’d say that dad.” Landon and Jamie smiled brilliantly as they watched Worth try to collect himself.
“We’re thrilled that you said yes.” Jamie threw in.
“Why wouldn’t I say yes?” Worth said with a humorous tone to his voice. “Unless of course this child of yours turns out to be as much trouble as this boy of mine.” He put his hand in Landon’s hair and ruffled it a bit.
“Gee thanks dad,” Landon chuckled.
“Landon do you remember that time you wanted to wear my tie to school?”
Landon ducked his head down, obviously remembering the incident as his father continued.
“You had insisted on dressing up like me because I was a grown up and you thought that…” he continued to tell tales about Landon’s childhood until late in the afternoon.
Jamie enjoyed moments like this. Quiet afternoons in the warm sunshine. Reminiscing, laughing… it was moments like this that made her grateful for her anonymous bone marrow donor. She often wondered about the person that gave her the gift of life. Did that person know just how much that gift meant to her and her family? She rubbed her stomach, reveling in the feel of her unborn child, and smiled. She wished she could thank that person. She wanted to tell her…him… thank you. Thank you for this precious gift. If not for you this life would cease to exist. My child would never be. I would never be. Would Landon be all right in a world without her? Thank God she would never have to find out.
“Mr. Carter?” Jamie interrupted their conversation about Landon walking out of the bathroom wrapped up like a mummy in a roll of toilet paper. “I was wondering… would you happen to know how I can locate the person that donated the bone marrow to me?”
“What?” Landon looked perplexed. “Why on earth would you want to do that?” He asked.
“Because I want to thank them.”
“Jamie,” he sighed. “I’m sure they’re aware that you’re grateful.” If it were up to Landon he would never open up that chapter of their lives again. As far as he was concerned Jamie got her miracle and so did he. So why look back?
“Landon, this person…” she knew that he didn’t like to talk about how close they had come to her dying, but suddenly it was important for her to find this mystery donor. “This person,” she said softly, “saved our lives. This person gave us this life.” She laid her hand on her stomach and continued. “Don’t you ever wonder about this person? Don’t you ever want to say thank you?”
“I do say thank you Jamie. Every night I thank God for granting us this miracle.”
“Oh but Landon, it was more than just God granting us a miracle. Somewhere out there, is a person that…” her head dropped back as she forced back the tears. “This baby isn’t just you and me Landon. It’s you, this stranger and me. This wonderful, blessed stranger and I want…no… I need to know who this person is. More than that I want to show this person that not only will my life go on, but other lives will be created because of their donation.” She sniffed and pulled Landon’s hand onto her stomach. “Feel that?” The baby was turning summersaults in her abdomen. “Do you feel that life?”
Landon’s throat closed as their child drummed a steady beat against the palm of his hand.
“Landon,” Jamie spoke softly. “I know it’s hard for you to go back to that time in our lives, but… Don’t you see? I need to. I need to close this part of my life otherwise I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering.”
“Wondering if they’re wondering about me. Wondering if they know that their gift wasn’t in vain.”
He sat for a moment trying to collect his thoughts. Looking up to his father for help, he realized that he was alone in the notion that, that portion of their lives should be left in the past.
“Don’t look at me son. I think it’s a great idea.”
“You would,” he smirked. After a moment he finally succumbed saying, “Fine. Lets try to find this person.”
“Ahhhhh,” Jamie squealed in delight and jumped up to hug her husband. “Oh thank you Landon. Thank you.” She began placing kisses against his forehead, his cheeks then a loud smacking one on his lips. “Thank you,” she whispered softly against his lips.
Landon didn’t know if this was wise. If going back to that painful time in their lives would be smart, but it was too late. He had agreed and already he was regretting it. Maybe, he thought, this will put an end to the nightmares. Next week, he thought, next week the reverend and I will have a long talk and we’ll get to the bottom of all of this.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” He asked her once more, hoping that she would put the worst part of their lives behind them once and for all.
“I need to do this Landon, but I’ll only do it if you’re by my side.”
He swallowed and said, “I’ll always be by your side.”