“Looks like we both got involved with the wrong person.” Dee took another bite of pecan pie. “Hmm, this is as good as I remember. Smooth, sugary rich with a taste of vanilla and butternut. Do you still make your own pizzas?”
“Of course, and my pasta sauce.” His head jerked toward the name list crumbled in her hand. “Did you find one you liked?”
A contraction slammed into her. “Oh…OH…oh, holy mother of pecan pies.” She began panting. “Each one hurts worse. That’s how this goes. Right?” She began panting. If only she could get her hands around her ex-boyfriend’s throat and show him half of what she was going through because of him.
Theo sat the pie aside. “I think that’s enough sugar for now. Roll on your side a little and let me rub your back.” His firm hands seemed to know exactly where she hurt the most. “Dee, would you consider going to dinner or a movie with me on a regular basis? Dancing, perhaps?” He cleared his throat. “I’m talking about serious, exclusive dating. My mother told me to tell you she’d babysit in a heartbeat.”
Dee glanced over her shoulder as his face focused on her back. “Look at me, Theo.” His gaze rose and locked on hers. “You look like you could use a bite of pie right about now.” The contraction eased finally and she laid flat on her back, reached out and trailed fingertips down his neck. “You’re a medical doctor, intelligent, handsome as can be. I’m just Trudy with an associate’s degree as a legal secretary. I’d never fit in your world if we started dating.”
“But you’ve always fit in my heart.”
Darn him for saying the nicest things at the worst times.
“You, too, Theo.” Warm tears trickled from the corners of her eyes.
He kissed them away. “I know now’s not the time to bring up dating and marriage.”
Her jaw dropped. “Marriage?”
“I saw a couple names on the list I liked.” She’d lay bet he was trying to change the subject after the “M” bomb he’d just dropped.
She waved the paper at him. “Show me one that wouldn’t make her a laughing stock at school. I have yet to find a name I can pronounce.”
His finger jabbed a name. “Here. Solana. Then there’s Maylin and Ara. Kaylin is one, but it’s been used a lot lately. I like names that are a little unique. But, of course, the decision is up to you. There’s nothing wrong with Olivia Rose. Don’t let me talk you into anything you don’t want.”
Another contraction started. Strong. Squeezing. A turning inside out feeling accompanied it. “Theo, I want to bear down!”
“No! Breathe through your mouth, baby.” He sat on his stool, his head under the sheet. “She’s starting to crown.” He buzzed for his birthing team. “Need you in room four-oh-six. We’ve got a Christmas Eve package on the way. STAT. Focus on me, Dee. If it’s within my power, I won’t let anything happen to you or the baby. Do you trust me?” He stood at the sink and started scrubbing again.
“Yes. More than anyone.” And she had from the age of twelve. Years and years of asking Theo questions, knowing he’d take the time to answer her honestly.
The door burst open. Nurses and technicians hurried in—some with machinery. Others issued orders of experience. Another contraction hit. “Theo, I’m having another one. Oh, God, it’s bad.”
Julie tied on Theo’s mask and helped him into double layers of gloves. She slipped a gown on him while he ordered Dee to breathe through her mouth. “Pant. Pant. We need to get through this contraction before you can start to push. Are you paying attention?”
“Hell yes, I’m paying attention you…you man, you. I don’t care how good your sweet pie with its nuts are. You tempted me. And this list of names is beyond ridiculous!” She shook it at him. “Someone give me drugs and I don’t mean a puny extra-strength aspirin. I want doped up so badly I won’t know if it’s Christmas Eve or Christopher Columbus Day!” Her demands ricocheted off the walls.
“Staff, I think we are in transition here.” Theo shook his head and snorted a chuckle.
The monitors went wild and he sat on his stool. “Okay, Dee. This is our girl’s big appearance. Let the contraction hit you and bear down. Stop, if I tell you.”
Dear God, her insides from her tonsils downward were coming out. With all the pain she was having, they had to be. She panted and pushed and pushed. At one point, she thought her eyes were rolling back in her head.
Then, suddenly, the room filled with the most beautiful sound—her baby’s cry. Theo did some quick movements with the baby, laying her on Dee’s abdomen, cutting and clamping the umbilical cord. A nurse removed her from Theo’s arms and he moved to Dee’s shoulder. Tears rolled down his cheeks as his forehead touched hers. “She’s perfect. Her color’s good. As you can hear, she’s got strong lungs.”
Dee kissed both of his cheeks. “We did good. You turned her and she came out just fine.” He nodded against her neck.
The nurse brought the baby to Dee. “Momma, would you like to see your big girl? Eight pounds and four ounces. Her scores are high. We’ve got a healthy baby here, pointy ears and all. Bless her darling heart, she looks like a little elf.”
Over eight pounds of sheer beauty lay across Dee’s chest. She unfolded the blanket and counted her baby’s fingers and toes. She touched her dark hair and pink skin, soft as satin. Then, she trailed the slight point to her ears. “She really is our Christmas Eve elf.” Dee grasped Theo’s gown. “What do you think of Solana Rose?”
He kissed Dee full on the lips in front of everybody. “I think once we add Parker to the end, it’ll be absolutely perfect.” He scooped Solana from Dee’s chest and walked around to show her off. “I’d like to introduce my baby girl, Solana Rose.” He kissed her face several times. Then he glanced at Dee. “And as soon as I can get a ring on Ms. I-don’t-mean-a-puny-extra-strength-aspirin’s finger, this is my future wife, Trudy or Dee, as I’ve called her since I was seventeen. I’ve loved her for years, but we could never connect at the right time. Christmas Eve seems perfect, don’t you agree?”
He laid Solana in her mother’s arms amid gentle laughter and clapping from the staff.
“Do you know there’s an age-old tradition about babies born on Christmas Eve? They are elves that grant wishes of the heart.” He reached out and took Dee’s hand and kissed it. “Christmas Eve holds all kinds of magic, don’t you think?”
I HOPE YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON HOLDS A SPECIAL KIND OF MAGIC!
-- BABY ELF