Melody and Harmony got home just before 8:00. When she walked through the door, she stopped to listen, afraid of what she may hear. But, she heard nothing–nothing except Harmony’s gurgling. It was too quiet, so she assumed she was alone. Giancarlo must have taken the boys to school early and went straight home to take care of Bianca after being in the hospital all night.
She brought Harmony into her new room and felt a mixture of emotions as she held her. On one hand, she was over the moon about her brand new baby—a daughter, finally! But, on the other hand, she was still furious that River had missed the most momentous occasion of their lives.
“Hi Harmony! This is your room now. I hope you like it. I didn’t want to risk you not being a girl, so I didn’t make it pink or purple. I think orange is a nice color too, right? Yeeees, I know you think so! You’re so precious!” She kissed her on the forehead and admired her cute little face.
Harmony began to yawn, so Melody placed her back in the bassinet. On the other side of the door, she heard doors open and close and foot steps going toward the kitchen. He’s been home this entire time? She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths as she got prepared to hear what he had to say. Ok…here we go.
He opened the door slowly and stood inside the frame as he tried to think of what to say. Her back was to him, and he knew there was nothing he could say that would appease her. River was very good at his job, and for the most part, he had gotten used to having cover stories and alibis all the time. He was good at coming up with them quickly except when it came to Melody. He was always unprepared around her. She had been his best friend since high school. This woman knew him like her own reflection, and he knew her. They trusted each other, and trust was one of the strongest tenets of their relationship. Lying to her even in the name of the greater good felt very wrong, and he tried to avoid it at all costs.
River anticipated that Melody might be hungry, so he brought her a stack of pancakes and hoped that in some way it could be a peace offering and soften her mood. She still had her back to him, and he wouldn’t accomplish anything by standing in the doorway, so he took a seat in the chair beside the basinet. He peered over the rim of the bassinet to peek at the baby before he dealt with her mother. Tears formed in his eyes when he saw he finally had a daughter.
“Her name is Harmony,” Melody said.
“That’s beautiful, bae. Look, I–
“How could you? I can’t even…how could you?”
He knew that saying “I’m sorry” wouldn’t help and may even make it worse, but he knew not what else to say. “I’m sorry, Melody. I truly truly am sorry! I know there isn’t much I can say to make you forgive me, but will you consider it?”
Everything within her wanted to explode, but she didn’t want to wake Harmony. She titled her back and pursed her lips with her eyes closed as she suppressed the urge to scream. “Where were you?”
He took a few seconds and fabricated a believable story despite the fact that it pained him to do so. “I was in class, and you know I turn my phone off. But, it’s near the end of the semester, so all the students are concerned about their grades. Several of them were lined up to see me after class. But, afterward, the dean wanted to meet with all the department heads about planning for next semester. That turned into a three hour meeting, and I still hadn’t turned my phone back on. When I got home and found your father here, I knew what had happened and ran straight out to get to the hospital. I turned my phone on and heard all your messages and I was so sorry! I tried to see you, but they said I couldn’t! It was after visiting hours, so I came back here to wait for you, but I fell asleep. I woke up when I heard the front door and got up to bring you some pancakes.”
“Ok, I get that you were in class and all that, but you knew I was due any day. Why didn’t you think to keep alert?”
“I didn’t realize you were that close. It just snuck up on me.”
Her eyebrows furled and head snapped back faster than he could say oops. “Seriously, Riv? Did you seriously just say that to me?” The heat was rising. Baby or no baby, she had to let some of that steam out. “Where have you been? If you would stay home for more than five minutes you would know these things!”
There was nothing more he could really say. He was guilty. He had become that guy and had temporarily forgotten why he was working and let the work become him all in the name of protecting her.
“I’m sorry, Mel. I don’t know what else I can say.”
She wiped hot tears from her face and said, “Thank you for the pancakes. Please leave me alone.”
It was getting close to time for him to go to work anyway, so he left her reluctantly and got dressed. She remained in the nursery and sobbed while she ate the pancakes. She feared what was happening to them, and worst yet, she didn’t understand it. When she finished eating, she picked up a good book and settled on the couch while the baby slept. No sooner than she sat down, she heard someone knocking at the door. Ugh! Who’s visiting so early? She got up to answer it and was surprised—and concerned—to see Dr. Smiley standing on her porch. “Ummm…hi, Dr. Smiley. Is everything ok?”
“Mrs. Pitts! Oh, I’m so sorry to bother you. I didn’t realize you lived here! I saw that someone moved here a few months ago, and I said that I wanted to come by but I never did. I had the day off, so it was the perfect time. Oh boy…you should be resting. I’ll come back another time.”
“No! It’s ok. I was just reading. Please come in.”
“Ok…if you insist.”
They stepped through the door, and Dr. Smiley paused while Melody closed the door and proceeded to be hospitable.
“Can I get you anything, doctor?”
“Please call me Hailee. And, no, thank you. I probably should have brought you something, Mrs. Pitts.”
“Melody. Would you like to have a seat?”
“Sure. Thank you, Melody.”
It was the first time Melody had ever really looked at Hailee. She thought she had terrible fashion sense and wondered what would possess a woman to shave her head and dye her eyebrows blue. Melody spent her life trying to be sexy and didn’t understand it.
“Well, this is a cute little place,” Hailee said as she looked around. “I like how you have rooms. I have an open floor plan. Once you step into my house, you’ve seen everything!”
“We love it here. It’s still a small house, but it’s much bigger than where we came from! Which house is yours?”
“The next one right down the road. There is an empty lot in between us. I’m telling you, this little town is growing so fast! I moved out here with my son when there was nothing. I was a young mother wanting a safe place to live while I was trying to become a doctor. The taxes were really low back then, and you wouldn’t believe how much I paid for the house. It was more than what we needed, but I figured if I ever got married and had children, I would have the room.”