The next morning, Brady was awake much earlier than normal. He was due for a promotion soon, so instead of working out or building his charisma skills, he decided to revisit his first love: books! He showered, selected a book, and took it to the kitchen to read; But, to his surprise, Viviana was already there…cooking.
“Good morning, angel. You’re, ummm…you’re making breakfast?”
“Yeah…but, I mean, not in a bad way! I just…I wasn’t sure if you knew how.”
“I don’t. But, Alayna has been teaching me. I figured because she’s leaving, and we’re beginning to have children, I figured now would be a good time to learn.”
“You’re so brave to make your first meal for the whole house…not that eggs and toast are difficult, but…I’m just gonna stop talking now.”
Viviana laughed and said, “You’re so handsome with your foot in your mouth!”
It seems that everyone in the house was awaking earlier than they normally did. Just as the food was prepared, and Brady and Viviana served themselves, everyone began trickling in.
“You made this,” Owen asked Brady.
“No. My beautiful, very capable wife did, plumhead.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, Viv. I didn’t know you cooked.”
“It’s ok. It’s a recently acquired skill.”
Alayna emerged from upstairs and found everyone already eating when she knew there was nothing in the refrigerator. She paused then walked slowly toward the platter.
“Who made breakfast,” she asked looking perplexed.
“My beautiful, very capable wife,” Brady proudly said.
Alayna sat down and tried the toast first and then the eggs.
“Mmmm! What’s this sweetness in the toast?”
“I drizzled a little honey on them. I hope it’s not too much.”
“Not at all! And what’s this herb in the eggs? It really gives them some pizzazz!”
“Thank you! I sprinkled some thyme in.”
“Oh, Viv! I’m so proud! You’re catching on quicker than I can dish out lessons.”
“You must be a good teacher, mama,” Devan said.
“How nice, son! You know…if you want to impress the ladies when you get older, you should learn to cook too.”
“You think so?”
“Oh yeah! We all have a weak spot for a man who can cook.”
Roland finally joined everyone as Brady, Viviana, and Owen were just getting up from the table.
“Good morning, family,” he said.
“Hi daddy,” Anthony said.
“Guys…I’ve been thinking,” Alayna said. “I know we’re supposed to be moving into our house today, but I was thinking maybe we can stick around for a few days so Brady and Viv can focus on the baby.”
“That’s very noble of you, baby.”
“Devan? Do you have any thoughts?”
“I have plenty of thoughts, mama. You can have one if you’d like,” he said sarcastically.
“A comedian! Are we raising a comedian now,” Alayna asked no one in particular. “Don’t be late for the bus, boys.”
She left the table and found Viviana in the living room watching the fireplace channel. She thought it might help take her mind off her back pain.
“Hey! You feeling ok,” Alayna asked.
“Back is killing me.”
“Oooh, yeah. I remember that. Oof! Never again! Sooo…I have some news for you…”
“Nothing can ever prepare you for having children. You can read all the books and take the classes, but you’re never 100% prepared. Even still, I feel like I would be abandoning you if we left right now. But, more than that, you’re going to be running your own house soon. I know your mom didn’t set a good example for you, so I want to spend some time with you and give you some insider tips on being a great wife and mother. We’re gonna stick around for a few extra days. Would you like that?”
“Alayna!! You would do that for me?!”
“Of course I would! You’re my sister now…and I’m older. I have to take care of you.”
“Oh, thank heavens! I was afraid of being left alone with a new baby and having to cook and clean and keep Brady happy. Thank you!!”
“Don’t mention it. Pruetts look out for each other.”
Speaking of Pruetts looking out each other, Brady was looking after Viviana all day. The baby was due to come at any time, and he kept his eyes on her in case she showed any signs of discomfort.
Alayna overestimated how much lobster she needed for last night’s tortellini and had plenty leftover, so she tried her hand at lobster thermidor. The girls of the house were of course on time while the boys straggled in later. But, Viviana wasn’t feeling that great, so she made herself a Shirley Temple.
“Alayna…have you ever wanted a different life? Like, did you ever want a career or anything?”
“Hmmm…I guess I never thought about anything else. When I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was draw. I spent so many hours at that drawing table drawing the same pictures over and over again trying to make them perfect. Then, I got into painting when my mom thought I could handle the paintbrush without getting paint everywhere. All I ever wanted to do was paint. Well…paint and make Roland like me. Do you have concerns?”
“I suppose. I’m so young, and I thought I would have plenty of time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but I feel pressured to have everything together now.”
“Pressured by whom? Certainly none of us! Neither of us had it together when my mom died and left us alone in the house! We were your age, actually. Just barely out of high school. Fitness is what Brady is good at, so he took a job in the athletic track and has done very well. Owen was in love with money, so he took a job in the business track and drove us all crazy. I just wanted to paint, so that’s what I did! I never wanted a job. So I stayed home every day and painted. I sold my paintings to art collectors, and before I knew it, I was dubbed a painter extraordinaire. That was a huge accomplishment for me. After I accomplished that, I wanted to start having kids, so I did. I still painted, but I also dabbled with music. I practiced the piano until I got really really good. Now I write and license songs and am learning the guitar. I’m telling you this to show you that the Pruett life is really a blessed one! When money isn’t an issue, you can afford to do whatever you want. And if you haven’t figured it out, that’s ok! You’re free to experiment and try different things and be whomever you desire to be. Please don’t feel pressured!
“Thank, Alayna. That means a lot and makes me feel a lot better.”
“It would make me feel better if these boys were on time for dinner!”
Eventually everyone made it down and dug into the lobster. It was a big hit. There was even a surprise, uninvited but totally welcomed guest.
“Hey folks! Do we have a baby yet,” Marli asked.
“Oh! Marli! How nice of you to come by! Viviana, this is our cousin Marli Taylor. She lives in Oasis Springs.”
“Nice to meet you,” Viviana said.
“It’s nice to finally meet you too! I’ve heard nothing but good things about you. She’s so pretty, Brady! Good job!”
“What can I say,” Brady said.
“Oh! Did we miss Jo Jo’s birthday,” Alayna asked.
“Yeah, it was yesterday. But don’t worry about it. We took him camping, so we were out of town.”
“Oh ok. Well, tell him we said happy birthday. We should be going to Granite Falls soon too. Right, Roland?”
Marli wasn’t hungry, but she joined the family at the table for nostalgia’s sake. It had been a while since she had a good, old fashioned Pruett family dinner. There were conversations crossing every which way across the table, and everyone was enjoying each other’s company–everyone except Viviana. The Shirley Temple hadn’t helped at all, and she went from feeling bad to feeling awful.
She wasn’t hungry, her bladder was empty, she wasn’t nauseous, and she wasn’t dreadfully tired, but there was something that just wasn’t right. Everyone was too busy in their own conversations to notice how miserable she looked. She excused herself from the table, but no one heard her. It was only 8:00, but she decided to just go to bed. She changed her clothes, got comfortable, and drifted off to sleep. Two hours later, labor pains woke her up. The contractions were still pretty far apart, so she thought that maybe she could go back to sleep…and she did! She slept for another two hours before Julian definitely decided that he was going to make his debut. Brady had been watching her all day, and the one time he took his eyes off her, she went into labor! Marli was still visiting when Viviana finally delivered, and Julian’s cries could be heard throughout the house. Brady ran to the nursery to see about Viviana and apologize for not being there, but she had already gone back to bed.
“Hi Julian! I’m your daddy! Do you remember my voice?”
“I have been waiting a very very long time to meet you. My whole adult life, actually. You are my dream come true! Daddy loves you so much already!”
Brady cuddled and cooed over his firstborn and basked in the newness of fatherhood for a little while. Julian began to yawn, so Brady put him down and watched him sleep.
“This is so cool,” he whispered. “Bring on the next one!”