A knock on the door startled me awake from my nap. I sprung up, disoriented, “Just a minute, ” I called out. I brushed a hand through my tangled hair before opening the door. To my surprise, it was Justin, flowers in hand. He cracked a smile, at me, “Hey, Sabs, I’m sorry to just drop by, but uh, Cassidy’s away at camp for the summer and I thought you might want some help with the baby.” I sighed in relief, “That’s really sweet of you. Please, come in.”
I led him into the living room, Esther was sitting in her swing. I turned to him, “This might seem terribly rude, but would you mind sitting with her while I take a shower? I hate to admit it, but it’s been a few days.” Justin laughed it off, before shooing me into the bathroom. It felt so good to shower. I had barely slept in the last few weeks since Esther had been home, but it had been even harder to find time to shower. As I stepped out of the shower, the smell of something savory filled my nose. Upon entering the kitchen area, there stood Justin, Esther on his shoulder, flipping pancakes.
“Wow, Justin, thank you. This really means a lot.”
He shrugged, “I know how hard it was for my wife and I when Cassidy was first born. I know it’s gotta be ten times harder doing it on your own.”
I nodded wearily, taking Esther from his arms, “Yeah. It’s rough, but she’s worth it.”
We sat down to eat, Esther snoozing away in the swing. Justin cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable, “So…um…how did things work out with Raj?”
I nodded before reassuring him, “Oh, I haven’t heard from him recently, but he moved to Bridgeport a few months back.” I smiled softly, “I don’t blame you, Justin. I would’ve done the same thing in your position.”
“Good, because lately, I’ve felt like it was the worst decision of my life, walking away from you.”
There was a comfortable lull as we finished eating, and before we could finish talking again, Esther made her presence known by crying. I cooed to her, “Oh, sweet-pea, are you hungry again? Let’s get you something to eat.” I scooped her up while Justin made up a bottle. We sat down on the couch, and I couldn’t stop staring at her. Justin was the first to speak, “She’s precious, Sabrina.” I leaned my head on his shoulder, “I like having you here, Justin Welsh.” He smiled, “I like being here, Sabrina Quinn.” He put his finger under my chin and turned my head, until I was face to face with him. Justin leaned in and kissed me softly, taking my breath away.
When he pulled away, tears fell down my face, but Justin wiped them away with his thumb, “I’m sorry, Sabrina. I guess I misread the moment.” I shook my head vehemently, “No. No. No. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I’ve just missed you so much, and I’m scared of losing you again.”
He took Esther from my arms, “I’m not going to lie, Sabrina, watching you walk away tore my heart in half but I still stand by the decision I made then, because I had to protect Cassidy, just as you have Esther to protect now. However, if you’ll have me, I’d like to take you out on a date this Friday, just the two of us. We can go wherever you want, and talk about us some more.”
I nodded thoughtfully, “I’d like that a lot, Justin, how about we walk on the beach?” We can drop Esther off at my parents house and go from there.”
He agreed wholeheartedly, and we talked for awhile, until I realized how late it was. I offered him the couch but he respectfully declined. Left with the promise of Friday in the air, I laid Esther in her crib, wishing for Friday to come quickly.
Sure enough, the week flew by, and Friday came. I struggled to get ready, Esther was having a fussy day, and I was doubting my resolve to leave her with my parents. She was only six weeks-old. Maybe I shouldn’t be leaving her. I called my mom to get her opinion but she assured me that what I was going through was normal. By the time Justin showed up, I had calmed down a little and managed to make myself presentable. We dropped Esther off, and after several minutes of snuggling, kissing and instruction-giving, we were off; Justin laughing softly. We got to the beach right as the sun was setting, causing this warm, pink haze to surround us. Instead of walking the coastline, I plopped down on the sand and sighed contentedly. Justin did the same, and I rested my head on his shoulder, “If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?”
He kissed my forehead, “Hmm…Cassidy did a report on the temples of Thailand awhile back, and ever since then she’s been begging me to take her. I think it sounds nice and peaceful. What about you?”
I thought for awhile, “I think visiting the different temples sounds nice. I’ve been to Paris, and it was beautiful, but I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii.”He nodded, “That would be fun too.”
I looked to him, “Ok, your turn.”
He laughed, “My turn for what?”
“To ask a question, silly.”
“Ohhh, okay. Hmm… where do you see you and I in the next few years?”
“Wow, you sure like the tough ones, eh? Honestly, I don’t know, Justin. I really really like you, but I’m also scared of being hurt again. Because what if something comes up again and you decide to bail?”
He looks truly hurt now, “I hated leaving you, Sabrina, not a day goes by where I regret it, but I didn’t just ‘bail’, I had to think of my daughter as well. I want a fresh start with you. In a few years, I see you and I, married, living in a beautiful house by the beach. Esther is a sassy little toddler, and Cassidy is a dramatic pre-teen. You are swollen with my child, and we can’t for our family to grow. That’s where I see us in a few years.”
I was crying by the time he finished, wanting nothing more than the life he had just described. He held me until I had calmed down, “I want that too, Justin. I really want that, but I think we need to really take it slow. For our girls’ sake as much as our own.”
He smiled, wiping the last of my tears away, “For you, my dear, anything. We can take it in slow motion if we need to.”
I smiled softly before growing serious again, “Justin, there is something that I need to tell you, though.” He nodded, so I continued, “When I lost Christopher, my first baby, my world fell apart, and it was partly due to the fact that the doctors told me there was almost no possibility of me becoming pregnant again. If I did manage to get pregnant, the damage to my uterus would most likely cause it to end in a miscarriage. I never told you before because I was scared that meant you wouldn’t love me.”
He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into his lap, “Sabrina there is nothing you could say, short of , ‘I hate you.’ that would make me love you less. You know how I feel about you, and if we have to look into other options to have children, we can do that down the road.” I don’t love you any less than I did five minutes ago, okay? You are perfect just the way you are, and I can’t wait to take it slow with you.”
I sighed and relaxed into his arms, just letting myself be held. After the sun was gone, we walked back to the car, hand in hand. After picking up a sleeping Esther from my parents, Justin walked us up to my apartment. After a quick kiss goodnight, it was just me and my girl.
I prepared one more bottle for her before bedtime. I snuggled her close on the couch as she ate, knowing that in the blink of an eye, she’d be all grown up. I kissed her forehead and smoothed her curls. After she was done, we played for a few minutes until she let out the biggest yawn. She smiled softly at me as I laid her in her crib, and I grinned right back at her, “Goodnight, little sweet-pea. I love you.” Emotionally exhausted, I climbed into bed, a smile on my face as I fell asleep.