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Chapter Thirty Six

June 11,1998

Orlando, Florida

“I still don’t want you to do this.”

“Nick, I have to. I have to do this for Ben. If Brian finds out now think of what that could mean for their relationship.”

Nick doesn’t answer right away. He opens the refrigerator and I hear him shuffling stuff around. “But what will it do to Ben and mine’s?”

“He’ll just have two really awesome overprotective dads.”

Nick’s shaggy head pops up over the door. He smiles at me. “So you’re going to keep me around awhile.”

I smile back. “Maybe.”

The maybe is a ‘yes,’ but in the weeks since I’ve come to live with Nick Carter, I find that I really enjoy teasing him. A few times, I’ve even come close to accepting his proposal in his most adorable moment.

“Just maybe?”

I laugh. “Maybe, maybe.”

Nick closes the door. He runs the small bottle of Sunny D down him. “This package only gets better,” he teases.

“The hair does, definitely.”

Nick’s eyes crinkle. “The hair’s driving me nuts, but it’s the 90’s. It’s my thing.”

“Uh-huh.” I stand up from my spot at the table and grab an apple. I rub it on my shirt until it practically sparkles. “Besides, who says if I stay with you that you won’t just get lazy and instead of the Nick I remember you’ll be thirty-four with a big beer belly.”

“No way. I’m keeping this machine in pristine condition. Which if you took a peek, I think you’d agree.”

I roll my eyes. “I’m fat and tired. My sex drive is gone.”

“You do realize you’re probably the first and last girl that will ever say that to me, right?”

I smirk. “Yup.” I glance at the clock and the lightness in the air pops like a balloon.

“We’ve got to get going.”

Nick’s smile drops too. “I don’t want you to do this. What if something bad happens?”

“Nothing bad will happen.”

“I read the risks.”

“There’s risks with aspirin. You’ve got to let me make this decision.”

Nick sighs. He unscrews the cap on the OJ and takes a deep sip.

“I don’t have to like it,” he says, his mouth still around the bottle.

“I’ll give you that,” I agree.

“Okay Courtney, we’re going to pull a little of the amniotic fluid through the centrifuge. It really is a simple procedure, but I’ll again go over the risks. Afterwards, you may have a little cramping. This should go away in a few hours. If the cramping doesn’t fade or intensifies, you’ll need to go to the emergency room for a follow up.”

Okay, so maybe the risks are a little worse than aspirin. Nick looks like he’s two shades above pea soup. I nod. “I understand.”

“Good. Now, just take a deep breath. No need to be nervous. First we’ll get the ultrasound transducer in place.”

I understand every single technical word the doctor spouts off to the nurse even though Nick looks like they are speaking Japanese. He eyes the doctor warily. I haven’t had time to find someone besides Dr. Ass. Besides, Dr. Ass seems to be warming up to me.

The technician gels up my stomach and I feel the gentle pressure of the wand. The ultrasound screen flickers to life and for a second I’m disoriented by the grainy cells of black and gray. Then I see…

“Ben,” Nick says before I can even open my mouth. He leans towards the monitor hungrily.

I watch in awe as a blurry arm lifts towards the round orb that is the baby’s head. It looks like an even tinier mouth opens to give the fingers entry.

“That’s good,” the doctor says. The image pauses and focuses even more. My eyes are glued to the screen. Each little movement makes my heart skip a beat.

“I’m going to insert the needle.”

I barely hear him. I am thankfully distracted. I barely feel the needle inserted in my skin.

“We’re done.”

No more than sixty seconds have gone by. I’m sure of it. I look at him in surprise.

The nurse looks up.

“Doctor, the baby just shifted. There’s…there’s another leg.”

“Another leg? Let me see.”

The nurse hands over the wand to Dr. Ass. He sits down and leans towards the screen. I’m already cramping. I want nothing more to shift to a different position, but instead I’m pinned by the wand digging deeper into my stretched flesh.

“That’s not a leg, that’s his penis,” Nick says helpfully. “Not that I know how hung his dad is, but…”

“Actually, it can’t be a penis. She clearly has a vagina,” the nurse explains.

Nick looks like he’s been punched in the gut. “Excuse me?”

“It’s a girl,” the nurse repeats. Her labia is swollen, but not that much.”

“The what?”

“La-bi-a,” the nurse enunciates.

Nick looks like he might throw up. “SHE?!”

I don’t feed into his horror. Mine is directed, rightfully so, to the more pressing issue. The doctor nods. “Ah yes, I do see the appendage in question.”

“My baby has three legs?”

“No, not at all,” the doctor smiles at me. “Your babies have four legs.” I feel the wand shift and wince.

The room is quiet. The nurse has her eyes fixed on Nick as if preparing herself to answer another question or sound out another word.

“We won’t make the little guy go through the poking too.”


“This is your first ultrasound?”

I nod. My mind has put all the little bits and pieces together. But four divided by two equals…

“The extra heartbeat was hidden on the monitor, but once babies get this old, they can’t easily hide. The little guy is fighting his sister for some more room. He’s quite cramped.”

“There can’t be two,” Nick stammers. “Ben’s an only child.”

“I’m afraid Ben is going to have to share some limelight with Benita,” the doctor laughs at his own joke.

I’m too stunned to do anything. Anything but look at Nick. The minute I do, I regret it.

I have never seen anyone look so crushed.