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Chapter Nineteen
A.J. sat next to Jaime cradling their daughter in his arms, rocking her gently. He looked next to him at Jaime sleeping peacefully in the bed next to him. The whole group was just outside the room anxiously waiting to get in to see them. Jaime needed her rest though, so the doctor said that they could visit once she woke up. The labor had exhausted her.

A.J. sighed, looking down at his daughter again. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen next to Jaime. They’d decided to name her Lauren Nicole. When the nurse had asked for a last name, Jaime had automatically told her McLean. That had shocked A.J. They weren’t married, and had different last names. He’d figured that she would say her name because she was the mother. Her reasoning had been that if they eventually got married, then Lauren would already have his last name without the hassles of having it legally changed afterwards. A.J. felt like it was a privilege to him for her to request that. He knew that one day, they would get married. He wasn’t sure when that would be though. Her words from the hours before stuck out in his mind. What if she really did think that they’d be better off without him? What if Jaime planned on taking Lauren and leaving once she was out of the hospital? He’d wanted to talk to her about that, but as soon as they’d been transferred to Jaime’s own private room, she’d been out like a light and sleeping ever since. A.J. was thrilled to be a father. The only thing that he regretted was the fact that Kevin hadn’t woken up and waiting right outside the door with everybody else. He was still in a coma and missed the most important day of his life. He wondered if Jaime would have had the baby on time, in three weeks, if Kevin would’ve been awake by then.

A.J. noticed Jaime’s eyelids begin to flutter slightly as her eyes slowly opened. She looked up at him, still slightly groggy. A.J. took her hand and squeezed it, smiling down at her.

“Hi, baby,” she said quietly, looking around the unfamiliar room, “How long did I sleep for?”

“About six hours,” A.J. informed her.

A.J. helped her put her bed into a sitting position and handed Lauren over to her. Jaime took her willingly, holding her against her chest. The baby was still fast asleep. She’d woken up for a total of five minutes, but that was all.

“She’s gorgeous, isn’t she?” Jaime asked, kissing Lauren on her forehead.

A.J. nodded, “She’s beautiful, just like her mother.”

“She has your eyes and nose,” Jaime commented, giving A.J. a boost of pride, “And same shade of hair.”

“Poor thing if she looks like me,” A.J. laughed, “She has your mouth and ears,” he added.

“If she looks like you, she’ll be lucky.” Jaime said with honesty, “Because you look amazingly good.”

A.J. laughed softly. He didn’t think so, but then again, he didn’t exactly consider himself good looking.

“Everyone’s outside waiting to see you,” A.J. told her, “They’re all overly anxious. Dr. Parker told them they’d have to wait until you woke up until they were able to come in though.

Jaime smiled, then sighed. She was happy that the labor was over with. It had been long and painful. She wondered why the epidural hadn’t completely worked. It didn’t matter now though. It was too late to go back and make it work.

“Let them in,” she told him, “They’ve waited long enough, I suppose.” She wasn’t in the mood to share Lauren with anybody yet. She knew though, that she would have to get used to it. Everybody loved newborn babies. This was just the beginning of all of the attention her and Lauren would be getting.

“Jaime, baby,” A.J. said, distracting her from her thoughts, “I need to talk to you about something first.”

“Oh?” Jaime asked.

She was not liking the sound of his voice at that moment. It sounded like it was serious. She wanted to avoid that kind of conversation. She was afraid that he’d decide that he didn’t want a child after all and wanted nothing to do with either of their lives. He’d decided that once. She was afraid that he would decide that again every time he wanted to talk.

“See,” he began, looking down and rubbing her hand in between his, “While you were in delivery, you said some things that were really hurtful.”

Jaime looked at him in complete confusion. He realized then that she really had no idea what he was talking about. He decided to finish the conversation anyways. He thought that maybe once she heard it, she’d remember.

“Yeah,” he said, looking up and meeting her eyes, “First of all, you told me to rot in hell,”

He could see Jaime’s eyes grow wide in disbelief. She obviously didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about.

“That was fine though,” A.J. said, “What upset me was when you told me that you wished I would have stayed away. You even said that you and Lauren would be better off without me.” A.J. took in a deep breath to compose himself and keep the new tears from falling at the memory of her words, “Is…is that true? Did you mean what you said? If you did…I…I.” He choked, not able to finish his sentence.

“I’d never tell you that,” Jaime whispered, visibly upset, “I...I would never say that to you.”

“You did,” A.J. argued, “I was doing a lot of thinking about it. The nurses said you wouldn’t remember any of it, but, still…if you didn’t mean it….” His voice trailed off, longing in it.

“Aje, I need you,” Jaime told him, “I want you here. I don’t want you to leave me again. Whatever I said, I don’t remember and sure as hell didn’t mean it.”

A.J. smiled, breathing a sigh of relief. He leaned over to kiss her just as Brian burst into the room without knocking, the others behind him, peering over his shoulder to get a look for themselves at the new baby..

“We heard ya’ll talking in here, so decided that it was okay for us to come in,” He drawled.

“Yeah, come on in everyone,” Jaime said, waving them into the room.

The group filed in, in anticipation wanting to see how the new mother was feeling and the newest member of the group.

“Baby!!!” Nick yelled in excitement as he bounded into the room and charged at Jaime and Lauren. Jaime drew back in horror, clutching her child close to her to protect it.

“Stay away from my child, Nick,” she warned.

Nick skidded to a stop, sticking his bottom lip out in a hurt pout. He hadn’t meant to give her the wrong impression and imply danger.

“Awww, he’s harmless,” Brian joked with a laugh, patting Nick on the back, “He’s just a big ole kid himself.”

Nick shrugged away from Brian, uncomfortable. A.J. chuckled at the helpless expression on Nick’s face. He knew that the youngest Boy hadn’t meant any harm, but he had been a little overly hyper. He didn’t blame Jaime for wanting to protect Lauren from the oversized child.

“How are you feeling?” Anna asked Jaime, not even being able to begin to imagine what she was feeling like.

“Eh,” Jaime replied, “Could feel better, I supposed. I’m a little nauseous and exhausted. Other than that, I feel good. Would you like to hold her?”

Anna nodded, carefully taking Lauren out of Jaime’s arms. Her breath caught in her throat. Holding the small infant made her want one of her own. That was near impossible though at the moment. She didn’t know if her or Kevin were really ready yet anyways, weather Kevin were awake or not.

“She is so precious,” Anna breathed.

Jaime and A.J. both smiled at each other in pride. Jaime couldn’t believe that she had been with A.J. for nine whole months already. She couldn’t believe that she’d gone through an entire pregnancy and it was over now. Time went by way to quickly lately. She wished that it would go slower sometimes.

“What’s her name?” Anna asked “Lauren Nicole McLean,” Jaime answered

The group surrounded Anna as she rocked the baby. She thought that it was the most perfect name for the infant. Her heart swelled slightly in jealousy of her friend. She wanted to have kids, she realized. That wouldn’t be possible until Kevin woke up though, if he ever did. She wasn’t about to give up on him though. She wanted to be with him, and was determined to wait for as long as it took.

“I wanna hold her,” Nick whined, breaking the silent, peaceful setting that was in the room.

Jaime looked at A.J. nervously, unsure of what to say. She was terrified for Nick to hold Lauren after the way he’d pounced at them minutes before. A.J. laughed, shaking his head. He leaned in to whisper something in her ear.

“It’ll be fine,” he said quietly, “He doesn’t intend to harm her.”

Jaime sighed, forcing a bright, cheery smile on her face. She loved Nick as a friend, but his hyperness made her fear for Lauren’s life.

“Go ahead,” she said, hoping that Nick couldn’t read that she was less than thrilled about it.

Jaime watched like a hawk as Anna handed the newborn over in to Nick’s arms. He took her gently, as if she were porcelain. Surprisingly, Nick was extremely good with her, handling her like a professional. She felt bad for doubting the blonde. He rocked the sleeping baby in his arms lightly before handing her over to Stephanie.

“I want one,” he told her as he laid Lauren gently into his girlfriends arms, “Let’s try to have a baby of our own.”

Stephanie snorted, and the others laughed at her attitude towards Nick’s request, “Precious, but not quite yet, k Carter.”

Nick shrugged, figuring he’d at least given it a shot. He’d give Stephanie another few months before asking again when she’d be ready to have children. All Nick knew was that Stephanie was the one he wanted to bear his children.

The rest of the group took turns holding Lauren for a few minutes each, before the last person handed her back to the proud, beaming mother. This was her and A.J’s big day, one they’d waited for, for almost nine months. Jaime had been slightly worried when her water had broke, that Lauren would have slight birth defects as a result of her being born a full three weeks early. She was perfectly healthy though, and Jaime couldn’t be happier.

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Anna took a deep breath as she pushed open the door to where Kevin was lying, still in the separate room alone, off in the corner. She smiled lightly and softly at the sight of him. Every time she came to visit him, she could have sworn that the man was just sleeping. His looks hadn’t changed a bit over the past forty days that he’d been in a coma. He still had the exact same expression on his face, one of peace. The only thing that had changed was that she could tell his muscles were losing slight definition, but nothing that was drastic. She knew that therapists were going into his room every day to work with him, with weights and such even, doing all of the movements for him. Anna guessed that what they were doing was helping out significantly.

She stood in the doorway for a moment, just staring at Kevin before walking up to his bedside. She looked down at his handsome face and smiled as a tear fell down her cheek. Anna wondered if her boyfriend would ever wake up. The events a couple of hours prior had let her overly emotional, something she’d not been in a long while. Just seeing Jamie and A.J. together, so happy and with a new addition to their family made her long for the same thing though.

With a sigh, Anna took Kevin’s hand in hers, rubbing her thumb in circles over it. She wished that he would move...show any signs of life other than breathing. He had yet to do so though, and Anna wondered when he would. If he did, she would be more confident that it was more likely that he would wake up. Anna hated to think this way, but she felt almost like Kevin was dead...he wasn’t really there, living. It was hard for her to consider someone in a coma to be among the living, but the heart monitor was proof that he was. The beeping of several machines still echoed throughout the room. IV’s fed him, and injected medication into him every so often. She choked back on a sob, once again feeling like all of this was her fault, starting from Kevin becoming paralyzed in the first place. It was as if he wasn’t even really there at all.

Anna drew in a deep, sharp breath to compose herself a little. She knew that Kevin could hear her, and feel her presence. He just could not respond to her. He didn’t need to be catching bad, negative vibes from her. That would only do him more damage, and prolong his healing. Anna didn’t want to be responsible for any setbacks. She stated at his handsome, perfect features once more before speaking to the most genuine, sweetest, most beautiful man she’d ever met or laid eyes upon.

“Hi Kevin...baby,” she started, her voice quavering a bit, but she got it under control quickly, “It’s me...Anna.”

She stopped, looking continuing to stare at him. She took her free hand, brushing an invisible hair off of his face, stroking his cheek lovingly.

“I miss you a lot...you have no idea how much,” she spoke again, “I wish that you would come back to me...” she paused, cringing at her wording, “To us, I mean. We all miss you so much. I love you, and want you back.”

Another pause as she looked up at the heart monitor. She hadn’t noticed before, but it seemed to have strengthened from the last time she’d seen him. It definitely had over the past few weeks. There was no doubt about that.

“Jaime had her baby today...a little girl,” she told him, “She’s a beautiful little thing. Jaime and A.J. are doing great too. They named her Lauren Nicole.” Anna smiled, “They wished that you would have been awake by the time she was born, but hey...there will be plenty of time for you to see her after you wake up, right?”

Anna could feel her voice start to shake, so she stopped speaking for a moment, swallowing hard. She hoped that there would be plenty of time for Kevin to see Lauren.

“So much has happened since all of this. Nothing is the same anymore, baby.” Tears started to fall down Anna’s face as she once again thought of the whole situation, and she didn’t even try to stop them this time around, “I...I hold myself responsible for all of this happening to you. I am so sorry. I hope when you wake up, you can forgive me. If you can’t, I understand though.”
Anna closed her eyes, looking up at the clock above her as the seconds ticked away all to quickly. Her time allowed to be with Kevin had increased to ten minute intervals, but she only had three minutes left.

“You know,” she said, looking back at her deeply sleeping boyfriend, drying a tear away with her shirt sleeve, “I feel like I say the same things over and over to you every time I come. I can’t stress enough though how much you are loved and missed by all of us. Please wake up soon. I...I need you in my life.” Anna finished before bending down and kissing Kevin’s forehead, “I’ll be back later, okay honey?” Anna gave Kevin’s hand a small squeeze before reluctantly letting go. She took one step back, looking at Kevin one last time before slowly turning around and walking out of the room, looking behind her once at her sleeping prince. How simple it would be if she could just kiss him and he awaken, like Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. But things were so much more complicated than that in real life. In real life, things were not like a fairy tale

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Stephanie smiled as she walked into her house with five plastic grocery bags lining each arm. She hummed a song to herself that she’d just heard on the radio by No Doubt, walking in to the kitchen to set the bags down and start unloading them and putting stuff into the fridge. Jaime and A.J. had left the hospital the day before, taking little Lauren to her new home. She was two days old, and more beautiful than when she’d been on the planet for only hours.

Spinning in circles as she unpacked the groceries, she made up her own dance moves to the song, breaking out into a ballad. She figured she might as well make the best of doing shopping for food. Nick had begged her to go by some stuff, even though they had enough to last them until the end of the year. She stopped singing though, freezing in place when she thought she heard voices. Listening carefully, she guessed that it was probably all in her head, for she heard nothing for a long moment. With a shrug, Stephanie started moving again, just wanting to get unloading everything over with. But she heard it again...a female laughing. Stephanie knew that she wasn’t hearing things. Setting down the carton of eggs, she made her way into the den, where Nick always wrote his music at. She slowly rounded the corner, peering into the den. She saw Nick sitting, facing the door, and the back of a woman’s head, her long hair cascading down her back. Stephanie cleared her throat. Nick looked up, his eyes filling with panic, as if he were in the middle of a guilty act. The woman turned around and Stephanie immediately recognized her.

“Nick,” she asked, her voice falsely sugar coated, “Sweetie...what is going on here?”

Nick stood up, walking over to Stephanie, laughing nervously. He wrapped an arm around her, leading her stiff body into the room.

“Baby...this is, um, Willa,” he stumbled on his words, “Willa, this is my girlfriend, Stephanie.” Nick turned to his girlfriend, “Willa wanted to come and talk...I told you about her phone call a couple of days ago.”

“I remember, and so I see she showed up,” Stephanie said in monotone, her eyes shooting daggers at the woman who’d hurt Nick so badly years before.

Nick sat down, pulling Stephanie in to his lap, hoping that it was enough to show that nothing had been going on with him and his ex. He realized that the situation did not look good, especially since he’d asked Stephanie to leave, for he’d been expecting Willa’s arrival.

“She just wanted to check up on Kevin,” Nick said, “Um..to see how he is doing. I was explaining the latest situation.”

“Yes, I just was so worried about him when I heard,” Willa piped up, doing a good job of keeping a concerned look in her eyes. She was great at acting.

“Mmm hmm,” Stephanie replied skeptically, raising an eyebrow, “Like I believe that.” Stephanie seethed, “Funny how she suddenly cares,” she turned her head to face Nick, “She wants something...look at the obvious.”

Nick laughed uncomfortably, gently removing Stephanie from his lap. He could feel tight tension in the room that kept growing. He stood up.

“I’m going to get something to drink,” he informed the two women, “Do you want anything?”

“I’m fine, thanks,” Willa replied.

“My baseball bat,” Stephanie muttered under her breath as Nick gave her a warning look.

"Talk, and try to get along," Nick asked of them, "I'll be right back," he added, and then exited the room,

Stephanie sat back down on the seat that Nick had left. The two women glared at one another for a long moment. It was apparent that Willa was only keeping up the sweet act for Nick. She was now showing her true colors. The ones that Stephanie always knew her to have. She was finally face to face with the woman she most wanted to take a swing at for all she’d put Nick through before she’d met him.

“What do you really want?’ Stephanie asked, her tone harsh.

“To get Nickolas back, of course,” she stated bluntly, not even trying to hide it, “I need him, until I can make some more money.”

Stephanie glared at the woman sitting in front of her. She was flat out admitting that she was only using the blonde, vulnerable, gullible boy for his fame and fortune. Nick was obviously the only one who could not see through her transparent ways.

“Nick is my boyfriend now, got it?” Stephanie warned, her eyes narrowing at the woman. Her glare was full of hate.

“We’ll see about that,” Willa seethed with a smirk, “The only reason he’s going out with you is because he isn’t over me yet, but gave up on me taking him back. He’s just in it with you for the sex, since he is deprived in that area.”

“He’s been over you, and loves me now,” Stephanie said with confidence, but the demonic woman’s words cut through her like knives, “He would never take your skanky ass back.”

Willa was about to reply, but Nick walked in. He sat down next to Stephanie, grinning cheesily at both of them.

“How did you two get along?” he asked.

“Great,” Willa replied perkily, “Your girlfriend is such a sweetheart.”

“That’s why I love her,” Nick said, pulling Stephanie in close to him in a one armed, sideways hug.

“Peachy,” Stephanie answered with sarcasm, crossing her arms over her chest.

She couldn’t believe how quickly the woman could chance personalities. It was like a chameleon changed colors. Stephanie wished that Nick could see what she was all about. It would take more than her telling him though. Stephanie wondered what had happened to her pointing out the obvious days before. Nick had seen her points clearly then. He obviously had forgotten. Willa may have gotten away with fooling Nick this time, but she was determined to make him see what the evil woman from hell was all about, if it was the last thing that she did.
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