“No, Mr. Beckett, that’s not true. With an aneurysm, it’s fast. Those in the brain are more often than not fatal. There’s nothing anyone could have done.”
I slump forward, my face in my hands. She’s gone. My son will never know his mother. He won’t get to see that love in her eyes that she had for him. He will never get to see that he is all she ever wanted. He will never get to experience the childhood that I did, with both parents loving and supporting him.
How am I going to do this without her?
What do I know about raising a baby? I was hoping she would guide me. She was awake, and we were going to work it all out. We were going to figure this out. Now she’s gone.
“Mr. Beckett, I’m so sorry for your loss,” the doctor says again before leaving the room.
I feel a strong hand on my shoulder, Tyler giving his silent support. How did things go from bad to good to terrible in a matter of minutes?
“Ridge,” Reagan says hesitantly.
I keep my head buried in my hands until I hear his cry.
Looking up, I see Reagan trying to soothe him.
“He’s crying, and I don’t know what’s wrong. I don’t know how to take care of him. She was supposed to wake up and guide me through this. How am I going to take care of a baby? I don’t know what to do.”
Reagan bounces him in her arms. “You are going to be the best damn father that any kid has ever had. You are not alone in this, Ridge. You have me, Mom and Dad, the guys. You are not alone. He needs you. You are his father.”
“What if I can’t do it?” Fuck, I know I sound like a whiny ass right now, but my fear trumps the fucks I don’t have to give at this point. “What happens when I screw it all up?”
“Are you giving up, Beckett?” Tyler asks. “That’s not you, man. He’s your flesh and blood. He’s a part of you. You man the fuck up and be what he needs. Learn along the way. You think you’re the first person to do this on their own?”
“You’re going to make mistakes, Ridge. That’s life. But you will learn from them and move forward. It’s going to be hard, but you have a huge support system and we’re ready to rally around you and this little guy.”
A nurse steps into the room. “It’s time for him to eat.”
I nod, stand and take him from Reagan before settling back into the chair. The nurse hands me his bottle, and I place it next to his lips. He latches on immediately, gulping it down. No one says a word as we all watch him eat. I see that he’s eaten about an ounce, so I pull the bottle from his lips and place him on my shoulder to burp him. He does so quickly, and I repeat the steps.
“You’re good with him,” Reagan comments.
“They taught me earlier today.”
“And look at you now, you’re an old pro. It’s all going to be a learning curve, Ridge, but you’ve got this.”
I look down at my son who is sucking on his bottle, eyes drifting closed. He has no idea what’s going on. That his mother just passed away. I feel an ache deep in my chest, for both of them. I send up a silent prayer that I can be everything he needs. That somehow, I can give him the love of both parents.
“It’s just you and me, little man,” I whisper in his ear.
“I’m going to go call the guys and your parents.” Tyler steps out of the room.
“How’s he doing?” the nurse asks.
“Good, he finished the entire thing. You need to write that down or something, right?” I ask.
“I do. You did well, Dad.” She makes a note on the tablet in her hands. “Mr. Beckett, I know this is not the appropriate time for this conversation, but I have some paperwork here for you. The little guy is being released tomorrow, and we still need a name.”
What? He’s being released?
“He can’t. I thought you said he could stay until we get the results. Who do I have to talk to? I refuse to let my son go into the system.”
“Mr. Beckett, the results are in. You are a 99.99% match. He’s your son.”
My heart stills in my chest.
“Breathe, Ridge.” Reagan giggles next to me.
I take in a breath. He’s mine. I knew he was—in my heart, in my gut. But now I have confirmation, know he’s coming home with me and not going into the foster care system. Melissa would hate that.
“I know this is a rough time for you, but we can’t release him until he has a name for the birth certificate.”
“Beckett,” I say automatically.
Reagan giggles again. “She’s got that part, goof. He needs a first name, a middle name. I know you said Melissa didn’t have a name in mind. Do you?” she asks gently.
Do I? No, I don’t. I’ve been too busy willing his momma to wake up. I look up and see his bed, the ‘Baby Knox’ displayed with his birth stats staring back at me.
Knox Beckett. He would always have a piece of his momma—her last name and mine.
“Knox Beckett,” I say out loud.
“Oh, Ridge, I love it,” Reagan says softly. “What about a middle name?”
I think about that. My middle name is Alexander, as is my dad’s. Seems fitting. I hope I’m half the father to Knox that my father was to me. “Knox Alexander Beckett.”
“Here is the paperwork you need to complete. Once I have it entered in the system, it will go to the state and they’ll issue his birth certificate. You’ll get it in the mail in a few weeks.”
I hand Knox off to Reagan and complete the stack of forms, pausing when I get to mother’s information. I swallow the lump in my throat as I write the word ‘deceased.’ Too fucking young and full of hope for the life she wanted to give our son. Needing my insurance info, I pull out my cell phone where I have it saved. When I tap the screen, the picture the nurse took of the three of us glares back at me. I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest. Her smile . . . She was so fucking happy holding our son, and now she’s gone. After everything she’s been through.
“It’s not fair,” I blurt out. “Why her? After the life she lived? Why could she not be happy? Raise our son and have a real family, a part of her? It’s not fucking f-fair.” My voice cracks on the last word.
Tyler walks in just at that moment.
“You’re up, Uncle Tyler,” Reagan says, handing Knox to him. She doesn’t say anything else, just drops to her knees in front of me and wraps her arms around me. That breaks me and I sob into her shoulder, the stress of the last three days—today, especially—overwhelming me. I fall apart; I couldn’t stop it even if I tried. I’ve been fighting back these emotions since I pulled off the road and found her car.
“It’s not fair,” Reagan agrees. “It fucking sucks donkey dick.”
I laugh at that; I can’t help it.
“My work here is done,” she says through her own tears.
“Uh, guys . . . I think little man here has a present for his Aunt Reagan,” Tyler says. He sounds like he’s holding his breath.
That just causes me to laugh harder. He may not have his mother, but I will make damn sure he knows how much she loved him. How much she wanted to be a part of his life. He won’t have both parents, but he will have me, his aunt, my four best friends—uncles by default—and my parents.’
He will be loved every damn day.
I will make sure of it.
Three days. I’ve been home with my son for three days. Needless to say, my world has been upturned. Not that I’m complaining. I love cuddling with the little man. My mom and Reagan have both been staying with me, and Dad stayed last night as well, saying he felt like he was missing out. Luckily, I have the space.
Mom and Reagan took care of the basics. They made sure I had a car seat to bring him home in, plus they bought clothes and blankets. When I arrived home, my boys had taken it one step further; not only had they decorated the front porch with blue balloons and ‘It’s a boy’ banners, but they also had the spare room—the one closest to mine—set up and ready to go for my little guy. The once-empty room now sports a baby bed, dresser, and changing table—at least that’s what Mom calls it.
I have a hell of a lot to learn.
I don’t know what I would do without any of them. They’ve helped me so much, and I know I can never repay them for all they’ve done.
Today is Knox’s first doctor’s appointment. I made him one at the office Reagan and I went to as kids. Our doctor retired, but the office is nice and it’s close. I asked Reagan to go with me. Mom offered, but I told her to take a break. She’s going to be watching Knox for me during the day—something she has reassured me is an honor and a pleasure. And she might have hinted to Reagan that she needs to give her more grandkids. She and Dad are shopping today; Mom insists Knox have the comforts of home at their house as well.
“All right, little man, I think we’re good to go,” I tell my son after strapping him into his car seat. He’s snoozing away. I double-check the diaper bag: diapers, wipes, clothes, blanket, bottles and toys. Not that he plays with them, but hey, you never know when you might need it. Oh, and the binky. Gotta have the binky.
“Ready?” Reagan asks.
“Yeah, I think I have everything.” I grab the envelope from the counter that has all his paperwork already filled out. Gotta love the Internet.
Reagan grabs the diaper bag while I take Knox out to the truck and strap him in. In the past three days, I have never been more relieved that I purchased a crew cab truck. Not having a backseat would mean buying a new car, and that’s not something I want to worry about right now. I have enough on my plate as it is.
Reagan hops in the backseat, wearing a mile-wide grin. Knox has been getting lots of attention since he’s been home. I read online that if you hold them too much you spoil them, but when I brought this up to Mom and Reagan, they blew me off. I believe Mom’s exact words were, “You love them, Ridge. You can’t ever give them too much love.” I dropped it after that.
The ride to the office is quick. The lady at the desk looks impressed that the forms are filled out and ready to go. I run my own company; you can’t be successful half-assing everything.
“Since—” she looks at my forms “—Knox is under three months of age, we’ll take you on back to a room. We don’t like the smaller babies to be out here with the illnesses.”
She meets us at the door and takes us to an exam room. “They’ll need him undressed down to his diaper,” she tells us then shuts the door.
Laying his blanket on the exam table, I lift him from his seat and he stretches. I let him work it out of his system before laying him on the blanket to undress him. This is still something I take my time with, as I don’t want to hurt him, even though Mom assures me that as long as I’m gentle and watch his head, I’ll be fine. Once he’s stripped down to his diaper, I wrap the blanket around him to keep him warm.
“This place hasn’t changed a bit,” Reagan comments.
I cradle Knox in my arms and survey the room. “Not a bit,” I agree.
“Knock, knock,” a female voice says before entering the room.
“Kendall?” Reagan greets her. “I didn’t know you worked here. I thought you were working over in Mason? How have you been?”
“Yeah, I transferred here about six months ago. It was time for a change, and I was ready to come home. Although, as soon as I did, my parents’ packed up and moved to Florida. How are you?”
“Wonderful, just coming to my nephew’s first doctor visit.” She points to Knox. “You remember Ridge, right?”
“Ridge, it’s good to see you. Cute little guy you have there.”
“All right, so let’s get him weighed and then the doctor will be in to check him out.”
I follow her out of the exam room and down the hall. “All right, Dad, I just need you to lay him on the scales.”
I look at the small white scale that is curved on the sides—I assume to keep kids from rolling off. There’s a blue padded strip that almost looks like a diaper covering in. “You want me to set him there? Really? What if he falls off?” I question.
“He won’t. I’ll be right beside him the entire time. We need to get his weight.”
Reagan nudges my arm, and begrudgingly, I unwrap him from his blanket and lay him on the scale. I stand right next to it, ready if I’m needed.
Kendall smiles and starts taking off his diaper.
What the hell?
“What are you doing?”
Why is she getting my kid naked?