Telling Mr Peterson proved more difficult than telling Ian’s parents. Celia hadn’t expected the lawyer to be overjoyed at the news but she was unprepared for the animosity she encountered from her announcement.
Mr Peterson narrowed his eyes at the young girl sitting in front of him. Her legs bouncing as she tried to meet his gaze.
“I thought you knew better than this,” his voice low and menacing. The same voice he used when cross-examining a witness.
Near to tears Celia nodded “I’m sorry we didn’t plan….”
“That’s right you didn’t,” he got up and paced the kitchen floor “that’s obvious,” he growled. “I’m disappointed in you. This mistake will cost you. Have you considered your options?”
Nodding Celia felt her lips quiver as she bit down on them. Wrapping arms around her legs she tried to still their nervous jittery bouncing. “I’m …. I’m keeping the baby….”
“You’re what?” he asked turning from the window shock and dismay written on his face.
“Kkkkeeping the bbbbaby,” she stuttered. Blinking she wished she had taken Ian’s offer to come with her to tell him. She could have used his calm nature to steady her in the face of so much anger and animosity.
“What about your future? College?” Mr Peterson asked staring steadily at her.
Taking a deep breath Celia stood up feeling at a disadvantage sitting and looking up at Mr Peterson. Not that standing improved much. “I won’t deny it’ll be difficult but Ian and I both agree…”
“That boy. I knew I should have been stricter when I saw him coming around here during the day.” He walked towards Celia “that boy isn’t good for you. You have so much potential. He’ll only drag you down.”
“No he’s the best thing to ever happen to me,” Celia took a step backwards. “You don’t have any say in who I date. I love him.” Putting a hand on her stomach she glared up at Mr Peterson a defiant glint in her eyes.
“No your right,” the lawyer said turning away from her. “If you persist on this course then I can no longer allow you to rent the apartment over my garage. You have until the end of the month to vacate the premises.”
“But ….but that’s less than two weeks,” she looked at him in disbelief.
“That’s how long you have to decide to do things my way.” His lips flattened into a thin hard-line “I’ll do what I can to locate a good family to adopt the baby. You’ll be able to focus on the future. In time you’ll see this is for the best.”
“No you don’t control me,” she shouted at him backing towards the door “i appreciate the help you gave me when I needed it the most. That doesn’t give you the right to dictate what I should or shouldn’t do now.” Turning the door knob behind her “I’ll be out by the end of the month.” She stepped out slamming the door behind her. Running into her apartment she slid down the door the moment she slammed it shut behind her. What was she going to do? She had agreed to stay here until the remodel was done. The Bennett’s were doing so much for her she couldn’t ask for more. Burying her head in her hands she sobbed. She didn’t understand why Mr Peterson was so against her keeping the baby. Where had the kind, considerate man who helped her gone? Reaching for her phone as it rang “hello,” she murmured.
Wiping her eyes she smiled “I’m fine Mrs Bennett.”
A slight pause on the other end greeted her response. “Are you sure? You sound like you’ve been crying.”
Gulping she blinked back fresh tears “I’m fine. Hormones I guess.”
“Celia you can tell me. I know you just told Mr Peterson. He’s on the phone giving Gene an earful. You don’t have to pretend to be alright,” Aimee told her trying to persuade the girl to open up.
“I’m sorry it’s just that you’ve done so much already,” Celia blubbered into the phone “Mr Peterson said I have to get out. I can’t stay here.” She heard the note of entreaty in her voice taking a deep breath she continued “I have no place else to go….I don’t want to impose.”
“You’re not imposing,” Aimee told her “you’re part of the family. You’re carrying my grandchild. If that’s not a good enough reason to impose I don’t know what is.” Hearing the girl crying in the background Aimee continued “we’ll be there this weekend to pack you up and move you here.”
“Are you sure?” Celia asked “it’ll be so crowded….”
“Don’t worry about that,” Aimee assured her “I’d rather have you here than any place else. Now I’m going to give my phone to Ian so that he quits trying to insert himself into Gene’s conversation with that lawyer.” Handing the phone to her son Aimee went to talk to Gene.
“Celia honey I’m sorry,” Ian said as soon as his mother walked away “I should have been there….”
“I told you it wasn’t necessary. It’s not like Mr Peterson was family or anything…” she sniffed into the phone.
“Still…” he sighed unsure what to say to make her feel better.
“Ian?” she asked “are you still there?”
“I’m here babe,” he smiled into the phone “I’ll be here as long as you need me.”
“I love you,” she said into his ear bringing a genuine smile to his lips “I love you to babe.”
“Are you alright?” Gene asked trying not to let his agitation come through in his voice.
“I’m fine Mr. Bennett,” she said ending with a hiccup.
“You don’t sound fine,” Gene said hearing the distress in her voice “I’m coming to get you.”
“You don’t have to. Really I’m alright,” she tried to sound convincing instead of the emotional mess she was.
Three weeks later Celia and Ian were alone on the couch. Leaning on Ian’s shoulder Celia sighed “have I thanked you lately for sharing your parents with me?”
Chuckling a little Ian put his arm around her shoulders “no but that’s ok they love you too.”
“I’m amazed your mom left us alone in the house…” Celia smiled up at him.
“Like dad said what else can happen you’re already pregnant.” He squeezed her shoulder “don’t let mom bug you. She means well and she’s a product of her strict parents. Did you know that her parents used to call her and ask if she was still a virgin while she was living with dad.”
Giggling into his shoulder “I know she’s told me stories. She really doesn’t bother me. She genuinely wants to help even if she doesn’t understand how we got into this mess. I think she somehow feels responsible.”
“Is it?” she asked looking into his violet eyes “I don’t think so. You’re the one she raised and instilled her value system into. I’m sure she feels that if she had done a better job then you wouldn’t have gotten me pregnant.”
“So it’s my fault,” he mumbled “figures she would think that.” Changing the subject he asked “did I tell you my grandparents are coming this weekend?”
Shaking her head “when are they going to be here?” she asked sitting up.
“Tomorrow I think,” he rubbed his arm where she punched him “What was that for?”
“For not telling me,” she said standing up.
“Now what are you doing?” he asked watching her pick up things around the room.
“Cleaning” she glared at him lounging on the couch “get off your butt and help.”
Rolling his eyes he walked over to her. Rubbing his hands on her shoulders “calm down. They’re coming to see us not the house.” He kissed her forehead “they want to meet the girl carrying their first great-grandchild.”
Holding her hand over her stomach she smiled. Looking up at Ian “that’s still not going to get you out of cleaning.”
“Grandpa,” Matty cried opening the door hugging the elderly man as he came through the door.
“Matt let your grandpa inside before you smother him” Gene said getting up to hug is dad. “How are you?” he asked escorting him the rest of the way inside.
“I’m fine,” William smiled “where’s the young lady carrying my great-grandchild.”
Celia stood up unsure what to expect. Ian stood next to her holding her hand. “Grandpa this is Celia….”
“Celia my dear girl,” William hugged her tight “it’s good to finally meet you. Ian’s told me wonderful things about you. Gene thinks highly of you too. Welcome to the family.” Letting the girl go he turned towards the older woman beside him “this is my wife Amelia.”
Amelia looked at the girl with a tight-lipped smile as she gave Celia a perfunctory hug. “it’s nice to meet you Celia.”
Celia didn’t miss the disapproving glance the older woman gave Aimee as she went to stand beside her husband. She leaned into Ian whispering in his ear “she doesn’t like me.”
“Give her a chance,” Ian whispered back “she’s kind of a prude.”
“Mom,” Aimee said walking towards her on her way to the kitchen “how are you?”
“I’m doing very well thank you,” Amelia said looking at Celia “I see you’ve lost control of your children.”
“Mom please…” Aimee’s eyes darted towards Gene who was deep in conversation with his dad. “Children don’t need to be controlled.”
“That’s exactly why you have this situation,” Amelia heartlessly stated “if you had followed my example teaching them right from wrong you wouldn’t have that girl giving birth to an illegitimate child.”
“Mother please,” Aimee begged “keep your opinions to yourself. Celia’s a good girl. We’re lucky to have her.”
“I beg to differ. Good girls don’t get pregnant before they marry…”
Aimee’s eyes narrowed as she retorted “If you recall mother I was pregnant with Ian before Gene and I got married….”
“That’s neither here nor there. You were older and had been with Gene for years. Totally different circumstances.” Looking her daughter up and down “besides it doesn’t mean I approved of what you did either.”
“Mom can’t we please just have a nice visit without you tearing me to pieces?” Aimee pleaded.
“Aimee you’re much too sensitive for your own good.” Amelia waved her daughter’s words away “I’m only telling you the way it is not tearing you to pieces. Why must you twist my words?”
Celia who had been following the conversation chose that moment to ask Aimee “do you need any help?”
Blinking back tears Aimee smiled at her “yes please. Would you mind chopping these onions for me?”
Celia smiled pleasantly up at her as she began to chop the onions. After a moment Amelia left and joined William in the living room. “Thank you dear,” Aimee whispered as she hugged the girl. “My mother has always been super critical of me.”
“It’s the least I could do,” Celia admitted “thank you for sticking up for me.”
“Always,” Aimee told her “your my daughter now.”
That night after Amelia and William left Celia turned to Ian “I understand why your mom was so anxious over their visit.”
Ian looked at her quizzically “what makes you think she was anxious?
Sitting up she stared him “you really don’t get it do you? Amelia makes your mom nervous. I’m glad my mother-in-law won’t affect me like that.” When Ian began to laugh Celia asked “what’s so funny?”
“Amelia isn’t mom’s mother-in-law she’s mom’s mom. She’s Grandpa’s second wife. Personally I think he could have done better but she’s not so bad. She tries but I think she feels free to belittle mom because she’s her daughter. She know’s better than to do that with dad or grandpa.”
“Well your mom could have used a little support today. Amelia was awful. She made it sound like Aimee was a bad mother because I was pregnant.” Looking at Ian she said “did you know you were conceived before they were married.”
Nodding “not just conceived born too. It’s not a big secret around here.” Ian smiled at her “Matty was the only one conceived after they were married and he wasn’t even planned. But you’ll notice Amelia favors him to the rest of us. Even the twins who she adores. I think I’m the only one she truly doesn’t like.”
“Then she doesn’t know what she’s missing out on,” Celia leaned forward and kissed him.
“Thank you,” Ian grinned at her “how did mom react?” he asked as curiosity got the better of him.
“She told Amelia that I was a good girl and that her children didn’t need to be controlled.” Celia smiled over at him “what’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he mumbled “I thought maybe she would have just agreed with Amelia to keep the peace.”
“Well she didn’t,” Celia snuggled into him “she told me I was her daughter now. Coming from your mom that means a lot.”
“It certainly does,” Ian agreed sitting back “I wish things could stay like this forever.”
“I know what you mean. Everything is going to change whether we want it to or not. Soon we’ll be up all night with feedings, diaper changes….”
“I’ll take the feedings,” Ian volunteered “you can have whatever comes out.”
Punching him playfully she shook her head at him “that’s not how it’s going to work. We’ll take turns. It’s only fair for you to be as tired as I am.”
“We’ll discuss this later,” Ian said pulling Celia to her feet. “Right now we should get inside and go to bed.”
Walking hand in hand towards the house Celia asked “what do you want? Boy or girl?”
“Girl,” he said without thinking. Bringing a hand to her hair he wrapped a strand around his finger. “A girl who looks just like you.”
“That’s sweet but I’m hoping for a little boy that looks just like you,” Celia told him wrapping her arms around his waist.
“I guess we’ll just have to have twins. One of each.” Ian joked as she poked him in the side.
“We’re so not having twins,” she told him firmly “one is more than enough.”
Taking her hand he gently tilted her chin up to look at him. He gazed into her eyes marveling at how much his world revolved around her. He knew their love would transcend the world and the stars above. “I love you,” he said breaking the silence around them.