Derek replaced the dusty crib bedding with the fresh bedding and moved on to wipe down the changing station and other surfaces. While he worked, he remembered the day Janet had told him she was pregnant; the first time.
That pregnancy was the reason for the move to Phantom Island. They had both been overjoyed at the news; but it was short lived. Almost four months into the pregnancy they miscarried. They had been beside themselves with grief.
One night, as they sat on the couch in silence, Derek looked around them. They were surrounded by mostly packed boxes, all labelled according to the rooms they belonged to. Janet had drawn little smiley faces on every box.
He had looked over at her and noticed her looking down; silent tears streaming down her face. He recalled the past couple of weeks since that fateful doctor’s appointment and realized that while he was fighting helplessness, she was fighting self-blame.
He had decided that, while he had been unable to do anything about their loss, nothing was preventing him from doing something now.
He had reached over, taken Janet’s hand and kissed it. “We have to move forward.” He had said.
She had looked at him, at first with confusion, then with resolve. They had embraced and cried one last time for the baby they had never met. After that, the packing was finished and the house was made ready for the next family.
In a flash, it seemed, they were here starting over. Within the first three months in their new life, the announcement came again; followed about a month later by divorce papers.
Derek stopped and shook his head hard. He would not let her unexpected arrival do this to him. Her being here tonight changed nothing and his feelings about it all didn’t either.
He let out a weary sigh and looked around the nursery. No one besides him even knew it was here. He had secretly converted his office to a nursery as soon as the doctor confirmed the pregnancy. It was going to be a surprise for Janet who had been unable to trust that this pregnancy would actually lead to them having a baby.
He had understood how she’d felt; he wasn’t certain that it would work out either but he knew that they should prepare for it all the same.
Janet had refused to buy any baby supplies or talk about names or anything that meant being excited over another baby they may not have. So, he had taken it upon himself to get everything ready. He figured that once the baby was born, Janet would panic over not being prepared and that’s when he’d show her the nursery.
Derek growled when he caught himself thinking of how happy with him she would have been. He shook his head again, took another deep breath and stalked toward the guest room.
He opened the door to see that nothing had changed while he was battling self-pity, except that the baby’s eyes were open.
He made his way slowly to the bed while she watched his every move with bright, curious eyes that matched her mother’s. He reached out and poked Janet’s shoulder to try to wake her while touching her as little as possible.
When she didn’t respond, he gently took her shoulder in his hand and shook it. This time she shifted her position but still didn’t wake up.
He was getting frustrated and thinking about raising his voice and shaking her roughly until she woke up and took care of her baby. It was in this moment that said baby started to make fussing sounds. All he could do was stare at her and will her not to start crying.
He looked back at Janet and noticed that her change in position had caused the robe to slide off her shoulder. Not wanting his thoughts to shift to her soft skin, he reached to correct the robe and noticed the bruises.
He became instantly enraged. The bruising indicated that she had been choked and grabbed harshly by her shoulders. There were also small scratches where someone’s finger nails had scraped her skin in a struggle. Derek started seeing red and thinking of hunting down her husband and leaving some marks of his own.
The baby started making fussing sounds that got his attention back on her. He couldn’t leave just yet; he would have to take care of that later. Right now he had a fussy green-eyed baby staring at him expectantly. He knew it wouldn’t take long for expectation to turn into demand so he took a deep breath and tried to calm himself.
He decided to let Janet sleep for now which left him in charge of the baby he didn’t know. He slowly made his way over to her to say hi. She was a bit more awake now and starting her warm up to hit the high notes, as his father used to say.
He picked up the car seat and diaper bag and with one last look back at Janet, closed the door and took the baby to the nursery.
*Thank You for reading!*
End of Story 5-Part 1
Copyright©2019 Jennifer Treece