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Notes and disclaimer in part one.
part two
part three
part four
part five
part six
part seven
part eight
part nine

Danni's POV:

I stare down at the piece of plastic with the same stunned feeling I did over a year ago. Only difference between then and now is that I know that Steve won't run. I'm not sure how he'll take my news, John is barely ten months old, but I know he won't leave us.

It took him a long time to convince me that he's here to stay, that he loves me and wants to make a life with me. Just the other day, when I was beginning to suspect, I asked him how many children he wanted and he responded with however many I want to give him. I thought his answer was odd until he explained that I'm the one who does all the work involved in creating a life and however many times I want to go through that is how many children he wants.

When I pressed for a deeper answer he told me that before he met me he had never considered becoming a father, his own wasn't the best of role models, but once he accepted that his future lies with me he realized that he wanted to become not only a great step-father to Grace but a better father to our children than his had been. I couldn't help but kiss him breathless for that. And of course, as always happens, that kiss led to other things. I woke up the next morning with a silly smile on my face.

But now here I am, just over ten months after giving birth to our first child, my second, preparing to tell him that it's all happening again. Luckily this time is more like my pregnancy with Grace.

The baby monitor crackles to life with the sounds of my son waking up and I quickly change into my swimsuit before going to get him from his crib.

John is ready to start walking, really it'll be any day now, and so whenever I go to get him from his crib he's standing, holding onto the railing while dancing to a song only he can hear.

"There's my baby!" I say in a sing-song voice. John grins, showing off his six teeth and giggles. "Daddy should be about done with his swim. Shall we join him?"

"Da! Da!" I had been convinced that John would say Danno first but he hasn't yet. Instead he's giving Steve reason to gloat by saying Da whenever anyone mentions Steve or he hears or sees Steve. I keep trying to tell him it's not a contest.

"Oh, but you had a good sleep," I murmur against his sleep warmed skin as I lift him from the crib to carry him to the changing table. As soon as I put him down he reaches up and grabs ahold of the neckline of my suit. "Just a minute." I gently remove his hand. "I have to get you out of this nasty diaper first." He pouts, something I'm convinced he learned from Grace. "Just as impatient as your Daddy." I bop him on the tip of the nose with a finger before slipping a pair of the baby board shorts Mary found in some boutique in LA on. And damn if he doesn't look just like his father.

"Da!" He claps as if he's said something truly spectacular.

"Yes, yes. I know 'Da' is your favorite but even he can't do this." I sit down in the rocker and offer him my left breast. He latches on eagerly and begins to suck like he hasn't eaten in days instead of hours. His eyes even roll back in his head making me wonder if my milk is the best thing he'll ever taste. "Always so hungry, my son. I think we can give table food a try. What do you think?"

He opens one eye and pauses in his suckling. His little eyebrow quirks up as if to say he has no preference before he closes his eye again and resumes eating. "Yeah, that's what I thought."

I wiggle until I'm more comfortable in the chair, rocking gently, and let my mind wander. I hope the baby growing under my heart is a girl. Grace would love a sister and Steve would make a fabulous father to a little girl; just look at how well he took to Grace. But I'll be happy with another boy, just so long as it's as healthy as its siblings.

I've been able to nurse John far longer than I was able to nurse Grace, my agreement with Stan said that when Grace no longer needed night time feedings she was to go live with him, and unfortunately that happened when she was two months which caused my milk to dry up when she was four months. I have thoroughly enjoyed this special time with my son. It has now become so natural to me that I know when it's time to switch to the other breast without the aid of a timer. And of course, John knows this too and will usually let me know by spitting my nipple out and trying to get to my other breast.

But not so this morning. We both doze off, it's still too early for me but John insists on having his breakfast just after sunrise. I stir when I feel him slip off my nipple. Looking down at his sweet face I feel a rush of love that leaves me momentarily breathless.

And then he opens his eyes and looks up at me with his father's eyes. I know that he's too young to truly know what love is but I like to think that I can see that emotion shining in the hazel depths much like I see it in Steve's.

I smile down at him and turn him so he can fed from my right breast. He latches on and suckles a little bit slower than before. "Getting full, are you?"

He reaches up with his right hand and places his fingers on my lips. I kiss them and he smiles around my nipple. "Eat, please. Daddy'll be done with his swim soon."

He closes his eyes and goes back to his breakfast while playing with his right ear. I make a mental note to call the doctor to schedule an appointment to make sure he doesn't have an ear infection.

Several minutes later, John spits my nipple out and burps without any help from me. I can't help but laugh at the proud look on his face. "Yes, good job. But you're soon not going to be allowed to do that."

Standing from the chair, I prop John on my left hip and head downstairs, detouring to the kitchen for an apple for my breakfast, then through the dining room and out onto the lanai. I can just barely make out Steve far from shore. I point at the dot I'm sure is Steve and John copies me. "Da?" He turns to look at me.

"Yes, that's Daddy. He'll be in soon." And with Steve, soon is relative; especially when he's swimming. "Daddy loves to swim."

"Da s'im?"

I blink down at him. "Did you just say 'swim'?"

"S'im?" He cocks his head. "Nanno s'im?"

"Nanno…" It takes me a moment but then it clicks that he's saying 'Danno'. "You little stinker! You have no problem with your D's when it comes to saying 'Da' but when it comes to 'Danno' suddenly you can't say them?" He giggles as if it's the funniest thing in the world. And I guess to a ten month old it probably is. I can't help but chuckle along with him, rolling my eyes at how smart my son apparently is. I take a bite of my apple and lick my hand when the juice drips down.

"Nanno!" John kicks his feet. "S'im! S'im, Nanno!" He points at the water.

"We have to wait for Daddy, Bug-a-boo."

"Da!" His face lights up and he claps his hands. "Da s'im!" He points again at the water.

"Have patience, my son! As soon as Daddy finishes his swim he'll take you."

He slaps my bare shoulder with his open hand. "S'im, Nanno!"

"Do not hit me. I said you'll get to go in the water as soon as Daddy finishes."

He pouts and turns his head so that his left cheek is resting on my shoulder. "S'im," he mumbles.

"Life is so hard, isn't it?" He sighs as if saying yes. I brush a kiss to his black curls. I feel like he's about to take his first steps and I have a great idea for how he should take those first steps.

Steve doesn't leave the water until after I've finished my apple and thrown the core away. I walk down to the shoreline when Steve stands up in the waist high water and begins walking toward shore. When he spies us standing there he points and yells, "There's my baby!"

John bounces on my hip and squeals "Da! Da!" Steve laughs and calls back "John!"

When the water is gently lapping at Steve's ankles, I crouch down and put John on his feet, holding on until he catches his balance. Steve comes to a complete stop and then crouches down when he sees what I'm about to do.

John holds his hands at shoulder height, twisting his wrists like he's revving a motorcycle. I slowly let him go, keeping my hands close to his torso in case he stumbles when he lifts his right foot before placing it in front of his left.

"Look at you!" Steve gives John encouragement, clapping his hands and cheering. "Come to Daddy!" John claps his hands along with Steve, wobbling a little, and laughs in delight. "Come on, Bug. You can do it!"

John picks up his left foot and rocks back on his right heel before he finds his center again and puts it down with care in front of his right foot. John stops and seems to be judging the distance between him and Steve. Just when I think he's decided it's too far he giggles again and takes the next dozen steps with startling confidence. He's within reach of Steve's out stretched hands when Steve scoots back a couple of steps. Luckily John thinks it's a game and squeals with delight before toddling the last couple of steps.

"Well done, my son!" Steve picks him up and tosses him gently in the air, catching him easily and turning him upside down to smack him lightly on his bottom. The sound of my son's squeals of laughter brings a tear to my eye as my heart flips over.

I never thought I'd ever be here, watching the man I love playing with our child. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. "Steve." I double over with laughter when my husband turns to face me with John tucked under his arm backwards.


"He did eat recently."

Steve brushes that aside. "Yeah, breast milk. I've yet to make him puke by tossing him around after he's nursed."

"True, but one of these days it won't be breast milk."

"But that won't be for a bit, yet. Right?"

"Maybe." Something in my tone has him narrowing his eyes at me.

"You have something to tell me?"

In an effort to distract him, I crouch down and make 'gimme' motions with my hands silently asking him to have John walk back to me.

"Don't think I'll be so easily distracted, Danno." Steve sets John on his feet.

"Nanno!" John points at me. "Nanno!"

Steve looks from John to me and back before releasing him so he can make his wobbly way back to me. "Did he just say Danno?"

I snatch John up and kiss him all over his face making him laugh his lovely belly laugh. "No, I believe what he said was 'Nanno'."

"C'mon, D. You're just splitting hairs, here."

John has two fistfuls of my hair making it so I can't lift my head fully to grin at Steve. "He has one other word, too."

"Oh, yeah? What's that?"

I hitch John up so that our faces are pressed together. "John, what was Daddy doing?"

He leans back and frowns at me, then looks beyond Steve at the ocean and points. "Da, s'im!"

Steve's as stunned as I was. "Did he…?" We lock eyes and he laughs. "He's a smart one, isn't he?"

"So it would appear." Steve steps closer and tickles John's back. "Wanna go for a swim?"

"S'im!" John practically jumps from my arms and into Steve's.

"Figures. My son is an effing fish!"

"Love you." Steve kisses the tip of my nose.

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever," I mutter, wiping the back of my hand across my nose.

"S'im, Da!" John says with a whine in his voice.

"Okay, okay." Steve turns and begins wading into the water until it's waist high. He then stoops down until it's chest high so John can float and kick his feet, pretending to swim.

"We should really consider putting him in swimming lessons." I wrap my arms around Steve's neck and let the water take my weight.

Steve turns his head and captures my lips. "That's not such a bad idea."

"I've been known to have one or two."

"'ohn s'im!"

All three of us laugh. "Oh, we're gonna have our hands full with this one!" I reach over Steve's shoulder and tug on one of John's curls.

We spend several enjoyable hours playing in the water until a bigger wave hits and Steve decides it's time to get out. Plus John's little fingers are starting to prune.

Steve grabs a blanket and spreads it under one of the palm trees near the sand so that he can help John build sand castles, although John actually takes great pleasure in smashing them, while keeping the sun off John's tender skin.

I'm stretched out on my stomach, watching my men play in the sand. It's a lovely afternoon; only thing that would make it perfect would be Grace's presence. But she's spending her Spring Break on the mainland with Stan.

Suddenly the sun is blocked and I look up and see Steve's silhouette. "Don't think I don't remember that you've got something you need to tell me, D."

I sigh and roll over onto my side, propping my head on my hand. "Remember when I asked how many kids you want?"

(no subject)

Date: 2015-01-04 12:29 pm (UTC)
simplyn2deep: (Default)
From: [personal profile] simplyn2deep
I stayed up until 4:30am reading this. love it!

then I get to the end and I want more!

but now I sleep.


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