See it in a new light, Casey Wallace
Well, the doctor was right.
Even if the first two months had been easy for Nina, come the third month she started to have morning sickness and Nina dreaded it. She also started to always want to eat breakfast food for every meal, and her dutiful husband has to constantly remind her that she needs to be mindful of her diet for the sake of their baby. Thankfully she had her once a week treat and that was something that Nina enjoyed. Usually she asked for waffles with strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Even with all the choices available, when her Thursday Treat Day came she always seemed to ask for those waffles. Eventually the morning sickness disappeared though, so that was good for Nina… but with that came more cravings… like cucumbers dipped in peanut butter.
Nina stayed sensitive whenever she was making love to her husband, and that was always something extremely pleasurable for her and her love. She got tired quicker, but her orgasms seemed stronger. However, she also became a bit too sensitive with smells that anything strong made her dizzy. Aside from that, she seemed to be oddly drawn to Casey’s armpits all the time. He didn’t even need to take a shower, even if he smelled like he has been sweating all day, Nina loved to hold him and sniff him and even wanted to sleep with his arm as her pillow. She’d asked him to stay away from the deodorant he was using because she hated how it smelled now, and basically Casey was most attractive when all she could really smell was his own body scent and not soap or shampoo or anything else.
By this time Nina is already in her fifth month. She had already taken a screen test for her baby to check for abnormalities, and she’s also started taking classes at the hospital with Casey about birth preparation. Exercise was part of her weekly routine and it came in the form of walks around the orchard or yoga at the patio. Also making love with Casey—that’s her favorite.
Her bump was more prominent now, and Nina has found that a lot of her jeans don’t fit her anymore. She was usually in loose dresses, or one of those cropped tops and yoga pants, or just a large shirt because she could not be bothered to put on shorts when she keeps going to the bathroom to pee. Also, if Nina ate like she had a hollow leg before, now she ate like she had a bottomless pit for a stomach. But while she has put on some weight, she has miraculously maintained her figure—albeit the bump she had on her belly.
Ah and she had considerably larger breasts.
”Case!” Nina called out to her husband as she carried the tray of drinks towards where her husband and her brothers were working on the addition to their Lakehouse. “I made you boys some lemonade.” She told them, setting the tray with the pitcher and glasses onto the picnic table they had set up outside. Philip and Eiji had been helping Casey just as they promised, but they were also helping with the changes Casey was making with the Travelall that he got from the Reverend. Since Eiji was rather enthusiastic about custom-made things, he was pretty excited about helping his BiL with the family car. ”And I wanted to remind you that we’re going to the hospital today for my ultrasound.” She added with a grin, looking over to her husband and what it was he was doing with the house.
It was another big day for the expectant parents because today was the day they will find out the baby’s sex. They were excited, their parents were excited… and apparently her brothers have made opposite bets on the sex and the winner will be a hundred dollars richer by tonight. Nina was the most excited though. Knowing the sex meant that they could decide on the name, and that also meant that she could start shopping for baby things, and also sewing baby things. If Casey wanted to build a house and also remodel a car, Nina wanted to sew clothes and stuffed animals for their child. She even wanted to make a special quilt for the baby, and that was already in the works.
”How’s the building going?” She asked Casey as he walked over to her and she found herself needing to behave since her two brothers were there and she couldn’t just jump on her love and take him right there on the picnic table. "Everything good?"
Everything was mostly good. The house, the car... the classes. Nina was feeling mostly good as well, save for her weird cravings in the middle of the night or the fact that she easily gets tired. The doctor said it was normal, but they were still careful about watching her blood as things could only be a bit more difficult for her body as her baby grows. So far there was nothing to be alarmed about, and of course that was something Nina was very thankful about.
Both her mother and Grandma Ainsley were always checking up on her, and even Anna would come to visit her bearing nutritious gifts. She felt the concern and the love from everyone. Even Grandpa Finlay was helping out with the house building at times, and Nina made sure that she thanked them all with good food to eat at the end of the day. She was thankful for her family, and she was thankful most of all for her husband who was extra fussy over her and the baby.
He wasn't kidding when he said he was going to baby her for the next seven months, and he also wasn't kidding when he promised to be strict with her sugar intake. Nina loved him even more, and at night after he kisses her belly at bedtime she always felt emotional--very thankful, and very loved.
"Anything I could help you boys with?"
The Boobie Fairy had definitely blessed Nina. They’d read how the mother’s breasts enlarge in preparation for breastfeeding, but evidentially some mothers get more of a blessing that others. It was something that Case had definitely noticed. Nina was spilling out of her bras left and right, making it seem as though along with buying more maternity clothes, that maybe she needed a bra or two to go with it.
Everything else had gone just as well. Their tests had all come back with good news, even if every time they had the doctor telling them the results they would hold their breath. Nina was eating well, and had even gotten used to Case laying down the law from time to time. Thankfully Case was getting really good at curbing Nina’s sweet tooth by buying fresh berries and fruit. Having those around were making things much easier, and Case was more than happy to fire up the grill and toss on a few slices of pineapple anytime he was cooking.
…which was becoming more and more often.
Case was serious about helping, running errands for them, cooking, cleaning, and tending to his wife’s every need. He would bounce between working on the house, sometimes the Travelall, and even taking one day a week to dedicate to archery practice. Case even tried to be a step or two ahead of Nina, making sure she had something nearby to snack on – her favorite cucumbers and peanut butter, or some fresh, salted carrots, or even some snap peas and dip.
They were also just weeks away from when they’d have to stop with their love making. Though their intimate time together was incredibly intense these days, they were also getting more and more cautious. Gone were the days of throwing one another around, having at one another fast and hard, Case just couldn’t bring himself to do that. Instead he chose to keep things slow and purposed, dragging things out and driving his wife completely wild. With as easy as it was to turn Nina on now, Case could make her cum at the drop of a hat. …and since turning his wife on was his single greatest turn-on, the two of them were managing to have a great deal of fun between the sheets.
The house was coming along quite well. With having all the extra help Case was having a hard time making sure he was on top of everything they were each working on. For Case, everything had to be perfect. When you’re building the room for your future children, suddenly your ‘regular standards’ aren’t quite good enough. Gramps, Phil, and Eiji were all helping out, with Gram and Anna keeping Nina company when they could. It meant that things were always happening around the Lakehouse. Inspectors, visitors, people working, and even the staff at the farm lending a hand here and there as everyone raced against the clock to get the addition put together as quickly as possible.
They attempting to finish the ‘dry-in’ by the end of the day. The walls were all up, they’d wrapped the addition in plastic wrap, dropped in the windows, and were now busy putting the metal roof on. They were working from the part closest to the main house, where tying in the metal was the most difficult. They’d already covered the roof in propylene and tar paper, and were now trying to work the flashing into the existing roofing before finishing out the rest. Once they had this done they could move on to the siding, and once that was done they only had the trim left to do before the outside of the addition was complete.
Case looked up, hearing his name, then leaned over the edge of the roof to see his pregnant wife walking out carrying a tray of lemonade for him and his helpers. One by one they climbed down the ladder, Phil, Eiji picking up a glass and greeting their sister as Gramps rounded the house from where he was tossing up sheets of metal for the roof to Eiji.
“Thank you Hia,” Case said, taking the last glass and nodding to his wife. Nina mentioned their appointment at the hospital and Case looked to his wrist. “Oh goodness, where has the day gone?” he said with a bit of a smile. He had on one of his loose tank tops, was glistening with sweat, and otherwise seemed to be drawing a good deal of attention from his wife.
Nina asked how the construction was going, and Case and everyone else turned towards the addition to look up towards the roof. “Pretty good. I think we got all the flashing tied in, now we just need to get the first row of the metal on and I think it’s just rinse and repeat from there,” Case said, getting a few nods from the others who were busy chugging down their icy drinks. “I’ve got a great crew!” Case said, raising his glass to each of his family that were there to help.
“Your husband’s a workhorse,” Finlay said, smiling as he admired his grandson.
“Yeah, no kidding,” Eiji said, shaking his head.
“Oh it’s not that bad. You want your niece or nephew to have a good place to sleep, don’t you?” Case fired back, making everyone laugh and nod.
Case turned to his wife. “Things are going really well. Thankfully I’ve know a bit more than the last time I was trying to build something. It’s going really well. We should have the dry-in done in no time. Then we can get on to the really fun stuff like pulling wire, plumbing and playing with insulation,” Case said, cringing at that last comment. Case hated insulation – with a passion. It just seemed to get everywhere, and fiberglass in your shirt and underwear isn’t anything you’d wish on anyone.
Nina wanted to know if there was anything she could help with. Case and the other shook their heads, “Naw… We’re good. What time was the appointment again?” Case asked, even though he knew exactly when they needed to be at the clinic. He nodded when Nina said it, then looked to the others. “You think you guys can carry on without me? I might step inside, hit the shower real quick, then head off. We should be back before too long and I can see where you’re at. So long as we get the bulk of the metal up I think we’ll be good. I’m not looking to tarp that roof up any longer,” Case said with a smile that made the others nod emphatically as none of them were interested in hauling that tarp back up onto the roof to tie it down again.
“Okay. We’ll be back. You guys give me a ring if you get hung up on anything, okay?” Case said, pulling out his phone and pointing to it.
The boys finished their drinks, put the glasses back on the tray, and Case picked it up to carry it back as Nina took his arm and walked along beside him. “We’re getting there,” Case said with a smile.
Once back inside Case took the tray into the kitchen, putting the glasses into the dishwasher along with the tray, then turning to his wife. “I’m going to rinse off and get a new shirt. I’ll be right back down,” he said, then leaned in to kiss his wife, then noticed the grin on her face.
“I know that look,” he said with a smile. “If we’re going to make that appointment on time I need to make this shower quick,” he said as he beamed towards his love.
Nina smiled warmly up at her love as he thanked her for the lemonade. ”You’re welcome, Kea.” He was glistening with sweat, and his long hair stuck to the skin on his neck in that way that usually was very uncomfortable for Nina when it happened to her, but looking at Casey she thought he was sexy.
It was very much like him to get caught up with his work and not realize how much time he’s already spent doing it. Casey and the other men looked up to what they have accomplished with the roof so far, and as Casey explained their progress Nina narrowed her eyes to check what he was talking about. More often than not, she was staring at Casey and grinning. They had a lot of things done though, and Nina could see that. The progress was a lot quicker than when it was just her and Case working on the house, and Casey made sure to thank his crew for their work.
Even Grandpa Finlay was keeping up with the younger gents. Eiji, as usual, was the whiniest in the group, but that was mostly because he preferred to help Casey with the Travelall. He still listened to his BiL, however, especially when Philip calls him out for it. They all worked hard, and it was all for their future niece or nephew. ”Thanks, guys… Thanks Gramps… Everything looks good.” Nina smiled to her brothers and grandfather, then turned her attention back to her sexy, sweaty husband who did not seem to look forward to the ‘fun stuff’. ”Aww, I’m sure you boys will still enjoy it. Thank you, Kea.” She smiled, and stood on her toes to press a kiss on her love’s cheek.
A lot has been accomplished, but there was still a lot to be done and Nina was tired of just being cooped up inside the house so an offer to help was presented. Naturally, Casey declined, and instead brought his wife’s attention back to the appointment that they had to go to today. “In about an hour.” Nina smiled, her excitement returning at the thought of them finding out the sex of their baby. She let her husband excuse himself and also give out a few reminders, and before long it was time for the busy men to get busy again.
”I have more lemonade and also some snacks in the kitchen if you guys get hungry. Ei, can you take care of snacks for you guys?” Nina asked her younger brother, since he was staying with the Wallaces this week.
”I got it.” Eiji nodded as he lifted his arm to wipe his face on his sleeve.
”We’ll come back with the big news and some lunch.” Nina announced, waved goodbye, and then walked back inside with Casey who was smelling so delightful. Now, she knows it’s weird, but lately she was really drawn to her love’s natural scent, even if he was all sweaty. It actually smelled the best for Nina. It has to be pointed out, however, that Casey was a pretty clean guy. He showered every day and was neat with his clothes, so even if he got a bit sweaty he didn’t smell horrid. With Nina being sensitive to things lately, it seems her nose preferred natural scents instead of the others that are too strong for her at the moment.
So while Nina was holding on to her love, she was also leaning in and smiling as she casually smelled him like the weirdo that she was, up until he let go put the glasses in the washer. Knowing he head a schedule to keep, he was set on what he needed to do so they won’t be late, but as he looked to his wife he noticed the meaningful little grin she was giving him.
Of course he knew what that look was.
Nina wasn’t even denying what that look was because what Casey thought that look was, is exactly that. ”I know… it’s why we need to make it quick.” Nina grinned, nodding as her brown eyes widened expectantly. ”And I’ve been alone in the house all morning and I miss you and want you…” Nina continued, putting on a bit of a pout as she stepped over to her love, reached for the edge of his shirt, and pulled him slowly to her. ”Please?” She grinned, and kissed his lips once. ”With cherry on top?” She asked again, kissing him a second time as she smiled. ”Go shower.” She kissed him a third time. ”I’ll get your clothes ready.” Then she kissed him for the fourth time, this one being much deeper and slower… the kind that ran a shiver down one’s spine and momentarily shut down the brain.
Nina smiled a very pleased smile when she pulled away from Casey’s lips, and taking his hand she led him to their room before she took off his shirt herself. She pulled it over his head with a grin and a chuckle, and then moved on to his shorts, and then his shoes and socks. ”Go get clean,” She smiled, picking up his dirty clothes and giving him a wink, and then she disappeared to go to the laundry room to take care of the sweaty clothes.
When Nina came back to the bedroom, Casey was already in the shower to rinse himself. Nina pulled out clean shorts and a shirt for Casey, and then took off her shirt, then her shorts, and slipped off her underwear before she opened the shower door and joined her love inside the shower. Her arms snaked around his waist as his head turned to look at her, and Nina placed a soft kiss on his shoulder. ”Ten minutes tops?” She chuckled, letting her hand slip down her husband’s torso… down lower and lower to where she could entice him.
And, we know what happened next.
The two steamed up the shower with their love—Nina’s chest pressed up against the cold tile while her love took her slowly from behind and also stimulated a very easily stimulated little magic button between her legs. So in no time Casey had his wife squirming and moaning and cumming all over him before ushering him in his own high as her hips gyrated around his cock.
And then they got clean.
Ten minutes tops.
Even if it was extremely tempting to do more. Nina seemed sated enough—for now—to let her love clean up after that, and then soon they were getting dressed to go to their doctor’s appointment. Nina wore one of her stretchy striped dresses that showed her hump, her lumps, and her baby bump. She put on her sneakers and tied her hair up in a ponytail, and soon was out the door with her husband.
”We’re leaving!” Nina called out to her brothers and grandfather, waving an arm to them before she was helped inside Ol’ Blue and was strapped in.
”I bet a hundred bucks it’s a boy!” Eiji told Nina and Casey, and his sister laughed and shook her head before turning to Casey who was pulling away from the house.
”I guess we’ll know later whether or not Eiji is a Benjamin richer.” Nina smirked, putting a hand on her belly. ”Let it be known, Rookie, your Uncle Eiji wished so badly you were a boy. But he would love you no matter what, don’t worry. We will all love you. We already love you. Isn’t that right, Daddy?”
They all loved the Rookie. And they were all excited about everything related to the Rookie too. Nina has been told to call her mother as soon as they know the news, and she could just imagine what kind of treatment the baby would receive for being the first niece or nephew or the first grandchild or great grandchild in the family.
It was a nice day and it was a nice drive to the hospital. The closer they got, the more excited Nina was about finally knowing their baby’s sex. With that information they can choose from the name options they had, and also Nina could start preparing more baby things. She was really excited for that because she was more into doing that than other stuff for her shop. She even thought about making a baby line and told Casey about it.
”I’m so excited!” Nina gasped as Ol’ Blue rolled along. ”I wonder if I will always have this excitement for all our kids or if this excitement will fade the more we have children…” Nina thought aloud, rubbing her belly fondly. ”I feel like the most excitement and nerves is on the first one, but I look forward to the confidence I would hopefully have by the time we have baby number two. Because right now I don’t know how good I would be as a mother.” She smiled as she turned to Casey. ”I think I would always be excited for all of our kids though.” Much like how even the whole town was excited. Because, yes, by now the whole town knew about the pregnancy. Nina would argue against the whole country knowing it, but perhaps that was true too.
”Oh, by the way, Steve called and said that if you need extra hands, his son could help out once school is over this month.”
By now Case was pretty good at reading his wife. He knew her looks, her smiles, and the little gestures she’d do to express her interests and feelings. The two of them had always been very sexually active, but to put on top of that Nina’s recent sensitivities and you were taking a couple that were having at one another nearly every day and only encouraging them further. Oh… and the fact that Nina was now drawn to Case’s smell was making it even more likely that the two of them would end up between the sheets. Or, as in this case, the shower.
“Quick huh?” Case said with a bit of a smirk. “We’re not exactly known for quick,” he added, smiling brighter as his wife explained how she’d been all alone, clearly thinking of him, and now was thinking of making good use of the brief time they had to be alone. As she continued, begging, and explaining how he should go clean-up she leaned in and gave him one of those powerful kisses that seemed to stop time.
Case slowly opened his eyes, having that dreamy look in his as he seemed to slowly come out of his bliss. He smiled that bright, sunshiny smile of his as his wife slowly started stripping his clothes off. She then smiled and instructed him to go and get clean. His smiled faded, just a bit. Clearly there was a part of him that was somehow hoping his wife would have joined him in the shower, but instead she started picking up his dirty clothes to put them in the hamper.
With a nod Case headed into the bathroom, slipped off his boxers and climbed into the shower. He fired it up, holding his hand over his head until the water was warm enough for him to step underneath it. He stuck his hair under the flow from the showerhead, then ran his fingers through his hair to rinse off the bulk of the sweat held up in his locks. Figuring he should hurry Case shampooed his hair, then quickly lathered up. He took extra care to scrub his pits, his bits, and his face before standing under the stream of water to rinse himself off.
While standing there, water running over his closed eyelids, Case heard the unmistakable sound of someone else coming into the bathroom. He’d left the door to the bathroom open, as he often did, but the glass door to the shower wasn’t something one could open stealthfully – not that Nina would have been looking for that. He smiled, even before he felt her arms wrap around him. The smile widened at the kiss on his shoulder.
“I guess I’ll have to work fast,” Case said as he felt his wife’s hands slip down his body towards the stiffening muscle between his legs.
Case pulled out all the stops, taking his wife into his arms, meeting her lips with his, and letting his hands wander up and down her body before slowly getting her exactly where he wanted her. He was purposed with his actions, all of them about enticing and arousing his partner. He made her want him, and it was her want of him that turned him on even more. Under the heat of the falling waters they made love, enjoying one of these last few times when they’d be able to make love before they’d have to reprioritize their intimate time with one another.
He played Nina like an instrument. His mouth, fingers, hands, and cock pleasured her incessantly – relentlessly. Being able to drive Nina wild so quickly made their love making all the more fun; now, they could go from 0-60 in about two minutes flat. Case left Nina quaking, her legs spasming and barely able to hold her upright. They were both panting, and Case even had to adjust the temperature of the shower so the two of them didn’t pass out from the heat. The warmth of Case’s love filled his lover, and as he slowly withdrew from her he helped to clean her up before they both had to get dressed and be out on the road.
…which they were. Now both of them with their post-coitus glow, dressed in fresh clothes, and heading off to an appointment that the both of them had been looking forward to now for months. They waved to the crew busily putting slats of metal onto the room, and when Eiji wanted to put money down that they’d be having a boy Case smiled brightly. Case opened the door to Ol’ Blue for his wife, helped her up, and then rounded to his side to climb in.
“Unconditional love,” Case answered, when his wife seemed to want to make certain that regardless what kind of a child they had that they’d love it.
Case fired up the truck and headed off towards town. Nina was excited, wondering if it would be like this for her with each child she had. “I don’t know,” Case admitted. “I think because each child is unique that each experience will be unique. Maybe you’re not as excited to know the sex next time, but you’re far more confident in the delivery – you know, since you’ll have been through it before. I just have to think that each pregnancy is different, for any number of differences.” Case chuckled, “For example, everyone’s going to want to see this kid the moment they enter this world, but I’d bet that the family would be find with us emailing them a photo when it’s our twelfth,” Case said with a playful grin.
Nina mentioned that Steve’s son was available to help out with the addition. “Yeah, he mentioned something about that the other day. I don’t know how far along we’ll be by the time he’s available. Once the dry-in is done, about the only really labor intensive job at that point is the sheetrock. Eiji just needs to make up his mind as to when he’s planning on heading back. If he’s going to stay through us getting the interior roughed in, I think we’ll be good. If he’s thinking he’ll head back before that then I’ll definitely talk to Steve about getting Pete over to help.
On they drove, and at one part Case just started chuckling. When Nina asked what he was thinking about he shrugged, “Just how you keep calling the kid Rookie. I find it terribly cute. …a little weird if it turns out to be a girl, but it fun to see you get excited every time you use the nickname.” Case looked towards his wife and her bump. “Does this mean it’s stuck? Does the poor kid have a nickname already? …and doesn’t that nickname have an expiration date? I mean, if we end up having a second child, we can’t call the first one Rookie, can we? We’d have to call them, Veteran,” Case said with a bit of a chuckle.
“Speaking of which… are we decided on names? I gotta tell ya, I’m sold on Cordelia. …as for a boy, I still like Blane, Carson, Gavin, Stuart, Thayne, and of course George,” Case said with a smile. “Of course, they’ll need to be matched with worthy middle names. Unless…” Case said, looking off through the window a moment. “Unless we want to be parents who don’t give our kids middle names. I’ve seen people like that. Is that weird?” he asked, wonderinf if his wife thought people without middle names were weird.
That made Nina smile brightly up at her husband. Whoever their Rookie turns out to be, they will receive unconditional love from his parents. From his whole family. Nina wished for them to be happy, healthy and hopeful every day of their lives.
Nina listened to her husband’s thoughts about their feelings towards their future children, and she nodded as she heard him echoed much of the same thoughts she had in her head. She had to laugh when he said ‘twelfth’ though, and she gave him a look like he had gone insane. She was not that crazy. Every experience will be different for each child, and she knew it. But they would all be wonderful experiences that would make her and crazy grow as people and as parents.
Whether or not they needed Steve’s son’s help seemed to depend on her brother’s final decision about staying a bit longer. Eiji was in charge of the shop Dad had, but if things were still being handled fine by the other workers then perhaps Eiji could prolong his stay. ”I can also talk to Dad if needed. If it would be easier if Eiji stayed, and if Eiji wants to stay, I can talk to Dad about it.” She liked having Eiji around. And she knew that Casey liked having Eiji around too and they were practically best friends so if there was a chance for Eiji to stick around longer, Nina would grab it.
When Casey chuckled, Nina gave him a questioning look. He was chuckling about how she kept calling their baby rookie, and that brought out a bright grin on Nina’s face. She liked the nickname. It seemed very fitting since she and Casey always called themselves a team, and now they were going to have a new member. ”I dunno, I guess it’s kind of stuck but you’re right… We can’t have them be Rookie forever.” Nina smirked, rubbing her belly a bit as she looked to Casey. ”We can call them Rookie, Champ, Winner…” Nina blurted out, randomly tossing out nicknames. ”I’m sure only this one would be Rookie though. If we have more they will have different nicknames.”
Speaking of names…
That was something Casey and Nina talked about often too. Sometimes it came up randomly, but often it was during bedtime when they were snuggling up to each other in bed that they tossed up name suggestions at each other. Cora Dahlia was a name they had randomly thought up the first time they talked about baby names, and up until now it was at the top of their list for their baby girl names. ”Cordelia is my favorite too.” Nina agreed. ”That was very fortuitous. Good work, Daddy.” The boys were more complicated, it seems. There were some names that Casey kept repeating and Nina knew were names that meant a lot to Casey. Like George. George and William were two names that was meaningful for Casey, and Nina considered that in their choices.
Casey’s “Unless” caught his wife’s attention, and she got a thoughtful look on her face as she considered not giving the kids any middle names. ”I don’t think it’s weird. In Japan people don’t have middle names. I’m alright with just giving our kid one name if it’s enough.” Nina shrugged and smiled. ”Maybe parents give kids middle names often because there are too many options they like that they can’t make up their minds. It was much like what was happening with Casey and Nina. Sometimes a name just sticks out and speaks to Nina’s heart, and she was hoping to have that moment as they think of their baby boy name. ”I like Gavin and Thayne from your list.” She shared. ”And we can use George. I think I’ve warmed up to George now and don’t remember the monkey anymore.” Nina said with a chuckle. ”I like Evan, Jonah, Shawn and Ronin from my list.”
Nina tapped her chin in thought as she considered the options they have. ”George Evan Wallace… George Ronin Wallace…” Nina continued to mix up name combos that rolled of her tongue and sounded good to her, and soon they were arriving at the hospital. ”Archer.” Nina then grinned. ”Casey Wallace naming his son Archer.” It made Nina chuckle. ”George Archer Wallace.” It made Nina laugh as Casey opened the door for her and helped her down Ol’ Blue. ”That sounded like Archer is our son’s nickname as an athlete, but I think it’s nice.”
When they arrived at the doctor’s office, the nurse had a smile on her face like she knew what today’s check up as for. Nina was just in time for her appointment, and as they stepped into the doctor’s office she got changed into the patient’s robes with the help of her love.
“Are we excited?” Dr. Hickman said as she joined the couple inside the room.
”Very!” Nina easily replied, grinning brightly at the doctor.
”Have you decided on a name?”
”Getting there. If it’s a girl we have a name for her already. If it’s a boy, we will have a toss up.”
Nina was checked for her vitals first, asked questions about any other changes she noticed in her body, and after all that was done it was time to bring out the ultrasound equipment. Her blood pressure was normal, she didn’t look pale or anemic, and so far she did not have any swelling in her extremities. Nina reported that she drinks a lot of water and also that she walks around a lot to exercise, and even does some light yoga. Casey was the one asked about Nina’s diet and sleeping habits, and even if she was taking the vitamins that she needed to take.
”I think Daddy Casey’s strictness is very good for you. Good weight for you, Nina.” Nina had put on a bit of weight compared to the last time they were there for sure, but for a pregnant woman, her weight was pretty good and ideal. ”Keep doing what you’re doing. Always watch your weight because we don’t want the baby getting too big or you’ll have a hard time during labor.”
”Yes, ma’am. My husband looks after me. He’s changed. He’s all tough love on me now.” Nina teased, looking from the doctor to her husband.
”You need it.” Dr. Hicknam replied, and closed up her file before clapping her hands together. ”Okay, so… I think now we can move on to taking a look at your baby… This is what we’re really looking forward to the most today isn’t it?”
Case chuckled as Nina seemed to have all sorts of nicknames for their kids figured out. It was kinda humorous considering how long it was before Nina had a nickname for him. She seemed to agree that they were both on board with the Cordelia name. Whether they went with Cordelia specifically, or that Cordelia was the nickname for Cora Dahlia, they seemed to agree that Cordelia Wallace had a certain ring to it. Nina also seemed on board with the idea of not giving their child a middle name if they didn’t end up coming up with something that made sense.
Nina fired off her short list of favorites after hearing Case’s. She seemed to like Gavin and Thayne, and even seemed to be warming up to the idea of George. William was in there too, and Nina added Evan, Jonah, Shawn, and Ronin to the list.
“Ronin?” Case echoed, having heard that name for the first time now. “Ronin…” he repeated, as if trying the name on for size by saying it aloud once more.
Nina fired off George Evan and George Ronin, the second somehow sounding a bit weird to Case, but then she suggested something that Case couldn’t help but immediately smile at: Archer. She chuckled at the idea of him naming his son after his own sport, but the moment she said George Archer Wallace Case couldn’t help but think that sounded particularly regal.
“George Archer Wallace,” Case repeated quietly as he parked the car and hopped out to help his wife down. He smiled, one of those bright smiles he gets when he seemed to really fancy something. “George Archer Wallace,” he said once more to himself, smiling as his imagination started to get the better of him. Nina seemed to like the sound of the name too – at least the idea of tossing Archer in as a middle name.
Case played with the short list of names, sticking each in front of the Archer Wallace middle and last:
Gavin Archer Wallace
Thayne Archer Wallace
William Archer Wallace
Evan Archer Wallace
Jonah Archer Wallace
Shawn Archer Wallace
Ronin Archer Wallace
Case smiled, each time he thought of the names he started to put the initials together. That ruled out Jonah and Ronin fairly quickly. Case could only imagine Ronin’s girlfriend seeing his initials on a pair of cufflinks or something saying RAW.
“Shawn spelled S. E. A. N., or S. H. A. W. N.?” Case clarified. “I always liked the E. A. N. version myself.”
They walked into the hospital, checked in, then sat briefly before being led to a room where Nina had to once again slip from her clothes to put on the gown – these days getting to keep her underwear on as she no longer had to use the ‘wand’ for her ultrasounds.
“I gotta tell you, George Archer Wallace sounds almost Presidential to me. I’m really liking this Archer middle name too,” Case added with a bit of a grin. “George, William, and Sean would be my front runners – each with the Archer middle name,” Case said as he nodded to himself – liking how they were dialing in the names at this point.
They weren’t waiting long at all before Doctor Hickman appeared and asked them if they were excited for today’s visit. “Yes, ma’am,” Case quickly nodded, looking from his wife to the doctor. She then asked if they had decided on a name yet, to which Case just looked to Nina as she smiled and explained that they seemed to have agreed on a girl’s but not yet a boy’s.
Then came the usual check-up, going over Nina’s vitals and asking the routine questions about how she’d been feeling. Nina replied in kind to each of the questions, and as it became clear that Nina was being especially good about sticking to all her diet and exercise regimens Dr. Hickman gave Case a bit of a compliment. “I only have to remind her this isn’t just for her own good,” Case said, knowing full well that more than anything Nina just wanted to do her very best for their unborn child.
Case chuckled at the mention of tough love. “Oh it’s not that bad. The only thing I have to watch her on is her sweets. Most everything else she’s very good about,” Case explained, even if there were times early on when he needed to be a bit of a Nazi around her.
Then came the doctor’s question as to whether or not they were ready to take a look at their baby. Instantly Case’s hand found his wife’s as she was lying down on the table getting a bit of that blue lubricant squirted all over her stomach. The doctor fired up the ultrasound, and with the reader started smearing the goo all around her stomach.
“It’s good to know, right?” Case asked the doctor, somehow seeming to need some sort of affirmation that knowing ahead of time was okay.
“It’s perfectly normal,” Dr. Hickman answered. “In fact, only one in maybe two dozen couples don’t want to know.”
Case thought about that for a minute, weighing once more the pros and cons in his mind as to whether one should find out about their child’s sex ahead of time. He felt a squeeze on his hand and then turned to find his wife looking over at him. Case smiled, realizing once again he was merely overthinking things. He nodded to his wife, then turned to the doctor, “Let’s do this.”
”Mmhmm.” Nina nodded about the name Ronin. It was not a common one—at least she didn’t think. ”It’s a masterless samurai. You know the 47 Ronin?” From his tone, Nina could tell her husband wasn’t crazy about the name Ronin. But when she mentioned the name Archer… Casey repeated it in a different way, and then got this look on his face. It made Nina look to her husband with a smile as she imagined what he could be thinking about.
He seemed to approve it, and that meant they were even closer now to coming up with something. ”S-H-A-W-N.” Nina chuckled. ”I like that version better than S-E-A-N.” She thought it funny how it was with names that their opinions differed with regards to the baby. It was fun though, and Nina has found out that despite their preferences and differing methods for name selection, they still end up randomly saying something that resonates to both of them. It was as though fate was guiding them to the right name.
They continued to talk about names while Nina changed, and she nodded at the selection Casey had.
George Archer, William Archer, and Sean Archer. With those options, Nina liked how George Archer rolled off the tongue, but William Archer sounded almost prince-like for her. Whenever Nina had idle time while being checked by Dr. Hickman, her mind would wander back to their name options. By this point her heart was leaning towards a specific boy name already, so she was thinking about the girl’s name next. Cora Dahlia was the front runner, but Casey’s question about middle names made her think about whether or not she wanted a middle name for their child—or if she really wanted Cordelia as just a clever nickname instead of something their child is naturally dubbed after spending time with her.
”I am most excited about it.” Nina answered in reply to the doctor’s question about their baby, and felt Casey’s hand reaching for hers. She knew that Casey was excited too, but now that they were there he questioned whether or not it was good to know the baby’s sex, and Nina knew that her love was simply overthinking again—as he usually did—when something was very important to him. She smiled, squeezed his hand, and with the look in her eyes tried to ease his mind.
”Let’s do this!” Nina echoed in a much higher and chipper tone, and the doctor herself chuckled before positioning the paddle over Nina’s growing belly.
Her eyes were on the screen, waiting attentively for the image of their baby to appear, and as soon as it did her face lit up and the hand that was holding her husband’s suddenly held on tighter.
”There we go…” Dr. Hickman smiled, showing the profile of the baby.
”Oh!” As soon as the doctor showed them the baby, it started to move its legs like it was kicking around inside of Nina. It was something that had Nina tearing up with joy that first time she ever felt the baby stir inside of her. She was just sitting with her healthy fruit dessert and chatting with her Kea, and when she felt it move she gasped, froze, and then just teared up as she looked to Casey. Naturally it had her husband a bit worried, but when she smiled and started laughing he got a bit confused until she explained that she felt the baby move. That was just a week ago. ”Easy, Rookie…” She chuckled, touching the side of her belly as she chuckled.
”Seems it’s excited too. See it sucking its thumb over here?” Dr. Hickman pointed out, and Nina’s grin widened as she looked from the monitor to her husband. ”Who was a more active kid growing up between you too? Seems the baby is already showing who it’s taking after.”
”Definitely Casey.” Nina claimed, her heart fluttering at the sight of an active baby. ”Kea, look! Oh my gosh…”
”Let’s take a peek to see the baby’s sex, shall we?” Dr. Hickman moved the paddle around a bit to try and get a better view of the baby’s sex, and as soon as she spotted it even Nina recognized what it was. ”Did you see it?” The doctor looked to Casey and Nina before hovering the paddle over the area again.
”It’s his little dangly bits, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace you’re going to have a baby boy.”
And cue the tear works.
”Ohmigod…” Nina choked, eyes filling up with tears she tried to quickly blink away so she can see the image even clearer. ”It’s a boy?” She grinned, again tightening her hold on her husband’s hand. ”Kea… It’s a boy! That’s our baby boy! Oh my gosh… my younger brother is a hundred bucks richer. It’s a boy!” She laughed now, and the baby started to kick around inside of her again, making Nina tear up even more as she laughed. ”Oh Kea…”
Nina pulled on her husband’s hand and lifted her chin for a kiss. ”Rookie is a boy…” She smiled up at her husband’s eyes and touched his face. ”We’re going to have a baby boy…”
The moment the paddle was on Nina’s belly Case’s eyes were glued to the screen. At first, while spreading the jelly on Nina’s belly there wasn’t much to see with as fast as the paddle was being moved, but as it slowed, as the doctor narrowed down its field of view Case could make out an arm, or a head. There was that slow moment where the black and white screen went from chaos to revealing the small child growing within his wife.
It always made Case smile. This was one of the very few moments when a television screen was the only window into an actual reality. Many nights Case had his hand on his wife’s stomach, or his ear, or would lie down next to her to talk to his unborn child as though they could hear and understand everything he was saying. Here at the hospital though, Case could actually see them; their face, movements, even the slightest hint at an expression.
He marveled at the screen, watching it with a wide grin. Everything transpiring was infatuating, and though he held onto his wife’s hand with a tight squeeze of a grip, his focus otherwise was on the display of the ultrasound. That smile widened as Rookie seemed to kick and flail a bit inside, almost as if not liking the idea of his mother’s stomach being squished by the doctor.
The doctor pointed out that the child was sucking their thumb, and as only a soon-to-be-father could do, Case had that ‘Awww’ expression written all over his face. Dr. Hickman wanted to know who had a more active childhood growing up. Nina seemed quick to point that it was him, but Case just shrugged, knowing that both of them were plenty active growing up. Nina frolicking on the beach, or Case playing in the woods – both were out of doors, running about, and rarely sitting still if they had the choice.
Then came the moment. The doctor asked if they should take a look at the sex of their child. It was such an odd feeling for Case. Part of him felt like they were invading the child’s privacy, part of himself like he’d been waiting forever to know, and part of him was even curious if they’d even be able to tell. Maybe they wouldn’t? Case had read that there were plenty of instances based on the baby’s position that they wouldn’t be able to know. Maybe such would be the case today.
Case gripped Nina’s hand tight as the doctor moved the paddle over to an area where their child’s legs were apart. Just as Case thought he saw something the doctor piped up. Case nodded, staring at the screen as he saw, what he had to figure was a penis. He just stared at the screen as the doctor confirmed as much, that is until he noticed his wife was crying next to him. Case turned her way to see her staring at the screen, asking the doctor to confirm that they were indeed going to have a son.
With a bright smile Case nodded to his wife, “Looks like it’s a boy.”
He was sort of speechless, mostly just smiling that bright smile of his as he held his wife’s hand. He’d reach up to touch Nina’s face or bend over to kiss her hand, but for the most part he just smiled at her. Now they knew, and as the doctor took a few more pictures of their child she moved on to sizing him up.
”He looks great, good size – maybe leaning towards the large size. We’ll have to keep an eye on him as he continues to grow, but it looks like you’re going to have a big baby boy,” Dr. Hickman said with a bright smile before collecting the printouts and handing them over to Case.
“Thank you doctor,” Case replied, taking the pictures and giving them a quick glance before handing them over to Nina.
”At this point our check-ups are going to be fairly routine until we get to your ninth month. …other than you having to put your love-live on hold in the next few weeks. You have until the end of the month, then you’re just going to have to be patient,” Dr. Hickman said, offering Case a bit of an apologetic smile. ”Otherwise everything looks great. Keep up the good work,” she said to Nina. ”…and keep an eye on her,” she offered to Case.
With that Dr. Hickman said her goodbyes to let Nina clean up and get back into her clothes. Case immediately helped, becoming quite good at taking paper towels and cleaning off his wife’s stomach. Once she was cleaned up Case helped her to her feet, and handed her clothes so she could get dressed once more.
“What about Franklin?” Case offered, smiling towards his wife. “Franklin Archer Wallace. Frank Archer. Sounds kinda manly, doesn’t it?” Case asked, then smiled. “…you know, just to muddy the water a bit with all the other names we had on the table.”
Case chuckled, holding his wife steady as she pulled up her pants. “I guess that’s Murphy for you; one sex you’re solid on a name and he makes sure you have the other. So… George, William, S. H. A. W. N. …and Franklin?” Case asked as if testing the waters.
“Is it weird we found a middle name before we found a first name? Literally after talking about the possibility of not having a middle name at all. So odd…” Case said, shaking his head a bit with a grin.
When Nina was done dressing Case turned her around to look into her eyes. “You’re going to have a son – our little boy. I can’t even to begin to tell you how happy I am, how happy you’ve made me. I just want you to know that you’ve done this to me, you alone. I want nothing more than this, you, our family. We’re going to love the dickens out of that boy,” Case said with a wide grin.
“…whatever his name might be,” he added with an even brighter smile before leaning in and giving his wife a heart-felt kiss.
“Should we celebrate?” Case asked, raising an eyebrow. “We could invite everyone over and grill up some steaks, tell them the news collectively. …maybe see if Gram can whip up something for dessert.” Case smiled. “I’ll let you cheat this once. It’s not every day you learn you’re bringing a new, young man into the world. What do you say?” he asked.
It was a boy!
When Nina looked to her love, she could see in his eyes how happy he was about the information. She knew he would love their baby no matter what, but she also knew that he was hoping for someone to carry on the Wallace name. Now, their very first baby was a boy!
A big boy too.
Dr. Hickman took measurements and told the couple that he was lightly on the larger size and Nina gasped before looking at the doctor as though wondering if that was something they should be concerned about. The doctor didn’t say anything just yet though, and just said they would keep an eye on the baby, so perhaps it was still a good weight for natural labor.
She talked about the appointments in the coming months, and also pointed out that after this month they would have to lay off the lovemaking already. It made Nina chuckle, but at the same time she looked to her husband with a bit of a pout knowing he would be missed very much.
With a reminder for Casey to keep an eye on his wife, Dr. Hickman took her leave. “Franklin?” Nina was cleaning up now, and her husband blurted out a name all of a sudden. He was suggesting the name Franklin for their baby boy, adding that perhaps it would be a good addition to their already various options that they can’t decide between.
Nina smiled, and as Casey spoke she thought about the name and repeated it in her head a few times. “Franklin Archer Wallace…” She repeated, her smile growing as she said it. “I don’t think it’s weird. I think we can come up with a name however we want. We can start with the middle name if we want to.” Nina said with a firm nod. “And… I like Franklin. That… That is actually up there on the list for me.” She smiled, putting on her shirt and flipping her hair out from underneath before her husband turned her around and looked deeply into her eyes.
It automatically made Nina smile, and it also made her feel a bit giddy even before Casey opened his mouth. He told her how happy he was, and how happy she’s made him. He emphasized how his happiness was her doing, and with a soft chuckle and a slow blink Nina reached up and cupped her hands on her love’s cheeks.
They were going to love the dickens out of their little boy. That was a fact.
Nina’s smile faded as she accepted the kiss and listened to the expression of Casey’s heart. When their lips parted, another smile lit up Nina’s face, and it was almost as shining as the look in her eyes as she gazed at her love. He has made her the happiest. And now she was bearing his son, and she could not be more proud.
At the mention of a celebration, Nina gasped and nodded—especially when she was told she could cheat and have dessert. ”Yes!” She laughed. ”Let’s do that. Let’s call them right now and say we’re going to be grilling out by the lake today. [b]”You think Gram can make one of her special pies for us? I would love some chocolate pie.” Nina said with a big expectant grin, hoping her husband won’t change his mind about letting her have her cheat day.
They got things squared away at the hospital, and then they were back on Ol’ Blue. “We don’t have steaks so we need to stop by the butchers real quick for that… but the rest of the ingredients would be good I think? But I don’t know if we have some corn. Do you need pineapples?” Their family was called, too. While Casey went to the butcher shop, Nina waited in the truck and called her brother to tell them they were going to celebrate and have some steak. They all seemed pretty eager to know what the baby’s sex is –Eiji especially, and he was pretty noisy in the background while Nina was talking to Phil—but Nina kept her mouth shut.
”You’d have to wait later.” Nina told Eiji when Phil gave him the phone. ”We’ll be back soon. And would Gramps be the one to call Gram about dessert?”
Casey returned while Nina was on the phone, and she nodded and smiled when he lifted the bag of steaks that he got—which seemed like a lot, but then there were four hungry men in the family plus a pregnant lady so… maybe that was enough. ”Okay. Thanks, Ei. Chocolate pie is my request but maybe Gram has other plans.” She told her brother. ”Casey’s back so we’ll be there soon.”
After a while Nina hung up. They were back on the road, and this time needing some of the other little things Casey wanted to grill along with the steaks.
”Franklin Archer.” She blurted out. ”That’s my vote. I love that.” Nina nodded, and looked to her husband as she laid her hand on her belly. ”You like that, Rookie? We’re gonna call you Frank? Frankie? Franklin.” Nina chuckled as she kept repeating the name. ”What do you think, you like it?” It felt right for her. Looking at her belly then at the photos of their little boy from the ultrasound, she felt like it was the best name for him. ”He’s such a photogenic boy, isn’t he? I hear he takes that from his mother.” Nina grinned looking to Casey. ”I hope he has your curls though. I feel like the Wallace men have that trademark hair—though yours is considerably wilder than Pop’s. Maybe it gets wilder with every generation?”
Knowing now that they were going to have a boy, Nina’s head was going wild with ideas of all the things she wanted to make. ”Onesies for sure. I’m going to make all the onesies, and I will be that mom who documents every month up until the 1st birthday of the baby.” Nina shared as they drove. ”You don’t think that’s silly? I want to take all the photos and make a scrapbook that I can show Franklin when he is older and can appreciate it. I haven’t been able to scrapbook much about our travels, but I think it will be easier for me to keep up with the first year of our babies, don’t you think so?”
Eventually they made it back to the Lakehouse, and the boys were still busy with the house when they arrived.
”Is it a boy?” Eiji yelled out from the top of the ladder.
”Not telling yet!” Nina laughed, and was escorted into the house by her husband while Eiji said something about needing a hundred dollars since his labor for the house was unpaid. ”Hey you’re doing this for your n—You’re doing this for the baby!” Nina called out with a laugh, pointing at her brother before disappearing into the house where Casey’s grandmother was waiting for them.
”Oh tell me!” Ainsley gasped, clapping her hands softly as she stood to greet her grandchildren. ”Is it a little girl? A boy?”
”I’ll tell you soon, Gram…” Nina chuckled, hugging her grandmother and giving her a kiss on the cheek. ”Are you making me chocolate pie?” She then asked with her bright eyes and her bright smile—the same one she used for Casey when she wanted something.
”is this approved by your husband? I hear he’s being very hard on you and your diet.” Gram replied, shaking a finger at Nina while Casey defended himself and greeted his grandmother as well. ”We’ll get working in the kitchen and let me see if I can squeeze something out of you before you announce it to everyone.” The spicy grandma smiled, following Casey who took the meets to the kitchen.
”We can leave the grilling for the boys later, but I can help make dessert?” Nina offered. ”And do you want us to prepare any sauces, Kea? Seasonings you want to put on the steaks?”
It was Eiji barging inside the house with his hands raised up. ”Came to see if I can get you to tell me I have a nephew.” He smirked, joining the rest in the kitchen. ”Also, if you have more of the lemonade from earlier… Please… I’m dying.” He added dramatically as he perched himself onto a stool.
”Go help yourself. There’s some in the fridge. And bring out a glass for Gramps and Phil, too.” Nina instructed, rubbing her hands over her belly.
”Right.” Eiji hopped out of the stool and headed to the cupboards for the cups, meanwhile Nina started to take out the ingredients that her grandmother was already enumerating.
”Are we gonna Facetime Ma and Dad?” Eiji asked as he placed three glasses on the table and looked from his sister to his BiL. ”Or did you already tell them? Because that would be unfair, and I will call them right now to find out if I have a nephew.”
Franklin. Benjamin Franklin, Franklin Pierce, Franklin Roosevelt… That was about all Case could think of when it came to famous Franklin’s. It was what Case did. You mention a name and he immediately starts thinking about two things: people he knows with the name, and famous people throughout history that shared the name. Two Presidents and a Founding Father, not bad. Plus, Frank was a pretty manly sounding name. Nina didn’t seem to dismiss it right away either. She tested it out, and to my surprise seemed to want to put it up as one of the finalists.
Maybe they could get some input from the rest of the family. They were more than happy to make funny faces at any of the names Case or Nina shared with them in the past, especially Gram. In fact, if it was a name Gram didn’t like she would shut that down in a heart-beat even if she was the only one against it. She always made a valid point, we’d be picking something the child would wear for the rest of their life. ‘It’s the single most important tattoo you’ll ever put on someone,’ she’d say. Hard to argue with that.
I suggested getting everyone together for an impromptu dinner, offering the news that we’d be having a boy to everyone all at once. Nina seemed to love the idea, instantly planning on who to call, to ask Gram if she’d be willing to whip up a dessert, and that they’d have to swing by the butchers to get some steaks. Case just chuckled, nodding his head as his wife went on and on with ideas and questions. Even as they were heading from the doctors, waving at the nurses as they went, Nina seemed to be imagining everything they could make for the family.
Soon they were well on their way, headed to the butchers, and while Case asked like five times if his wife would be okay in the truck alone, Case eventually hopped out to go get something they could throw on the grill. “Got ‘em,” Case said, holding up the huge bag of steaks he’d bought. Case grimaced a moment, realizing his wife was still on the phone as he quietly climbed into Ol’ Blue and turned over the engine.
Again Nina mentioned the name, Franklin Archer. She liked the name, clearly having had a moment or two to mull it over in her mind. She even placed her hand on her belly to make sure their unborn child was okay with it, then offered up a slew of nicknames. “I think Frank… maybe Franklin when he’s in trouble. That way he’ll know he in trouble,” Case offered with a bit of a smile as they left the butcher’s behind.
Nina was gazing at the photos of the ultrasound, commenting on how photogenic the lad looked. Case laughed when Nina already started in with their son having some of her modeling traits. She added she hoped he had hair like Case, and wondered if it got wilder and wilder with each generation. “Boy I hope not. This mop’s a mess. I wouldn’t wish that on him, let alone anything worse.”
“I want him to have hair like his mother’s, straight and dark. It’ll help give him that tall, dark, and handsome look,” he said with a bit of a grin. “If he’s anything like me, he’ll just look like he’s the comic relief,” Case teased with a smile.
Nina explained how she’d make the kid’s clothes, looking to Case to ask if that was strange. “Oh don’t worry, he’s going to get plenty of gifts and such from others, so I’m sure we’ll have plenty of store-bought stuff too,” he pointed out. Nina wanted to scrapbook everything about their kid, to which Case agreed. “Sure. It’ll be good to remember when they first rolled over, or walked, or to write down what their first word would be. I’d imagine after the tenth kid we’d likely of forgotten which one said or did what,” Case said with a grin. “Best to write it all down, then we can pull those books out when their girlfriends come over and completely embarrass them. Which reminds me!” Case said, pointing a finger at the windshield. “We have to take cute pictures of them in the tub naked. Mom took that one of me and I’m not going to be the only on in this family with a naked picture handing on the wall of the Farmhouse.”
They arrived back at the Lakehouse to find the guys still working. Case waved and hopped out to open Nina’s door and help her down. Already Eiji was curious what they learned, but Nina wasn’t having any of it. She’d smile and shake her head, then almost revealed it all by mentioning he’d have a nephew. She caught herself, and then pointed everyone towards the house.
Inside Nina was beset upon by Gram. She too wanted to know what we’d learned. Case just kept his mouth shut as he carried everything into the kitchen and let Nina deal with the inquisition. She distracted Gram with questions about dessert, and when Ainsley looked to Case for his blessing Case nodded, “Today’s a special occasion. I think Rookie can survive one piece of pie.”
Soon people were starting to make their way into the house from outside. Eiji was first, having overheard that there were steaks on the menu, then all but being told by his sister to offer his brother and Gramps a lemonade after their hard day’s work. “Have them come on in if they’re at a good stopping point,” I added.
Eiji also wanted to know if the plan was to call Nina’s parents to tell them the news too. She seemed to agree, thinking they might as well tell everyone all at the same time. Case just smiled, kept to himself, and started unwrapping the steaks once he had washed his hands. He got out the usual seasonings, mixed them up in the mortar and pestle, then started layering them onto the meat.
Nina and Gram also worked at getting a few other things set out for the dinner, and before too long everyone was joining them inside the house.
“Roof’s done, and half the gutter is hung,” Finley explained as he joined Case in the kitchen.
“You need a hand with those?” Phil asked, first stepping to the sink to wash his hands and face before drying off and turning towards Case.
“That’s great!” Case exclaimed to his grandfather. “…and sure…” he said to Phil after handing him some seasoning, tongs, and spray for the grill.
Case grabbed the tray of steak and the plate of corn Nina had, carrying them both outside to the grill as Finley held the door open for them.
“Medium,” Finley said, smiling to his grandson.
“I know, I know…” Case said, nodding as he and Phil stepped outside.
Case started up the grill, and set everything else on the stone slab next to the grill.
“Give this just a minute to heat up and to buy the ladies a bit of time for whatever else they’re making inside,” Case said, pointing to the patio chairs for his BiL to sit.
“So have you picked a name out for him?” Phil asked, causing Case to turn sharply towards him after a second or two to piece together what he’d said.
“I didn’t say it was a boy,” Case said.
“You didn’t have to. I saw the smile on your face while everyone was talking. Plus… steaks. We all know you wanted a son at some point, I’m glad to hear it’s the first. I’m sure it’s put your mind at ease,” Phil said, watching Case carefully.
Case smiled and shook his head. “Oh no you don’t. I’m not getting tricked that easy. You’ll find out the same time as everyone else. In fact, it’s all in your sisters more-than-capable hands.”
Not much long after both Finley and Eiji came out onto the patio.
“They kick you out?” Phil asked, pointing back towards the kitchen.
They both nodded.
“She’s okay in there?” Case asked, looking after his wife.
“Oh yeah, feisty as ever,” Eiji said.
“So what’s his name?” Finley asked.
…causing Case to look towards Phil.
…who just laughed. “I told you,” he said.
“Not saying. Not telling. Just here to cook,” Case said before hearing his name from the kitchen.
…which immediately got Case to his feet as he raced towards the kitchen like someone was dying.
“What is it?” he asked, relieved to see his wife standing in the kitchen with his grandmother.
”Good idea.” Nina chuckled when her husband offered up ‘Franklin’ as the name they call the child with when he was in trouble. ”Ma, doesn’t use my middle name when I am in trouble. But she says my name with a different tone and when she uses that tone I know I am in trouble.” She shared, rubbing her bump as she smiled. ”Phil and Eiji though… everyone knows their middle names.”
While Nina loved the idea of their baby boy getting Casey’s curls, he seemed to think it was not a good idea. It made Nina chuckle as she regarded her husband and his head of curls. Of course that led him to belittle himself a bit and say he looked more like a comic relief and didn’t want that for their son, and Nina waved that off with her hand. ”Nonsense. If he looks like you he might find a nice young lady in a laundromat, with long dark hair like his mother’s.” She reasoned out with a smirk, giving her love a glance. ”You are tall, dark, and handsome. I don’t know what you’re on about being the comic relief.”
She’d never seen him pale, having all the farm work and sun exposure that he did. Even if he was still considerably lighter than Nina, he always had a good tan that still easily showed the color of his face when he was embarrassed.
Nina was also pleased that Casey supported her desire to have special moments scrapbooked for their little one. She did think it was a good way to remember milestones for their kids, and it was something they could show them when they grow up. Casey even pointed out that it can contain some photos they can show girlfriends to embarrass them. ”Casey!” Nina laughed heartily. ”I loved that naked tub photo. You were so cute. And that one we found while looking through Pop’s stuff at the Farmhouse? So adorable.” She loved seeing childhood photos, and Casey’s was her favorite—until she has her own children, of course. Because then their photos will be her favorite… starting with the ultrasound photos that she has. ”I’m going to put these in a scrapbook, along with the first one of Rookie that was taken on our first visit.” She nodded, keeping he photos in her bag as they approached the Lakehouse.
Just as expected, everyone—especially Eiji—was eager to learn about the baby’s sex. Even when the couple made it inside the house without revealing anything, inside a grandma was waiting eagerly for them too. It wasn’t long before everyone was inside to ask about the baby. Of course they pretended to be there for other things, but Nina knew it was mainly to ask about the baby.
Nina and Ainsley got started on making the pie Nina requested—only now it was chocolate cheesecake instead of a chocolate cream pie that would take longer to make. While Eiji and Finley helped themselves with the lemonade, Phil and Casey prepared the steaks. ”Corn.” Nina smiled, handing the plate over to her husband, and then rejoined her grandmother with making the pie. Phil and Casey stepped out to get started on grilling, and as soon as Eiji found the chance, he asked about the baby again.
”So I won, yeah? Yes!” Eiji said, pumping a fist before he downed what was left of his lemonade. ”Also this lemonade’s great, sis, what did you put in this aside from the usual?” He asked, smacking his lips a bit as he tried to determine what was special about the drink.
”I’m not telling you if you won a hundred bucks or not, Ei.” Nina smiled, making the whipped fresh whipped cream for the pie. ”You’ll know later. I am also not telling you the secret ingredient to my lemonade.”
”We’re all so anxious to know…” Grandma Ainsley said as she expertly crimped the dough around the dish. ”It’s so hard to wait.”
”What will you name him?” Finley asked, and Nina laughed.
”I’m not saying anything about anything! We never said it was a boy!” Nina told her grandfather, and narrowed her eyes at Eiji who was looking pretty victorious already despite not knowing for sure if the baby was a boy. ”Don’t get too happy just yet.”
”You know you two are not helpful here. Go! Go on. Go out and help with the grilling. Stop pestering the poor girl about the baby boy.” Said Ainsley, and Nina laughed again.
”I didn’t say it was a boy!” Nina sighed and shook her head, loving how excited her family was about the news, but also wishing she had the will to really keep it from them until her parents were on Facetime. ”But yes, go. Please.” She added with a chuckle, shooing away her grandfather and brother, but as soon as they were standing up she regretted the decision a little bit.
”Fine…” Eiji grumbled, putting the glasses in the sink before following Finlay to the door.
Now it was just Nina and Ainsley, and she suddenly realized that it might be harder to change subject once her grandmother starts to poke her for more information about the baby. The older woman had her ways, and Nina found it difficult to dance around a subject with her grandmother.
”Now, tell me…” Ainsley said as she leaned over and reached for Nina’s hands. ”It’s a boy, isn’t it?”
Nina pursed her lips and shook her head. ”I’m not telling…” She grinned, and was given a sly smile from her grandmother in return.
”Oh come now, I won’t tell them… Especially not your brother, oh no… We can even tell him it’s a girl just so he doesn’t get the hundred dollars he wants.” Ainsley nodded, her bright eyes convincing Nina to spill the beans.
”Gram… You will find out later with everyone else…”
”I’m sure you can make an exception this one time… Right? Since I made you some chocolate cheesecake for your little Rookie?” The woman smiled brightly, eyes expectant as she looked to Nina and held her hands.
”Case!” Nina called out to her husband, knowing he was the only one she could turn to at this crucial moment. Casey arrived within seconds, running into the house like she was already going to have a baby. ”Save me!” She cried out and rushed towards him to hide behind his back and hug him from behind. ”Gram is making me tell!”
Ainsley was chuckling where she was, and shrugged at her grandson. ”I was asking if she could make an exception.” She smiled. ”For the sake of cheesecake.”
”I don’t know how long we can keep the news from them, maybe we should call Ma and Dad now…” Nina whispered from behind, still hiding from Ainsley. ”She’s using the cheesecake against me.” She kidded, chuckling as well as she looked up to her love and smiled brightly. ”What do you think? You wanna call them?”
"What? We're calling now?" Eiji said from the living room, his bionic ears alerting him that Nina was wavering in her resolve not to tell anyone until later. "Ey, yo, Phil! Gramps! Nina's calling the 'rents!"
"Oh, Finally!" Ainsley cheered, clapping her dainty hands. "Finley, where are you, dear? Hurry!"
Nina gasped and faced her husband, eyes wide as she waited for him to decide if they should call the parents now... even if it seems all were expecting that they were going to.
Case couldn’t help but wonder what it mattered. Well… for Nina’s family, at least. For his grandparents, Case knew that having a son likely meant that the Wallace line would continue. Not to say that guys couldn’t change their name when married, just that the odds were less. Casey and Nina having a son meant something to them, especially after the loss of their own son. Casey was it now, and seeing the family continue, in any shape or form was a big deal to them.
In the case of his BiL’s Case wondered why the sex of their child mattered. Maybe because Eiji and Phil were boys they were somehow hoping for another male added to the family, but unlike Case and his line, the Hensley line had two sons to carry on the name. Certainly had Nina and Case found out that they were having a daughter both Phil and Eiji would likely fall into the protective Uncle roles, looking out for their sister’s daughter in any way they could. In fact, the idea of them looking out for the welfare of a niece brought a bit of a smile to Case’s face.
But it’d be a son – at least as far as Nina and Case knew, and the entire family seemed intent on knowing if that was the case. Already all of them seemed to believe that’d be the case. Not a single member of the family thought it was a girl. Nina’s mother even thought it was likely they’d have a son, even if she was secretly hoping for a granddaughter.
Case was lucky to have his task of grilling their dinner to secret himself away from the rest of the harassing family. That oasis of silence was soon cut short when both his grandfather and Eiji were kicked out onto the deck with him. Their brief conversation was cut short by Nina’s call for him, and as if half expecting Nina to be going into labor Case handed the tongs over to Finlay and dashed into the kitchen.
The line ‘Save me’ made it pretty clear, pretty quick, that Nina wasn’t dealing with anything related to her pregnancy. Case’s expression of worry melted into a smile as he opened up his arms and welcomed Nina into them as she dashed over towards him. “Gram…” Case said, in that tone only an adult grandson could.
Ainsley’s reasoning was pretty smart, using sweets to bribe a pregnant woman who was already on a strict diet. Case chuckled, surprised a bit that his wife hadn’t caved. Clearly she needed his help, thinking that the only way she wouldn’t give in was to call for her pseudo-nutritionist to come to the rescue.
Nina thought that maybe they should call her parents sooner than later. Letting everyone know would let the wind out of everyone’s sails, and perhaps give the poor, soon-to-be mother a break. Next thing you knew everyone was dashing over thinking they would be revealing the big secret.
“What’s going on?” Phil said, stepping into the house after putting everything away outside.
Everyone turned towards Phil, and the look on Case’s face was one of deep thanks for his timely interruption.
Before Gram, or anyone else could speak, Case cleared the air. “They were asking when we’d be calling your parents to let them know the news. Which, since it seems rude to interrupt dinner with a phone call, or to apparently ask for everyone’s patience until we’re done with dinner, perhaps it’d be wisest to try to give them a ring now,” Case said, reasoning out why calling her parents now might be the best course of action.
“See if they’ll answer,” Case said, looking down into his wife’s eyes.
“Why don’t we all step out onto the deck, pull the chairs around, and we’ll see if we can’t get everyone’s curiosity sated all at once,” Case suggested – which immediately got Ainsley moving as she wasn’t at all interested in waiting a moment longer. “Well save putting everything on the grill for after the call’s done, and hopefully we can have a nice and civilized dinner,” Case said, looking off towards his grandmother who just smiled and dashed outside.
“You okay?” Phil asked his sister.
Nina offered her smile and assurance to her brother before Case stopped for another thought. “Can we loop in Uncle Momo and the girls too?” He flipped over his wrist, noting the time and doing a bit of math in his head. “It’s about eight thirty in the morning there, maybe we can see if they’re up too. Try to kill all these birds at once,” he said with a smile.
Nina got Case’s laptop from the kitchen table and carried it outside. She sat down after Gram had already pulled all the seats to one side of the table for them all to be in frame for the call.
“So glad you guys are the first,” Phil said, shaking his head a bit. “Get all this nonsense out of their systems on your two so the rest of us don’t have to deal with it.”
I smiled towards Phil, patting him on the shoulder as we stepped out onto the deck and joined everyone else.
It was a beautiful evening, and Case overheard his wife confirming that her parents could join in on a call while they were out and about. She quickly hung up and dialed Uncle Momo. Case sat down next to her and leaned forward to start setting up the call. With a bit of mousing and clicking Case soon had the window open, and moments later Nina’s parents answered and jumped in on the call.
“So?” Nina mother asked, getting right to the point.
“They’re as tight lipped as Marcel Marceau,” Ainsley chirped.
Sounded like Nina her uncle on the line, but the girls were out and about. Case nodded, and as she wrapped up the call Case dialed the international number to include their Japanese contingent. Finally, after all the questions and the badgering Case looked at a screen with everyone from Hawaii and Japan who were able to join in.
“So we just got back from the doctor’s, and thinking it best to tell everyone at once thank you very much for giving us a moment for the call. Everyone around here seemed anxious,” Case said, smiling at the group huddled around them in front of the laptop. “…so it seemed only fitting we let you guys know the result at the same time.” Case continued, “Most importantly, mother’s healthy,” Case said, looking to Nina, “…and baby’s healthy.”
Case then turned to Nina, giving her a soft smile and a not as he waved for her to have the honor.
“Oh come one…” Ainsley said in that impatient, yet cute fashion that only an old woman could.
“What’d they say?” Nina’s mother asked, glistening eyes of pride looking through the camera at her daughter.
Nina was relieved when Casey arrived so quickly. Safe in his arms, she smiled towards her grandmother who shamelessly admitted her ploys to get Nina to reveal the big news already. And then before she knew it, everyone was inside waiting for the news. She was glad that Casey was there to help her decide if it was better to tell them the news now. She didn’t think she would survive another couple hours of their incessant trap questions for them.
She smiled up at her husband when he told her to see if her parents would answer a call. He suggested they all go out on the deck and sit behind the table to all finally get the news they have been waiting—and pestering the couple—for. And, naturally, everyone was agreeable to that suggestion and with as quickly as they came inside the house, they disappeared to go out to the deck just as quickly—with Ainsley leading the way, of course.
Taking her phone, Nina was asked by her older brother if she was alright—seeing that she had been clinging to her husband for dear life just moments ago. ”Mmhmm.” She nodded and smiled, and dialed her mother’s phone number, just as Casey thought of calling the family in Japan to see if they could join them too. ”Yeah, of course, Kea—Ma! It’s Nina.” Her mother easily caught the excitement in her voice.
”Where are you, Ma? We have some big news, can you get on a video call with us?” Nina asked, smiling as she picked up Casey’s laptop to bring outside. Gram had already set up the chairs and table, and she was given one of the seats in the middle where she could be seen clearly by those looking at them through the web camera. ”But you guys can spare a minute, yeah? Okay, great. Maybe find a quiet spot and we’ll talk in about… 5 minutes?” After hanging up, Nina called her Uncle Momo who was actually alone at home. Nina had to explain to him how to join the call, but soon everyone was available and just waiting to get in the call with the family in Lochland Grove.
Nina felt her heart get even more excited as she waited for the faces to appear on screen, and perhaps it was apparent in both her and Casey’s faces that they were as excited as everyone else who were waiting for the news. She didn’t even realize she was holding her breath along with everyone.
Casey started, explaining they got back from the doctors and thought it best that they tell the news to everyone all together. When he looked around him at their family, Nina did too. Her grin was wide and bright, and she could see that they just wanted to know now and would rather that Casey spoke a bit quicker. It was fun—having all their attention that way.
Nina nodded when Casey said she was healthy, and then reached down to touch her baby bump when he said that the baby was healthy as well. He was stalling, and she knew it, but she was not telling him to rush.
Even when Grandma was getting quite impatient.
All eyes were on them, watching the bright smiles that the couple wore on their faces, and after a couple seconds of delay at her mother’s question, Nina opened her mouth.
”It’s a boy.”
And everyone erupted in cheers.
It was such a loud rejoicing that Nina jumped a bit and laughed, her grandmother reaching for her to give her a kiss on the cheek. Finlay clapped a hand on his grandson’s back, and Eiji was chanting that he was a hundred bucks richer. Meanwhile, Philip, whom Eiji was teasing, could not keep the smile from his face even if he just lost a hundred dollars to his brother.
”Oh Nina, congratulations!” Yuriko gushed, tears in her eyes as she touched her hands to her lips. Lucas was all smiles as well, looking to his son-in-law with a nod of approval. Nina and Casey were hugged and kissed and congratulated, and as the laughter and words faded, Nina’s mother asked if they already had a name for the baby boy. ”Well…” Nina’s brown eyes looked to her husband. ”We have a few names in mind but I think that one we’ll tell you when we’ve decided.” Nina shared, wanting to really have a proper talk with Casey if they were completely sold on Franklin Archer. Nina knew she was. ”We definitely have a front runner, but for now y’all can call him Rookie.”
Nina looked to her love and squeezed his hand, her face bright, and while the family all gabbed away in their excitement they had a short moment to between them.
”You know what this means, right, Philip?” Lucas said from the computer. ”You have to get me a grandson too. Carry the family name.”
”Me?” Philip pointed to himself, surprised he was still getting pressure about the grandchildren.
”Well you’re the one with the girlfriend, aren’t you?”
The family smiled or laughed, and Eiji even cackled and looked to his brother.
”You too, Eiji.” Lucas added, which made Eiji gasp, and made Nina laugh.
”Gotta make him keep a girlfriend first.” Philip smirked.
At one point Uncle Momo put Risa on loud speaker, and she was all squealy and excited in sharing her congratulations. Eventually they wrapped the call up with I love you’s and more congratulations, but it was kept fairly quick since, as Eiji puts it, “The steaks are waiting.” So the call was ended with promises of more updates as they come, and then the men went back to grilling while Nina and Ainsley finished up the dessert. There was no more pestering, but there were questions about the baby plans.
Nina shared how she wanted a scrapbook to keep track of milestones, and she mentioned building a treehouse with Casey that the kids could enjoy when they are bigger—even if that was a project for a later time. She talked to Gram about how she wanted to make a few items of clothing for the baby, and Gram offered to create a quilt for the little one. Once the cheesecake was in the freezer, and the salad was tossed, the ladies joined the men outside, bringing out the plates and silverware.
”I was telling Casey that Rookie needs to come visit Kauai as soon as you guys are okay with him flying.” Eiji told Nina as he helped set up the table.
”Of course. Gotta show him the beach his Mama grew up in.” Nina smiled, already imagining their little Franklin playing in the sand. ”His parents love to travel so I’m pretty sure that he would love it too.”
”You guys bringing him to competitions?” Philip asked, bringing over the plate of grilled corn.
”I think so… Case?” Nina asked, looking back at her husband who was smothering the steak with some sauce. ”I mean I do want to bring the kids to competitions when we could, but if we do I feel like we’d need an extra hand for babysitting.”
”I volunteer!” Eiji quickly piped up, raising his arm as his dark eyes widened. ”I can babysit. I can look after Rookie while you take care of Casey or do interviews and stuff. My limit is at one kid though. Give me two and I might lose one of them.”
”That’s your nephew or niece! You better not lose them!’ Nina laughed, shoving her brother gently on the shoulder. It was a new experience for her brothers as well, but Nina was also looking forward to having Frank hang out with Uncle Eiji in the surf shop, or take photos with Uncle Phil. She imagined him taking his first tour at Grampa Lucas' catamaran or tasting the dishes only his Gramma Yuriko can make. She looked to Ainsley and Finaly too and she hoped that they would also share with their great grandson the wisdom of their time that they had taught Pop and Casey. It made Nina miss Pop all of a sudden though, and she had to purse her lips and take a breath to not tear up while distributing the silverware.
It would have been really nice, she thought, if Pop had met Rookie.
”Gram, Gramps… did you have some funny first time parenting stories? Was Pop a tough bay to take care of?”
It’s a boy. There was just something about hearing Nina say it that made it very real for Case. Even after seeing the ultrasound images of the child growing in his wife, Nina’s announcement seemed to make it all very real. Well, and the fact that everyone surrounding them was cheering seemed to solidify his realization. Case was going to be a father, to a son, and the weight of that was just starting to hit him.
Another moment for Case was the look from Nina’s father. There is no other man in a husband’s life, that they look for approval from, than their wife’s husband. He was the head of house throughout her life, was the one they all looked up to, and who laid down the law for the family. Having their approval meant that they saw in you the means to look after one of their most prized creations, and Case always wanted to live up to the standards of Nina’s father. So when he gave him that slight nod of approval following the news that they were bring a son into the world, it meant the world to Case.
Yuriko’s question as to names had Case looking at Nina in full expectation for her to let everyone know what the frontrunner was, but when he saw that she was willing to circle back around with them once they’d solidified their decision he smiled and nodded. At this point, and with as long as Nina had been using it, the Rookie nickname was what everyone was running with anyways. Them having to use it for a bit longer didn’t seem to cause any ripples.
Then Nina’s family spun the whole situation around onto Phil and Eiji. Apparently getting the whole grandchildren phase started left Yuriko and Lucas looking to their own boys in expectation that they start getting with the program. Case smiled, almost feeling embarrassed for the boys as their parents harassed them. Even Phil and Eiji had a few sparing words between them, which left Gram and Gramps raising their eyebrows and smiling to themselves as they had to expect the “baby race” was on between them.
After a long bit of goodbyes everyone signed off to the Hensley’s and the Japanese contingent. Case and Nina made sure that everyone got their individual goodbye, especially to Risa who’d been otherwise quiet save for a chorus of squees in the background once the news was out. They ended the call, closed up the laptop to get it out of the way, and otherwise got back on track with Eiji’s wishes that they get on with dinner.
“I’m so proud of you,” Finlay said as he joined Case at the grill as he started putting on the steaks.
“Thanks Gramps. It’s all kind of a whirlwind at the moment,” Case replied, looking briefly over his shoulder at his grandfather.
“Oh it never settles down. Not now. You’ve got this whole addition to your house to finish, then furnishings to buy, not to mention a whole new set of food and diapers to get. Then everything you ever knew about sleep will be gone,” Finlay said with a chuckle. “There are all these milestones you’ll be waiting for your son to hit: sleeping through the night, eating solid food, surviving teething, getting potty-trained, on and on and on. You’ll wish for the day when they can get up out of bed themselves, get dressed, and make their own breakfast. But you’ll get there,” he said, nodding towards his grandson.
“It’s just...” Case started.
“A lot of pressure?” Phil asked, carrying the plate of corn over to Case to put on the grill.
“Heh, yeah…” Case said nodding.
“Remember that all of us didn’t know what we were doing. That’s just how it goes. Read all the books you want, ask me whatever you want, just know that since the beginning of time people were figuring it out as they went along – and the world turned out pretty good after all,” Gramps said, leaving everyone to smile and nod along with him.
Soon dinner was ready, and everyone gathered around the table as Eiji suggested that they needed to get Rookie out to Hawaii as soon as they could. Case nodded, agreeing with his wife’s sentiment, and knowing that not only would they have to get to Hawaii, that at some point a Japan trip would be in order too.
“Do we bring them over one at a time, or do we wait for the full dozen before we haul them all over at once?” Case asked, smiling over towards Nina as everyone else at the table gasped at the idea of a dozen kids.
“Casey Cecil Wallace!” Ainsley said, in that grandmotherly fashion that only she could. She was shocked, which was surprising from her, but the smile on Case’s face and Nina shaking her head soon gave her the information she needed to know that the idea of twelve kids might have been a bit of an exaggeration.
Phil chimed in about bringing their son to competitions, which Nina agreed to before looking his way. “Yeah, at least until they start to get bored with it,” Case said, smiling, figuring that there was only so much fun one could have watching their fifth competition for the month.
Eiji volunteered to watch the kid – one kid, which made everyone chuckle as they took their seats and started passing around the food. Nina had a few choice words for her brother at the mention of losing one of her kids, but soon everyone was seated before a heaping plate of food and joining hands.
“Let us pray,” Finlay said. “Blessed Lord, we gather before you in celebration this evening. Through your blessing this family will soon be gifted its newest member. Look over the child and its, er, his,” Finlay said with a smile, now knowing the sex of the child. “…mother. Keep them healthy, for that is all that we could wish for. Look out for our friends and family in their times of need, and bless those who have blessed us. In your name we pray. Amen.”
“Amen,” Case said, lifting his head as everyone started to dig into their meal.
Nina asked about Pop, wondering if the grandparents had any stories about raising him. “Oh hundreds. Thousands,” Gram offered. “Devil of a child,” she added, then noted the expression on her husband’s face. “Oh don’t give me that. The lad slept an hour a night if at all,” she fired back before leaning towards Nina. “Had the croup from the get-go, and never really got into any sort of sleep-cycle. Poor little guy didn’t get to a good night’s sleep until he was about five.”
Finlay just shook his head as he remembered back.
“Always making messes too,” Ainsley continued. “Everything had to make it onto the floor. …and boy was he a climber. Climbed all over everything. Fell too. Kid fell a hundred times if it was one. First bone he broke was at three years old. Thankfully you’re growing so fast at that age he healed up in no time. Then there was the fighting…”
“Fighting?” Case asked, being a bit surprised to hear his father had ever gotten into a fight.
“Oh yes, all through school. Never starting them, but boy did your father knock a few blocks off people’s shoulders,” Ainsley explained.
“Cecil wasn’t one to let people bully others. Seems anytime he saw someone getting picked on he just had to intervene,” Finlay clarified, changing everyone’s perspective on Cecil in a second.
“Really?” Case asked, leaning in to the table as if hearing a closely guarded secret.
“All the way through college. Got expelled one year in junior high. Your father became quite well-known figure for standing up for the little guy,” Gram explained.
“Wow… who knew…” Case said just as Ainsley waved her hand and leaned in to take over the conversation.
“Now what’s this about twelve kids? What’s the plan here? Are you two planning on a big family?” Gram asked, looking from Case to Nina.
Right before Nina disappeared into the house again with Gram, she heard what Casey’s grandfather said.
It made Nina smile when she heard Gramps say that he was proud of Casey. It tugged at Nina’s heartstrings, and further punctuated her feelings about Pop not being around anymore. She was sure that Pop was proud of Casey though. His mom too. I am sure they are excited to see the little one and are looking after them from up in the clouds. Actually, it made Nina pause and look up at the clouds, smiling, hoping Pop and Danielle, and even Grandma Kyo were up there and also rejoicing that they were going to have a new member in the family.
Nina and Gram finished up dessert, and soon after they were joining the boys to get the table ready for dinner. Talk of family trips led Casey to ask if they should be hauling in the dozen kids at the same time or one by one—which cracked Nina up, and made Grandma Ainsley scold her grandson. It seems Casey was willing to bring the kids along to the competitions, too, until they find it uninteresting already and maybe ask that they be left at home with Uncle Phil or something. “We can bring them just to the major ones that could be more exciting… Or is it better to bring them in the more relaxed ones so it’s not hectic?”[/b] Nina asked rhetorically, knowing it was something to be discussed at a later time and not right now.
They got the table set, and soon they were all seated in front of juicy steaks and perfectly grilled corn. There was fresh salad and lemonade and even wine to be shared to celebrate the good news. As it often was in the Wallace household, they held hands at the table and prayed. It tickled her pink that the baby was now referred to as a he, and even that her own health was prayed for. When Gramps was done, Nina said her ‘amen’, and let her guests help themselves first while she fussed over her husband and asked what drink he wanted or if he wanted some salad and corn.
When her own plate was full as well—which was not really very full since there was a limit to her meal portions now—she asked about Casey’s father.
And the response she got had her laughing. ”Really?” Pop? Devil of a child? It seemed so unlikely since Pop was so wonderful. It made her eyes shine as she listened to Ainsley talk about how Pop didn’t give his parents any sleep when he was a baby up until he was five years old.
Gram went on to say that the man was a messy child, too, and again that made Nina laugh. It made her look to Casey as though to ask if he knew about that of his father. ”That’s so funny…” Nina chuckled. ”I wouldn’t have thought, in a million years, that Pop was such a handful when he was young. Maybe that’s why he’s so patient now.” The brunette grinned, her hand finding its usual spot on her belly since she got pregnant. It was like she was asking her baby to listen with her—to hear the stories about the grandfather he won’t meet.
And the grandfather, it seems, that Nina didn’t know as well as she would have liked. Her eyes grew wide when she heard that Pop had been fighting. He was about as surprised as Casey was, but at the story was told it made perfect sense to her and Nina just nodded along as she accepted the story.
That was so Pop.
If she would imagine Pop as a young boy she would imagine him sticking up for people who couldn’t defend themselves. It made Nina smile, and at the same time—this one she blames on hormones—she found herself tearing up in admiration, amusement, and just simply missing her father-in-law. ”Aww, Pop…” She said a bit shakily, and sniffed back tears.
To even imagine that he got expelled for fighting for the smaller kids made Nina feel proud. It also made her wish that Pop was there so she could tease him about it or maybe hear his side of the story… maybe learn his reason behind doing it. Nina felt like he would make a serious response first, and then say something truthful that will also make everyone laugh about the anecdote shared about him.
Nina pursed her lips as the tears fell, and Casey now asked if she was alright. ”Yeah, I am… I’m good.” Nina nodded and chuckled as she wiped her face. ”Don’t mind the emotional pregnant lady, I just… I just miss him all of a sudden. Pop…” She had grown very fond, very fast, of Casey’s father, and his death had been as much a shock for her as it had been for Casey. Nina reached for her drink and took a sip in an attempt to regain her composure, and she was grateful for the question Gram had to change the subject.
It made Nina giggle, really. ”Casey loves a big family. I do too.” She grinned at her grandmother. ”Though maybe not twelve kids. Unless some are adopted? I don’t know, we haven’t discussed it. I just know I am not letting twelve kids come out of me. I barely know if I can make it through the first one.” She said with a laugh, meaning to make a joke but got a rather different reaction from her older brother.
”Wait, what do you mean?” Phil frowned. ”Did the doctor say anything about that?”
And of course Eiji sat up straight and suddenly had this surprised and worried look on his face too.
”No! No, I meant it would be hard to give birth. Labor is painful. Let’s have you push a baby out, see how you’d feel.” She explained as she chuckled, hoping to lighten the mood and ease the worries of her brothers. ”Doctor says I’m good and my tests always show good results. Rookie and I are both healthy.” Nina said with an emphatic nod, looking from Eiji to Phil to Casey. ”Right, Kea? I’m doing really well and Casey is strict with my diet, you know that.” She assured her family, again resting her hand on her belly.
”Just tell us if there is anything though, okay? I’m not hoping for it, but if… if it affects your health that way… you’ll let us know, right?” Eiji asked with a rare seriousness to his expression and his tone.
”Of course, Ei.” Nina nodded, smiling softly at her worried little brother. ”Don’t worry! I’m fine. And the baby too. We’re being very careful and very good about following the doctor’s orders.” She added, reaching out to place an arm around Eiji so she could give him a squeeze. ”I got your blood still flowing in me I’m a lot stronger now, remember?”
Eiji smirked then and nodded, relaxing more as he looked to his sister. "I better be a godfather or something."
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