As the car slid into a spot in the parking garage
Lance took a deep breath. It seemed like just minutes ago that he
was pulling in from the hospital the night before, but it had been almost
twelve hours and now he was back. "We're going to walk into the side
entrance. Everyone out front saw the car and I'm sure will be there
when we take Roselyn home, but we'll slip in from the side so that you can
go see her in peace."
"You don't have to explain it to me like I'm a baby."
"I'm not," he said with force, "I'm trying to explain things to you so
you don't freak out. It's crazy out there and I know how you are--"
He glared at her. "I should have just brought her home. If
Melinda hadn't made such a big deal about this then I wouldn't even have
to have BOTHERED you about this."
"Stop it." Her hand went out and touched his forearm as she sucked
in a huge breath of air, "I'm sorry."
He nodded seeing that that she wasn't in the mood to fight. "We're
going to go out the front on the way back to the car. We'll have Roselyn
in the baby carrier, but they'll want to take some pictures. I know
it's horrible for us to have to go through this, but it's better to just
get it over with." He pulled his keys from the ignition. "If we
take pictures now it'll keep them from following us later."
"What about security?" she asked.
"We'll have Todd and Loni with us this afternoon and I'm going to have
Eric on call for you and me for a while." A smile cracked his lips.
"He can't wait to meet Roselyn."
"I can't wait to see her either."
He was shocked at this news. She had been slow getting up that morning,
slow to get dressed and basically had dragged her feet while he'd gone out
to put the baby seat in the car. Now she was smiling and happy about
it all. Something was up with her, but he wasn't about to start that
conversation. "She's been waiting for you too."
They walked together to the NICU, Lance carrying the baby carrier in one
hand and holding her hand in the other. They washed up side by side,
Lance showing her how to get everything done before they could go and see
The nurses were gathered around and the NICU doctor came by to tell them
a few last instructions before they moved towards the incubator. "Do
you want to do the honors?"
Lance moved towards the incubator and lifted up the top. He found
Roselyn lying on her back almost smiling up at him with sleepy eyes. All
her tubes and monitors had been removed and the velcro patches had been
washed off her temples. He smiled down at her little pink beanie hat.
"Hi Roselyn." His voice was softer and higher pitched as he
leaned down to cradle her up in his arms.
The nurses oohed and awwed as he settled her into his arms. He watched
her for a moment to make sure that she wouldn't cry then looked for Serena.
"Serena come here."
She approached him slowly as if he was carrying a wild animal in his arms
instead of a baby. When she got close enough to them she reached a
hand out and let Roselyn's tiny fingers curl around her bigger one. "Hi
Lance's breathing was eased as she put her fingers over the girl's nose
and cheeks. She played the part well, but he could tell that she was
nervous and probably a little more than scared.
Her eyes flew from the nurses to his and back to Roselyn as a wheelchair
was pushed into the room. Lance motioned for Serena could take Roselyn
from her. There was a moment of pure terror that came across her as
she felt the full weight of the baby in her arms. She had known that
she would have to hold her soon, but she wasn't sure that she should be having
all these people stare at her while she did it. She needed some time
to get used to the idea, but it was going to be a crash course today.
She knew that they needed to walk out of there together, but even with
the little girl in her hands for a few moments she had the horrible feeling
that she wanted to push her away. Everything went away and all she
could see breath and feel was this little girl in her arms. The little
girl was curling against her and leaning closer instead of staying away and
that was making her skin crawl. She didn't want this helpless baby
anywhere near her. She knew whatever happened it would end in disaster.
"Are you ready?"
Serena wanted to hand her back to Lance. She glared at him and he
smiled back and nervously motioned for her to sit down in the chair.
"It's ok," He put a hand on her shoulder after she settled into the chair.
He moved away from her and handed the car keys to Todd who had appeared
in the room. "Wanna grab the car and we'll come down in a minute."
Serena wouldn't have noticed if Santa Clause had shown up. Her attention
was on the little girl in her arms and the horrible urge to scream that wasn't
Todd nodded. "Loni will walk down with you to the lobby."
Serena turned her attention back to Roselyn. The baby had her eyes
Hearing the sudden change of pitch of her voice he came over and looked
down at her. "What happened?"
"She-her-she's got her eyes closed."
He leaned and kissed her temple. "Sugar she's sleeping. She's
gonna do that a lot these next few days. It'll be ok."
Serena looked up at the nurses and at Loni and they were all staring at
her. She didn't like that feeling. She knew that she'd been
ridiculous to ask about her eyes being closed, but she was paranoid that
she had done something wrong since she'd had her eyes open when Lance had
been holding her.
"It's gonna be ok," he said to her leaning close to her. "We'll
take her downstairs and we'll get home and I think we all may need to take
Moments later they were moving down the hall and to the elevator. She
knew she must be paranoid because it felt to her as if all eyes were on her.
Of course everyone would be looking and intersted in someone taking
their baby home from NICU because it was such a joyeous event, but for Serena
it was as if the whole world knew that she hadn't been there since her baby
was born and the were all wondering why she hadn't been strong enough to
face the gentle baby in her arms.
She pulled Roselyn closer to her and readjusted the blanket around her.
To the naked eye it would have looked like she was caring for her
new daughter, but in reality it was Serena trying to calm her own nerves.
Her biggest fear was that she might drop Roselyn to the floor. She
felt like every little movement of the wheel chair she was sitting in was
making Roselyn slip from her hands. She wanted to ask Lance to put
Roselyn in the carrier and to hold her himself. She thought that they'd
agreed on that, but she knew that she couldn't ask him something like that
if all these people were around.
The front of the hospital was a barage of newspaper and magazine photographers
as well as a few television cameras. Lance did all the talking as they
left, mentioning to the cameras that Serena and he wanted to thank everyone
for their good wishes, wanted to thank them for the presents and explained
that the gifts would be going to the Orlando Ronald McDonald house. He
tried to make things as quick as possible, but for Serena it felt like forever
until they went back to the car.
"Can we go?" she asked finally looking up at everyone from the chair she
was in. They were all taking pictures and Roselyn had started to stir
in her sleep and she didn't want her to wake up.
"We need to get Roselyn home everyone." He smiled and waved then
pushed the chair closer to where Todd had opened up the door for them to
get into the car.
Lance settled Roslyn in her seat and instead of getting in the front,
held a hand out to Serena to help her up into the back passenger side seat.
He moved around and sat on the far side of the baby carrier while
Todd and Loni got into the front seats. As they drove away he let
out a sigh and Serena turned her head to look out the window. Her arms
strangely ached to hold Serena, but she held her arms across her middle and
tried not to cry. She didn't want to feel that way, didn't want to
feel any sort of love for the little girl. She had never even seen
James and had lost him and it had broken her heart. If she got to know
Roselyn and something happened to her she knew that she'd never recover from
When the car pulled into the garage Lance opened his door and reached
over to unhook the carrier that he'd strapped into the car and had been
using as Roselyn's car seat. Serena was looking out her window still
not seeming to notice that the car was stopped. Loni looked back into
the back seat and so did Todd, looking at her and him before they made a
move to get out of the car. Lance waved off their curious looks and
pulled the carrier carefully out. He moved it onto the seat so that
he could stand up straight then held it steady in his hand as he moved around
the edge of the car. He walked into the house not looking back to see
if Serena was coming in or not. Todd and Loni seemed to be confused.
"Come on in guys," he said with a sigh. "If she's gonna sit out
there in la la land then let her be. She'll get tired of sitting there
after a while and will come in."
"You sure?" Todd asked.
"Yeah," he said, "Believe me. She'll be in the house in a while,
probably will eat an apple or something then will head up to our room and
go to bed. She's been a zombie the last few days so I've let her be
"That doesn't sound too healthy."
"It's not, but I'm tired of pushing her. She and I fought last week
and haven't spoken really since." The baby carrier was set on the kitchen
counter and he moved the blanket a little so that it was out of Roselyn's
face then stood leaning against the counter while he kept one hand on the
carrier so that it wouldn't fall off the counter.
Loni was frowing, playing his natural fatherly role with Lance. He
had always been the babysitter over the guys and had just broadened his circle
to include everyone else in their lives. "Has she talked to anyone
"She talks to Kelly," he said with a shrug, "I guess."
"You need to talk to her," Todd said.
"You need to butt out of my business," Lance said with a loud voice then
looked at Roselyn to make sure he hadn't disturbed her. "I've tried
to talk to her. It doesn't get me anywhere so I've stopped yelling.
My blood pressure is high enough without all the yelling and crying
"Blood pressure?" Loni laughed, "You don't know what blood pressure is.
Try dealing with a thousand fans that want your shirt!"
"I'm serious," he said, "We've been stressing each other out so I decided
to just leave it alone. I've got a baby to take care of and I'm not
going to walk around my house and try to spare her feelings. Either
she'll wake up and realize that we have a child to take care of or
she'll depress herself to death. At this point I don't give a damn."
The noise of the door shutting made them look over and Serena was standing
in the doorway with tears in her eyes. The door slamming had woken
up Roselyn so Lance pulled her from the carrier and held her against his chest
a little as he moved across the room to find his way up the stairs. He
knew that rocking her would make her stop crying so he went into Roselyn's
room and sat down. He let the other people in the house disappear and
concentrated on Roselyn for a while.
Aftter a cough or two he moved her a little in his arms to the most comfortbale
postion and began to humm to her. The rock was a steady rthymn and
he tried not to push the chair until it would squeak.
It was almost dark before Serena made it to the second floor of the house
to find Lance lying on their bed with Roselyn curled up next to him on the
bed reading a book. If it had been the normal family unit she would
have asked how they were and if she'd missed anything good while she was
gone, but seeing that it wasn't normal and she wasn't really even family
with them any more she cleared her throat and went to change into pajamas.
When she returned from the bathroom Lance was still reading the book, or
at least he looked to be, but the book had fallen from his hands into his
lap. She took a breath and held back tears. It was a hallmark
card picture waiting to be taken. His right hand was on Roselyn's
leg almost making sure that she didn't go anywhere while his other hand
held the book against her leg lazily.
"Are you coming to bed?" he asked.
She jumped and licked her lips.
"Don't say it," he said, "Don't say a word. Don't apologize, hell
don't even take a breath. Just come over here and lay down with us and
for once don't say a word."
She started to say something.
"No," he said, "I'm not going to repeat myself."
She nodded and moved across the room and was about to crawl onto the bed
on the far side of him, leaving Roselyn between them.
"Come here," he said and moved a little. He put his book down and
reached to pull her against his chest. He took a few deep breaths and
kissed her temple. "Just sit here with me ok?"
She nodded and let tears run down her cheek as he moved his hand away from
Roselyn's leg and held onto her hand.
"Sugar shhh," he said.
"I just wanted to know how long she'll sleep for."
"Right now she's up to about three hours in a row. She'll wake up
for about a half hour or so then go back to sleep, but usually when she's
awake she's hungry so she cries a little."
"Is she ok?" she asked, "I mean--"
"She's going to be fine Sugar," he said with a soft voice. "She's
gonna be just fine. She just needs some love and a little time and soon
she'll be like every other baby you've ever seen."
"She's too tiny," she said, "I think we should have left her at the hospital
a little longer."
"She's fine. The doctor said that she'll be fine. We just have
to keep her home for a while and away from germs and stuff, but she'll be
"Her lungs and her body aren't ready to be around little kids or anything.
I know that the guys will want to come over, but I want to wait about
a week or so before we take her out to visit. Brianna is gonna want
to be over here, but we can't let her. With her being around kids
at school she might give Roselyn a cold."
"I don't know if I can do this."
"It's not going to be that hard," he said, "I won't let it get too hard
for you." He was starting to sound very sleepy.
"What about you?" she whispered into his chest.
"Nothing," she said louder and reached over to touch Roselyn's leg. She
was in a diaper and a t-shirt with socks on and had curled her back up against
Lance almost like a little puppy would, as if she needed that touch to keep
"Will you listen for her while I take a shower?" Lance asked setting
the monitor next to her side of the bed. "Just--" He sighed,
"Just yell for me if she needs something."
She hated the way he looked at her these days. Roselyn had been
home for almost a week now and was doing great, but they as a couple weren't.
He had gotten to the point of ignoring her unless he needed her to listen
out for Roselyn in the other room, but even then he seemed to rush through
whatever he was doing so that he could get back to her before something
would happen, as if he didn't trust Serena enough to take care of their
Turning his back to her he pulled out everything in his pockets and set
them on the dresser across the room. Her eyes searched over the contents
carefully. A set of keys, some change, a pack of gum and his wallet
lay out in plain view, neatly lined up, even though he hadn't paused a
moment to think about where they had been set down.
He unbuckled the buckle on his jeans and started to undo the fly, but
when his hands hit a certain point he looked into the mirror on top of the
dresser and glared at her. She'd been watching his back and he caught
eye contact with her before a frown came over his lips. He quickly
twisted the buttons back into postion, and walked into the bathroom catching
his door to close it with his hand as he went.
It was clear to her the nature of their relationship now. They
were living together, in the strictest sense of the word. They weren't
a couple, more like roommates now, roommates that could barely stand to
be in the same room together.
When the door was shut most of the way closed she watched through the
crack as he stripped out of his clothes then moved to step into the shower.
She hated the fact that he would close her off like that. It was
one thing to be upset at her, but treating her like a stranger seemed the
hardest part to handle.
She lay in bed for a while watching the screen, but her eyes kept moving
to the objects on the dresser. She'd been watching him the last few
days and there was something in that wallet that was keeping his attention
that he'd been very careful to not let her see. She didn't want to
feel that paranoid feeling that came with that so she moved from the bed
and decided to see what was in there. She'd been suspecting a few weeks
ago that he'd met someone new. He would always be on the phone or
someone and would immediately hang up when she came in the room.
It wasn't hard to see how strange behavior like that would make her think
the worst of things.
The few steps across the room seemed to take an eternity. She stood
there in front of the dresser for a moment and looked towards the bathroom
door in the reflection of the mirror to make sure that Lance wasn't going
to come out there and find her snooping. She didn't have the patience
for that kind of a conversation at the moment and she knew that if she
started one it would only end in disaster.
Her hand shook with nervousness as she moved it carefully to pick up
the wallet. She didn't know what she was expecting to happen, but
she almost thought there would be an alarm on it and that it would make
this horrible noise if she went ot pick it up. Lance had a thing for
alarms now. He had one on the house, one on the car, had the baby monitor
with him twenty four seven and had even gotten one of those alarms put on
the pool so if anyone touched the water a sharp sound would fill the air.
alarms were supposed to be to help them stay safe, but now Serena was
feeling like a prisoner in her own home.
The sound of Roselyn babbling to herself in the other room came out of
the baby monitor on the night stand making her jump. She'd been hearing
her before, but ignoring the high pitched words until she shrieked. Serena
almost dropped the wallet., but took a deep breath and waiting for another
wail before she went to get Lance to check on her. When a tiny laugh
filled the room Serena let her breath out and started to open the wallet.
Her fingers rummaged through a few dollar bills. He had fourteen
dollars in his wallet, tucked between a stack of credit cards that would
make a normal person drool over. She moved back a few pictures, mostly
of his sister and his parents and then found the small baby picture tucked
behind a picture of Stacey. He'd been looking at this one often.
The sides of the little picture, a baby wrapped up in a blanket still
in the emergency room, was folded down a little ways and she could see that
it was already starting to seem not as crisp as it had been when it had been
fresh from the developers.
The little squinting baby was in the middle of a cry, but the picture
was clear. Serena had seen babies before, but it seemed strange to
think that this little one was hers. It hadn't really hit her yet that
she was actually a mother. She'd been in the house with Roselyn the
same amount of time that Lance had bee, but she felt like he was more of
a father than she was a mother. She didn't have that need to be with
Roselyn, didn't have the worries that he seemed to have. She would
have naturally worried about the bigger issues, but Lance seemed to have
Roselyn on his mind twenty four hours a day. Even in his sleep he seemed
to worry about her. Lately when she'd woken up in the middle of the
night she'd seen the worried expression still on his face.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
She dropped the wallet to the floor, but kept the picture in her hand.
She whipped around and glared at him.
Before she could say another word he was across the room, holding one hand
along the edge of the towel he was wearing while he reached for the picture
with the other hand. "What are you doing with this?"
"Nothing." She didn't let go. Her hand curled around the
edges and held on tight when he tried to grab it away. Tug of war
wasn't her style, but she wanted some answers as to why he was getting so
upset over the picture.
His eyes moved to her hand. "Let go Serena."
"No," she said, "You let go. It's not like you can't walk into
the other room and see her you know."
"Serena," he pleaded, "Let go. You're going to rip--"
As the words left his mouth the sound of the paper ripping filled the
air. It might have just been a whisper of a sound, but it stopped everything
in the room. Even Roselyn at the other end of the baby monitor was
quiet for a moment.
"Damn it," Lance swore and pulled the ripped end out of her hands.
She reached for it, trying to help put the pieces back together, but
he pushed her hands away. "Haven't you done enough damage for one
"I was trying to fix--"
"You were trying to just destroy whatever else is around you. You've
done well doing that to our relationship, but this wasn't something I thought
"Why the hell do you care?" she asked, "It's not like you're going to
see her in a few minutes anyway. Hell you spend a million hours with
her a day anyway. Hell you're obsessive about her. You don't
let her alone for a whole minute during the day."
"At least I spend time with her."
"What's the obsession?" she asked, "Why the hell are you carrying this--"
She grabbed the pieces out of his hands and ripped them into smaller
pieces leaving the picture now in eight or ten pieces instead of two pieces.
"--she's less an twenty feet away. Why the hell do you need this
with you all the time."
"IT WASN'T ROSELYN," Lance said grabbing up the pieces that had fallen
onto the floor. "It was JAMES." His eyes filled with tears
as he moved towards the bed to put the pieces out on the bedspread. His
hands moved quickly trying to put the pieces back together again. "Did
you have to ruin everything? You've done enough already. This
was the one shred of my son and you had to rip it up just like you're ripping
this family apart. I can't believe--"
"I'll--" She turned towards the door and started towards it. Her
heart was breaking in two as she heard him start to cry. He was mumbling
something to the picture almost as if James was lying on the bed rather
than just the pieces of the picture. "I'll get--"
"DON'T DO ANYTHING! YOU'VE DONE ENOUGH!"
Moments later Lance was rushing passed her. He headed down the
stairs leaving her in the hallway with a now screaming Roselyn. She
didn't know what she should do. Lance was the who could calm her
in just a word.
The instant that his backside hit the coushins of the couch he'd felt
tense instead of more relaxed. He'd gotten Roselyn her dinner bottle
a while ago and moved her so that she could sleep in her room before he'd
brought the baby monitor down with him and was now pulling the pieces of
the picture out to spread in his lap.
"I'm sorry James," he spoke softly to himself and the picture. He
didn't know why he was apoligizing for her. He'd been doing too much
of that lately, but he still felt the need to do it. "She didn't mean
it. She loves you. I know deep down she does. Sometimes
it takes time to deal with things. She'll turn around sooner or later.
She's just not sure what she's supposed to do and neither am I for
Half the picture was together. He'd grabbed the tape in the kitchen
and had been placing small piece of tape on the back. "I'm sure I'll
be able to laminate this back together. It won't be perfect, but
maybe I can see if someone from the PR department has some kind of glue
The phone rang and he ignored it. He knew that the ringer upstairs
had been turned off and wouldn't bother Roselyn so it didn't matter if
he let it ring again and again. He wasn't in the mood to talk to
anyone. He normally would wonder where Serena was and what she was
doing, but that night he was glad that she'd hidden herself somewhere in
the house. He didn't want to see her right then and he wasn't sure
at that point that he wanted to see her ever again. She'd ripped him
to pieces, almost as if each piece of that little picture had been a part
The sound of Roselyn hit his ears and he moved up from the chair letting
the pieces fall to the ground. As much as he wanted to run back and
pick them up he was more worried about the real baby on the second floor
instead of the one in the picture.
When he got up to the second floor he rushed into the room, but found
Serena standing there holding Roselyn in her arms. They both had tears
in their eyes. "I can't make her stop. I tried. I really
His heart went out to her. He knew that she'd been avoiding things,
but the look on her face truly told him that she had tried. Roselyn
was laying strangely in her arms and wailing like she'd just gotten a shot
or something physically painful.
"Give her here," he said walking over.
He cooed at the baby as he moved her into his arms. He hugged her
to his chest and held her protectively against his heart knowing that the
sound of the beat of his heart would calm her, as much as the sound of his
voice in his chest would.
"I didn't mean to--"
"Just go to bed Serena," he said. He wanted to be nice, wanted
to comfort the both of them, but the vision of her ripping up the picture
entered his mind again, making his whole body tense up. Roselyn cried
out and he tried to relax a little, patting her diapered bottom only to
find the reason for her discomfort. She needed to change.
"Do you want me to--?"
"Serena I'm not going to tell you this again. Go to bed and let
me get her back to sleep."
The light in her eyes sunk. "Fine."
He watched her back to disappear and turned to find the wipes and a new
diaper for the little girl. When he finally got her diaper off he saw
that she was in need of a bath so he wiped her off as best he could then
wrapped her up in her little towel with the hood at one end and took her
and a new diaper into the master bedroom. He walked into the bathroom,
shut the door and pulled out all the things he needed for her bath then washed
her before he wrapped her back up in her towel and brought her back into the
bedroom. Feeling tired he moved towards the bed instead out of the
room. He lay on his back and held her on his stomach, covering her
up with the towel a little more when she started to shiver.
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Last updated: 07/09/04.