Meredith moved herself from where she was sunning her back so that she
was sunning her stomach. Her hand automatically touched the edge of
her bikini bottoms and pulled them up a little. She should have worn
a one piece suit that day, but if she had Justin would wonder why she wasn't
showing off like she usually did.
Thinking of Justin only made her head hurt. She wasn't thrilled with
the idea of being there with him and the family, but it was Steven's birthday
and she wasn't about to disappoint him because she and Justin were in the
middle of something too complicated for the little boy to understand.
Her eyes moved across the noisy yard to find Justin standing in the waist
deep water with his two brothers hanging on him playing with Joey and Colton.
Kelly and Brianna had joined them for the day and while Kelly wasn't
doing much more than sitting across from her, Brianna was playing with Lynn
near the steps of the pool.
The sound of Kelly's voice startled her and she literally jumped. Her
whole body tensed for a moment then relaxed again. "Yeah," Meredith
said and let her eyes rest again on Kelly's very pregnant stomach. "I'm
Kelly removed her sunglasses to stare at Meredith as her romance novel
was put down onto the table between them. She wore stretch pants and
a large sleeveless t-shirt and was enjoying her pregnancy by resting like
a queen with three extra pillows around her to make her comfortable. "You
look a little green," Kelly remarked, "You and Justin aren't fighting again
Meredith scratched her her cheek and looked over at her boyfriend from
behind the protection of her sunglasses. She'd been facing the other
way for time while she sunned her back, but now that she was turned around
there was no ignoring his presence in the pool area. He had Steven
hanging on his back like a little baby monkey while he splashed at Joey and
Colton across the pool. Jonathan had decided to help teach Brianna
how to swim and was holding onto her hands while she floated. Lynn
was close by and everyone was being playful so she didn't think twice about
the scene. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, not even Justin showed
the tension that had been between them earlier that morning and the night
"He's pissed at me for quitting. I can understand that he would be
upset, but I thought he'd at least support me. I wanted him to be
like how JC was with Farzana. She quit and JC seemed to jump right
on the bandwagon."
"I can understand how he could be concerned, but I doubt that he's pissed
at you," Kelly said.
"He's pissed," she said, "He treated me like a three year old yesterday
when I came home. He sat me down and lectured me like my father used
to when I'd break something around the house."
"Meredith it came out of nowhere. You probably shocked the hell out
of him. I know when I heard about it I wasn't sure if I should believe
it." Kelly moved a little in her seat. "Farzana came to JC and
talked to him about that stuff, but you went off to New York and ended up
on National Television telling him things you should have told him in person
or at least over the phone."
"I had to," she said and tears came to her eyes. Everyone was already
trying to get at her. Her voicemail had been filled with messages
from people asking for interviews and she knew that soon the label would
be calling to deal with the mess she was causing people. Her lawyer
had already called to set up an appointment and she knew that by that next
Friday she'd have to answer to all the people who wanted things from her.
"I can't do all that and remain sane."
"What's going on with you?" Kelly asked, "You're all crying and crap. I'm
supposed to be the over emotional one. I'm the one that is about to
pop out this baby." Kelly sighed. "If this is PMS, let me stay
"I wish." For the first time Meredith wished that she was experiencing
PMS. Normally she would have dreaded the inevitable time of the month,
but now it seemed like a luxury. It would make her life a hell of
a lot less complicated if she could just have her period.
"What?" Kelly said.
"I'm pregnant," Meredith said in a harsh whisper. The doctor had
been sure after a blood test that she was pregnant. When Farzana had
come into the room to get her to go home she'd broken down and had cried
all the way home. Gritty of course had been concerned so she'd told
him about it. Even he seemed disappointed about the circumstances.
"Oh my god," Kelly said sitting up. Even behind her sunglasses Meredith
could see her friend's eyes go completely wide with shock.
"Kel?" Joey said from the pool. The worry in his voice was
cute, but bordering on annoying. He'd asked her if she was ok about
twenty times that day and it was starting to get a little repetative. He
moved over to the side of the pool that was closest to them. "Are
you ok babe?"
Meredith covered her face and mumbled in a low voice hoping that Kelly
would hear her and Joey wouldn't, "Justin doesn't know."
"Yeah hun." She covered their butts expertly. Meredith never
knew that lying would become such an art, but Kelly seemed to be great at
it. It was a little white lie like hers that would save them so much
trouble in the end. "I just got splashed with cold water a little."
She made a move like she was cold. "That's freezing in there."
"Ok," he said and moved away from the side of the pool again to play. He
kept an eye on her as he moved to help Brianna swim.
"Is he always like that?" Meredith asked looking at her friend's husband
with a new perspective. She'd seen Joey a million and one times, but
today she was seeing his protective side come out considering that Kelly
was due to have her baby in a few days.
"Joey?" she asked.
"Just lately," she said, "I just wish he'd be that way sometimes when I'm
not busting out pregnant." Kelly rubbed her stomach.
"You love it though," Meredith said, "I mean you love being pregnant and
having kids, right?"
"It's great." Kelly reached for her drink and took a drink of the
water. "It's nothing that anyone hates really. I love my kids
and I love my husband and I wouldn't have it any other way." She lowered
her voice, "You'll see."
"I hope so," she said, "At the moment all it seems to be causing is trouble."
"How far along are you?" Kelly asked using her lower toned voice.
"About a month," Meredith said. "I'm due not until after Christmas
time, but it seems like it's coming up soon for some reason."
"Have you gained any weight?" Kelly asked.
"Not that much," she said, "A few pounds, but nothing out of the ordinary.
I'm just worried now that I'm going to be getting all depressed because
of this touring stuff."
"Let Lynn handle that," Kelly said, "Just tell her that you're not feeling
well and she'll take care of it."
Meredith squinted as she moved her sunglasses to wipe them off and return
them to her face. "But no one knows about the baby so I can't really
use that excuse."
Kelly seemed to act as if this was all a joke or something that happened
to Meredith on a daily basis. "More reason to tell everyone."
"Yeah maybe," Meredith said.
"Oh My God!" Kelly said and her eyes went wide. She looked
around for a second. "Oh My God."
"What Kelly?" Meredith asked.
"Joey!" Kelly yelled.
Moments later the whole house was leaving to go to the hospital. When
Meredith volunteered to stay home with the kids, Justin said that he would
stay with her while Lynn and Paul took a now labored down Kelly and a nervous
Joey to the hospital.
As the car pulled away from the house Meredith held onto Brianna and smiled,
"You're gonna be a big sister."
The girl just sighed and leaned against her shoulder, "K."
Justin herded the boys back into the house and she and he set everyone
up with lunch as they waited for news about Joey Junior.
Joseph Anthony Fatone III was born at seven that night.
Jonathan, Steven, Colton, Brianna, Meredith, and he were in the middle
of watching Shrek when his cell phone rang and he got the news. Everyone
seemed to want to know about the baby except Meredith who moved from the
room into the kitchen saying that she was going to get a drink.
He let Joey talk to Colton and Brianna and he followed Meredith into the
"Bear?" Justin said with a hesistant voice. He knew that people got
emotional when it came to dealing with new babies and everything, but her
tears seemed a little extreme for the moment.
"I'm fine," she said, "I was just talking to Kelly earlier about her having
him and I guess I just got caught up in the excitement."
"Bear, you'll have a baby soon," he said. She had so kindly reminded
him yesterday that she'd thought that she was pregnant for a while and figured
that something like this brought back some strange memory for her. He
slid his arms around her and held her for a minute before being pulled away
by Colton's need to know how to turn off his cell phone.
"I'll be fine," she said, "Go help them."
"We need to talk more," he said, "Joey wanted us to put the kids to bed
over here. My mom will baby-sit, but I think we should just hang out
over here, there's no sense in going home tonight if we're already here."
"Ok." She wiped her eyes and smiled at him. "Go get your phone.
I'm gonna pop some more popcorn. I'll be there in a minute."
He nodded and returned to the living room to find that his phone was still
on and sitting on the coffee table. He shut the thing off and when
he sat back down Steven crawled over to him and snuggled up to him. "I
didn't want a baby for my birthday," Steven said, "But I'm glad that Kelly
had her baby."
"Yeah," Justin sighed.
"What kiddo?" he asked.
"When you have a kid do I get to be a uncle?"
"Of course," Justin said, "You're my brother so you get to be an uncle."
"Even though I'm only your half brother?" Steven seemed confused
about all this. "I get to be a whole uncle or just a half uncle?"
"You get to be a whole Uncle," Jusitn said, "Technically you'll be a half
uncle, but since I think of you as a whole brother you get to be my kids
Later when Brianna was starting to fall asleep she asked for her mom and
her dad then started to cry. Meredith went to go to pick her up, but
Justin took her in his arms and went to sit in his mother's rocking chair
out by the piano in the formal living room. All the other kids were
in his room upstairs playing video games she he cuddled he little girl in
his arms and started to sing to her. He didn't even know what he was
singing or why he was singing, but when it seemed to calm her down he continued
"You're really good at that," Meredith came towards him with a blanket
and covered her up with it. "Did you learn that from Steven and Jonathan?"
"Yeah," he said rocking the chair a little, "It's not something I think
you can learn how to do."
"You're really good at it," she said, "I'm glad that you can get some practice
before you have to--"
His eyes met hers over where Brianna was lying in his arms. "Bear?"
She took a seat on the couch next to where he was. Her eyes filled
with tears and she looked away from him. "I have something to tell
"What Bear?" he asked still rocking Brianna. He hoped that his voice
wouldn't wake her up.
"You know how you're upset at me for leaving the tour and everything?"
"You know how you never could understand why Farzana wouldn't want to sing
anymore?" She paused, "Well I know how she feels now. Or at
least I know why she doesn't want to sing to people anymore."
"What are you talking about?"
"I only want to sing for a few people now," she said with a shaky voice.
He waited and watched her. he thought at that moment that he might
know what she was talking about, but just in case he was wrong he wasn't
going to say it.
"I want to sing for you and for our baby," she said.
His breath caught in his throat. She had said what he thought she
was going to say. "What?" he finally asked.
"I just want to sing for you and for our baby," she said, "I've got until
after Christmas time to practice, but I want it to be perfect so I knew
that I had to give up singing to the rest of the world."
"Bear." He was shocked to hear her say this. He knew it was
coming, deep down he'd known that this would be her reason for getting so
upset. "I thought that it was just a mistake."
"It wasn't. I thought it was, but it wasn't." She sighed.
"You asked me once why I did everything that you asked me to do--" She
sniffed and wiped her eyes. "I did it for you Justin. I did
it so that one day I could be at this moment and know that you and I can
do whatever we want to, but that we chose to be together because it's more
important. I want our child to know that Mommy and Daddy could do
whatever they wanted, go wherever they wanted, but that they chose to be
together instead of being away from each other."
"Bear I don't know what to say," he said. His arms began to tremble
and he wanted to hold her so badly, but Brianna was still in his arms.
"Just say that you'll be with me forever," she said.
"Are you proposing?" he asked with a smile.
"Only if you're going to say yes."
"Honestly?" he said with a crooked smile, "Honestly--yes."
• Back • Up •