“Surprise!” Dan unwrapped his hands from my eyes as we stepped out of the elevator. He insisted I keep my eyes closed on the long, winding journey back. I wondered what he was up to.
“Wow!” I gasped. We stood in front of a marvellous penthouse, the biggest one in the city. It was simply splendid, the epitome of class, and definitely befitting of my tastes. “It’s beautiful!” I clapped my hands.
“Glad you like it. This is my wedding present to you.”
“I…I…” A wave of nausea rammed against my guts. It was unfair some women didn’t get morning sickness while others like me were constantly bugged by it. I had the urge to throw up every second, and it was awful. And It prevented me from appreciating my new penthouse properly.
“Sorry!” I pushed past Dan and ran off to puke. Ironically, the first thing I got to enjoy in this wonderful penthouse was the toilet.
We stood apprehensively outside the building, contemplating whether to go in or not. Truth was, I was conflicted. I knew I had to announce my wedding to my parents; they would have seen it on the papers anyway, but a part of me dreaded their reaction. I didn’t know how will they receive Dan. And what if they disapproved?
It had been so long since I last saw them. I didn’t want this reunion to be dreadful.
“Let’s go, Rose.”
“My grandparents”, I introduced Dan to the portraits hanging prominently at the entrance. Daddy painted them long ago, and he kept them here ever since they passed away. It was the last memory he could hold on to.
“I knew them. Your grandma was an inspiration.” I nodded. I looked around. It seemed mama and daddy were out. “Have a seat?” I gestured to the sofas.
“Grandpapa, grandmama, it has been a while…” I mumbled at the portraits, enjoying a private moment to myself.
“Roisin?” Mom blinked, as if she couldn’t recognize me. It made me wonder did I really change my appearance drastically enough. She stood for a while, and exclaimed, “Rose!! You’re finally home!!!”
She bounced up the stairs, calling daddy. “Toby! You never guess who’s back!!!!!”
“Rose!! You’re finally home!” Daddy pulled me into a bear hug. I sniffed. He still smelt a little of paint, and that smell comforted me. It reminded me of childhood. Those good times.
“Daddy, mama, meet my.. husband”, I stammered, grabbing hold of Dan’s hand for assurance. Dan waved meekly. For that second, I saw diminutiveness in him. I prepared myself for their outburst. But instead, they didn’t say anything. They just looked at each other, for quite a while it seemed. Finally, breaking the silence, mama stepped forward and shook Dan’s hand.
“Welcome to the family.”
“Wow! I didn’t know Burton could churn movies out like a machine!” I jokingly replied. Dan told me director Tommy Burton invited him to a movie screening, for his to-be released film. It was one of the privileges being an Elphinstone, getting to watch movies way before the ordinary folks does.
“Still in post-production, but I thought you may enjoy it. Your sister had a role in it too, you know?”
I said nothing.
“If you want, I can ask Burton to cast her…” He quipped, his voice trailing off when he finally noticed my silence. “What’s wrong, Rose?” I turned away, avoiding his gaze. “Aren’t you happy for your sister?”
“No…” Mustering the most painful expression I could contort, I spoke between stammers and stutters. I told him about those times Riona bullied me in childhood, and her conspiring with Hiro to ruin me…
“But she was your sister!” He recoiled in shock. I could see him stalking off, getting Tommy on the phone this instant. I knew I had succeeded.
“Tommy, this is Mr Elphinstone. I want you to cut Riona Moonglow from the film…”
“I don’t care. I am willing to cover all additional costs associated. But if you don’t oblige, then I’m sorry to say I won’t be distributing the film and I won’t…”
All along I thought only fools believed in love, but Dan seemed to be proving me wrong. I knew he got the penthouse so I could be closer to my parents. It was a sweet gesture, really, though I didn’t want to admit lest it made me look like a pussy. And, silly it may sound but he gave me a sense of security every time I lay in his arms. It seemed I was almost falling for him…
All in all, the pregnancy went without a hitch. Although unfortunately, the nausea didn’t alleviate. And the baby seemed to relish kicking me, in the wrong places I might add, which made me wince in pain every time. “Oh goodness, you’re sure active!” I jokingly berated the bump each time. I think he might have heard it, for he stopped the kicking for a while. Ever the worrywart, Dan hired a private physician to tend to me, lest something happened to the child. Oh plum! I’m not a fragile piece of porcelain you know?
“It’s twins! Congratulations! What do you like to name them?” Wow! I didn’t know I was carrying twins all along. Somehow it explained why I ate like a whale then. I was eating for three.
“Lance, and Lincoln.”
“They’re beautiful children. Thank you Rose, for giving me two wonderful children.”