In Separate Bedrooms(58)

By: Carole Mortimer

‘Do you know, Mattie?’ her mother-in-law mused merrily, ‘You’re the only person I’ve ever known that’s been able to render Jack speechless!’ Betty looked at her son as he sat on the other side of Mattie’s hospital bed.

Mattie shot her husband a sympathetic look as he sat beside her, their hands tightly linked. ‘I have to admit to being a little stunned myself.’ She gave a bemused smile, looking past Jack to the two identical cradles that stood at the foot of her bed.

Two babies. Not the one they had been expecting. But twin boys.

Mattie had been as stunned as Jack when, their son newly born and nestled safely in his ecstatic father’s arms, her pains had started again, their second son born only two minutes after his brother.

There had been numerous examinations during her pregnancy, several scans, and at no time had anyone suspected that Mattie had carried two babies instead of one.

Mattie, once over the initial surprise, had been absolutely thrilled with their identical sons. Jack, as Betty had just pointed out, was still in shock.

They had been married exactly a year today, the advent of their first child together something they had both looked forward to. As far as Mattie was concerned, her euphoria had only doubled at the appearance of their twin sons.

‘What names do you have picked out for them?’ Edward Beauchamp asked.

Mattie gave a grateful smile for this change of subject. ‘We had chosen James Edward—James for my father,’ Mattie explained. ‘and Edward for you. But I think—perhaps we’ll just settle for James and Edward. What do you think, Jack?’ She looked questioningly at her still dazed husband.

‘Whatever,’ he agreed shakily.

‘Betty, perhaps we should just wait outside for a while …?’ Edward gave his wife a pointed look. ‘Give these two a little time together before Diana and Michael arrive to see their new grandsons.’

They were all one big family now, Diana having married her vet six months ago, the two older couples the best of friends, often having dinner together.

‘Yes, of course,’ Betty agreed instantly, bending to kiss Mattie warmly on the cheek. ‘Edward was just the same when Sally and Cally were born,’ she assured Mattie softly. ‘He’ll get over it.’ She looked affectionately at her son. ‘It’s just the shock.’

Mattie looked searchingly at Jack once they were alone; he didn’t really mind that they had two babies instead of the expected one—did he?

‘Jack …?’ she finally prompted hesitantly.

He looked up at her, fazed. ‘I thought—’ He swallowed hard. ‘It was agony sitting here watching you go through those hours of labour and knowing there was nothing I could do to help you. If I could have had the pain instead of you, I would gladly have done so!’ He gave a shuddering sigh. ‘Then when the pains started again—! I thought something had gone terribly wrong,’ he confided shakily. ‘I thought I was going to lose you!’ His hand tightened on hers.

Mattie’s brow cleared at this further evidence of Jack’s love for her. ‘I admit, the labour pains weren’t pleasant, Jack. But the moment James was born, I forgot about them. And when Edward was born …! Aren’t they adorable, Jack?’ Her eyes swam with unshed tears as she looked across at their sleeping sons.

Jack stood up to sweep her fiercely into his arms. ‘Absolutely adorable,’ he agreed. ‘Damn it, woman, when are you going to stop surprising me?’

Mattie laughed. ‘Never, I hope.’

‘So do I.’ Jack laughed too, a light sound at the relief of danger having passed. ‘I love you, Matilda-May Beauchamp. I always will.’

‘I love you too, Jack,’ she answered unhesitantly. ‘Always.’