Marriage Terms(63)

By: Barbara Dunlop

She grinned at him, smoothing back his damp hair from his forehead.

“Congratulations, Dad.”

He shook his head in disbelief.

Then he turned to Daniel and held out his hand. “And, Dad. You did this. You did this twice!”

Daniel chuckled, shaking Cullen’s hand and pulling his son into an embrace.

Amanda wiped away the tears as they spilled over her lashes.

Cullen turned to gaze through the nursery glass to where a nurse was wheeling in a bassinet. “There she is,” he sighed. “Oh, she’s so tiny.”

“She’s supposed to be tiny,” said Daniel.

Amanda moved up to the window while the nurse placed the bassinet in the center of the front row, giving them a warm smile.

“I’m almost afraid to touch her,” Cullen confessed.

Daniel patted him on the back. “You’ll be fine, son. You’ll feed her, change her and bathe her, and before you know it, she’ll be begging you for bedtime stories.”

Cullen gave a forced chuckle and put an arm around each of his parents. “I just hope I make it through the first twenty-four hours.”

Amanda leaned her head against her son. “She’s beautiful.”

“She is,” he agreed.

“How’s Misty?” asked Daniel.

Cullen blinked rapidly. “She’s perfect. She’s wonderful.” He drew a breath.

“She’s sleeping now.”

“Hey, bro. Way to go!” Bryan and Lucy arrived and the three separated so Cullen could greet his brother.

Daniel shifted closer to Amanda as the Elliott family began streaming into the nursery hallway. She felt the familiar stirrings of unease as first five, then nine, then twelve of them crowded around the window, talking and joking with each other.

By the time Patrick and Maeve rounded the corner, Amanda’s stomach was cramping with insecurity. What had she gotten herself into?

“It’s going to be okay,” Daniel whispered into her hair, sliding an arm around her waist.

But Amanda wasn’t so sure.

Then Patrick gave her a nod and a smile of greeting. Karen called her name and sent her a wave across the crowd. And Daniel pulled her tight into the circle of his strong arms.

Little Maeve opened her mouth in a wide yawn, and there was a collective sigh from the assembled adults. It was obvious their hearts had melted then and there for the newest Elliott.

Amanda leaned her head against Daniel’s chest and drew hope from the enduring bonds of his family. There might be bumps on the road ahead, but they were going to make it this time.