Hudson (Page 111)

Hudson (Fixed #4)(111)
Author: Laurelin Paige

Alayna looks adoringly at her bundle and then leans her head against my shoulder. “Then look up the baby name site and let’s get deciding. Otherwise your mother will take it upon herself to come up with a name and that’s not happening.”

We’d made a conscious decision not to have any family invited to the hospital until the baby was born. Too much drama, Alayna had said, and I agreed. Since the baby was born in the middle of the night, I’d waited until six a.m. to make the phone calls. Mirabelle and Adam have to get both their four-year-old daughter, Aryn, and their one-year-old son, Tyler, dressed and ready before coming over, and my parents are slow-moving in the morning, so that will delay them. I figure that gives us until around eight to have our last minutes alone with our daughter before she meets the rest of the Crazies, as Alayna likes to call my family.

From the bookmarks on the browser, I open the website we’ve used as our search guide and select the link for girl’s names. The most popular ones pop up in a list on the screen. Charlotte, Sophia, Amelia, Emma.

“I heard Celia Werner got engaged.”

I glance down at my wife. “How do you always ruin the most beautiful moments with her name?” I know why she thought of her—Celia had been a name on the screen.

“Shut up. I haven’t mentioned her since before we got married.” She’s right; she hasn’t. Celia hasn’t been a part of our lives in any way, shape or form since the last time I’d seen her at the loft. She’d kept her end of the bargain, ceasing all contact with me and my family. And I’d kept my end—Warren Werner is still the head of Werner Media.

For a time after our engagement, Celia’s name came up in counseling. She’d been a contributing source of much of our conflict, and it was inevitable that she’d be discussed. But eventually all of us agreed—Alayna, Lucy and I—that talking about Celia further kept her around when she didn’t need to be. We didn’t talk about her after that, and, eventually, I didn’t think about her either. Well, not often.

“Anyway,” Alayna says now. “Your mother told me.”

“Of course she did.” She told me as well. She always did love to stir the pot, even sober. Though Sophia has long lost her love for Celia—rarely mentioning her anymore, thank God—she hasn’t exactly warmed to Alayna. She hasn’t warmed to anyone, for that matter, except for possibly my father. The two seem to find redemption in each other, even when no one else can see it. Perhaps Alayna and I are like them in the eyes of others.

“Thoughts?” She’s not testing me for an emotional reaction. There are no secrets between us anymore. Particularly not about my old partner in crime.

“Regarding Celia? Good for her.” It’s as much attention as I will give to the woman on the birthday of my first child. It doesn’t mean I don’t wonder about her on occasion, or that I didn’t pause when I heard her news. Part of me hopes her romance is genuine. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

But it’s entirely possible the engagement is simply a scam or her parents’ arrangement. She’s likely still cold and unfeeling. Maybe even unhappy and miserable.

I won’t lie. There’s a small part of me that wishes for the latter. Okay, a big part of me.

“Yeah, good for her.” Alayna’s tone seems indifferent, and I sense the bitterness she once carried for Celia has been replaced with other things. Things that matter. The prestige of running New York’s Hippest Club of the year, according to the Village Voice. Two anniversaries celebrated with a husband who loves her more than could ever be expressed. A newborn baby who coos and clicks in her sleep.

Alayna stares down again at her pink-hatted bundle. I think she could look at her baby forever. I could look at her looking at her baby forever. Jesus, I’m getting mushy in my old age.

I turn back to the tablet and click for advanced search. I enter a meaning, curious if any names will pop up. A list of over fifty does. I scan through them, my breath catching on one. I click the name to read the definition further.

“Alayna,” I say, still not believing my eyes, “did you know your name means precious?”

She’s taken aback. “Seriously?”

“Precious; sun ray. See?” I show her the tablet where the definition is clear as day.

She blinks at the screen. “Did you know that?”

“I had no idea.” I’m not sure if she realizes how often I’ve referred to her as the light in my darkness. Her name is completely fitting for her. For the woman that would be mine.

“It was fated,” Alayna says with the sweetest grin. “I was meant to be yours. You knew what I was about before I did.”

I can’t stand it. She’s too beautiful. Too perfect. I look back at the tablet. “You’re giving me too much credit.”

“No, I’m not.”

And, I think, maybe she’s right. Maybe we were fated or destined to find each other. Maybe everything that happened to me and Celia and Alayna was all meant to happen, each painful part playing out in order to lead us to our personal happy ending.

Or maybe it’s just coincidence. And does it really matter? It’s a happy ending either way.

Our baby stirs again, this time with more determination. “She’s waking up.” I watch her tilt her head toward Alayna, her little mouth open and searching.

“Hey, she’s rooting,” Alayna exclaims.

“It looks to me like she’s trying to suck your breast.” I tickle my baby’s cheek with my finger. “I get it, little girl. I like sucking her br**sts too.”

Alayna laughs. “That’s called rooting, you dork.”

“It’s not called rooting when I do it.”

“No, that’s called awesome,” she says, looking up at me with that devilish grin of hers, the one that can make me instantly hard if I’m not careful.

Again, I have to look away. “Stop it. You’re going to make me horny, and the nurse said six days.”

“Six weeks.”

I sigh. “I suppose I heard wrong.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

I return my focus to the screen in front of me and scan further down the list. “What do you think about the name Mina?”

“Mina? Mina Louise.” She repeats it, testing it out. “I like it. What does it mean?”

“Precious. In Sanskrit.” I gaze down at my daughter—my daughter!—and watch her fight to open her eyes, her little lids squeezing tight and relaxing before they pop open. “Look at her. What do you think? Does it fit?”