Home Run Page 40

He moved to the edge of the bed and looked down at her. Her blonde hair was matted to the side of her face and her skin was red from all the crying.

Without invitation he sat at the edge of the bed. “I’m heartbroken over the baby.”

“So am I,” she said softly.

“I saw the picture on the table.”

That seemed to upset her as the tears came harder. “Just-yesterday,” she sobbed. “How-can it go-so bad?”

“Curtis said this just happens, but doesn’t mean it’ll happen with your next pregnancy.”

She shook her head. “I won’t do this again. No.”

Christian reached up and placed his hand on her cheek. “We will.”

“We? You think you’re going to keep me after this? After I didn’t trust you? After I didn’t tell you?”

“Tori, I’m never going anywhere. Don’t you understand? I love you. I’ve been a lousy fiancée this year. But the vows are through sickness and health until death do us part. Well, all of that got thrown at us in one year. And I didn’t handle it well.”

“Right. So why are you here?”

“Like I said, I love you.”

He scooted up further on the bed and Tori adjusted until he was lying next to her, facing her, and holding her hand.

“Does this hurt you?” he asked as he rested his hand on her hip.

“No.”

“Good.” With his other hand he brushed back her hair and then rested his head on his hand and looked down at her. “I did this all wrong. You paid for it.”

Her tears seemed to be drying. That, he thought, was a good sign.

“Tori, I don’t want to live my life without you or Ali or Sam. I love those kids. And I love you. This year taught me something. I’m very selfish and I’m horrible at facing things I don’t want to face.”

She chuckled and she wiped away her tears. “I never pegged you to be that guy.”

“Me either. Though Ed was always the stronger one. I remember when mom had cancer and dad shaved her head.” He smiled at the memory. “When they were done, dad stepped in and told her to shave his head. And then Ed did the same.”

The vision was as clear in his mind as the day it had happened. “I’ll never forget Dad looking at me and Clara in the bathroom door asking us which one was next.”

He looked back at her. “I ran away that day too. I was never good at this.”

“You’ve done okay the past few weeks.”

“Yeah, well I would like to keep trying. I’m going to stumble and I’m going to fall—a lot.”

“I missed you when you weren’t with me,” she said softly the tears now dry. “It was as if a part of me had been torn away with my sister.”

“I know.”

“And this baby—it was my chance to have that part of you I was always supposed to have.”

“We’ll have that again,” he promised her as he rubbed her exposed arm. “Will you keep me?”

“I come with a lot of baggage.”

“Yeah, well I like your baggage. I’m a T-ball coach now, you know?”

She smiled wide. “You are?”

He nodded. “Some great kid wants to be a ball player like his dad.”

Her eyes began to moisten again, but the tears weren’t sad. “He is a great kid.”

Christian reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out the little ring he’d bought for Ali. “There’s a sweet little girl who said I could marry you too if I bought her a ring.”

Those happy tears began to fall. “You bought her a ring?”

“Looks like something she’d love, doesn’t it?”

Tori nodded and then looked up at him. “I saw the ring on the table.”

“Yeah, I was setting up a romantic night that you’d find it hard to turn down a marriage proposal.”

Her body began to shake and Christian pulled the blanket up over her. IVs always made him cold too.

She licked her lips. “I was going to propose to you,” she said looking up at him through tear soaked lashes.

“Me?” He pulled back and looked at her. “Why?”

Tori chuckled. “I wanted to have our baby together and I thought if I asked you then you’d know you were wanted.”

“I knew I was wanted when I came to your house and you were wearing my clothes.”

“They are my favorite.”

“You can have them. I brought a suitcase of others with me. It’s just the first load. I’ll bring the rest of my stuff over the next few weeks.”

Tori reached up and touched his cheek, the IV line following. “You’re going to move in with us?”

“We’re a family right?”

She nodded. “I think we are.”

“Well, I’ll move in, but you have to do me a favor.”

“What’s that?”

“When they pull all this crap off of you, you have to wear this.” He reached into his pocket again and pulled out the ring he’d picked out for her.

“Oh, Chris.”

“My mother picked it out. One stone for Ali, one for Sam, and she said the other was for me, but I figured it was for the baby.”

Her tears came back and he brushed them away.

“Don’t be sad. That baby will always be our first and he or she will be waiting for us on the other side.”

That seemed to resonate with her and she nodded as she wiped away the new tears.

Chris handed her the ring and she looked at it and then back at him.

“Be my wife. Take my name. Let me be there to raise Ali and Sam and keep the spirit of their parents alive. Have another baby with me. And another, and another…”

“Okay. Okay,” she laughed as she took the ring and fisted it in her hand.

“T-ball coach, really?”

“Yeah. I just landed the biggest home run ever, now it’s time to teach that little man how to hit one too.”

Epilogue

There was a pep-band in the stands and twenty suited T-ball players on the field. It had taken some arm twisting, but Christian had somehow worked his charm so that the first game played in the new stadium was his team.

Sam had on his jersey which read HORTON 3, in honor of his father.

Ali had convinced Avery to buy her a cotton candy and she sat next to Victoria, who waved. Her wedding ring sparkled in the sunlight.

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