Damien’s life is busy and hardly ever in order. Between working two jobs, taking care of his sister, and saving up for his own tattoo studio, there are always surprises. When he meets Naomi, the last thing on his mind is getting a girlfriend, but he can’t deny the connection he feels. It’s clear she’s not ready for a relationship, though that won’t stop him from pursuing one… even if he has to lie to her about his intentions. But when one of the things that brought them together, slowly tears her apart, Damien has to make her see… the beauty in chaos.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
With an annoyed huff, I jabbed at the radio power button. Andy Williams’ voice abruptly cut off as my truck bounced into the driveway.
I turned off the car and sat there, my hands choking the steering wheel while my head bowed forward.
I knew what I’d find if I looked up.
My breath left me as I thought about how I found her three days ago…
Naomi was sitting by the front window, staring outside with a blank look on her face. She was bundled up in a light blue blanket with her chin resting on her knees. I followed her stare to where a couple was walking by. The mother was pushing a stroller and both adults were smiling down at the giggling toddler.
A pang of hurt hit me in the chest.
When I looked back at my wife she was brushing a tear from her cheek, a rare moment of vulnerability that she typically didn’t let me see. But she was so out of it I doubt she had seen me pull in.
That was how it’d been for the past week.
I hit the fob to lock my car doors before trudging into the house. After closing the door, I made my way over to her.
“Hey,” I said softly, squatting down next to Naomi. I worked my fingers into her messy hair and began massaging her scalp.
Naomi slowly pulled her gaze from the street to look at me. “Hi.”
“Are you okay?”
“No,” she admitted after a moment of silence. “I…”
“What?” I prompted, desperate for her words. It had been so long since we’d talked. I missed my wife. I missed my best friend.
“I thought I was pregnant.”
My stomach dropped. “You did?”
She nodded, her eyes falling to the blanket. “I tried to be patient. I tried not to get my hopes up. But I really thought…”
Without warning, she stood, causing me to fall back on my ass. Tossing the blanket on the chair, she huffed, “I really had the thought… it’ll be a Christmas miracle. Those stupid fucking words entered my brain and lived there, without mockery, for weeks. I really believed that dumb shit.”
“It’s not dumb—“
“It is!” she shouted. “It’s fucking dumb to think that after months and months of trying, I’m suddenly going to get pregnant. It’s not fucking happening and it’s time we both accept it.”
She had walked away from me and we hadn’t spoken of it since.
I hated feeling so powerless.
So without confirming my fear, I opened the door and grabbed the shopping bag off the passenger seat before sliding out. Before I knew it though, my eyes were drifting to the front window.
To my surprise—and relief—Naomi wasn’t there. Instead, a beautifully-lit Christmas tree greeted me.
I entered the house and was immediately met with the aroma of freshly baked cookies and the sound of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Like an animal approaching its prey, I slowly made my way toward the kitchen where I heard her humming along.
When I left Naomi this morning she was in gray sweatpants and a navy blue hoodie. Her mood had been dismal. So to see her like this, wearing a dark green sweater dress and ankle boots, hair brushed and face made, was shocking.
“Hey,” I said as I set the bag on the counter, right next to a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. My wife continued stirring as she smiled up at me.
“Hi, D.” She turned her head, presenting her cheek. I immediately gave her the kiss she was seeking.
I dragged my lips across her warm skin until I reached her ear. “You okay, sweetheart?”
Naomi pulled back and pressed her sweet mouth against mine. “Yes,” she whispered. “I’m sorry I’ve been such a Grinch.”
I shook my head but before I could speak, she continued. “I have. It’s December twentieth and I only now put up the tree. I…” she trailed off and I pulled away to get a better look at her.
“Naomi.” Her watery eyes lifted to mine. “It’s okay,” I said with as much gravity as I could. “This is hard. Frankly, it sucks. And pain doesn’t take a vacation just because it’s the holidays. I’d rather you share your pain with me than hide it, okay? It would break my heart if you were struggling and I didn’t know.”
My wife abandoned her task and wrapped her arms around my neck. “I couldn’t hide anything from you, and I wouldn’t want to.”
I closed my eyes and felt the tension drain from my body.
“Good.” I squeezed her. “So we’re okay?”
“More than okay,” she whispered.
Despite her assurances, Naomi was still weird over the next few days. She wasn’t sad, but I felt like there was something she wasn’t telling me.
It was Christmas Eve and Naomi was standing at her dresser, head bent as she put on an earring. We were getting ready to have dinner at her Mom’s place.
“I love you.”
She froze at my words, turning slightly toward me.
“Always. And I hope that soon you can find it in you to tell me whatever it is you’ve been keeping from me,” I added before pivoting to leave the room. Naomi reached out and stopped me.
“Wait.” She dropped my hand before walking to her side of the bed and grabbing something from her nightstand.
“It’s your Christmas gift.” Naomi smiled as she held it out to me.
“Oh.” I took the box and frowned down at it. “It can wait.” I moved to hand it back. “I didn’t think it had anything to do with a gift—”
“No. This is good. I want you to open it now.”
“Seriously.” She grinned, looking equally parts excited and terrified. “Open it.”
The box was small, about the size of a pen. I slowly tore at the dark green wrapping paper. Once the box was free, I lifted the lid, immediately freezing when I saw the object inside.
Glancing up, I found Naomi’s expectant eyes on mine.
I looked back down and shook my head. “I don’t understand.”
She stepped closer, her fingers circling my wrists and squeezing. “I’m pregnant,” she said as we both stared down at the pregnancy test with a pink plus sign on it. The stick was in a plastic baggie, but I could make out the indicator clearly.
“I had a doctor’s appointment last week. She confirmed I’m pregnant. That was the change in attitude.”
I was silent as she ran her hand down my chest. “Ever since Thanksgiving I’ve thought I was pregnant. I didn’t want to say anything or rush to make an appointment because I thought it would jinx it or something.” Naomi rolled her eyes at herself. She’d never been one for superstitions.
“Then finally I made the appointment. I didn’t want to get your hopes up until I knew for sure. But the very next day, literally the day after I made it, I started bleeding. Enough to make me think I’d miscarried. Again.”
Naomi closed her eyes, as if the memory was too painful. I lifted my hand and cupped her cheek. Her lips tilted into a smile and her eyes opened.
“I kept the appointment, just to be sure. But I was convinced there was no baby. I didn’t even have a shred of hope.” Her voice shook. “I was wrong. The doctor said that bleeding during the first trimester isn’t abnormal. She confirmed I’m almost nine weeks pregnant.”
“Naomi… I…” I shook my head, completely overwhelmed. I had tried not to let myself feel the hurt as we tried again and again to get pregnant. I wanted to be strong for her. But now that it was finally happening I was forced to admit how I had been feeling: frustrated, weak, angry, and sad. So unbelievably fucking sad. For Naomi. For me.
And even though we were far from out of the woods, this was still a major milestone. This was the first step.
“We’re having a baby?”
“Yeah.” Naomi’s wide smile lit up the room. “We’re having a baby.”
I immediately fell to my knees and grabbed her hips. “I love you,” I whispered against her flat belly before lifting her shirt and pressing a kiss to her navel.
Naomi reverently placed her hands on her stomach, and when I looked up I saw that she had tears in her eyes.
“Are you scared?” I asked.
“Terrified,” she answered with brutal honesty. “But do you remember want I said to you? All those years ago?”
There was nothing specific in her meaning, and yet I knew exactly what she was talking about.
“You want every kind of chaos I can give you,” I repeated with a grin.
“That’s still true.”
I stood up and pulled her in for a quick, deep kiss. “Good. Because this is just the beginning.”
But as long as we had each other, nothing else mattered.