“At least she’s not screaming.” Richie noted as he lay with her mother in their bed, the monitor on the table beside them and listened to her talk to herself.
Tori grunted. “Yeah, but you can bet she will be tomorrow when she’s overtired and ornery.”
“Good thing there’ll be lots of family to pass her off to.”
Tori’s family from Canada had arrived the night before and were billeted out between the senior Bongiovi’s, Joan’s and here on the estate. It made for a full house and a lot of noise and.....chaos...as only a large family can create. And he loved it.
But he knew it was a little much for Tori at this stage. “She’s okay angel.” He pulled her into his arms. “I’ll listen for her. You get some sleep.”
Several hours later, Tori sat down on a lounge chair beside her mother, Joan and Carol, a newly diapered Lauren in her lap. Jon approached to bring them drinks. Lauren grinned, crawled to the end of the lounge and held her arms up to her uncle commandingly. When he didn’t pick her up immediately, she squealed her displeasure.
“Okay, okay.” Jon set down the tray he was carrying and picked her up. “Jeez. You certainly have your mother’s temper.”
The mothers snorted. Tori’s eyes narrowed. “Pot and kettle brother dear.” She turned to her mother. “I want to apologize for my behaviour growing up.” Pointing a finger at Jon, she added, “You and our brothers should apologize to your mother too.”
“Why? I wasn’t that bad. I didn’t scream like Lauren does.” Jon argued.
Carol snorted. “No, you just pitched whatever was offending you across the room. Toys, food, bowls, utensils.....you couldn’t pick up Tony to throw him, so you rolled him into a corner. I couldn’t leave you alone with him for more than two minutes for fear of you smothering him.”
“I’m still tempted some days.” Jon retorted. “But my kids weren’t like that.”
“Pfft!” Dorothea had joined them in time to hear the last part of the conversation. “You have a short memory honey....and you were away for the worst of it. Don’t you remember Stephanie screaming at the top of her lungs when I wouldn’t let her eat her ice cream cone in bed....or the whole week she wouldn’t sleep at night at all? Or Jesse throwing a Frisbee, breaking a lamp and almost taking poor Copper’s head off because he wanted to go to the beach.....in January...in a blizzard?”
The older women all chuckled. Tori frowned. Seeing it, Helen reached over to pat her arm. “You just have to teach her that tantrums won’t get her what she wants. She’ll stop.”
“How do I do that when her father and uncles give in?” She tilted her head towards her giggling daughter who was currently alternating between pulling her uncle’s nose and pressing her hand against his mouth so that he would blow and make noises. Tori sighed. “Stevie is so much easier to deal with.”
“The first one often is. It’s how Mother Nature convinces you to have more. Plus he has Richie’s temperament.” Helen eyed Tori’s tired face. “Your hormones are making you feel more frustrated with Lauren right now too. And if she’s in a phase of not sleeping at night, being over tired is making it worse.”
“So, you’re saying this will get better?” They all nodded. “Promise?”
“Where are the kids?” Karin asked as Tori dropped into the lounge beside her.
“Steph’s walking Lauren around hoping to get her tired enough to have a nap and Ava and Jenny are playing with Stevie in the pool.” She sipped her Coke. “How are you feeling?”
“Better now that David’s home. I don’t know why, but just having him nearby makes me feel more.....comfortable.” Karin blushed and shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“I know what you mean.” Tori glanced over towards the pool where Richie was standing with Jim and Michael, keeping an eye on the kids, her expression softening. “Must be some sort of primitive, animalistic thing. Breeding females need their mates close by to make them feel secure and cared for, no matter how.....unique....they might be.”
“Are you calling my husband strange?”
“Well, he’s not exactly normal.” Gabrielle commented from behind them. “But we love him anyway.” She shrugged. “At least he’s not boring.”
“True.” Tori laughed.
“How are the mothers to be doing?” Richie handed Tori her travel manicure kit, straddled the end of her lounge and held out his hand, revealing a snagged fingernail.
“Good thanks Richie.” Karin replied and turned back to Tori.
Without interrupting her conversation with Karin, Tori took the kit and proceeded to file and buff the nails on both hands.
“Thanks angel.” Richie leaned over to kiss her and rose to return to his lifeguard duties.
As soon as he left, Jon took his place, offering her his left hand first.
“Hey honey, how ya doing? Need anything?” David leaned over to kiss his wife and stroke her rounded stomach.
“No thanks, I’m fine.” Karin assured him.
When Tori finished with Jon and he left, David took his place and held out his hands.
Tori was halfway finished the first hand when she realized what she was doing. “Wait a minute! You’re a keyboard player, not a guitarist. All you need is a pair of clippers!”
“But you make them so much nicer.”
“Don’t you guys have someone on staff to do this for you?”
“Yeah, but you do it better.”
“There’s a new job for you Tori,” Karin chuckled. “Manicurist for the band.”
“Well, that would be a nice addition to my resume.” Tori retorted dryly. David wiggled his fingers and fluttered his eyelashes at her. She sighed, shook her head and grabbed his hand. “You’re spoiled.”
“Uh huh.” He was blatantly unrepentant. When she was done, he inspected her work, grinned and bent to kiss her cheek. “Thanks Bela!”
She looked up to see her oldest brother shaking his head. “Pregnancy’s made you a pushover.”
“You want your nails done too Jim?” Tori waved her file at him.
“Pfft!” Louise scoffed. “Nothing to file. He bites them off.”
“He still does that?” Tori looked back at her brother. “What are you? Eight?”
Jim wrinkled his nose at her and would have flipped her off, but a group of kids ran by.
David stood between the expectant mothers. “Are you sure there isn’t something I can get for you? Pickles? Ice cream?” He looked at Tori. “Condiments? An exorcism?”
He ducked and flinched as towels hit him from both sides. “Ow!”
“Do you want the spare room or the couch?” Karin glared at her husband.
David hesitated, then grinned. “You won’t do that. Then you wouldn’t have me to cuddle with in that big bed.”
“I’ll introduce you to Bernie.” Tori offered. “He’s wonderful to snuggle with. I don’t know what I would have done without him the last few weeks. ”
“So you sleep with him when Richie’s away?” Karin asked playing along.
Tori nodded. “And even when he’s home during the last trimester. He fits just perfectly along your torso and between your legs.”
“And Richie’s okay with that?” Karin fought to keep a straight face as she watched the wheels turning in David’s head and his eyes bug.
“He’s a little jealous, but he wants me to be happy and as comfortable as possible.”
David kissed his wife and wandered off, a frown creasing his forehead. He didn’t notice two sets of eyes following him. Reaching Richie, he debated his words. He didn’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest, but he didn’t want his friend being taken for a ride either. That can’t have meant what it sounded like. Tori wouldn’t do that to him! “Hey man. Who’s Bernie?”
“Bernie? Bernie who?”
“I don’t know. Tori was just talking about him to Karin.” He paused. “She said he helped her sleep.”
Richie snorted. “It’s a fucking pillow! Tori put one of my shirts on it and sleeps with it when I’m away and during the last couple of months when her belly makes it difficult to find a comfortable position.”
David turned to glare at their wives. His expression darkened when both women burst out laughing. “Bitches. Both of them.”
“Yeah.” Richie clapped a hand to his shoulder. “And they’re all ours.”