“Lord help us.” Jon groaned when he got a good look at his newest nephew.
“What’s wrong?” Tori frowned at him in concern.
“He looks even more like his old man than Stevie.”
“So? As far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing.”
Jon shrugged and grimaced. “No accounting for some people’s taste I guess.”
Richie flipped him off. “Don’t listen to your Uncle Jon, Zack, he’s just jealous of our dark good looks.”
“Pfft.” Jon snorted scornfully and would have retorted, but the looks he was getting from his wife and his sister warned him that whatever short term pleasure that would give him wouldn’t be worth the long term pain they would make him endure. He sighed and moved to the side of the bed to kiss the new mother. “How’re you feeling?”
“Tired and starving.”
That statement snapped Richie’s head up to look at his wife with a knowing smile. “Big Mac, fries and a chocolate milkshake?” Her usual post-partem meal request.
“Mmmmm. Who do I have to kill to get it?”
Richie chuckled and leaned down. “No one. It’s only going to cost you a kiss.”
“Okay, I guess it’s worth that much.” Blue eyes twinkled as she leaned up to press her lips to his. “Hurry please.”
After Richie left, Tori turned to her brother. “Did you call your mother?”
“Yeah. And yours and Joan. Just to tell them you were in labour. I figured you’d want to call them yourself to tell them about their new grandson.”
“Thanks. I’ll call them after I eat.”
The door opened and the nurse walked in. There was something vaguely familiar about the big chested blonde, but Tori couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She was pretty sure she’d never seen her before, but she reminded her of someone.
“I’m going off shift and just wanted to see how everyone was doing and if you needed anything.” She glanced around, her gaze pausing briefly on Jon before quickly continuing on. “Daddy’s not here?”
“No, he went to get me something to eat.” Tori answered, noting the disappointment colouring the nurse’s voice.
“Oh.” Her glance fell on the baby in Dorothea’s arms. “How’s the little man doing?”
“Good. He hasn’t woken up yet.”
“Do you need anything?”
“No, we’re good thanks.”
“Okay, well, I’ll see you tomorrow. Have a good night.”
“Thanks, you too.”
When the door closed behind her, Jon looked at Tori and crooked a brow. Tori grimaced. “I think she’s a fan.”
“A Richie girl?” Jon guessed since she didn’t seem all that interested in him. If she was a fan it would explain why he thought there was something familiar about her – he’d probably seen her at a few shows.
“I think so.”
Dr. Crandall stopped in on her way home. “Everybody doing okay?” She glanced around. “Richie take off?”
Chuckling, Tori shook her head. “He went to get me something to eat – something with more flavour than hospital food.”
“Don’t blame you there. How’s little Zachary doing? Has he eaten again?”
“No, just the once. I’m hoping that means he’s got his father’s temperament.” At the surprised looks directed her way, she grimaced. “One with the Bongiovi temper is enough.”
“I hear you!” Dorothea agreed.
Jon frowned, but wisely kept silent.
Dr. Crandall chuckled and patted Tori’s shoulder. “Well, barring any complications overnight, you’ll be able to go home tomorrow. My nurse will call you with your next appointment. If you have any questions or need anything before then, give me a call.”
“Thanks, I will.”
When Richie returned with enough food for all of them, it was all she could do not to inhale it.
“Slow down angel. Chew your food.” Richie advised. When she wrinkled her nose at him he just grinned and reached to take the baby from Dorothea. “So, I called all the mothers and Charlie. I sent them pictures and told them you’d call them tomorrow, after you got some rest.”
“Thanks honey.” She yawned around the straw.
Jon and Dorothea exchanged a look and stood. “We’re going to head back to your place and let you get some rest.” Jon turned to Richie. “We’ll take a cab and leave the Hummer here for you.”
“Ok.” Tori smiled tiredly. “Thanks for being here.”
“Wouldn’t be anywhere else.” Jon assured her as he bent to kiss her cheek. “Congratulations again. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
After they left, the baby decided it was his dinner time too. Tori fed him, handed him back to his father and was about to settle in for a nap when the door flew open.
“Mama! Daddy!” Stevie ran into the room and skidded to a halt in front of his father. He peered in curiosity at the baby. “Who dat?”
“This is your little brother. His name is Zachary.” Richie introduced them, shifting the baby so that Stevie could see his face.
Ava entered the room with Lauren, Heather trailing behind.
“Ava wanted to come see you and the baby, so I swung by and picked up the other two. I hope that’s alright.”
“That’s great Heather, thanks.” Tori assured her.
Lauren looked from her father to the baby and back again, a frown creasing her small brow.
Stevie reached out to touch the tiny cheek with one finger. “Hi Zackry.” When he didn’t get a response, he turned to climb on the bed and give his mother a hug. “Hi Mama.”
“Hi Peanut.” Tori hugged him back.
Ava set Lauren down and held out her hands. “Can I hold him?”
When Richie handed the baby over, Lauren immediately began to climb into his lap, squealing until he picked her up. Having gained the position she wanted, she leaned against her father’s chest and shot the baby a smug, triumphant look.
The adults exchanged glances and smiled, although inwardly Tori groaned at the thought of refereeing three kids.
“He’s beautiful.” Heather commented, gazing at the baby in Ava’s arms. “Congratulations.”
“He looks just like Dad.” Ava noted.
“Yeah.” Tori agreed.
“Me?” Stevie was confused.
Tori smiled. “Yes, you look like Daddy, and so does Zachary. So I guess that means Zachary looks like you.”
“Except the eyes.” Richie reminded them. “You got Mommy’s eyes. I don’t think Zachary did.”
“Dark side won?” Ava grinned.
“I think so.” Richie grinned back and puffed out his chest.
Tori and Heather looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
“When you tomin home Mama?” Stevie brought her attention back to him.
“Tomorrow. And Daddy’s going to stay here with me tonight. Uncle Jon and Aunt Dot are staying with you and Sweetpea.”
When it was time for them to leave, Lauren threw a bit of a fit at being taken away from her father.
“Hey hey Sweetpea.” He admonished her. “You be a good girl and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Thanks again for bringing them Heather.” Tori hugged them all.
“No problem.” Heather assured her.
When the door closed behind them, Richie looked at his wife, leaned over and kissed her. “Get some sleep angel. You’ve had a tiring day.”
She snorted at his understatement, but followed his suggestion.
The next morning the nurse came in, her face lighting up when she saw Richie sprawled in the chair beside Tori’s bed, the baby in his arms.
“Good morning! How did everyone sleep?”
After a peaceful, bonding night, just the three of them, Tori was feeling happy and generous, and nodded at Richie to answer.
“Not too bad, actually.” He stood, handed the baby to Tori and stretched. “He slept three to four hours at a time.”
“If you’re ready, I’ll show you where you can bathe him.” The nurse shot a fleeting glance at Tori, her attention focussed on Richie.
Taking back the baby, Richie used his free arm to help Tori rise from the bed. She dug a few items out of her suitcase, took his arm and followed the nurse.
By now they had the routine down pat and worked together like a well oiled machine. Tori bathed the baby and Richie diapered and dressed him in the new yellow sleeper Tori handed him.
“So you’re a hands on father.” The nurse commented with an approving smile.
“As much as I can.”
Back in the room, Tori got dressed and they sat and waited for the word that she and the baby had been discharged. When it came, Richie stood and picked up her suitcase.
“I’ll go get the car and bring up the car seat.”
Richie had been gone about five minutes when the nurse came back in with the discharge papers.
“So you’re all set to go home. Is there anything you need?”
“Just my husband to hurry up before I have an accident.” Tori crossed her legs and grimaced.
Realizing what she meant, the nurse laughed and nodded towards the bathroom. “You can go ahead, I’ll stay here with the baby until either you’re finished or Daddy gets back.”
“Thanks.” Tori gratefully stood and rushed into the bathroom.
When she returned she found the room – and the bassinet –empty.