Braeden looked at Andi like she’d lost her mind, but she’d never been more sane than she was at the moment. She was in labor, getting ready to give birth to their twin daughters, and she was more worried about her husband’s well-being than her own.
“Of course it is. I want to be there when the girls come into the world screaming like little banshees. Where the hell else would I be?” he asked incredulously.
“You couldn’t watch the labor videos I sent you. Blood gives you the willies to the point where I’m always worried you’re one breath away from passing out. Do you have any idea what this is going to be like?” she asked him, then looked over at her sister-in-law Brooklyn for help.
“Braeden, this isn’t for the faint of heart. No one would think less of you if you wanted to sit this out,” Brooklyn reassured him.
He glared at them both, then crossed his arms over his chest like a petulant child. She was not going to win this battle no matter how much sense she and Brooklyn were making.
“I am going into that room. I’m going to watch my beautiful wife give birth, and then I’m going to cut the cord for each of my baby girls. I can do this. I promise.”
Andi shook her head, then shrugged. “Okay. If you say so.”
Thank goodness she’d have Brooklyn in the room with her to give her a hand to squeeze and the support she’d need to get through birthing two babies. It definitely helped that Brooklyn knew what to do, having gone through the process a little over a year earlier. Andi’s brother Declan had been in the room with Brooklyn during the birth of their boys, but Declan wasn’t fazed by much.
It was going to be a very long day.
Several hours later, Andi was surprised at how well Braeden was doing. Of course, the hard part had barely started, but he hadn’t looked queasy once and had stepped up his washcloth on the forehead game. Maybe they’d get through this unscathed after all.
“Alright, Andrea, it looks like we can start pushing now. Are you ready?”
Andi scowled and wanted to ask what the hell she meant by “we.” There was no we here. It was just Andi who’d have to do all of the hard work. It was Andi whose lady bits were going to be ripped to shreds bringing two humans into the world. She really wished her regular doctor was there instead of on vacation. If only the girls had waited like they were supposed to, their poor mother wouldn’t have to deal with a too peppy doctor whose smile Andi wanted to smack off her face.
She looked over at Brooklyn, who looked ready to rock, then over at her husband. The color had drained from his face, leaving him nearly as white as the crisp hospital sheets.
“Okay, team, let’s do this.”
Growling Andi followed the doctor’s instructions, as did Brooklyn and Braeden. Much to her surprise, everything seemed to be going fine. Until it wasn’t. The pain was excruciating. Even though the babies were smaller than if she’d had a single baby, the girls were still far bigger than her body was prepared for.
“Son of a bitch,” she groaned.
“Everything’s okay, Andrea. Just a little bit of tearing. You’re going to be fine.”
“What? What does that mean?” Braeden asked, and then much to Andi’s horror, her husband let go over her hand and leg and took a few steps toward the end of the bed.
“NOOOOO,” Andi yelled at the same time Brooklyn yelled at him to stop, but it was too late.
“Holy crap. What the…”
He didn’t even get to finish his question before his eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell into a heap on the floor.
“Oh god,” Andi groaned as another contraction hit her. “Why is he such an idiot sometimes?”
Brooklyn laughed as she helped her through another big push. Andi had no idea how the doctor kept up her overly peppy tone as she ordered one of the nurses to take care of the dad while she simultaneously took care of Andi and her babies. It was an absolute chaotic shitshow in the delivery room, yet the doctor kept her cool. It made Andi like her a little bit more.
“Come on, Andrea, you can do this. Just a couple more pushes, and we’ll have a baby.”
She’d like her even more if she stopped calling her Andrea, but there was nothing she could do to get her to make that change. She’d already been asking for nearly five hours.
“We need to get someone into delivery room five to stitch up a fainter,” one of the nurses said into the phone next to the door. “Looks like right about the left eyebrow. No. Yes. He’s still out. Thank you.”
“Is he going to be okay?” Andi asked, then groaned as another contraction took her.
“Don’t worry about your husband, Andrea. He’s going to be just fine. He’s not the first fainter we’ve had around here.”
Andi rolled her eyes. Knowing Braeden wasn’t the first and probably wouldn’t be the last didn’t help much in her current situation. She should’ve told him to wait out with the guys and asked Savannah to be in the room with her instead. She’d have a hell of a lot less to worry about if she’d gone with her gut instead of the pleading look on her husband’s face. Thankfully, she didn’t have much time to worry about the what-ifs; she was too busy bringing life into the world. She’d deal with her ding dong of a husband later.
“What’d I miss?” Braeden asked, wincing as pain shot through his head.
He looked around, realizing, as his eyes focused, that he was sitting in the waiting room surrounded by their family. His brother-in-law Declan was sitting next to him, his other best friends Oliver and Gabriel were sitting on the other side of him. Their wives Savannah and Meghan, were missing in action, which he assumed meant they were with Andi and Brooklyn. At least that’s where he hoped they were.
Braeden felt like a total asshat for not being with his wife during the most important moment of their lives. He had no idea what happened or why he was suddenly in the waiting room instead of the delivery room. His head ached something fierce, and when he touched his left eyebrow, he knew why.
“Dude. Seriously? You missed everything. And on top of that, you had my sister worried about your dumbass while she should’ve been focused on the birth of my nieces.”
Braeden groaned, partially from pain but partly because he knew how much he fucked up. He failed Andi, the one person more important to him than anyone else in the world. Well, at least she had been before the two little miracles she’d brought into the world, by herself, had entered his life. He should’ve listened to her. Again.
How was he going to make it up to her? How was he going to show her how sorry he was for being a dumbass? Again.
“I just wanted to be there for her and the babies,” he admitted.
“Despite knowing you’re a bit of a pussy?” his brother-in-law asked.
“Fuck you, Declan. I thought I could do it. That’s the love of my life in there and my kids. None of the icky stuff should bother me when I’m being strong for them.”
Declan sighed and shook his head. Braeden could hear Gabriel and Oliver trying to stifle laughs. Assholes.
“That’s not how it works. And honestly, I can’t be too mad at you for wanting to be there for them or for a moment as monumental as the birth of your children. But we all tried to warn you.”
“I know. And now I feel like a total asshole. How do I make up for what happened?” he asked.
“Divorce my sister and never speak to any of us again?”
“Declan, that’s not helpful,” Gabriel said, though he was laughing when he said it, the jerk.
“I’m being serious.”
“We know, dude,” Oliver assured him. “You’re just going to have to step up and take on as much as you can now that the girls are here. Diapers, feedings, up all night and day. Be Super Dad and Super Husband.”
Smiling, Braeden nodded his head. “I can totally do that. I’m already a great husband. How much harder can it be to be Super Husband? And I know I can kick ass at changing diapers. I’ve changed enough of Wyatt and Cayden’s to prove myself. I’ve got this.”
Declan snickered. He was such a dick sometimes.
“Whether you want to believe it or not, Declan, I’ll take care of Andi and the girls better than anyone else ever could. Now, can I go see them or what?”
Fifteen minutes later, tears streamed from his eyes as he held Penny, the eldest of the twins. He looked over at Andi, who was currently trying to breastfeed their other daughter Ruby for the first time. His wife was the most amazing woman he’d ever met. She was everything he would never be and way too good for him, yet she loved him anyway. Braeden didn’t know how the hell he’d gotten so lucky.
“I love you,” he said to her, though she wasn’t looking at him.
“Isn’t she great? So is Ruby. They’re both so precious.”
Braeden shook his head. “They are. But I wasn’t talking to either of them. I was talking to you.”
“Oh,” Andi said as she looked up at him.
She was obviously exhausted and had been put through the wringer, but she had never looked more beautiful to him than in that moment. His heart felt like it was going to burst; he was so full of love for her.
“I’m sorry about earlier. I thought I could do it. I truly thought I could be here for the three of you. I didn’t mean to make it harder for you.”
She smiled at him, love shining bright in her eyes. “I know. Could I have lived without your theatrics? Sure. Would I change the way things went? Not even a little bit.”
“You passing out is gold for storytelling. The girls will love it when they get older. Especially if you’ve got a scar to go along with it.”
“God, I love you.”
“I know,” Andi said with a laugh. “I love you, too, you bonehead. Now, will you get over here and kiss me, please? I need something to distract me from the vampire currently attached to my breast.”
He didn’t have to be asked twice. In two strides, he was at her side, his lips on hers. He’d waited damn near his entire for the moment he was currently experiencing, and it was worth it. Everything they’d gone through before now, the pain, the anguish, the ups and downs, it was all worth it.
No matter what life threw at them or what boneheaded decisions he made, everything he had to go through to be with Andi, to be a part of her life, was worth it. He’d go through hell for her. He’d listen to Nickelback for her. Whatever he had to do, he’d do it, as long as he could be by her side for the rest of their lives.