Chapter 21 - Looking into His Eyes

The doctor completed his morning rounds at around 10:30 and Tessa was his last patient.  After handing over Tessa’s prescription for 3 EPI-pens to May, the doctor unclipped an index card for her as well.  “I was asked to personally deliver this invitation to you by Spencer this morning.”

May was surprised for a couple of reasons, but she only voiced one of them.  “How did he know you are Tessa’s doctor?”

The middle-aged doctor chuckled and May could see the sparkles in his eyes when he spoke of the young boy.  “Spencer is a very special kid here.  He knows all the staff here and he is not shy to grab our list of patients when we do our rounds.  Sometimes, he even follows along.”

“Sounds like he’s a regular!”  May was surprised she thought that out loud.  She looked apologetically at the doctor.  “Would it be a breach of privacy if I ask what sort of illness Spencer has?”

 “Well, I’m surprised he hasn’t told you himself!”  The doctor gave out a loud jovial laughter.  “He loves to tell people he is a ‘Sick-O’ kid!”

May didn’t get the joke and looked rather puzzled; however, Tessa seemed to catch what the doctor was saying and so she mimicked ‘See-Kal’ as pulled herself up to stand by the side of the crib.

May played through her memory on fast speed but she couldn’t recall Spencer saying those words.  “No, he never said anything about being sick; he just said he was having his birthday party today.”

“Yeah, Spencer has SCD!”  The doctor went on to explain.  “He was here for another transfusion a few days ago.”

What May heard was the familiar medical acronym she knew of vocalized her thought out loud.  “STD?”

“Oh no!  Good Lord! No!”  The doctor laughed.  “SCD stands for Sickle Cell Disease!  It’s a form of anemia!”

May had no clue what Sickle Cell Disease was, but she was not about to take the doctor’s time for a lesson in medicine.  So she thanked the doctor once again for the special invitation and made her way to the cafeteria with Tessa to look for Daniel so they could attend the birthday party together.

Spencer placed the last set of fork and spoon next to the paper plate on the decorated table.  When he turned around, he saw Daniel standing by the cashier counter.  Excitedly, he cried out loud.  “Mom, look!  That’s Tessa’s Dad!”

Both Daniel and the cashier turned and looked towards the voice and saw Spencer waving his arms at them.  Rebecca looked up at the same time and met Daniel’s eyes.  When he nodded a greeting to her, she reluctantly returned hers with a meek smile.

Spencer turned and grabbed his mother’s arm.  “Come on!”

The cashier gave Daniel his change and smiled at him.  “So I gathered you’ve met our Spencer!  It’s his birthday today!”

“Met him yesterday!” Daniel picked up the bottle of water he purchased and thanked the cashier.  Then he turned and walked towards the approaching Spencer and his mother.  “Hello Spencer!”  He stooped and extended his adult size hand to shake his child-size one.  “Happy Birthday!” 

“Not yet!  11:15!  That’s when I was born 10 years ago!”  Gleamed the cheerful boy while shaking the adult’s hand.

Then Daniel rose to meet his mother.  “Hello Rebecca!”

“Daniel West!”  Rebecca gave a somewhat nervous laugh.  “Didn’t expect to run into you here after all these years.”

“Mom!  You know him?”  Spencer looked from one adult to the other and back to his mother with a big smile.

“Yes, Honey!  Daniel and I went to high school together.”  Rebecca gathered Spencer against her tummy and patted his head.

“Wow!  Cool!”  Spencer grinned and cocooned himself against his mother.  Then he looked up at Daniel.  “Where is your wife?  And Tessa?”

“They’re waiting for the doctor!”  Daniel told the child and then turned back to Rebecca.  “We were surprised to find out you were his mother last night – but then you left before we could say hello!”

She braced herself to look into Daniel’s eyes.  “Yeah, sorry, I was in a hurry to get to work.”   

“No need to apologize!”  Daniel explained with a chuckle.  “We thought maybe you didn’t see us, or didn’t recognize us!”

“Well, I also don’t think May would be too keen to see me.”  Rebecca’s voice trailed off.  Daniel sensed a tad of awkwardness after remembering what May told him last night. 

Suddenly, Rebecca’s facial expression did a 180-degree flip and flashed him a bright smile, much like the one she had in back high school.  “Anyways, congratulations to you and May!  Your daughter is really cute!”

“Mom, am I cute too?”  Spencer wrapped his arms around Rebecca’s waist and rested his chin on her belly.

“Yes, you are cute!  Good thing you take after your Mommy’s looks!”  Rebecca squeezed his cheeks and gave him a loving spank and sent him back to the area where his party was being set up.  “Now go and get ready!  The kids will be here soon!”

When she turned around, Daniel had a puzzling look on his face.  “Umm … I don’t mean to pour cold water on you, but your son doesn’t look at all like you!”

Rebecca laughed.  “Who do you think he looks like?” 

Daniel was always the diplomatic one.  “Umm…his father?”

“Funny you should say that!”  Rebecca gave out a sigh.  “Do you remember that time I called you about 9 years ago?”  She noticed he was drawing up a blank.  “You were still in Berkeley?”

Daniel remembered the urgency in Rebecca’s voice when he picked up her call.  She was trying to tell him something about her best friend.  But she never got to the details before the line was cut off in the middle of their conversation.  When he finally got through calling her back, Pam was the one who picked up his call.  “Yeah, I called you back, but Pam said you had too much to drink and had fallen asleep.  I tried calling the next day, I think I left you a message.  You never called back.”

When Rebecca’s laughter turned stale, Daniel slowed his words and then something dawned on him.  He turned his head to look at the Happy 10th Birthday banner that was hanging on the far wall.  Within a split second, he was calculating back the years when he got her call.  “Did it have anything to do with Spencer?”

Rebecca nodded.  “Yes!  I called to tell you Spencer was your son!”

Daniel’s eyes narrowed. 
May got out of the elevator with Tessa in her arms and took quicken but unsteady paces back towards the hospital room where she wished she had never left to look for Daniel in the cafeteria.  When Ethan and Emily met her at the lounge, May’s mind was still preoccupied with the conversation she just heard between Daniel and Rebecca.  It seemed as if her world had just turned upside down and there was a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach.  They weren’t the feelings of butterflies, more like rotting maggots.

Emily took Tessa from May without noticing her pale complexion.  Both she and Ethan were too busy showering the baby with hugs and kisses.  May felt the need to sit down so she headed into the room and plopped herself into the armchair where Daniel slept last night.  The smell of his cologne should have brought comfort to her but instead her knees weakened and her stomach was starting to churn at the thought of him and Rebecca having a child together. 

Ethan noticed tears coming down her cheeks and quietly approached Emily and nodded towards the armchair as he took Tessa into his arms.  Emily looked at Ethan for hints but none were forthcoming. 

“May?  What’s wrong?”  She stooped down to look at May and feared for the worst news.  “Did the doctor say something is wrong with Tessa?”

May was taken out of her momentarily trance by Emily’s touch.  After wiping the tears from her eyes and cheeks with the cuffs of her sweater, she did her best to shake her head and smiled at her best friend.  Then she noticed Ethan and Tessa were also looking at her.  Suddenly, she felt the urgency to have Tessa back in her arms.  So she stood up and extended her arms to the baby who was glad to be in her arms again. 

Then she realized Emily and Ethan were waiting for her answer.  “No, nothing wrong.  We just have to be careful not to feed her any form of nuts until she’s at least three years old!  Then we’ll do another test to see if she’s still allergic to nuts.”

Relief swept over Emily, but she was still concerned for her best friend.  “Then why were you crying?”

“Who was crying?”  Daniel asked as he entered the room but his question was not taken seriously as he greeted his brother with pre-wedding jitter jokes.  And when Emily joined them, laughter broke out causing May to hush Daniel in a rather irritable mannerism.  She didn’t expect him to be in such a happy jolly mood after getting news that Spencer was his son.  Her agitation towards him intensified to a red alert level, so much so Tessa started crying.

“We should be leaving now!  I want to get Tessa home so she can sleep off her medication.”  May knew it wasn’t her voice that was making Tessa cry louder.  Her infant sister had this uncanny ability to sense whenever May was angry.  Her anger grew when Daniel tried to coo Tessa with his charm.  On a normal, ordinary day, his action would have melted May’s heart.  But right now, it was burning a hole in her stomach.

When Daniel attempted to carry Tessa, May deliberately turned away.  But Tessa bawled with high-intensified tantrum.  She was kicking her legs and smacking her sister in the face with her chubby baby hands and doing the virtual hula-hoop to show she wanted her Bahee.  After half-a-minute of battle, Daniel forced Tessa out from her arms.  At the same time, he gave May the ‘what’s the matter with you’ look which he knew would place him on her list of no-good doers.  However, he did it for the sake of the baby.  He didn’t want Tessa to start wheezing from the crying.  And as soon as Tessa was in his arms, she stopped crying and sucked her thumb and looked at her sister with sadden eyes.  Daniel could only hope that was enough to redeem him to be back on her good-doers list again.

As May turned around and headed down the corridor towards the elevator, both Ethan and Emily gave Daniel a questioning look.  Daniel had no clue what was happening to May.  Then Ethan mouthed to his younger brother silently.  “Must be having her woman thing!” 

“Ouch!”  Ethan yelped when Emily surprised him with a smack on his butt before she ran to catch up with May who was already waiting by the elevators.
May climb into the back seat without a word or glance towards Daniel when he was putting Tessa into the car seat.  Her action made it obvious to him that something was troubling her.  And when she wouldn’t take the bottle of water which she had sent him to the cafeteria to purchase, he sensed whatever was troubling her had something to do with him.  But for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what he did. 

Emily approached.  “May, can you wait just a few minutes longer?  Ethan has something for Daniel in his car.”  Emily wasn’t really asking for her permission.  She was already dragging Daniel away from the car.  When she was certain May couldn’t possibly hear their conversation, she finally smacked him in the arm.  “What did you do?”

“I was just about to ask you!” Daniel turned around and saw May stepping down from the car and got into the driver’s seat.  His first instinct was to reach into his pocket, then he let out a breath of air when he felt his set of keys there.  He focused his attention on Emily.  “She was fine this morning.”

“Do you think she’s hiding something about Tessa from us?”  Ethan asked.

“No, I met the doctor on my way back to the room and he said Tessa is fine!” Daniel explained.  “Her attack is common among babies.  He told us not to feed her peanuts before she turns two!” 

“Well then it must be something you did!”  This time Emily pointed forcefully at Daniel’s chest with her index finger.  She emphasized the spot where his heart was.  “Did you break her heart?  Was that why she came back to the room crying?”

“No!”  He was about to tell them about the rooftop proposal but decided to hold his tongue.  But Emily’s words struck him like a baseball bat.  “Did you say she wasn’t in the room when you guys arrived?”

“No, the nurse said she took Tessa to the cafeteria!”  Ethan added.

“She was at the Cafeteria?”  Daniel looked over to his car and saw that May had gone back to the back seat. 

“Well, whatever happened between the two of you, I want my happy, smiling, maid of honor back by tomorrow at the wedding rehearsal!”  Emily hinted with a grin.  “And if she becomes my future sister-in-law on or before Saturday, that would be the best wedding gift ever!”

“Hey!” Ethan shot her a ‘what the something’ kind of look.  Emily smiled, gave him a quick kiss on his lips.  “I meant the best gift from my brother-in-law!”
During the ride home, Tessa was repeating her own words like a parrot.  It seemed she was learning to put names to faces; either that or she was ‘high’ from the medication given to her.    

“Ba-bahee!”  She loved calling Daniel.  And when she got tired of calling him, she called the person sitting next to her.  “Ma-eee!”

Tessa liked how ‘Bahee’ always responsed either by calling her name or with a smile from the rearview mirror.  However, ‘Ma-eee’ had no reaction whatsoever.  She just kept looking out the window.  Bahee noticed as well but didn’t dare interrupt Ma-eee’s thoughts.  He came to the conclusion that she was upset with him for talking to Rebecca.  He decided to give her some time to cool off before explaining that their meeting up was by chance.  He was certain May would understand. 

However, Tessa was not the waiting type and wanted May’s attention immediately.  So when ‘Ma-eee’ wasn’t working, she decided to call her by a different title.  “Mamama - Ma!”

Finally, May turned and caressed Tessa’s cheek.  “Yes, baby?”

Just as Tessa started repeating ‘Mama’, the car came to a stop in front of a red traffic light.  Now that May was back among them, Daniel decided to join in.  So he turned around to look at her.  “Do you think it’s a good idea for Tessa to grow up thinking we are her parents?  What do you think if we adopt her as our daughter?”

May looked at him with a stunned but blank expression.  Daniel continued.  “You know, since she already calls you, Mama, and calls me, Bahee!  That kind of sound like father in Chinese, right?”

May realized her lower jaw had been left hanging open for more than a few seconds, but she didn’t seem to have the motor skills to close her mouth.  Daniel turned to glance at the lights, and it was still red, so he turned back and looked straight into her eyes with a beaming grin.  “What do you think?  Should we adopt her before or after we get married?”

May’s mind was clouded by images of him with Rebecca and their son, Spencer.  She couldn’t understand how Daniel could still talk about the two of them getting married after finding out he had fathered a son with another woman.  And not just any woman, but the bitchiest-bitch in the whole of her high school.  After Daniel turned his attention back to driving, May decided the initial news must have hit him hard and denial had taken over his gentle mind.

Remember Me This Way - Jordan Hill