She flashed me one more warm smile before leaving the room. Moments later, Alex entered. He was dressed in slacks and a white shirt with a doctor’s coat thrown over it.
He carried a gorgeous bouquet of flowers in each hand. I gasped at the sight of them.
“Special delivery for the special deliveries,” he said with a grin.
“Don’t tell me you got metwobouquets.”
“I didn’t, just this one here,” he said as he raised the larger of the two bouquets. “Though, a bouquet for each girl seems pretty fitting. The other one is from… Penrose Publishing?”
“That’s the company that does the publishing of my books. Haley must’ve told them the news.”
“I’ll set them over here with the, ah, rest of the flowers.” He stepped over to the other side of the room, where three bouquets—one from Haley, one from my parents, and another from Kaitlyn, my agent—sat on a counter. It took some doing, but he was able to make room for all of them.
I smiled. “Thank you.” I looked around at the room, clean and inviting and comfy all at once. The big picture windows to my right gave me such a lovely view of the courtyard, of the snow still falling softly. “I can’t get over how nice this place is. I was scared about not having these two at my usual hospital, but I’m really pleased with how everything turned out.”
“I’m totally sold on Pitt Medical,” he said. “After just a few months of working here I can’t believe that I spent so much time at the standard sort of hospital that’s all fluorescent lights and administrators pushing you to get patients out as quickly as possible.”
His expression turned as he stepped closer and laid eyes on the girls. His mouth formed a flat line, and his usual hard gaze turned soft. He swallowed, as if giving himself a moment to compose.
“They’re beautiful,” he said.
Seeing his reaction was enough to bring tears to my eyes. “I hope you don’t mind the names. Normally, picking them out would be a collaborative process instead of a unilateral one.”
“Danea and Daphne,” he said. “I love them. And they’re all the more fitting now that I know they’re half-Greek.” He stepped to the side of the bed, placing his finger against the side of Danae’s cheek. His finger looked so big next to her little head, making me all the more aware of how perfect and precious she was, how fragile.
“If you mix them up, remember that Daphne’s the one with no hair,” I said with a smile.
“Good to know.” He took his finger away, an expression of concern forming on his face. He stepped back, sitting in the big lounge chair underneath the windows. “I hope you don’t take it too personally if I get a paternity test.”
I shook my head. “It’s fine. Seriously, I completely understand. I can tell you without a shred of doubt that they’re yours, but I get it. You and I spent one night together, and that’s not nearly enough time to get to know someone well enough to know if they’d lie about something like this. So, if you want to take a paternity test, let’s do it. You probably have all the stuff to do it here in the hospital, right?”
He said nothing at first, regarding me with a strange expression, as if he were deep in thought.
“We do, yeah. But are you sure you’re fine with me doing the test?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t I be? I know they’re yours, but you don’t. If you want to do this to put your mind at ease, then go for it.”
Another few beats of silence passed. “Let’s hold off on it for now. You’ve got more than enough on your mind already without having to worry about more tests.”
At that moment, Danae opened her little eyes and glanced up at me. I’d learned in my reading that babies couldn’t really see much when they were first born, and I was sure that this doubly applied to premature babies. All the same, looking down at those tiny blue eyes, the same eyes as mine, was enough to send a rush of emotions through me that I could hardly bear.
“Let me get another look at those two.” He rose from his seat and came over, leaning down over the bed. Danae turned a bit, facing him. She opened her mouth and let out a tiny, almost imperceptible gurgle that was so precious I could hardly stand it. Then, to make things even cuter, she reached her arm out toward Alex.
He lifted his index finger in front of her. Danae kept reaching, wrapping her teensy, tiny fingers around his and gripping it as hard as she could.
“Looks like she knows you’re her daddy,” I said.
Alex said nothing as she gripped his finger. He swallowed hard, then cleared his throat. A few seconds later, she took her hand away and tucked it next to her cheek. He brought his eyes to mine, and in that moment, I was struck by the connection between us, memories of that night flooding back into my mind. The faraway look on his face suggested the same was happening with him.
“Doctor?” Melanie’s voice pulled us out of our dazes.
Alex regained his composure, his professional doctor's posture immediately returning.
“Sorry to break up the moment, but we need to take these two back to the preemie nursery.”
“Of course.” He rose, reaching out for Danae. I lifted her slightly, enough for him to scoop her into his big arms. She looked so small next to him, so delicate. But he held her as if she were the most precious little thing in the world. Melanie took Daphne, and together they placed the girls in a two-baby bassinet.