A few weeks went by until Mama was stable enough to come home. Pops made sure she had around the clock care from a Palliative Nursing agency. Pops would not let Mama die in a hospital. He did everything he could to get the house ready for Mama. He hired the best nurses and aides the agency offered.
I spent a lot of time over there as well. She would often help me finalize details for the wedding. If Mama didn’t make it to my wedding, at least she would be apart of it by putting in on ideas and letting me know if mine were too bizarre. Ray let me take full control, but he had two requests. No pink and chicken wings had to be on the menu. Ray was so simple and I loved that he let me plan my dream wedding.
It was hard facing the fact that Mama might not be there to witness our matrimony. She assured me that she’d be there in spirit if she was unable to be there physically. The wedding was six months away and I prayed every day that Mama would last that long. Ray has been around more often. He is being the true support he is supposed to be.
Soon as I got out of work, I showered changed my clothes and headed to my parent’s house. Ray was with me. I knew some days he wanted to just be at home, but he never uttered a word.
“Babe, I’m gonna head home, I’m tired.” Ray said one evening we were visiting Mama.
“Okay. I love you.”
“I love you too Tanya…maybe you should come with me.” I looked up to him searching for answers on his face to match his words.
“She’s sleeping baby, it’ll be fine.” I was hesitant to leave, but I know he was right. I am drained. Work, mom, wedding. It was all becoming too much for me.
“Okay.” I whispered. I turned to Mama, she was sound asleep. I kissed her softly on the forehead and I let her night aide know I was leaving. Pops was sitting out on the porch on the swing.
“Calling it a night, Tee?” He asked.
“Yes, Ray insisted.” I said softly.
“That’s a good man you got there Tee. Listen to him.” Ray nudged me and smiled at Pops. I couldn’t help but smile too.
Ray walked closely behind me as we entered our throne. I looked around our house, seeing that it was a little messy. I’ve been spending so much time with Mama I’ve been neglecting my own house.
“I’m sorry, Raymond.”
“Why are you worry, bae?”
“Look at this place,” I pointed around the living room, “it’s a mess.”
“You’ve been busy.”
“Yes, I have, but that’s no excuse to neglect my husband and my responsibilities.”
Ray walked up to me smiling, “You’re right, you sure have been neglecting your husband.” I could feel his dick jump as he got closer and closer. This man still gives me goosebumps after five years and soon to be forever,
“You make me so happy Raylin.”
“You make him happy, Tanya.” Smirking as he nods toward his dick. I playfully hit him as he grabs me into the air.
“Put me down, Ray.” I joked, hitting him in the back and kicking my feet.
“Okay.” Ray finally put me down and started to tickle me all over. He knows how ticklish I can be and it makes me proud that we can still have such a playful relationship. I fell to the floor, laughing uncontrollably.
“Ray..stop.” I manage to say in between laughs. I finally gained enough strength to pin him under me as I straddle him.
“I caught you slipping, Mr. Reynolds. Rule number one. Don’t slip.” I began tickling Ray. You’d never guess a grown man like Ray would be so defenseless because of a tickle. He finally grabbed my wrist pulling me into him so that our lips met.
“You’re so beautiful.” He said in between kisses.
“As you are.” I returned the complement. We shared a kiss so blissful as if our love had just grew. I’ve been through so much this past month I couldn’t even deal, but Ray always kept me sane. I thought about all the petty fights we’ve had. And all the reasons why they’re no longer important. Yes, Ray had to get out the game, but I was not going to continue fighting him over it. It was time for an ultimatum.
“Ray?” I asked breaking our kiss.
“Tee?” He answered back.
“You know I love you?”
“You better.” Ray laughed. I playfully hit his chest.
“I’m serious Ray.”
“Okay, yes and I love you too.”
“Well I have an ultimatum.” That made Ray rest his body weight on his elbows as he sat up in a crunch to face me.
“What is it Tee?” I could hear the annoyance in his voice.
“It’s been four years since you promised to get out the game right?”
“Right.” He answered.
“Well we’re getting married in 6 months. I want you out by then.”
“If not?” He asked raising his eyebrow. I didn’t answer so he raised his voice, “If not Tanya Janae?”
“The wedding is off.” I whispered.
“Yes. And I’ll be gone too.” It hurt me so bad to say this, but it needed to be said. Silent tears filled my eyes as they rolled off my cheeks and on to Ray. He sat up completely with me still straddled around his waist and gripped my ass real tight without exchanging any words for a moment.
“Okay Tanya. Damn! I got you ma, I promise.” He finally spoke, reaching up to wipe my tears. We stared into each other eyes intensely and then he kissed me. Ray kissed me passionately as tears rolled down my cheeks. I was releasing so much built up stress. Anger, guilt, despair, and all my emotions from inside were coming out in the form of tears. Ray used his body mechanics to lift us off the floor. My man. My strongman. I wrapped my legs around his torso as he carried me upstairs to our bedroom. Ray was very careful as he removed my clothes. He kept whispering, ‘I got you’ as he made sweet, sweet love to me.
Ray convinced me to take some time to myself. So far the last couple weeks I’ve been spending 2-3 days with Mama. Especially Sundays, I wanted to continue our breakfast ritual, I previously slacked off with. Only difference now was I’d cook while Mama rested. She had quite an appetite still which was good. Mama sure loved food and she loved to cook. She even started selling dinners a while back before she initially got sick. Pops hated people coming in and out of his place so he eventually bought a store front. Once she got sick Pops let my Aunt Diana take over. Mama would occasionally go in a help Diana out.
It was nice knowing that the business was in the family. Even better is that it started with Mama so there’d always be a part of her left in the world. Mama was doing much better these days. One day we were having a good time. She was laughing and joking like old times.
“Tanya, I have question for you?’
“You pregnant.” Mama said without a bit of uncertainty in her tone.
“Ma, no I am not pregnant.”
“Oh yes you are. I’m sure of it.” I guess it was more of a statement than anything. She laughed it off. I smirked too, a little uneasy.
I have been feeling a little funny. I shrugged it off as anxiety. Right now was not a good time to be pregnant. We’re months away from my wedding, Ray was still hustling. I couldn’t possible be pregnant. I’ve been on the same birth control for the past eight years. Damn! Birth Control!
“Ma, I’ll be right back. I have to make an important phone call.” Mama nodded her head as I headed out the kitchen to call my doctor.
“Hello, this is Dr. Rattler’s office. How may I help you?
“Yes, hi this is Tonya Michaels…”
“Tanya, darling where have you been?”
“I know so much had been going on, I haven’t realized I missed my appointment.”
“Yes, I’ve been trying to contact you, but your phone goes straight to voicemail and your box is full. You need to clean that out you know?” I’m not sure if Ms. Claress was my nurse or my mom at this rate.
“I know Ms. Claress, I’ve been busy with mom, work and this wedding!”
“Oh goodness. I forgot. How’s your mom? I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. She’s doing well actually. I’m here with her now and she prompt me to call.”
“Mom’s intuition, eh? Grandbaby on the way?” Ms. Claress laughed, which I didn’t think was even close to being funny. She must’ve sensed my silent discomfort because she abruptly stopped.
“Sorry, um how’s the wedding planning? How’s that man of yours holding up?”
“The wedding planning is coming along. It’s crunch time now. Only three months away. Ray…” I paused. “He’s fine. He doesn’t want much to do with the planning. He just wants to show up and eat chicken wings.” We shared a laugh.
“And of course, marry his Queen.” Ms. Claress added.
“Of course,” I blushed. “So when can you fit me in to get my shot?”
“Let’s see, it looks like you’re two months overdue, so as soon as possible. How about tomorrow at 1pm?”
“Sure, that’s fine. I’ll just have to take a half day at work.”
“Okay, darling. See you then.” As I hung up my mind starting entertaining thoughts of me being pregnant. I was upset that I had allowed myself to miss two appointments.
“Sweetie, everything alright?”
“Yes, Ma. Everything is fine.” She just smiled. I sure hoped so. They say a mom always knows, but I was hoping this time she didn’t. I contemplated on telling Ray, but I decided not to until I knew if it was true.
I sat patiently in Dr. Rattler’s office, flipping through magazines, tapping my foot. Why am I so nervous. I’m sure a couple missed appointment’s wouldn’t be so bad.
“Miss Michaels.” Ms. Claress called out to me.
I smiled as I walked up to her.
“You look nervous, chile. Relax. No matter the results. It isn’t the end of the world.” Ms. Claress was right. I had to get myself together because the way I was feeling was ridiculous.
“Here, I need you to pee in this cup and place it in the gray cabinet when you’re all done. You know the drill.”
“Yes.” I smiled and shut the bathroom door. I said a silent prayer and then released into the cup. I washed my hands and headed to the room assigned to Dr. Rattler.
I must’ve prayed a million times before she came into the room. I’m not sure what I prayed for. I didn’t pray to be pregnant. Neither did I pray to not be pregnant. I was just terrified and had to let it go and give it to Him. At this point, whatever is meant to be will be.
Knock! Knock! I’m not sure if it was my heart beating out my chest or Dr. Rattler at the door until she came in.
“Hello, Miss Michaels. I mean Mrs. Reynolds.” Dr. Rattler chuckled.
“Hi, Dr. Rattler.”
“How’s my baby girl doing? You must be beyond stress with everything you got going on.
“Yes, it has been rough. I am slowly, but surely putting the pieces back together.”
“As you should, you deserve happiness, baby.”
Dr. Rattler is a good friend of Mama’s. They grew up together and reconnected once Mama got pregnant with me. Dr. Rattler was five years older than Mama, but they always had a tight friendship. She even delivered me.
“Okay, so am I good to get my shot.” It was always nice talking to Dr. Rattlers, she was so pleasant, but my nerves were getting the best of me. I just wanted the curiosity to be over.
“Well honey, not exactly. You’re pregnant.” The words rolled off her tongue and mine at the same time.
“Pregnant?” I asked.
“Yes, baby girl.” Dr. Rattler was excited. You could tell by the tone of her voice.
“Pregnant.” I repeated. No longer questioning it, just stating it matter of factly. I looked down at my belly as I rubbed it slowly.
“I’m going to be a mom.”
“Yes! A great mom. Just like Margaret.” Dr. Rattler wined at me as I felt a tear fall. I was not upset. I was actually happy. After all the anticipation overnight, I didn’t think I was going to be okay with being pregnant. Somewhere between hearing the words and touching my belly, I felt overjoyed.
“Those are tears of joy, right?” Dr. Rattler asked in a motherly concerning voice.
“Yes,” I said between sobs. “Yes, they are.
“Okay, good. I’ll go find a sonographer so we can get an ultrasound done to see how far along you are.”
“Okay.” I needed to call Raylin. I’m not sure how he’d feel about this, although, at this point in our relationship I know he has my back 100%. Just as I began to dial his number the sonographer knocked on the door. Good timing I needed to tell him face to face. I shot him a text
WE NEED 2 TLK. LOVE YOU!
As I watched the sonographer take pictures of my belly it all was becoming so real. There was a baby inside of me. It didn’t look like much, but once I heard the heartbeat I knew it was everything! She informed me that I was eight weeks pregnant and printed out a picture of my little peanut.
As I left the doc office I checked my phone to see if Ray had called, like I knew he would. He called about five times and messaged me letting me know he was home and he was worried about me. I got in my car to head home to deliver the news.
When I stepped into the door I saw Ray pacing back and forth.
“Hey baby, wassup? What happened? You okay?” Ray bombarded me with questions checking over my body. He was moving so fast my purse fell emptying it’s contents.
“Ray,” I yelled laughing at him. He was so concerned. I probably should’ve called him back on my way home.
We both bent down to gather my things as Ray’s hand reached for the ultrasound picture.
“What’s this Tee? He asked.
“Uh…” I started.
Tears started to flow out my eyes as I nodded yes. Ray looked down at my belly, back to the picture and up to me. He pulled me into his arms as he hugged me tight.
“Shhh…why are you crying, baby its okay.”
“I know Ray…I just…” I tried to speak between sobs.
“Shhh….its okay. It’s okay.” Ray embraced me for what seemed like forever.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, ma. And if I didn’t have you as a good enough reason to get out the game. I sure as hell do now.”
I just looked up at Ray in admiration. By the look on his face I could see his thinking wheels were churning. He was trying to figure out how he was going to go legit. I didn’t care as long as he did it, sooner than later.
That evening Ray and I went over to my parent’s house. Pops and Mama were in the living room, hugged up on the couch.
“I guess you’re never too old to cuff.” Ray joked and looked at me.
“Ha, ha, ha, real funny young buck.” Pops said with a smile.
“I mean it’s a beautiful sight to see.” Ray trying to smooth things over. He bent over to give Mama a kiss and slap Pops up. I followed suit giving them hugs and squeezing in the middle of them.
“That’s enough, break it up.” I joked.
“Aren’t you two some cock blockers.” Pops said as well all laughed.
“Where’s Elsa?” I asked pertaining to the nurse who is usually there in the evenings.
“I sent her home.” Pops said very sternly. I knew not to ask any more questions.
“Well, we have something to tell you guys.”
“What? You pregnant?” Pops laughed but, after realizing he was laughing alone he stopped.
“Yeah, she is.” Ray said. I never heard his voice so low.
“I knew it!” Mama yelled. “I told you baby, Mama knows.”
Pops was still quiet.
“She’s eight weeks,” Ray started.
“Aww baby. My baby is having a baby.” Mama smiled hugging me. Pops still remained quiet.
“Pops you okay?” I asked.
“I’m good baby girl. Con…grats. Ray. Uh…I need to speak to you for a minute.” Pops seemed uneasy.
“Sure.” As Ray got up after Pops. He shrugged his shoulders at Mama and I. And they disappeared into the kitchen.
“What’s up with him?” I asked Mama.
“You know your father, sweetie.” That’s all she said which left me sort of confused. Was he not happy for us? Did I disappoint him? What was it?
“So how you feeling.” Ma continued.
“Good. At first I was kind of worried, but I know that it was God’s plan to give us this baby.”
“That’s right. We can’t go messing with what God has planned.
“You’re right ma. I just hope you’re around to witness it.”
“We don’t live on hope baby. We live on prayer. It its meant to be it will be. Enough about that, what about your dress?”
Mama attitude towards her prognosis was so uplifting. Even at her weakest time she was strong. I love this woman.
“Maaa,” I whined. “Don’t remind me. I’ll look like a beach whale.
Ma couldn’t help but laugh. “You’ll look beautiful honey.”
“And fat!” I pouted, making us both laughed. It was cut short when the guys emerged from the kitchen.
“What’s so funny?” Pops asked.
“Nothin, just girl talk.” Ma explained as we both chuckled. I looked at Ray who was grinning. Pops just shrugged his shoulder not wanting to press the issue.
I’m guessing the conversation wasn’t a bad one. Ray was still in one piece. We decided to order pizza and eat with my parents out on the back patio.
We talked and joked like we always do. It was so good seeing Mama happy.
Back at home Ray and I lay in bed. My feet on him as he massaged them.
“So what’s the 411?”
“411?” Ray laughed.
“You know what I’m talking bout.”
Ray laughed, “You’ve been dying to ask me huh?’
“You know I have.” I admitted with no shame.
“He just dropped some jewels.”
“Like?” I needed him to elaborate.
“About being a family man, a father, and a husband.”
“That’s it?” I asked.
“His major concern was me going clean.”
BINGO! I knew it was something. Pops rarely spoke on Ray’s decision to keep hustling. The news of the baby on the way must’ve sparked something.
“So what you gonna do?” I asked, almost afraid to ask, I haven’t pressed the issue since I gave him the ultimatum three months ago. It has kept a whole lot of peace.
“I’m gonna start putting my plan to work.”