I made it to the hospital as quickly as I could drive without getting pulled over after Brock had called me saying she'd gone into labor.
The baby hadn't been due for another month so I hadn't expected it to come so soon. I remembered the night we'd spent together after I'd returned from being away on an assignment for over a month, the first night I'd gotten back home.
I felt sure enough to leave town on a business junket believing everything would be as I left it when I returned. But I'd received a phone call at the hotel and rushed to get a flight to head on back home. I had my car parked and waiting at the terminal and it wasn't a long drive to Memorial Hospital.
But traffic hadn't been light and the weather had turned as a storm blew in over the highway so it took me longer than I'd planned. When I flew through the double doors into the hospital, I soon found out my wife was in a separate room still waiting for what they called active labor to begin. It'd taken nearly 24 hours with our firstborn so I wasn't surprised.
Brock was with my wife who was dressed in a hospital gown lying in a bed eating ice chips. They were laughing as they talked about what I didn't know but they'd been good friends. The three of us were pretty tight.
"Thanks for bringing her."
He looked up at me.
"No problem…I happened to be there and she didn't want to be alone."
Gloria smiled at me, reaching for my hand.
"Honey…what's important is that you're here."
I took her hand and squeezed it.
"How much longer…?"
"I don't know…I'm not dilated enough or something…it could be an hour…or a day."
I hoped not a day as my wife looked uncomfortable even as she tried to hide it. It'd been a difficult pregnancy for her. Complications beginning with what she called all day sickness and then there'd been some concerns about the heartbeat and later whether or not the placenta would separate. All conditions explained in very scientific terms but in plain language it meant that the baby's survival wasn't guaranteed.
I'd always wanted a daughter, someone like Gloria who had her looks, her calm nature and her sense of humor. But she hadn't wanted to know the sex. She wanted to be surprised.
The contractions contorted her face when they rippled through her, still infrequent. She'd ride them out, stop talking for a moment and then pick up where she left off as if it hadn't happened. Brock rubbed her back and she smiled at him when I'd gone to ask the nurse for more ice chips.
I returned and put them on the side table. She just looked at me.
"Honey it's going to be just fine," she said, "Nothing's going to happen."
"She's a strong woman and her baby will be strong just like both of you."
I knew that to be true but I'd remembered the warnings. The nurse came through to check her chart and her status but said very little before leaving again.
"It's lucky Brock was with you when you felt the first pains."
The two of them looked at each other.
"Yes…Yes it was honey," she said, "He was working on those cabinets remember…the ones I told you would be done by the time you returned? I thought it was just my lower back pain at first from carrying low."
"Yeah and then her water broke."
"Yeah I hope it doesn't stain the hardwood floor in the dining room."
"It'll be fine."
"We broke all kind of speed laws getting here," Brock said, "but I guess these things take hours."
I nodded now having been through it twice.
Now years later, I thought back to those hours in the hospital. Tiffany didn't take time to come into the world after that. Once the labor began in earnest and they wheeled my wife into the delivery room and had me suit up, the rest went quickly.
The doctor handed me a red faced squalling little baby wrapped in a towel to hold for the first time. She opened her eyes and seemed to look at me for a long moment and I looked back down at her.
The daughter that I'd always wanted.
She grew up so fast and had turned into an adult I barely recognized. She did things I didn't understand and kept secrets from me including a pregnancy test. But then I'd kept my secrets too including the fact that I'd been fucking her best friend.
Tiffany had brought him over to the house. Lars who worked with Brock cut an imposing figure but seemed to spend a lot of time looking at my daughter. I watched him closely too.
"So Devlin, how's business been?"
"Good as it's always been," I said, "I might retire soon."
"You retire…you're the most driven man there is…even more than Brock."
I didn't like being compared to Brock in any way but I just smiled.
"I've got family to think about besides work," I said, "and I've made enough money to slow down."
"Fair enough…Brock's cutting back on his client list too," Lars said, "That'll leave me to pick up the slack for the both of you."
"Brock's cutting back?"
"Oh yeah, he's finally ready to settle down and have a family," he said, "I never thought I'd see the day."
"Caroline's definitely coming back…?"
"Don't know about that but Brock's got a girl he's been seeing now."
Tiffany piped up.
"Yeah Ruby…they've been going hot and heavy for over a month."
I didn't want to hear about that either.
"She's too young for him to take seriously," I said, "She's old enough to be his daughter."
Tiffany rolled her eyes.
"Barely…and they seem happy together," she said, "Ruby needed a boyfriend anyway."
Then Ruby walked in followed by Gloria.
"Someone saying my name?"
I just looked at her memorizing every feature of her body I knew to be hidden underneath that summer dress that molded to it so perfectly.
"Just talking about your guy," Tiffany said, "He'll be here in time for the dance won't he?"
"Sure…Tiffany I don't know if I can go tonight."
My daughter furrowed her brows.
"Oh why not…?"
Ruby looked pensive.
"I just need to do some thinking…"
She shot me a look but focused more on Tiffany.
She paused and then shook her head.
"Maybe I'll talk to you later about it okay?"
Tiffany nodded back.
"I guess I'll head on out," she said, "I'll talk to you later."
She walked away, those hips gently swaying, those long legs…I was going to get hard if I kept looking because right now, I just ached with how much I wanted to see those hips writhe beneath me while I had her pinned, this legs wrapped around me tightly.
My pants tightened, too late. Then Gloria looked at me.
"Devlin, I need your help to unload groceries," she said, "It won't take long."
So I left and Lars and Tiffany were soon too wrapped up in each other to notice anything about me. Ruby had already left and damn if I didn't want to follow her and give her what she needed. She might tell me she didn't want it but I'd make a liar out of her.
I put the groceries away while my wife took a phone call about one of those social meetings that kept her so busy. I remembered what it had been like to have been watching Ruby in a similar kitchen at our beach house. She'd been barely 17 back then and I'd had these thoughts about her…that I kept to myself because she was jailbait. The most sexy, desirable form of jailbait but I knew enough to look but not touch.
But I'd wanted her so badly when my wife and kids were on the beach leaving the two of us alone. She had been wearing a bikini top and some shorts and all I could think about doing was cupping her breasts in my hands while I kissed those soft, plump lips. Teasing them with my tongue and then thrusting it inside her untried mouth. Showing her with my tongue exactly what I wanted to do with her pussy with my cock. If I could only get her in my bed.
I knew if I took one step forward, I'd cross a line. But it didn't stop me from wanting her. No, I knew I'd have to wait until she was older…and thought myself crazy for thinking even of taking her when she was legal. The girl who'd grown up into a woman alongside my daughter and all I could think about was getting into her pants.
She'd be perfect, the daughter of the town tramp. I'd been one of the only men with enough sense to keep away from her mother. She had a revolving door inside her house and I knew Ruby wound up raising herself.
Her mother now lived with a loser of a boyfriend named Dirk who I knew from years ago. Every time she kicked him out he returned a few months later.
I didn't like him because we had one thing in common.
"Dad…mom, Lars and I are leaving now," Tiffany said entering the kitchen.
Gloria looked up from the phone.
"We'll see you later," she said, "Your dad and I are going to the concert."
The what? But then I remembered we were supposed to meet some friends to listen to jazz music at a new place.
I turned to my daughter.
"Don't be back too late."
She just folded her arms and looked at me.
"I'm an adult; I can take care of myself."
But I didn't completely trust Lars anymore than I trusted Chad, and a father's place was to look out after his daughter.
I just wasn't sure anymore if Tiffany even was my daughter.