"So we all decided we should move to a bigger city together. We can split the higher costs of living, so finances won't be a problem. I already have several gigs set up there and I've talked to several people in New City about renting a house there, so our housing is taken care of. Monty and Lia want to get married here first, before we go, so that the family can be there to see her get married."
"Hmmm," Reilly said. "It sounds like you all have it all figured out then. So how soon after the wedding will you guys be moving?"
"Well," Alder thought for a moment. "Lia says she can pull together her wedding in less than a week. So I hope to be in New City within the next ten days."
Reilly nodded. "Ten days huh? That won't give your mother much time to get used to the idea of you guys moving out. Moving out and moving away."
"I know." Alder nodded his head. "Mom's gonna freak." He rolled his eyes. "She wants me to move to her homeland and give her grandchildren. I have no interest in getting married or having kids, I just want to write my music and play my guitar. And get paid to do it!" He shrugged. "I can't stay here, it would be career suicide."
Reilly smiled sadly. "I understand Alder. I will miss you guys, but I agree with you that it is a good idea for your chosen careers."
Lia declared that she wanted to get married at the very spot where she first met Claudio. So the next several days the house was a flurry of activity as everyone pitched in to help with Claudio and Lia's wedding. Until finally, the Wedding Day arrived.
Alder had to fortify himself, weddings were not his thing. The juice keg had been his idea, and it was pretty fine idea if he didn't say so himself.
He thought Monty looked a little stressed and tense, so Alder helped him loosen up a little.
"Alder! What are you doing?" Reilly hollered.
"Helping Monty loosen up." Alder told his father.
"If you get the groom juiced up before his wedding, your sister is going to loosen your head off of your shoulders. And I'll help her! Now, go make yourself useful!"
"No good deed goes unpunished." Alder grumbled under his breath as he set Monty back on his feet. At least, Monty no longer looked like he was about to pass out from nerves, he even had some color back in his face, Alder thought.
Alder was finding it quite amusing that Monty, Mr. Calm himself, kept letting his nerves get to him.
Not that he blamed him, if he had to marry Lia, he would probably jump off the nearest cliff to end his suffering quickly. Monty had given him a funny look when Alder told him that. He even said he wasn't nervous about marrying Lia, he was nervous about being around so many Kahekilis at once, en masse. Monty's family wasn't as large and as extensive as the Kahekilis, and Lia didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so she had invited every family member, no matter how distantly related.
Claudio's nervousness faded though along with the rest of the world, once he was standing under the arch, with his beautiful bride looking at him in adoration.
The next morning, Alder, Claudio and Lia left for New City. Lia's first impressions of New City were not favorable. Nor were her second impressions. The house was the clincher though, she didn't like it. "I don't like it." she said emphatically.
Alder rolled his eyes. "You've come to this conclusion after being here for an hour?"
"No, " Lia countered, "I came to this conclusion as soon as we hit the city limits. It is dirty, stinky, everything is hard and concrete, there is barely any grass or trees or..."
"You've got a whole yard full of grass." Alder shot back. "I don't see the problem."
Lia opened her mouth to fire back, but Claudio swooped in and kissed her, forestalling her next words. "Lia, we need to be open minded and give it a chance, okay? If you still don't like it, we'll find a different city to live in."
Lia smiled at Claudio. "Okay, I'll give it a chance."
"That's my girl." Claudio kissed her again, and soon both had forgotten about Alder standing there.
Alder snorted. Here was the fatal flaw to his plan. He was going to be living with newlyweds. At least Claudio got Lia to see reason, which was a miracle in Alder's opinion. Lia was rarely reasonable. Alder decided this was a good time to check out where his next gig was going to be. "I'm going out." he said to no one in particular. He wasn't surprised when no one answered either.
A few wrong turns later, he finally found the place, and walked in. He pushed the door open, walked in and seated himself at the bar. Then he got a good look at the woman behind the bar, and a smile crept on his face. His night just magically got better.
"Hello Doll." he said warmly. "I'm Alder."
Without even looking up she said, "We're not open yet."
"Good, that gives me some time to check the place out, and figure out where I want to place our band equipment, look over the sound system, all that jazz."
She finally looked up at him. "Excaliber?" she questioned.
"Yeah, that's the name of my band. You heard of us?"
"Heard of you! I heard you guys at University Park, and you were simply amazing! When Jones told me that you guys would be playing here for a few nights, I actually begged to come to work!" With stars in her eyes she asked him, "Would you mind autographing this napkin?" She slid a napkin and pen over to him. Alder scrawled his signature on it and passed them back to her.
"What's your name Doll?"
"Spring." she said shyly, looking away.
"Spring is a beautiful name, it suits you."
Alder didn't know why, and he didn't question it either, he just had this way with chicks. Within a manner of minutes, he had Spring's phone number, and her address. And some passionate kissing behind the bar.
Which lead to some fooling around in the photo booth.
After a few more tussles in the photo booth, he made his way home. He was still too keyed up to sleep, so he swam some laps in the indoor pool at his new digs. He called that quits though and decided to go outside for a walk when he overheard his sister and Monty. There were just some things a brother didn't want to hear, he thought in disgust. Newlyweds, what was he thinking?
He noticed a woman standing out on the curb, hesitant and unsure, and as he walked closer, he recognized her and gave her a warm hug. "Mrs. Martell, what a delightful surprise."
"What kind of a greeting is that?" she asked with a pout.
Alder obliged her.
"Mmm, much better."
"You're dressed up pretty fancy for just visiting little ole me. The dress is nice, but you know what I prefer."
"Oh, I know what you like." she smiled at him. "I had to attend yet another one of Tobin's boring fundraisers, then he informed me that I should run along home now, like I'm some kind of lap dog poodle." she said bitterly. Then she brightened up, and ran a finger down Alder's chest. "I was hoping you'd be here." she whispered. "Do you like the house I found for you?"
"The house is great! I love it! You said it's owned by your husband's father, the Mayor of New City, right? Won't he mind..."
Dora laughed softly. "Not in the slightest. They both think they have me under their thumb, but no one owns me. They were pathetically happy to lease it out too, the taxes are so expensive in this neighborhood. It is one of the few green areas in New City."
"So I noticed." Alder thought of his sister, but then firmly pushed the thought away. "Would you like to come in?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
Alder was relieved that the house was all quiet when they went inside. He hoped his sister and Monty were sleeping. Another thing he didn't think about, roommates could really cramp his style. It didn't take Dora long to bring his attention back to her.
She stayed overnight, which Alder usually didn't allow sleepovers. In this case, he made a small exception, because one, she was his landlady, and two, they did very little sleeping.
The weeks passed by quickly. Alder was thrilled with his new life, while Lia was still trying to adjust. She just didn't like all the concrete and smog, she felt like she was being suffocated. Her career was going well, she was making lots of great contacts, and she spent hours going through scripts. Claudio holed up in a room and painted while Lia was at work. Everything fell into a rhythm, until that fateful day, when Alder's life was changed forever.
It started with a knock at the door.
When Alder went to answer it, he noticed it was Spring. He hadn't seen her in a while, she had started making noises about commitment, and he had backed out as fast as his wings could take him. He had this faint premonition, that if he let her inside his home, his life would never be the same. He contemplated not answering, but in the end he decided that was a cowardly thing to do, and he wasn't a coward. So he opened the door.
"Hi." Spring said nervously. "I haven't seen or heard from you in a while."
"Uh yeah, sorry, I've been busy." He winced at his own lameness. "You look well, though," he said. "you've put on some weight, but hey, you carry it well." He groaned inwardly. Where was his legendary charm now? He had pretty much called her fat, and that was number one no no in the Charm handbook.
"It's not fat, Alder, it's called a baby. I'm pregnant. And it's yours."
Alder stared at her, his face frozen in a smile. Did she just use the words pregnant and yours in the same sentence?!
Spring continued to talk, the words nervously pouring from her lips. "Sorry to spring this, ha ha, spring, anyway, sorry to spring this on you this way. But I'm in a bit of a bind. I lost my job, because the Boss man says a pregnant lady doesn't sell drinks, that in fact she scares away customers. And he can't afford to lose any business due to my stupidity. But without the job, I didn't have any money, so I lost my apartment. I don't have a place to stay, I don't have any money, I'm due to give birth to your child any day now, and I just need a place to crash for a while. Can I stay here?"
She did! She used the words pregnant and yours in the same sentence! Then she added to it, with the whole can I stay with you bit.
"Alder?" she asked, hesitantly, as he continued to stare at her, his face frozen.
With an effort, he shook the shock off. "Uh, sure." Really, what else could he say? She was homeless, penniless, and pregnant with his child, only a complete jerk would tell her no. He was going to be a father, he felt ill at the thought. He still had to tell Lia and Monty they were going to have another roommate. Lia was going to freak.
He was right. Lia freaked.
"I can't believe this Alder! Of all the irresponsible..." Lia raged.
"Bah, get over yourself Lia. You're not my mother. It's just temporary anyway."
Lia looked at Alder as if he had lost his mind. "Temporary? Are you crazy? This is a child we are talking about Alder! A child! A child is not temporary, a child is a lifetime commitment!" Both siblings were yelling at each other, forgetting that the object of their conversation was in the same room.
"What do you want me to do about it?" he asked her irritably.
"Are you going to marry her?"
Alder was horrified. "Heck no, I'm not the marrying kind. I told her that..."
"...when you first met her. Yeah, yeah, I'm familiar with your game plan Romeo. The way you lead these girls on, it is despicable! This one just happens to be pregnant with your kid."
"A fact I am well aware of, thank you very much! And what do you mean about leading them on? I'm upfront and honest from the get go, I'm not interested in long term. I can't help it that some seem to take that as a challenge!" He started to say something more, but Spring's soft voice stopped him.
"I didn't ask you to marry me." she said with quiet dignity. "I just need a place to crash for a little bit, while I get back on my feet. I'm sorry to be such a burden on you, but I'll get out of your hair as soon as I can." Alder turned towards Spring in surprise, he had forgotten she was even in the room.
"Uh, sorry Spring." he said sheepishly. "It's an old fight between Lia and I, and doesn't really have anything to do with you personally. She's just an annoying, nosy busy body that tries to run everyone's life her way."
"Annoying...busy..." Lia sputtered behind him.
Alder hugged Spring affectionately. "Take no mind of us, we argue a lot, just ask Monty. You're not a burden, but you did give me quite a surprise!" he added on, when Spring looked at him skeptically. "But hey, I'm an eternal optimist, and I already see several good things about this situation."
"Like what?" Spring asked curiously.
"Yeah, like what?" Lia repeated.
Alder smiled at Spring. "Well, I've been thinking about it, and if I have a little dude, I can teach him all about guitars and girls." Alder warmed up to his subject. "I've also decided you look really hot." He eyed her body appreciatively. "I've never said that about a pregnant woman in my entire life. Never thought it either, but being that's it my kid in there, makes all the difference. You are rocking some curves woman! And even better..." He pulled Spring into his arms, and she went willingly. "We can have sex and not worry about you getting pregnant, the deed is already done."
"I like how your mind thinks." Spring whispered. She sighed happily when his lips found hers.
Spring had tried to let him go, though it had nearly killed her. She had made the tragic mistake of talking about marriage and children, and he had backed off so quickly it made her head spin. It hurt too, that he could so casually and easily walk away from her. Then she found out she was pregnant. She thought briefly about telling him, but decided against it. She didn't want him with her because he was forced into it. She wanted him to choose her.
Then she lost her job, and her place, and she had no where else to go. Ten minutes in his company, and she found herself wishing he would offer to marry her. Ten minutes for her to realize she wasn't over him, she still loved him, no matter that he had hurt her. He had told her he wasn't into long term, and she hadn't been either, at first. The more time she spent with him though, the more that changed. She couldn't really blame him, she had changed the rules, and he had decided he didn't want to play by them.
Now they had this baby to consider. She wanted them to be a family. She wanted his answer to his sister's question, Are you going to marry her?, to be a yes. Maybe, with enough time, he would fall in love with her. So she would use whatever time she had, to tie him as close to her as she could. It had to work. The heartache if it did not was unthinkable.
Lia stared out the window, grumbling to herself. Alder was impossible, and if he couldn't tell that girl was in love with him, and looking for more than his usual thanks it was fun lets do it again sometime, then he was an idiot.
Less than a week later, Spring felt the first labor pains hit her.
It was Alder's turn to freak out. He was about to become a Dad. The responsibility of it was frightening. He wasn't ready. What did he know about babies? What if he dropped it, or rolled over it in bed while sleeping, or ??? His brain hurt with all that thinking!
Ready or not, it didn't matter, he watched in awe as Spring gave birth to his son, Ryder.
Alder felt a mixture of awe, elation, and pride as he stared at his son. He could hardly believe he was half responsible for his little dude being here. He was even cute, for a kid. Spring's thoughts must have been similar to his own as she commented, "He's gorgeous, the best looking baby ever!" She crooned nonsense words to Ryder, who made little mewling noises back at her.
They looked at each other and smiled. Alder felt exhilarated, flushed with joy. This having kids thing wasn't so bad, he decided. Spring handed Ryder to him, and he stared at the blue bundle in his arms. "Hey little Dude, welcome to the family!" Ryder started fussing within a couple of minutes, and rooting about Alder's chest. "Hey little Dude, I don't have the equipment you're looking for. Let's get you back to your Mom, okay?" He handed Ryder off to her. Spring sat down in the rocker and began to nurse Ryder.
Who knew the sight of Spring nursing his son would be such a turn on? Alder thought to himself. But it was, and he could have happily stayed there and watched, except for the untimely doorbell ring followed by Lia yelling, "Alder, it's for you!"
So, with a sigh, he left Spring and Ryder and went downstairs to see who his visitor was. He saw a very pregnant Dora Martell on his doorstep. Crap, he had a bad feeling about this.
She wasted no time either, but started talking as soon as he opened the door and stepped outside. "We have a problem."
"We have a problem?" he echoed her words, but he couldn't stop staring at her stomach. She was so...fat. Whereas he had found Spring so irresistibly attractive he had a hard time keeping his hands off her while she was pregnant, perversely the same could not be said of Dora. She just looked fat to him, he didn't have the slightest interest in her pregnant body. Maybe her kid wasn't his? He tried to count back the number of months it had been since they had ended their affair, but he was hopeless. He just couldn't remember the particulars.
"So I see." He looked away briefly, and rolled his eyes. Talk about stating the obvious.
She pasted on a fake smile. "Cute. I'm not in a cute mood Alder. Tobin found out that you are the father of this baby." Darn, shot that theory down, Alder thought bemusedly. What was the difference between Spring and Dora then? Dora was more his type, she didn't want permanence either, their break up had been amicable. Spring, she wanted more from him than he was capable of giving. He tried to put distance between them, but it was just no good. She'd give him a look, and he was a goner. Maybe once she was out of his house, things would go back to normal. He refused to acknowledge the small pang that thought brought.
"Right. Baby is mine, Tobin found out, got it."
"No, I don't think you've got it, Alder. Tobin and I haven't slept together in years, we stay together for our kids and his political aspirations. He has money, power, connections, things I find important. He is furious that I slept with you. For his attachment to his political career, and my attachment to his position, we have come to an agreement. Can we take this inside?" she asked suddenly, as if she just became aware they were still standing outside his front door for all to see. Alder shrugged, and led the way into the house.
"So, this is what Tobin and I have decided about the baby situation. He'll claim this child as his, but he wants you gone."
"Ooo...kay." Alder said, but he didn't get it. He was already out of her life. Were they afraid he was going to take the kid from them? He could calm her fears on that one, while he liked little Dude well enough, he wasn't exactly ready for two of them.
Dora sighed and shook her head. Then she spoke to him as if he were a dull witted child. "Gone, Alder. As in leave this house, leave this town, gone. No contact with us or this child ever, type of gone. For all intents and purposes, this child will be Tobin's, and not yours." Her phone beeped, she took it out and looked at it. "Just a second, Tobin texted me to ask if we were done talking yet. I'll just text him back and let him know we're just wrapping it up."
"Whoa, Dora, I'm not sure about that type of gone. There is my career to consider and all. We could move, I suppose." He winced when he considered what Lia's reaction to that would be. She already hated the town, but at least this house gave her a small patch of grass. She would really hate living in an apartment downtown. Still, if that is what they had to do, but Dora was shaking her head no.
"I've used some of my contacts in Sun River. It's a lovely little town, with a growing downtown area. It is in the top 100 places in the world to live in. I've procured you some starting gigs, a new job for your sister, and even a house to rent. Or, if you like it well enough, you could buy the house."
"I'd have to check it our first."
She shrugged. "Of course."
Alder thought for a moment. Could he really turn his back on his own child, and pretend like it didn't exist? What other choice did he have? He wasn't father material, even if he still felt a little warm and fuzzy over seeing the birth of his son. If he forfeited his rights to it, his child would grow up wealthy and privileged, with two parents looking over it. As if sensing his struggling thoughts, Dora chimed in with, "Think of what's best for this baby Alder. Do you really want to take responsibility for me and it?" Alder was horrified by the thought. Another woman underfoot in his house? Unthinkable. Seeing his reaction, she pressed on, "I didn't think so. This is the best idea, all around. You'll know that your child is well provided for, and you'll have none of the responsibility for it."
Reluctantly, Alder agreed to the deal. He felt slightly sick as he signed the legal paper she handed over to him that outlined the particulars of their deal. There was nothing else to be done though, it did seem to be the best thing for it. After he signed the paper, she whipped her phone out again and started texting. To her husband, he presumed.
When she was done, she looked up from her phone with a genuine smile on her face. "Thanks Alder. This really is best, you'll see. I wish you the best of everything in your new life." She started for the door, but Alder called her name before she reached it. She turned towards him. "Yes?"
"Will you text me, when you have the baby? Let me know if it was a girl or boy? What you named it? I know I don't have the right to know, but I'd like to."
She regarded him for a moment. "Okay." Then she was gone.
Alder slumped into the nearest chair. Gone was his elation from earlier, instead he felt an inexplicable sadness in its place. Why did doing what he felt was right, feel so wrong? This was what he hated about responsibility, he grumbled to himself. It was a huge weight on his shoulders, and it never seemed to go away, even when he did something right. Now he had to figure out a way to tell Lia they were moving, and why. And then he had to figure out what to do about Spring and Ryder. He sighed grumpily. How did he get himself into these situations?
Notes: So, Lia's thought on NYC were my own, lol. I liked the big city feel of it, but egads! So many goofy glitches it was driving me batty, so I decided (again!) to move them to a different city. I found one I like much better. It has a nice downtown center, and a suburban area for Lia. So, we'll all be happier. =)
A big thank you again, to Reya, for uploading Gem Sari. Spring is genetically his, but there is no connection between our stories, lol
Ryder counts, but Dora's baby does not. That one is staying with its mother, in NYC. Alder is sad about it. :( He thinks he's done the right thing for the baby though, because he is not in a position in life to care for it himself.
On the wedding---sorry it was so short. They refused to get married under the darn arch, no matter how many times I clicked on it, or them. They would walk over there, stand under the arch, and then the queue would drop from both of them. So I would try it again, and after wandering all over the place trying to find a spot where there wasn't a Kahekili standing (whose idea was it anyway to invite so many of them???) they would repeat the process. So---it is what it is, lol
Thanks for reading! =)