And Baby Makes Three
And Baby Makes Three
I don’t know who lied and told me labor takes several hours when it’s your first baby. I only went into early labor four hours ago and she was almost here. My epidural was wearing off and there was nothing else Dr. Davis could give me for relief. They told me to try to focus on something to get my mind off the pain. Engagement night, wedding night, honeymoon, none of these things worked because they ultimately reminded me of how I ended up in the delivery room in the first place. Instead, I tried to focus on the new red Zanotti boots in my closet I haven’t been able to wear because my swollen feet. What was the point? Nothing was helping! I screamed out as the pain became more intense by the second.
“Just hold on, Ma, she’s almost here. You’re doing so good, Baby,” said Jaylen, holding my hand and sitting bedside. Encouraging or not, he was the last person I wanted to hear from right now. He can sit over there looking concerned with a dopey grin on his face, while I attempted to push his baby out. “Oh please, you hold on! This is your fault, I’m never letting you touch me again!” I groaned. “Just breathe, boo,” replied Jaylen. “Don’t tell me to breathe! If only you can feel what I’m feeling! Men would not be able to handle birth the way women do! I don’t want to hear from anyone who doesn’t have a vagina!” I yelled out in agony.
“I wish I could make this easier for you, Ma. I love you so much, love,” said Jaylen, gently squeezing my hand. “Okay, Reagan, I’m going to count to three and you’re going to push. One…two…three…push!” ordered Dr. Davis. I struggled with everything in me to push as hard as I could. “Reagan, she’s almost here, you’re doing a good!” hollered Kennedey. “Just keep breathing, Gingy. You’re doing just fine, baby girl,” added Daddy. I don’t even remember my father and sister arriving to the hospital. I briefly wondered how they knew I was in labor and then I remembered Jaylen called Daddy when we were en route. Dr. Davis knew how important is was for me to have my father and sister in the room with us and made sure the hospital granted my request.
I’ll never be a bad girl again if you just make the pain stop, I pleaded in my head. How women have done this for thousands of years amazes me. And how we continue letting these trifling men climb on top of us so we end up in the same position, legs open for the world to see, amazes me even more. Who knew doing something that makes you feel so good, could wind up making you feel this bad?
“Argh! I can’t do this, she’s going to have to stay in. I’ll just have to carry her around for the rest of my life!” I screamed. “It’s going to be okay, sis. You’ll forget all about the pain once she’s out,” assured Kennedey. I managed to look up at my sister. “You want to trade places? Let’s see what happens when it’s your turn on this bed!” I snapped. I knew my family didn’t pay any attention to anything I was saying to them. I didn’t care, anyone who wasn’t experiencing the same kind of pain in this exact moment was an enemy right now.
“I can see the head. Okay, Reagan, just one more big push!” said Dr. Davis. Jaylen, Daddy, and Kennedey simultaneously counted down. “One…two…three…push!” they all yelled. I reached deep down and gathered every ounce of strength I could muster up. I held my breath and pushed so hard, I thought a vein would pop out my forehead. I squeezed Jay’s hand as hard as I could. I continued to push for what seemed like days. There was a brief moment of silence and finally the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life, crying. I fell back against the bed in complete exhaustion after watching Dr. Davis pull the baby out. I heavily panted, feeling like I’d been ran over by a truck. “She’s beautiful baby!” exclaimed Jaylen. Daddy and Kennedey cried and cheered. I smiled watching Jaylen cut the umbilical cord. They washed her off and Jay carefully brought our daughter over to me. I don’t think I could stop smiling if my life depended on it.
Tears began welling up in my eyes as Jaylen placed our baby girl in my arms. It was like no other feeling in the world. I couldn’t put into words all the emotions that were running through my body. The room all of a sudden became so quiet. I looked into my daughter’s eyes and she looked back into mine, for a moment, it was if there were no one else around. She was the only person who mattered.
“Hi, hi little girl. It’s me, I’m your mommy. I love you,” I said quietly, just as hot tears spilled over and ran down my cheeks. She stared back at me with curiosity in the same green eyes I’ve had all my life. I looked up at Jaylen. “That’s your daddy, boo. And see over there? That’s your Granddaddy and Auntie Kennedey,” I said. “Hi, pooh bear, I’m Daddy,” said Jaylen, tearfully waving. Daddy and Kennedey beamed and waved too. “She’s so beautiful, Gingy!” said Daddy. “This is so crazy. I can’t believe I’m an auntie now,” said Kennedey, in complete awe.
I quickly looked over at Kennedey and back to the baby. I giggled to myself. I can see myself, Jay, Daddy and Kennedey in her. She had beautiful warm almond skin comparable to Daddy and black thick curly hair like Jay. I’m not just saying this because this is my child, but I have honestly never seen a more beautiful baby. “What are you going to call her?” asked Dr. Davis. Not able to turn my eyes away, she gently squeezed my finger. “Marseille. Marseille Elektra Powers.” “Like the city in France? That’s beautiful,” said Dr. Davis. I nodded my head. “Yes, like France,” I replied.
Dr. Davis informed us Marseille weighed in at seven pounds, four ounces, almost as much as I did, Daddy informed me. It was hard, but I handed our daughter back over to her daddy. Jaylen gently coddled her in his arms. There was a peaceful and serene look on his face. Marseille and Jay kept their eyes locked on each other and he didn’t utter a word, he only softly stroke her cheek. There wasn’t any doubt, Jaylen instantly fell in love.
Jaylen lowered his lips to Marseille’s forehead and graciously handed her to Daddy. “Oh wow, this brings me back. Only, you’re Marseille, but I’m still me, Gingy. It’s been forever since I held a newborn in my arms. Hey, Pumpkin Patch, I’m your granddaddy. That means, I’m your mama’s daddy, yes she has to listen to me. Yes, I know I look too young to be a grandfather. Look, I want you to take it easy on your mommy right now, okay? One day, I’ll explain how much of a diva baby she was. Baby girl, you have some good people here who love you. You couldn’t have a better mama and daddy, auntie, or granddaddy. We’ll always be here for you and we love you so much,” Daddy said, in a low calming voice. Marseille watched Daddy’s face with such intensity, you would think she understood every word coming from his mouth.
“My turn!” said Kennedey, eagerly holding out her arms. Kennedey gasped when Daddy laid our baby in her arms. She instantly teared up. “I’m such a wuss these days,” joked Kennedey. She gently rocked Marseille back and forth in her arms and hummed ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’. There was pride in Kennedey’s eyes when she began telling Marseille about all the books she would come over and read to her and that she’ll teach her everything there is to know about art. “You can personally thank your Auntie Kenney, there are no toxic toys anywhere in the house. Your mama will drive you crazy sometimes like she does me, but don’t worry, because you can come talk to me anytime you want. You and I are going to have so much fun together, little girl,” Kennedey spoke softly.
“Girl, bye. My baby gon’ be wondering how on earth you’re related to us. She gon’ be like, ‘why is Auntie Kenney so weird, Mama?’ I’ll just have to tell her, we found you that way,” I laughed. “Whatever. Marseille is going to want to be with me all the time. She’ll call me up asking me to come rescue her,” replied Kennedey, giggling. “Just think, Ken, this could be you and Micah in a few years,” I teased. Kennedey rolled her eyes skyward. “Please, don’t even put that into the universe. Micah and I are fine just the way we are. I’m not having a kid anytime soon,” responded Kennedey.
“So, Daddy, you’re officially Gramps now. I guess we’ll need to get you a cane,” I teased him. Daddy chuckled. “That’s not something I’ll need anytime soon. Your old man, is in great shape. Most grandfathers wish they can get around like me, he replied. “Oh, Reagan, you should have seen the amount of women and nurses giving Daddy the eye when we got to the hospital. Some of them were bold enough to flirt with him while I stood right there!” exclaimed Kennedey. I began to laugh. That didn’t surprise me at all. Daddy’s never wanted for attention when it came to the ladies.
Jaylen and I had a little bonding time alone with Marseille when I breastfed her for the first time. We knew Amarre, Briah, Aubrey, and Apollo were in the waiting room, eager to see her. Once Jay told his brother I was in labor, he called Apollo and they all rushed up to the hospital. Jay briefly spoke with his parents. He said Yuri was heartbroken she wasn’t here for the birth. She and Kevin were coming to IP in a couple of days, but the baby came early. Kevin said they booked a flight and would arrive tomorrow evening.
I didn’t want it to get out to the press that our daughter was already here and I asked for everyone’s discretion. I knew the news would make its rounds within the family soon enough. I did speak with Grandma Carmen, Nani, and Nana, who were all thrilled to hear about the birth. All three of my grandparents said they would be making a trip to IP as soon as possible to meet the newest addition to the family.
A short while after Marseille and I were feeling a bit more comfortable and relaxed, Briah, Apollo, Aubrey, and Amarre poured into the room. “Rea Rea! Girl, she is so beautiful. Awwwhh, look at the baby!” gushed Briah. “Congratulations, Jay. You did good,” Apollo said to Jaylen. “Thanks, man, but, Reagan and I both did it,” he replied, giving Apollo dap. “She’s beautiful, you guys. Looks just like her uncle,” teased Amarre. Jaylen started to laugh. “You wish, son,” he replied. Our family stayed for over an hour cooing and fussing over Marseille until the nurse told everyone Mommy and baby needed their rest. I loved that some of the family got to see our daughter, but it was a relief once they left. I was completely exhausted. And by the way Marseille started to cry, I could tell she was sleepy too.
Marseille had many visitors come by to see her the next day. My IP circle of friends, Jazz, Taylor, Bailey, and Lana all came to the hospital to give us their well wishes. Everyone remarked how much Marseille looked like her parents, not to mention Kennedey. Taylor said she was a miniature baby model in the making.”Please, don’t get any ideas about my daughter being a little model. If she wants to do that, she’ll have to wait until she’s eighteen,” I laughed. Bailey mentioned he wasn’t surprised because he told us we would make beautiful babies one day the first time we met. I laughed to myself, he certainly did say that.
Yuri and Kevin arrived from New York later that evening. Whatever disappointment Yuri felt about not being here yesterday, you couldn’t tell by the way she acted. As soon as she and Kevin entered the room, Yuri made a beeline for the baby and swooped her up in her arms. “Oh, look at my grandbaby girl! She’s beautiful. Hi, I’m your grandmama. You so pretty, yes you are, yes you are,” said Yuri as she softly rocked Marseille back and forth in her arms. “I’m so proud of you son, she’s gorgeous. My son is a father and I’m a grandad now,” added Kevin. “Thanks, Pops,” responded Jaylen, his chest swelling with pride.
Kevin and Yuri were happy to be first time grandparents. The only thing that bothered them, is that they lived so far away. Kevin’s firm decided to take on a job to design a state of the art aquatics center downtown that would require him to spend a significant time on IP. Yuri declined several design jobs that would’ve tied her up for the next several months. They wanted to spend as much time as possible with their first grandchild. Everything worked out perfectly this way. It was important to Jay and I that Marseille bond with her grandparents.
After two days in the hospital, the Powers family were home. I can’t really describe what it felt like bringing Marseille home. She’s so little and fragile, I kept worrying I would break her. “This is your home, Pooh. This is what we call the living room and upstairs is where your mommy and I sleep and where you’ll sleep,” said Jaylen, walking with Marseille. Seeing Jaylen with his daughter, I don’t think he’s ever looked more handsome to me. The pride I saw in Jay’s eyes when he first held Marseille, is something I’ll never forget. Yuri asked if we needed them to come stay with us for a few days. Their offer was gracious, but I felt the need for us to bond with the baby in our home alone, before we had any guests. Yuri and Kevin were staying at the Ritz downtown while they were in town. They were also looking into buying a second home on IP, now that the baby was here.
Jaylen and I took Marseille up to her nursery to allow her to get used to her surroundings. “So, Pooh, this is your room. Grandma helped Mommy decorate it. This is where all your clothes, diapers, and toys are. I know you’re still too little to play with toys, but you’ll love them one day, trust me. You see those books over there on the wall? Auntie Kenney bought you those. Some your Granddaddy used to read to us when we were little,” I said, using my ‘mommy’ tone. I never thought I would be one of those moms who use babyish kind of language with their kid, but here I was. Marseille’s eyes jumped around the room, curious to take in everything she saw.
Jay pointed out to her who Winnie-the-Pooh was and they shared a nickname. I can imagine over the course of her life, I’ll give Marseille all kind of different names. Nothing like ‘Ginger Baby’ or Rea Rea. Mom never had any special nicknames for us growing up, just Daddy. She either called us by our full names or some shortened version of it.
I handed Marseille back to her Daddy and walked over to a beautifully gift wrapped box on the dresser. “Oh, baby, this is from Marcia,” I said. I guessed Kennedey got the package and brought it up here when I was still in the hospital. Marcia had sent beautiful hand knit booties and a baby hat. I thought that was very sweet of her to do. We’ve emailed back and forth on occasion. Marcia wanted to know how I was doing and getting along in my pregnancy. I asked Daddy once if he minded that Marcia and I emailed each other. He said not at all and that he’s talked to her a couple of different times since they broke up. Daddy said it was nothing to get excited about, he ran into her when he was in Appaloosa on business and another time, she called him to get his new address to send the stuff he had at her house. I’m glad Daddy and Marcia were at least cordial to each other and there was no bad blood between them.
I shook my head, as if to clear my thoughts and looked over at Jay and the baby. He was blowing raspberries on her stomach and tickling her. “Who’s Daddy’s pork chop? That’s Daddy’s little piglet,” he teased. Marseille ate up everything too. I laughed out loud watching Jay play with our daughter. “You’re too cute with her. Never thought I would see Mr. Cool Jaylen Powers talking in a baby voice. Not that night at Tomo, no way,” I said, continuing to laugh. “Please, I’m still fresh to death and so is my baby,” replied Jaylen.
“You know, I’ve haven’t seen that smile disappear from your face not once since I had her,” I said, thoughtfully. Jaylen looked over at me with a gleam in his eye. “Can’t help it, I guess. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up, but no, she’s real. This is my baby girl, you know. We’re parents now, Ma. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet all the way. I just know I’ve never been more happy. All the happiest days of my life have been with you, Reagan,” replied Jaylen.
“I know, me too. But, Marseille is here, she’s real and she’s ours. That’s us,” I whispered, looking down at my child. “She smells so good,” said Jaylen, taking a sniff. “I know. She has her own little scent. I used baby lotion and powder on her before we brought her home, but when she was first born, she had a distinct smell. For some reason she smelled just like graham crackers and cocoa butter to me,” I said. “Graham crackers and cocoa butter? How did you come up with that? But yeah, come to think about it, that is what she kinda smells like,” agreed Jaylen. Like her daddy, Marseille had her own natural aroma and also like her Daddy, I could smell my baby all day long.
“Hey, let’s try putting her into her crib and seeing how she likes it,” I suggested. Jaylen carefully lowered Marseille into the crib. We slowly backed away to see what her reaction would be. She didn’t make any noise and only seemed to be fixated on the Winnie-the-Pooh mobile spinning above her head. Next, we back all the way to the door, out of her immediate sight. No more than ten seconds later, Marseille noticed she didn’t see us and started to have a fit. Jay and I laughed a little bit.
“Awwwhh, Mommy’s sorry, we left that baby,” I said, as I picked Marseille up to comfort her. Yuri kept drilling into our heads that she would have to get used to being and sleeping in her crib. I thought it would be easy to do, but I buckled as soon as she started crying. I’m such a wuss, Jay is too. We kept a bassinet in our bedroom as well. I couldn’t imagine her sleeping in here by herself when she was so little. I decided to take Yuri’s advice to rotate her, so she would be used to the nursery.
Eventually, not now, but when she gets big enough I wanted to convert some of the extra space upstairs into a play room. Marseille had too much stuff gifted to her, some we kept and had in our storage, but much of it we donated. I certainly didn’t want my daughter to be spoiled, but I wanted her to have a space all her own for the abundance of toys she had and other activities she can do in. When Marseille gets a little older, she can invite all her little toddler friends over and they can get buck wild in the playroom and not mess up the overly expensive furniture we bought for her bedroom. Jay and I haven’t really talked much about it, since the family found out Amarre had a baby on the way, but his child and our child will be cousins. He and Martina don’t know what they’re having yet, but either way our children will be joined together for life.
First night in the house with a new baby. I’ve read all the horror stories how this could go. I hoped, Marseille would go fall sleep fairly easily, but nope. There was a lot of coddling, patting, singing, and rocking going on. I placed Marseille in the bassinet in our room, she wasn’t feeling that. Jaylen and I took her down the hall to the nursery and laid her in the crib, again, she wasn’t feeling it. “I don’t know what else to do, Jay. She can’t be hungry, I just fed her. She’s not wet, I burped her, I’m doing everything I can think of,” I sighed. I kissed Marseille on top of her head. She wasn’t really fussing at the moment, but she was clearly wide awake. “Maybe I should call my mom. Could be something wrong with her,” offered Jaylen. I was so worried why she wasn’t sleeping and fussed when we laid her down. I had no idea what was wrong with my baby and I didn’t know how to fix it. How am I ever going to be a good mom, if I don’t even know what’s going on with my own child?
Jay called Yuri up to see if she had any suggestions for us. At half past two, I felt bad, knowing we were waking Jay’s parents up. I felt so inept, couldn’t even figure out what was going on with my baby. I half suspected that, similar to when I was pregnant with her, Marseille liked to keep nighttime hours. I make have joked at the time she was a little party girl, but now it was very possibly true. Newborns slept for very long hours and she napped very easily earlier. I didn’t understand why it was hard to get her back in that groove again. Yuri said it will take time, but we need to get Marseille on a consistent schedule. She suggested different things we could try to relax her when it was time to sleep at night. It was true newborns slept long hours, but it didn’t mean they won’t pop back up and need to be put to sleep again.
Yuri’s advice was, the sooner we got a routine down, the better it will be over the next several months. “Just so you know, sometimes no matter how consistent you are, some babies will still be wide awake, ready to play late at night. Case in point, you Jaylen,” she said. Great, Daddy said I was pretty much the same way as a baby. Two former party animal parents equaled one current party animal baby. This is what we dealt with over the coming weeks, a newborn that slept all day and partied all night.
My mom and dad tried to warn me that becoming a father was going to change my entire life. I heard them when they said that, I just didn’t realize the full meaning until that first day I held my daughter in my arms. No lie, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Marseille was tiny, fragile, and helpless. When she looked up at me, it was as if her eyes were saying, please protect me, please don’t let anything bad happen to me. I think she somehow knew when I communicated to her that I would always be there for her. There was nothing but love on her face the first time she looked at me.
I instantly fell in love with my daughter. When I met and fell in love with Ma, that was wild and something out of this world. I never experienced those kind of emotions before. It just hit me like lighting, I didn’t realize it at first. But with my baby girl, I loved her from the moment I found out about her and fell in love as soon as I saw her. Of course, those are two different types of love. My point is, I’d never felt these extreme type of emotions before. At least, not until Reagan walked into my life and then in no time after that, my daughter.
Getting with Ma made me hand in my player card, on the real. Being with her made me want to be a better boyfriend, a better man, a better husband. Now that I have someone whose life depends on me, not only do I want to be good at all those things, but I want to be a better human being. Marseille has only been in this world just over a month and already, my eyes have been opened to things I never thought about before. I’m thinking about all the ways I can improve myself. I evaluate my weaknesses in order to minimize this as much as possible. I think about everything my father has ever said or taught me, and I think about all the lessons he’s tried to demonstrate to us over the years. Now, I hope I’m smart enough to show my child what a true leader is and any failings I may have, she’ll be smart enough not to repeat them.
The bond Reagan already has with Marseille is something out of this world. I don’t think she even realizes it yet. Ma is still a little insecure because she didn’t have the best example in a mother. We all tell her, especially Ray and my mother just how good of a job she is doing. Shoot, I’m still getting the hang of this diaper thing. I sometimes look at my wife in awe because she’ll hear the baby crying, come in there, and know exactly what to do.
True the first couple of weeks, we were wylin’. Ma and I thought we were the two most inept parents on this planet. Gradually, Reagan and Pooh Pooh got on a feeding schedule they both could live with. Reagan and I started to understand what cry meant what. I felt bad, because when Marseille woke up several times a night, it was to feed, which mainly consisted of Reagan needing to breastfeed her. She also pumped, but Ma felt nursing was essential for them to bond.
I brought my work home with me as much as I could. Doing it this way, allowed me to go into Tomo between three to five days a week and it gave me more time to be at home with daughter. If Reagan is resting or cooking, I usually have Marseille posted up with me in the den. She was a pretty easy going baby. As long as Marseille was fed, her booty was dry, she was entertained, she was good. My daughter is most definitely like me, because she will stay up for hours past her bedtime sometimes, too interested in everything around her to go to sleep. Pooh Pooh was a curious baby and she seemed to be in tune to whatever you were saying to her.
When I worked at home, I made sure I didn’t spend too much time on the computer. The last thing I wanted was to make my wife and daughter feel as if I wasn’t present. For this reason, I put a limit on the amount of hours I worked. We have our GM and other company employees in place who are able to run the club when neither my brother or I are there. It’s not like we can’t ever just show up and do any work, though. If we did that, our business would be run into the ground. Besides, since I’m on IP more than Amarre these days, I’m handling the bulk of Tomo’s operations.
Speaking of my brother, Amarre has a lot on his plate, I mean a lot. The money he used to start up Miami came from our company. Amarre was all in and he can’t pull out now, shoot if he did, we’d both lose an insane amount of money. I’m not talking about no chump change, either. Setting up a new club, requires you to be there in that location, it becomes like your second home, if not your first. It was the same way for Amarre and I when we came to IP to open Tomo. We lived in Brooklyn technically, but spent most of our time here until we finally made IP our permanent residence.
My brother stopped by to watch the Nets game on TV. Amarre’s schedule was still crazy, but it was good to see him at home more often. “What’s good?” I greeted Amarre after coming inside the house. “Wassup, son. Where’s my niece?” he asked. “She’s in the den. Should be time for her to wake up from her nap,” I replied. Amarre and I headed to the back of the house to see if Marseille is awake yet. Marseille was calmly lying in her bassinet staring up at the ceiling. Her diaper must still be dry because she wasn’t hollering.
Amarre reached down and picked Marseille up. “Hey, girl, it’s your favorite Uncle Amarre,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “Son, you her only uncle,” I cracked. “So? Even if I wasn’t, I would still be her favorite,” replied Amarre. My brother had an instant rapport with my daughter from the moment they met and it was obvious how much he adored her. Amarre was nothing but supportive when I told him Reagan was pregnant. Amarre started blowing on Marseille’s stomach, causing her to break out in laughter. “I need to get used to this for myself,” Amarre mused.
“You an old pro at it now, son,” I replied. “Maybe with your kid, but she doesn’t come home with me. Got any pointers? Look at me, asking you for advice,” remarked Amarre. “My my, how the tables have turned. On the real, I tried reading as many books and apps on my tablet as possible, but nothing can truly prepare you for fatherhood. Some things you learn simply by trial and error. My daughter is still an infant, I have loads more I have to learn. But yo, when it becomes your time and that’s your kid in your arms, you’ll know what to do,” I said.
“You’ve changed a lot since becoming a daddy, Jay. Reagan has too. You really have your stuff together. Once you married Reagan, your priorities changed. Now, with the baby here, they’ve changed even more. You guys understand what’s important. I’ve spent so much time wrapped up in my own world, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Now, knowing this is going to be me in a matter of months, I’ve had to rethink my whole life. Our business was and will always be important to me. But I don’t think I would truly understand how important family is if Mom and Dad didn’t raise up the way they did. You know what I mean? Dad was telling me how much he had to juggle and re-prioritize when Mom became pregnant with us. He said his career required him to be out of town a lot too, but he had to find the right balance for everything,” said Amarre, thoughtfully.
“Yeah, Reagan and I did too. She had stuff she flat out had to stop doing because she was pregnant and I had to let go of things to make sure I was here for my growing family. It happens ‘A. I don’t regret one thing. I got the two biggest loves of my life living under the same roof. I fall asleep with my best friend every night and I wake up to see my daughter’s face every morning. I mean, it may sound cliché son, but, there’s nothing better than that.”
Reagan and I always had a good relationship and connected with each other verbally, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Dr. Davis told us we would have to wait at least six weeks before resuming any kind of pleasurable physical activities. The thing about my wife and I was that it would be difficult for us to go that long without any kind of sex. I wanted to make sure Reagan’s body bounced back the right way after having Marseille. It wasn’t going to be easy to wait for either of us. Ma was just as big of a freak in the bedroom as I was, sometimes even bigger.
One night, Reagan told me she was in the mood for a little fun. I didn’t expect any offers from her anytime soon on account of her being so tired with the baby. “Didn’t the doctor say we had to wait six weeks?” I asked. “And we are, but there are other things we can do,” replied Reagan, staring at me, her eyes lustful. I immediately began to feel my body temperature rise. “Other things, huh?” I repeated. Reagan nodded her head. “Yes, other things. It has to be quick, I just put Marseille down, but she’s liable to pop back up at any minute,” whispered Reagan, seductively.
My eyes gazed over Reagan, taking in her thicker thighs, fuller breasts, and don’t even get me started on that new booty. I licked my lips. “Yeah, Ma, you the commander. Just tell me what you want me to do,” I lowered my voice. What we lacked in the main attraction, we easily made up with every exhibit and alternate ride along the way.
Mom took it upon herself to warn me to not “jump” on Reagan every chance I got, especially during the first few months because women are extremely fertile after giving birth. “Ma, I’m standing right here. I’m not some animal…at least all the time. I think I can control myself,” I said. Reagan burst out laughing. “What are you laughing at? Mom, you need to be telling her to not jump on me. She’s the real culprit, taking advantage of me,” I said, pointing at Reagan. Mom rolled her eyes. “Either way, it doesn’t matter. Y’all gon’ mess around and find yourselves in the same situation this time next year,” she replied. “This is true, boo. I was still in diapers and crawling when my Mom got knocked up with Kennedey. That’s the last thing my parents expected,” agreed Reagan.
I shook my head. Reagan and my mother loved to team up in the name of womanhood and now motherhood too. “You co-signing with my mom now, but you wasn’t last night,” I countered. Reagan sucked her teeth. “Please, bye with all that. I’m just agreeing with her mom, that it could easily happen again, a lot sooner than we want,” she replied. “Don’t try to clean it up now. You’re going to want something from me later, but I won’t be available,” I teased. “That’s how y’all got that one in there,” said Mom.
“Mom, don’t even act like it would bother you in the least. Ever since we told you, you were going to be a grandma, there’s been a permanent gleam in your eye and a smile on your face. Now that you know Amarre giving you another grandbaby, you practically busting at the seams. You would be happy if Amarre and I gave you four sets of twins. All you want is a bunch of grandbabies, Mama,” I laughed. “I never said I didn’t. You all know how much I’ve wanted to be a grandma and now I am. And I can’t wait to be like the woman in the shoe, in my case a stiletto, surrounded by ten grandkids, that’s me,” said Mom, cracking up. Reagan shook her head. “I can probably give you three, max four of those ten, but you need to work out the rest with your other son,” she replied.
Marseille began to cry from the next room. Hearing my little girl, calling for her Daddy, was the best part of my day. “Hold on, Pooh, Daddy will be right there.”
My parents have given me a lot of good parenting advice ever since I found out I was going to be a parent. What I appreciated about my mother and father, is that they were never pushy about what they believed we should do. Well, most of the time. Both of my parents believed in rules, but they didn’t act like wardens. Dad had more of a laid back parenting style growing up. He didn’t let us get away with anything major and my brother and I for sure had mad respect for him. Mom was the bigger disciplinarian out of the two of them and the last thing Amarre and I ever wanted was to get on her bad side. Because when Mom was ready to set us straight or put it down, Amarre and I came out deep in our feelings after she was through with us.
My mom is a light-heart, stop and smell the roses kind of person. That, I definitely got from her, but don’t let it fool, you, Mama didn’t play. They say behind every great man, lies a greater woman. This is very true of my parents. They had each others backs and were always supportive of one another and our family came first before anything else. Now I have my Queen and we hold each other down. Our little shorty completes our family and nothing is more important to either one of us.
Taina and Aoki made a special trip to IP to meet Marseille for the first time. It was hard to believe we’ve been friends this long and came up in the modeling game around the same time. It isn’t very easy to find two down to earth genuine chicks in the modeling world. There’s a lot of back-stabbers, phonies, and vultures in our profession. We’ve had our ups and downs, but it was good to say they are very good friends of mine, especially Tai.
“I know everyone has already told you this, Reagan, but Marsy is beautiful, girl. I could already see that from your Instagram pictures. She’s so sweet,” gushed Taina. “She looks so much like your family. You guys are all gorgeous, though,” agreed Aoki. “Thank you. Yeah, everyone’s been saying how much she looks like her daddy, my daddy, Kenney, and me,” I replied. “Well, I definitely will be making more trips out here. Now that I’m single again, it’s going to be a good long while before I get married and pop out a few. I’ll have to settle for being Auntie Tai for now,” laughed Taina.
“Don’t worry girl, the right man will come along. I never thought I would be a mom right now, but things happen. I didn’t expect to meet and fall in love with Jay and get married. I wasn’t even looking for a man or a relationship. Then, after being married for just a few months, Jay and I got caught out there in that jacuzzi. Little too much champagne that night and boom, here she is,” I said. “I’m not trippin’ about it right now. I’m enjoying the single life. Shoot, Aoki, you’ll probably have a baby before I will,” said Taina.
“Um, I don’t know about that. Jax would definitely have something to say about it. I will need a ring on my finger first,” replied Aoki. Marseille began squirming a little bit. She had the same look on her face Jay has when he was hungry. “Let me go feed this child before she start hollering. She’s fat and she’ll be ready for nap after getting fed,” I said. Taina and Aoki laughed. “Why you calling this baby fat, girl?” asked Taina, giggling. “Cause she’s my little piglet. Don’t be fooled, Marseille don’t play when it comes to eating. Anyhow, after I put her down, we crack open a rare bottle of wine I was gifted and watch a movie or something. Girls night in,” I suggested. Tai and Aoki agreed that sounded like a good plan.
Grandma Carmen, Nani, and Nana all arrived on IP to meet their newest great-granddaughter. Grandma was staying with Daddy while she was in town, while Nani and Nana were staying in our guest room. It was good to see all my grandparents again. The last time we were all together was at my reception. After Nani Manique returned to Trinidad, she told the family how good it made her feel that was able to take care of me when I was pregnant. I loved having Nani here and as a result, we were closer than ever before. Even she and Kennedey bonded all over again.
“Oh, come here, little red head girl! You a mama now, girl!” exclaimed Grandma Carmen, holding me in a tight embrace. “Grandma, I missed you!” I replied, giving her a good squeeze. Grandma released me and reached over to hug Jaylen. “Jay, you get more handsome every time I see you, baby!” laughed Grandma Carmen. “It’s good to see, you look beautiful,” smiled Jaylen.
“Alright now, Grandma, I see you trying to hit on my man, you ain’t slick!” I laughed. “Honey chile’ please. I may be on up there in age, but I be killin’ ’em and I can still catch me some young tender thangs!” Grandma shot back, cracking up. I shook my head. I loved me some Grandma Carmen, she was too crazy.
“Jay, where are your parents, are they still in town?” asked Grandma Carmen. “Yes ma’am. They’re having dinner with my brother and his girlfriend, she’s expecting,” answered Jaylen. Grandma nodded her head. “There’s nothing like having new babies in the family. I loved becoming a grandmama for the first time. And when Miss. Thang over there was born, I thought, chile’ this baby is gon’ be something else! Reagan was the first Leeds grandbaby and spoiled as a don’t know what,” recalled Grandma.
I picked Marseille up from her swing and carried her over to my grandmother. “Grandma, this is your new great-grandbaby, Marseille,” I said, carefully handing her over. “Hi pretty baby, I’m your Ganny Carmen! Y’all, she is beautiful! She look like a combination of you, Ray, Kenney, her daddy, and you Rea Rea. That’s the first thing I thought, when I saw those pictures you sent me, but I can really see it now,” observed Grandma Carmen.
“That’s what I thought too when I first had her. Daddy, of course has been telling everyone his grandbaby has his good looks,” I laughed. Daddy shrugged. “Hey, I didn’t say she has my good looks, I said she had the Leeds good looks,” said Daddy.
A few moments later, Kennedey arrived from the airport with Nani and Nana. Jay and I welcomed them inside.”Flower, you look so beautiful and Jay, Reagan tells me what a good daddy you turned out to be,” said Nani. Jay nodded. “I’m learning something new everyday. I know have much more respect for my parents and they had double duty,” he responded. “Oh yes, that’s right, you and your brother are twins,” remembered Nani. “Are you ready to meet the newest addition to the family?” I asked Nani and Nana. “More than anything. That flight from Trinidad was too long, we couldn’t wait to land,” answered Nana Michael. My grandparents and Kennedey followed Jaylen and I into the living room.
Nani and Nana said hello to Daddy Grandma Carmen, who carried Marseille over so they could hold her. Nani raised Marseille up close to her face and kissed her on her nose. Marseille’s eyes crinkled like Jay’s and her mouth formed into a smile. Unexpectedly, Nani began softly crying. “What’s wrong, Nani?” asked Kennedey, concerned.
She shook her head. “Nothing. She smells just like you girls’ mama when she was a baby, that’s all. Out of all my kids, Apollonia had the most distinctive smell as a baby. She had this natural aroma of cocoa butter and graham crackers. I know that seems strange, but it’s true! Your mama had the sweetest scent and I haven’t smelled it in all these years until now,” replied Nani, tearfully. I felt a huge lump form in my throat. The room grew quiet for a long moment.
My own eyes began to water. Just weeks ago, I told Jaylen, Marseille smelled exactly like everything Nani just described. The thing is, I never knew my mother shared the same scent with my daughter. Nani never told me that. My grandparents ended up staying on IP for about a week. It gave me good feeling of comfort to have the people I loved most under the same roof. We were together for the wedding, but that was technically underneath the stars. Yes, there were times I felt that a piece of the puzzle is missing, but I wasn’t dwelling on that. All that mattered, was here and now.
On Jade’s last two trips to IP to be with Jayson, she’s come by on a couple of different occasions to see the baby. One particular night, Briah also came by to visit. I didn’t know everything that was going on between the two of them over the last several months, both have told me different versions. If this was two years ago and I was Reagan sans baby, I would probably be more interested in their little tiff. I couldn’t call it beef because it wasn’t that deep.
Yes, Jade can have some funny little ways about her. I continued to mess with her because one, she’s my people and Jade is not a vicious person. She perhaps thinks a little too highly of herself at times, but that wasn’t anything new. I’m not sure if Bri said anything to her about some of the little sideways comments she made at the shower, but Jade did call me up and apologized to me if I felt offended by anything she said. It was never that serious to me and I told her not to worry about it. I’ve said in the past, there are many, many De-Sais out there. Some I choose to deal with, but the majority I don’t. I wasn’t trippin’. Jade just needed to watch her mouth, she didn’t catch a clap from me, because I was over that, but Bri on the other hand had no filter and I would hate to see their relationship as cousins and friends get screwed up over something petty.
“So who’s little mama acting like? You or Jay?” asked Jade.. “One thing, I’ve noticed about her, is that she’s very observant. Pooh Pooh likes to know what’s going on. I don’t know if that’s normal for other babies, but whenever there’s a conversation going around her, she perks up, like she can understand what’s being said. Marseille is actually pretty chill. She usually only cries when her diaper is dirty, she’s hungry, or when she first wakes up. Other than that she’s cool. My dad said I have it easy because I was a diva baby to the max,” I replied.
“Please, look at her, Marseille got swag already. She Jay ‘n Rea baby. When she get older, she gon’ be out here slayin’ !” shouted Briah. I shook my head. “Bri, you a damn foo, girl. Jay already going around telling everybody how dope his daughter is,” I laughed. “I just know, when me and Jayson have some babies, I want them to get his eyes. I love his eye color,” said Jade. “Oh, you and Jayson talking ’bout having a baby?” I asked. Jade ran her hand through her new Brazilian weave. “Nah, girl, not right now. I still got too much I need to do before being tied down. He live all the way out here and I’m in Miami,” she answered. “What about you, Bri? Is Apollo still bothering you about giving him a baby?” I asked. Briah rolled her eyes. “Most of the time, he just be jokin’, but I know he would be sprung if I got knocked up. But like I keep telling him, it ain’t happening no time soon. I said, he gon’ have to live vicariously through Jay,” laughed Briah.
“It’s bomb how Marseille got you and Nani’s eye color. My daddy got them green De-Sai eyes too, but I got wear these contacts to even make my eyes pop,” said Jade. “Your natural eyes are beautiful though, Jade. I like the contacts too, but you don’t need them if you ask me,” I observed. I supposed a lot of people wished they could change about their physical appearance. It took me years to accept my red hair. I used to think the other kids in the family didn’t run around looking like little orphan Annie. I used to want black hair like my mom. I’ve dyed my hair before in the past, but red will always be my signature color. Yes, I knew my daughter was a beautiful baby and I can imagine she will grow up to be a beautiful young woman. But I wanted to start early and teach her that she so much more than what was on the outside.
My family has been through a lot together and we only started getting back to where we used to be after Daddy’s heart attack. I didn’t know I could get any closer to my father and sister, but Marseille has bonded us like never before over the last several weeks. Daddy and Jay are practically best friends and they’re constantly talking about raising daughters. Kennedey loved playing the role of doting auntie and her niece. I’m not necessarily talking about with toys and gifts, but constant attention. Kennedey talked to her like they were having a conversation, I’ve done the same thing since I was pregnant with her. My sister also reads to her just about every time she comes over to the house. They’re like best friends. Kennedey is busy as ever with the gallery, but she finds time to come over and hang out a few times a week. Daddy is busy too, but he hasn’t been on the road as much since his granddaughter came. He said, being with Marseille was like reliving the time I was a baby.
Jay and I connect on a whole other level now that we’re parents. I’ve always thought of us as this dynamic duo, but now we’re like this team. We talk about and consult with each other about what’s best for our child and we make decisions together as a family based on what Marseille’s needs are. Jay and I were always out to party and have a good time. We lived our lives, thinking what would bring Reagan and Jaylen the most pleasure? We were pretty self-absorbed, well me more than Jay. Finally when we got together, it wasn’t so much about who came first, we wanted each other to be happy. Now, with Marseille, it’s her needs above everything else.
Of course Jay and I still have fun as a couple, if the parents aren’t happy, the baby won’t be either. It’s crazy how much more mellow and evened out I feel these days, Jay said something similar the other day about himself. We’re not the only ones who noticed it, but our families have said how chill we seemed. This is not to say we aren’t overprotective of our daughter and constantly worry about screwing up. Jay and I are learning this whole parent thing as it goes.
Sometimes it’s as easy as pie and other times, I feel like the most inept mother when I can’t figure out what is wrong with my baby. Daddy said I needed to give myself a break and I was already doing a very good job. Marseille’s given me the ability to look at myself in another way. There’s this other Reagan deep down inside who wasn’t as turnt up or even concerned about half the crap she used to worry about. Life is so different now. Yuri was right, having a baby changes everything.
Since Kevin and Yuri were in town long term while Kevin designed the aquatics center, both the Leeds and Powers families have been able to spend more time with each and get to know each other better. Kevin told Dad he was jealous because he lived on IP full-time. Jay’s parents initially stayed at the Ritz, but have since found a beautiful beach rental property they were considering on buying. Between Daddy, Yuri, Kevin, Kennedey, and Bri, Jaylen and I were in no short supply of eager babysitters. We haven’t done too much as a couple since bringing Marseille home from the hospital and truthfully, I didn’t really want to. I knew it was important for Jay and I to have alone time, but I couldn’t stand the thought of going out for an evening and leaving my little cocoa puff at home.
Daddy, Kennedey, and Yuri were at the house several times a week. It didn’t bother us at all and I loved the fact that my father was living in the same city as his daughters again. Yuri gave me great advice on mothering. There were so many things I didn’t know and still needed to learn. She obviously did a great job raising her children. Yuri was the perfect person to give a mom’s perspective on things. Marseille was very fortunate to have so much family around that loved and doted on her. I wouldn’t change anything about my life. Everything in the world was just as it should be.
I loved taking care of my daughter. I love everything about being a mother. I won’t lie, breast pumping wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I loved to nurse my little Pooh bear. I loved giving her a bath, cleaning her little stinky booty after she left me a present in her diaper, playing with her, and talking to her. Sure, our conversations were one sided, but I believe she tried talking back in the form of making noises. Each day, I saw a little more of Jay and I in her. Stinky Pooh had my green eyes, but hers crinkled up and sparkled just like Jay’s. She shared her father’s smile and it lit up her face, the same way his did. That nose also belonged to Jay. My little cocoa puff had the “De-Sai” lips. I can’t really explain what that is, but most of the females on my Mom’s side had similar, beautifully shaped lips.
It was one thing falling and love with Jay. I’d never experienced those kind of emotions or knew that kind of love existed. But having a child and what I felt for my baby girl, was indescribable. There was no other love greater than one can have for their child. Daddy told me that when I was pregnant, but now I finally understood what he meant. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Marseille, she’s the love of my life. I really believe my little girl was my reason for being. Jay and I saved each other in many ways, but my daughter saved me on an even greater scale.
All that leftover residue and baggage from my past, suddenly became irrelevant. There were so many things I didn’t worry about anymore, a lot of it became unimportant.If I had to look through my child’s eyes at me, I wouldn’t want her to know me as the person I used to be. I would never lie to Marseille about what I went through or the things I did, but I want her to be proud of who I am now. She comes from good stock. She’s a Leeds. Daddy, Kennedey, and I were each others rock. We fought to keep our family together even after it seemed that it was destroyed. No, it wasn’t easy, but stuck in there because we were all we had. I thought about what I told Kennedey a few months back, about Marseille signifying a new beginning for our family. Now that she’s here, I felt it was more true than ever, we had the chance to begin again. Marriage is what brought the Leeds and the Powers together, but Marseille forever bonded us.
We finally started putting Marseille in the crib at night, but that didn’t stop me from getting up several times and going in the nursery just to look at her. She didn’t sleep in her room seven nights a week, because I felt she was still too little to be away from me all night. Yuri said the longer I put it off, the harder it would be.
Sometimes, I would sit there for hours, just watching her breathe in and out. Marseille made the cutest sounds in her sleep. At times, a variety of expressions came across her face that made me wonder what she was dreaming about. Sometimes it looked as she were concentrating very hard and other times she smiled and looked as if she were dreaming of something funny.
I stretched out on my bed, lying Marseille close to my face. I loved hearing her soft giggles and cooing. Marseille turned her head looking around the bedroom, as if she were fascinated by everything she saw. I moved my face just close enough that my nose was right above her mouth. I deeply inhaled and savored the smell of my baby girl’s breath. Marseille smelled so sweet, like innocence. I sat up a little and continued listening to the sound of her inhaling and exhaling. She turned to look at me, hers eyes crinkled like her daddy’s and she gave me a wide toothless smile. I giggled a little, thinking of all the facial expressions and mannerisms she had like Jay. Marseille’s face lit up every time she smiled, also like Jay and Yuri. There was nothing I looked forward to more than seeing her little face in the morning.
“What are you smiling at cocoa puff, huh? You smiling at mommy?” I teased her. Marseille burst out in excited laughter. I stuck my tongue out at her and made a silly face which only made her laugh harder. The things babies get a kick out of. You would think what I did was the funniest thing in the world.
We continued looking at each other for a few more moments. “Marseille, Mama loves you so much. I was afraid when I first found out you were growing inside of me. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to be a good mommy. But you give be strength every single day. I loved you from the first moment I found out you existed. You know, I’m not sure if your grandma ever really loved me. Not Daddy’s mommy, but my mommy. Sometimes I think it was possible she did, I guess I’ll never know for sure. One thing you’ll never have to worry about is if your daddy or I love you. There’s nothing your mama wouldn’t do for you, little girl. Marseille, you’re the love of my life and I’ll always be here when you need me,” I said, looking into her big curious eyes. She was only a baby, but somehow I think she understood what I was saying. I couldn’t get over how much I loved this little person. Marseille was my whole world. Nothing was more important to me than my family.
The weather has been nice, considering it was winter. I don’t know where summer and fall went, being pregnant made everything around me such a blur. Marseille had about a million clothes to wear and I was eager to dress her up in her little knitted and thermal footies and baby hat. She looked so cute and cozy. I bought this a new pink wool coat to specifically match Marseille’s outfit. I don’t know, but this is the most I’ve ever worn pink. Hey, I may be a mama now, but my ‘fits still needed to be on point and I needed to stay snatched.
Jaylen put on the new white coat I bought him and we went to the winter festival in town. We strolled around with the baby for over nearly an hour and later went to a new Italian bistro for lunch. It was the perfect little Powers family outing.
The chill of winter finally melted away and spring was now in full bloom. I couldn’t believe how big Marseille’s gotten over the last few months. We spent a lot of time together, she was my new best friend. I never thought that Reagan Leeds would be the domestic type, but I loved being at home with my baby. Being a mommy is everything I am, but I believe it’s the most important thing I am. I didn’t know if that was against ‘feminist’ ideology, but I didn’t really care. I’m a stronger woman now and feminism to me is the ability to define myself in my own terms and not let anyone else dictate to me how I should run my life. Yes, I’m a model and I have a ‘brand’ out there. I’m also a wife, but I’m so much more than these things and to me, being a mother to this little girl, who miraculously came into my life is the greatest thing I could ever be.
My baby has brought me unspeakable joy and truth into my life. I’ve learned so much about myself since she was born. Not everyone is in the position to stay home with their child when they’re this little, I was fortunate. My time with my daughter was precious and she wouldn’t stay this little forever.
Now that the weather’s nice out, Marseille and I have started to take walks nearly every day. I plopped her in her stroller and we set off on mini adventures. Okay, maybe not big adventures, but they were to her. We usually went to the farmer’s market around the corner or walked to Daddy’s house because he lived so close by. Daddy made his own hours and he was home on the one or two days a week I would push Marseille over to his house. Daddy said of our excursions, that he looked forward to seeing his grandbaby more than anything all week. I think Marseille felt similar too, she’s crazy over her grandaddy. I can’t blame her, I was crazy over him too.
Jaylen and I took the baby to the park to take full advantage of the beautiful weather outside. There weren’t too many people in the park, probably because it was in the middle of the day during the week. This was perfect for us. Being a celebrity, I enjoy my privacy. It’s not so much about me, but my daughter. I share things about my life online, but not as much as I used to. I posted a few pictures of Marseille on my Instagram because I hated the thought of her first public pictures being taken by the paparazzi. They’re so annoying, thankfully I’ve managed to avoid them when she’s in public with me so far.
Having a picnic has become a special occasion for Jay and I. There was nothing super glamorous about it. Our first picnic was in Paris, then on our honeymoon. Now that Marseille is here, we decided we should have the first Powers family picnic. We spread a blanket on the grass and I sat Marseille in her car seat next to me while we ate.
“It’s so nice out today, baby. I’m glad you didn’t have to go to the club today,” I said. Jaylen swallowed a mouthful of food. “Same here, Ma. Unfortunately, I have to work late this weekend since Amarre is down in Miami. He took Martina down there with him this time because he’ll be gone for a couple of weeks,” replied Jaylen. “How’s the expansion going?” I asked. “Pretty good so far. Obviously Amarre has had to scale back and delegate some of his work to a couple of other people who work for us to free up his schedule a little. He’s doing a good job at balancing everything. For the first time in our lives, my brother is actually coming to me on advice. I’m a daddy and he’ll be one soon,” said Jaylen. I admit, I didn’t Amarre becoming a parent anytime soon, then again, I didn’t think I would be one either at this point in my life.
I looked down at Marseille, who was resting comfortable looking up at the sky and all the trees. She wasn’t paying too much attention to us until she saw me stuffing my hotdog down my mouth. Her arms and legs began to wildly kick . This little girl knew what food was and she loved to eat. “Yo, you can’t get down on this, Piglet. Mommy will give you some once you grow some teeth, okay?” I teased her.
Pooh Pooh bear seemed to know what I was telling her and started speaking back in her baby language, as if she were protesting me. I laughed. “Don’t get mad, fat. You’re only a few months old. Every baby goes through this, don’t worry it’ll be your time eventually,” I said. “She definitely got my appetite from what my Mom says. I loved eating when I was baby, still do. Pork Chop, Daddy will barbeque for you as soon as you get some teeth,” said Jaylen. Our daughter squealed in delight and smiled at Jay behind her pacifier. “You’re just a happy little girl, aren’t you? ‘And I’ll be a lot happier when y’all give me some real food!'” I said, pretending to be Marseille talking back to me.
I shuddered all of a sudden, feeling chilly, despite the warm air. Jaylen took noticed. “What’s the matter, baby? Are you cold?” he asked. I shook my head. “I don’t know. I just got chilly for a second. I hope I’m not catching a cold or anything,” I replied. “I hope you aren’t either. Look, take a nap when we get back home. I’ll give Marsy her bath and put on dinner,” suggested Jaylen. “That’ll be nice, boo. Yeah, maybe I’ll take a warm bath and go to sleep for a little bit. You sure it won’t be too much for you?” I asked. “Nah, it’s good, boo. I got it,” assured Jaylen. I smiled at him. Jaylen was a great husband and father. There wasn’t a whole lot I had to ask him to do, he usually knew when to do things around the house on his own. I didn’t really feel sick, but I wanted to get a handle on it before I came down with anything. That was the last thing any of us needed.
“Hi stinky pooh! What ‘cha doing, huh? Are you laughing at Mommy?” I teased Marseille, tickling her on my lap. Jaylen and I were in the living room playing with the baby after dinner. I wanted to put her down pretty soon, but she showed no signs of being tired. I figured if I worked her up enough, she’ll get sleepy and be ready to get in her crib.
“Do you ever think about what she’ll be like when she gets older?” asked Jaylen.”Yeah, sometimes. I guess I try not to most of the time because I want her to stay little,” I replied. “I know, so do I, but she won’t. Next Marseille will be off to pre-school, kindergarten, high school, then little ugly boys will start coming around. I’m not looking forward to that at all,” mused Jaylen. I laughed, looking at the distress on Jaylen’s face. “Baby, you jumped ahead many years. You skipped over elementary and middle school. She’s not about to start dating in the next couple of years, so you can relax for now,” I said.
“Even so, that day will be here sooner than we know it. Hey, I was a boy at one time, I know how dirty and trifling they are. Girls couldn’t resist the Powers charm when Amarre and I were growing up. Their fathers’ tried locking their daughters up, but it didn’t work. But it’s not about to be like that with my baby girl, no doubt. I’m going to make sure any boy who calls himself liking Marseille, is good and scared of me. I don’t even want my daughter playing with baby boys her age. They’re going to grow up to be the same ones chasing after her and causing misery,” said Jaylen.
“You’re so crazy, foo’. You don’t need to feel threatened by little infant boys who can’t even talk yet. Besides, you were a baby boy once,” I replied. “I know I was. Yo, I don’t care, these little boys may be all innocent and cute now, but they grow up. And Papa Powers ain’t having it,” said Jaylen. He was so funny and silly. I knew he was serious about putting the check down when it came to boys once Marseille grew up, but the thought of other babies flirting with her right now was too funny. I couldn’t really say anything, though. Jay was a teenage boy at one time and he knew their M.O. I just felt bad for any boy that dared to step to our door in the future.
New York City, three days ago…
The lady had an early morning flight out of John F. Kennedy International Airport. She packed her suitcase the night before, determined not to forget anything. Some of her best clothes with the tags still attached were coming with her, not to mention her favorite designer heels. Makeup, perfume, hairbrush, everything that made her look like her. The woman was a drop dead beauty, a fact not unnoticed all her life. She matched her form fitting cobalt blue dress with six inch champagne stilettos. The lady has always had a flair for fashion and just because her address wasn’t in the best part of Brooklyn, didn’t mean she had to look like it.
As a trained dancer, her balance was perfect. Her long lean legs confidently carried her out of her apartment and down the stairs. The same legs that she relied on all her life and were supposed to make her famous one day. Heel-toe, heel-toe, the long stems firmly planted beneath her on each concrete step, the sound echoing through the foyer. She silently counted until she reached the bottom of the staircase. Counting was something she often did. It wasn’t something clearly known to her when or why it started and there were numbers to carefully avoid. It’s not something she really thought about and counting kept herself from getting distracted and stay focused on her mission.
The lady stepped out of her building and under the overcast sky over New York. Spring was here, but it was dark and dreary outside like fall. Being from the Caribbean, she was never fond of cold weather and never got used to it, despite being in this country for many years. Her black large brimmed hat was perfect for today, as her only umbrella was recently lost.
The lady hailed the first cab she saw. She slid into the backseat and slammed the door shut. “JFK. Take the BQE,” came her direction to the cab driver. Of all days when arriving to the airport was of the utmost importance, it would be raining, causing more traffic on the streets. She didn’t have any other choice, but to sit back and patiently wait to make it all the way to Queens.
New York City was an exciting place, but that’s not what drew her here many years ago. She had her reasons for living in the city, but merely stayed as a means to an end. She casually looked out the window, watching the concrete jungle rush by. As an island girl, she often found herself wanting to bury her feel in decent sand on a decent beach. But no, New York wasn’t that, it wasn’t Trinidad or even Miami.
New York had a purpose and offered many opportunities, the reason millions of people lived here and the reason millions of people flocked to it each year. What is that song or saying? If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. The lady was never the type to be intimidated and she could handle herself anywhere, which couldn’t be said for thousands of people the city chewed up and spit out on a daily basis. If you were a native New Yorker, that was one thing, but if you were not only foreign to the city and this country itself, you needed to have a tough mentality to live here.
At least she could take solace that she was getting away from the cold and landing on Isla Paradiso, where the current weather was beautiful. The Weather Channel reported the high at seventy-seven degrees today. Finally, after forty-five minutes, the lady arrived at her destination, well, the start of her destination. She hadn’t flown anywhere since she was down in Miami. That trip was critical and imperative that she be there. There was a whole plan set in motion, which included days of reconnaissance. There was every intention on making her presence known. At the last minute, she backed out, something told her it was better if she waited. Her plans were put on hold in the meanwhile. Now, there was no time like the present. This was a vital trip and she couldn’t return to New York without what she came for or come back empty handed. This time she wouldn’t fail, she couldn’t.
No sooner had the lady found her seat in coach, when a member of the flight crew asked if she wanted to be upgraded to first class. That was a no-brainer and it was subtly expressed to her that the captain wanted to meet her after the flight. This wasn’t shocking, people have bent over backwards all her life to please her because of her beauty. It was a lot easier to get what you wanted in this world if you were attractive. She let the crew know she wasn’t interested and didn’t think twice about feeling obligated to thank the captain with some exchange outside of the aircraft. Using her beauty, whether on purpose or not was something the lady mastered at a very early age.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m your chief flight attendant. My name is Joy. On behalf of Captain Mark Grant the entire crew, welcome aboard American Airlines flight 1703, non-stop service from New York to Isla Paradiso…”
“Flight attendants/Cabin Crew, please prepare for gate departure.”
Flight 1703 JFK to IP
“Welcome to Isla Paradiso. For those who live here, welcome home. If you’re visiting, we hope you enjoy your stay. We know you have many choices in air travel and we thank you for choosing to fly with us.”
As the woman stepped off the plane and walked through the terminal, the captain and his crew were quickly forgotten. She was here for a reason and fornication with an airline pilot wasn’t one of them. This little incident made her think of her daughters. Her oldest, like her, knew of the unparallelled beauty she possessed, she grew up knowing it. It helped her get into many high places and her looks have made her a fortune. The lady’s youngest daughter, also a beauty, perhaps a late bloomer, always hid behind various projects and interests, she was never comfortable with the way she looked, even when people told her she was beautiful. It wasn’t something she could believe.
The woman continued walking with determination through the Isla Paradiso airport, following the signs where one would pick up a rental car. The airport was rather quiet compared to the madhouse that was JFK. Of the few people she passed in Isla Paradiso’s small airport, all the men stood and gawked at her, easily distracted by her swinging hips. This went completed unnoticed by her, this wasn’t anything she wasn’t used to.
After she picked up her rental car, she would check into the Isla Paradiso Marriott, close to the airport. She felt slightly apprehensive about driving again. Living in New York for so many years, you don’t need a car and she was from Trinidad where they drove on the left side of the road, not the right like in the US. When she lived in Miami with her family, her estranged husband did all the driving. Anytime she attempted to drive herself, always ended in disaster.
It was neither here or there, the lady was here now and she had no other way of getting around the islands. She didn’t know how long she was going to be here, so she would have to reacquaint herself with the art of driving in America. Operating a car was the least of her concerns right now. What lied ahead for her on Isla Paradiso? She wasn’t quite sure, but one thing she did know, there was nothing or no one that would stop her from getting exactly what she wanted.
Kennedey came over for family dinner and brought the cats along with her to visit. I loved Sammy and Tinky, but I didn’t want them in the house with Marseille, because she’s too little. Kennedey left them outside to frolic and play and do whatever cats like to do. After we ate dinner the three of us went into the living room.My sister and I were trading funny childhood stories with Jaylen. “Reagan, remember the time you tried to flat iron Pretty Curls’ hair? You wanted to play ‘beauty shop’ and convinced me it would be a good idea,” recalled Kennedey, pursing her lips to keep from laughing. I had an instant flashback to that disaster. I began to laugh so hard, my side began to hurt. “Well, I wanted to hook her up. Pretty Curls had the same hairstyle and she needed I change,” I replied.
“What is a ‘Pretty Curls’?” asked Jaylen, looking amused. “She was one of my dolls. She had like this wavy curly hair and Reagan wanted to see what she would like if her hair was straight,” answered Kennedey, shaking her head. Jaylen looked at me. “You wanted to flat iron a doll’s hair?” he asked, trying to keep a straight face. “Yes, I was seven. I didn’t know heat would melt her hair!” I continued to laugh.
“But, Jay, that wasn’t even the worse part. Your wife, the woman you married decided to glue a couple of our mom’s tracks on Pretty Curls, to hide the bald spots!” exclaimed Kennedey. Jaylen shook his head. “You were a hot mess, weren’t you?” he teased. “Look, I tried to make it better. It was some leftover weave hair, it wouldn’t be missed. I thought her hair came out nice after that, I mean considering what it looked like before,” I replied.
“The doll’s hair was fine before you wanted to play hair stylist. Pretty Curls was never the same after that. I still loved her, but it wasn’t the way it used to be,” said Kennedey. “But yo, let’s not even forget all the things you messed up of mine. You cut my Cabbage Patch doll’s hair cause you were mad I wouldn’t let you play with me and my friends that one time. Jay, don’t think I’m the only culprit, Kenney stayed doing underhanded sneaky stuff when she wanted to get back at me,” I said.
“Those were the days. We had fun most of the time as kids. Reagan thought she could punk me because I was the younger sister,” said Kennedey. I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s every younger sibling’s rite of passage to get punched by the older sibling. It gives you character. I’m sure Marseille will do her own punking one day when she’s the big sister. Not that I’m trying to give her a brother or sister anytime soon,” I replied. “Older siblings or not, Amarre thought he was mine. I told that dude, four minutes does not make you a “real” older brother. There was nothing in those four minutes he had on this earth longer than me, that could teach him anything more about life,” said Jaylen.
The lady has been on Isla Paradiso for the last few days. She didn’t want to make her move as soon as she got there, but instead, checked out some of the “sights”, gathering further intel. Tonight was the night she would make her move. She carefully spent over two hours putting together her outfit and getting ready.
After finishing her makeup, she applied some edge control to her hair. Next she took the can of oil sheen and gave her black mane a light spritz. Following up with a couple of squirts of Cinéma by Yves Saint Laurent. She stepped back to look at herself in the mirror. Her palms began to feel sweaty and she quickly rubbed them off on her skirt. She quickly grabbed her keys and quietly walked out of the hotel.
The car’s GPS led her to a quiet neighborhood near the water on the second largest island in Isla Paradiso. The waves coming off the ocean were the only audible sounds coming through the half opened window. The saltwater air rushed into her nostrils. It was a smell she was no longer accustomed to, having lived in New York City for a such a long time. The rental car came to a slow crawl as she neared the address she was looking for. Parking nearly twenty feet away from the house, she put the gear in park and stepped out the car.
Her stilettos clacked against the pavement, as she drew closer to 15 Riviera Rd. The occupants of the house didn’t have many neighbors. The beautiful sprawling house was situated on a dead end street up the hill from a private beach.
The woman stopped near the end of the driveway and looked down at her feet. She picked Sammy up, holding him inches away from her face. “Have you missed your master, Samuel?” she asked, stroking his back. The cat looked at her and sniffed. He didn’t allow just any kind of stranger to pick him up, but this was no stranger, he was familiar with her.
Sammy looked into her face, one he hadn’t seen in a long time, but one he didn’t forget. Sammy sniffed at her once more then jumped from her arms and ran off into the night.
The woman dusted any shed cat hair from her clothes and continued up the walkway. Voices and laughter came from inside the house. She approached the front door and stood staring at it for a moment.
She peered into a window, observing what was going on inside the house. Whatever nerves or doubts she felt were quickly dismissed. There was no going back. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain at this point. Taking a deep breath, the woman reached out and rang the doorbell.
Her heart began beating faster at the sound of footsteps approaching. Without any hesitation, the door slowly opened.
The same green eyes she saw in the mirror everyday stared back at her in disbelief. Only now they were twice their size and looked as if they were seeing something otherworldly.
I was about to get up and check on Marseille when the doorbell rang. “Ken, will go see if the baby is still asleep? Sometimes she just be wide awake looking around, I need that little girl to get all her sleep tonight,” I said. “Sure,” replied Kennedey, getting up from the sofa.
It was after nine o’clock, I wondered who would be at the door at this hour. I glanced out the window as I passed by, but didn’t see a car parked outside. I don’t know why, but I had an eerie feeling come over me, similar to the other day at the park. I shook it off and continued to the door. I reached for the handle and slowly pulled the door open.
Instantly, I felt as if I were dreaming or that I was outside of my body. I literally stopped breathing for a moment. My brain couldn’t process this, I can’t…I couldn’t. This wasn’t real, no way on God’s green earth… I stood there frozen, shaking, and staring at the woman in front of me.
***author’s note, I’ve waited well over a year to bring Reagan’s mother back. I never planned on it taking this long, but I specifically planned it this way. I consider the end of this chapter to be one of, if not the most pivotal plot point in the story. Apollonia’s return is the game-changer and will set the tone for the rest of Reagan’s story.
(credit airodyssey flight lingo)