*Thanku so much for previous comments :) I never expected to get so many lol I hope this is okay, I've been struggling with writer's block and super self-doubting episodes haha*
"Do you think there's a baby in there?" Drake asked quietly as he lay resting on his front in between her legs, his head positioned gently on her stomach.
"I don't know. It's too early to tell yet, babe." Finishing her answer off with a yawn she kept on running her fingers through his curls. She knew she would have to get up soon before she dozed off again but the peace and quiet with him right now was too enjoyable.
"Y'know? The doctor said there are other opt-"
"Aubrey, please? I don't wanna talk about that right now." He knew he'd ruined the moment as she sat up slowly and stared at him. "C'mon, my Mom said dinner would on the table at eight." Patting his arm for him to move, she watched him as he rolled on to his back and let her up.
The silence once again filled the room as soon as she shut the bathroom door behind her. The last few weeks had been more than a little turbulent and this was their fourth time trying to get pregnant. He just hoped this time they'd witness the result they were both so desperate to see. A baby.
"Drake? Could you grab me a towel?" He was pulled from his growing thoughts and proceeded to do as his wife had asked and handed the towel to her. It needed to happen this time, for her sake more than anything. He hated seeing the disappointed look on her face when they took the test and she'd read she wasn't pregnant. The doctor had already hinted at the fact that it could be something to do with them and suggested other options for starting a family but Nicki wouldn't hear it. Not from the doctor's mouth and not from her husband's mouth.
"Gimme a yell when you're ready to go." He smiled and kissed her forehead before she stepped into the shower.
"Mom will be cursin'." She huffed and put her phone back in her lap before looking out of the window again.
"We're almost there, it'll be fine." Grasping at her hand he kissed it and continued on with the flow of traffic as soon as the lights changed. They were running a little late since Drake had decided to pounce on Nicki as soon as she hopped out of the shower, another spontaneous moment that had now made them late for her Father's birthday dinner.
"Next time you go jumpin' on me outta nowhere, do it when we got no plans."
"Shut up." She laughed and shoved his hand away as they pulled up to the curb. "Remember we're not tellin' anyone unti-"
"Until we know you're pregnant. I got it babe." Sharing another kiss they both exited the car and made their way inside. Nicki started squealing almost as soon as she saw her little brother, embracing him in a huge hug.
"Lambchop!" She whined. "I missed you!"
"I missed you too Nika." He started protesting when she planted kisses all over his head and pulled away from her as he wiped at his scalp. "Stooop!"
"Oh? You're too grown for my kisses now?"
"No." He looked around sheepishly. "Just not in front of everyone like that."
"Ungrateful." She shook her head playfully and continued though to the kitchen as Cai and Drake started messing around with his new remote controlled car.
"Onika, you made it." Quickly setting the bowls down she made her way over to her daughter and hugged her lovingly.
"Yeah, sorry we're a lil' late. We had some stuff to sort out before we got here." Flashing her dimples she set her purse on the table and shrugged out of her jacket. "Need any help?"
"Please, that would be great." After greeting the rest of her family and wishing he Father a happy birthday she returned to the kitchen to help her Mom.
"So how are things, Onika?"
"Good." She smiled and looked over at Carol happily. "Better than ever actually."
"I'm glad to hear that baby, hand me that colander would you?" Reaching over carefully she place the plastic sieve in her Mother's hand.
"How's Dad doin'? Y'know, with all his meds and stuff?" She frowned worriedly thinking about his decline in health as of late.
"He's fine, trooping on as usual." The sweet smile on her Mom's face wasn't convincing her one bit.
Back in the lounge room Drake had said his hello's to everyone before joining them in watching the TV. He knew how protective they all were of Nicki, especially after everything that had happened to her they didn't want her getting hurt again. That's why he will forever treasure the moment when her Father and brother both gave him their blessing to ask for Nicki's hand in marriage. It meant a lot to him. Although seeing Robert slowly heading downhill was pretty heartbreaking. Staring at the older man for a while Drake soon felt uncomfortable when he turned to look at him, obviously confused.
"Jay? Who is that sat over there? Do we know him?" The wrinkles in his brow were deep with thought as Jelani quickly glanced at Drake apologetically.
"Dad, that's Drake. You remember him, he's Nicki's husband." He paused to let the information sink in but he looked just as confused as before. "We went to their weddin' a couple weeks back, you walked Nic down the aisle, remember?"
"No, I don't." Looking down for a second he took in a breath and returned his gaze to Drizzy. "Nice to meet you, Drake was it?"
"Yeah, nice to meet you too Mr Maraj." He smiled and nodded courteously and let the elder continue watching TV.
"Sorry 'bout that, he's gettin' worse."
"Aye, don't worry 'bout it. Not like you can help it." He tried to reassure him but the look on his face was pained.
"It's definitely Alzheimer's, the doctor confirmed."
"There's nothin' else they can do?" He sat forward in his chair some more with a concerned expression.
"It's irreversible." Wiping his hand over his face he sighed loudly. "He remembers old stuff, but nothin' recent. It's really odd, like, stuff you'd assume an older person would never remember sticks with 'em but then they couldn't possibly tell you what they did this mornin'."
"Well, my prayers are with you. As long as he's got all of our support, things'll be fine."
"No problem." Sinking back in his chair he allowed his eyes to focus on the TV with Robert's.
"You are hands down the best cook I know." Drake praised Mama Carol as he pushed his empty plate away, only looking towards Nicki when she cleared her throat angrily. "Oh, apart from Nicki of course." Grinning sheepishly he leaned in and kissed her temple.
"Stop ass kissin'. Y'already made it clear my cooking doesn't cut it."
"Thank you, Aubrey. You still got room for dessert?"
"I can make room?" He laughed and rested his hand on Nicki's thigh under the table. "We can't stay too long though."
"Oh? What's the rush to leave here for?" She asked whilst standing up and gathering plates.
"There's no rush Mom, we just wanna visit the cemetery before they lock the gates."
"Oh, that reminds me!" She quickly scurried off and returned seconds later with a flat, square box. "I did this for you." Handing the small gift over everyone watched in anticipation as Nicki tore the paper off and pulled out a frame, inside it there was a small inscription with a photo of her baby next to it. It was from her Mom to Kai. She read over the heartfelt words, struggling to continue towards the end as her eyes had glazed over.
"Mom, I love it. Thank you." Quickly standing up she shared a hug with her Mother as Drake read over the written piece before handing it to Cai, who then handed it to Jelani after scanning the words. As they all continued to exchange small talk they heard Robert let out a small howl.
"Oh my, Onika?"
"Hmm?" She turned to look at him quickly with her lips folded into a small smile.
"Is this your little one? He's gotten so big, where is the little tyke?" He chuckled heartily and rubbed his thumb over the image. The whole table was overcome by a sorrowful silence. Nicki wasn't even able to make a noise as her heart moved up to her throat. Everyone's eyes were upon her frame before trying to avoid staring. Tearfully clearing her throat she stared down at her plate momentarily.
"Excuse me." Pushing her chair out she attempted to make a hasty exit to the bathroom before her tears escaped but was stopped by Drake's hand wrapping around her wrist.
"Nicki, wait." That was all he managed to get out before she pulled away from his grip and headed up the stairs quickly.
"Was it something I said?" Robert's face was the definition of concern as he looked between everyone. Their expressions all pretty much mirroring one another's
"No. No, of course not Dad. Nicki's just not feelin' too good. C'mon, how 'bout us three go eat dessert in the lounge?" Jelani widened his eyes at Cai and led them through to other room before moving back through to get their dessert bowls.
"I'll go see to her." Politely leaving the table Drake made his way upstairs, he checked the bathroom first but when he didn't find her in there he guessed she was in her old room. Bingo. She was laying on her side in the middle of her bed. Entering quietly he closed the door and climbed on to the bed, settling directly behind her. "He didn't say it on purpose y'know?"
"I know that, Drake. I'm not stupid." Her voice was all over the place as she trembled with each sob.
"I never said that." Wrapping his arms around her he prepared to be pushed away but instead she gripped on to his strong limbs.
"You don't need to apologise." He kissed the back of her head and loosened his grip when she shuffled around to be face to face with him.
"I don't think I'm ready, I ju-" He cut her off, already knowing what she was going to say.
"Shh. I know, it's okay. Like I said, we got all the time in the world. There's no rush." He pulled her closer to himself and spoke into her hair. "I'm ready when you are."
Robert's little slip up understandably ended the dinner early but other than that the night was seemingly enjoyable. Being as exhausted as she was, Nicki fell asleep on the way to the cemetery only to feel more gloomy when she awoke to the rain hammering down on her window.
"I was just thinkin' that." He smiled and rubbed her thigh as they pulled on to the gravelly parking lot. "I reckon we got an umbrella in the back. Wait here, I'll have a look." Sliding out of the door he began rummaging in the trunk as Nicki stared aimlessly out of the window, frowning harshly when she saw a hint of colour from the distance. It only caught her attention because that was the direction she usually stared in as it was where Kai and her baby were laid to rest. Swiftly pushing her door open she started walking that way, not bothering to close her door behind her and alert Drake to her leaving the vehicle.
Growing nearer to the headstones she could hear Drake shouting for her as he jogged to catch up, his heart immediately dropped seeing the sight before him. The two graves to the left of Kai and five on the right were all graffitied and vandalised. A heartbroken Nicki on her knees before him, staring at her baby's broken headstone. Bringing his hand up to his face he moved over to the graves before crouching down in the rain next to her.
"Who would do something like this? He's just a baby!" Her cries increased in volume as he'd got closer to her.
"Heartless pricks. That's who." Shaking his head angrily he pushed the umbrella up and put it Nicki's hand. "Here, keep under this and stay dry, you're gonna get sick."
"What are you doing?" She sniffled and kept herself under the protection of the black umbrella as Drake started wiping furiously at the fluorescent stains. They wouldn't budge though. Giving up after minutes of violent scrubbing he turned his attention to the small headstone that was now in half. He figured whoever did this would have targeted baby Kai's gravestone because it was small enough to break in contrast to all the other tall and daunting statue like stones. Bending down slowly he lifted the chipped off block and sat it back in its original place. "It's okay, Aubrey. It's not gonna stay."
"I'll call the director's when we get home, sort out some new headstones. Yeah?" He didn't receive a verbal response. Only seeing her head nod underneath the black of the umbrella before she lay the flowers down and started heading solemnly back towards the car.
The whole car ride home was silent. The days events had gone way more badly than he'd imagined. Catastrophic was more the word. Turning the headlights off once they'd entered the garage he sighed when she got out of the car and moved inside without a word. Typical Nicki behaviour. It didn't alarm him but he'd prefer it if she spoke to him about her troubles, rather than lock them up and bury them. Following her into the house he shrugged out of his wet clothes and managed to get the fire going to dry everything off. After hearing water in the pipes he guessed she was showering and decided to wait in their bedroom for her to get out. She didn't take long to reappear, wrapped in a towel and her eyes all puffy.
"Nicki? Talk to me."
"What is there to say?" She shrugged after speaking nasally due to her shedding tears.
"What's on your mind?"
"Oh, I don't know." Slamming her moisturiser down forcefully after squirting some in her hands she began rubbing the cream into her skin roughly. "Well, for starter's my Father's health is on my mind, Aubrey! As well as the fact that some heartless motherfuckers vandalised my baby's grave and..." She trailed off when the tears overtook her sentence and became too much as she sat defeatedly on the edge of the bed. "What if it was a sign?"