“So are you excited for the new baby, William?” Margaret asked her son at the breakfast table one morning. Margaret was now in her third trimester and her belly was quite round and large. She had been having some complications with this pregnancy and so everyone was tense. Margaret’s live-in nurse helped her up and down the stairs and made sure she didn’t spend too much time up and about.

“I guess…” William shrugged, not really paying much attention. Margaret frowned.

“But wouldn’t it be nice to have a little brother or sister?” she asked.

“I already have a sister, and a brother would play with my toys. I don’t want to share my toys,” William told his mother matter-of-factly. Margaret sighed and shook her head. William didn’t seem to want another sibling. Sometimes, Margaret wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mother again. She loved the baby growing inside of her and she knew Miraj did, too, but she was forty-six years old. She should be saving for retirement and helping her children plan their weddings, not changing diapers and filling milk bottles.

“Hey Mom, how’s the baby?” Morgan asked. Her skin glistened with a light layer of sweat and she had a fishing rod slung over her shoulder. She had apparently just come back from fishing. Margaret chuckled at the sight of her daughter. Wherever Morgan got her love of the outdoors from, it certainly wasn’t from Margaret. Fishing made Morgan so happy. She announced that she wanted to have the perfect aquarium someday. Margaret had no idea what her daughter meant by that, but had supported her dream, anyway, by rooting around in the storage for her Great Great Grandfather Christopher’s fishing rod to give to Morgan. Legend has it that he had been quite a talented angler in his days.

“The baby’s fine today,” Margaret assured her. Morgan helped her mom stand up so she could rub her very swollen belly. “I was scared last night. I started feeling some cramping, but Niagara and Miraj got everything under control.”

“That’s good,” Morgan smiled, but then bit her lip with a nervous expression. “I worry about you a lot, Mom. I don’t know if having another baby was a smart move for your health… and I have to admit, it’s really strange knowing that my youngest sibling is eighteen years younger than me. Technically, I’m old enough to be its mom,” she signed to her mother a little hesitantly. Margaret frowned. Now her daughter didn’t want a sibling, either?

“I didn’t realize you felt that way… both of you…” Margaret muttered. Morgan sighed and hugged her mom.

“Don’t look like that, Mom. I don’t really mind. It’s just… weird. We’re all going to have to get used to it. I guess it’s just bugging me with all the other weirdness that’s going on; Holly and Jude, Kristen’s disability, my relationship with Savannah and how on earth I’m going to keep this legacy going with a wife instead of a husband… can you really blame me for wanting a bit of normalcy?” she asked, half-teasing. Margaret gave a small grin.

“Okay, point taken,” she admitted.

“Do you know when the baby’s coming?” William interjected.

“Not for at least another month, Honey. Why do you ask?” Margaret replied.

“So I know when to hide my toys…” he grumbled. Morgan frowned.

“Stop being a spoiled brat, William. Everything isn’t about you,” Morgan snapped. She’d grown tired of her brother always complaining about not wanting a sibling. The truth was, Morgan didn’t really want another one, either, but there was nothing she could do to change the situation and she was learning to adjust to it. It was time William started learning how to do the same. I’m supposed to be the grumpy one in this family, but he’s making me seem like a cheerleader, she thought irritably to herself.

“Morgan! Be a bit more understanding, please!” Margaret defended William. Morgan just threw her hands in the air in defeat.

“Fine! I’m sorry for defending you, Mother. What was I thinking?” she retorted sarcastically before going upstairs to her room to cool off. This baby was putting a lot of unneeded stress on the family and William was only adding to it, yet somehow her mother always found a way to make Morgan into the selfish one. It was so frustrating!

Her cell phone rang and Morgan picked it up. It was Savannah.

“Hey! Can you make it to my party tonight?” she asked. Morgan sighed.

“I’m sorry,” she said aloud, cringing at the sound of her voice through her hearing aid. “I can’t. I’m afraid I just stressed out my Mom and Will isn’t helping at all, and I should be here in case something happens,” she explained. There was a long silence on the other end.

“Oh… but doesn’t your mom have a live-in nurse and your step-dad’s a doctor, right? Isn’t it their job to take care of her? I mean, I know you’re worried about her pregnancy, but if something did happen, they’d be able to handle it better than you. Why shouldn’t you come to my party and have some fun?”

“Savannah…” Morgan sighed. Why was everyone making things more complicated than they needed to be? “I just need to be here, okay? I’m the heiress of the estate and I’m eighteen. That makes me responsible for anything and everything that happens in this house, whether I had a hand in it or not.” Although Morgan couldn’t hear Savannah making any noise on the other end of the line, she knew her girlfriend well enough to know that she was crying and that twisted Morgan’s heart in a knot.

“I just thought… since it’s my big eighteenth, you’d be here,” she mumbled. “I’ve never had a birthday party before. I really wanted you to be at my first one.” Those were the words that broke Morgan. She furiously wiped tears from her eyes and tried not to let Savannah know she was crying. Of course Morgan knew that Savannah had never had a birthday party before. Of course she’d be excited for this one. Of course she’d want her only childhood friend and her girlfriend to be there for her on her big day. Of course Morgan wanted to be there… but her family needed her.

“I’m sorry… I can’t…” Morgan whispered. Now she could hear Savannah crying on the other end.

“Fine. I guess I’ll tell my aunt not to bother with the party since it’s just going to be the two of us. Maybe next year…” she mumbled before hanging up.

Morgan threw her phone across the room and collapsed on her bed, tears leaving dark streaks down her face.

Margaret sighed and rolled over in bed to face her husband. “Miraj?” she asked softly. Miraj’s eyes snapped open immediately.

“What’s wrong? Are you cramping? Bleeding? Dizzy? I’ll get Niagara,” he said quickly, throwing the covers off of him and leaping out of bed. Margaret shook her head and gently pulled him back.

“No, I’m fine. The baby’s fine. I just… want to talk…” she muttered. Miraj gave her a strange look, but nodded slowly and sank back down onto the bed, pulling Margaret close to him.

“What about?” he asked.

“The kids… well, Morgan’s not really a kid anymore, but you know what I mean,” she chuckled. “I don’t think they’re happy. Morgan’s trying to make the best of everything, but I can tell having a sibling with such a huge age difference bothers her, plus she’s stressed out about being the heiress and in love with a woman. That’s going to be difficult for her to sort out. William’s gotten really moody and surly lately. Every time I ask him about the baby, he gets defensive and then Morgan starts snapping at him for making things more difficult and then I snap at her for snapping at him and…” Margaret sighed and blinked back tears. “We all used to get along so well, but since I got pregnant, it’s like everyone’s turned against each other.” Miraj sighed and pulled his wife closer.

“It’s hard,” he admitted. “We didn’t plan for this baby.”

“We didn’t plan for William, either, and I certainly didn’t plan for Morgan,” Margaret pointed out. “I had her so young and in such horrible circumstances. I can’t believe she grew into such a well-adjusted person with me as her mother.” Miraj leaned over and kissed her.

“You’re a great mom,” he whispered. “At least you changed your life around for your kids. Marina can’t say as much.”

“You dated her,” Margaret teased. Miraj grinned.

“But I married you.”

Margaret was about to respond when she winced and grabbed her stomach. A contraction? Was that a contraction? But it was too early, wasn’t it? “No… not yet…” Margaret gasped. Miraj was on his feet in minutes, running to Niagara’s room to get her assistance. Another wave of pain hit and Margaret groaned, doubling over in bed. She barely heard Niagara’s soothing voice, trying to reassure her that everything was going to be fine, or her husband’s urgent tone. “I can’t have the baby now… I can’t… it’s too early!” Margaret kept whimpering. She felt Miraj press a damp cloth to her forehead and heard his voice.

“Your water’s already broken, Honey. You have to have the baby now. I know it’s early, but your best chance is to go through with the labour right now,” he told her. Margaret started to cry. It would be too small to breathe on its own. How would they get the baby to the hospital on time? This was a nightmare. A horrible nightmare.

“You have to start pushing, Mrs. Charm,” Niagara told her. Margaret tried not to. No, it wasn’t time, yet. Her baby wasn’t ready to be born, yet, but her body went against her wishes and pushed, despite Margaret’s protests.

“No! Not now! Not yet!” Margaret screamed, as Miraj tried to calm her.

“It has to be now, Sweetie,” he told her, but his face was strained with worry. “Once your water breaks, the baby has to be born.”

“Mom? Miraj? What’s going on?” a voice came from the doorway. “I felt thumping…” she said, pointing to her ear, which had no hearing aid. She looked like she had been in bed a minute ago. Her eyes widened when she saw the scene and ran in. “Mom!? Are you okay?”

“What’s all the noise about?” a younger voice yawned as William walked in the room, rubbing his eyes. He was in his pajamas, too. Apparently, Margaret going into labour had woken the whole house up.

“It’s fine, kids… go back to sleep…” Margaret gasped through gritted teeth before letting out a shriek of pain. There was something wrong. She could feel it. This wasn’t like when she gave birth to Morgan and William. Niagara’s urgent words only confirmed her fears and Margaret started crying again, a whine of panic growing louder and louder in her head.

“She’sย hemorrhaging, Mr. Charm!” Niagara said tensely. “She’s losing consciousness fast. I’m sorry… I don’t think we can save them both.”

“What?!?” William shouted. “NO! You have to save my mom! You have to!”

“MORGAN, GET OUT OF HERE!” Miraj shouted. “TAKE WILLIAM! JUST GO!”

“But-”

“GO!”

Morgan opened her mouth to protest, but one sideways glance at her little brother told her what she needed to do. His eyes were wide and fearful and his face had drained of colour, despite the fact that he had his father’s East Indian skin tone. She grabbed his arm and dragged him back to his room. She didn’t have any trouble. William clung to his sister as though she were his life support, his knuckles white. He looked up at her and she saw tears running down his cheeks. “Is Mom gonna die, Morgan?” he whispered.

“I- I don’t know…” Morgan whispered truthfully, leaning down to hug him close to her. Was their mom going to die? That was impossible! She couldn’t! She was Mom! Indestructible, unmovable, immortal… weren’t all moms supposed to always be there for their children forever? Women had babies every day. It was normal. How could their mom die from having a baby?

Morgan stayed with William in his room, holding him as if he were a toddler again while he cried. He was just a little kid. A little kid who was scared he was going to lose his mom. Morgan was scared, too. More scared than she’d ever been in her entire life, but she had to take care of her baby brother. She was the adult here.

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