Alicia fussed in the early hours of the morning while it was still dark, and Alice roused herself. She didn’t remember falling asleep, but given the circumstances she found that unsurprising. Fumbling a bit, she set to work caring for her baby, meticulously changing the diaper before settling down into breastfeeding.
Hackett let out a deep breath and turned over in his sleep.
Alice’s heart jumped into her throat. She had assumed that he had slipped out and gone home, yet he was still there beside her, breathing steadily and peacefully.
It amazed her that the baby hadn’t disturbed him, and she wondered if he had been equally exhausted. She imagined that while she had been lounging around in the hospital, he had been tormented by anxiety over her wellbeing, tossing and turning with the knowledge that she wouldn’t be there to share breakfast in the morning. The thought made her smile, and she wanted to reach over to pat him reassuringly, but the fear of waking him held her back.
“Alicia,” she whispered very quietly, barely moving her lips. “Basil really is going to be your daddy. Isn’t that exciting? I bet he loves you as much as I do.”
The baby closed her eyes and gave a contented sigh as she ate, her hand twitching slightly. Alice moved it to rest on her breast, then took a moment to gaze in wonder at her tiny daughter as she stroked the thick hair that covered the baby’s head.
“Is this what it feels like to belong to a family?” Alice asked herself.
She thought about it as the baby finished nursing. After she settled the infant down safely beside her, Alice’s hand crept through the sheets to brush against Hackett’s shirt. She felt closer to him than she had thought possible, and she lay staring at him with her heart full.
A piercing noise startled Alice awake, and lifting herself up she asked anxiously, “What’s going on?”
“Just my alarm,” Hackett’s voice answered, and he climbed out of the bed. The noise stopped.
Alice looked to the window, and saw only a faint blue light shining through the curtain. “Do you always get up this early?”
“Yep.” He sat down next to her and kissed her forehead. “Get as much sleep as you can, my darling. It will be an exhausting day, but hopefully by the end of it we’ll know when I can take you home with me.”
“So soon?” Alice snuggled up against his arm. She liked that he had called her his ‘darling,’ and hoped that he would continue doing so in the future. Their conversation the night before still felt like a dream, but his affections were making it wonderfully real, and she wanted to stay close to him.
“I’m afraid so.”
“Everything is happening all at once.” She couldn’t stop herself from yawning. “It’s weird after spending the last nine months doing nothing but waiting.”
“Go back to sleep now,” Hackett said soothingly. “I’ll come for you when it’s time.” He paused. “You will tell the entire truth about everything you know, correct?”
“I have no reason to protect Damon,” Alice replied, lying down and burying herself in the blankets. “I just want to keep my baby and stay with you.”
“I won’t change my mind about marrying you, no matter what you reveal,” he said quietly. “You don’t have to be afraid.”
“Mm, ‘kay,” she murmured, already beginning to doze.
Hackett stayed, watching her. When she was soundly asleep, he stood and went out the door, once again locking it behind him.