Steven Bains stood alongside Michael and Louise Falcone outside of Annette Gardner’s hospital room.
“Mike, I wanna say I can’t tell you what it means to me what you did. It sounds awful to say, but it’s your father’s going away for a long, long time, and, frankly, I don’t think I could be any happier.”
Louise shot her brother a look that conveyed more than a social faux pas. “Let’s not talk about now, Steven, all right?”
“It’s fine Lou,” said Michael, “Look Steve, my father’s a murderer. He’s a liar. He’s a scheming, devious old man. The guy deserved it. Believe me, it wasn’t any skin off my nose to ‘let’ him find that card with your address on it. To tell ya the truth, I watched the whole thing. Priceless.”
Louise exhaled strongly as if to set aside one family issue for another. “We’ll talk about this later, okay? Right now, I think we’d better talk about the fact that you’re about to walk in there and give our sister the shock of her life– her pregnant, recently assaulted life. You wanna rethink this Steven? Can’t you wait?”
“Louise, you know she can’t stand secrets. You want her to find out on the news? It’s all over the place what happened. Half the town knows by now anyway. I gotta do this now,” said Steven.
“You forget, Steven, not even our mother knows. She’s in there too, along with Red. Forget the rest of Gardner family. You’re going to kill half the family from the shock.”
Steven took a deep breath. “Lead the way, Louise.”
Louise entered the small, white room with Michael behind her. “Hey,” said Louise with simplicity– a change from her preferred extravagant entrances.
Annette sat upright in her bed, surrounded by Redmond on her left and Stella Bains on her right. “I’m so glad you two came by! Honestly, I can’t wait to get out of this place…the doctor’s insist on keeping me here ‘just in case.’ I keep telling them I’m fine, but they keep on ins–“
“Hey, I don’t know how to tell you this,” said Louise as she approached the bedside, “But it’s about–“
“Can it wait? Whatever you’ve got to tell me sounds depressing, honestly, and I’m not really in the mood for–“
Louise grabbed her sister’s arm gently. “It’s important, okay?”
“Oh Louise, for God’s sake, let her alone,” said Stella in her usual motherly fashion, “Let’s just keep it light today, okay?”
“Mom, it’s about–“
“It’s about me,” said Steven as he entered the room.
The family gathered around Annette went silent. The air was thick with shock. Stella Bains put a hand to her mouth, trying to repress a scream.
Annette’s eyes grew wide. “Steven?”
Steven approached his sister. “It’s me. I’m–“
“You’re alive? What–why? How? What the hell are you doing here?”
Stella Bains rose slowly from her chair and approached her son. She extended an aged hand towards him arm as if to prove to herself the man before her was her flesh and blood– her Steven.
“My God. It is you. Thank God, thank God,” said Stella as she embraced the son that had left her two long years ago.
“I’m sorry, Ma, I’m sorry,” said Steven, choking up as he embraced the old woman.
Shock still pervaded every inch of Annette’s face. “Oh my God, oh my God I’m going to be sick! Steven! Is it you? Come here!”
Steven leaned in closely to Annette as she put a hand to his face. Her green eyes scanned his face. “Oh my God.”
“It’s me, Annette. I’ll explain every–“
“No, I mean oh my God, the baby! The baby’s coming!”
Redmond jumped to his feet. “It’s coming? What do you mean? You’ve got two months yet!”
Annette’s face twisted with pain. “I don’t know, Red, I don’t know! All I know is this baby’s coming, and it’s coming NOW!”