“She’s colicky. I can’t produce enough milk to satisfy her, and she won’t take formula.”
He slowly approached where I was standing and took a peek at Bea’s face. His mouth curved into a slight smile. “She looks like you.”
Now that he was close to me, he took a good look at me as well. “Jesus Christ, Amelia.”
“You look like you’ve been through a war.”
“That’s another way of saying I look like shit?”
“Your eyes are bloodshot…hair is knotted. Fuck. You’re a mess.”
“You don’t think I’m aware of that?”
“Have you been sleeping?”
“No. I get very little sleep. She’s going through a rough patch, keeps me up at night and sleeps sporadically during the day.”
“You’ve got the rough patch part right.”
“You can’t live like this.”
“What exactly do you suggest I do?”
“You can start by taking a shower.”
“I can’t just leave her crying like this.”
“Did it ever occur to you that maybe she’s crying because you stink?” He chuckled.
I was speechless for a moment before breaking out into laughter at my own expense. My God. He could technically be right.
“You might have a point.”
“I’ll hold her while you bathe.”
“Really? You’d do that?”
“I said I would.”
“Have you ever held an infant?”
“Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
“I can handle it.”
There was no way I could pass up this opportunity. The thought of a hot shower right now seemed absolutely heavenly.
Handing her carefully to Justin, I warned, “Watch her head. Make sure it doesn’t bend too far back. Support her neck with your arm.”
“I’ve got it.”
Bea looked so tiny in his big arms. She seemed to like being there too; the little bugger stopped crying.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“What?” he asked.
“Haven’t you noticed that she stopped crying?”
“I told you. Maybe you smell.”
“Maybe.” I laughed. “Or it could just be that you’re a chick magnet, and that title extends to infants as well.”
He rocked his body back and forth to soothe her and waved me off. “Shh. Go, Amelia. Before she loses it again.”
“Okay.” I turned around at the foot of the stairs. “Thank you…so much.”
Upstairs, as the hot water poured down on me, I thanked God for Justin showing up when he did. I had really been on my last leg of sanity. Much like he’d always done when we were kids, Justin came through exactly when I needed it. Even if it wasn’t intentional, he was my hero tonight.
Feeling somewhat human again, I stepped out of the shower and got dressed as fast as I could. The fact that it was quiet downstairs didn’t escape me. Still, I felt like I needed to get dressed fast in case Justin was losing patience—or worse, if Bea had pooped.
The reality when I got downstairs was far from what I imagined. Bea’s back was rising and falling as she lay stomach down on Justin’s chest. She was out like a light. He was just sitting on the couch, and things were as peaceful as could be. When he saw me approaching, he held his index finger to his mouth to signify that I should be quiet.
Sitting down on the couch next to him, I just stared in amazement. He didn’t even have to do anything except exist, and he was somehow able to get her to sleep. Who knew that Justin “I Don’t Ever Want Children” Banks was the Baby Whisperer.
He turned to me. “Why don’t you go sleep?”
“What if she wakes up?”
“I’ll deal with it.”
“She’ll wake up wanting to eat.”
“Then I’ll bring her upstairs if that happens. For now, she’s fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Does it look like we’re going anywhere anytime soon?” He shooed me away. “Go!”
“Thank you,” I mouthed before heading upstairs.
I barely remembered my head hitting the pillow. It was the longest I’d slept straight since the day before my daughter was born.
Six hours later, the sound of Bea crying woke me. Rubbing my eyes, I could see Justin standing in the doorway with her.
“I tried to put off coming up here as long as I could…” He walked over to me and placed her in my arms. “I’ll leave so you can feed her. I’m gonna hit the sack for a bit.”
“Thank you again so much. I needed that sleep so badly.”
“It was no problem.”
After he left, I took out my breast, and Bea latched on immediately. She smelled like him. I breathed in the masculine scent, and a sexual desire that had been long suppressed came alive in me. It felt so good not to be the only adult in this house anymore, but I needed to keep my feelings in check. Whatever it took, I was not going to let myself become obsessive over Justin again. Being responsible for another human being meant I could no longer afford to become an emotional wreck.
It was mid-afternoon when Justin came downstairs. Bea was strapped to my chest in the carrier as I cleaned the kitchen.
“Good morning.” I smiled.
“Hey,” he said groggily.
Just like that, my body awakened with an intense need. He was the very definition of scruffy. His hair was disheveled, and in the daylight, it became apparent that he’d been growing out his stubble. A gray fitted t-shirt looked like it had been painted onto his muscles. Don’t get me started on how good his ass looked in those gym pants.
“How is she?” he asked. My body reacted even more as he stepped closer to peek in on Bea.
“That figures. The sun is shining. I should’ve known.” He searched my eyes. “How are you?”
“I’m feeling good. You were amazing last night.”
“That’s what they always say.” He winked.
Rolling my eyes, I said, “Thank you again.”
“Stop thanking me.” His face turned serious. “You know…all those times I’d asked how you were doing, you told me you were okay. You didn’t look fucking okay to me last night. You were lying.”
“Justin, this whole thing is my responsibility. What is anyone else gonna really do for me?”
“Has your mother even come to visit?”
“She came to the hospital when Bea was born, but she didn’t offer to stay to help. She’s more concerned with things like traveling to Cancun with her boyfriend and hawking those multi-colored leggings all over the Internet, apparently. You know, priorities.”
“Unfuckingbelievable.” He looked around the house then said, “Nana would have helped.”
“Yes, she would have.” I closed my eyes for a moment, thinking of my grandmother before my thoughts shifted to my mother again. “As for Patricia, I don’t want her with me anyway. Having to deal with her would be like taking care of two babies. ”
“She should still have the decency to offer help, even if you refused.”