THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM
- MAIN BALLROOM
"Stephanie, there's so much we've got to
do," Sara Manchester exclaimed, her face full of excitement.
"We've got to go to Lerner's and pick out a crib and we've got to
get you some maternity clothes and...."
"Slow down," Stephanie Monroe laughed, more
than a little amused by her cousin's impetuousness. It almost
seemed as if Sara were more excited about Stephanie expecting a baby
than Stephanie was. "Paddy and I just found out today!
We've got months and months left to do all of this. We don't
have to plan everything right this very second."
"I know," Sara sighed. "But
you're having a baby! Oh, Steph, do you have any idea what a big
deal this is?"
"I think I might have an idea."
"You know what I mean!" Sara clasped
her hands together as her mind began to go a mile a minute.
"Have you decided which room you're going to turn into the
nursery? Or are you going to put the baby in Todd's room?"
"I'm definitely not doing that," Stephanie
replied flatly. "That boy can be an absolute terror as it
is. I'm not sure I want him sleeping in the same room with a
"I can see your point." Sara paused
and tilted her head slightly as she considered what Stephanie had
said. "How did Todd react to the news? Surely, he's
excited, too. I mean, yes, he's really going to be the baby's
uncle, but for all intents and purposes, Todd's going to a big brother
since you and Paddy are raising him."
"I know," Stephanie nodded. "I'm
hoping he's okay with this. The last thing I want is a
"You haven't told him, yet?"
"Sara, we just found out today! We haven't
had a chance to break the news to Todd." Stephanie bit her
lower lip as she thought about everything that could possibly go wrong
when she and Patterson told his little brother about the new baby.
Just then, Stephanie spotted Patterson across the room -- talking to
Douglas and Lorraine
Davis. In an instant, Stephanie rushed to
her husband's side. She knew how Lorraine could be and wasn't
about to give her a chance to bad mouth her to Patterson.
"Stephanie, there you are," Patterson Monroe
smiled as he put his arm around her. "Have you and Sara
been busy making plans for the baby?"
"You could say that," Stephanie replied, her
eyes focused on Lorraine. "Paddy and I are very excited
about this little bundle of joy we're expecting."
"I can see that," Douglas laughed.
"Paddy's been telling us how you've practically been on cloud
nine all day long. Lorraine and I wish only the best for you
"You do, Lorraine?" Stephanie
turned to her and raised a suspicious eyebrow. "How kind of
"I'm only thinking of Paddy's happiness, after
all," Lorraine said coolly as she looked directly at Stephanie.
"And I know how happy this baby is going to make him.
Douglas and I think of Mikey as the most wonderful blessing that we
could've ever hoped for and we only hope the same blessings for you
"Thank you, Lorraine." In spite of
herself, Stephanie smiled. The news of her impending motherhood
made her so happy that even Lorraine couldn't bring her down.
"But I know exactly how much work a new baby can
be. I just hope that you don't find yourself neglecting
"Lorraine...." Douglas's tone was
cautionary. He wasn't sure where his wife was taking the
conversation, but he wasn't oblivious to the tension and antagonism
that had long existed between her and Stephanie. He didn't want
his wife to overstep her bounds.
"Douglas, I'm only thinking of Todd."
Lorraine was intent on using her sweetest voice as she laid her hand
on his shoulder. "It hasn't been that long since we brought
Mikey home from the hospital. We're still dealing with 2 a.m.
feedings, cries in the night, diapers.... Honestly, I don't
think I'd be able to deal with all of that and another young child.
I can only imagine how it's going to be for you. Thank goodness
we've had Momma here this summer to help us out or I don't think I
would've been able to manage."
"Well, we do have Mrs. Oliver to help,"
Patterson reminded, only to have his wife shoot him a very stern and
"Lorraine, I really don't think you've got a
reason to concern yourself." Stephanie's tone was getting
colder by the minute. "I think I'll be able to handle my
family just fine, thank you." She reached out and grabbed
her husband by the arm, practically digging her nails into him.
"Paddy, c'mon! I want to go talk to Reginald and
Maybe we can plan a joint baby shower."
As Stephanie literally drug Patterson off, Lorraine
folded her arms tightly across her chest and glared at the happy
couple, walking away and aware.
"Lorraine, what the devil do you think you were
doing?" Douglas snapped angrily. "Why did you have to
talk to her like that?"
"This is going to be a very anxious and happy
time for Paddy and Steph. You know that as well as anyone.
Why did you have to go out of your way to make her even more nervous
and anxious than you have know she already is?"
"Honey, I'm only concerned about Todd!"
Lorraine's eyes were wide with shock. She couldn't believe the
tone he was using with her. "That little boy's been through
more than any child his age should have to go through. You've
got to know that the idea of having a new baby in the house is going
to be upsetting for him and I'm not blind to the fact that Todd can be
a handful. Stephanie can't go into this blindly. She has
to realize that it's going to a chore and a half. It's not going
to be all hearts and flowers twenty-four hours a day. Having one
baby is hard enough work, but also having another small child in the
"Drop it, Lorraine," he ordered sternly.
"This is none of your business. Let those two deal with
their own family."
She shook her head in stunned silence. How could
Douglas stand there and all but defend Stephanie after everything
she'd done, not just to him, but to nearly everyone they loved and
respected. Lorraine knew that she had every right to be
concerned. She'd made a promise to Todd to always be there for
him and look after him and she wasn't about to let anyone force her to
break that promise -- not even her own husband.