Emily looked around at her class of theater students and remembered what her first class had been like. Two years ago, this would have seemed daunting to her. Now, having a class of thirty students felt perfect.
“Miss Emily?” one of the younger children asked.
“Yes, Jenny?” Emily made sure to get down on Jenny’s level, even though it was getting harder with her growing stomach. She put her hand on it to support herself. She had seen her friends who were pregnant, and none of them seemed to have a belly as large as hers. Maybe she was taking eating for two a bit too literally.
“Do you think that I could audition for the main role? My sister says that I might not get it, so I should try for something smaller.”
Emily reached out and put her hand on Jenny’s tiny shoulder. She was slim for an eleven-year-old. She was so young and innocent and so full of hope.
“You know what? You should aim for exactly what you want. Even if you don’t get it, you will learn from it. You can always aim lower, but it is better to aim higher.”
Jenny’s smile spread across her face. “Thanks, Miss Emily.”
Emily straightened, wincing at a sharp pain in her back. She was eager to get to the ultrasound this afternoon. Edward had promised to be waiting for her in the school parking lot. She wanted to make sure everything was going on all right inside of her.
“All right, everyone, we will hold auditions on Monday. Make sure to practice for the part you want to audition for. Remember, even if you don’t get the part you want, you will get a part, and that is the important thing.”
Nods of agreement went around the theater. The children filed out of the room while Emily grabbed her bag with her teaching materials. Being a full-time teacher was definitely a bit more taxing than being a substitute. She was now teaching a class that lasted closer to two hours. She took care of all the preparations, the scripts, and finding the plays they would do.
She even helped design the props and the costumes when necessary. She loved working with the kids, and even though it took a lot of energy, she appreciated every day of it. Edward met her at the door of the theater.
“Hey, you should have waited. You shouldn’t be carrying anything heavy,” he said as soon as he walked up. He pressed a gentle kiss on her forehead and took her bag from her hand.
“I can carry my bag. It is literally lighter than this baby will be.” Emily giggled. Despite her protests and complaints, she loved how protective and sweet Edward was with her. He was always keeping an eye on her and making sure that she was okay. Edward opened the passenger door of his blue pickup truck. He practically lifted her up into the seat and set her bag by her feet.
He closed the door firmly, then walked around and hopped in beside her. “You know what?”
“What?” Emily could tell that it was something exciting he wanted to share. His eyes lit up in a specific way whenever he was excited.
“I went to talk with that car dealer friend of mine. He thinks that he can get us a Jeep or a Toyota Corolla. I know that it’s not a minivan, but I figured until we have three or four kids, it will do better than this truck.”
Emily laughed. “We could probably fit a car seat here between us.”
“We could certainly try. I am glad that I don’t have to sell the truck. I’m lucky I have enough to get a second car. Besides, you will probably want a car to drive around to do stuff with the baby.”
“What kind of stuff?” Emily wasn’t sure there was much she could do with a newborn baby.
“I don’t know, take him to the park or the library. I could think of all sorts of things the two of you could do.” Edward smiled. “Though, I would want to come and do it with you when I can.”
“I figured you would. And if you were coming, there would be no point in me driving my own car, now would there?”
“I don’t know. It’s going to come in useful though, don’t worry.”
Emily wasn’t really worried. Edward did a great job of overpreparing. She was pretty sure that she had all of the things that they would ever need for their child, and she was barely halfway through her pregnancy.
“Here we are. Just wait over there. I wouldn’t want you to stumble getting down.” Edward threw the truck into park and ran around the front of the truck. They were at the little clinic that was highly recommended for pregnant mothers. So far, Emily had gone through a great experience there.
“You excited to finally see the baby?” Edward was holding onto her elbow with one hand and her bag in the other.
“Yes. I don’t want to know if it is a boy or a girl, though. I think that it would be fun to wait and see what it is when it’s born.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s a boy. It is just my intuition and I think that my intuition is pretty spot on every time.”
Emily shook her head. “We’ll see.”
Edward held the door for her and led her through the clinic behind the nurse who welcomed them. They went back into a small examination room where Edward helped her onto the cushioned bed beside the ultrasound machine. As Emily waited for the nurse or doctor to come and do the ultrasound, she thought of everything that had changed in the past two years. Her family was no longer struggling with money. They were focused on the milk business that they had been growing over the past two years. The payments on the house were paid, and they were starting to save to fix up a few things around the farm.
Her relationship with her father had improved a lot. It wasn’t just her relationship. Both Katie and Alfie got along better with him too. He was grateful to all of them for what they did to save the farm. The money that they had gotten from Edward for half of the farm went to the bank, but they were still able to use the land. It was an arrangement that seemed too good to be true.
She had worked at the feed store as its manager for a year and a half, but when she got pregnant, the exhaustion was too much. To both hers and Edward’s surprise, Alfie offered to take over the position. He was doing an amazing job, and the store was scheduled to expand next year.
“So, how are you both doing?” the voice of their doctor interrupted Emily’s thoughts.
“We’re doing great. She has had a lot of cramping and pains in her back, though. We just want to make sure everything is going all right.”
“Certainly. The nurse mentioned that this is the first ultrasound you have had?”
“Yes. It’s not dangerous for the baby, is it?” Edward’s eyebrows creased.
“Of course not. Your little one will be perfectly safe as we take a look.” The doctor pulled out a wand and motioned for Emily to scoot her shirt up. He squirted a clear jelly on her stomach, and Emily sucked in at the cold feeling. He pressed the wand against her skin, and an image came on the screen.
The doctor frowned.
“What’s wrong?” Emily’s heart started beating twice as fast. Nothing could go wrong, could it? This was her first baby, and she wanted everything to be perfect.
“Nothing’s wrong necessarily.” The doctor moved the wand around some more. Some movement showed on the screen, but Emily was having a hard time separating it out into the form of a child. “It looks like you’re having twins.”
“What?” Emily and Edward said in unison. “How is that possible?”
“It’s very possible. It’s a bit rare, especially when there is no history of twins in the family, but it looks like you will be welcoming two children to your family instead of one. Congratulations.” The doctor had the biggest smile on his face.
For the rest of the ultrasound, Emily felt like she was in a daze. They were having twins. She thought she was going to faint from excitement. She always wanted to be a mother, and now she would be a mother to two babies at once.
“Are you alright?” Edward asked as they headed back to the truck.
“Yeah, of course. I am glad everything looks normal. I’m just a little shocked.”
Edward opened the truck door. “Why don’t we go to your favorite pancake place and celebrate? After all, you’re eating for three now.”
Emily gave him a playful shove, but he was right. their family was going to duplicate from two to four in a little more than six short months. She was more than stunned. She was dazed.
She kept thinking of Penny’s reaction. Both Penny and her husband were going to be in total disbelief.
They wouldn’t be the only ones. Katie and Alfie probably wouldn’t be able to believe it. Emily touched her stomach. Her babies were in there. Soon, they would meet them and become a real family.
Edward winced as the truck bounced and shook on the dirt road. He hated going over bumpy roads with Emily in her condition. The doctor had told them to take things easy. They didn’t have much choice about going on some dirt roads. Despite the progress that had been made on paving roads in the past few years, he and Emily still lived on a dirt road.
Emily had her hand on her stomach and a surreal look on her face ever since they left the doctor’s office. If Edward didn’t know better, he would think that something was wrong with her.
“Are we going to tell them?” Emily asked.
Edward looked over at her, then down at her swollen belly. It was still hard for him to believe that he was going to be a father, not of one child but of two. He never expected things to move so quickly. He thought it would at least be a few years before they had a second baby.
“Do you want to tell them? I bet Tommy and Caroline are both going to be over the moon. I know that Katie is probably going to be there for everything you need, but Caroline has also offered to babysit or do whatever you need in those early months.”
“I’ll probably have to take her up on that. Two babies are going to be hard to handle.”
Edward nodded in agreement.
“Penny is going to be jealous and excited. She is only having one baby, and she has always wanted twins. I suppose it is ironic, isn’t it?”
“Sure is, but I bet she is going to be happy for you. Now our kid will just have more playmates.”
Emily smiled. Edward knew that she and Penny were very excited about the fact that they were both pregnant at the same time. They were constantly meeting for lunch and exchanging notes about their pregnancies. Edward loved to see Emily enjoying herself. She had worked so hard for everything she had. He knew that she didn’t have a lot of experience just enjoying herself before they were married.
He wanted her to enjoy the journey of pregnancy and not stress too much about when the babies would get there. Wow, babies. It was going to take some getting used to.
They pulled up to Caroline’s house, and both his sister and Tommy rushed outside. Edward noticed that Liam hung back on the porch. Edward was still a bit embarrassed about how skeptical he had been of Liam two years ago. Liam had more than proved his seriousness about Caroline in the past two years. They had gotten married, and he was a great father to Tommy. Edward knew that they planned to add another child to their family, but in two years, they still hadn’t taken the leap.
After a lot of effort and many conversations, Edward considered Liam a friend now.
“Did you get the ultrasound? How did it go? Did you find out if it was a boy or a girl?” Caroline’s questions came one after another. Edward could tell that she was living vicariously through Emily. He didn’t blame her. It had been over twelve years ago that she’d been pregnant.
“We did, and you’ll never guess what we found out.” Emily looked over at Edward. “You want to tell them?”
Edward smiled and nodded. “We are having twins.”
“What?” Caroline’s eyes widened, and her smile stretched from ear to ear. “I’m so happy for you.” She gave Emily a tight hug, and then she did the same to Edward. “Come in, come in. I’ve made way too much food.”
Edward chuckled and followed as Emily told Caroline all the details from the ultrasound.
“I hear you’re having twins,” Liam gave him a light fist bump on the shoulder as he reached the porch.
“That is what the doctor said.” Edward shrugged.
“Congratulations. I guess you’ll have your hands full now.”
“Yeah,” Edward said. “Looks like it.” Edward was excited, but he was also worried about all the extra work that would come with two children. He was certain that in a couple of weeks, he would come to accept this new turn of events with excitement, but right now, his head was spinning. Liam seemed to realize that because he changed the subject.
“Have you heard from Barkley lately? How long has it been since he left town now?” Liam was one of the few people who knew what happened between him and Barkley. Edward wasn’t sure what made him trust his new brother-in-law with the story, but once he started talking with Liam, he realized that he was a good listener with little to no judgment.
“I talked to him last week. We still talk on the phone sometimes. Even after what he did, I can’t just forget about him forever.” Edward ran a hand through his hair. He had no idea if he was doing right by Barkley. Emily said that his relationship with his former best friend was up to him. She would never stop him from being friendly with Barkley.
“What did he say?”
“He actually finally sent me the last bit of that debt he owed me. He also told me that he is opening a business of his own over in Sundown. I hope that it goes well for him. I still care about him as a friend. I hope that he continues to turn things around.”
“That’s good. You were a good friend, you know that? Anyone else would have turned Barkley into the police, but instead, you gave him a new chance on life by making him pay you back and not sending him to jail.”
“Thanks.” It made Edward feel a little better about how things went down with Barkley. He had tried to continue his friendship with Barkley while he was still in town, but things were so different. It was miserable. Edward didn’t trust Barkley, and Barkley was still holding a grudge against Edward for firing him. Eventually, Barkley decided that he was going to move to another town. Edward had reassured him that he could call any time.
When Barkley did call, it was practically six months later. Edward could hear that he had changed and matured, and it made him happy to hear. Barkley was on a good path, something much different than what he had been on the last time Edward saw him.
When Liam and Edward stepped into the house and walked into the kitchen, Edward wasn’t surprised to see Tommy showing Emily a school project.
When he had first told everyone about his and Emily’s engagement, Tommy had been a bit skeptical. Of course, he always liked Emily, but maybe he was worried that if Edward married her, he would no longer have time for him. Edward had shown him that it was a silly fear. Now, when they went to get ice cream or coffee, Emily often went with them. There were still times when Edward made the special effort to take Tommy somewhere alone.
Whatever had changed his mind, Tommy loved Emily now. He often showed her things before he showed Edward. Edward slid into his chair and scooted close to the table.
“Something smells delicious.”
“Thank you,” Caroline set heaping plates of food in front of him and Emily.
“I think this is too much,” Emily protested.
“Nonsense, it is perfect. You are eating for three now. Remember that.” Everyone at the table laughed.
Edward shook his head in amazement. When he first did Emily’s interview at the feed store, he never would have thought that his life would end up like this. He was surrounded by love, laughter, and happiness. Soon, he would be surrounded by late nights and dirty diapers, but he knew that it would be a good thing. It would be challenging, but he would have Emily there at his side to help him get through it. They had each other’s backs, and they always would.
Maybe one day, they would have more children, and their family would grow. They would raise their kids on the farm, just like he had been raised, and one day, they would tell them the miraculous story of how their love had persevered through everything. Edward felt his eyes grow misty. He was hit with such a strong emotion. He would be surprised if he could ever be sad again. He didn’t deserve Emily. He didn’t deserve his sister’s family either. He had so much blessing in his life that he probably shouldn’t have. He was going to do everything in his power to do right by that blessing.