Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.— Alexander Pope
Nick looked around the small living room, stylish and cozy, with a slightly rustic feel, while trying to ignore his best friend Rohan’s nervous fidgeting next to him. Nick’s fiancée Adrianna was helping his cousin Esmée set out the mugs and everything needed for the coffee she had invited them over for.
There really was no place for a baby in her tiny house, trying to childproof it would take extreme planning and significant changes. Esmée was a genuine workaholic, dusk till dawn and often even beyond, this small house was all she really needed, even though the entire place, yard included, would probably fit four times into the penthouse Nick, Addy and Rohan lived in.
All of them had just left Esmée’s sister Emmy and her husband Connell Vatore’s home, also on the isle, just a few hundred yards away, where the whole family had been introduced to the latest addition to the Cameron/Vatore families, baby girl Jaymie. Connell and Emmy had named their daughter in honor of two very important men in Emmy’s life, her grandfather Jamie and her stepfather Jay. The freshly baked parents were over the moon for happiness and joy.
Unlike Emmy’s very pregnant sister Esmée, who was carrying her accidental child with Rohan. While Emmy and Connell had a fully furnished and decorated nursery since the pregnancy wand showed the first positive, Esmée still didn’t even have one single baby item to show for and she had only a few more weeks to go at this point.
Father-to-be Rohan on the other hand had squeezed a bassinet, a few baby items and toys into the small room he occupied. One entire cupboard in the kitchen had been assigned to baby care items at the penthouse.
“Ezzy, if I may be so bold – I really hope I am not overstepping here, but after having seen how your parents and grandparents and your siblings reacted to Emmy’s baby, are you sure you don’t want to reconsider giving up custody entirely? Such a drastic and unnecessary decision …” Adrianna attempted with as much diplomacy as she could.
Ezzy looked down at her sizable belly, then at Adrianna’s slender frame, while she frowned at her.
“Look Addy, I get it, but we just have to agree to disagree. I know that you can’t barely wait to get into your wedding dress and down that aisle with Nick to become the next Mrs. Cameron, so you can start nesting yourself, I have met your family and that’s what they all do, which is fine, but just not everyone’s goal in life. Certainly not mine. You are not overstepping, I get my reaction is not the norm, but you all are just not getting it. This is not a mood, a temporary phase of mine, this is ME. This baby inside of me is a nuisance to me, a tumor, causing me all sorts of problems and I literally would give birth tonight if I could just to get it over with. I don’t want that child or ANY child. I won’t do anything to hurt it, but once it’s out of me, we go separate ways, and I can get my life – and my body – back in ship shape.” Ezzy told her.
“Okay, we shall agree to disagree then, because frankly, Ezzy, I really think once you see that baby for the very first time, you won’t be able to help but fall in love and the cards will get reshuffled. Just you wait. I know you like to be tough; I am running a business myself and know why, but this is a different ballgame, and you are not heartless. Different mindset or not, it is your own child, and you don’t just brush that off and move on. You are not the type, and your family is healthy, strong and supportive, you definitely had love and care lived out for you all your life. I am not saying quit your job and be a full-time mom, all I am saying is, at least be in your own child’s life. If only on weekends or something.” Adrianna smiled.
Ezzy said nothing, just shook her head and grabbed her mug.
“I got a question for ya Ez,” Nick piped up.
“Of course, you do Nick.” Esmée sighed, while taking a sip of her coffee, making everyone frown at the fact that it definitively wasn’t decaf. Just like the two cups she had at Emmy’s home hadn’t been, quite the contrary, they were strong enough to raise the dead.
“Where are we with names for the baby? I am trying to stay out of it as much as I can, but since I have both parents here in one place for once, thought I’d ask.” Nick wondered.
“I don’t know, don’t care, Nick. Literally don’t care, Rohan can pick whatever he wants. If I were a male, I wouldn’t even want to be on that birth certificate, but obviously I don’t have that choice.” Esmée shrugged.
Nick and Addy traded glances, but neither said anything to that, instead Rohan spoke up for the first time.
“Maybe we should go with some version of Averie … or Abigail … after your grandmother or mother to stay in line with what Emmy did …” Rohan said but stopped talking when he saw everyone’s stares.
“Bruh, come on now!” Nick shook his head at him.
“I agree, Rohan. Really?” Adrianna added.
Esmée only shrugged.
“What?! What did I say? What’s wrong with that? Emmy and Connell did it and everyone loved it!” Rohan wondered, when Addy and Nick frowned at him.
“I see where you are trying to go, bro, but in the most unimaginative way possible, you can do better, buddy! Em and Connell at least changed the spelling up and gave their baby girl a name that’s a fusion of the names of two great men. Your idea just seems lazy, sorry. Don’t do that. And what about your own grandparents? I mean, man, they raised you, you loved them they were really cool people. Or what about your late parents? You talked so much about them, what little you remember. Why not honor them?”
“You are right, Nick. I loved them all, but I don’t think I can make any of their names work for my kid.”
Rohan looked sad, so all eyes shifted back to Ezzy.
“Why are you all looking at ME again? How many more times?! I do not care. DO NOT CARE! Name the kid ‘Diaper-Pooper’ or ‘Brillo-Pad’ for all I care.”
Senator Suites Penthouse
It was already pretty late by the time they all arrived back home at the penthouse, after picking up Aria-Grace from the Cameron Estate on the same isle, she had wanted to visit longer with her grandparents, at least that was the official story, it was pretty clear she just couldn’t face the woman who was carrying Rohan’s child, even if it was her own cousin Ezzy. A sort of strange jealousy that could neither be explained, nor justified or denied.
Back at the penthouse she followed Nick.
“Hey Nicky, you got a minute?”
“For my favorite sister? Always. Why that serious face though? Oh no, are you leaving me for another brother?” he joked laughing.
“Oh so very very very funny. I SHOULD trade you in! No, it’s about Rohan’s situation. More specifically, his room. It is way too small for him and a baby. That bed is tiny, obviously a teen bed and ridiculous for a grown man. The room is nice, generally but wasn’t intended to have a crib and stuff squeezed in as well. Any more crap added and it will look seriously trashy.”
“AG, that room and the bed are fine. It used to be my room and my bed; I am very familiar, and both are fine! It’s a bedroom, not a lounge. Look at me, I survived it. Rohan has a single bed for a single man, he has other problems than dating right now anyway. Plus, all the weirdness of it all aside, he wouldn’t accept it if I offered to buy him a new bed anyway, or shall I just play hooky from work, wait till he leaves, then have some huge-ass bed sneakily delivered, so I can spend all day playing furniture-Tetris hoping to fit a giant bed, a grown man and a baby plus all their shit into a room intended for one and regular sized furniture?”
“No Nick, of course not like that. No. Your only idea is to point out a problem, then try to force ONE solution on him that is not even a good one. Poor approach.”
“Wow, listen to you. 17 going on 40. Fine, enlighten me, sister dearest.”
“Okay, here goes. Turn my room into a nursery, for the shockingly STILL nameless baby! I mean, WTF? Nick, I thought you got this? This is a proverbial bag of shit on fire on your doorstep and you just stand there playing pocket pool.”
“Whoa, slow that roll, dozer! What the fuck do I have to do with naming someone else’s baby? Rohan is my best friend, not my wife! Am I responsible for everything now? And sure, AG, we’ll turn your room into a nursery, and when you come to stay with us, you just sleep in between Adrianna and me, because girlfriend, if this was your smooth attempt of trying to sneak a big one by me and yourself into some brand-new, bigger bed in Rohan’s room, you need to go back to the drawing board. Do I look stupid or like a pimp to you?!”
“NICHOLAS! Shut the eff up and let me finish! That didn’t even cross my mind, but of course was the first place yours went! I should have NEVER trusted you with my crush on Rohan! That’s what I get for being honest with you! I see you looking when I talk to him alone, never used to be that way before, and makes me feel like a pinned bug under a magnifying glass! Way to go, big brother! So supportive of you! WOW, I will NEVER trust you with something sensitive again!” Aria-Grace was unmistakably upset, so Nick waved his hands in a calming motion.
“Okay, fine, right. You are absolutely right; I was out of line. Sorry, AG. Please lay your plan on me then and I will listen to what you say, not assume shit and I will consider it.”
“Thank you. I was gonna take the couch downstairs or we’ll add a Murphy bed to the home office or something like that. Alternatively, we could get rid of the damn hot tub on that second balcony, have two walls added and have Aunt Abigail or Emmy draw up plans to make that into a room, then we decide if that should be a guest room, where I would then stay, or Rohan’s new room, even has the downstairs guest bath right there. I mean, we are related to TWO interior designers, might as well use them, right?”
“AG – seriously? Give me five gazillion breaks here, girl! You are KILLING me! You know technically, dad still owns this place. I can’t just tear down walls or add some, and if I even breathed that BS around mom and dad, they would have me committed. I am in the middle of planning a destination wedding with Addy for next June, while trying to run a law firm in a way that does dad justice, while also trying to keep my best friend afloat with a seriously fucked up situation none of us need, look, I am tired. I’ll think about all you said, promise, and we’ll revisit it some other time. But I need to go to bed now.”
“Okay, fair enough. I get all that and I can live with that. Thank you for at least listening and not just shutting me down.”
“Sure. Hey, AG? Between you and I, and do not – I repeat NOT – ever use that against me, but if you and Rohan should ever end up together, down the line, I mean, it would be the best thing that could happen to him. He deserves a girl like you. Poor guy seriously needs to catch a damn break finally. His entire life has been one huge shitshow and no end in sight.”
“Awww, that’s actually sweet, and why you are my favorite brother ever.”
“I am your ONLY brother. And I am off to bed now. I cannot take any more AG-isms. Mercy on us all!”
“All right, night best brother ever.”
“Night, only mildly annoying sister. Well, usually. Tonight, to are tipping out the scales.”
“Wow … mean. I thought we were having a moment here. If this is how you handle stress now, you better marry Addy tonight before she realizes you’re a douche after all.”
Chuckling, he planted a kiss on her cheek.
“Unbunch your panties, sweet sissy and please know, I make up for my douche-ness in other departments not suitable for little sisters’ tender ears. Luv ya, monster.”
“Oh gawd, eww, now I will have that reference in my head when I go to bed. But for some reason, I love you too, Nicky.”
She watched him disappear into his bedroom, then smiled.
“He totally ships me and Rohan. I knew it. KNEW IT!”
She noticed there was still light downstairs, so she made her way downwards to shut them all off but saw Rohan brooding while staring out one of the windows in the living room, so she joined him. He heard her and turned to her.
“Hey you …” she offered.
“Contemplating the meaning of life or something?” she tried to coax out of him what could be bothering him.
“I wish. My child could be born any day now and I have no name for her! I am a doctor and should be prepared, but I am not in the least. And now I am in a panic and can’t think of ANY names, except Arya. It’s Sanskrit and means noble … was my late mother’s middle name, my dad sometimes called her by it as a nickname, term of endearment really, then he would kiss her, one of the very few memories I have of them, needless to mention that obviously I am very partial to that name by any spelling for other reasons, but even more obviously I can’t use it, or everyone is going to have seizures.”
“Aww, you never told me that your mom and I kinda sorta share a name! And no, naming the kid that wouldn’t fly, Nick would shit a brick, hahaha. Then again, maybe in combo with another name, like my name, hyphenated or something … hey, what was your grandma’s name again? And your mom’s, dad’s and your grandpa’s? Maybe we can make a version of one of those work. And wait, we are absolutely sure it’s a girl? I mean with Esmée you never know. I can’t imagine her even asking about the gender as little as she cares.”
“It’s a girl, I did the sonogram myself. I saw my daughter, her heartbeat, her little hands and toes. It’s a girl, Aria-Grace, a beautiful, healthy little girl. My grandma’s name was Eleanor, she hated it though, so she went by Ella or Elle. Grandpa was Ekram. My dad was Sandeep, mom was Lakshmi. None of that is really usable.”
“Hmm, yeah, those are a bit …well. No! Wait! I got it! How about Aryelle? Arya fused with Elle, and Ellie for short, when she is older, she can be called Elle, very classy. You get to honor your beloved grandma and … well … use that Indian name, which bears absolutely NO similarities with my Italian name – AT ALL. Wink, wink. Plus, Aryelle kinda sounds very princess-y, definitely bonus for a little girl.”
“That’s it! You are brilliant! Ha. Just like that you solved my biggest problem at the moment. Good grief, AG, I can see why you should be a career musician, if you write songs just like that! When I looked through the lists of Sanskrit and Hindu names Arya instantly caught my eye and I kept going back to it. I wanted my daughter to be an Arya … because to me Aria – and Grace too – spell beauty and perfection, from the inside out, because of you. My mom was very beautiful as well, at least to me as a little boy, like a queen or a fairy. My grandmother showed me what love is, from a grandmother to a very sad and heartbroken young boy after my parents died, cos I loved them both very much. But a beauty with a name like a song, not just a song but an aria, pun fully intended, showed me what love could be. I love your suggestion. It honors my roots without being too cliché, straddles modern and traditional, and it is very special and unique. AG, I love this name. That’s the one. Thank you.”
“Awesome! Glad I could help, that was pretty painless. So that poor baby finally has a name. Well, I think for this I deserve something special. At the very least a hug.”
Rohan looked at her, the devious little smile that still looked angelic to him, his hand just automatically stroked her soft cheek as she closed her beautiful green eyes, clear and bright as crystals.
As if pulled by some magnetic power he leaned forward as he pulled her closer, she melted into his embrace … before he knew it, he was kissing her.
The moment his lips touched hers, the way her entire body pressed up against his, that very moment he wished could last forever …
Author's Note: On names. Spelling often changes the meaning and most (not all) of my lineage names are very carefully chosen with that in mind. Aria, Italian = solo song by the lead artist, Hebrew = lioness Arya, Sanskrit = noble