Going Home by starbeamz2
Story Notes:
I've been playing around with this story idea for a little while now, and I've written a few chapters of it already, so I thought it was time to start posting it! This is, yet another, Brian romance on my part. If you haven't guessed by now, it's my favorite thing to write LOL Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy!
Prologue by starbeamz2
“Mr. Littrell?”

Brian turned away from the window and faced the doctor who stood just inside the doorway of the waiting room. Prepared for the worst, he gripped his hands together. “How is she? Is she okay? How’s our baby?”

The doctor’s face was grim and, even before he spoke, Brian knew the answer. “Your daughter is perfectly fine, Mr. Littrell. Despite having the umbilical cord cut off her airways briefly, she managed to pull through and come out just fine.”

Brian knew he should’ve been ecstatic at the news, but he needed the rest. “And my wife? How is she?”

“Mr. Littrell, why don’t you have a seat?” The doctor gestured to the chairs in the room.

His blood ran cold. “Why? What happened? Please, God, just tell me.”

The doctor decided sitting was not to be an option and, hating each time he had to do this, he sighed. “Your wife was hemorrhaging pretty badly, even after we delivered the baby. She lost consciousness while you were still in the room, but, after that, she never regained it. Her pregnancy had been complicated, and the birth was no less. At her age, these things can happen. I’m sorry, Mr. Littrell, we did everything we could, but she’d just lost too much blood.”

If the doctor said anything more, Brian didn’t hear it. His ears were filled with a buzzing sound, and everything inside him went numb. He couldn’t believe that this was really happening. Maybe it was all just a horrible dream, and he could pinch himself to wake up. Or maybe it was all just a big practical joke Leighanne had decided to play, and, when he walked into her hospital room, she would be laughing at how easily he’d fallen for it. But, one look at the doctor’s face, and he knew it was true.

His gaze dropped to where his son lay sleeping on the waiting room couch. How was he supposed to tell Baylee that Mommy wouldn’t be coming home with them? How was he supposed to go on without Leighanne?

And their daughter.

He pressed his fingers to his burning eyes and prayed for the strength to care for their daughter. He hadn’t even held her yet, and Leighanne never would. Their daughter, Baylee’s sister, would grow up without ever knowing her mother. If only he hadn’t been so insistent on them having just one more child…

“Mr. Littrell? Brian?” The doctor cautiously laid a hand on Brian’s shoulder. “Would you like to see your wife?”

Brian’s head jerked up. “Yes,” was out of his mouth before he could even think about it.

She lay on the surgical table, her body covered with a white sheet, leaving her shoulders bare and letting him touch her face with trembling fingers. She was so pale, and, even in death, he thought she looked perfect. At peace. He thought it was his imagination that had him thinking her lips were curved in the smallest of smiles. Her luscious gold locks rested on her shoulders and the hard metal of the table beneath her.

His fingers curled into fists, and his breath turned ragged as he tried to suppress the sobs. But it was too much for him to hold back, and, laying his head on the table next to hers, he wept.

“What am I gonna do without you, Leigh? I can’t make it through a single day without you, and now I have a lifetime to go through alone. God. Why? Why us? Why did God have to take you from us when we need you so much?” He squeezed his eyes shut, but the tears still dripped, hot and fast, down his cheeks and onto her cold shoulders. “And our baby, our little girl. How am I supposed to take care of her all on my own? Leigh, how am I supposed to do anything without you by my side?”

When his sobs quieted, he stroked his fingers through her hair gently, one last time, memorizing the feel of them. Then, lightly pressing his lips to hers, he stepped back and gazed down, with heart-wrenching grief, at the lifeless body of his soul mate. His heart was empty—frozen—and he didn’t believe it would ever beat truly again.

At the door, he glanced back at her one more time. “Bye, baby.”

***

“Daddy, what are we gonna name her?” Baylee stroked his small fingers over his infant sister’s soft forehead. He thought she was the tiniest thing he’d ever seen and, when they’d first come into the nursery, she’d been squalling like she was being eaten alive by the tigers at the zoo. He didn’t think it would be very fun to have a baby sister if she was going to cry all the time. And now that Mommy was in heaven with the angels…Baylee blinked back the tears, not wanting Brian to see them because he knew it would make his father upset again.

Brian cradled the tiny bundle swathed in pink that was his daughter. His heart, though bruised and battered from the loss of Leighanne only hours before, swelled at the sight of this final reminder of their love. With her dark hair, baby blue eyes, and rose bud mouth, he thought it was fitting that Leighanne had left him and Baylee with an angel. But he’d yet to name her.

“I don’t know, buddy. Got any ideas?” She couldn’t stay Baby Girl Littrell all her life, and none of the names he and Leighanne had picked out sounded good anymore. Not without Leighanne.

Baylee pursed his lips as he tried to tuck his pinky into his sister’s tiny fist. “I don’t know. Can we name her Leighanne for Mommy?”

Brian shook his head, though tears filled his eyes again. Baylee was taking his mother’s loss better than he was. “No, buddy. This little one’s got to have her own name. I think Mommy would like that.”

“Okay.” But Baylee grinned hugely when the baby finally gripped his finger. “Look, Daddy! She likes me.”

Brian smiled at the sight of his children, the tiny baby holding onto her big brother. “I can see that. I bet she can’t wait to grow up and run around. Then, you’re going to have to take care of her and teach her how to do everything.”

“But not my video games. Right?” Baylee looked to Brian for confirmation, and Brian couldn’t help the smile on his face.

“We’ll see. But, right now,” he looked into his daughter’s eyes as she opened them for a few moments, “the baby needs a name.” And, together, father and son studied the lone female in their family and tried to decide what her name could be.

When there was a muffled knocking sound on the window to the nursery, Baylee looked past his father and spotted their family. “Daddy, look! Mommy’s parents are here! Can we go show them the baby?”

Brian looked over his shoulder at his parents-in-law and wondered how he’d tell them that their daughter was dead. Letting Baylee scoot out of the room, Brian moved closer to the window and tilted his arms just enough for the new grandparents to see their granddaughter. Leighanne’s mother smiled hugely and hugged Baylee to her side, while Leighanne’s father simply gave him a thumb’s-up. Sighing, Brian brushed his lips gently over his daughter’s head and laid her back into her assigned cradle.

“I’ll be back, baby,” he whispered. “And I’ll know what to call you, I promise. I just wish your mother was here, she’d love you so much.”

Squaring his shoulders, Brian stepped out of the nursery and met up with his parents-in-law. “Hi, I’m glad you could make it.”

“Are you kidding? We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Shirley Tolbert pulled Brian in for a tight hug. “You and Leighanne must be ready to burst. That little girl is just adorable. Did you pick a name yet?”

“Well, ah…”

“Daddy and me are trying to pick one, but we just don’t know,” Baylee said with a frown. “It’s hard coming up with names.”

Jack Tolbert frowned. “What about that list Leighanne was telling me the two of you came up with? I’m surprised she hasn’t already picked a name off it yet.”

“No, um, no, I got rid of that list when the baby was born. Nothing seems to fit anymore.” Brian clenched his hands together, the helpless, despairing feeling flooding him again.

Shirley shook her head. “I’m surprised Leighanne let you do that. She was so set on Aubrey as a name. Why doesn’t she want it anymore?” She paused. “How’s Leighanne doing? She’s probably sleeping off all that stress, right?”

Here we go. “No, she’s not. Shirley, Jack.” Brian looked around the hallway desperately and spotted a sign for the waiting room. “Why don’t we go sit down?”

“Why? What’s going on?” Shirley looked suspicious, but, one look in Jack’s eyes told Brian that Leighanne’s step-father had figured it out. “Where’s Leighanne?”

“Mommy’s with the angels in heaven,” Baylee piped up in a trembling voice, and Brian saw the tears sliding down his son’s cheeks.

Scooping Baylee into his arms, he turned back to Leighanne’s parents. “I’d hoped to tell you…to find a way to tell you, but I just…I don’t know what to do anymore.” He squeezed Baylee closer, drawing comfort from the solid feeling of holding his child.

Shirley shook her head, kept shaking it, even as the first tears dripped out of her eyes. Jack gathered her close as she insisted it wasn’t true, it couldn’t be true, but, seeing the pain in Brian’s eyes, was more than proof that her daughter was gone.

Brian buried his face in Baylee’s face even as Baylee clutched at him, sobbing. Leighanne was gone, and there was no going back.


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