First comes love, p.1
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       First Comes Love, p.1

           Lydia Michaels
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First Comes Love


  First Comes Love

  {A New Castle Novel}

  Lydia Michaels

  Romance

  www.LydiaMichaelsBooks.com

  Lydia Michaels

  Romance

  FIRST COMES LOVE

  Copyright © 2015 Lydia Michaels

  First E-book Publication: WHITE CHOCOLATE August 2012

  Second Edition: First Comes Love © Lydia Michaels 2015

  All Art & Cover Design copyrighted © 2015 by Lydia Michaels

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this book anymore, you must delete it from your computer. WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

  All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

  www.LydiaMichaelsBook.com

  A Note to Readers

  Thank you for purchasing FIRST COMES LOVE! This book was originally released in 2012 under the title WHITE CHOCOLATE. It has since been rewritten and given a new title and cover. I hope you enjoy this story. New Castle was my earliest work and the series holds a special place in my heart.

  Thank you for reading!

  ~Lydia Michaels

  Dedication

  To Blamkins…

  There is nothing in this world more precious than you.

  First Comes Love

  Prologue

  New Years Eve, 11:58pm

  “Push!”

  The pain was heavy. The epidural was in full affect, removing even the slightest sensation from Kat’s pelvis down to her swollen and neglected toes. But the pressure was still ungodly. Three hours in and she was at her limit. Modesty gone, she grit her teeth and pushed.

  She’d been poked and prodded more than a pig at a county fair, with no one there to guide her aside from the nurses she’d met that evening and the doctor now staring at her second greatest source of pain. As much as child labor hurt, she’d mentally prepared over the last nine months. But the agony of having no one by her side, that was the source of her greatest pain.

  She was frightened, anxious, and alone. Utterly alone.

  Tears seeped from her locked eyelids, as her sweat-slicked palms gripped the metal rails of the hospital bed until her back bowed off the damp sheet. She was pushing what could only be an elephant out of her ass. Her strength was waning as every second passed.

  “…five, six, seven,” the nurse counted as she bore down, “eight, nine, ten.”

  Like a rapidly deflating balloon, her breath came out in a rush as her body collapsed back on the sweat-drenched linens.

  “Almost there, honey.”

  Peeking through heavy lids, her vision blurred. Telling herself she was crying from the pain and not the fear, she focused on the elderly nurse soothing her wrinkled brow with a cool, damp cloth. Her expression was unguarded, completely wiped of all bravado.

  She apparently was giving birth to the world’s largest baby and she’d take all the sympathy and support she could get. It wasn’t like people were overwhelming her with kindness these days.

  The next contraction whipped across her spine and her breath sawed through her burning lungs like fire. She focused on the happy kitten playing with a ball of yarn on the poster tacked to the ceiling. The corner was torn and fluttering oh so slightly from the vent to the left.

  In an attempt to distract herself from the pressure, her eyes focused on the coffee colored stain next to the florescent light. It was shaped like a continent, but she couldn’t remember which one. Grinding her teeth as the next contraction crashed through her like a tidal wave set to destroy the coast, she hissed out a breath.

  Screaming through clenched teeth, her muscles locked and then the wave subsided. Damp hair clung to the back of her neck. Her legs were too numb from the anesthetic to sense even the prick of a pin in her flesh. The constant tug and press was like having a fifty-pound bag of sand on her lap.

  Kat’s hands throbbed, the blood slowly returning to her fingertips as she eased her white-knuckled grip off the bed rails. How did women do this without drugs?

  “Okay, time to push again.”

  Then there was this motherfucker. Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. He was actually a very nice man and a good doctor—and she was at the mercy of his care.

  Dear God, please don’t punish me or the baby for calling Doctor Carol a motherfucker. He’s really a very nice old man, whom you will surely welcome into heaven one day. Amen.

  “Young lady, you’re going to have to push if you ever want to be a mom,” Doctor Carol reminded from his position between her stocking-clad knees.

  Kat bore down as the nurse next to her supported her damp back and started counting again.

  “One, two, three—“

  “Here we go!” Dr. Carol enthusiastically called.

  “—four, five, six—“

  “Keep pushing,” he coached.

  A slick release and a tug had her gasping.

  “seven, eight, nine—“

  “It’s a girl!”

  The next few minutes were a whirlwind. Shivers quaked through her body as her heartbeat echoed in her ears and throbbed at the tips of her fingers. The squawks of a newborn vaguely registered in her tired brain as she was told to push again for the after birth. With the biggest hurdle conquered, she obediently applied her remaining strength to finishing what she’d started.

  When a nurse pressed a soft cloth to her brow, cleaning away the sweat and tears, her eyes slowly opened. Raspy squawks, like that of a fledgling, broke through the blending of adult voices. Searching for the sound, she focused on the squawks, louder now, more like that of a baby calf.

  Baby. That was her baby. Her daughter.

  Blocking out the nurses’ voices, Kat carefully listened to the first sounds of her little baby girl. She strained her neck, trying to catch a glimpse of her, but the ocean of blue medical smocks blocked her view. It didn’t matter. She was beautiful. Her daughter’s beauty would challenge the most radiant sunset.

  The doctor and nurses’ heads were bent as their arms moved over the table, cleaning and fussing over her baby as she chirruped and cooed.

  “Is she all right?” Kat asked the nurse in an abused voice she didn’t recognize. Her throat had gone chalk-dry from emotion and labor.

  “She’s fine, honey. They’re cleaning her up to meet her mommy.”

  Mommy. Her heart tightened at the title. So significant, so meaningful. She would bring honor to the name, despite what others believed.

  The ocean of blue parted as the doctor turned, holding a pink-capped bundle of perfection. All Kat could see was her tiny swaddled form, but she was sure she was magnificent.

  “Here you go, Miss D’Angelo, a beautiful baby girl.”

  Gently cradling her daughter in her arms, shocked at the insubstantial weight, Kat stared breathlessly at her miniature pink face. So small. Surely this wasn’t the linebacker who’d been wreaking havoc in her womb for the past nine months? Her head was tinier than a softball and her body as weightless as a bouquet of wildflowers.

  “She’s so little. Is she okay?” she whispered to no one in particular.

  “Not too little, eight-
one. She’s a perfectly healthy size,” Dr. Carol reassured. “Now, she’s probably hungry. Are you planning on nursing, Miss D’Angelo?”

  “What? Um, you mean breast-feeding? Yes,” she said, mesmerized by the most delicate, teeny hand she’d ever held. It was too small to fully wrap around her thumb, so she placed her pinky in her daughter’s palm. The most magical squeeze, as if she were pulling a thread tied right to her heart, tightened around her finger. Breathing in a shuddered breath, tears of happiness and relief welled in the corners of her eyes.

  “Do you have a name for her?”

  Unwilling to take her eyes off of her perfect face, all crinkled and rosy, she whispered, “Yes, Mia Rose D’Angelo.”

  “That’s very pretty. Well, Mom, would you like to give feeding little Mia a try?”

  Her gaze released Mia and focused on the nurse. A thousand thoughts of inadequacy skittered through her mind. What if her breasts weren’t developed enough to produce milk? Would they criticize her if she did it wrong?

  A yearning for the bonding she’d read about bloomed in her chest. She was determined to be the best mother in the world, yet had no point of reference. Moistening her dry lips, she pleadingly gazed at the nurse. “Can you show me how?”

  The nurse tenderly smiled and adjusted Kat’s gown. Turning Mia toward her body, she guided her pursed mouth toward her breast. Mia cried, revealing a mouth full of soft, pink gums. But the nurse massaged Kat’s breast to stimulate the flow of her milk and Mia quickly nuzzled into her and latched on.

  It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced. Her mind jerked at the pinching sensation, but discomfort was soon replaced by a stir of emotion she could only describe as a mother providing life for her child. She blushed at the emotional intimacy of their connection.

  This must be love.

  The room slowly cleared as hospital employees wheeled machines away to serve the next patient. Undisturbed by the movement, Kat watched Mia and fell more and more in love. As the room fell silent she decided that every hardship, every tear, every fight, was worth the gift she’d been given. Her Mia. Her baby girl.

  Time passed at an immeasurable pace as she familiarized herself with this new person who would forever be a part of her life. A nurse eventually returned to take Mia to the nursery so Kat could get some rest. Wanting to object, but too unsure of her right to speak up, she protectively watched Mia get wheeled out of her room in a clinical bassinette decorated with a pink teddy bear card that said her name. A sharp and sudden sting of separation washed over her and she tried to rein in her panic.

  It’s okay. It’s okay. She’ll be back. It’s okay. They can’t take her from you.

  How could she miss someone so much after meeting her only hours ago? She needed to take advantage of her rest when she was able to get it. Lying on the bed she tried to relax. Rest, she needed to rest.

  Closing her eyes, she smiled, finding comfort in imagining Mia’s face, her hands, her wrinkled feet, her fuzzy tuft of brown hair, and her round, curious glistening eyes. She pictured every bit of her perfect little body for over an hour and still couldn’t fall asleep. Finally, she sat up and reached for the phone. After several deep breaths she dialed.

  “Hello. You have reached the voicemail of Vivian D’Angelo…”

  Kat listened to her mother’s voice and waited for the beep, unsure of what to say.

  “Um, Mom, it’s me, Katherine. I’m at Upper Park Memorial Hospital. I, uh, had the baby. A girl! Mia Rose. She was born at twelve-thirteen am, a New Year’s Baby. She’s so beautiful, Mom. Perfect. Eight-one, eighteen inches long. We’re in room three-seventeen if you want to—”

  Beep.

  “Shit.”

  Kat placed the hospital phone back on the receiver next to her bed.

  At least she knows where we are.

  She tried not to get her hopes up that either of her parents would visit while she was still at the hospital. Chances were Vivian wouldn’t be visiting her first grandchild as long as Edward, Kat’s father, didn’t approve.

  The entire situation was a “scandalous disgrace” according to her father—the Mayor of Parkside—who was aspiring for a position in the Senate. There was no room for scandal in their family. Everything must appear neat and tidy and her pregnancy had been anything but.

  In the past year, she’d pushed her parents to their limit and their solution to her “predicament” was to act as though Kat, and the child that grew in her belly, didn’t exist.

  She’d hoped to at least finish high school, but her parents refused to assist her with the paperwork for homeschool tutors. Instead, their solution was to have her bags packed on her eighteenth birthday when she was starting to show and escort her to her new apartment. Her father offered her the perk of paying the rent for one year and providing her with an allowance of one thousand dollars a month until the baby was two months old. At which time, she was expected to find a job to support herself and her child.

  Aside from purchasing a few supplies for Mia and paying for the essential utilities, she saved most of the money her father provided. To a naïve teenager like herself a thousand dollars a month was a fortune. But as she noticed the prices on upcoming necessities such as diapers and bottles, she realized her nest egg was terrifyingly meager.

  She found a crib and baby swing at a second hand store near her apartment and learned to crochet. She was set as far as blankets were concerned. She also—after days of researching on a library computer—found out how to apply for government aid for unwed mothers and was now stocked with coupons and vouchers for formula, diapers, cheese, milk, bread, and any other things they’d need.

  She’s dropped out of school when she’d stopped fitting in the classroom desks. That was at the end of November. On Thanksgiving, she ate a microwave turkey dinner, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chunk ice cream, and watched Look Who’s Talking by herself.

  She’d spent a lot of her time alone in her apartment reflecting. It wasn’t easy, deciding to have a baby at seventeen when everyone simply wanted her predicament to go away. It became clear that if she were to have a child, her days of being one were over.

  She sometimes missed being silly and hanging out with friends doing absolutely nothing. Jade, her best friend, marveled at how grown-up she’d become in such a short span of time. Kat didn’t feel grown-up. She felt like a terrified kid expected to raise a kid of her own.

  On Christmas, she turned off her phone and answering machine, so she wouldn’t know who did or didn’t call and hung pictures of ducklings she found at a yard sale in the baby’s corner of the room, knowing her baby would arrive any day.

  She was right of course. Five days later and here she was, ringing in the New Year with a great new beginning. Jade, of course, was completely unprepared for the inevitable, but that was Jade—always flying by the seat of her pants, never worrying about a thing until it was go time.

  Kat had called her the moment it was time, but her friend, being a typical teenager, doing what teenagers predictably did on New Year’s Eve, was drunk.

  “Hello?”

  “Jade? Can you hear me?” Kat had shouted into the phone.

  “Hey, Kat! I’m so pissed you aren’t here. I just destroyed Kenneth Langley in beer pong. He’s being a total crybaby, telling everyone I cheated. I’m thinking about TP'ing his car.” She laughed as the bass of loud music pounded through the phone.

  “Uh, that’s great. Jade. It’s time.”

  “What?” The phone crackled as Jade shifted closer to the music. “No, it’s not. There’s still an hour until midnight.”

  Kat patiently breathed through her contraction and looked at her watch. “Not time for the ball to drop. Time for the baby. I’m in labor.”

  Utter silence aside from the thumping of bass in the background.

  “Jade?”

  Her best friend suddenly shouted, “You can’t have the baby now! I’m drunk! Can’t you tell it to wait?”

  “No, I can’t
tell the baby to wait!” Kat’s laugh turned into a garbled moan as another contraction hit.

  “Shit. I need to find someone sober so I can get a ride.”

  Knowing how many maniacs were on the road, Kat patiently said, “It’ll probably be a while. Just sober up and come in the morning.”

  “But I’m supposed to be there with you. It’s my duty as best friend.”

  “I’ll be—” Her words cut off as another contraction hit. “—fine.”

  Jade’s voice sobered. “Are the contractions bad?”

  “No, not at all.” There was no point in freaking out her friend. She hoped she’d eventually have a child so their kids could be friends.

  “Really?”

  “So far they’re just uncomfortable.” But each one was getting worse. “Jade, I really gotta go.”

  “I wish I could be there.”

  Kat carried her bag to the car. “I know you do.”

  “I’ll be there first thing in the morning. I love you.”

  “I love you too, Jade.”

  A light tap on the door interrupted her thoughts. The sight of Mia’s bassinet filled her heart with unparalleled warmth and she quickly adjusted her position in the bed.

  “Someone wanted their mommy,” the nurse said, an affectionate lilt to her voice.

  Kat smiled. “I missed her.”

  Taking her in her arms, she breathed in the soft familiar scent and sighed, knowing her days of being alone were over. Now that she had Mia she’d always have someone to love.

  Kat was laying Mia down after feeding her breakfast. Her body still wasn’t back to normal, but at least she was moving around. She carefully bent over the bassinet and adjusted Mia’s cap when a barely audible tap sounded from the door.

  “Come in,” she whispered as she tucked Mia’s sleeping body snugly in her receiving blanket.

 

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