Carmen continued the story she was telling Hugo about her unannounced visit to meet his son Cade. Carmen made it clear that she knows Cade will be raised as a cousin to Rodrigo. The complicated situation with Hugo fathering his sister’s wife’s baby was a big secret to everyone outside of the family. She promised to start referring to him exclusively as Hugo’s nephew from now on.
Luna (Hugo’s sister and Cade’s stepmother) went to warm a bottle for the baby and asked Carmen to watch him. She picked up Cade from his bassinet and fell immediately in love. She told Hugo that he made such pretty babies.
Because she was getting ready to meet her club down at the Midnight Hollow park, she didn’t stay much longer. She just rocked the baby a bit and stayed with him until Luna returned with his bottle.
“I’m glad you got to meet him,” said Hugo. “I’m sure the boys will spend time together once they both age up. Maybe you and Luna can set up a play date while they’re toddlers?”
“I’d love that,” said Carmen. “It would be even better if you could join us.”
“Oh, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea,” said Hugo. “I think it’s best that I’m only around both boys for big family gatherings.”
“I see,” said Carmen. “Well we don’t have to decide right now. Now what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Have you made a decision yet about us? It’s important for why I came to talk to you,” said Hugo.
Before Carmen could respond, the doorbell rang. It was Hope, cashing in her raincheck for dinner. Carmen put the pot of spaghetti back on the stove to warm. As she sometimes did, she had dessert while she waited for dinner.
Hugo excused himself, promising he’d return soon to finish their conversation. He encouraged her to enjoy her time with her friend, and promised he’d return the next day.
After a fun dinner with Hope filled with girl talk and mommy advice, Carmen was finally ready for her last task for the night. She fed the baby, then showered. Then she headed to the easel in her bedroom and felt everything else melt away.
Carmen painted and considered how the canvas in front of her was so much like her life. When you were up close, in the middle of it, it was hard to see what was really going on.
But if you gave it time, let it work itself to completion, and just took a step back, suddenly there was something so real and clear where the was once only fuzziness.
Carmen was in the mood for landscapes that night. She sold the larger painting to a gallery, but it gave her an idea for a painting for Rodrigo’s room. She started on the smaller painting immediately, happy that some of her own art was now worth keeping and using for decorating her home.
The next morning, Carmen woke up in a great mood. She went to Rodrigo’s room, holding him and talking to him, happy to tell him his daddy was stopping by later to see them.
“Hi, my beautiful baby boy. How would you like it if I asked daddy to stay forever, hmmm? Mama doesn’t know what she’s going to decide, such a shame, right?”
Hugo stopped by right on time, but unfortunately Rodrigo had fallen back asleep. Hugo and Carmen stayed in the baby’s room and chatted in case he woke back up to spend time with his daddy.
“You’re doing such a great job with him,” said Hugo, “you know that? You’re the best mom.”
“Aw, thanks honey,” said Carmen. “You help out so much with him. You’re here so often, it’s a shame we’re paying the bills for two separate homes.”
“Don’t worry, I’m done pressuring you about that,” said Hugo.
Carmen looked at him for a long moment, unsure of which of her thoughts to say aloud. Finally she landed on the safe choice.
“Do you remember the night he was born?”
“Of course I remember,” said Hugo. “I remember you saying you weren’t sure if you were more upset by the pain of labor or by the drastic change in my appearance.”
Carmen chuckled before responding. “Well, you just sprung a beard on me with no warning. I didn’t know your hair grew so fast.”
“I thought it would make me look older, it’s not my fault it grows so fast! If I didn’t stay on top of it, it would be down to my elbows in no time,” said Hugo.
“Let’s not ever let it get that long,” said Carmen. “But that night, I wasn’t so worried about your hair as I was by how big I’d gotten. I was so sure the doctor read the sonograms wrong and I was having twins!”
“You looked beautiful,” Hugo said softly.
“Oh, you’re so sweet,” said Carmen. “I’m glad you listened to me and waited in the waiting room while he was delivered. There are some things you just can’t unsee.”
“How was it in there?”
“That doctor has delivered so many babies,” said Carmen, “but I wasn’t sure she knew what she was doing. The delivering machine tools were fighting each other.”
“There was one moment where glue was flying everywhere!”
“But in the end it was worth it because we have the most amazing baby boy.”
“Like I said,” said Hugo, “you’re an amazing mom.”
They continued talking, letting the conversation move on to them as a couple. Carmen felt ready to move forward. Not all the way to making a decision about his proposal, but a step forward nonetheless. Hugo was still putting off what he said he wanted to talk to her about, but promised her it could wait because he’d much rather discuss them as a couple.
Later, Carmen felt really inspired to paint. She went for an abstract painting this time. It was as if everything about her and Hugo came pouring out onto the canvas.
If you’d asked her before she started this painting, Carmen would’ve said she and Hugo were full of vibrant colors. But what came out of her to represent them wasn’t colorful. You couldn’t say it was all black and white either though. Just like Carmen and Hugo, there was a lot of gray area.
Just as Carmen was finishing the painting, she received a text.
She smiled as she read it. Finally finished with the painting, Carmen took a step back and admired her first masterpiece.
To Be Continued…