Outtake: Baubles & Babies #FreeRead #TommasoandCamilla
So, some asked -- I didn't post a WIP Wednesday because I currently don't have a WIP. I am on a few days break before I begin Captivated. I was going to post a teaser yesterday for John but ended up getting caught up in my new computer, and setting it up.
And the new keyboard is just slightly larger than my old one so it is throwing me all kinds of off.
I have not updated the website with my last couple of outtakes, but I will do that soonish.
It's Friday, which means Outtake day!
I picked from the request pile this time.
Baubles & Babies
An Effortless Outtake
Camilla’s smile grew the longer she held her brand new nephew. Little Nazio slept happily having just been fed by his mother, and then swaddled tight by his father in what was apparently his favorite blue muslin blanket.
Tom wasn’t really sure how newborns could have favorite things, but here they were. Who was he to argue with the parents of the boy?
Cam flew back to New York far more often than Tom came to visit her family. Business and family obligations often kept him tied up in Chicago more than he cared to admit. But he was settled with this life, now—knew this was where he was meant to be.
Still, when new babies came around and a birth was to be celebrated, he cleared his schedule. Nothing else mattered but family, after all. Even if that family was a couple of states away from them.
His father—still the boss of the Chicago Outfit, and not quite ready to let the reins go—understood, and never said a word.
Water under the bridge, Tommas liked to say about the Donati boss. His father let bygones be bygones when it came to Cross.
The apology probably helped.
It still took a while.
Cross bent down to grab a discarded toy on the floor, and as he straightened up, he asked, “So when are you going to add to Ma and Dad’s growing pile of grandkids, Cam?”
Clearing his throat when his wife’s eyes widened to the size of small saucers, Tom knew what was coming next. When someone asked a question like that, his wife’s next move was fucking predictable.
Even if it was him asking the question.
“Oh, Naz is waking up a bit,” Cam said, “so I should go find Catherine.”
“Be right back,” Cam called over her shoulder as she darted out of the room.
Tom looked to Cross. “She’s not coming back.”
Camilla’s older brother raised a single brow, and nodded. “Figured. What, she doesn’t want kids, or …?”
Tom made a noise in the back of his throat, and tipped his hand back and forth as if to say, It’s a little iffy.
He shrugged. “At first,” Tom said, “she wanted to finish school.”
“Which she has,” Cross said, his brow dipping in confusion, “a long fucking time ago, man.”
“Yeah, and then it was that she wanted to do things—travel, you know.”
“Comes with the territory.”
“And now it’s that she wants us to enjoy being … us,” Tom said.
Cross’s stance softened a bit as he glanced at his old friend. “And what do you want?”
“Not to discuss our childless life with people.”
Tom cleared his throat again—a nervous tic he never could quite get rid of, no matter how hard he tried. A lot like drumming his fingers. His father always liked to point it out whenever he was doing it like that would change it.
Story of his life.
“Sorry,” Tom said, “maybe that was a little out of line.”
Cross shrugged, and dropped onto the end of the couch. “Nah, it’s your right to tell me to fuck off where you two are concerned. You don’t want me in your personal business, then yeah, say so. I get it. I’m a big boy—I know what back the fuck off means. My wife knows how to say it without even speaking.”
Tom chuckled. “Don’t they all?”
“Comes with the territory,” Cross murmured again.
“I don’t know,” Tom said, finding a spot on the couch beside his friend. “I never really focused on kids when Cam wasn’t interested. I’ve got Joe and Cory’s kids under my feet a couple of times a week. August and Beni, too. My sisters … anyway, I haven’t lacked kids being around to miss it, if you get my meaning.”
“Not your kids, though.”
Tom didn’t admit that out loud, though.
“You turned thirty-one this year, right?”
“What’s that got anything to do with it?” Tom asked.
“I know how old my wife is, Cross.”
His friend smiled a bit—the kind of smug ass smile that drove Tom insane a lot of the time.
“What?” he asked, irritated.
“It’s usually the wife’s biological clock ticking down, isn’t it?” Cross asked. “Never heard of a man who hears it ticking, too.”
Tom scowled. “I don’t have—”
Upstairs above their heads, girlish toddler giggles echoed from Cece. A baby’s cry soon followed.
It was just those sounds alone that made Tommaso stiffen a bit, but not with an uncomfortable sensation that made him want to leave. No, with a kind of longing he hadn’t really felt in a long time.
Not since he first met Cam.
Cross glanced over at his friend. “Life is kind of tough like that, Tom. Sometimes, we get the things we want, and other times, we don’t.”
“Poetic,” he murmured dryly.
“Yeah, it’s what I do.”
A short while later, Tom decided to go in search of his wife when Camilla didn’t come back downstairs. Cross figured he had crossed a line, and so, sent Tom to bring Cam back without the awkwardness that might happen if it were him.
Soon, Tom found his wife in little Naz’s nursery. The upstairs was quiet again—Catherine had urged her toddler daughter downstairs to drive her father crazy while Nazio napped, apparently.
Cam hummed a familiar lullaby as she leaned over the baby’s crib. Tom stayed quiet in the doorway as she hadn’t noticed his presence, and enjoyed the sight of her drifting her fingertips over Naz’s chubby cheeks.
“He looks so much like Cross, it’s unreal,” she murmured.
Tom tipped his head up—seems she knew he was there, after all. “He does, yeah.”
Cam looked over at him. “Came to find me, did you?”
“Your brother caught onto your little disappearing trick, babe. Sorry.”
She shrugged, but went back to the baby without saying a thing. It was the look on her face that made Tom step quietly into the room, and close the distance between them. Not sadness, or embarrassment that usually came along whenever someone asked why they were still childless—as though it was anyone’s business—but rather, just … curious.
“What is it?” Tom asked when he was close enough to snake an arm around her waist, and pull her close. “Tell me, Cam.”
Cam rested her head on his shoulder. “I was just thinking …”
“Do you know why I’ve always put having kids off?”
“Because you’re not ready,” Tom said simply.
Cam made a quiet noise. “That, too, yeah.”
She glanced over her shoulder, and peered at the items littering the nursery. Baby things, and whatever else. Nappies, lotions, and more filled the top of a dresser. Perfectly cute, and small outfits hung from an open closer.
Baby toys and knickknacks—baubles in every corner—filled the space.
All the stuff that came along with babies.
“This kind of freaks me out,” Cam admitted.
She turned, and gestured at the room. “This, Tom. All of this. The baby swings, and the muslin swaddling blankets. Rattles and teethers. Do you know how many different kinds of bottles there are—or Christ, soothers?”
Tom blinked. “No.”
“I do. I do because I’ve looked it up. Hundreds, Tom. There are hundreds.”
He blinked again. “Okay.”
“No, it’s not okay. Because which one do you even choose? How do you decide? And that’s before you get into which beds, or swings, or diapers, or—”
Tom had enough. He kissed his wife hard enough to quiet her, and all her anxieties that he never even knew existed. Because that was Cam—she kept shit bottled up until she couldn’t hold it in anymore and it exploded out of her in verbal vomit.
Not that he minded.
Cam let out a shaky sigh when Tom pulled away.
“Okay,” he said.
Her gaze drifted up to his. “Okay?”
“Okay,” he repeated.
“But nothing. You don’t have to justify shit, Cam. You don’t have to excuse anything to me. As long as you’re happy, then I am happy. That’s how this has always worked.”
She chewed on her bottom lip. A habit he wished she would break because he hated when she abused her mouth like that for all the wrong reasons.
“I do, though,” she whispered.
Tom grinned. “Oh?”
“Just … without all the stuff that freaks me out,” she added quickly.
Cam gave him a look. “You think?”
“It’s called minimalism, babe. You think babies need all this crap? No, they need to be loved, comforted, dry, fed, and happy. That is it.”
“I don’t even know how to be a mom, or … whatever.”
Tom dragged his wife close again. “Not everybody does. It’s not some bred instinct you have the moment you’re born. And some people are born mothers, and still don’t have kids because that’s just not what they want in their life. Look at Theo and Eve, right?”
Two of the most paternal and maternal people he knew, and yet, never had their own biological kids. They fostered for a lot of years—still did, when they found a child that really needed a different kind of safe place to heal—but never their own blood.
“Do you want kids?” Cam asked.
“I want what you want.”
And that was—his hand to God—the truth.
Some people just went about their life differently. Cam had always been a little different, anyway. Tom didn’t mind this being the same.