Three weeks passed, and Thornton had filed the divorce papers. I received my copies and signed them without contesting the proceedings. He blocked every attempt I made to talk with Alana directly. A court hearing to finalize the divorce and mediate the distribution of our property was scheduled.
The desperation and stress that I heard in Alana’s voice during our last conversation, made me decide to follow her wishes and not protest anymore. She was pregnant with our child, and I did not want to make it any harder for her.
I was staying at the house with the children until after the divorce became final. Through our attorneys, we had agreed on joint custody of the children. I took Alissa aside and tried to explain what was happening.
“Alissa, I know that this may be hard for you to understand, but sometimes Moms and Dads need to take a break from each other. Your mother and I are doing that right now. “, I told her. I refused to believe that this was the end for Alana and me. I could not tell our daughter that we were getting a divorce.
“For how much longer Daddy?”, she asked me anxiously.
“I don’t know sweetheart, but I promise that I will do everything I can to get Mommy to come back home.”, I told her. She began to cry, breaking my heart. I hugged her to me.
After I got dressed for work, my phone rang. It was Erin once again.
“Hello.”, I answered without enthusiasm.
“David! I was just called into the general’s office. Thornton Wolff has lodged a complaint against me for my relationship with you.”, she said anxiously.
I was silent for a few moments, trying to summon more patience. I detested this woman now. She refused to believe that I did not care for her. I was infuriated when my attorney told me that Erin had dared to call Alana and lie about our relationship.
“Erin, I told you that this was going to happen. You know on what grounds Alana is divorcing me. Your behavior caused this whole heartbreaking mess, and I am not going to lie for you!”, I told her and hung up my phone. She would probably be demoted and transferred to another base.
Alana had known for the past two weeks how Thornton felt about her, although he had not said anything. It was in his eyes whenever he looked at her. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it yet. She knew that she still loved David, and she always would.
She questioned herself, ” Does that mean I will never have a relationship with anyone else? Am I leading Thornton on by remaining here?”
She had seriously considered leaving, but she had not felt well for the past few days. She had gone to see her doctor, and the doctor said that she needed to relieve her stress. That was easier said than done. She felt even more stress as the date to finalize her divorce got closer.
Today was the worst of all. She had felt nagging cramps in her lower back and abdomen.
Thornton decided to tell Alana how he felt about her. He took a deep breath. He wanted to say it exactly right.
“Alana, sometimes things happen for a purpose. A path to greater happiness can open up when you least expect it. I know that right now you will find this difficult to believe, but I know that we were meant to meet and be together. If you had not discovered the relationship between Erin and David, then we would have continued to live in the same town and never meet. I love you Alana; and although you may not feel the same way yet, I want you to agree to marry me after your divorce is final.”, he said.
Alana looked at him as though he had suddenly grown two heads. “Let me explain!”, he continued. “I can tell that you find me attractive or am I mistaken?”, he asked her.
“Of course, I do, but that is not the same thing as love.”, she said.
“Doesn’t attraction lead to love? Don’t you think that you could ever love me? Just think about it. David has moved on, and you deserve to be happy too. Now that I have you in my life, I don’t want to miss out on anymore time with you. I love you enough for both of us, and I know that eventually you will love me too. I will help you raise your children; and do everything I can to make you happy and secure.”, he told her sincerely.
Alana suddenly felt a shooting pain in her back that brought tears to her eyes.
Then she felt a hard cramp in her abdomen. She knew what was wrong. She was in labor. Her mind returned to when she had lost little David Jr. on the island. Once again it was too soon. She was barely six months along.
Thornton quickly took Alana to the hospital. He called me, and I rushed to the hospital. When I entered the examination room, Alana’s blood pressure shot up, and the doctor asked me to leave the room. I was crushed. This was the first of my children whose birth I would not witness.
I went to the waiting room. Thornton was already there. We did not even acknowledge each other’s presence. My mother rushed through the hospital entrance.
“Is she okay, David?”, she asked me anxiously.
“I don’t know what’s going on yet. My presence was making Alana too upset, and the doctor asked me to leave.”, I told her.
She looked at me with sympathy. She knew how much this whole situation was hurting me.
“I’m going to see if they will let me go in with her.”, she told me.
I was relieved to hear her say that. “Good! I don’t want her to have to go through this alone.”, I said. She spoke with the nurse and the nurse took her back to be with Alana. I was afraid that Alana and the baby might not make it through.
Thornton had never felt such fear before. He was afraid that after finally finding the perfect woman for him, that he was about to lose her for good. He even hoped that the baby would survive because he knew how devastated Alana would be if she lost it.
Alana was happy to see Ana come through the door. Ana rushed over to her and took her hand. “Everything is going to be okay, Alana.”, she said reassuringly. The doctor nodded at Ana to keep talking soothingly to Alana.
“Alissa has already made it on the honor roll! As a reward, I let her have a slumber party. She put on a costume show for us and for her friends. She is a good little actress. Aidan is really doing well with his xylophone. I think that you are right. He will probably become a musician.”, she told her.
As she spoke, Alana’s blood pressure had started lowering to a more normal range. The doctor finished her examination.
“You are in early labor Mrs. Fermin. It is too late to stop it, but your baby is thirty-five weeks old. That gives him a fighting chance for survival with no long term ill effects. We will do everything we can.”, she said.
After a difficult two hours, little Joel Fermin came into the world. I was able to go in to see him. They let me hold him for just a few moments.
Afterwards, I went in to see Alana. She was sleeping. She was so beautiful. I ached with longing to hold her in my arms.
I quietly left the room as Thornton entered it. This time, I asked him to step outside and speak with me.
“I want to know what your intentions are toward Alana, and don’t give me that I’m her attorney crap! I know it’s more than professional.”, I told him.
“You’re right! I’m in love with her, and I have asked her to marry me.”, he said.
My blood began to boil. From the very beginning he had been trying to keep Alana and me apart. He probably encouraged her to believe that I had cheated on her. I had suspected it, but there was nothing that I could do about it. I had stopped myself from punching him before, but now I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose. I punched him in his smug nose.
Thornton knew that he had probably deserved that punch, so he did not fight back.
“I let you hit me because if our positions were reversed I would probably feel as you do. However, we both know that you are to blame for this situation. If you had not been taking Alana for granted, then she would never have believed that you were having an affair.”, he said.
“She would have been sure of your love and faithfulness. Now you have lost her. She belongs to me. She deserves a chance to have the happy life that I will give her because she knows that I love her and will always be faithful to her.“, he continued.
I was speechless. He was partially right. I had been taking Alana for granted, spending so much time working towards a career that I couldn’t care less about now. We had begun to drift apart, and I was to blame.
“Even if I am to blame, as you say, that still does not give you the right to use your position as Alana’s attorney to gain her trust and begin a romantic relationship with her. That has to be unethical!”, I told him.
“Maybe it was, but my feelings for Alana are genuine. Lodge a complaint with the bar association against me if you wish, but it still won’t change my relationship with her. She will just get even more upset with you! Now, I am going in to sit with Alana until she wakes up.”, he told me and left me standing there.
Three days later, Alana should have been released from the hospital, but her doctor was not sure if it was wise to release her. She was listless and not recovering from the delivery as quickly as she should have been. The doctor was beginning to worry about her.
Thornton knew that the doctors were worried. Whenever the nurse would bring Joel in to visit with Alana, she would hold him for just a few minutes and then hand him back to the nurse. David spent more time with Joel than she did.
Maybe if she had something to look forward to, that would make her more like her old self and she would start to get stronger.
“Alana, please say you will marry me. We will be happy together.”, he told her.
Alana looked at him. She didn’t really care what happened to her anymore. Thornton had been kind to her and seemed to genuinely love her. If marrying him would make him happy, then why not.
“Alright, Thornton.”, she agreed.
David found out how poorly Alana was doing. He knew that she probably blamed herself for Joel’s early birth. He asked the doctor if he could bring their other children to see her. That would remind her that she needed to get well for them.
“Mommy! Alissa cried and rushed over to her mother. She told her all about what was happening at school and with her friends.
Alana smiled for the first time in days. Aidan clung to her when it was time for them to leave.
That evening when her dinner tray was brought to her, she forced herself to eat. The next day she went to the neonatal intensive care unit and helped to take care of little Joel. She only left when it was time for David to visit Joel. By the end of the week, the doctor released her.