Midnight Kiss

“Just an hour left ‘til midnight, babe.”  I refilled her glass and settled in beside her on the bed.

She looked toward the hall. “Maybe I should check on her.”

“She’s sound asleep, Chloe. Fed, clean, safe.” I wrapped my arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer. “She’ll be fine.”

Chloe yawned and set her wine glass aside. “I can’t help worrying about her.”

I took her hand and squeezed. “And that’s what makes you such a great mother. You put Cara before anything else. But you need to take care of yourself too.”

She kissed my cheek and rested her head against my shoulder. I pulled the blanket around us and watched colors explode across the sky. A grin spread across my face as the glittering sparks joined the stars to light the sky for mere moments. I turned to Chloe, seeing her eyelids droop and flutter with each boom.

“Do you want to go to sleep?”

She perked up then. “No, no. I’m sorry, Peter. I’m just a little worn.”

“You’ve been working yourself to the bone.”

Before I could say anything else, a few shrieks cut into the room. Chloe flinched and tried to rise, but I stopped her.

“I’ll take care of it. Just enjoy the fireworks, and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but I shook my head. I slipped by her and walked out of the bedroom. I hastened my pace down the hall after a few more sharp cries.

Cara flailed in her crib as I entered the room. I bent over and lifted her into my arms, cradling her to my chest. She continued to wail as I settled into the rocking chair in the corner of her room. The room muffled the cracks and booms of the fireworks and the curtains dulled the flashes of light. Cara screamed louder at each noise. I shushed her and rocked her back and forth, humming to drown out the muffled sounds.

“It’s okay, little princess. See?” I brushed the curtain aside so she could peek through to see the colorful lights.

She punctuated each explosion with another cry, so I tried humming while she watched. I grinned as she calmed and nestled in my arms.

“They’re pretty aren’t they? Nothing to be scared of, Cara.”

As the patterns got more intricate with bolder colors, a few giggles escaped Cara’s lips. She reached for the glittering lights as they appeared and disappeared. Her eyelids fluttered as the show died down, but I kept humming. When Cara drifted off once more, I kissed her forehead and laid her in her crib, tucking her in blankets.

“Sweet dreams, princess.”

I closed the curtains and shut the door behind me. I wandered down the hall and back to our room to find Chloe curled up under the blanket. Chloe didn’t move when I walked past her, so I edged in next to her, slipping under the covers. I turned to her and pecked her lips before taking her in my arms for the night. I glanced out the window one last time before settling, and the clock caught my eye.

‘12:00’

“Happy New Year, Chloe.”

 

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