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Check out the first chapter of Realism the brand new series coming in April!
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My alarm clock blares, causing me to groan. Those last couple of tequila shots last night were such a mistake. Tequila has never been my friend and I don’t know why I thought last night would be any different. I push myself up into a sitting position, but that was a mistake because it feels like my brain is rattling around in my skull. I grab my head as I crawl out of bed and gingerly make my way into the bathroom.
After quickly relieving myself I grab a bottle of ibuprofen out of the medicine cabinet. I shake a couple into my hand, pop them into my mouth, and stick my mouth under the faucet. After swallowing them down I shuffle back to my bed, crawl under the covers, and pray for death.
While buried under my blankets I feel my orange tabby, Peanut, jump on the bed, spin in circles, and then snuggle into my side. As soon as his furry ass begins to purr I feel my eyes get heavy and let sleep pull me under.
I finally feel semi-human and climb out of bed, heading back into the bathroom. I brush my lavender colored locks up into a bun on top of my head and jump into the shower. Once I’m scrubbed clean I feel more like myself.
Back in the bedroom I throw on a pair of black leggings, white camisole, and blue off the shoulder t-shirt. I pad through the house and stick a piece of bread in the toaster and brew some coffee. When the toast is done I slather it in Nutella and then pour myself a cup of coffee.
Keys jingle and the front door flies open. My reason for living comes running into the kitchen. “Mommy!”
I catch my daughter and lift her into my arms. “How’s my beautiful girl? Were you good for Uncle Miles?”
My brother leans against the open doorway. “She was perfect as always. We had a blast, didn’t we Goober?”
“Yep, Uncle Miles bought me lots and lots of candy.”
Of course he did. My brother has been such an incredible help with Iris, but the man can’t ever tell my daughter no. I set her on the ground, “why don’t you go put your dirty clothes in the hamper, and go play with Peanut because I know he missed you.”
She kisses me and my brother, before running out of the kitchen yelling for our cat. I grab my brother a cup of coffee and we sit down at the little dinette in front of the window. “How was your girls night?”
“It was good. Sierra was in rare form and forced me to do two shots of tequila after mass quantities of beer and then I had to Uber it home.”
There are four daughters and one son in our crazy family. I’m the oldest, then Sierra, Miles is in between us four girls, and then there are Greta and Heidi. We’re super close, especially Miles and I. Maybe because he stepped in to be there when Iris’s dad split, which was basically the moment the pregnancy test came back positive.
“I’m sure she had to twist your arm too.” He stands up and pulls me up into a hug. “I’m gonna take off. I’ve got a book to plot.” Miles is a crime fiction writer and the amazing man he is, is also a New York Times Bestselling author.
“Have fun with that, and thanks again for keeping Iris.” I smile up at him.
“You know I’d do anything for my girls.” He calls out goodbye to my daughter and she comes running out to her uncle.
Iris launches herself into his arms. “Bye Uncle Miles.”
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow from Kiddie college.”
He leaves and I smile down at my champagne blonde haired, blue-eyed angel. “Today is a Mommy/Daughter day. We’re going to make a veggie pizza, make some chocolate chip cookies, and couch snuggles.”
“Yay! Can you paint my nails?”
I nod, “of course.”
She hops up and down. Her joy is infectious and we start our Mommy/Daughter day, which indeed ends with, snuggles on the couch.
At the end of our day I tuck her into bed, brushing her hair out of her face. Iris gives me that smile that’s like a balm to my soul. “Sleep well baby girl.”
“I love you.” She whispers before rolling to her side and closes her eyes. I don’t move right away I sit and watch as she falls asleep. The steady rise and fall of her chest signals she’s out.
From the moment she was born I’ve watched her sleep more times than I can count. She’s the best thing I’ve ever done and Iris makes me proud every day.
Is everything always rainbows and unicorns? No, definitely not but my girl can handle anything thrown our way.
“What do you mean they want to have a meeting about Iris?” I look down at the paper that my brother brought to me after he picked up Iris from Kiddie College. He dropped her off just like he does every day at the tattoo studio I own with my sisters.
Sierra and I started Sugar and Spice, Ink four years ago. We’re all artistic and fell in love with tattoos and piercings. My sister and I both apprenticed with the artist who did quite a bit of our work before taking our own clients.
Over the past four years we’ve worked our asses off to make a name for ourselves. Because our studio is exclusively female artists a lot of people didn’t take us seriously. We had to work hard to start getting word of mouth referrals, and proving we were just as talented.
We started getting followers on social media and really used the power of the web to make a name for ourselves. Now four years later we’ve been featured in Ink’d magazine twice, we’ve been interviewed on Atlanta’s morning news, and we were even approached for a reality show, but declined.
I focus back on Miles. “I’m not sure, but they wanted you there at three o’clock tomorrow.”
Miles and I step out of my office and head into the main part of the studio. I’m always in awe of the place we’ve created. The walls are a deep purple, almost an eggplant color, with white swirls. Our tables and chairs are black and chrome.
We have a lot of our artwork on the walls in frames. Some of the tattoos on display are ours, and Greta is on display for her piercings. My favorite photo is of the four of us girls in black Sugar and Spice, Ink sleeveless t-shirts, jean shorts, and red Converse. Heidi did our hair and makeup pin up girl style.
We find my daughter and Sierra sitting in the waiting area drawing together. Through the entrance to the back I hear the buzz of a tattoo machine, which is so fucking relaxing.
“Hey sweet girl, why do they want me to come into the school and talk to them?”
She doesn’t look up from her drawing. “I kissed Max.” Iris says it so matter of factly that I’m taken a little aback.
“Max Pena. He’s my best friend.” She has a smile on her lips. Man, I’m in trouble with this girl.
I sit down next to her. “Did he not want you to kiss him, is that why I have to go in?”
She shakes her head. “No, he wanted me to.” Iris says.
I don’t have much longer to think on that because my last appointment of the day has just shown up. Since I have Iris my sisters have made it so I open and then I can get out of there by five or six and I love them for it.
After my appointment I clean up my workstation and find my girl in my office watching Tangled on my iPad. “Are you ready to head home baby girl?”
I help her gather her stuff and then hand in hand we head out to the work area and say our goodbyes.
Once we get home I make us some veggie quesadillas. Iris and I are vegetarians, which I wasn’t always one until I was up in the middle of the night with a newborn and watched a documentary about where our meat comes from. After that I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t set out to make Iris one too, but she loves to do what her mom does.
We eat at our little table in the kitchen and she tells me about her day at Kiddie College. This summer it has made things so much easier with Iris able to go there during the day.
After dinner we snuggle on the couch and watch Modern Family. I can tell she’s getting tired when she starts slowly tracing the tattoo of her name on my forearm. Sierra did it for me when Iris was a year old. Irisis done in beautiful calligraphy surrounded by beautiful flowers.
Before she falls asleep I maneuver her to the bathroom so she can go and then brush her teeth. In her bedroom she changes into her pink nightgown with sugar skulls all over it.
Iris climbs onto her bed and under her purple butterfly covered comforter. “Are you all snuggled in?”
“Yes Mommy.” I know my girl’s tired. She only calls me Mommy when she’s sleepy—much to my chagrin. “Will you lay with me?”
I crawl into bed with her and lean against her headboard. She rests her little blonde head in my lap. “Do you want me to tell you a story?”
She yawns and nods her head. “Tell me about the day I was born.”
Iris has always preferred my stories over the ones in storybooks. I stroke my hand over her soft wavy locks. This is her favorite story, even though it was the easiest labor and delivery ever. “Okay baby girl. It was two days before your due date and I was working at a little tattoo studio by Georgia State.” My mind goes back to that day…
My back aches but I ignore it while I continue working on this arm piece. I’ve worked on this piece for four hours this go around and four hours a month ago. That time was just the outline and details. Today I’m doing the coloring.
I don’t know why I keep working. My due date is fast approaching and it’s been so hard to work with my big protruding belly, but I wanted to keep going as long as possible and to make as much money before his or her arrival.
I never expected to become a mother a twenty-two and especially a single one—no one does—but I’m ready and prepared. I’m just wiping off my client’s tattoo. I let her stand up and take a look at it in the mirror, smiling as she squeals with delight.
She comes back over and I wipe some ointment on it before putting plastic wrap over it. I stand up to walk her to the counter when I feel a trickle down my leg. “Oh shit.”
Buck, the owner is sitting behind the desk and looks up at my exclamation. The girl I just finished working on turns toward me as well. “Did you just pee your pants?” She laughs.
“No! Of course not, my water just broke.” I turn to Buck. “Can you take care of her and I’m calling Sierra.”
“You’ve got it doll. Good luck.”
By the time my sister comes to get me to the hospital my contractions are four minutes apart. On the way I called my mom and she’s meeting us there.
That was two hours ago, now I’m in my sports bra and squatting while leaning against the side of the pool moaning through my contractions. I decided to do a water birth because I wanted a natural child birth and my midwife had told me about water birth so that’s what I decided I wanted to do.
My mom and Sierra help me through labor as my contractions grow stronger and extremely close together. As my stomach tightens I rest my head on the side of the pool, moaning softly as my sister fans me and my mom places a cool washcloth on my neck.
It isn’t long before I’m hit with the desire to push. The midwife checks me and says it’s time to start pushing. They have me squat in the water and I begin to push. After pushing for a half hour they have me reach down and I can feel the top of my baby’s head. I moan as I push with all of my might and then I feel the baby slip from my body.
They help me grab the baby and as soon as they’re out of the water my beautiful baby starts to cry. The nurse lifts one of the legs and announces, “It’s a girl.” I begin to cry and hug my daughter to my chest.
Before my mom even cuts the cord my daughter is latched onto my breast, nursing happily. I’d go through the pain of losing her dad and the pain of her birth to do it all over again.
“What are you going to name her?” Sierra whispers before kissing my cheek.
I’ve had a couple of names picked up for both boys and girls, and kept them to myself. I didn’t want anyone to influence my decision. I stare at my beautiful baby girl and whisper, “Iris Clementine Collins.”
Clementine was my mom’s favorite aunt’s name and Iris because I’ve just always loved it for a little girl’s name and it’s my favorite flower. Both Aunt and Grandma lean in whispering their “hellos” to my beautiful baby girl.
I look down at Iris. “Yes baby?”
“I love you.” It warms my heart every time she tells me that. I can’t imagine my life without her in it.
“Love you, too.” In seconds she’s out, hugging her stuffed unicorn to her chest.
I slip out of her bed, turn on her nightlight, and shut the door. Out in the living room I light my candles, turn out the lights, and grab my meditation pillow. I set everything up in front of the coffee table and ask my Alexato turn on my Chill Zonemix.
On my pillow I get into full lotus position, close my eyes, and clear my mind. I’m not sure how much time passes until I open my eyes I see that a half hour has passed. Peanut is sitting in front of me wearing the same bored expression he always does.
He tips his head to the side and gives me a “meow”. I reach out and scratch behind his ear and then yawn. His fluffy butt follows me as I lock the front door, check on Iris, and he follows me into the bathroom watching me as I take care of my business in here.
I strip down to my tank top and panties, curling up under the sheets and blanket. Peanut jumps on the bed and I feel him circle his spot behind my knees before he settles in and begins to purr. Not long after when sleep pulls me under.