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He Can Only Hold Her

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Bill put his phone to sleep and slipped it back into his pocket after reading his latest text from Jeff saying that Jessica was sleeping soundly. He sighed to himself, knowing that his daughter had a long road to recovery ahead but he was relieved that everything with the surgery had gone well at least. He stared down at Hillary, who was dozing with her head resting against her husband’s shoulder. They were being driven back to their Chappaqua home and were stuck in a bit of traffic. Bill gently ran his fingers through Hillary’s blond strands, figuring that she must be exhausted. It had been a long day for everybody but especially for his wife.
He quietly sighed to himself again and stared out the window when Hillary suddenly started stirring.
“Hey, go back to sleep, honey,” Bill whispered, squeezing his wife’s hand. “We still have a ways to go before we’re home.”
“That’s okay. I’m awake now,” Hillary said as she sleepily lifted her head off of Bill’s shoulder and stared into her husband’s eyes.
Bill stared at her softly in return, his eyes crinkling with a gentle concern for her.
Hillary stared out the window and looked lost in thought before she suddenly spoke a moment later. “You know what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately?” she asked quietly.
“What?” Bill gently prodded, reassuringly rubbing her right thigh with his long, elegant fingers.
“Do you ever wonder what would have happened if our paths had crossed at Yale?” She asked him, staring into her husband’s eyes once more.
They had both gone to Yale law school but at different times, graduating in different years and had not met until many years later, when they were both working at the same law firm.
Bill shrugged slightly. “Yeah, I guess so.” It was a natural thing to wonder about but Bill didn’t dwell on it. He knew everything in their lives, even the challenges and obstacles that life had thrown their way, had happened exactly the way it was meant to happen. For some reason, the universe hadn’t intended for them to meet in law school even though they very well could have been in each other’s orbit back then, and just not known it.
“Things would have been so different if we had met at Yale,” Hillary dryly remarked.
Bill nodded in agreement. “But everything happens for a reason.” He gently squeezed Hillary’s hand.
“Maybe I would have never met Nick,” Hillary pointed out. Then she never would have dated him or ended up at the New Year’s Eve party where a bit too much alcohol had led to Jessica’s conception.
“Yes, but then Jessica wouldn’t exist,” Bill pointed out, very matter of factly, not being able to imagine his life without his eldest daughter in it.
Hillary nodded, knowing her husband was right about that, also not being able to imagine what her life would have been like without her precious and amazing oldest daughter in it.
“Well, I probably wouldn’t have met Scott if we had been together back then,” Hillary pointed out in a quiet voice, hating to even speak her ex-husband’s name. She nearly shuddered at the thought of him. And if she had never met and befriended that man in law school in the first place, she would have never re-connected with him after going through a rough patch with Bill and gone through the terrible events that had happened in her life, nearly fifteen years earlier.
“Well, that’s true,” Bill conceded, also tensing up at the mention of his wife’s ex-husband, not liking to remember or think about that man either. “But you wouldn’t have gotten Cassandra out of that relationship either,” Bill pointed out, always the optimist. And he couldn’t picture their family without their youngest daughter either. Her arrival had completed their family. 
Hillary nodded and smiled slightly at the thought of her youngest, her sweet, sweet Cassandra. She was a daily reminder that beautiful things could come out of difficult times and she also couldn’t imagine what their family and her life would have been like, without Cassandra in it. 
She smiled to herself and laid her back down across Bill’s shoulder, wondering if she would have still run for and become a Senator had it not been for the things she had faced in her marriage to Scott.  After his death and after her and Bill had fallen in love all over again, She had finally gotten to share her story and  she had inspired thousands of women all around the world. Maybe her husband was right and everything in their lives had happened for a reason.
“Thank you for loving Cassandra,” Hillary suddenly said, lovingly staring up into her husband’s eyes. Every day she was in awe of how much her husband loved and adored Jessica and Cassandra, even though they weren’t related to him by flesh and blood.
“Of course,” Bill said, smiling lovingly down at his wife in return. “You don’t have to thank me.” He reassuringly squeezed his wife’s hand again, wondering where all of this was coming from all of a sudden, knowing that Jessica’s surgery must have brought up a lot of emotions and sentiments for Hillary that day.
“I love Cassandra so much. Just as much as I love Jess, and Chelsea, and Hayley,” Bill reassured her, leaning down to lightly peck the top of her head. "She's my daughter, too. Okay?" 
Hillary nodded and closed her eyes again, feeling absolutely exhausted.
Bill sighed, knowing that his wife’s exhaustion and stress was probably playing a role in all of the emotions and feelings that were suddenly bubbling up to the surface for her.
“Go to sleep, darlin’, and we’ll be home before you know it,” Bill whispered into Hillary’s hair, gently pecking her temple once more, eager to get her home so that she could get some proper sleep in her actual bed.
Hillary nodded, too exhausted to argue, as she let sleep finally overtake her. 

 * * * * *

When they finally arrived home a while later and sleepily walked into the house, they expected that most of the kids and grandkids would have already gone to bed or at least up to their rooms but instead they found Chelsea frantically running around the living room looking for something, while Shiloh was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, hysterically sobbing, in full meltdown mode. Charlotte, Shiloh, and Mariah’s toys were strewn all over the room.
“Oh dear!” Hillary exclaimed, wondering what had happened.
After quickly washing and sanitizing their hands in the kitchen, Bill and Hillary went back to the living room to figure out what the hell was going on.
Chelsea was quickly flipping over the couch cushions as she frantically searched for whatever it was that she was looking for. “It’s okay, Shi,” Chelsea tried reassuring her niece. “We’ll find Chelsea.”
Bill and Hillary realized they were looking for Shiloh’s favorite doll, Chelsea, who she had named after her Auntie. Shiloh wouldn’t be able to fall asleep without that doll. 
“Yeah, sweetheart, she has to be around here somewhere,” Bill said, as he started to help his daughter look while Hillary crouched down to Shiloh’s level and wrapped her arms around her granddaughter, trying to comfort the girl.
“Shh, sweetie, it’s okay,” Hillary soothed, gently running her fingers through Shiloh’s long dark curls. She felt a little bit stressed about the current state of the living room as she saw all of the toys that were strewn about but this is what happened when you had two six year olds and a one and a half year old living with you.
“I….want…Chelsea,” Shiloh sobbed out as big fat tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Where’s the last place you saw her?” Bill asked, trying to be helpful.
“Shiloh and Mariah were playing with her before dinner,” Chelsea said as she got down on her hands and knees to check underneath the couch.
Bill had opened the girls’ toy chest to check there when Chelsea suddenly made a triumphant exclamation.
“Found her!”
Somehow the Barbie doll had ended up under the couch. One of the girls must have flung her under there somehow while they were playing. Chelsea grabbed her and got up from the floor, walking over to her niece and handing the doll to her.
Shiloh’s crying had immediately stopped and her face broke out into a wide grin.
“Thank you!” She squealed excitedly, relieved that (doll) Chelsea hadn’t been lost forever. 
“You’re welcome, sweet girl,” Chelsea said, smiling down at her niece. She leaned down and gave Shiloh's forehead a light peck. 
“Now go get ready for bed with Mariah and grandma will be upstairs in a minute to tuck you girls in,” Hillary said, gently patting her granddaughter on the shoulder.
Shiloh nodded and ran upstairs, her barbie in hand.
Hillary and Bill couldn’t help but chuckle to themselves and shake their heads, happy that the crisis had been averted.
Bill decided to help Chelsea tidy up the toys in the living room while Hillary tucked Mariah and Shiloh into bed, and checked on the rest of their children and grandchildren.
On her way back from tucking Shiloh and Mariah in and reading them a bedtime story, Hillary poked her head into Hayley’s bedroom where Hayley, Cassandra, and Sophia were laying on their stomachs on Hayley’s bed, doing what teenage girls did, scrolling through social media on their phones.
“Hey, girls,” Hillary quietly said, not wanting to disturb them.
“Hi, Mom,” Hayley said, not looking up from her phone.
“Hey, Grandma,” Sophia said as she paused what she was doing and looked up at Hillary. “How’s my mom doing?”
“She’s fine, sweetheart,” Hillary reassured her eldest grandchild, smiling softly at the girl. “The surgery went well and she’s sleeping now. Which you girls should be doing, too.” She softly smirked at them, which elicited a chuckle from them. "It's late." 
“We’ll go to bed soon, Mom,” Cassandra reassured Hillary.
Hillary nodded. “Don’t stay up too late, girls,” Hillary told them. “We can FaceTime Jessie in the morning.”
The girls nodded in agreement, missing their mom and big sister respectively. They wanted to see her, even if they had to do it virtually due to the pandemic. 
“We won’t, Mom,” Hayley reassured her mother. 
Hillary nodded, not so sure about that because they were teenage girls after all but she kept her thoughts to herself.
“Goodnight, Mom. Love you,” Cassandra sweetly said.
“I love you, too,” Hillary said, softly smiling at the girls once more.
“Night, Mom,” Hayley said.
“Goodnight,” Hillary said, closing the bedroom door behind her before she checked on Lucas, said goodnight to him, and eventually made her way back downstairs to Bill and Chelsea.
They were in the kitchen where Chelsea was warming up a plate of leftovers from dinner for her father.
“Do you want something to eat, Mom?” Chelsea asked. “We have plenty of food.”
“Oh, sure, that’d be great,” Hillary answered, realizing how hungry she actually was.  She hadn’t eaten much that day due to the stress and tension of the day but she was starving, she now realized. “I can get it, Chels,” Hillary offered, noticing the dark circles underneath her daughter’s eyes. She knew Chelsea must have had a long and draining day as well, taking care of all of the kids and grandchildren, as well as her own daughter. “You go to bed. I got this.”
“It’s no trouble,” Chelsea reassured her mother, smiling warmly at her, as she started making a plate for her mom.
“Thanks, Chels.” Hillary smiled gratefully over at her daughter, wanting nothing more than to eat a nice dinner, take a relaxing bath, and sink into bed wrapped up in Bill’s arms. It had been an extremely trying day and she was exhausted.
“No problem,” Chelsea repeated, smiling at her mother in return. She had put Bill’s plate in front of him and was popping Hillary’s into the microwave when she suddenly started to look a little green and covered her mouth with her right hand, taking off in the direction of the guest bathroom.
“Chelsea?” Hillary called after her in concern, as they heard Chelsea begin to retch. She walked down the hall to the bathroom and lightly knocked on the door. “You okay, Chels?” She asked, her brows furrowing in concern.
“I’m fine,” Chelsea said as she emerged a few moments later, wiping her mouth with a washcloth. “Must have been something I ate,” she added, sheepishly as Hillary and Chelsea returned to the kitchen.
“I see,” Hillary said, not quite convinced, feeling like her daughter was hiding something from her.
“What’s going on, Chels?” Bill asked, also getting that feeling from the strange look on his daughter’s face.
“Nothing!” Chelsea insisted. “My stomach just didn't agree with something I ate.” She shrugged and lightly chuckled, trying to play it off.
“Chelsea,” Hillary said, giving her daughter a stern “Tell Me Right Now” look.
Chelsea sighed knowing there was no way she could keep it a secret now. She hesitated but figured she might as well tell her parents sooner rather than later. The truth was going to have to come out eventually. She sighed loudly before she just came out with the news. “I’m pregnant.”
“What?” Bill and Hillary’s eyes widened in surprise as the news sunk in before Hillary let out an enthusiastic cheer and happily wrapped her arms around her daughter. “Oh my God, honey! That’s amazing news! Congratulations!”
This news had certainly brightened up what had otherwise been a rough day.
“Yeah, congratulations, honey,” Bill said with an excited grin, also wrapping his arms around his wife and daughter, enveloping his two girls into a bear hug. “That’s wonderful news, sweetheart.”
“How far along are you?” Hillary asked, as she broke apart from their hug.
“Eight weeks,” Chelsea answered. “So Marc and I are still keeping it on the down low obviously but we are so excited for this new addition to our family!” She was positively glowing, sharing this news with her parents, ecstatic that Charlotte was going to have a sibling.
Bill nodded. “We won’t say anything until you’re ready to tell people.”
“Thank you.” Chelsea nodded but she suddenly looked concerned about something.
“What is it, honey?” Hillary asked, being able to read her daughter very well.
“Do you think Jess is going to be upset?” Chelsea asked, frowning slightly. “Considering, you know…”
While she was absolutely overjoyed about her second pregnancy, it had come at a bittersweet time. A part of her felt awful that it had happened at the same time that her older sister couldn’t have any more children and she didn’t want to upset Jessica with everything else her older sister was dealing with at that moment. Which was why her and Marc had held off on telling any family members about the pregnancy so far.
“Oh, honey,” Hillary said, smiling sweetly, thinking it was nice of Chelsea to be thinking of Jess’ needs during this difficult time, but she also felt bad that Chelsea felt like she couldn't properly announce her pregnancy because of Jessica’s situation. “You should tell your sister, Chels. I think she’ll be a little sad at first, yes, but she’ll also be ecstatic over the fact that she’s getting another little niece or nephew. She loves Charlotte so much.” She reassuringly rubbed her daughter’s shoulder and smiled softly at her.
Bill nodded, in agreement with his wife’s words and he stared softly at his daughter. “You have to tell Jessica, sweetheart. And soon.” 


To Be Continued…