Today’s prompt was to take something from the headlines and use it in a story. Well, I saw this story while I was browsing msn, and it kind of fell into place. I can probably even slip it into the WiP for Carlos & Tereza’s story.
Carlos walked out into the living room and let out a jaw-cracking yawn. The restaurant had been busy the night before. Apparently being closed Thursday after the vandalism had affected business after all. It had made more people want to come after he reopened. And that he certainly wasn’t going to complain about. Now, he just needed to get some coffee so he could join the land of the living before he had to get back to prep things for lunch.
Thank goodness he didn’t open for breakfast. That would likely be too much to handle. Of course, he could let someone else handle it. But, that didn’t feel right to him.
He stood at the counter, watching coffee drip down into the pot. As if he could will it to brew faster. It would have been easier if he’d been able to sleep after coming home the night before. He usually didn’t have a problem, especially after being so busy. But, last night he hadn’t been able to settle. Maybe it was seeing Tereza, or what they’d talked about. Every time he saw her, it brought back so many memories. All the time they’d spent together. How she’d just walked away from him. They’d never officially broken up twenty years ago. But, she’d never come to visit him, and when he got out, she wouldn’t even see him. It had been obvious she’d moved on. So, he did, too.
Or at least he thought he had.
He shook that thought off. He wasn’t any better a match for Tereza now than he was back then. Hell, he’d needed to go to her for help with his brother. That was what he should be concentrating his attention on, not old feelings he shouldn’t even have anymore.
He’d only taken the first sip of his coffee when he heard a knock on his door. He let out a little growl but set the cup back down. Who the hell was stopping by so damn early? He glanced at the clock and saw it was already after nine. So, okay, not that early for some people. But, for him, it certainly was. And anyone who knew him, knew exactly that.
Carlos stalked over to the door and just barely restrained himself from ripping it open. Instead he took a steadying breath and glanced through the small window in the door. And groaned at the man standing there, an infant carrier in one hand. Not that he minded visiting with Jared and his “niece”. But, still.
Opening the door, he said, “You know I need to be at the restaurant in an hour?”
Jared’s gaze was directed to something lower, though. “You know there’s a baby on your porch?”
“Yeah, yours,” Carlos said. “Why don’t you hand her over?”
Jared shook his head and pointed toward Carlos’ front step. His stomach dropped when he followed and saw another infant carrier sitting right there, a baby, its eyes closed and not making a sound, inside it. “What the-” He picked up the carrier and stepped back inside. He set a finger lightly over the baby’s lips and felt air brush against it.
“She’s still alive,” Carlos said, reaching to unbuckle the straps holding the baby into the seat.
“You sure she’s a she?” Jared asked, setting his daughter’s carrier next to the mystery infant’s.
“I don’t know,” Carlos admitted. “You’re the doctor. You tell me. Speaking of, why aren’t you at the clinic?”
Jared moved to lift the baby out of the seat. Carlos found himself wanting to keep his hands on the little form. Even though he knew Jared was perfectly capable of not dropping it. “It’s Saturday. Mel and I switch off on the weekends so we don’t need a sitter for Hallie then.”
“Do you two ever see each other?”
Jared looked up at him and blinked a few times, as if trying to process the question. “We work together most of the week,” he said.
“El tonto,” Carlos said and shook his head.
“I’m not a fool,” Jared said without looking away from the baby again. “We have our priorities. And we see each other plenty at the end of the day.”
Carlos laughed at the way his friend wiggled his eyebrows. “Really? You trying to give Hallie a brother or sister already?”
That did have Jared jerking his head up. “What? No. Worrying about Mel for nine months nearly killed me last time. Not sure I can do it again. I’m getting too old for it.”
Carlos let out a snort. “Like you’ve stopped worrying. I know you better than that, J. And you’re younger than me. What’s this too old stuff?”
He caught Jared’s smirking smile and huffed laugh. But, he didn’t look up from unbuttoning the little bodysuit or whatever it was called the kid was wearing. Carlos didn’t spend enough time around kids. Jared’s hands moved over the little body in a clinical manner.
“He seems in fine health,” Jared said. “I can’t tell for sure if there’s anything wrong unless I take him to the clinic, but I don’t see anything.”
“That still doesn’t answer who left him on my porch. Or why.”
“Well, he doesn’t look much older than Hallie, so he won’t be able to tell you much.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
Jared was still examining the baby. “Call the police and report it. Someone abandoned this baby. We don’t know-Oh shit.”
“What?” Carlos asked, his heart suddenly jumping in his chest. “Is something wrong with him?”
“Not health-wise that I can tell. But, I’ve seen this baby before. Not too long ago, either. He’s got a birthmark here on the back of his arm. I know his parents, his mother was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to get him to stop crying. His father’s a small time dealer. If someone dropped him here, they probably did him a favor. Not that his mother is a bad person, but she’s caught up in the world, too.”
Carlos knew just what Jared meant by that. This kid was born into a house of drug users and pushers. But, for him, it wouldn’t be too late. Not if they could help. Still, his hand shook a little as he took out his phone. He wasn’t used to actually calling the police. “Will you stay here?” he asked Jared. “Tell them what you know?”
Jared nodded. “Of course.”
Carlos reported the abandoned baby while Jared laid a blanket on the floor for the babies to play on. Then, Carlos called one of his cooks in to open the restaurant and start the prep work. He’d probably be here a while.