From Chapter Two, Nomenclature
“If you want to change your mind, you can.”
The room had been quiet, filled with only the beeps of the machines and the ambience from the hallway, when Isabelle spoke. Sydney was currently with Moira-Selene, James, and Nicole, who all insisted she’d take a nap. Isabelle reclined on pillows in a sitting position, but the fatigue of staying awake to wait for Vaughn and Sydney had her drained. She was drifting off into light moments of slumber until, every now and again, a contraction would shock her awake and Vaughn would help her through it. The statement she’d thrown out in the stillness was said sleepily, however, and it took Vaughn a few instants to decipher it.
“Change my mind about what, Isabelle?” Vaughn asked.
“Me staying with you and Sydney.”
Vaughn’s gaze hardened a touch, not enough to be unkind but enough to be firm. “That is nonnegotiable.”
“We will not back out of this now,” Vaughn told her. Isabelle said nothing to this.
During the silence that had followed, Vaughn took a good long look at Isabelle. She hadn’t changed on the outside since her appointment as the Tricorn Goddess except for the laugh lines around her eyes that had smoothed out. Her curly dark-brown hair was longer, but time had aided in that. She still laughed from her belly and her smile always came from her heart, even when she had to force it. There was an added something lurking in those green depths of her eyes that most people could not discern, but that was hinting at the inside of her. And oh how the inside had changed!
Even now that he stared at her closely, he could not miss the uneasiness lurking amid that aforementioned something in her eyes. And he understood.
“Isabelle,” Vaughn began, “are you scared this isn’t for the best?”
Isabelle didn’t look at him. Vaughn had a feeling she couldn’t bear to. “In my heart I want it to be. You don’t know how much I want this to work, Michael. Thoughts of my child nearly consume my mind every day, but there is still a part of me that wishes I had someone to share this with…” Her head rolled off to the side and she looked at the wall. She had to say no more. The idea of the sentence was clear.
“You are merely human,” Vaughn assured her, “and no matter how powerful you become as the Goddess, your feelings won’t simply disappear.”
“Is that selfish of me?” Isabelle continued in a stage whisper. “Is that selfish of me to want…?”
Seeing the tears glittering in Isabelle’s eyes, Vaughn squeezed her hand. He felt guilt consume him. Could it be that he was being selfish? After all, he had sought her out after she had left to give him space to be with Sydney, and then he had demanded, because he’d felt he had some God-given right to, that she be close to him for her and the baby’s sake. He did not consider her feelings about him and Sydney together.
“Perhaps you are right, Isabelle,” Vaughn said softly. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
“Sophia Amelie Flannery,” Isabelle said. “That’s her name.”
Moira-Selene and James both commented on how pretty the name sounded, especially since the baby girl had the name of her beloved great-grandmother, but Sydney and Nicole found themselves riveted to Vaughn to watch for his reaction. When they spied a contrary gleam in his eyes, Sydney and Nicole looked up at each other, expressions clearly saying, Oh snap!
“I appreciate you giving her my mother’s first name as her middle name, but her name is Sophia Amelie Vaughn,” Vaughn corrected tersely.
Isabelle shook her head, gray-green eyes resolute. “I will not budge on this. She has my last name. It’s not like we’re married, Michael.”
“She’s also half mine,” Vaughn insisted, “so she’ll have mine, too. I don’t give a damn that we’re not married.”
Sydney held up a hand as frustration began to take over the exhilarating happiness she had felt moments ago. She had a flashback of witnessing her parents butt heads right in front of her during a CIA mission. How did she always end up the mediator? “All right, you two. Break it up.” Vaughn leaned back in his chair and Isabelle sighed. Meanwhile, Sophia remained in her blanket-wrapped slumber, unperturbed by her parents’ disagreement over her lifelong moniker. “As Sophia’s godmother, I command that her name is as follows: Sophia Amelie Flannery-Vaughn. Not just Flannery, not just Vaughn. Flannery-Vaughn. Capisce?”
“Sounds good to me,” Nicole piped up before the dueling parents could reply. She held up a cigar in each hand. “Now. I think one of these is for you, Vaughn.” She grinned as she gave him one. “Congrats, Papa.”
Vaughn stared at the cigar for a moment, then up at Nicole. When he did, his eyes were filled with happiness. Sydney dimpled and Isabelle’s eyes glittered with mirth.