Discovery in Bloom
February 5. The Bloom House. Canterbury, England.
The first time Aurora saw The Lord of the Rings, it was during this life-changing fourth year. Because of her pregnancy, Della had been taking a break from touring with her, Margo, and Nick’s music group True Dawn to reconnect with her children. At the moment, she was playing innocent bystander on yet another Penelope Henderson shopping spree. Orlando had been spending time with them before he began shooting another movie, and Aurora was still coping with the understanding of her father’s fame.
For some odd reason, Aurora understood her mother’s fame better. Not that it was any more or any less than Orlando’s; it seemed that Della’s fame was more accessible. Aurora heard her mother’s music all the time, even in her sleep sometimes. There was a picture in Della’s music room of Aurora at twenty-three months sitting behind Cousin Margo’s drum set, brandishing drumsticks and clad in only a pamper and a happy grin. But Orlando…he almost never brought his work home with him. Aurora, being so young, didn’t understand, but did not understand this enough to vocalize it. Aurora and Gus had never seen any of his movies, so the concept of Daddy going off to work made no sense.
So on this rainy day while they were in the playroom during one of Della’s absences, Aurora decided to ask.
“Daddy?” she asked. Orlando had been building a house with Gus. Aurora had been picking at Legos distractedly. Orlando looked at her, the eyes that she inherited from him staring at her. “How come we don’t see your movies?”
“‘Cause Mummy said!” declared Gus, who was more intent on his Lego roof than the conversation. Orlando was not surprised by the answer since he and Della had discussed it at length.
“Why did Mummy say, Daddy?” Aurora pressed.
Orlando frowned at this, trying to figure out how in the world he didn’t see this one coming, then smiled gently. “She was afraid that they might scare you and give you bad dreams. And Mummy doesn’t want to cause any harm to either of you.”
Aurora blinked, and tilted her head. “Daddy, why would you make scary movies?”
Orlando nearly choked at the question. Children and their questions. “Ah, well…” Seeing no other way out of this than to bail, Orlando scooped up the twins and took them to the living room, abandoning the construction project. “Let’s go watch some movies then.”
The first movie they watched that day was The Fellowship of the Ring. Gus fell asleep during the first hour. But Aurora…she was so overwhelmed. Her brown eyes were wide during most of the film. She wanted to take everything in, no matter if there seemed to be absolutely too much. Orlando watched her, and wondered how the movie seemed to her, through. When Legolas came on-screen for the first time, she gasped.
“Daddy…daddy, is that you?” Aurora asked, taking her eyes off of the screen only to look at him.
“Yes, love,” he said gently. Her astonishment and wonder, alive on her face in that moment, suddenly made him appreciate the work he did even more. “That’s me.”
She frowned at him. “Your hair used to be that color?” She looked back at the screen. “And your eyes. They’re different, too.” She peered at him again. “Why are they different, Daddy?”
Orlando laughed and pulled her close. She liked that, but she wasn’t about to admit it aloud. “Because the character looks like that. That’s really not me, exactly. I’m playing a character, and when you play a character, sometimes you have to change what you look like.”
“Really, really. Sometimes you have to wear different hair and different eyes. A lot of times, you have to wear different clothes, too.”
Aurora nodded, taking this all into her head. It was all so new to her. It wasn’t like the music her mother made. There was more of a magic surrounding the process. Another question popped into her brain. “Why are there so many characters?”
Orlando brushed a curling lock of black hair away from his daughter’s face. “Because people like to make them up.” He glanced at Gus sleeping nearby, then at the clock on the wall. “And it’s past time for your nap, love.” Despite Aurora’s fighting it, a yawn escaped. Orlando kissed her on the forehead before standing with her in his arms. She snuggled into his arms and closed her eyes. Orlando gazed down at her and figured it would just save more energy if he sat back down. And sitting back down, he figured, Hey, it wouldn’t hurt if I rested my eyes, too.
When Della came home some time later, she walked into the peaceful living room to see the father of her children sleeping on the couch with their twins. The movie still played in the background, making her eyebrows arch. She headed toward the couch, intent on joining her little family of sorts.
She slipped out of her flat-heeled shoes, wanting so badly to be comfortable after the news she had just gotten, and padded over the hardwood in bare feet. Orlando, who was breathing deeply and softly, barely stirred when she sat beside him. She shook him a little, careful not to wake Aurora nestled in the crook of his arm. He mumbled something and she guessed he was conscious.
“Watching a movie?” Della asked softly.
Orlando had not escaped the throes of sleep enough to catch the undertone of meaning in her voice. “Mm. Yeah. The twins wanted to see one of my movies.”
“And you picked this one?”
Uh oh. Awake enough now to sense that he may be in trouble from her terse tone of voice, Orlando cleared his throat, trying to give himself time to come up with an answer. “Well, um…”
“Yes?” Della said testily. “I’m waiting.”
“Well, Della love, it was sort of an accident…”
A sleepy little voice spoke up and had them both on alert. “Mummy, is Daddy in trouble?”
Della looked at her daughter with softened eyes. “No, sweetheart. He…”
“He wasn’t supposed to show us the movie, was he?”
She was so shrewd it had Della stumbling over her words. “Not exactly. I just…” She met Orlando’s brown-eyed gaze with her blue ones. “I just wish that Daddy had talked it over with me first.” Her eyes softened when he looked sheepishly at her. She sighed. She was such a sucker for those eyes. “But I’m not mad at him.” She turned to Aurora, and added wryly, “As you will learn, Aurora sweetheart, it’s hard to stay mad at Daddy.”
Aurora’s eyebrows came together thoughtfully. “Really? Why?”
Della’s lips curved before she could stop them. “Because Daddy’s too cute to stay mad at forever.”
Orlando made a show of gallantly placing a hand over his heart. “I know. It’s a gift.”
Della shoved him playfully as Aurora giggled. “Ha, ha, Mr. Bloom.” She glanced over at Gus sleeping. Her heart tugged at the sight of him. Her little man. So sweet. Her good mood diminished when she remembered the doctor’s appointment and the news the doctor gave her. “Aurora darling, could you do Mummy a favor? My purse is on the hall table. Could you get it for me?”
Aurora slipped away from Orlando and bounded out of the room. Della missed those days. They would come again. She couldn’t wait until she could run and move without being hampered by her swollen belly. But at the moment, the swollen belly was an issue. She shifted on the couch and turned to Orlando, eyes serious. He could sense the change in her and sat up, brown eyes filled with worry.
“Look Della, I really didn’t mean to—”
She placed a hand on his shoulder. “Relax. It’s not about the movie.” She brought her eyes to his, and the first layer of unhappiness leaked through. “I went to the doctor today.”
It was Orlando’s turn to be frustrated. “So there was never a shopping trip with Penny?” Della shook her head in shame. She hated lying to him. “And when were you going to tell me about this?” he demanded.
“I’m telling you now,” Della responded, feeling the greasy roll of fear and nerves in her stomach. Or that could have been the turkey sandwich she’d tried to choke down earlier. She inhaled and tried to be softer. “I didn’t want to worry you, Orlando. I know you’ve been worrying about me too much.”
“Of course I’m worrying about you. You’re the woman I love. And you’re having my baby. How can I not worry about you?” Della nodded absently, grazing her belly with her fingertips. “Now tell me what the doctor told you.” He reached out and took her hand. “I can tell it wasn’t good news.”
“Not the very best,” Della admitted. “The doctor told me that I have something called preeclampsia. That’s why I was getting the pains I thought was heartburn. Apparently, I have high blood pressure induced by the pregnancy.” She looked at him sadly. “I’ll probably have to have a cesarean.” She looked at the television as the credits rolled. “And if my blood pressure gets too high, then they’ll have to take her out early.”
“Oh love…” He pulled her close to him, taking in her scent and softness. She placed her head on his shoulder, enjoying the comfort. Those frayed nerves were being soothed. She realized that she loved him, loved him and their little family. That on her mind, she made a quick, hasty decision.
“We should get married,” Della remarked in a matter-of-fact tone.
Orlando frowned. They had talked about it already. But there was something different in her voice this time. “You mean…now?” he asked haltingly.
Amused at his astonished expression, Della placed a hand on his cheek. “Yes. Now. Right now.”
There was a pause. The whoop Orlando let out scared Gus awake and had Aurora rushing back into the living room. She had found her mother’s purse. Gus sat up, rubbing his sleepy eyes. Della held out her arms for him as Orlando danced around the room.
“What’s going on?” Gus asked.
Orlando paused to ruffle his son’s messy head. “We’re getting married, mate!” Then he whooped again, making Della, Gus, and Aurora laugh. Then Orlando paused again and planted a kiss full on Della’s lips.
Yes, Aurora had learned two things that day: her father got to dress up as different people for a living. And he was totally and completely bonkers.