Style: A Style Strike Rockstar Romance
Enjoy your exclusive bonus scenes:
I lay on the hospital bed in the plush private hospital suite that Paul had insisted on booking. My baby bump had morphed into a tight basketball and I tried to breathe through the contraction the way my birthing coach had shown me.
Hours sitting on the floor on a yoga mat with Paul behind me had done little to prepare me for the prospect of bringing a tiny little human being into the world.
Paul hovered around the bed. “Are you okay? This one’s not hurting too much is it?”
I shook my head. “No. I’m coping,” I reassured him. “Well, for now.”
As the pressure receded and my body began to relax, I thought about the twists and turns my life had taken over the last forty weeks. The journey to this point had not been without its complications and heart-felt moments.
My mom and dad were sitting anxiously back in Seattle waiting to hear how things were going. Paul had insisted he would fly them out here to New Zealand—but they’d refused his offer—adamant they would rather wait until we returned to the States to visit with their newest grand-baby.
The road to acceptance of Paul into my family had been a tough one.
As another contraction began to build and I took a deep, slow breath, I closed my eyes and focussed on the memory of the look on my dear parents’ faces when Paul walked through the door.
My mom didn’t have to say the words, but I could see the shock painted on her fine features. “How Do You Do,” she’d said the strain of polite-speak overriding the rising panic I could see marching its way up her body.
Paul had done his best. He’d worn a long sleeved shirt with a collar that he’d done up close to his throat. But that still didn’t hide the ink on his body that crept down his wrists and up his neck.
Dad had been more forthright and genuinely welcomed Paul into his home—that is until he found out I was pregnant and heading off to lord-only-knew where on the road with a rock band.
There was a moment during the strained meeting that I thought Dad might have taken a swing at Paul, but somehow, Paul’s British charm had won them both over.
He’d made promises that he would look after me and the child that I carried.
That went some way with my father. Dad respected men who took responsibility for their actions. Paul may have been a tiny bit reticent in coming forward in the father stakes to start—but I couldn’t fault him now.
The many weeks we’d spent on the road. The shows in various cities. Thousands of miles and thousands of fans and all the while Paul had kept my comfort and the safety of our child in the forefront of his mind.
The band—with their difficult characters, quirky ways and outrageous behaviour had slowly become my family over the last thirty-something weeks.
The increasing pain of the contraction began to curl its way through my body and I moaned as I exhaled.
Paul was at my side in an instant, his hand on the hard ball of muscle that my stomach had become.
I tried to smile—but the pain began to take me.
The sound of Paul singing one of Sam’s songs drifted into my hearing, the familiar words somehow comforting.
A camera recorded proceedings from the corner of the birthing suite.
It was something that we’d agreed we would do to take away the monotony of waiting for our baby to come.
After that fateful afternoon when I first appeared on Paul’s channel, things had changed. We’d allowed his fans to come on this journey of discovery with the two of us.
It had surprised me how many of Paul’s fans seemed genuinely interested in my life on the road with the band and who wanted to be a part of our growing family.
I’d even taken to making little vignettes and episodes for the channel and they received some of the highest hit rates and interactions.
The journey to birth was something that the fans and my parents were experiencing via the internet and Paul’s channel. If anyone had told me more than nine months ago that I would be sharing such intimate moments with a crowd of strangers, I would have told them that they were insane.
Instead, I sat here—waiting for the pain to peak and then recede—listening to Paul’s singing and knowing that there were thousands of people out there holding me and our child in their thoughts and prayers.
I found both Paul’s singing and the prayers of our fans incredibly comforting, as I stared into the uncharted and terrifying spectre of impending birth.
* * *
I knew I had to be strong for Ashley’s sake—but inside I was fucking terrified.
Every time she moaned in pain, I wanted to take it away for her.
How the fuck could I make this easy for her?
I’d done my best to fix things for Ashley. I’d put in for official leave from the tour. Julian had approved the leave and arranged for us to come back to New Zealand, where he believed we’d get great birth assistance. I had no idea the loops that his lawyers had gone through to get us here, but I was grateful to be in this wonderful suite with the best doctors and nurses that the country had to offer.
We’d been here for nearly two days. Holed up in this birth suite. To start it had been okay. We’d walked the halls. I’d listened to the terrifying sound of the screams of other women giving birth and tried not to panic for Ashley’s sake.
I was way out of my depth and would have much rather been on the road with the band. But, I was responsible for the predicament that Ashley found herself in and I’d made her a promise that I wouldn’t walk away and I’d always been a man of my word.
“Do you need drugs?” If Ashley didn’t need drugs, I could certainly do with something to take the edge off. I’d even considered asking the nurses for some relief over the last few hours—but then I’d told myself to get a grip.
“Distract me,” Ashley moaned as she pulled her legs up under herself and bent the rest of her body around the solid lump that the wriggling babe inside of her had become.
I flipped through my phone and found “Come on Eileen,” by Dexys Midnight Runners and started singing along.
Ashley moaned louder.
I put my hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t fucking touch me,” she snapped.
I pulled my hand away as if it had been burned.
Rage began to rise from my feet. How dare she tell me not to touch her. Then a small voice in the back of my head reminded me of what the birth coach had said. Some women didn’t want to be touched when they were going through labour. I had to take my lead from Ashley.
“Keep singing…” she said through gritted teeth.
That I could do.
The words flowed and I watched as the sound of my voice seemed somehow to calm her. I couldn’t touch her body, but I could let my voice do the work.
As the pain of the contraction receded, Ashley opened her eyes and reached out a hand to me and I took it. A sense of relief washing over me.
Not for the first time in the last forty-eight hours I wished I was standing on stage with the boys. I thought that was hard work until I’d stood beside Ashley watching her toil toward birthing our child.
I was going to be a dad.
The thought still terrified me.
But somehow I knew that I’d be able to step up and make it through being a parent. Especially with the sensible Ashley by my side.
We had a few moments before the next contraction came. They were coming quickly now.
“Show me the last video,” Ashley said. She’d taken a sip of water, but the midwife still thought it best to keep her liquid levels up intravenously. I was grateful for the lure that sat in her arm, attached to a large bag of saline that kept her body hydrated.
I flicked up the shots of her bearing down and me dancing around the room to Dexys Midnight Runners. She laughed.
“That’s so funny.”
“How the hell you can laugh at a time like this.” I shook my head in wonder.
“Post it for them,” she said and then moaned. “It might be the last one before the baby gets here.”
“You want the nurse?”
“Yes,” she panted.
I pressed the buzzer and waited for all hell to break loose around me.
* * *
My entire body was on fire. When I didn’t think I could stand the burning anymore it began to recede.
“Push,” Nina’s voice the midwife who had been with me for the last three hours came to me through the intense pain.
“I can’t do this,” I panted.
“Yes you can,” the reassuring sound of Paul’s voice cut through the painful fog.
His body was behind me in an instant.
“I’ve got you and you’ve got this.” The reassuring tone of Paul’s voice gave me strength. I was exhausted. It felt as if I’d been doing this for hours.
“I’m tired.” I could feel the tears rolling down my face. My body had taken on a life of its own. I was frightened. “I need something for the pain,” I said.
“You’re nearly there,” Nina soothed.
I was sure she’d been saying that all afternoon.
“When the next contraction comes,” Nina said, “one more big push.”
Paul’s comforting arms slipped around my body.
I focused on the colour of the ink on his arms. The bright reds, yellows and blues swimming into each other as the pain took my body again.
I pressed my feet hard against the braces in front of them, felt the comforting support of Paul from behind, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and pushed.
The overwhelming burning sensation began again.
I let out a moan.
“Here comes the shoulder,” I heard someone say.
I pushed again.
Then something amazing happened. My body filled with an intense sense of relief as my baby swooshed out of me.
I leaned back against, Paul panting.
He slid to the side of me. I looked up and saw tears rolling down his face.
“What’s wrong?” Fear gripped me again.
“Nothing,” his voice sounded hoarse through the tears.
I heard the sound of a baby.
“He’s perfect,” Nina said as she lay a damp, mewling newborn on my stomach.
“Hello,” I said to my tiny baby. A single blue eye peered back at me.
“He’s his father’s son,” I looked up at Paul who still stared down at the two of us with a look of what? I couldn’t describe the way he looked at me and his newborn son.
Tears began to fall down my face.
Paul kissed me. A gentle, tender kiss, his hand alternately stroking my shoulder and our son’s back.
“You’re amazing,” he whispered.
I didn’t feel amazing—exhausted maybe—but not amazing. I was too tired to feel anything really.
We’d brought this tiny, frail human being into the world. He had been my focus for the last nine months and now I wasn’t quite sure what to do—except maybe cry.
But, I realised, we were a family now. Not only did we have our family on the road—but me and Paul and our son—we were a real a family.
* * *
It had been less than six hours since Ashley had given birth and she was up and walking around the suite, a tiny bundle in her arms.
The thought still seemed strange and otherworldly.
I was a dad.
And I was going to make sure that I was a fucking sight better dad than my own father had been. I would be here for this child. I would make sure that neither he nor Ashley wanted for anything.
I shot a vignette of the two of them walking.
I posted it to the channel and before I had a chance to show the film to Ashley, we already had congratulations coming in from around the world.
We’d been on the computer to her parents. Woken them in the middle of the night, but they hadn’t cared.
The thought that my mum would never know her grandson hurt. But I felt sure that mum would be looking over me. She’d have loved Ashley as much as I loved Ashley.
“Look,” I walked to Ash and showed her the response from our fans.
“They want to know what we’ve called him,” she said as she smiled at me. “Let’s make them wait.”
“Just for a little while,” she said.
I nodded. “Okay.”
I stroked the fine dark hair on my son’s head and he opened one blue eye and looked at me. “Do you think he’ll ever open that other eye?” I asked his mother.
“I’m sure he will,” she said, “when he’s ready. He’ll come to it, in his own time, just like his father.”