Chapter 31

    "Congratulations, you two! Leila is most certainly pregnant, and your baby has a strong heartbeat. That's a great sign of a healthy pregnancy." Dr. Hill announced happily.

    As Michael and Leila embraced over the happy news, Leila began to cry. "Oh, Michael... Is this a dream? Please tell me this is real."

    "It's real, Leila. We're having a baby." Michael smiled at her adoringly.

    "I'm so scared, sweetheart! What if--"

    "Leila-- stop! There are no what-if's. We're going to have a healthy and beautiful baby," Michael spoke quietly, pushing aside a lock of her hair.

    Returning her focus to the ultrasound, Leila watched in awe as Dr. Hill explained what they were seeing on the screen. Never in a million years did she think she'd be able to have children. It was something that pained her dearly over the years. And when Michael came along, it made her yearning even stronger.

     The deeper she fell in love with him, the more she wanted to create a life with him. On many night's she would lay in his arms and cry unbeknownst to him. She felt broken. She felt less than a woman for not being able to bear his child. Even after receiving a positive result on three different pregnancy tests, she still couldn't believe it until now.

    Staring at the monitor, feeling completely baffled. Leila began asking the doctor how she managed to get pregnant.

     "Dr. Hill-- Can you tell me how this is even possible? I suffered two miscarriages in the past and was told I was infertile by my former doctor. I mean... In hindsight, I'm glad I wasn't able to get pregnant at that time, but I'm still curious."

   

    "I've seen many women overcome infertility, Leila. It can be caused by stress, hormonal imbalance, or a number of things. Your situation is not all that uncommon, but with each miscarriage, the chances of getting pregnant does dwindle slightly."

   

    "Hmm... Well, I certainly had a lot of stress in my life. My soon to be ex-husband was very abusive towards me, and I was addicted to heroin for years. I guess that didn't help me much."


    "Wow! Those are huge stressors on the body Leila. More than likely... Those were the things that kept you from becoming pregnant. As of right now, you are healthy, and so is your baby. Try not to stress so much, okay?"

    Leila smiled. "I'll try not to."

After her appointment was over, Michael and Leila headed back to Neverland. He had grown tired of living cooped up in his condo and decided to move back in. Besides that, he also wanted Leila to feel completely comfortable and relaxed during her pregnancy.

    Neverland was a beautiful and serene place, and he felt the environment would be suitable for her and the baby. 

    During their drive home, Leila received a phone call from her lawyer stating that her divorce from Calvin had been finalized. Since Calvin was now serving 30 years in prison for domestic abuse and kidnapping, she wasn't required to appear in court. Instead, the court automatically granted Leila's request for divorce due to the severity of Calvin's crimes.

    Letting out a scream, Leila shouted excitedly. "Ahhhh!! Stop the car, baby!"

     "What's wrong, Leila? Are you sick?" Michael replied, concernedly, pulling over on the side of the road.

    "No-no. I'm fine! Better than fine. That was my lawyer. It's official! My divorce has been finalized!" She yelled joyously.

    Hopping out of the car, Michael crossed over to the passenger's side to retrieve Leila. Hugging her tightly, he kissed her slow and deep. "This is amazing news, sweetheart! God... I finally feel like we are free. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

    Leila laughed. "Michael, no! Not out here in the middle of nowhere."


     "Leila! No! That's not what I'm thinking... But I'm not opposed to it either. I was thinking we should get married."


   "Right now?"


    "Yes, right now! I can't wait for you to be my wife."


    "And I can't wait for you to be my husband. Let's do it!"


    "Are you sure? I don't want to put any pressu--"

    Breaking him off with a passionate kiss, Leila pushed him gently on the hood of the car. "I guess that's a yes." He laughed loudly.

    Later that evening, Michael awaited Leila under a large oak tree near a small pond. He couldn't believe they were finally getting married. It seemed like, for every bad thing that happened in their lives, something happy was now replacing it.

     When Leila appeared a few moments later, he mouthed, "Wow!" She wore a beautiful silk, cream-colored, off-the-shoulder dress, and her hair was styled in an elegant bun. As she stood in front of Michael, she kissed his cheek lightly.

    "You look so handsome, baby... I love that suit on you."

    "And you look stunning! Where'd you get this dress?" He spoke in amazement, tracing his finger along the side of her hip.

    "The mall... When I bought that black dress for our first date, I also bought this one as well. And I only paid a hundred dollars for each." Leila laughed.

     "God... A woman after my own heart! Less expensive things can be equally just as good."

    "I knowwww! Mr. Salvation Army." Leila chuckled humorously.

    Pulling her inside of his arms, he kissed her slow and longingly. "Mmm... Slow down, baby. It's not time to kiss yet."

    "I'm sorry, Leila... I can't help it. You're so gorgeous."

   Leila giggled. "Thank you, but please save some of that energy for tonight, Mr. Jackson."

    After reciting personal wedding vows to one another, the preacher pronounced them husband and wife. Michael's heart was full of joy, and so was Leila's. Their happy future had officially begun.

    Lifting her into his arms, Michael smirked. "You're finally all mine... Let's get started on our honeymoon, shall we?"

    "I'm so ready, baby. But you know... You didn't have to ask." Leila replied in a frisky tone.

    Later that night, Leila rested her head upon Michael's chest after making love for the umpteenth time. While they were having amazing sex before, it was even more explosive now that they were married. Their spirits were finally bonded as one. It was deeper and more meaningful for the two.

    As Michael stroked Leila's back softly, he began to speak. "We can always have another wedding if you'd like?"


    "Why would I want another wedding Michael? Ours was perfect."


    "I just want to make you happy, Leila. I should've thought that maybe you'd like for your family and friends to attend."


    "Michael-- I am happy. If I wanted a big wedding, I would have told you. I loved that our wedding was between just us... It was intimate and beautiful."


   "Leila, if I ever make you unhappy... Please let me know. I'll never intentionally hurt you, but I'm not perfect by any means. If there is anything you want, need, or desire, I'll try my hardest to give it to you."


    "Michael-- I don't want anything but you. I only want your love, sweetheart. I want our baby to be happy and healthy... That's all I want. And I know that you'll never hurt me. That's something I don't have to worry about with you... I know your heart."


    "That makes me happy to hear. That's all I want too. Your love and to have a happy family. Thank-you Leila... Thank you for trusting me. Oh! and by the way-- I have something for you."


    Reaching over the side of the bed, Michael retrieved the 'wood-block' portrait he had finally finished creating. He'd meant to finish it much sooner, but between their vacation until now, so many things occurred to where he couldn't focus on it.

    Over the past couple of weeks, he'd been getting up early to paint it while Leila was asleep. He felt terrible when she'd awake not to find him lying next to her, but he wanted to complete it. He wanted her to see how beautiful she was in art form.


    "Oh, Michael, is that me?"


    "Yes, baby... It is. Do you like it?"


    "I love it, sweetheart! It's so colorful and vibrant.


    "And sexy..." Michael winked, putting the painting aside.

    Easing out of Michael's arms, Leila straddled him while he placed his hands gently around her waist. As she stroked her hands up and down his chest, Leila flashed a wicked grin when she felt Michael become instantly hard for her.

    "Mmm-- I'm ready for another round, Mr. Jackson. And it seems like you are as well. Am I right?"

    "Why just another round, Mrs. Jackson? Let's make it several..."


***


    Eight months later


    Over the past year, Leila had enrolled in 'veterinary-school' and would take classes online during the day while Michael was working in the recording studio. To be sure that he was near for the birth of their baby, Michael had a small studio built at his ranch but still had to fly out to New York occasionally to record at the 'Hit Factory.'

    As Leila neared the third and final trimester of her pregnancy, Michael ceased all travel. He wouldn't be able to forgive himself if he missed the birth of their baby, and he was mildly afraid of something going wrong due to what transpired with Patricia.  

But aside from having swollen feet and some occasional nausea, Leila had a completely healthy pregnancy.

    In the wee hours of the morning on August 29th, Leila went into labor. They knew the baby would be born in August, but neither thought on Michael's actual birthday. After eleven long hours of being in labor, Leila finally gave birth at seven in the morning. The entire experience was beautiful, painful, and tiring. She was exhausted and needed rest.

     When Leila awoke several hours later, she found Michael sitting in a chair next to her bed. The sight of him holding and caring for their beautiful baby made her heart swell.

    "How are you feeling, sweetheart?" Michael whispered.

    Leila smiled weakly. "Tired. How are you two?"

    Just before Michael could answer, the new gift they received earlier in the day began to yawn.

    "Look's like someone else is tired as well." Michael giggled. "Would you like for your mommy to hold you, Maru?"

    When the baby fluttered his arms and legs excitedly, Michael passed him to Leila.

    "Hey there... What were you and daddy discussing while mommy was asleep?" Leila cooed sweetly, as she gently rocked maru in her arms.

    "Wow! How incredible is this? He's finally here... He's so precious, Leila. You've made me so happy, sweetheart. This is the best birthday present I've ever received."


    "I know... Incredible indeed. But I couldn't have created this little guy alone. I thank-you as well, Michael. I still can't believe he was born on your birthday."


    "Me neither... But I'm not complaining. There's no-one I'd rather share my birthday with. And God... He has a lot of hair Leila. He definitely got that from you."


    "And he has your big, beautiful, brown eye's Michael. Look how long he is... He's going to be tall just like you."


    "I know... This is so amazing. Who knew we'd make something so precious together?"


   "You know-- that's what his name means. 'Maru' means 'something precious' in Japanese.


    "You did good, Leila... His name is very fitting. He's most certainly precious." Michael smiled as he placed a tender kiss on both Leila and Maru's forehead.

    Since Leila so happened to give birth in the same hospital where her father was being treated, she planned to visit his room so that he could see his very first grandchild.

    After helping Leila into a wheelchair, the three made their way to Richard's room. When Michael saw her tearing up, he became concerned. "Are you alright, sweetie?" Michael spoke gingerly.

    "Not really... My dad only has a year left to live. I want him to see Maru grow-up. This is so unfair."

    "I know, sweetheart... I know. But please-- Just try to be here in the present. Let's be grateful that he's still with us right now, and he gets to meet Maru."

    Dabbing her eyes dry, Leila took a deep breath. "Woooh... OK. I'm Ok. I'm ready to go in now."

    When they entered the room, Richard's eye's instantly lit up when he saw Leila holding his grandson. His heart was overcome with emotion.

    "Hey daddy, we have someone we'd like for you to meet," Leila spoke quietly, trying not to startle Maru.

    "I'm finally a grandpa! I can't believe it!" Richard exclaimed quietly."

    Slowly standing from the wheelchair with the help of Michael, Leila placed Maru in Richard's arms. "Daddy-- I'd like to introduce you to 'Maru Michael-Richard Jackson'... Maru, this is your granddad."

    Being completely taken by surprise, Richard raised his eyebrows. "Wow! You included my name with his? You didn't have to do that, sweetpea."


    "I know daddy, but I wanted to. I had to name him after the two most important men in my life."


    "Thanks, baby girl-- you have no idea how much this means to me."


    "I love you, daddy."


    "I love you too, sweet pea. And Michael... Once again. Thank you for honoring and doing right by Leila. I'm so happy for you two."


    "It's been my pleasure, Mr. James. Leila is an amazing woman. She and Maru are my life. I love them both immensely."

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