July 12th, 1991

"I can't believe how little her fingers are."
The man gazed down at the small bundle in his arms, meeting her big, curious eyes with his gentle brown ones. "She's so much tinier than I imagined she'd be. Almost like a china doll...only..."
"Only a lot louder." His companion finished dryly, tying her dressing gown around her waist and coming to stand beside him. "She's going to look like you, you know. I can see it already. She's going to be Papa's girl."
"You think so?" The man glanced at his wife in surprise. "Carmen, she's three days old. Can you be so sure, even now?"
"Well, her eyes are already going dark, she has a fuzz of auburn hair..." Carmen grinned at him affectionately, planting a tender kiss on his cheek. "And she took six hours and three days longer to arrive than the doctors told us she would, so she has your obstinacy and your tendency to leave things to the last minute, too!"
"Oh, you." The man laughed. "She took her time - nothing wrong with that. No sense in rushing headlong into the world, is there?"
He took the tiny hand in his, running his finger gently across the baby's palm and eliciting a gurgle from her. "I suppose you're going to want to have her to feed her in a minute, aren't you? I just don't want to put her down."
"Well, soon, but she'll yell when she's ready." Carmen led her companion over to the bed, sitting down and indicating for him to sit beside her. "All in all, she's not been too bad. I was so dreading it, you know - the first few days, learning to cope with her and what she needs. But she's been good. The nurses said that she was the best behaved baby in the whole ward, and here we are, home two days earlier than we thought."
"Perhaps she is Papa's girl, after all."
"Esteban." Carmen scolded. "So long as she stays this way, I'll be happy. I don't need a holy terror for a first child."
"A first child?" Esteban raised his gaze to hers. "Are you saying you'd do it again?"
"Not just now, thank you." Carmen looked amused. "But maybe. No promises, Este. Let's see how it goes with this one, first."
"Yes." Esteban returned his attention to the baby, who had closed her eyes, settling down to sleep in his strong grip. He paused, then sighed.
"At least I know that this one will know me growing up." He murmured.
"What do you mean?" Carmen looked startled. Esteban shrugged.
"Communication with that woman is never easy." He said simply. "In fact, since I was in London last spring, it's been almost impossible getting anything from her at all. Two, maybe three photographs, that's all. And less than an hour with the girl, too. My daughter, Car...but I'll never get to hold her and look at her the way I can with Eliza. I just know it."
"Then maybe it's time you looked into the possibilities of custody." Carmen said quietly. "That woman, as you call her, is not someone I would trust to raise a child. Maybe you could convince them that you could do a better job. You have a stable family situation -a wife who loves you, a good income..."
"Would you do that for me?" Esteban looked touched. "Take on a kid that's not yours and raise it with your own?"
"I lived at the Starlight Foundation for some years." Carmen reminded him gently. "I am well used to such a task."
"But this would be different." Esteban ran an absent finger across the sleeping baby's cheek, but the infant did not stir. "This wouldn't be a foster family of girls. This would be my daughter - mine, but not yours. From a relationship before we even met...could you know that and still treat her as you would treat Eliza?"
"From a fling. Not a relationship." Carmen said acidly. "And besides, that is never in doubt. I have a lot of love to give...and Eliza cannot possibly consume it all."
She smiled. "So speak to your lawyer. See what he says. You have as much right to see this baby as you do to see Eliza, so don't think otherwise. And if she's fallen asleep, put her in the cradle, will you? You've lulled her off, but she won't forget she's hungry and we won't have many moments to ourselves now she's here."
"I never thought I would be a father at all, you know." Esteban carefully placed his precious burden in the lace-edged cradle. "And now I'm here fighting for the right to even see one of them."
"Why would you not be?" Carmen looked startled.
"Well, most guys get married when they're young."
"You're not telling me you're old, Este!" Carmen laughed. "Older than me, true, but not so much that you're beyond starting a family."
She got to her feet, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him. "And listen, querido. Whatever happens with Jessica and her mother, Eliza and I will always be here for you. Always.
Te prometo."

Prologue: July 12th, 1991
Chapter One: A Long Flight
Chapter Two: Family
Chapter Three: A Day Out
Chapter Four: Flashback - Esteban's Quest
Chapter Five: In The Genes
Chapter Six: Confidences
Chapter Seven: Flashback - A Tragic Truth
Chapter Eight: A Tentative Bond
Chapter Nine: Some Truth
Chapter Ten: Flashback - This Is Farewell
Chapter Eleven: The Memorial Garden

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