That Matters

 

by

 

S X Meagher

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Sitting at her desk one afternoon, Blair realized she'd been staring into space when her assistant walked into the office and said, "Is everything all right? You've been acting … distracted lately, and that's not like you."

Blair started to do what she normally did ¾ say that everything was fine and change the subject. But she'd been working with Mandy for almost three years, and they'd become more than just co-workers during that time. They didn't socialize much, but that was mostly because of their partners' schedules. Mandy's boyfriend was in dental school, and she and Bill stayed in most evenings, while David was asleep when Blair was ready for dinner. A smile crossed her face when Blair realized that she didn't feel like Mandy's boss any more, and that the younger woman would probably want to move on fairly soon to strike out on her own. "Something is bothering me," she said. "Do you have time to talk?"

"Sure." Mandy closed the door to the office and sat down, giving Blair an expectant look.

"I'm having some problems at home," Blair said, stalling a bit while she tried to get comfortable with revealing details of her personal life.

"Is something wrong with David?"

"No, not really, but … oh, I'm just gonna spill it. We're trying to get pregnant but not having any luck."

Mandy winced. "I'm sorry, Blair. I know how hard that can be."

"You do?"

"Yeah, my older sister was infertile."

"Really? Did she ever get pregnant?"

"No, but it worked out all right for her. She went back to school and got an MBA, and now she has a job she loves. She told me not long ago that she's happy she doesn't have to worry about child care and all of the other things that go with having kids while you're working."

"Did they go through a lot?"

"Oh, yeah. My brother-in-law's a doctor, and he wouldn't rest until they did everything possible. They did a few rounds of in-vitro, and when that didn't work, she had assisted hatching." She made a face and said, "Doesn't that sound like something you'd do to a hen?"

Blair made a gurgling sound and laid her head on her desk. "How long did they try?"

"Years," Mandy said. "They started when she was … oh, thirty-eight or so. They didn't give up until she was forty-three. They spent over $100,000."

"My stomach's in knots," Blair mumbled. "Please tell me she's still married."

"Oh, sure she is. She said that all the struggles they went through made their marriage stronger. I think she's really happy now, and her husband seems happy, too. They're able to go on nice vacations, and Rick just bought a new Audi TT, something he'd never have been able to do if they’d had a baby. Things seem good between them."

"Well, that's a relief," Blair said, lifting her head. "I'm worried that this is gonna wreck my marriage."

"Oh, Blair, David's crazy about you!"

"Yeah, he is," she admitted, "but he's not crazy about himself right now."

"Ooo … is he the one with the … problem?"

"The doctors think so," Blair said. "He's not handling it very well."

"My sister was the one who had problems," Mandy said. "Maybe that made a difference."

"I wish it were me," Blair said. "Then David might feel sorry for me rather than feeling inadequate."

"God, that sounds horrible," Mandy said. "Just horrible."

"You know, I don't admit this to many people, but it has been horrible." Blair was surprised to find herself feeling a bit better now that she was getting some of her worries off her chest. "It's affected our whole relationship, Mandy. Our sex life has suffered, we're not as patient with each other … everything's … off."

"How's David in the communication department?"

Blair shrugged. "Not great. He's not the type to show me his soul, ya know?" She laughed and said, "Not that I show my soul very often, either."

Mandy laughed along with her. "You are a little guarded."

"Only Child Syndrome. Sadly, David's an only, too. Neither one of us is very good at sharing our deepest feelings."

"I don't know what to tell you, Blair, but you can talk to me any time you need to. I'm a good listener."

"I know that, Mandy," she said. "That's why you're the only person other than my mom I've talked to about this. I trust you."

 

ĄG

 

One Friday evening, Blair, Kylie, Nick and his date, Kathy, were at the Dorothy Chandler Auditorium, listening to the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform a program of Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. When the concert was over, Nick and Kathy went out for a late dinner, and Blair drove Kylie home. "I'm sure glad you two subscribed for four tickets," Blair said. "I'm going to the Philharmonic more than I have in years."

"When we did that, we both had hopes that we'd have dates to use the extra tickets," Kylie said. "It's worked out much better for Nick than it has for me."

"Well, you've got me now, Doc. I'm sure you'd rather have a date, but I'm better than an empty seat."

"You're a lot better than an empty seat, Blair. I really enjoy being with you. Of course, I'd like it better if you wanted my body in the most lewd and lascivious fashion, but you're still pretty good."

"I don't think I'm your type," Blair said, giggling. "Girls don't make me hot."

"Hmm … I guess you're right, then. I prefer women who start drooling the minute they lay eyes on me."

"Many of those come along?" Blair asked, smirking.

"They're out there," Kylie said. "I know they're out there, and some day I'm gonna find one of 'em."

Blair was still smiling when she said, "You haven't changed your mind about telling me how to live my life, have you?"

"No, I struggle with my own decisions, Blair. I really can't take on a boarder." She looked at her friend and saw the smile fade. "Wanna talk about it?"

"Same old thing," Blair said. "I told David I'd use donor sperm, but I can't make myself make the phone call."

"It's a big step," Kylie said. "You're smart to think it through."

"But I'm not thinking it through," she complained. "I'm just going around in circles. I don't want to do this, but I'm afraid that David will never forgive me if I don't."

Kylie gave her a look filled with concern. "Blair, that's not a very good reason to have a baby."

"No, no, I want to have a baby; I'm sure I do. I just wish that David would agree to adopt. But he's not going to, so I might as well stop whining."

"Hey, just because he won't give in doesn't mean that you have to."

"I know, I know. I don't always give in. Actually, most of the time, David is the one who caves. My mother thinks I take advantage of his good nature."

"Don't you love that?" Kylie asked. "My mom thinks it's all my fault that I can't find a girlfriend."

"Well, she's right, but my mom's totally wrong!" Blair said, managing to really laugh for the first time all day.

"I wish I had the answer for you. I really do. But all I can do is recommend a good sperm bank. I'll even make the call for you if you want."

"Thanks," Blair said. "I'll make it. I think."

 

ĄG

 

Once she'd decided to make the call, Blair checked with David to see when he was available to go with her. "Honey, I was thinking of going to Westside Cryobank this week. What afternoon's good for you?"

"Huh?" He put his drink down and immediately picked up his cigarettes. He tapped the end of the pack and put one in his mouth, motioning for his wife to follow him.

When they married, Blair had promised that she'd never complain about his smoking as long as he never smoked in the house. She’d noticed that he was spending significantly more time in the backyard lately, but she forbade herself to bring up the topic. As his contribution to the baby's health, David had promised that he'd quit smoking the minute Blair got pregnant, and she thought she'd best leave it at that.

He lit his cigarette the moment he hit the back steps. Walking through the cloud of smoke, Blair said, "If we want to get moving, we have to choose a donor, David. Westside Cryobank sounds like the best place."

"Can't we do that over the Internet?"

Blair blinked at him, then said, "I didn't think to ask." She placed her hand on his waist and asked, "Don't you want to be a part of this? Picking the donor is a big deal."

"Yeah, yeah," he said, sucking on his cigarette like it provided life-sustaining oxygen. "I just don't want to have to go in person. I just … I don't want to." He stubbed out his cigarette, then shoved his hands in his pockets. "Wanna go for a walk?"

Knowing that David was more voluble when he was walking, Blair readily agreed. A few minutes later, they were strolling along the streets of their Santa Monica neighborhood. They didn't speak at all until they were a good twelve blocks from home. Finally, David said, "We'd better turn around."

Blair rolled her eyes, but didn't comment further, knowing that David didn't react well to being pressed to communicate. They passed their street, still without saying a word. When they reached the ocean, David sat down on one of the benches overlooking the cliffs that dropped to the sea. They were about eighty feet above the water, making the usual roar of the sea a mere whimper. A cool breeze blew in their faces, and Blair felt chilled even through her sweater. She scooted over, and David picked up on her cue and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. Cuddling closer, she rested her head on his chest, and after a long while he said, "I know you're trying, but you don't understand how humiliating this is for me. I … I can't do it."

"Can't do what, honey? Have you changed your mind about using a donor?"

"No. I still think that's what we should do. But I can't go to the place."

"Okay," Blair said, patting his stomach. "I'll go check things out and see if I can do a first cut. Then we'll see where we stand."

"'Kay." They passed another hour sitting on the bench, both of them staring into the black sea, not even a moon to illuminate the inky depths.

 

ĄG

 

Blair's first visit to Westside Cryogenics lasted nearly two hours, and when she returned home, she was dismayed to see Sadie's car parked in front of the house. Good Lord, did David ask her over tonight? Or does she have a sixth sense for the worst possible time to drop in?

Blair walked into the house and was immediately met by two pairs of dark brown eyes. "Well?" Sadie said. "What did you learn?"

"Hi, Sadie," Blair said. She walked over to the older woman and gave her a hug and a kiss, then did the same to David. "David didn't tell me you were coming; I would have made dinner."

"Oh, honey, you know I don't like to cause a fuss. I only wanted to see if you're going to continue with this thing."

"Thing?"

"This sperm donor thing," Sadie said, her hands anxiously fluttering like a pair of wings.

"Well, David and I have to talk it over," Blair explained. When David didn't say a word, she continued, "Do you want to know what I found out?"

"Sure," David said. "I'd like a drink. Mom?"

"Oh, no, it's too early for me. You go ahead, though."

David gave Blair a relatively discreet head twitch, and she said, "I'll help you, honey. I could use a cold drink, too."

The pair went into the kitchen, letting the door swing closed behind them. "I'm sorry, baby," David said. "I talked to her on the phone this afternoon and mentioned that we were thinking of using a sperm donor. By the time I got home, she was sitting in her car in front of the house."

"Why did you tell her?" Blair asked, her voice rising despite her efforts to remain calm. "There's no reason anyone has to know about this."

Looking away, he said. "I tell her everything important, Blair. Since my dad died, she's so dependent on me. I can't shut her out while she's struggling to rebuild her life."

"Okay, honey," she said, patting him on the waist. "If you want her to know about this, it's okay with me."

"I don't," he grumbled, "but she'd kill me if she found out later. It's easier to get it over with now."

"She's your mom, David. You're the one who has to decide how to handle her."

"Thanks." He kissed her on the cheek and gave her a squeeze.

"No problem," she said, but she knew there were going to be problems galore now that Sadie was part of the decision-making team.

 

ĄG

 

The trio sat at the dining room table, looking over the brief donor profiles that Blair had brought home with her. Sadie dismissed most of the men immediately, but she was intrigued by one donor ¾ a man of Russian and Armenian descent. "If you're going to go through with this, this is the fellow," she declared.

David looked at the profile and nodded. "Grad student in electrical engineering, on the water polo team in college, baseball team in high school, sports fan, doesn't want the child to be able to contact him ¾ he looks good to me."

"Only one thing I don't like," Sadie said. "He says he has no religion. I don't like that."

"Our child will have whatever religion we practice, Sadie. Why does it bother you that the donor isn't religious?"

The older woman shrugged in a way that was clearly a dismissal. "You never know," she said.

Blair usually ignored her mother-in-law's comments, but something about this one bothered her, and she couldn't let it go. "You never know what?"

"He might be hiding his real religion. It might be something funny," she said.

"Funny?"

"He could be anything," Sadie said. "I'd like to know what his people are before we commit."

"Fine," Blair said, not having the strength to push the issue.

"He might be … Muslim or something," Sadie blurted out.

"I'll check," Blair said, pasting a smile on her face. "Any other religions that would bother you?" She felt David's hand on her thigh and saw the set of Sadie's jaw. "They said they'd call the donor with specific questions."

"Thanks," David said, obviously grateful to her for agreeing to consider Sadie’s favorite candidate and for giving up on the argument.

"I'll make the call for number 1051, but I liked this guy," Blair said, pushing another profile across the table.

David picked up the sheet and read it quickly. "National Merit Scholar, graphic artist." He started to laugh, looking up at Blair. "His favorite hobby is reading. How weak is that?”

“One of my favorite hobbies is reading, honey,” she said, smiling thinly.

“Right!” His expression froze for a moment, and she could almost see the gears turning in his head. “And since you’ve got that covered, there’s no sense in asking for more of it. I want this kid to be well-rounded.”

“Good recovery,” she said under her breath.

"I think you're making a mistake with this donor thing," Sadie said. "A big mistake. But if you insist on doing this, you've got to go with number 1051."

"I agree," David said. "I think he's ideal."

Blair sat back in her chair and said, "I know when I'm outvoted. I'll call and ask them to ask about his religion. They'll also need to make sure they have enough of this guy's sperm for a second go, in case the first time doesn't take."

Sadie got up from the table, her broad-shouldered bulk looming over both of them. Suddenly, Blair felt like a child about to be lectured by the teacher. "Just because I like number 1051, doesn't mean I agree with this whole thing. Why are you two giving up so easily on conceiving your own child? I read about a technique where they can fertilize an egg with just one sperm! You have millions, David! Millions!"

David looked a little small, too, but he took in a breath and held his ground. "We're not giving up easily, Mom. But to do that, we'd have to use in vitro fertilization, and they usually want to fertilize several eggs. We don't want to run the risk of having triplets or quads. Besides, the doctor says that the risk of passing on genetic defects might be higher using the single sperm technique."

"I read the same things you do, David. They can do an amniocentesis to make sure the baby doesn't have any chromosomal abnormalities."

"Jesus, Mom, how do you think I'd feel if we went through all of this crap and then had to abort the baby because of my defective sperm? I'm not gonna take that chance."

Sadie sighed, then looked at her son, her dark eyes like twin lasers. "I don't like to tell you what to do, David, but this is wrong, and you're going to live to regret it."

Blair looked at her husband and saw him swallow. She knew how much his mother's opinion meant to him, and she wished that she could rewind the last minute of the conversation and hit the delete button. Dear God, please don't ever let me guilt trip my child like that.

 

ĄG

 

“There’s not a chance in the world that you’ll tell me whether or not you think I’m making a mistake, is there?”

“Nope.” Kylie stood by a sparkling, aquamarine swimming pool, trying to imagine if the house they were investigating was the right one for her. “I will never do that, Blair. Only you and David know if using a donor is the right choice for you.”

“But you have so much experience with couples who’ve been in our situation,” she said. “Can’t you give me anything?”           

Kylie gazed at her friend for a few moments, then nodded her head. “I’ll give you one piece of advice. If you’re conflicted about it, you should spend some time talking about this in couples therapy. This is a life-changing decision, Blair, and once you’re in, it’s tough to go back.”

Sighing deeply, Blair let her head drop back and the sun warm her face. “David’s antagonistic to therapy. He’s not the kind of guy who likes to analyze his motivations for things. He’s all action, no reflection. I’ve suggested therapy, but he's refused.”

“That’s my best advice, Blair. I wish I could be more help, but I don't have a clue if this is right for you. All I know is that you're going to be a great mom, no matter how you become one."

"I think I will," she said, a small frown wrinkling her forehead. "And I know that David will be a good dad. We just have to get through the preliminaries and get a baby in the house."

"You'll get there, Blair. You're a very determined woman."

"I am," she admitted, "but you don't get some things by determination alone."

 

ĄG

 

On the morning she started to ovulate, Blair and David rode in silence to the doctor's office. Neither made mention of the canister of donor sperm resting on the floor of the backseat. David had not even been able to refer to it by name, asking his wife if she wanted him to carry the … thing. She fought down the voices that continually questioned her, deciding that all women would be worried about conceiving if they had to do it as deliberately as she did.

When they entered the office, the nurse came in and explained that they would have to sign consent forms before Blair could be inseminated. She briefly explained the content of the forms, then left them to read the paperwork and sign. "Why do we have to do this?" David asked. "It's not like we just wandered in off the street."

"The donor's not on the hook, honey. Since we're married, we have to acknowledge that if I get pregnant, you're the father."

He read the form twice, then took out his pen and signed. Blair watched him carefully, seeing how coiled with tension his body was. "There," he said, handing the papers to her. "Not one chromosome from me, but I'm the father. I'm sure the baby's gonna buy that."

"Hey!" She grasped him by the shoulders and looked into his eyes. "We agreed we weren't going to tell anyone." She bit her lip to keep from reminding him that he'd broken that agreement by telling his mother. "There isn't any reason for our child to know that he or she was the product of donor sperm. It's just a technicality, David."

"Technicality?" He shoved his hands in his pockets and kicked at the vinyl baseboard. "Eye color, hair color, height, bone structure, blood type, talents, fears, diseases, life expectancy." He turned back towards his wife, and Blair was sickened by the sorrow she saw in his mournful dark eyes. "If those are technicalities …"

"David, David." She put her arms around him and hugged him as tightly as she could. "No one is forcing us to do this. If we have a baby this way, you're the father, not the wad of gunk in this tank!"

"Right." He pulled away and stared out the window again.

Blair went to him and forced him to look at her. "If we don't talk this out, I'm leaving; and you can't do much here without me."

"All right." He sounded bone tired. "What?"

"I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you'll love the baby we have — no matter how we get it."

His answer was immediate, and she could see that he was telling the truth. "Of course I will. Jesus, I'm not a heartless bastard!"

"David, I never implied that you were. I just don't want you to spend your time thinking about who contributes what to create the embryo. Parenting doesn't start until our baby is resting in our arms." She softened her voice and pulled David close. "I want to raise a child with you. The guy who provided the sperm isn't going to help us raise this baby. After today, his contribution is over — while ours is just beginning."

He held her close and rocked a bit, kissing and nuzzling against her neck. "I'll do everything in my power to give this baby all of my love."

"Save some for me," Blair whispered. "Mommies need love, too."

The soft chuckle that David let out rumbled against Blair's ribs, reassuring her thoroughly. "I have more love for you than I'll ever be able to tell you, sweetheart. You'll always be my sweet baby."

A knock on the door startled both of them. The nurse picked up the papers, looked at them and said, "Mrs. Spencer? You didn't sign."

Blair signed, then handed the papers back to the nurse. "Great," the woman said. "I'll take the sample and warm it. The doctor will be in soon."

They were both still nervous, and Blair tried to make conversation. "I wonder what makes a guy decide to donate sperm?"

"The money," David said immediately.

Something about his tone made her look at him, and she asked, "How do you know that?"

He walked over to the window, looking out towards the ocean. "That's why I did it."

"You did it? You donated sperm?"

He whirled around and glared at her. "Yes, I did. I used to have a full supply."

"Oh, honey, I didn't mean that." She put her arms around him and felt the tension in his body. He stood motionless, so she pulled away, trying to give him some space. "I was only surprised because you seemed so … I don't know … judgmental about the donors."

"I'm not judgmental," he said, turning back to the window.

"When did you do this, honey?"

"When I was in college," he said, still staring. "A bunch of my frat brothers did it, and it seemed like an easy way to get a few extra bucks. We'd go over on Friday afternoon, make a deposit, then hit the bars. It gave me spending money for the weekend, and if I did happen to get lucky, I could last a lot longer since I'd already knocked one out."

Blair approached him and placed her hand on his back. "How'd you feel about doing it?"

Laughing mirthlessly, he said, "I didn't feel anything. I was twenty-one years old, and it meant nothing at all to me. I knew I had an unlimited supply, and this just seemed like a good way to get rid of the excess. I jerked off every day, anyway. Why not make $50 while I was at it?"

Afraid to hear the answer, Blair asked the question anyway. "How do you feel about the guy who donated the sperm we're going to use?"

David gave her a sad smile. "I feel like he's a lucky asshole who doesn't know how lucky he is. When I was his age, my biggest worry was getting a woman pregnant. I couldn't imagine a worse fate. Now, almost twenty years later, I still worry about the same thing just from the opposite angle."

"Do you ever wonder about the children you might have …"

"I didn't used to, but in the last few months, it's been on my mind a lot. I know a couple used my sperm, because the sperm bank called me to ask if I'd come in to make another deposit. That time felt kinda weird. I felt like a cow being milked," he said. "But even then, I didn't wonder if that couple was successful. Until now," he added quietly.

She wrapped him tightly in her arms and asked, "Are you absolutely certain this is what you want?"

He nodded. "I want to have a baby with you, Blair. This is the only way."

A quiet knock on the door signaled Doctor Coughlin's entrance. "Good morning," she said brightly. "Ready to make a baby?"

 

ĄG

 

"I just had one of the strangest days of my life," Blair said. She had her telephone headset on and was sitting outside, drinking a glass of lemonade. "It was like the worst possible one night stand. No dinner, no movie and no sex. All I have to show for it is a few cc's of semen from a guy I'll never see again."

"Blair, honey, we've had this discussion before. There are some parts of your life that you should keep private. I'd really rather not know that you ever had anonymous sex."

Laughing, Blair said, "That was a hypothetical, Mom. You know I was perfectly chaste when I met David. Our wedding night was such a shock! If only I'd known …"

"I'm glad you didn't go into acting, honey. You would have starved to death," her mother said dryly, “and you know I'm teasing you. I was just trying to cheer you up, sweetheart. You sound so … lethargic."

"I didn't sleep well," Blair said. "I can't imagine that every married woman who does this doesn’t have decidedly mixed feelings about it."

"I think so, too, honey. Do you want to tell me more?"

"Mmm … just … just that I almost chickened out."

"Was it that bad for you? Damn, Blair, there are times when I wish you'd never left Chicago. I could have been with you."

"That's okay, Mom. Having Doctor Coughlin in the room during my attempted conception was freaky enough. I don't think I could have had my mother there and stayed sane."

"Tell me about it, hon. What happened?"

"I still don't know if we should have gone through with it, Mom. David told me some things that make me wonder more than ever if he's in the right mind frame for this. Hell, I'm still not sure that we picked the right donor!"

"Maybe you just have cold feet," Eleanor said. "I almost had to tackle you to keep you from leaving the church when you got married."

"Funny," Blair said. "Everyone wants a funny mother."

"I'm sorry, Blair. Come on now; tell me what's on your mind."

"I'm really snappish today, Mom. Don't mind me. And I'm sure that you're partially right. I do have cold feet. But David was so ambivalent today. He's totally focused on the fact that he won't be making a genetic contribution. Try as I might, I can't understand that! I was thinking that maybe because I'm adopted, I have more insight into what real parenthood is, but now I'm not so sure."

"How does David feel about your being adopted? Does he think of us as your parents?"

"Yeah … I mean, I think he does. He's never said anything that would make me think otherwise." She sighed heavily and reclined in her lounger. "Maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe David can't understand why this isn't like an adoption. I don't think of this guy as being the birth father. My sperm donor had a relationship with my egg donor. He shared in the decision of whether or not to raise me. If things had been different, he and my egg donor would have been my parents. That's not the situation here. This donor may have had charitable motives, but he also might have just wanted to make an easy $75 while watching porn! I don't know him — I never will. I can't tell my baby anything about him, other than what's in his profile. That's why I liked that the donor didn't want to be contacted. If I'm pregnant, it's my baby, and David's — legally and morally. I don't want my baby to know about the donor."

"I agree, Blair, but are you sure that's wise? Your father and I know, and now Sadie knows. She's not the most discreet person …"

"Don't remind me," Blair moaned. "David’s telling her screwed everything up! Sadie'll never be able to keep this a secret!"

"You'll deal with it, Blair. If you're pregnant, and there's a glimmer of a chance that he or she will find out, you'll tell the baby yourself."

"Yeah, we will." She paused for a moment and then said, "I hate to say this, but I hope I'm not pregnant. David and I are going to have a very long talk before I agree to do this again. I think we were too rash."

"Now, honey, it's too late for thoughts like that. No matter what happens, you and David can work it out."

"Yeah, you're right. If I'm pregnant, I'm sure I'll be happy. I just hope my happiness is delayed until I'm more certain about the whole thing."

 

ĄG

 

Just a week after being inseminated with donor sperm, Blair was planning to meet Nick and Kylie for a film noir festival at a West Los Angeles theater. She'd left work early, getting home well before David.

Taking the opportunity to pamper herself, she doffed her clothes and filled the tub in the master bath. She added some of her favorite bath salts, climbed in and turned on the jets. I hope David doesn't come home soon, she thought as the bubbles tickled under her chin. I know how much he misses his hot tub. He might just throw off his clothes and jump in here with me, and this is definitely not a tub for two.

She'd had a busy and stressful week, most of the stress courtesy of a house falling out of escrow. There'd been a nagging suspicion in the back of her mind about her buyer, but she didn't feel good about having been right, especially since she'd had to spend hours on the phone placating the seller's agent. Even though it occasionally happened to everyone, it irked Blair that her buyer had flaked on her. She prided herself on representing well-qualified, reliable clients, and she felt that having a house fall out once it was in escrow reflected badly on her.

I probably could have gotten all of that idiot's earnest money back if I'd sold my soul to Harriet Glickman, but I was not going to hang myself out to dry just because Mr. Paranoid read an article in the paper saying that Santa Monica could be washed away if a tsunami ever hit. She slapped at the bubbling water with the flats of her hands, the situation still annoying her. If I'd been concentrating at work, I would've seen the warning signs earlier. When he insisted on having a geological inspection on a perfectly flat piece of land, I should have sensed that he wasn't sure about it.

The bath had helped a little, but she was still out-of-sorts when she lay down for a nap. She slipped her hand into her robe and cupped her breast, giving it a squeeze. It made sense when I was in the tub, but why are my tits still tingling? It feels like a teeny, tiny electrical current passing through them.

Turning onto her side helped take her mind off the annoying sensation, and she was nearly asleep when a familiar feeling in her uterus nudged her awake. Oh, fuck, I'm getting my period. She flopped onto her back and pressed gently on her abdomen. Huh. It doesn't feel like it normally does. It's not cramping; it just feels … full and a little heavy. Huh. Lacing her hands behind her head, she allowed herself to fantasize for a minute, then dismissed the errant hopes. It's been a week! No one can feel pregnant in a week. Just go to sleep and forget your delusions. You'll probably have your period by the time you wake up.

 

ĄG

 

After the first feature, Nick went to buy snacks, and Blair leaned over and whispered, "I know I'm probably insane, but could I possibly feel pregnant already?"

Kylie produced the biggest grin imaginable, and her hand immediately dropped onto Blair's belly. Her fingers slid up and down the soft cotton of her khakis. "Really? Do you really? Tell me exactly how you feel. Include everything."

Blair patted her friend's hand, and Kylie immediately pulled it away, staring at it for a moment as though she didn't recognize it. "Damn, Blair, I'm sorry for touching you like that. I lost my head for a minute there."

Reaching over to take her hand and give it a squeeze, Blair smiled and said, "It's cool to see how excited you are. You're really into this, aren't ya?"

Kylie nodded enthusiastically. "I am! As many women as I've helped, I've never been involved past the surgery. Plus, I know how much this means to you and David, and I really want it to work out for you." Her smile increased a few lumens, and she said, "I'm really charged!"

"Well, like I said, it's probably all in my head, but I just feel different. My breasts feel a little like they do when I have PMS, but they're even more sensitive. It actually hurt to have the shower spray on them this morning."

Kylie's expression grew sober, and the thought ran through Blair's mind that this was her friend's doctor persona coming out. The intense, intelligence-filled eyes gazed at her carefully, her attention completely focused on the blonde’s face.

"I also almost vomited when I opened the refrigerator at work earlier today. There was nothing particularly noxious about it — just too many smells." She shivered briefly in memory.

"Anything else?" Kylie asked, her tone low and soft.

"That's mostly it," Blair said.

The gaze sharpened. "Mostly?"

Her expression was so penetrating that Blair heard herself admit to something she'd sworn she was going to keep to herself. "Again, I know I must be imagining this, but at the moment the doctor injected the sperm, I got this funny kinda rush. It's impossible to describe, but it was a very different feeling than I got the other times." She ran her hands through her hair and said, "I know it's weird, but I feel pregnant."

Kylie impulsively leaned over and brushed her lips across Blair's cheek. "It's not weird at all. A lot of women detect subtle signals very early, especially if they're very attuned to their bodies. It's possible that you're pregnant, Blair, and if you are, I'm totally buzzed to be the first to know." She giggled and said, "I know that shouldn't make me so happy, but I love to know things before other people do."

"Must be from being the baby in a big family," Blair said, giving her friend a little pat on the cheek. "I'm not going to say anything to David yet, since I don't want to get his hopes up. But I'm gonna have that EPT test in my hot little hands on exactly the fourteenth day. I can't wait! I told my mom that I hoped I wasn't pregnant, since I think David and I still have some things to work out. But the mere thought that I might be is making me ridiculously happy. Just goes to show that you're never sure what your reaction is going to be until it happens."

 

ĄG

 

When she returned home, David was asleep, and she stood in the doorway of their bedroom for a long time, just watching him. Needing to be close, she slipped off her clothes and climbed into bed, receiving a small grunt in response. Placing soft, moist kisses along his back, she reached around him and tickled up and down his belly.

He woke slowly, mumbling, "Tired."

"You don't even have to wake up. Just let me love you."

Rolling onto his back, he sighed and wrapped his arm around her, nuzzling his face into her shoulder.

She was incredibly aroused — her burgeoning belief that they were finally pregnant making her nearly mad with desire for him. He was still half asleep, so she unbuttoned his pants and started to stroke him.

Surprisingly, he touched her arm, stopping her. "Kiss me," he said. "I want to feel your lips."

Sliding her hand out of his pajamas, she propped herself onto her elbow and leaned over him. "You'd rather kiss than …?"

"Uh-huh. I would."

She looked at him for a few moments, seeing the love reflected in his eyes. "Why?" Her voice was soft, her eyes questioning. "Don't you like to make love to me anymore?"

"Of course I do!" He grasped her and pulled her to his chest, hugging her tightly. "I love you, Blair. Very, very much." He said this with such fervor that she felt chills run up her back. "But we've been so … I don't even know what we've been, but I wanna start over, baby. I want … I want it to be like it was when we just started to make love. Damn, do you remember how much time we spent kissing?"

"I do," she whispered, her mind filled with memories of lying in bed for hours, doing nothing more than kissing David and staring into his eyes. "It was wonderful."

"Let's make it wonderful again. I know we can." He rolled onto his side, taking her with him. He caressed her face, barely touching her skin. "You're so beautiful. The most beautiful woman I've ever kissed."

She felt herself melt into his arms, and his lips touch hers. After the briefest touch, he pulled away and brushed the hair from her forehead, looking deeply into her eyes. "I love you, Blair."

"I love you, too." She kissed his chest and rubbed her chin and cheek on the soft black hair that covered his upper body. Looking up at him, she smiled and murmured, "Kiss me."

 

ĄG

 

Kylie picked up the ringing phone on Sunday afternoon, muttering a curse that her stereo didn't have a remote control. "Hello?" she called out. "Hold on a sec."

Moments later, the volume at a manageable level, she picked up again. "Hi. Who's this?"

"Did you skip the class in medical school where they tell you how easy it is to damage the human eardrum?" Even though her words were teasing, Kylie could hear the edge in her voice.

"Hi, Blair," she said, her voice low and warm. "I did attend that class, and loud noise would more likely damage the hair cells in the cochlea, but I get your point. I was out on my deck, so the noise wasn't so bad out there. Actually, it's your fault if my hearing goes. If I hadn't come inside to answer the phone, I'd be just ducky. So, what's up?"

She took in a deep breath, then asked in a shaking voice, "Wanna come over and celebrate?"

"What's wrong? Are you crying?"

"Yes, I'm crying," she whimpered. "I … I … I'm pregnant … and David's not coming home tonight like he was supposed to."

“Ohh … you poor thing." Kylie paused a second and shouted, "You're pregnant!"

Despite her disappointment, Blair couldn't help but smile at her friend's enthusiasm. "Yeah. I'm pregnant," she said, the words sounding odd rolling off her tongue.

"That's awesome, Blair! I'm so excited for you!"

"I am, too," she said. "But I'm also sad. I … I … I was gonna make David a special celebration dinner … and I … I'm lonely …"

She started sobbing, and Kylie spoke soothingly to her. "Do you have the food you wanted to prepare?"

"Uh-huh."

"Unlock the door, then go lie down and put a cool cloth over your eyes. I'll be there in an hour."

"You sure?"

"You couldn't keep me away. If the door's locked, I'll break it down."

Blair hung up and followed the doctor's orders, then lay down on the couch, a smile starting to build as she thought about Kylie's exuberant reaction. I think she's more excited than my mother's going to be.

 

ĄG

 

It only took Kylie forty-five minutes, and by the time she slipped in, Blair was dozing on the couch. Kylie half-sat, half-reclined on the floor, folding her long body between the coffee table and the sofa, just to be near her friend when she awoke.

Some time later, Blair blinked her eyes open to find Kylie’s dark head resting against the cushion. The doctor was contorted into a remarkably uncomfortable looking position, and when Blair ran a hand through her hair, she groaned in pain. “It’s been a long time since I could take a nap in that position and not pay for it,” she grumbled.

“You must have been awfully tired,” Blair said, her voice low and a little raspy from sleep. “Hot date?”

“Uh-huh. Hot from a fever. I had a patient who developed an infection last night. I spent the night at the hospital keeping an eye on her.”

“How is she?” Blair asked, sitting up.

“She’s fine now. I stopped by and checked on her on my way over here. That’s what took me so long.”

“So you were up all night?”

“Pretty much. They called me at 1:00, and I wasn’t completely satisfied until 9:00 this morning. I spent half of the time reassuring the poor woman’s anxious husband. He and I sat in the cafeteria, drinking coffee until it was coming out of my ears.”

“You didn’t have to do that, did you?” Blair asked, giving Kylie’s hair an affectionate mussing.

Intentionally misunderstanding her, she said, “I guess not, but it’s more socially acceptable to drink coffee than to inject myself with amphetamines. Don’t know why, but that makes people skittish.”

“Don’t try to dodge a compliment, Doctor Mackenzie. You know full well what I mean. Not many surgeons would hang out for hours to reassure a family member. I know you’ve got some little space at the hospital where you could have taken a nap.”

Turning slightly to be able to look into her friend’s eyes, Kylie said, “I wasn’t able to perform microsurgery on this patient. I had to open her up, Blair. I made the incision that allowed bacteria to invade her bloodstream. Granted, it wasn’t my fault that she got the infection, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna put a woman’s life at risk and then go hide while her husband worries himself sick. That’s not my style.”

Blair leaned forward and kissed the top of Kylie’s head. “You’re such a sweetheart that part of me wishes you were my doctor. But I’d never want to give up our friendship.”

Kylie got to her feet with some difficulty, then stretched for a moment, wincing when some of her joints crackled noisily. “I’m really glad we didn’t work together, too. You’re a good friend, Blair, and you’re going to be a world-class mom.” She extended a hand and helped her friend to her feet. “If David were home, he’d be pampering you silly tonight. So, since I’m standing in for him, I’m gonna do the honors.” Folding Blair into her arms, she hugged her for a long time, murmuring, “I’m so happy for you. It’s all gonna work out just like you want it to.”

“Thanks,” Blair said, wiping her tears with the back of her hand. “I have a feeling I should start carrying a handkerchief. I haven’t cried this much since I was a baby.”

“You’re allowed,” Kylie assured her. “You’ll hardly recognize your own behavior from all of the hormones you’ve got coursing through your bloodstream. But the baby needs every one of them — so you get a free pass to be a complete lunatic!”

“That’s something to look forward to,” she said, starting for the kitchen. “I don’t think my clients will agree, but at least you do.”

“Oops … I almost forgot.” Kylie went to the door and, stepping outside, said, “I’m glad you have a covered porch.” She reappeared in a moment, trying to herd a bunch of balloons into the house. There were six pink and six blue, and they were partially weighted down by a cuddly-looking brown teddy bear who clung to them. “I know you’ll have to deflate them before David comes home, or the surprise will be ruined, but I had to do a little something to commemorate the occasion.”

“You’re wonderful,” Blair sighed, hugging her tight. “You’ve made me feel so much better.”

“Glad I could help,” she said. “You’re going to feel even better after I cook you dinner.”

 

ĄG

 

She did feel even better after dinner, Blair had to admit. They’d dined well, listened to a Rachmaninoff symphony that Blair was particularly fond of, and were now sitting in the living room, waiting for dinner to digest so they could eat dessert. “I get to do this all again tomorrow night,” Blair said, grinning. “How lucky am I?”

“Very,” Kylie said. She scooted around on the couch, trying to get some of the stiffness out of her shoulders. “Can I ask why you didn’t wait for David to get home to do the test?”

“Sure. I want to make this a big celebration, Kylie, to help him let go of the fact that we couldn’t use his sperm. But there was no way I was going to take that test and have it be negative. I’m very protective of him lately, and I didn’t want him to be disappointed.”

“He’s a lucky guy to have you,” Kylie said. “I bet he knows it, too.”

“Usually, he does,” Blair agreed. “Up until now, we’ve had a very good relationship. Oh, he’s got his little shortcomings, but so do I, and our quirks fit together really well. I just hope he welcomes this baby with as much joy as I’m feeling.”           

“I didn't want to say much before, but you're very lucky to have been able to conceive this way, especially on your first try. Very few of my patients do.”

“I know we're lucky," Blair said. "I read all of the statistics, and I knew the odds were against us." She looked at her friend for a moment, then asked, "You've never talked about having a baby. Have you ever considered it?”

Kylie nodded. “A lot. I’ve been trying to figure out a way since I was about thirty. It’s just been in this past year that I’ve begun to reconcile myself to the fact that it isn’t gonna happen.” She looked at her friend and said, “Honestly, that’s part of the reason I’m so ecstatic about your pregnancy. After deciding I’d never experience it, it’s a gift to get to watch a good friend go through it.”

“Are you unable …?”

“I have no idea,” Kylie answered. “I think the odds are good that I’m fertile. Neither my mom nor my sisters had any trouble. But I’ve never been in the right situation. When I was young, I considered having a child alone, but I had so many loans to pay off that I couldn’t have afforded a live-in nanny. Now that I can afford it, I don’t want to take the time away from my practice. I’m at the point where I’ve got my career where I want it, and I worry about dividing my loyalties. I know how I am, and I’d never let a nanny take over if my child were ill and needed me. And I don’t have the kind of job where I can call in sick. When a patient gets up the courage to schedule surgery, I’m not going to make her do it again because my baby has a bad cold.” She rolled her shoulders and said, “Besides, the older I get, the less I want to hire someone to raise my child. If I can’t do it and really experience the joys of parenthood, I think I should give up the dream.”

“But you’d feel different if you were partnered?”

“Yeah. I have enough money for my spouse to be a stay-at-home mom. That would be ideal.”

“You've been thinking about this for ten years. Have you ever come close to doing it?”

“Not very. Stacey and I talked about it, but she was ten years younger than I was, and she didn’t want to consider it until she was thirty-five or so. We probably would have done it if we’d stayed together, but she was gone long before she hit thirty-five.”

“Well, I can’t give you this one, or David will be pissed, but I can make you a godmother.” Blair paused. “How’s that?” She got up and walked over to her friend, took her hand and placed it on her belly. “Meet your godmother, baby,” she said.

Kylie's expression turned to one of pure astonishment. "Really? Really?"

"Yes, really," Blair said. "You're my closest friend."

Blinking back tears, Kylie patted the flat belly and said, “I feel the same about you. Well, Nick's my closest boy friend, but you're my closest girl friend. Of course, I have some good friends from med school ¾"

Blair covered Kylie's lips with her fingers. "You're blathering." The doctor looked up at her and nodded. "Now, say hello to your godchild."

"Hi, baby," Kylie said, her voice breaking on the word. "I can’t wait to meet you.”

"He or she wants to meet you, too. I have a feeling that Baby Spencer is gonna be spoiled senseless by Godmother Mackenzie."

"No doubt," Kylie agreed. She looked up at Blair and said, “Isn’t it mind-blowing to think that you have a tiny little person growing inside of you? In my book, this is one of the best parts of being human ¾ having conscious knowledge of our gestation and being able to plan and dream and experience all of the joys that go along with anticipating birth. What a cause for celebration.” She leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Blair’s belly. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m compulsive about touching pregnant women. That’s the only thing I don’t like about my job. I never see my patients once they get pregnant.”

“I’m sure I’ll have to lower my normal personal space barriers,” Blair said, “but for you, I’ll take ’em all the way down. You have to leave my skin intact, but other than that, you can thump me like a melon.”

Kylie gave her a playful pat and said, “That’s the right attitude, Blair. Your tummy won't be your sole property for the next nine months. Strangers will come up to you and cop a feel. It’s a lure that women can’t resist.”

“I don’t think I’ll mind,” she said. “I was so excited I almost told the neighbors today. But then I decided that I should tell David first.” She grinned and said, "After you, of course. Girl friends know everything first."

“He’s gonna be on cloud nine,” Kylie said.

With the briefest flash of worry, Blair said, “I hope so. I really hope so.”

 

ĄG

 

The next day, Blair cleared her calendar for the afternoon, stopped by the gourmet market and purchased prepared foods for their celebration. I was willing to cook last night, bud, but you missed it. Her last stop was the drug store, where she picked up another pregnancy test kit. She didn’t think she was a particularly good actress, but she was so genuinely excited, and so wanted to share her joy with David, that she was confident she could pull it off.

He had just arrived home moments earlier and was still in his suit and tie. “Hey, sweetie,” he said upon seeing her. “What brings you home so early in the day?”

“A few things.” She put her bags down and went to kiss him. “One, I missed you. I hate it when you travel over the weekend.”

“I do, too,” he murmured, his face nestled in her hair. “These ridiculous conferences never help me do my job. It’s just a bunch of stuffy guys trying to blow smoke.”

“Well, you were missed,” she said. “The second reason I’m home is that this is the fourteenth day since the procedure,” she said, using the most neutral term she could. “I haven’t gotten my period, so we can safely do a pregnancy test.”

His eyes went wide. “Is that wise? Isn’t that something the doctor should do? I mean, we don’t wanna get a false reading.”

“The test is just as reliable as the one the doctor does, honey. Really.”

“You’re sure this is the right time?” he asked again.

“Yes. You remember that Doctor Coughlin said we might be able to get results after ten days.”

“But it’s just fourteen days,” he said. “Maybe we should wait a few more just to be sure.”

She folded her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest. “We can do it today, honey. All of the tests are reliable at fourteen days. It’ll be okay.”

“I’m … I’m really nervous about this, Blair.”

Looking into his eyes, she soothed, “It’ll be okay, David. Trust me.”

He nodded, but when she removed the test from the bag, he looked at it as if it were set to explode. “I … I’ll wait here.”

“No way. I want you with me. You’ve seen me in more humiliating positions than this in recent weeks. Peeing on a stick is nothing!” He followed along fairly compliantly, but she had to tug on him a bit to get him into the bathroom.

“Don’t you want to change? I think I’d like to change.”

“I pee while wearing a suit every day, David. Besides, I don’t think there’s a special ‘watch your wife pee on a stick outfit,’ is there?”

Turning quickly, he mumbled, “I’m gonna put some jeans on. Be right back.”

Rolling her eyes, she removed her skirt, then her nylons and panties. When he came back in, she was wearing a silk blouse and a slip, and his expression was so pitiful that she finally asked, “Do you have a phobia about being in the bathroom while I do this, or are you just nervous about the results?”

He shifted from foot to foot. “Maybe both. I’ve, uhm … seen people doing some pretty weird things to you lately, babe, and it’s not all good. There are still some things I wanna keep a little mystery about.”

“Fine.” She hitched up her slip and sat down, shaking her head when he scampered out of the room. Deciding not to waste the money, she snuck out the side door and retrieved the positive test she'd taken the day before. These things are too expensive to waste! I’ll take the unopened one back tomorrow.

Now that she’d been talking about it, she really did have to pee, and when she was finished, she went back into their bedroom and changed. With seduction on her mind, she put on a seriously sexy teddy that David had purchased for her not long after they were married. He was quite fond of sexy lingerie, and this piece was his favorite. She’d taken to privately calling it her “gettin’ lucky” outfit. She slipped a long, silk robe over it, just to avoid showing her hand, then returned to the living room.

David was just taking the last sip of a Scotch, and when she entered, he hopped up and poured another. “Want a drink?” he asked.

“Mmm … I believe the instructions on the test say ‘not to be taken with alcohol,’ honey.”

He didn’t get the joke, just nodded and poured an especially stiff drink. Returning to his chair, he gave her a speculative look and asked, “Where is it?”

“In my pocket. We can’t look for ten minutes.” He sat back down, and she sat on the arm of his chair, leaning heavily against him. “Wanna talk about how you’re feeling?”

“Tense,” he said, his single word making that abundantly clear.

“About?”

He looked at her as if she were insane and said, “I’m worried that you’re pregnant, and I’m worried that you’re not.” With a shake of his head, he asked, “Do you really not get how big a deal this is?”

She grasped his chin and turned him to face her. “If I’m pregnant, it means that I’m voluntarily going to put on forty or fifty pounds, have a thing the size of a basketball contort my belly past all reasonable limits, have a heavy weight resting on my bladder while I try to sleep, have my tits blow up to twice their normal size, only to later have them deflate to less than I have now, and in nine months, when the baby is as big as I can make him, expel him from my vagina.” She shook his chin roughly. “In case you didn’t hear that last part, I said my vagina. That perfectly cozy little space that feels quite full when you put your penis inside it. Last time I checked, your penis didn’t weigh nine pounds, and it wasn’t eighteen inches long.” She shook him again and said, “Yes, David, I do get it, and I’m scared shitless! But we’ll get through this together — because we love each other and want to share our love with a child.” She scowled at him and asked, “Now, do you want to know if we’re pregnant or not?”

He nodded almost mechanically, and she gentled her expression and kissed him. “Are we doing the right thing, Blair?” he asked, his voice shaking.

“It’s too late for second thoughts, David. If we’re pregnant, we’re pregnant. If not, then we can revisit this. I’d just feel a hell of a lot better to hear you say you’re certain we made the right choice, 'cause if this stick is blue, there’s a baby inside of me.”

His eyes closed, and he took in a deep breath. “We did the right thing,” he said, obviously trying to make himself sound confident.

She reached into her pocket and took out the stick. Handing it to him, she said, “Take off the cover.”

“What color do we want?” he asked tentatively.

“We want blue,” she said. “You went to Michigan. Go blue!”

“Yeah. Go blue,” he repeated. His hands were shaking more than they had been on his wedding day, but he managed. The stick, as she knew, was a bright, robin’s egg blue. His eyes went from it to her, back to it, then finally settled on her. “You’re pregnant,” he gasped.

We’re pregnant,” she whispered, drawing him into a bone-crushing hug. “We’re pregnant, David. You and I are going to have a baby.”

 

ĄG

 

After enjoying the dinner that Blair had provided, and toasting repeatedly with sparkling apple cider, David looked at his watch. “Damn, it’s already 8:30. Who put me on this schedule, anyway? I went to bed later when I was in grade school.”

Blair rose and stood between his legs, starting to loosen the tie to her robe. “You know what you need?” she asked in her sexiest voice. “You need the proper motivation. Going to bed early can be fun.” When her robe was open, she performed a quick striptease, baring one shoulder, then the other, and bending forward to brush her lace-covered breasts against his stunned face. “We don’t ever have to make love on a schedule again. We can go back to normal and just enjoy each other.” She knelt astride him in the wide, upholstered chair and twitched her hips. “Come to bed and enjoy me,” she purred. When he didn’t respond immediately, she said, “Or we can stay right here. I love to ride you while you sit in a chair. Whatever you want, David. Make your dreams come true.” Reaching down, she took his hands and put them on her breasts. It was when she met his eyes that she detected nary a hint of arousal.

Deeply wounded, and more than a little humiliated, she climbed off the chair and settled her robe on her shoulders. Seeing the expression on her face, he jumped to his feet and held her in his arms. “Hey, why the face? I was just making up my mind. You gave me so many choices, I got lost in the fantasy.”

“Really?” The look she gave him nearly broke his heart.

“Of course! Come on, let’s go to bed.” Reassuring her with a warm smile, he led her by the hand, and when they reached their bed, he slipped her robe off and nuzzled his face against her neck. “You look so hot,” he murmured, his voice sounding a little forced to her ears. His hands slid up, and he caressed the sides of her breasts, pressing them together slightly.

“Ow!” she winced. Stroking the backs of his hands, she said, “They’re way past sensitive, honey. They feel like they’re about to burst.”

He gave her a curious look and asked, “Already? You’re only two weeks pregnant.”

“I know, David, but it’s not my imagination. They’re as tender as they’ve ever been.” She slipped the straps of her teddy off and let the material drape around her waist. With a caress that barely pressed the skin, she trailed her fingertips across the flesh of her breasts. “Can you do it like this?” she asked quietly. “Touch 'em lightly …”

Watching her face, he tried, giving her a good effort, but looking at his earnest expression made her lose whatever interest she had left. He looked like a schoolboy trying to impress his teacher, and since Blair was most aroused when David was the aggressor, she realized they weren’t going to get anywhere this night.

Kissing him lightly, she said, “There're going to be a lot of changes for us, David. We need to spend some time getting used to the new landscape. Why don’t we spend a long time investigating each other this weekend?”

“Okay,” he said, looking a little relieved. “I’ll bring you breakfast in bed.”

“It’s a deal, Dad,” she said, giving him as broad a smile as she could manage. “You do want to be called dad, don’t you?”

“It’s awfully early to make those decisions, isn’t it? So many choices: daddy, dad, pop, poppa. Besides, they don’t talk when they come out, do they?”

“No, it takes them a few weeks to speak,” she said. Pushing the dark hair from his forehead, she asked, “Are you really happy, David?”

“You're having a baby! Of course I’m happy, Blair." He led her to her side of the bed and carefully tucked her in. Sitting on the edge, he bent over and kissed her. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” she murmured. As he got up and went around the bed to slide into his side, she noted with a growing sense of discomfort that he hadn’t once put his hands on her like Kylie had done. Is Kylie right? Is it only women who have the urge to do that?

 

ĄG

 

On Monday, after showing a very nice house to a very obnoxious woman, Blair returned to her office. She started to pull her desk chair out, only to find a large box resting upon it. Catching her assistant's eye, she asked, “Mandy, do you have any idea what this is?”

“No. It was on your chair when I got in.”

There was no return address, but her name was clearly written in a firm hand, along with the word “confidential” in bold, red letters. Puzzled, she used her letter opener to break the seal, then started to laugh when she saw the contents.

Mandy started to walk over to her. “What is it, Blair?”

Quickly closing the box, she tried to lift it, finding that she had to strain to do it. “Oh, it’s nothing. Just some things a client wanted me to read. Could you help me put it on the floor?”

Mandy tried to lift it herself, finding that she was unable to. “Someone sent you a set of encyclopedias?”

“No,” Blair said, laughing, “just books on some topics she and I have been discussing.”

“Do I know this client?”

“Mmm … no, I suppose you don’t. You’ll meet her if she gets serious about buying.”

After helping wrestle the box to the floor, Mandy went back to her own desk. Blair didn’t feel able to examine the contents thoroughly , since she wanted to keep her pregnancy a secret for as long as possible, but she did peek one more time and found a card.

I don’t know about you, but I need

to read everything written on topics

of particular interest. Here are a few

titles that my sources tell me are

good.

Enjoy!

It was signed “Godmother Mackenzie.”

Blair sat back in her chair, a big smile on her face. I have a feeling that the good Doctor Mackenzie is going to help make this pregnancy a lot of fun.

Still smirking to herself, she dashed off an e-mail.

Dear Godmother Mackenzie,

Aren’t you the people who always tell pregnant women not to lift heavy objects? Just kidding, Doc. I can’t thoroughly investigate the package right now, but I’m immensely grateful for your thoughtfulness.

Why not come over after work and help me get the box into my car? David is going to the Lakers game tonight, so I could treat you to dinner. Let me know.

 

ĄG

 

Kylie walked into the real estate office, and spoke to the receptionist for a moment. Blair happened to glance up, and watched her friend approach, then let out a quiet whistle when Kylie entered her office. “Boy, you look great.”

“Thanks,” Kylie said, a half grin on her expressive face. “I was in the office all day, and since I have to wear scrubs on surgery days, I like to dress up when I’m seeing patients.”

“You wear dresses a lot, don’t you?” Blair asked.

“Uh-huh. I like 'em, but I’ll admit I started to wear them for practical reasons. Where are we going, anyway?”

“Not sure. Let’s walk down Montana and see what strikes us.” They headed east, and as they walked along Blair said, “Tell me about your practical reasons for wearing dresses.”

“Oh. Well, when I was first starting out in my residency program, one of my mentors was a woman — one of the best eye surgeons in the country. She took me aside and looked me over from head to toe and told me that to be successful, I needed to make myself as unimposing as possible, since my natural style was a little … uhm … fierce.”

“Well, that’s sexist,” Blair said, eyes narrowing.

“Sure it is, but so's medicine. She gave me good advice and I took it. I’d be most comfortable wearing my scrubs all day, but I’ve found that it intimidates people to meet their surgeon and have her wearing scrubs. It looks like you’re going to whisk them into the operating room at any moment.”

“Okay, I can see that you don’t want to meet a new patient with scrubs on, but why not wear slacks?”

Kylie laughed warmly. “I think I have nice legs.” She stuck one long limb out and pointed her toe, flexing her calf muscle. "Don't you agree?"

“They're fantastic," Blair said, giving her a wry smile. Continuing her appraisal, Blair said, "You really do look nice in dresses. Of course, it helps that you're thin and nine feet tall, but don't think I'm jealous.”

“Jealous? You think it's easy to walk around when you're nine feet tall? I can hardly count the number of times I've hit my head on …"

Blair scowled at the teasing, and Kylie gave her a slightly apologetic look and continued, "The only part I’ll never get used to is the shoes. I wear flats, but still, I long for tennis shoes at the end of a long day.”

“Then let’s go into the next place we see,” Blair offered. “I don’t want your tootsies to be mad at me.”

 

ĄG

 

“So, how did David take the news?” Kylie asked when they were seated.

“Well." Blair paused and corrected herself. "Pretty well.” She thought for a moment and said, “It’s hard for him, Kylie. We were talking last night, and he kept making comments about the baby’s being a water polo player and running marathons.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, the sperm donor is a jock. David seems to be focused on the things that the sperm donor does — all things David doesn’t do, of course. He wanted the donor that was a jock, even though David’s a real couch potato himself. He watches sports fanatically, but he’d hurt himself if he ever tried to participate. It seems like he’s jealous of the donor and thinks the baby will be just like the guy.” She snapped her napkin open and continued, “He doesn’t get that his contribution to the baby's development will be a thousand times more important. It’s like he believes that the male role in the process is now complete, and some other guy did it!”

“That’s not uncommon,” Kylie said, frowning. “You know, fatherhood is tough on men, and it’s even worse when they’re infertile. There seems to be a primal need to reproduce — to carry on the line, and when that role's taken away, a lot of guys struggle. I really think some very old forces come into play here that make men need to prove themselves through reproducing.”

“So how do I reach him?”

“I’m not sure, Blair. I don’t know David, so I can't even hazard a guess. But as time goes on, and more and more attention is properly focused on you, I’m afraid it might get worse. Guys start to feel really left out during a pregnancy — so I’d urge you to do everything you can to prop him up for a while. Really make him understand that he’s important to you.”

“He is,” she said, her expression earnest. “He means the world to me, Kylie. He used to know that, but lately, I’m not so sure.”

 

ĄG

 

Saturday morning found David, as promised, making breakfast in bed for Blair. His efforts were modest, but she praised them nonetheless, eating the frozen waffles with gusto. “You did great, David.” She smiled and reached over to dab at his mouth with her napkin. “Got a little syrup there. Hold on.” Scooting over, she put her hand behind his head and pulled him to her, removing the droplet with her tongue. “Mmm … you are one sweet-tasting man.”

“Why, thanks,” he said. He reached out and picked up the syrup bottle from the bedside table. “Want me to pour some of this on any other spots?”

“No, I like you all natural. The syrup would just disguise your perfectly delicious self.” She rubbed her face against several spots on his body, murmuring, “You smell so wonderful. So sexy.”

He looked at her, the tiniest hint of a question in his eyes. “You really love to have sex, don’t you?”

Sitting up to get a good look at him, she said, “We’ve been lovers for ten years, David. Is this a news flash?”

“No, no, of course not. I just … I wonder how you’ll feel when you can’t have sex anymore. Won’t it bother you?”

Scrunching up her nose, she asked, “Do you know something that I don’t know? ‘Cause I’m not planning on giving it up in the immediate future.”

“Well, maybe not immediate, but we won’t be able to do it when you’re really pregnant,” he insisted.

“I’m really pregnant now, David, and there isn’t a reason in the world we can’t be having sex up until the baby’s born. Granted, I won’t feel like it all of the time, and I guarantee you’re not coming near me for months afterward, but other than that — it should be business as usual.”

“No,” he said, although he sounded uncertain. “You can’t really … you wouldn’t want to … would you?”

"I wouldn't want to what … have sex? Just because I'm pregnant?"

He nodded, looking even more unsure of himself.

“You know Jeanne in my office, right? She’s one of my team members?”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “Sweet little thing, kinda shy and quiet.”

“That’s her,” Blair agreed. “When she was pregnant, her husband threatened to hire prostitutes — for her! I caught her leering at the UPS driver one day when she was about eight months along. I swear, David, we all kept an eye on her so she didn’t start humping men when they came in the door!”

“No! Really?”

“Yes, really. Women in my office talk about these things, David, and from what I’ve heard, most women want sex a whole lot more or a whole lot less when they’re pregnant. I think some of it has to do with how difficult your pregnancy is and things like that, but if I’m healthy, I think I’m gonna be in the ‘want it more’ camp. I’m already itching for you, and it’s only been a few days.” She chose not to tell the whole truth — that they hadn’t had sex since she'd been inseminated.

He still looked puzzled, but his interest was captured by some compelling things she was doing with her hand. “I can barely keep up with you now,” he gasped when she hit a very sensitive place.

“You’d better take your vitamins, big boy,” she purred, forcing him to his back. “You’re gonna need ‘em.”

 

ĄG

 

An hour later, she lay on her back, knees raised, feet flat on the mattress. Pushing some strands of hair from her damp face, she murmured, “That was absolutely awesome! Damn, you haven’t gone at me like that for ages.” She rolled onto her side and rested her head on his chest, hearing his heart still hammering away. “I think you’re just hitting your peak.”

He laughed softly and turned his head to kiss her. "I think you might be able to hit another peak. Wanna try?"

"Like I ever say no to that." She took his hand and slid it between her legs, guiding him so he touched her gently. "‘Atta boy. Keep it nice and slow and soft." Wrapping her arm around his neck, she pulled him to her and kissed him with gusto. After just a few minutes, he was ready for action again, and she urged him to enter her. "God, I love not worrying about birth control or getting pregnant," she purred. "It's so nice to be able to just have sex again."

His dark eyes were bright with desire as he slid inside. He hovered above her and bent to kiss her again, sliding his tongue into her mouth. Coming up for air, he asked, "Can we do everything we used to do?"

"Yeah … everything."

He gripped her legs and slung them over his shoulders, then eased in and out of her for what seemed like hours, keeping her just on the edge of orgasm. With her hands on his hips, she tried to pull him into herself harder, but he grinned playfully and held back, making her want it all the more. It wasn't until she groaned in frustration that he gave her the cadence she wanted, and once he did, she came noisily, moaning and thrashing around their big bed. He followed quickly, and she held him tight, loving the feeling of him pulsing inside of her.

David stayed inside for a few moments, since he knew Blair loved having his weight on top of her. But he rolled off quicker than usual, worried about hurting her sensitive body. He snuggled up behind her, draped an arm around her waist, and they both fell asleep immediately.

Nearly an hour had passed when David groggily opened his eyes. But he woke completely when he saw the look on his wife's face. “What’s wrong?”

Her hands went to her abdomen, and she pressed her fingers against a few places. “I … feel a funny cramp.”

“Where?” he asked, his voice getting higher.

“Not sure. It feels like my uterus or maybe an ovary.”

“That’s all that’s in there!” he said, his anxiety starting to grow.

“I have a few more things,” she said, palpating her belly. “I’m a human as well as a woman.”

“Does it still hurt?”

“It’s been thirty seconds, David. Give me a minute.”

She rolled out of bed and went into the bath, mainly to get away from her husband’s contagious anxiety. Looking into the mirror, she saw the tense set of her own jaw and decided she needed to at least speak to her doctor. She hadn’t yet picked an obstetrician, so she had to call her gynecologist. Just as she turned to leave, a cramp hit her, and there was no doubt about this one. She sank to the edge of the tub, her legs about to give out — more from anxiety than pain. For an instant, she had an image of her tiny baby dislodging itself from her uterine wall and floating down towards her cervix. “No!” she cried, causing David to burst into the room, eyes wild.

Shaking and pale, she demanded, “Call Doctor Coughlin. Tell her I’m experiencing cramps and ask what we should do.”

“We should go to the hospital!”

“David, please do as I asked. Please,” she begged, sending him flying. Moments later he was back, portable phone in hand. “Her service says she’s unavailable. There’s a Doctor Jablonski on call.”

“I’ve never heard of him or her,” she growled. “I’m not gonna waste time trying to get a stranger to tell me what to do!”

She took in a few deep breaths, knowing that she was panicking. “Give me the phone.” He handed it to her, and she dialed Kylie’s home. When the machine picked up, she paged her and then got up to splash some cold water onto her face. “I’m gonna get into the shower and clean up in case we have to go to the ER. If Kylie calls, tell her what’s going on and see what she thinks we should do.” He nodded mutely, his skin the color of flour. She kissed him gently and tried to summon her courage. “It’ll be all right, David. I’m sure of it.”

 

ĄG

 

When she walked into the living room, David was on the phone. “Here she is,” he said, obviously relieved to hand the device off.

“Hi,” Blair said. “Did David tell you what’s going on?”

“He did,” she said briefly, in full doctor mode. “Describe your symptoms for me.”

“I got a slight cramp that felt like it was in my uterus. Then I got up, and when I did, I felt another one, much stronger than the one before.”

“Have you felt cramps like this before?”

“Not since I’ve been pregnant, but I’d say the last one reminded me of the kind I get when I start my period.”

“How are you feeling now? Have the cramps subsided?”

“Yeah, I just have an achy feeling in my lower back. Nothing too intense.”

“Any spotting?”

“No.”

Her tone sharpened and she asked, “Are you certain, Blair? Have you checked?”

“Yes. I just took a shower. There was nothing there.”

“Were you sleeping when the cramps started?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Uhm … I guess if I'm gonna use you as a doctor, I have to tell you the whole truth. We’d made love and fallen asleep when the first one woke me.”

“You made love right before this happened?”

“Uh-huh. Is that a problem?”

"No, not at all. Did you have an orgasm?"

Blair would normally have teased Kylie about the privacy invasion, but she was too worried to tease, and Kylie was acting completely businesslike. "Yeah. I had two. The first one was very intense."

"That's probably it," Kylie said.

"I shouldn't have sex?" Blair asked, hoping that David's fears had been groundless.

“No, no, but sometimes intercourse can bring on a little cramping.”

“Does that mean we shouldn’t …?”

“No, Blair, really, having sex is a good thing for you. It keeps your uterus nice and toned. But your body’s going through some pretty significant changes. You might experience a few funny sensations, but they aren’t anything to worry about.”

“Do you think I should go to the ER, Kylie?”

“No, I don’t. If you’re not spotting, and the cramps are down to an ache, I wouldn’t. Just monitor how you’re feeling, and if things change significantly, you’ll want to take some action. Did you call your gynecologist?”

“Yeah. She’s unavailable. Somebody I’ve never heard of is covering for her.”

“Well, that won’t do you much good. Whoever it is probably won't have access to your chart. I think you’re fine, but just to be safe, you should get busy and choose an obstetrician. That’s who should be seeing you, anyway.”

“I meant to ask you about that,” Blair said. “I got a list of names from Doctor Coughlin, but I don’t know a thing about any of them.”

“Tell you what — a good friend of mine from med school practices in Santa Monica. She’s an excellent obstetrician, and I guarantee I can get you in to see her tomorrow. What do you say?”

“Sold. What’s her name?”

“Monique Jackson. I guarantee you’ll love her.”

“Thanks, Kylie. We were on the verge of going mad here. You’re a lifesaver.”

“Well, yeah,” she drawled, back in friend mode. “That’s why I make the big bucks. I’ll call you later tonight after I get in touch with Monique. You go put your feet up and lie on a heating pad for a while. Don’t forget that you can’t take any pain reliever, okay?”

“Yes, Doc, I remember.”

“And if you feel worse, page me, and I’ll go with you to the ER. I know how to go to the head of the line.” Her voice grew somber again as she added, “I’m teasing you only because I’m sure you’re fine. Got it?”

“Yep, I got it. Talk to you later, Kylie, and thanks again.”

“You owe me dinner. No such thing as a free consultation.”

“Done.”

"And, Blair, don't let this freak you out. It's common, and it shouldn't make you afraid of having sex. Do your best to make David believe that, too," she said.

"That might be a harder sell," Blair admitted, "but I'll try."

She hung up and clambered onto David’s lap. “I assume you got the gist of the conversation?”

He wrapped his arms tightly around her. “Yeah, I did.” Placing soft kisses on her face, he murmured, “I’m so sorry, honey; I know how freaked you were.”

“We may as well get used to it, David; being a parent is all about being scared out of your wits half the time.”

 

ĄG

 

Kylie was true to her word, and the next afternoon, Blair was sitting in Doctor Jackson’s office, talking to her before they began the exam. The intercom buzzed and the receptionist said, “Dr. Mackenzie on line one. She says it’s urgent.”

Doctor Jackson rolled her eyes. “All of her calls are urgent. Surgeons,” she muttered good-naturedly. "Do you mind if I use the speakerphone, Blair? I'm sure she's checking on you."

"No, not at all."

Monique hit the button. “This had better be an emergency, Doctor Mackenzie; I’m in a consultation with a very important patient. She's listening in on the speakerphone, by the way.”

“Hi, Blair," Kylie said. "I just wanted to make sure Monique hadn’t scared her off with your dreadful bedside manner.”

“Listen here, Shakes," Monique interrupted. "I’ve got better things to do than play games with you. Go practice your sewing.”

“I really called to thank you for seeing Blair, Monique. She’s a good friend, and I know you’ll treat her well.”

“Thanks, Kylie. I’m sure we’ll enjoy working together. Now you go make some tiny little incision and charge $25,000 for it and let me get back to work.”

“I’ll call you later, Blair, and we can gossip about Monique,” she managed to get out before Dr. Jackson hung up.

“Shakes?” Blair asked quizzically.

Doctor Jackson held her hands out and made them shake violently. “That’s what we called her in med school once she declared she was going to be a surgeon. It just stuck.”

“I like it,” Blair said. “A lot. I’ll have to use it.”

 

ĄG

 

After being given a clean bill of health from Doctor Jackson, Blair spent the next week trying to prop up David's self-esteem. It was only after she had unsuccessfully tried to get him to make love for the third time that her suspicions were confirmed. “Do you think you caused me to have that little cramping episode?”

“Well, didn’t I? We were way too energetic, Blair. We just can’t do things like that any more.”

“David, I explained this to you. Kylie said it was good to have sex. Monique said we should continue to have sex. Monique said that if anything, it was my orgasm that caused the cramps, and I’m not giving up having those — period!”

“I feel funny about it, Blair. I can’t get it out of my mind. You looked so scared, honey. I was afraid of losing you!”

“Come on now,” she said, enfolding him in an embrace. “You’re not going to lose me. And we’re not going to lose the baby. We have to go along just like normal, David.”

“I’ll try, but I’m just not in the mood right now. How about a foot rub?”

“Great,” she said, pasting on a wan smile. Just what I’ve always wanted. A nice, hot, sexy foot rub!

He got some lotion and rubbed her feet so lovingly that she didn't mind not having sex. He had such a gentle, yet firm touch that she loved to have his hands on her body — in every way. "You know," he said, "you've got two women giving you advice on our sex life, and I don't know either one of them."

"True," she said. "Would you like for me to have Kylie over for dinner? I think you'd like her."

"Nah," he said, "I know you like to have your friends all to yourself."

She laughed. "That's just because you know I don't have many friends, and I don't like most of yours."

"You don't mind when I have my friends over to play cards."

She patted his cheek, smiling at him fondly. "So gullible. I've never been home when you have your friends over. That's why I don't mind."

Scrunching up his face, he nodded. "I guess you're right. I suppose we'd better keep our separate friends separate. Then I won't know if I hate Kylie." He continued to rub her feet, pressing his thumb down the center of her arch, making her moan with pleasure. "You haven't said much about Monique," he said. "What's she like?"

"She's nice," Blair said. "Pretty irreverent, just like Kylie. They went to UCLA med school together, and I think they rubbed off on each other."

"UCLA, huh? That's reassuring. I like my doctors to go to good schools."

"I think she's well-educated, honey. I was in her office and saw her undergraduate diploma: summa cum laude from Howard."

"Isn't that school mostly black?"

"Yeah. She's mostly black, so I suppose she fit right in."

"You didn't tell me she was black," he said.

"Didn't seem important." She gave him a curious look and asked, "Doesn't bother you, does it?"

"Nope. You just didn't mention it."

Hmm … I also haven't mentioned that Kylie's gay. I think I'll keep that to myself. David's pretty open-minded, but I'm not sure he'd like my best friend to be a single, great-looking lesbian. I'll tell him when he's acting more like himself. I can never tell what's going to upset him anymore.

 

ĄG

 

That Sunday, bubbling with excitement, Blair called Kylie. "Who do you consult before you make a major decision?"

"No one. Why?"

"Surgeons," Blair muttered, making Kylie laugh.

"Well, you asked. Why?"

"Because I'm going to show you a house that you're gonna want to buy, but you need to make an offer today, or you'll never get it. So I want you to come with whomever you need to help you decide."

"Well, when you put it that way, I guess I'll bring Nick. He's good at helping me decide if I have any deep, dark emotions luring me into making a poor decision."

"You sound pretty calm for a woman who'd better be buying a house in a couple of hours," Blair said. "Aren't you excited about this?"

"Oh!" Kylie took an audible breath. "I was in my 'I'm stunned, but have to maintain my composure because I'm a surgeon' persona. In reality, I'm very, very excited. If you're sure I'm gonna like it, it's a done deal."

"That's the kind of talk I like to hear," Blair said. "Meet me at my office at 2:00. I should be able to get the keys by then. Oh — bring your checkbook … and binoculars."

Kylie hung up, then looked at the phone and said, "Huh?"

 

ĄG

 

They met at the office, and Blair quickly filled Kylie and Nick in on the details. "Okay, the owner of this place is a well-known actor, and he's decided that he needs more space for his growing family. He owns this property and the one next door. He wants to tear down both houses and build on the property next door because he likes that view better. I sold him the other property, by the way."

Kylie watched her friend speak, noting the professional, organized air that she projected, tempered by a youthful enthusiasm that she found herself quite taken with.

"Anyway, I'm trying to talk him into buying a much bigger place further up the hill. He wouldn't have to do a lot to the new property, and I think it would suit his purposes much better. He hates to go through the hassle of selling both houses, but I've promised him I can sell each of them with one viewing. This will be the easier one to sell, since it's so much less expensive, but I need to sell it today. This is the only opportunity you've got. If you like it, make an offer. If you don't — you're insane, and I lose both listings." She gave her friend a sickly-sweet looking smile.

"Thank God there's no pressure," Kylie said, feeling a little ill. "Well, let's go take a look. I guess I'll either own a house, or lose a friend by the end of the day."

"Don't be silly," Blair said. "You could easily lose more than one friend today. I bet Nick won't like you, either, if you don't bite on this house."

They got into Blair's E-class Mercedes, Kylie allowing Nick the front seat to accommodate his slightly longer legs. "If you only get one chance to sell this, you must be pretty confident of your buyer, Ms. Spencer," Kylie teased.

Shooting her friend a look over her shoulder, Blair said, "I am. I don't mean to put pressure on you, Kylie, and I swear I won't hold it against you if you don't buy it, but I'm risking a pretty hefty commission on the conviction that I know what you want."

"I think you do, too," she said, squeezing her shoulder.

They pulled up in front of a large wooden gate, and Blair rolled her window down and buzzed. "Blair Spencer," she announced when someone answered. The gate swung open, and as they pulled in, Kylie muttered, "I'll take it."

Her voice filled with excitement, Blair said, "It's wonderful, isn't it?"

Kylie nodded mutely, too impressed to speak. They all got out of the car and started to look around, Blair hanging back while Kylie and Nick took in the setting.

The sprawling, Spanish-style home sat perched on the side of a steep canyon. Just outside of the massive stucco wall that surrounded the property, wild canyon plants predominated. "There are homes all around here," Blair said, "but the vegetation is so dense that you can only see them at night when you can catch a glimpse of their lights."

"What are we on in terms of soil?"

"Granite," Blair said. "The house is very secure. The seller is a real worry-wart, and he had two geologic surveys done before he was satisfied."

"Sounds great," Kylie said. "I'm not a worrier, but I'd hate to go down this hill in an earthquake or a mudslide."

"If you're inside the house, you're not going anywhere," Blair assured her. "Did you bring your binoculars?"

"Yep."

"Well, pull them out and look down and to the south when we stand on the porch."

Kylie did so, asking, "Is that Riviera?"

"Yep. From the private garden off the master suite you have a very good view of the country club. You can watch the L.A. Open while you sip a nice drink, get on your cell phone and harass people who live someplace cold."

"Speaking of cold … my brothers are gonna be so jealous." She grinned widely. "Nothing better than making your brothers jealous."

"Never too late for a little therapy, Kylie," Nick said. "You should've resolved your sibling rivalry by the time you're forty."

"I've got a few weeks," Kylie said, sticking her tongue out at her friend's teasing.

Blair led them to the entrance, and a friendly young woman answered the door. "Hi, you must be Blair," she said, extending a hand. "I'm Nicole. They said you'd come over this afternoon. I'll just run over to the main house to give you some time to look around."

When she left, Blair informed them, "The nanny and the housekeeper live in this house, and the kids hang out here a lot of the time, too. This property's completely walled in and has a big play area in the back, so it's a little kid-centered . But you can get rid of the kid stuff without too much trouble."

The home wasn't huge by Hollywood standards, but it was good-sized by anyone else's. It contained three bedrooms, three baths, a home office and a large family room that was set up as a home theater.

They took their time in the house, examining every room carefully. The place had clearly been very well maintained, with windows newly installed and wide-plank wooden floors throughout. Kylie was particularly impressed with the master bath; it had been remodeled in just the last year with a bidet, stainless steel, artisan-made double sinks and a huge, enclosed, multi-head shower. "They took out the tub to make room for that shower," Blair informed them. "They needed the big size to wash the dogs." She giggled and shrugged her shoulders. "Hollywood."

Nick's eyes grew wide, and he gave Blair the "cut" sign. "Don't even get her started on dogs! That's the only reason she wants a house."

"Is it really?" Blair asked, turning to Kylie. "I had no idea."

"Well, I usually keep my secret desires secret," she said, wrapping her hands playfully around Nick's neck. "Some therapist."

"I'm not your therapist," he joked, giving her a one-armed hug. "I can gossip about you all I want."

"We always had dogs when I was growing up, and I really miss having one. A house with an enclosed yard like this is just what I've needed."

"She'll be breeding them in the backyard in no time," Nick said.

"Yeah, this neighborhood is just the kinda place where a hand-lettered sign in the front yard announcing 'Free puppies' would be very much appreciated," Kylie said, laughing heartily.

"The neighbors would hang you — and I don't mean in effigy," Blair said. "We can revisit the dog issue later. Now it's time to look at my favorite element." She opened the sliding doors of the media room and watched as Kylie and Nick walked onto a long, deep, covered veranda.

"Good Lord," Kylie said, her smile growing. "Why do you need a house when you have such a beautiful space?"

"I love the veranda, too," Blair said, "but this play area is a real work of art. Obviously, you can have it all taken out …" Blair began, but Kylie gave her an astonished look and said, "You must be mad! This is where baby Spencer and I will while away our afternoons."

The built-in playground equipment was of a quality never seen in public parks. Blair commented, "He spent over $100,000 on this set-up. There's almost a foot of shredded rubber under this surface. I don't think you'd kill yourself if you jumped from the top of the slide and landed on your head."

"Nice to know," Kylie said, obviously not paying attention. Her gaze was sweeping along the tall, spiky, native plants that nestled along the property line. In the rear corner of the yard, stood a huge wooden doorway that bisected the white stucco wall separating the residences. "That's how they go back and forth between the houses," Blair indicated. "You'd obviously have that taken out and extend the stucco."

"Right. But it's such a nice door, I might leave it."

Blair smiled as she watched her friend, then caught Nick's eye and mimicked snapping her wrist, then reeling in a fish. He laughed, covering his face so Kylie didn't see him. "The yard's nice, isn't it?" Blair asked, now standing next to her friend.

"Duh! Built-in gas grill, granite prep surface, uhm … some kinda stone deck."

"Arizona flagstone," Blair said, "and it's planted with curly thyme so you get a little cushioning as well as a nice scent when you walk on it."

"That's what that is!" Kylie said, her smile brightening. "I love details like that." She turned completely around, slowly taking in the property again.

"God is in the details," Blair said.

"I love it, Blair." She turned to Nick and cocked her head. "Doctor Scott? Do you have an opinion?"

"Of course I do. Do you want to hear it?"

"Yes, Nick," Kylie said, slightly exasperated.

He looked at Blair and winked. "Isn't it fun to torture her?"

"It's my favorite hobby," Blair agreed.

Kylie's lips were pursed, but her eyes were still smiling. Nick said, "It's the nicest house I've ever seen, Kylie, and I know you'll love it here." He turned towards the house and shook his head. "My mother always told me I'd regret not going to medical school. For once, she was right."

"You love your job," Kylie scoffed.

"Yeah, but I'd like your salary."

"Well, I like the women you get. Like's unfair."

"I don't mean to rush you, but I've gotta pee," Blair said.

Kylie grinned at her. "You know damned well that I'd buy this place if it were just the yard. The house is a bonus. A big damn bonus!"

Blair grabbed her arm and gave it a squeeze. "I knew you'd love it!"

"I just wish it had a pool. It'd bug my brothers more if it did."

"There's a pool," Blair said, scoffing ostentatiously. "Right this way." They walked to the side of the house, where a long, narrow lap pool had been installed. It was tightly covered by an automatic pool cover, and Blair pointed to the surface and said to Nick, "Walk on it."

"Are you nuts?"

"No. Go ahead. You can't hurt it."

"You want me to break an expensive pool cover owned by one of the biggest action heroes in the world?"

"He's not a real action hero, Nick," she said, laughing. "He just plays one in the movies. If you break it, I'll pay to fix it."

Giving her a suspicious look, he stepped gingerly onto the surface, amazed when it barely moved under his one hundred ninety-five pounds. "There's no possible way for a child to get under that cover," Blair said. "He had it specially designed because his kids are very, oh, shall we say … inventive?" she said, trying to be kind.

"I've gotta have this place. It's absolutely perfect. I just have to make one call," Kylie said. She took her cell phone off the waistband of her jeans and hit a speed dial number. "Alan? It's your baby sister." She paused for a second and said, "Yes, it's Doctor Baby Sister. Listen, I need some help. I found a house I want to buy, but I have to make an offer today. If I fax you the contract, will you take a look at it for me?" Pausing again, she nodded. "Sure, I'll trade you a vasectomy for your opinion, if you don't mind having me take a scalpel to your …" She trailed off and then giggled, "It's not as effective to tell Mom on me anymore, Alan. Besides, she knows I routinely slice and dice on men's … All right, all right, I'll stop. I'll fax the stuff to your house, okay? Give my love to Annette and the kids."

Switching off, she gave Kylie a broad grin and said, "Let's go to your office and buy me a house."

"Don't you want to know how much he's asking?"

The question hit Kylie like a bucket of ice water. She blinked as her mouth dropped open, then closed again. "I … I don't care how much it costs," she said, her voice rising into whine range. "I've gotta have it!"

"It's within your range," Blair said, drawing out the suspense.

"How much?" Kylie asked. "Not that it matters. I'll start selling my body if I have to."

"One point six," Blair said, waiting for the reaction.

"I told you my range was up to one point five," Kylie said. "Five's less than six."

"Yeah, yeah," Blair said. "What's $100,000 when you're up at this level? Besides, you pre-qualified for one point seven five. Quit whining." She turned towards the house, and Nick followed her.

Kylie lagged behind, shoving her hands in her pockets and sticking her lower lip out while mumbling, "I said one point five."

 

ĄG

 

Kylie took pity on Nick, and rather than make him hang out for the rest of the afternoon, they dropped him off at his home before returning to the office. Watching him walk up the path to his condo, Blair said, "He's a very good catch. I wish I knew someone who was single and looking."           

"I don't think he's looking," Kylie said. "He likes being single. He wants to get married some day, but he swears he won't be tied down until he's forty."

"How old is he?"

"Thirty-five."

"Mmm … my age." She nodded, watching his butt when he climbed the stairs. "Dark blonde hair, slightly curly. Such a nice face. Great jaw. I love a man with a good jaw, don't you?" she asked wistfully.

"Oh, yeah. I never date a man without a good jaw," Kylie said, her teasing answer ignored.

"Good body, nice, broad shoulders. Why do guys like him always want to wait to marry?"

"It's easy to say you're going to wait, but when the right one comes along, you forget all of your vows."

Blair turned and smiled at her friend. "He could make me want to forget my vows, but now probably isn't the best time to start cheating on my husband, is it?"

"Not ideal," Kylie agreed. "Timing is everything."

 

ĄG

 

It took much longer than Kylie thought it would, but at nine o'clock, Blair reached over and shook her friend's hand weakly, then let her head drop to her desk. "You've got yourself a house, Doc," she mumbled.

Kylie looked remarkably fresh, given the long day of ups and downs. "I'm just bummed about one thing," she mused. "It's kind of a shame to have his attorney sign the papers. I wanted to have his signature. If the house loses value, I thought I could sell the contract!"

"That house won't lose value," Blair assured her. "Actually, I'm sure I could have sold it for a couple of hundred thousand more."

Kylie blinked at her and said, "But, Blair, that's money out of your pocket — and his!"

"It's worth it to him not to have to deal with people. He doesn't want a bunch of strangers trooping through his house — heck, he doesn't want people to know he lives in L.A. Selling the house in an afternoon is worth a lot to him."

"But what about you? You get a percentage of the sale. Selling for less than the max comes out of your pocket."

"Look," Blair said, her tone businesslike, "I know what I'm doing. Now that the smaller nanny's house is sold, he'll have to sell the main one and buy another. My guess is that I'll sell him at least $10,000,000 worth of real estate this year. Given that I make anywhere from two to four percent …" She waved her hand dismissively. "I'm not crying over the commission on a couple of hundred grand."

"But if you know you have clients who'd pay more ¾"

"Kylie, I called you first, then I called every client I thought might be interested. If any of them had been as excited as you were, I would have stuck them in the car with you and let you fight it out."

"You would have?"

"Sure. I'd never harm my seller's potential profit. But I also know him well. He wanted to get things done in a hurry. I knew you trusted me enough to believe me when I told you that a geological survey wasn't necessary. Most of my other clients would want to dicker around with things like that, and the seller hates that crap. He wanted a quick deal, and I knew you'd be decisive."

"Damn! You're really good at this," Kylie said, her admiration evident. "And you must make a shitload of money if you get two to four percent!"

"Well, last year you beat me, but two years ago, I made more than you did," she snickered. "Don't forget, I've seen your mortgage application."

"I went to school for seven years and worked for almost nothing for another seven to be able to make this kind of money," Kylie grumbled.

"I took a two-month-long evening school course to get my license," Blair said, getting up and doing a little satisfaction dance. "Who is the smart one? Nah nah nah nah nah nah!"

"You are," Kylie agreed, laughing. "Without question, you are." As they left the deserted office, Kylie draped an arm around her friend's shoulders. "But I do get to play with knives."

 

ĄG

 

The next night, Blair was at home when David arrived. She was out in their yard, half-reclined on a chaise. She wasn't reading or listening to music, and he assumed she was asleep. But when he slid the glass door open, she turned around and greeted him.

"I thought you were asleep." He walked over to her and sat on the edge of her chair. "Whatcha doin?"

"Nothin'." She put a hand on his shoulder and pulled him down for a kiss. "I've been sitting here letting myself feel good."

"Is that something you do … often?"

She smiled at his puzzled expression. "No, honey. I'm usually filling my mind with something every minute. But having this baby is making me slow down — a lot."

He ran his fingers through her hair, smiling when she leaned into his hand like a happy puppy. "It makes you tired, too. That must be hard for you. You're such a high-energy woman."

Smiling languidly, she said, "I've gotten used to it. Actually, I've grown to like it. I'm slowing down and trying to appreciate every day."

"Are you reading those Oprah books? You're sounding awfully touchy-feely."

"Maybe I am. But Oprah isn't influencing me. Being pregnant makes me feel different, David. It's hard to describe, but it's very different."

"Try," he said, cocking his head and giving her an inquisitive look. "I wanna know."

Blair sat up excitedly and put her hands on his knees. "I'm so glad you want to know things like this."

He frowned at her, looking irritated. "Of course I want to know. Damn, you make it sound like I don't care about you."

"I never thought that, honey. I know you care about me, but you don't ask many questions about the baby."

"I'm asking now," he said, his expression softening.

"You're right. Okay … how do I explain this?" She thought for a minute and said, "Some of the pregnancy books say that a lot of women get depressed when their hormones start going wild. But it feels like the exact opposite to me. I feel … I guess the word is euphoric. Yeah," she said, nodding, "that's it. I feel euphoric. Like everything is good and the baby's healthy and we're in love and the world's a kind, gentle place."

"Damn, I wish I could get pregnant," he said. "I think everyone's evil — some people just haven't shown it yet."

She rubbed his close-cropped hair briskly, making him laugh. "You're not that cynical."

"No, I'm not that bad, but you and I used to have the same world view. How am I gonna handle being with an optimist?"

"Oh, this too shall pass," she said. "I'll be back to my old self one of these days."

He leaned over and kissed her again, then held her head still and started to probe her mouth with his tongue. "I like happy Blair."

"Happy, horny Blair," she said, giving him a sultry kiss.

"I like horny Blair, too. Although you've always been pretty willing to be my love slave."

She put her hands up over her head and crossed her wrists. "I'm yours," she said, her swollen breasts showing through her thin tank top.

His eyes narrowed, and she could see him take in a breath. "Right here?" he asked, his voice deep and smoky.

"Anywhere, David. Anywhere you want me."

In a flash, his tie, his shirt and his pants were tossed onto a spare chair. He moved another chaise next to the one Blair was lying on and stripped off his briefs. She watched him closely, loving the way his angular, smoothly muscled body moved. "You look hot in your briefs," she said. "I'm glad you've changed back."

He put the back of her chaise down flat, then slipped off her loose shorts. Kneeling down, he put one leg between hers and the other on the second chaise. She reached out and touched him, moving her hand from his knee to his chest. Then she wet a finger and traced one of his nipples, watching the hair on his arms stand up in reaction. "Let's frighten the neighbors. Make them think we've brought two wild dogs into the yard." She growled at him, making him smile.

Lowering himself onto her body, he tried to get comfortable, but found himself worried about hurting her. "Hey," she soothed, "what's wrong?"

"I don't want to lie on your stomach."

"It's okay, David. You can't hurt the baby. He's very well protected."

He didn't look convinced, and after fidgeting for another few moments, he stood up and tossed one of the cushions on the ground. "If we're gonna growl like dogs, we may as well lie on the ground."

She nodded and got up. He put her cushion next to his, making a thin, but wide bed. Blair reached up to take off her tank top, and he stilled her hands. "Leave it on," he said, huskily. "You look like you're gonna pop out of it any minute." At her raised eyebrow, he added, "It's hot."

Getting back into the mood quickly, Blair soon found herself on her hands and knees, with David stroking her ass and hips with his hands. "Damn, you look great. Such a sexy ass."

She twitched her butt at him, and he growled and started to kiss every bit of skin he could reach. They continued making love, their tall privacy fence screening out any prying eyes.

Twenty minutes later, Blair lay on her side, David plastered up against her back. He was sweating and panting, his chest moving rapidly against her. "Animal control should be here at any time," he rasped out.

"Mmm, that was some fine lovemaking," Blair said, reaching back to pat his hip. "We don't do it that way very often."

"If we want the neighbors to think we have dogs, we have to do it doggy style," he said, laughing.

"I like variety," she said, "but you have to work extra hard when I'm on my hands and knees. I can't help much."

He kissed a line across her shoulders, his warm breath making her sigh. "You come so easily now. I don't need much help."

"You've never needed much help," she purred. "You've always known just how to touch me."

"I do my best," he said.

"You just keep thinking of new tricks, Mr. Spencer. You're the idea man around here."

"I've got one now," he mumbled. "Sleep?"

"Sure." She turned over and put her head against David's chest, listening to his heart calm to a slow, steady beat.

"Mmm … remember my mother's coming over tonight. She won't be here till 6:00, though."

"Fuck!" Blair was upright immediately. "I forgot! I don't have any food in the house."

"We can order out," he said lazily. "Lie down with me and cuddle. Since I can't smoke, it's the least you can do. God knows how I loved to have a cigarette after sex."

"You're mad," she said, getting to her knees and then standing. "Besides, you're still smoking."

"I'm down to ten a day. That's progress."

"Yeah, it is," she agreed. "You can rest as a reward. I'll shower and pick up the newspapers lying all over the living room. And when you get up, you'd better check those cushions, buddy. Your mother likes to sit outside, and the thought of her sitting on our ¾"

"Got it," he said. "A tiny nap and then I'll get right on it."

He was almost asleep by the time Blair reached the back door, but she didn't mind the inequity. It felt so nice to make love and be close that she decided to reward him with a long nap. Even Sadie can't bring me down today, she thought, her euphoric mood making her feel like she was floating into the house.

 

ĄG

 

Sadie arrived fifteen minutes early as she was prone to do. Blair was used to her habits by now, however, and she just assumed that her mother-in-law would always be early and figured that into her invitation.

She and David had decided to withhold the big news until Blair had visited the obstetrician, but now that she had, they were ready to make the announcement. Blair would have preferred to wait a while, like nine months, but she knew that wouldn't fly. She had called her own mother the moment she found out — but that seemed like a perk she was due.

"Sadie, how are you?" she asked, giving the older woman a kiss on both cheeks.

"Fine. I'm fine. The question is, how are you?" Sadie was looking her over like a mare up for auction, and Blair was glad to feel David walk up behind her and interrupt.

"Hi, Mom." He kissed her and took her by the hand, leading her to a chair. "We've got good news."

"You're pregnant!" Sadie screamed.

"Yep, she is," David said, smiling as he hugged Blair.

Sadie was up in a flash, hugging each of them ferociously. "That's wonderful! Just wonderful! Oh, David, your father would have been so happy, God rest his soul. I wish he could be here today." She started to cry, and Blair went to get the tissue box, giving Sadie a moment alone with her son.

When she walked back into the room, David was holding his mother in his arms, both of them crying. She stopped and watched for a moment, her mind wandering. Someday our baby will be an adult. I hope he or she loves us and shows affection as easily as David does. That's one area in which I hope our child is just like his daddy .

 

Continued in Chapter 3

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