I twirled my pen between my fingers as I stared at my computer screen. I was now three months pregnant, and I still hadn’t asked for time off. Mostly because Kay was gone now, too. I sort of wanted to ask Kay face-to-face but he had been gone since I left for the Christmas holidays, and I needed to just type in the form myself.
I sighed and pulled up the company website, clicking on my name so I could submit the maternity leave form–then there was a knock on the door. “Come in,” I said, pushing my chair back a bit and raising my eyebrows as Kay came in.
“D-Doctor Spr-riggan said you’ve b-been asking wh-when I c-come back?” he stammered, stepping into my office.
I stood up quickly. “Yes,” I said nervously. “I need to request some time off.”
Kay rubbed the back of his head. “W-well… you have h-had a l-lot of time off l-lately.”
I looked down, feeling like it was an out-of-body experience to be saying this. “I know, and I plan on working as much as possible around this. I don’t want to take the time off until the last possible minute and I’ll come back as soon as I possibly can. But I really need, ah, m-maternity leave…”
I trailed off and looked rather guiltily up at him. His eyes went very wide and then he glanced down at my midriff. “M-maternity l-leave?” he whispered. Then his open mouth closed into a smile. “W-why, Luna! C-congratulations, if y-you d-don’t mind the in-informality.”
“You’re my grandfather!” I exclaimed rather quickly. Then I blushed slightly, looking away. “Informality is perfectly adequate in a situation like this.”
“Congratulations,” he said again, without any trace of a stammer.
Our eyes met again. “Thank you,” I said, smiling back. “So, I am due in about six months. I would like to work as long as I possibly can, and I do intend on getting back to work soon after.”
“You c-can have p-plenty of t-time off!” he said, nodding enthusiastically. “All th-the time you n-need.”
“I won’t need much time,” I assured him. “I don’t know much about raising kids, and I know what I’m doing here so…” I hoped he didn’t notice the slight tremor in my voice. I was terrified at the idea of being a mother, and was hoping that I’d be able to take maybe… a month off. Three weeks? Two, would be nice. Kellen insisted on a month in case I needed the rest but I doubted I needed that much rest. Right?
“Well,” Kay said carefully, “f-fill out the f-form. It w-will be approve, and if y-you need m-more time…”
I nodded, assuring them that if I needed more time I would ask for more time. I was glad to be able to tell him to his face, and happily went back to the form.
After my lunch hour, which was spent with Kellen at a checkup appointment, I got back to my office and found Jay sitting at my desk, drumming her fingers on the surface. I shut the door behind me, my heart leaping into my throat.
She did not look amused.
“Hello Miss Danevbie,” she said, raising her eyebrow.
“Mrs.,” I corrected her. “Hello, ah, Dr. Dearg.”
“Oh yes. Mrs.,” she said, linking her fingers together. “How is married life? Oh, don’t tell me. Wonderful. Or so I assume. Pregnant, are you?”
I grabbed my belly, my heart pounding even more. “Yes, I’m pregnant. I filled out for maternity leave. It was approved. By Professor Dearg…”
“Yes. So he informed me.” She pressed her lips thin and mumbled something that sounded like ‘by accident, I assume’.
“Is there a problem?” I asked.
The look she gave me scared me out of my wits. “No. No problem. I’m just surprised. I thought you were a bit more dedicated to your work.”
“This isn’t going to interfere with anything,” I said, trying not to get angry. “A very short amount of time off…”
“You’ve taken a lot of time off. When I hired you, Luna, I was under the impression I was hiring someone willing to commit fully to the work we are undergoing here at Acinert.” She stood up and looked at me, waiting for my answer.
“I am fully committed, Doctor,” I replied. “I will be continuing my job. Or at least, I plan on it. Because I do…” I stopped and sighed. “I do like working here. But there is something I needed to talk to you about. Something… well, I’m hoping you’ll be able to answer my question.”
Jay folded her arms and sighed louder than I had. “If you insist.”
“Years ago, my older sister…” I paused and looked up at Jay who looked very disinterested. Now that she knew I was going to continue working at my old pace, she obviously didn’t want to be there anymore. “My sister,” I continued in a firmer tone, “was kidnapped. By people who tied her down and examined her… and, well, no. Not like that. She–she said it was like scientists. Examining her. Because of… what she is.”
Jay rolled her eyes. “And what is she?”
“You know perfectly well what she is because you’re the one who snatched her!” I snapped, then quickly covered my mouth, surprised my temper had gone like that.
Jay snorted, not looking very impressed. “I am, am I?”
“Are you denying it?” I demanded. “Who else would do such a thing?”
“Luna. Why on earth would I do such a thing?” A false smile plastered across her face and it angered me even more. “What is she, that I would do such a thing?”
“Like our mother,” I pointed out. “You know perfectly well what my mother is, and that Tempest inherited… well, something of that.”
“I don’t appreciate the tone you are giving me,” she said icily. “May I remind you that I am your boss?”
“And may I remind you that you told me upon employment that I’d be more than an employee since I am family?” I asked, my fingers curling up.
Jay hesitated and then smirked. “Yet you accuse family of doing such a thing?”
I stepped back and my brain spun in circles as I tried to think of a reply to that. I knew it had to be Jay who did that to tempest. Who else could it have been? I sort of assumed she’d get all boastful of it. I never thought of her denying it. “I just want the truth,” I said carefully. “Doctor… Jay… you owe me at least that.”
We stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, then she held up her hand. “Luna, I came into your office today to assure myself you are dedicated, willing… enthusiastic. You are intelligent, and show great promise. However, when you throw such accusations at me it makes me wonder about your devotion to the job. Now.” She clasped her hands together and smirked again. “Before I found out that you were in the family way, I was considering giving you a promotion. It would give you more freedom, you could choose which projects you’d like to work on and… perhaps… in time, if you showed enough promise, raised to the same level that my brother and I are at.”
I gulped, feeling confused by her words. Promotion? “Does this mean I could have access to, um, Ancora?” I whispered.
Jay shrugged. “I like my employees to work a while before admitting to them to such a sensitive area. However, considering you are family, then I might be willing to knock a few years off the usual limit. You accept this promotion, you will be given a raise and all the perks I mentioned before–and if you continue at that level for a year, then yes. Ancora.”
I sucked in my breath, knowing she had thrown this at me because of the Tempest thing. I couldn’t just give in. I needed answers. But… of course, she would merely continue denying the fact. What was the point in pushing her and winding up fired? Besides, with a baby on the way… I mean, if Kellen was working then we’d have a decent breadwinner. But if I was fired, would he be fired? New parents, both unemployed. How could I do that to my baby?
Or, I hated to admit, my curiosity about Ancora?
“Thank you,” I said, feeling rather dirty. “I would love the promotion.”
“Good,” Jay said, looking triumphant. “The matter is settled, then. Have a pleasant day.” She turned and walked out of the office, leaving me to slump down at my desk and wonder what I had just done.
It was so weird–and annoying–being pregnant. Kellen and I read all the books we could, and started making plans for the room. And, of course names. We quickly agreed on getting names from Shakespeare and wound up with Antonio for a boy, and Portia for a girl.
We scouted out local day-care centers and also listings for babysitters. We went searching for the best furniture though agreed not to start buying anything until I was a bit further along. We did dream about the baby room, though.
I, of course, kept up work. I was glad of the freedom I now had and mostly just worked on the computer. I took breaks often, stretching my legs and doing a bit of exercise to keep the pain as little as possible.
Then the big news hit. I had an appointment, which Kellen was unable to go to. I promised to tell him everything though when I was finished with the appointment, I wasn’t sure how I could tell him this.
“How did it go?” Kellen asked, taking me into his arms when I got home from work. “I’m sorry I didn’t stop by your office, earlier. I was busy. Like always.”
“It went fine,” I promised. “I talked to the Doctor about everything, the problems I’ve been having and the unusual weight gain…” I bit my fingernail, trying not to freak out.
Kellen noticed this and took my hand gently away from my mouth. “Lune, what is it? What’s wrong?”
“The Doctor found… a couple of extra things… ” I mumbled.
Concern flooded his eyes and he gripped my hand tightly. “What’s wrong? What did he find?”
I gulped and gripped his hand back. “A couple of extra babies,” I said flatly. “Kellen, we’re having triplets.”