I had no clue how I was going to manage hiding this pregnancy from Henri. The morning sickness was even worse than it had been with Miracle and I was so exhausted all the time. I knew part of it was because I was takin’ care of a baby and working, but I felt so drained that a lot of times all I could do was collapse in bed and sleep. Henri would rub my feet and make worried noises, and I promised him I was fine.
Shortly after Miracle turned nine months old, I got a phone call from Professor Redding who told me they were moving their lab. They were going to be five and a half hours away from Sunset Valley now and easily driven to in a day. He told me he’d call after they made the move to give me the address, and I thanked him. This made me feel better. I wouldn’t have to spend as much time away from Miracle.
She was the cutest baby in existence. I knew I was biased but I didn’t care. Henri agreed with me. She was so adorable, and I couldn’t wait till her first birthday. But after that, teaching her to be mobile and to talk and then she’d get older–startin’ school and then before I knew it she’d be an adult! When I talked to Mom about that he laughed and said he felt the same way about all of us.
“I think most parents feel that way,” he said with a grin. “I remember when you said your first word I cried and cried to your dad about the fact you’d be going to prom.”
“Which I never did,” I said, lookin’ down at Miracle who was asleep in her grandpa’s arms. When Amy had been born, there had been a bit of discussion about what to call who. Dad was ‘Gamda’ and then Granddad when the kid was old enough, while Mom was ‘Pop-pop’ and then Grandpa. I watched as a bit of drool leaked out of Miracle’s mouth, droppin’ onto Mom’s arm.
I wondered if I had another little girl growing inside me, or if it’d be a boy this time. Another flesh and bones child, or a ghost child. Miracle got so much from my side of the family. The blonde fuzz growing on her head, the eyes turning brown—from my other genetic donor’s family, I supposed. Mom’s dad’s family had grey and blue eyes. His mom’s family had turquoise, blue, grey, purple—but not brown. Dad had brown eyes, but he hadn’t given me his DNA. Henri said his family were like my grandpa’s family. Greys. Blues.
“Are you going to give her a big party for her first?” Mom asked, shakin’ me from my daydreaming.
“Maybe,” I said with a smile. “It depends really.” I knew there wouldn’t be. So many people excited, crammed into our house—it would be difficult enough but with my pregnancy draining me, it’d be worse. By then I’d announce it. I’d have to, I’d be about five months in. No way I could hide that. Just for two more months, that was it, then I’d tell Henri and everyone else. And the Reddings. Ugh, Doctor Redding was going to be so mad…
I kept saltine crackers and ginger ale under the bed so when I woke up in the morning and felt ill I could curb the nausea a bit. I stopped throwing up as much but when I did, I would creep to the other bathroom, not the one connected to our room. Henri knew sometimes and kept askin’ me but I told him I was all right. I didn’t think he believed me but he didn’t question it. He’d just give me this sad look and I felt guilty for not tellin’ him but he’d never let me go to the Reddings and I couldn’t let it slide for another year! It was already going to be ages before I found anything out.
But as each day passed, our relationship started to get a bit strained. We talked less and less, like two planets swirling around the sun—Miracle was our sun. Our lives circled her, caring for her. We didn’t go to bed at the same time and when we happened to eat at the table, the only sound was our chewing, our silverware clinkin’ against the dishes. He’d kiss me when I left to go work on a case and asked me how it went whenever I got home, but it almost felt like a stranger. Was it just carin’ for a baby? Was it me hiding such a big secret?
Some mornings when I did vomit, I left the bathroom and found him hovering in silence. He’d ask if I was okay, and I’d tell him I was. Then we’d just look at each other and go our separate ways. I started cryin’ a lot, curled up in bed and hugging a pillow. Was I losing my husband? A few months ago we were so excited about our new baby, calling each other mommy and daddy. Now things were cracking and falling apart. It couldn’t just be my secret pregnancy, could it?
After what felt like years I decided to break down and tell him. Miracle was almost ten months, and I still had a full month to go before we went to the Reddings but he had to know. I made a nice dinner, had Kaylee come pick up Miracle to babysit her away from the house, and then sat down with Henri. He was very quiet as we ate, askin’ me a bit about my latest case but not seeming very interested. After dinner we ate the key lime pie I had ordered and tried to find the right moment to tell him. The silly, spontaneous way of announcing my pregnancy with Miracle seemed alien to me now. It had been pretty much a year ago exactly, and I thought of maybe teasin’ him, finding a fun way, but I just didn’t have the energy.
“Henri,” I said when we were both done eating. He looked at me and I reached over to take his hand. “I need to tell you some good news.”
“Good news?” he asked, soundin’ confused.
“Yes. I’m pregnant again.” There, it was out. And it wasn’t what he was expecting judgin’ from the shocked expression. “I was going to wait until after I got back from the lab to tell you but I don’t want to hide it anymore. I’m about ten weeks in.”
“Is that what you’ve been—been acting weird about?” he asked slowly.
“Yes, I’m sorry,” I said but he was flyin’ through the table, wrapping his arms around me. I felt something strange against my neck, cool and almost not there. It was his tears. “Hen…?”
“I love you,” he said, buryin’ his face into my neck. “I love you, Sen.”
“I love you too—”
“I’ve been so scared!” He pulled back, staring helplessly into my eyes. “Ever since Miracle was born it’s like we’ve been drifting further apart and then you’ve been so weird lately I was scared things were getting to—” He stopped and bowed his head.
“You didn’t think I was cheating on you, did you?” I demanded, red creepin’ into my cheeks.
“No. I knew you weren’t.” His lips found mine and then down onto my chin. “I trust you. But it felt like we were plunged into the ocean and slowly drifting away from one another. When you started throwing up and kept saying you were okay, I was worried you might—might—“ He didn’t want to say it, but I stared at him, needing him to tell me what he thought. “Bulimic,” he finally said.
I let out a barking laugh. “What the heck? Why would you think that?”
“I know some women get really strange about their bodies after they have a baby, and suddenly you were barely eating, and then I find crumbs in the bed during the mornings and you off throwing up.” He squeezed my arms and then kissed me again. “And then you look so exhausted coming home from work I want—I wanted to beg you to stop working because you just looked so tired but I didn’t want to tell you to do anything. And—“
Now I kissed him, to shut him up. “I’m sorry I’ve been worrying you. I’ve been worried too. I thought maybe I wasn’t attractive to you anymore, or that you just would rather spend time with Miracle than with me. You barely come to bed anymore when I’m awake and whenever she cries at night, waking me up, you’re not with me!”
“I didn’t want to bother you!” he retorted. “You’re so tired all the time I’ve been spending more time with her so you could get more sleep!”
The two of us stared at each other, the angry tones in our voices seemin’ to linger in the air. And then we were kissing again, hands everywhere. We kissed and kissed, and wound up in bed. Our fight had been a strange one but the makeup sex was amazing. Afterward we lay in each others’ arms, promising to talk more and stop making assumptions. Something very dangerous to do.
I had what anyone else had to go on tryin’ to figure out what Henri was thinking or feeling. I thought—but I had thought wrong, and so had he. As kids we fought so much, more than we did when we were married. Rather, when I could feel his emotions. Before Miracle… we both had more energy. We didn’t have this little life to care for, just each other. What had happened? Stress, exhaustion, assumptions. We needed to make more time for us. Especially with another baby on the way, if we kept going like this and this baby was born—our fight would have turned into somethin’ worse. Something we both might regret.
“Let’s go on a date,” I said, rubbin’ my cheek against his bare chest.
“I can’t go anywhere,” he said.
“We can go horseback riding into the woods tomorrow,” I answered, lookin’ up at him. “Storm likes you. You can ride Storm, I’ll right Night, and we’ll go for a picnic lunch.”
Henri bit his bottom lip. “Should you be horseback riding when you’re pregnant?”
“Fine, we’ll just go for a walk in the woods. Have a picnic lunch. I’ll text Kaylee and she can keep Miracle for the night.” I grabbed my phone and saw I had a missed message from her. Instead of texting, I called but thankfully it wasn’t anythin’ bad. She just wanted to let me know Miracle had said her name. “Kaylee… ‘aghee’ is not Kaylee,” I laughed.
“Yes it is, for a baby,” she said.
“Has she said it since?”
Kaylee hesitated. “Okay no, but she will.”
She agreed to keep her for the night and when I hung up, Henri and I laughed. It wouldn’t be long before Miracle did start talking. I wondered for a moment what her first proper word would be, but then my mind blanked as Henri and I slid under the covers for some more us time.
We worked hard over the next couple of weeks, spendin’ time with each other when we could. I suspected part of the problem was we could go out and do stuff like a normal family, but we tried. We went for walks in the woods with Miracle, and played with her outside when we both could. We were pretty isolated but people did on occasion come by, especially to see the waterfall, so we decided that soon we would have a section of our yard fenced off with tall fences so nobody could really see in. That way we could all be outside without any worry at all.
Professor Redding gave me directions to the new lab, and the day came closer and closer. Henri was visibly nervous, askin’ often if I was sure I wanted to go. I wasn’t completely sure… but as I told him, I was sure I wanted answers. “So I must go. This will be my third visit,” I pointed out shortly before the day to leave while I took care of Night, “which would have been the one to fulfill my end of the deal. I’m hoping she tells me something now.”
Henri gave me a look. “Think she will?”
“I don’t know. She seems intent on me sticking to the deal, she sure as hell better stick to it.” But did she mean to give me the answers during my third visit, or during my fourth? I guess I’d be findin’ out, though I suspected the latter.
Henri and I bid each other a tearful goodbye. We hugged and kissed and hugged and kissed. I clung to Miracle, sprinklin’ kisses all over her. She babbled back at me, patting my cheeks and gripping my hair. I kissed her one last time then put her in Henri’s arms. “I’ll call as soon as I get there,” I assured him. “And I’ll call several times a day, and you better call too. If anything happens–if anything happens call immediately, and if I don’t answer then call the Redding number. You have it, right? And Kaylee will be in to help you, call her when you do need her but she’ll be in–“
“I know.” He kissed me, running his fingers down my cheek. “Everything will be fine.” He didn’t sound convinced but he was tryin’ for me. His lips found mine again and I rested my head against his shoulder. “If she tries anything… I think Professor Redding will help you.”
I nodded, my cheek rubbin’ against the strange fabric of his shirt. “I love you,” I said, kissing him again and then headin’ to my truck. I was terrified of going to the lab by myself but I didn’t want Miracle to be without both her parents for so long. So off I went, by myself. No–not by myself. I had the baby inside me. I’d need to protect him or her. I’d have to tell Doctor Redding but only after I found out when I’d get my answers. Unless she wanted to take blood tests again. Maybe after I told her, I could talk to Professor Redding about gettin’ an ultrasound sometime soon. I had the feelin’ this was a flesh and bones baby, though. Three babies born to a human/ghost pairing and all three were flesh and bones. I kinda suspected the whole baby-could-be-a-ghost thing wasn’t true.
The new lab was a couple miles outside of a small town, it was concrete and set a way back from the road. But no helicopter ride. I parked near some other cars and went to the main door but it was locked. I called Professor Redding who came outside and had me drive to a small garage since I’d be stayin’ a while. “Henri isn’t c-c-coming?” he asked as we headed into the lab.
“No, he’s watching Miracle,” I answered, resistin’ the urge to pull out pictures and show her off. But Professor Redding gave me such a hopeful look that I couldn’t resist any longer, whipping out the small photo album I had brought to keep me through the lonely nights. I had dozens of pictures of Miracle from all different angles. Held in my arms, Henri’s arms, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Kaylee–everyone.
“Your f-father looks so happy,” Professor Redding said when he saw one of Mom bouncing Miracle on his knee.
“He is happy,” I answered and Professor Redding nodded.
“Good. Th-that’s good. And th-this is Luna.” He touched the photo, his brow furrowin’ a bit and his lips turning down. “Your g-grandmother. It’s been… s-so long since I saw her. Your g-grandfather passed away a while ago, r-right? Kellen?”
“Yes, about eleven, twelve years ago,” I said and then Redding snapped the photo album shut and handed it back to me, sayin’ how adorable Miracle was. I beamed back at him then decided to go ahead and tell him. “I’m pregnant again.”
“C-congratulations!” He clasped my hands, shaking them, a big smile on his face. “But wh-why are you h-here if you are?”
“I need answers,” I said. “Answers only you and your sister can give me. I’ll tell her when this session is over. Will I get answers this time? Or do I have to wait another year?” I looked at him but he didn’t answer, he just avoided my gaze. “She’ll be mad, won’t she?”
“My sister d-doesn’t understand s-situations like this. So it’s b-best you do wait until this week is over.”
“Will you give me another ultrasound?” I asked and he nodded. “Thank you, Professor Redding. I mean it. You’ve been so nice to… to me and my husband.”
I couldn’t sense his feelings but his smile was genuine. “This m-may not be the b-best place for you, b-but I am very glad that I have the ch-chance to get to know y-you.”
At first that made me feel real nice but after I started my first Q&A with Doctor Redding, I thought more about what he said. Not the best place for me. What did that mean? Because of his sister? Because of what it was he was scared of? Something else entirely? So as soon as Doctor Redding was done with her questions, I spoke up. “Doctor, you said after a year–after three week-long examinations–you would answer some of my questions.” I looked at her, trying to gauge how she felt about this but as always she was impassive. “As this week will mark my third one with you, I was wondering if… if it was possible for me to get some answers about my powers.”
“Of course,” she said, crossin’ her legs and pushing up her glasses. “At your next visit.”
“But–” I stared at her, blood rushing in my ears. “But you said…”
“Yes, I did say. One year equals three week-long visits. You have not been here for that amount of time until the end of this visit. Therefore at the beginning of your next visit, you will be eligible to receive answers. In four months.”
I ran my tongue over my teeth, trying to figure out how to get around this. “What if I just take half a week now and then halfway through my next visit–“
“Half?” she cut me off. “Half? What do you think I run here, a hotel?” She stood up, brimming with anger. “A service for your whims and desires? Mrs. Danevbie! I am running a science facility, I have several research teams, several projects going. I cannot cater to what you want. I will not. We made an agreement and if you cannot stick to it then you have no business here! I will not be toyed with!”
“No!” I got up as well, defensive and angry. “It’s not that. I’m no squelcher. I’ll live up to our agreement, it’s just–with all the complications it’s been so many months since my last visit–“
“It’s not my fault you chose to procreate,” she sneered.
I gritted my teeth, tryin’ to force myself to stay calm. “No,” I said slowly, breathing out. “You’re right. My husband and I wanted children, and I am aware this puts certain complications on our agreement. I do not want to back out of our agreement. I just want answers and it’s been–it’s been so long since I started!” I rubbed my temples, noticing the looks Professor Redding was giving me from the corner of the room. “I just want to know who I am. Doctor Redding. What these abilities mean. I’ve lived for twenty years with them and all I really know is the basics. I don’t even know what you’re trying to learn with them. We know the limitations–“
“Nobody knows the limitations,” she said. “That is why you are here. I have only ever studied first generation psychic abilities. I do not know the extent of inherited abilities.”
“I’m the only person who’s ever been–been ‘born’, so to speak, with this?” I looked between her and her brother, who was shaking his head to stop me. Or to answer my question–I wasn’t a hundred percent sure.
“There have been others… born outside, like you. Outside our lab. I was unable to track them down.” Her eyes narrowed as she came towards me. “Those we made had their abilities from day one. Yet you were unable to use yours until after puberty. There are deviations between your inherited ability and the D-Projects made in the lab. In any case of a project success having a child I need to explore the modifications that the mixture of DNA has given the child.”
“And all these questions, questions, more questions–that will help? Having me feel the emotions of ten different people will help?” But this was futile. No matter what I said or how hard I begged, it would be the next visit. “My next time here… which–” No, not yet. I should wait until we were done with this week. “Let’s get going with whatever is we’re doing next.”
“Is there something you wish to tell me?” Doctor Redding’s eyes were fixed hard on me, and I shook my head. “Very well, I wish to take a scan of your brain while you are experiencing the emotions of several people. Half a dozen, to begin with. Come along.” She headed towards the other room and I started to follow, but looked at the Professor. He was at my side almost instantly.
“It won’t d-do anything t-to the baby,” he whispered. “You almost t-told her, didn’t you?”
“Yes, but thought better of it,” I answered as we went through the door.
Professor Redding nodded. “That is f-for the best,” he said which just made me more nervous at the thought of tellin’ her in a few days.