Monday, August 9, 2010

Chapter Nine

"You want anything? Soup? I can have her bring you a basket of crackers...maybe some bread..."

She sighed. "Okay. Bread."

He ordered a side of bread for her, to go with her juice and water. He'd been impressed at how quickly she'd given up caffeine. That alone was a huge sacrifice, but one Dr. Anushki had praised earlier. He had gone over dietary guidelines, physical fitness guidelines, sleep and stress guidelines. Bobby found himself nodding along, remembering what had been published in the books he'd read. No more pizza and beer on Friday nights, no more of those iced mochas she loved. He had already been working in the kitchen all weekend, trying to come up with new recipes for smoothies and cookies that she might enjoy. After his third attempt at a decent cookie with less sugar, she politely shook her head. "I appreciate your effort, baby, I really do," she had said, "but it's just not an option for me right now." Discreetly she had spit the cookie into a napkin and he had sighed.

Dr. Anushki had been thorough with their questions. After an examination, lots of questions, measurements, and a sonogram, he had told them their baby was ten weeks along. Ten weeks. He could hardly believe they were a quarter of the way there. They had made appointments to follow up and for the ultrasound. He was so excited it was hard to stay calm. She, however, was much more subdued. If he hadn't been so sure she wanted this, he would be wondering about second thoughts.

The waitress brought his club sandwich and her bread. Despite her protests of nausea, she quickly tore the bread apart and began to eat.

"You feeling better?" He took a bite of his sandwich.

She nodded her head. "A bit. I think I was stressed out about all the spotting...but since he says it's not abnormal, I feel better." She took another bite. "Hopefully he's right and the nausea will pass in a couple more weeks."

He smiled. "Can you believe you're almost to your second trimester? How the hell this snuck up on us like this I'll never know."

"I have a weird body." She paused for a second and lay the bread back down on her plate. He was watching her carefully and knew something was up. "I guess I was really starting to know, that maybe the assault had caused damage they didn't realize...being stomped in the abdomen probably isn't the best thing if you're hoping to get pregnant sometime."

He shook his head. "There's nothing weird about your body...nothing that isn't typical of other women. And as far as the assault...the doctor thinks everything is fine...he's reviewed your records. You trust him, right?"

"Yeah, I trust him." She picked up a piece of bread and began to tear at it again. "I guess I just worry. I worry that something could happen, or maybe all these tests are wrong..."

He caught her hand. "Our baby is going to be fine...perfect...ten fingers, ten toes...your beautiful face, your incredible brain..."

She snickered. "Oh yeah, I forgot how lacking your own brain is. And you do realize this child will look like you as well?"

He shrugged.

She smiled at him, eyes looking dreamy. It was an unusual look for her these days, and he couldn't help but smile back. "I'd love to see your hair on this child...I can only imagine a little girl with your curly hair and big brown beautiful she would be...and so smart..."

The waitress arrived back at the table. "Can I get you two anything else?"

He knew they were making horrible googly eyes at each other. That they were the cliche picture of two people in love, who couldn't live without each and would never dream of doing so. "No," he told her, finally dragging his gaze away from his wife to look at the waitress. "We're perfect over here." The waitress shook her head and left the table.

"You embarrass me," she told him, but her eyes and her smile said something completely different.

"That's okay. It's my job." He grabbed a bite of her leftover bread and ate it with relish while she laughed softly, shaking her head.


"Ten weeks, huh? What the hell brand of pregnancy test were you using again?" Ava was changing Tristan's diaper.

"Don't ask." Vanessa sat on the bed, watching her sister and the squirmy baby. "So how long did the nausea last for you?"

Ava finished snapping the onesie closed, then picked up her son. "Eh, just the first trimester or so...then the sex set in."


Ava rolled her eyes. "Do you know anything about this process at all?" Seeing Vanessa's blank face, she said, "Look, maybe you should read some of those books your husband brings home. It's pretty normal for your hormones to go all over the place during pregnancy. A lot of women have...well, stronger desires...during the second trimester. You're done with the nausea, usually, the baby is growing and your body is changing and it's all exciting...and boom, you're feeling pretty hot."

Vanessa glanced down at herself. So far she could distinguish a tiny pudge in her middle, but it could have very well come from a few too many brownies or pizza. She didn't exactly think that she would use the word "hot" to describe herself, though.

"Its okay," Ava sat down next to her, passing Tristan over. "Soon enough you'll want to bitch slap him as soon as he gets within five feet."

Vanessa made a face at Ava. "You're just a fucking ray of sunshine, you know that?"

"I'm just trying to give it to you like it is. And anyway," she replied, checking her watch, "I have to go pick up Justin from school. Come with or stay here with Tristan? Or do you need to go?"

Vanessa held Tristan up and blew on his belly. He laughed. "We'll go with you. Is Justin happy at his school?"

"Of course...he's the king of kindergarten. He thinks he's the big guy around here, now that he's in school."

After they picked up Justin, they stopped for lunch at a local cafe. Vanessa held Tristan while Ava helped Justin order his lunch.

"So you like turkey and cheese?" she asked him after he placed his order.

"Yes...tuhkey is a good pwotein, Auntie Ness. It makes your muscles stwong." He took a sip of his milk. "Twistan can't eat yet but when he can eat, he's going to eat pwotein too."

"Guess what?" Ava interrupted him. "Auntie Ness is going to have a baby."

"Ohhh!" Justin's eyes got big. "When's he gonna come out?"

Vanessa put her diet coke back down. "Not for a long time, Justin...the baby has to grow for quite a while still."

"Probably this summer," Ava told him. "You'll be swimming and Auntie Ness will be sweating and pushing her baby out."

Vanessa rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the image. I think you've scarred all of us. How about you, Tristan?" she said, snuggling her smallest nephew. "Did your mommy just scar you?"

"Oh please," Ava responded, waving a hand dismissively. "Justin probably knows more about the birthing process than you do."

Vanessa glanced at her five-year old nephew, sipping his milk quietly. She didn't doubt it.

They ate their lunch in pleasant conversation. Justin talked about how much he liked kindergarten, who his friends were, and what they did during the day. Vanessa found herself listening more avidly than she had in the past. Justin was a smart kid, and a happy kid. As much as she and Ava had their differences, Vanessa really did admire her sister's ability to parent. When Justin talked, Ava payed full attention to him; she talked with him, looked at him, treated him respectfully. Vanessa didn't recall either of their parents being so attentive.

"How'd you learn to do that?" she asked Ava when they got back to her house.

"Do what?"

"You such a good mom...listen to your kids..."

Ava thought for a moment. "I made a conscious decision I wanted to do better. And then I took classes and read and talked a lot to David." She was quiet for a moment. "Sometimes it's hard. When Justin gets really mad and tells me he hates me, or Tristan has been crying for what seems like forever, I feel like I'm terrible. But I just keep remembering that's part of all of it, and I'm doing okay. David is great too. He always tells me I'm a good mom, and he pitches in a lot." She glanced at Vanessa. "Something tells me you won't have any problem with Bobby helping you. I think he'd carry that baby for you if it was possible."

They both laughed, knowing it was probably true.

"Nessie," Ava said a minute later, as she lay Tristan down in his playpen, "it's going to be harder for you guys because neither of you had a normal childhood. You need to talk about what normal is, what it looks like, what you want it to be for your baby. Bobby has no more idea of what it is than you do. You need to make sure you're on the same page."

"He's going to be a great father," Vanessa said defensively.

Ava shook her head. "I never said he wouldn't. All I said is that life with a schizophrenic mother and an addicted father isn't normal. His ideas of normal and your ideas may be different, and you need to figure out what you guys want and expect of each other, and for that baby."

She knew Ava was right, knew that she and Bobby grappled with the idea of normalcy on regular days, in their adult lives. She felt a sudden pang of guilt in her stomach. How the hell would they ever give this baby a normal life when they couldn't even recognize it? What the hell were they thinking?

She felt Ava touch her arm, and she turned toward her. "Hey," Ava said, "I did it and you guys will too. I just don't want you setting yourself up for failure, you know?"

'Yeah. I know."

She gathered her things. "I guess I should get going...I've got some errands to run."

"Really? With no job, you're so busy?"

"No," she admitted, "so I make up stuff to get done each day...and today I'm going to the market to buy the ingredients to make eggplant parmigiana."

"Oh...I see. Bobby's favorite. You're going to cook him dinner. That's what you're doing with your life Bobby dinner and growing a baby." Ava began to pick up the random toys around her living room.

Vanessa spun around and glared at her. "Uh, no. Bobby is making ME dinner. I happen to enjoy his eggplant very much. My job is to focus on growing the baby...just as, apparently, YOUR job is to focus on being a mommy to your two little boys."

Ava sighed loudly. "When did this happen to us?"

Despite wishing she had no idea what her sister was talking about, she knew. She knew, exactly. "I don't know...for me it happened when I lost my job. For you? Maybe when Tristan was born?"

Ava raised an eyebrow at her. "You should record again. That's not too taxing, and the NYPD has nothing to do with it."

"I'll keep it in mind." She grabbed her keys. "Thanks for lunch...tell Justin I enjoyed seeing him."

"I'll let him know. And if you have any questions about the baby, call and I'll put him on the phone."

They both grinned then. "See you later."

"See you."


"You look like the nausea's gotten better," he commented, watching her eat a second helping of the eggplant. "That's good."

She stared at him. "What?" Her voice was accusatory. "Are you trying to tell me I'm overeating or something?"

He snorted. " I care how much eggplant you eat. You're feeding my baby anyway, so eat away. This kid is going to know its Italian roots." He sat back and took a long drink of his wine. "I appreciate you picking this stuff up, but you know it's not necessary...I could have done it, or you could have called a service..."

"Yeah...I could sit on my ass for the next seven months and be a human incubator."

He was swirling his wine, something she'd never seen him do before, and examining her closely. "You're a little testy tonight."

"And you're putting on airs." She pointed her fork at him. "It's a sad day when I have to find excitement in picking out eggplant at the market."

He smiled empathically and put his wine glass down. "I'm not trying to put on airs. Sorry. I know you're bored...I just don't want you to feel like you have to do things if you're not feeling up to it. Two weeks ago you were really sick, and even yesterday you were still picking at your food..." He rested his head in his hand, elbow on the table. This was the Bobby she knew. "Honestly, I miss you at work. A lot. I keep looking at your office and feeling empty when you're not there."

She pushed her plate away. "Me too. I miss it. I miss it every day. Two months now and I'm still banished. You know what Ava said today? She said I should start recording again."

He picked up his wine glass again. "Does she know that you've been doing that all along? Doesn't she remember that's why you bought this place instead of the little cottage she wanted you to have?"

"I think she means professionally...that's a little different...I haven't tried to make any contacts or get anything released in God knows how long."

He began to swirl his wine again, but this time it was out of concern. She could read him easily now, as he did her, and the worry on his face was clear. "Are you considering that?"

She shook her head. "No. I haven't been...and I don't want to now, not with a baby on the way. I'm just bored." She stood and picked up her plate. "It's just hard to have your job yanked out from under you. It was easier when I gave it up on my own, you know?"

He looked up at her. "Yeah." He watched her scrape the plate, then rinse it and put it in the dishwasher. "Do you want me to talk to Deakins again...see if maybe there's something else they'd let you do?"

"Something else?"

"Well...even if they wanted you back as a profiler, do you really think that would be wise? Ride alongs, all the stress, the unpredictability of some of the perps...I don't know that it's a good idea with you being pregnant."

Her arms had crossed, and he braced himself for the torrential response he knew would be coming his way.

But all she said was, "I'm pregnant, Bobby, not dying."

He was wisely quiet, following her to the dishwasher and putting his plate inside. Together they quietly cleaned the kitchen without conversation. As she finished wiping off the countertop, he caught her hand. "Hey...I know you're completely capable and competent, and I would never say or try to imply anything else." He tugged at her shirt hem. "I miss you. Every day. I'm so sorry about this."

She let go of the sponge and turned to face him fully. "Yeah, me too." She hooked her thumbs in his belt loops, as was her habit, and looked up at him. "I miss you too. Sometimes life sucks...I guess that doesn't ever change."

He pressed his forehead against hers. "Guess not," he said, "but at least if it has to suck, we can be together."

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