"This reminds me a little of being in bed with my older sisters when I was a kid. Brings back nice memories," Kylie said.
Blair's sleepy voice asked, "Why didn't you sleep with your parents when you were scared?"
"Not allowed," Kylie said. "Dad believed that kids had to learn how to sleep alone. I wouldn't even have asked."
"But … they had to know that you slept with your siblings …"
"Mom did, for sure, but she never commented on it. She'd have to go from room to room looking for me most mornings, `cause sometimes I'd kick Chapter 3 17 страница my bedmate and get thrown out. I'd go from brother to sister, seeking a little comfort."
"Wow. I didn't do it often, but my parents always welcomed me when I was scared. I'm really glad you had siblings, Kylie. I'd hate to think of your being afraid and forced to be alone."
"You know," she said thoughtfully, "I'm sure I wouldn't have been so needy if my parents had let me snuggle with them once in a while. But my dad was really rigid about his child-rearing ideas when we were Chapter 3 17 страница kids. He's loosened up a lot in the last twenty years or so, but he was quite autocratic when I was young. I don't think my mother agreed with a lot of what he did, but she never openly disagreed with him."
"Well, I think I'll let Baby Spencer cuddle with me whenever he needs to," Blair decided.
"If you can wrestle him away from me," Kylie said. "I'll probably sneak into your room and steal him in the middle of the night."
"Remember, Doctor, I can show a house when I'm half asleep, but Chapter 3 17 страница your patients need to have you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed."
"I've operated on people after being up for thirty-six hours straight," Kylie insisted. "I won't even notice if I miss a few hours. I'm battle-tested."
"This argument will be continued, Doc. Right now, I'm going to sleep. Oh … I didn't listen to his heartbeat."
Kylie jumped out of bed and found the stethoscope that Blair had packed. Listening carefully, she softly tapped her friend's thigh, illustrating the cadence of the baby's heartbeat. "Strong and steady," she pronounced. Turning Chapter 3 17 страница her head, she kissed the abdomen and said, "Night, Baby Spencer. Sleep soundly and don't wake your mommy up. We've got a big day planned for tomorrow."
"Yes, Baby," Blair agreed. "It's your godmother's birthday, and we get to go to the symphony to see your grandfather perform. I think you're gonna like it."
"I know I am," Kylie said, smiling sleepily. She got back into position, and by the time her body stopped shifting, she was asleep.
"I've gotta learn how to do that," Blair mused quietly.
Kylie woke early, as Chapter 3 17 страница usual, but Blair looked so peaceful and content that she forced herself to go back to sleep to avoid waking her. It was after 8:00 when she heard the door creak open slightly, then heard Kevin, her five-year-old nephew, whisper loudly, "They're still asleep." Lifting her hand, Kylie made her index finger and thumb into an imaginary gun and pulled the trigger. "She's up!" The boy came running into the room, a gleeful look on his freckled face. "I wanna see your girlfriend!" he cried, while he tried to climb onto the bed.
"Hey, tiger Chapter 3 17 страница, slow down. Blair's not awake yet. You have to be gentle with her, or she'll be grouchy all day."
"Will not," a grouchy voice grumbled into her body pillow.
"See, she's grouchy already," Kylie said, shaking her head.
His bright blue eyes barely peeked over the top of the bed, and they grew wide when Blair opened her eyes and growled at him. He squealed, more from amusement than fear, then started to giggle when Kylie reached over and tumbled him onto the bed. He got comfortable by sitting on his aunt's stomach, then grew Chapter 3 17 страница shy, leaning against Kylie and looking everywhere but at Blair.
"That's Blair, Kevin," Kylie informed him. "Do you know what she's got growing in her belly?"
"Uh-huh," he said soberly, peeking at Blair when he thought she wasn't looking. "She's got a baby in there. Gramma said."
"That's right," Kylie said. "Right around your birthday, the baby's gonna come out. Cool, huh?"
"Yeah," he agreed. "Gramma says Uncle Chuck's gonna have a baby then, too."
"Well, Gramma's full of information, isn't she?" Kylie said.
"Yeah. Gramma says Blair doesn't have Chapter 3 17 страница a Daddy, and I'm not supposed to say so."
Kylie glanced at her friend, but Blair seemed not to be offended. "I have a Daddy, Kevin, but I don't have a husband. The baby's all mine," she said, trying to put a spin on the situation that a child would understand. "I don't have to share him with anyone."
"'Cept Aunt Kylie, right?'
Blair gave her friend a smile that was filled with affection. "Except your Aunt Kylie. I have to share the baby with her, but I won't mind a bit. She's my Chapter 3 17 страница very best friend, you know."
"She's your girlfriend," he said. "Like Laura."
"Not exactly like Laura," Kylie said. But deciding that she had neither the time nor the ability to explain the difference between friends and girlfriends, she added, "Blair's really special to me, Kevin, and I'm very excited about the new baby."
"Me, too," he said. "Can I see him?"
Deciding to be a good sport, Blair rolled onto her back, pulling her T-shirt up a bit. Her slightly protuberant belly was displayed for Kevin's inspection, and he regarded it curiously Chapter 3 17 страница. "Looks like Grampa Jerry's," he offered.
Kylie broke into a laugh, informing Blair, "That's his maternal grandfather. He has a bit of a gut." Turning to Kevin, she said, "Blair's tummy is different from Grampa Jerry's. She has a baby inside hers, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't."
"I wanna see it," he insisted.
"Well, I could show it to you, but Blair's all skittish about scalpels," she teased, her joke going over Kevin's head. "If Blair doesn't mind, I can let you hear him."
"Can I?" Kevin asked, his strawberry-blonde Chapter 3 17 страница hair falling into his eyes as he looked quickly from Kylie to Blair.
"Sure. I don't mind," Blair said.
Kylie showed him how to place the stethoscope against Blair's tummy, and he was very quiet for a moment, listening intently. "You tap on my back and show me how his heart's beating, okay?" Kevin was too engrossed to speak, but he nodded to his aunt. Kylie was dangling off the bed, but she finally maneuvered her long body around until she was in the same position as Kevin. As agreed, he started tapping on his aunt Chapter 3 17 страница's back, matching the rhythm of the baby very well. "Good job, buddy!" Kylie exclaimed. "If you like to listen to babies, maybe you'll grow up to be an obstetrician."
"Maybe," he said soberly, clearly not having any idea of what she was talking about. "Oh! Gramma said breakfast is ready, and you have to come down right this minute!" He scampered off the bed and started running, then stopped and raced back to the bed, tossing his small arms around Kylie and giving her a sloppy kiss. "Happy birthday!" Then he was gone again, his small feet Chapter 3 17 страница hitting the stairs in moments.
Kylie looked at Blair and asked, "You sure you want the baby to be born? They're so much easier to deal with when they're enclosed."
"Well, I thought he was adorable, but given that his breakfast message was so delayed, we'd better get moving. Shower first?"
"Yeah. We're casual about a lot of things, but pajamas at the breakfast table are strictly forbidden. That's probably why I'm in my pajamas until lunchtime most Saturdays."
"You're a rebel," Blair teased.
"Did you sleep well?" Kylie asked as Blair Chapter 3 17 страница blew her hair dry.
"You know, I don't know if it was the bed or if I was extremely tired or if I slept better because I was with someone, but I feel very well-rested. I have a whole new outlook."
"You look good," Kylie said. "And that outfit is adorable on you."
"Thanks again, Kylie. I feel my age in jeans and a turtleneck. And it feels so nice to have a stretchy panel covering my belly. Trying to jam myself into my old pants was getting ridiculous."
"You and Emily, Chuck's wife, can Chapter 3 17 страница exchange fashion tips tomorrow. I think she's at nineteen weeks now."
"That'll be cool. I don't know any other pregnant women."
"Wait till we start our Lamaze class. You'll think the whole world is pregnant."
When they reached the kitchen, everyone had eaten, but there was a spoonful of scrambled eggs, a piece of cold, dry toast and a box of corn flakes sitting on the table. The kids were nowhere to be seen, but Dorothy and two women sat at the table. The woman who looked a great deal like Kylie stood and offered Chapter 3 17 страница a hug. "Hey, Doctor Baby Sister, happy birthday!"
"Thanks, Chris. It's nice to be home for my birthday for a change." Turning to Blair, she said, "This is Blair. Blair, this is my sister, Christine, and her partner, Laura."
Blair blinked in surprise, but managed to extend her hand to shake both hands. "Good to meet you both," she said.
"Likewise," Chris said, her grin nearly identical to Kylie's. "Come have a seat."
Blair sat next to her, and Kylie snuck around the back of the table. She poured a glass of juice for Blair, got Chapter 3 17 страница a cup of coffee for herself and proceeded to make small talk with her sister for a few minutes. Soon, the doctor picked up the piece of toast and started to munch on it. Blair eyed the cereal box and wondered, Is this really all we're going to eat? No wonder everyone is so thin! They're starving!
Chris turned to Blair and said, "Mom tells me you're due in December. Are you still excited, or has terror crept in?"
"I'm still mostly excited," she said. "I'm feeling really good, I'm sleeping well, and the birth Chapter 3 17 страница feels like it's a long way off."
"That won't last," Chris said, and both Laura and Dorothy nodded agreement. "I had one, but Laura's had two, and Mom's obviously had seven. We're living proof that you can get through it."
"Pregnancy's the easy part," Dorothy decided. "It's the next twenty years that are tough."
"I have a feeling that's true," Blair agreed. "So I guess I'd better enjoy the enjoyable parts while I can."
"Well, you look great," Chris said. "You hardly look pregnant at all."
"You know, I Chapter 3 17 страница look less pregnant in these clothes. For some reason, properly fitted maternity clothes are much more flattering than trying to jam myself into my old stuff. Kylie bought this for me. I think she did a marvelous job."
"Good work, baby sister," Chris said. "Hey, Willow pointed out that sexy convertible in the drive had to be yours. Can I take a look?"
"Sure," Kylie said. "We've actually got to get going soon. We're going to spend the day with Blair's parents and go to the symphony tonight. I'm stoked!"
"Well, let me see your car Chapter 3 17 страница before you take off then," she said.
"Blair, would you get my hanging bag from upstairs?" Kylie asked. "I packed everything I'd need for tonight in there."
"Sure. I'll get my things together and meet you at the car."
Kylie walked out with her sister, and it quickly became obvious that the older woman wasn't as interested in the car as she was in Blair. "So, what's up with your friend? Mom says she's in the process of a divorce."
"Yeah. It's been horrible for her, but I'm so impressed with how Chapter 3 17 страница she's handling everything. She and her husband tried to have a baby for nearly two years, and not long after she got pregnant, he decided he didn't feel able to be a father. I think he's gonna regret it and try to get her back, but I don't think Blair's the type to get burned twice. It's a damned shame." Shaking her head she said, "Not only is he making a massive mistake in letting a wonderful woman like Blair go, how could you turn your back on your baby like Chapter 3 17 страница that?"
"Don't look at me," Chris said. "I know a lot less about men than you do." She walked around the car, noting its sleek lines. "She's lucky to have a friend like you, Kylie."
"I'm the lucky one, Chris. She's become my closest friend, and I'm more excited about the baby than she is."
"Knowing you, you're not exaggerating," Chris said. "I hope she stays in your life for a long time, sis. She seems good for you."
"We're good for each other," Kylie said.
"So … how's your love life?" Chris asked Chapter 3 17 страница, wincing a little when she heard how blunt her question sounded.
"Nothing much to report. I've had a couple of dates with a woman I used to work with."
"Really?" Chris sounded so shocked that it brought Kylie up short, and she looked hard at her sister.
"Yeah, L.A. is big enough for even me to find a date."
"Hey, that's not what I meant," Chris said. "I didn't know you were seeing anyone."
"Well, like I said, I've had a couple of dates. I'm not ready to pick a china pattern yet Chapter 3 17 страница."
"But that's good, Kylie. That you're dating, I mean. It must feel good to get back in the game."
Kylie crossed her arms over her chest and gave her sister a scowl. "You make it sound like I've been sitting in a little bare room, feeling sorry for myself for the past two years. You know, just because things didn't work out with Stacey, doesn't mean that I'm lonely. I have a very fulfilling life."
"I'm sorry," Chris said. "This isn't turning out like I wanted it to. I wanted to Chapter 3 17 страница make conversation, sis. Not start a fight."
Kylie nodded, slightly mollified. "It's okay. I get a little testy around my birthday. Don't worry about it."
Kylie suddenly brightened, and her smile beamed when Blair came out the front door. "Let me get those bags," she ordered, nearly sprinting to stop Blair before she tried to negotiate the stairs.
"She treats me like I'm made of porcelain," Blair said, rolling her eyes at Chris.
"Take it while you can get it, Blair," Chris said. "All too soon, you lose the special status being pregnant gives Chapter 3 17 страница you."
Kylie smiled and said, "Nah, Blair's naturally special." She held the door open for her friend and made sure she was settled before closing it. "See you late tonight or tomorrow," Kylie said, giving her sister a pat on the back.
"Have a nice birthday, baby sister. We'll see you tomorrow," Chris said, heading back into the house.
When Kylie got into the car, Blair was staring at her, wide-eyed. "You didn't tell me your sister was a lesbian!"
"I didn't?" the doctor asked, confused.
"No, you most certainly did not. I was caught Chapter 3 17 страница completely flat-footed, and I almost blurted out something stupid."
"Nah. I've never heard you say one stupid thing. You're not gonna start now."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Blair said, "but I almost said, not one, but two embarrassing things this morning."
"What was the other?"
"I almost asked if anyone at your house ever ate a meal! I'm famished!"
Kylie looked chagrined and said, "That's my fault, Blair. My family eats a lot, but only at scheduled meal times. If you miss the time, you have to scrounge for yourself Chapter 3 17 страница, and given that you're subject to the lecture about the house not being a twenty-four-hour diner, I always choose to wait for the next meal." She looked at her friend and asked, "You're probably starving from last night, too, aren't ya?" At Blair's nod, she continued, "I'm sorry I didn't take better care of you. When I realized that we'd missed breakfast, I assumed we'd stop to eat on the way to your parent's, but I forgot to mention that."
Reaching over to pat her thigh, Blair said, "It's no Chapter 3 17 страница big deal. It was probably good for me to eat light last night. Heck, maybe that's why I slept so well. How'd you sleep, by the way?"
"Good. I don't move around much, so I hardly notice when I have someone in my bed. I feel good today. That extra couple of hours sleep really perked me up."
"Would you mind waiting until we get to my parent's to eat? My dad would love it if he could make us breakfast."
"No, not at all. I stocked up on that piece of dry toast," Kylie Chapter 3 17 страница said, giving her friend a wink.
Chris hadn't been back in the house for two seconds when her mother asked, "Well, is there something going on between those two, or not?"
"Gee, who'd have ever thought it would be a benefit to be a lesbian around here?" Chris asked, giving her mother a wry smirk. "Have you rendered your learned lesbian opinion yet, Laura?"
"I have, but I don't want to influence your vote."
"Okay," Chris said thoughtfully. "I don't think there's anything going on between them. But Kylie wants there to Chapter 3 17 страница be. I'm sure of that." She looked at her mother for a moment and said, "But that doesn't mean Kylie knows it. She's notoriously clueless when it comes to herself. It took her three years to figure out Stacey wasn't right for her, when we all knew it the minute we met her."
"I hope she knows what she's doing," Dorothy said worriedly. "She couldn't bear to have her heart broken again."
"Happens to the best of us, Mom. She's not immune to heartbreak — even though she is the spoiled baby girl."
Werner Chapter 3 17 страница was happy indeed to be able to make a meal for his daughter. "Your appetite is very healthy," he said. "That's good."
"Actually, my family tried to starve her to death," Kylie said. "We didn't get dinner last night, and we missed breakfast this morning. I'm surprised Blair wasn't light-headed."
Werner gave Kylie a speculative look and asked, "Your people don't like to cook?"
"No, not really," she said. "My mother's a pretty competent cook, but after seven kids, she feels she's paid her dues. If you're not at the table Chapter 3 17 страница when the meal is served, you're on your own."
He nodded, looking like he didn't really understand her point, but he was obviously too polite to voice his surprise. "In my family, my mother offered food to anyone who entered the house. Delivery men, the mailman, men who came to repair the washer." He chuckled and said, "She never understood why the mailman wouldn't come in for tea and a little cake."
Kylie laughed and said, "My mother figured out how to entertain without having to cook at all. She and my father used to have Chapter 3 17 страница cocktail parties, starting at around 5:00 and lasting until 7:00 or so. Their poor guests would leave at eight o'clock, half-drunk with nothing but cheese and crackers in their stomachs."
"Every family has its own traditions," Werner said. "Luckily, we like to feed company constantly, so when you miss a meal in Lake Forest, you can come down here and let us fill you up."
"When do you have to leave, Dad?" Blair asked. "I don't want you to be late."
"Today, we're rehearsing from 11:00 until 1:00," he said. "You're welcome to come watch, but Chapter 3 17 страница that would probably bore you. You could also go watch a run through for your mother's new play. I think she said they're going to start after lunch."
"Well, since I won't get a chance to see the play, I'd like to do that, but I'm sure I know what Kylie will choose. Do you mind splitting up?" she asked her friend.
"Uhm … I'd really love to watch the symphony rehearse, but I'll go with you if you don't want to be alone."
"No, I'm fine. I'll grab a Chapter 3 17 страница cab."
Kylie gave her a concerned look and asked, "Do the cabs have seatbelts in them? I don't want you riding in one if you're not belted in. I'll go with you and drive if that's the case."
"See what I mean, Dad?" Blair asked. "Kylie fusses over me as much as you do."
"That's why I like her so much," Werner said, giving Kylie a smile that reminded her a little of Blair's. "It's nice to know I have an ally in California."
After going outside with Blair to make sure the cab Chapter 3 17 страница did, in fact, have seatbelts, Kylie and Werner left for rehearsal. As soon as they were in the car, he turned to her and said, "Okay, now tell me the truth. How is Blair — really?"
Giving his question some thoughtful consideration, Kylie said, "She's honestly very good, Werner, and believe me, I'd tell you if she weren't. Blair has an ability that I envy. She's able to compartmentalize things to carry on with her life. I mean, I can't imagine how devastating it must have been for her when she realized that things were Chapter 3 17 страница not going to work out with David. But rather than focusing on her grief, she shut it away to concentrate on the more important issue — making sure the baby wasn't affected. Her spirits have been remarkably good, and she honestly seems content and happy. I still don't know how she manages, but I know for a fact that she's eating well and sleeping well and getting her exercise. Her blood pressure is low, and she's not eating junk food or doing any of the things I do when I'm stressed. As I said, I Chapter 3 17 страница don't know how she manages, but she's in very good shape."
"She's like my mother," he said, smiling. "I don't know how it happened, since they aren't related by blood, but she's so much like her that sometimes it startles me."
"She told me that she had three parents," Kylie commented. "She was obviously very close to her."
"Oh, yes. My mother lived in Rogers Park in the same apartment that I grew up in. We had Sunday dinner with her every week until the day she died. I think Blair Chapter 3 17 страница was a freshman in college when her grandmother passed unexpectedly. Well, I say unexpectedly, but she was eighty-five and had a bad heart. Blair took it very hard," he recalled. "They had a very special bond." He gave Kylie a look out of the corner of his eye and asked, "She doesn't talk about her much, does she?"
"No." Kylie shook her head. "She doesn't. She's only mentioned her once or twice."
Werner chuckled and said, "That's how my mother was. She didn't believe in talking about things that made her sad. She kept Chapter 3 17 страница the things that hurt very private, always presenting a sunny demeanor."
"That is like Blair," Kylie said. "She's more emotional now, of course, but still … when she cries, I know it's a big deal."
"Does she cry often, Kylie?" he asked softly.
"No more than your average pregnant woman," she said. "She had a few tough months at the beginning, and it was very hard on her when she moved out of the house, but she's good now. Her hormones have settled down, too, so she's much more herself. It was hard on her when she Chapter 3 17 страница was going through so much turmoil at home and having a gush of progesterone racing through her. She's a strong, determined woman," Kylie said, "and I'm confident she'll get through this difficult time."
"She is strong," he agreed, "but my personal opinion is that she was too strong and too determined when she was with David. She's so independent, Kylie, and she tried to have a marriage where she retained every bit of that independence." He shook his head. "It never seemed so much a marriage as a partnership. She didn't Chapter 3 17 страница depend on David, and I don't think he depended on her, either. Yes, I think they loved each other, but they didn't risk much." He looked at her briefly and asked, "Do you know what I mean?"
"I think I do," she said thoughtfully. "I haven't looked at it that way, but I see what you mean. It's hard to love someone if you aren't willing to risk everything for them."
"It is," he agreed. "I think that Blair's in the process of learning what real love is. She'll never be able to accept anything Chapter 3 17 страница less once she knows it."
"She knows it already, Werner. Not long ago, she told me that if she had to choose between her own life and the baby's that she wouldn't hesitate for a moment to save the baby. That's a mother's love."
"That's exactly it," he said. "I learned how to better love my wife by loving Blair. I hope that's true for her."
"I think it will be," Kylie said. "She has a lot of love to give, but she needs to let her barriers down to let someone love Chapter 3 17 страница her as well."
"Very true, Kylie." He glanced at her. "You know my daughter well."
"I try to," she said quietly. "She means a lot to me."
"I'm very glad she has you in her life," he said. "I worry about her less since I met you. I know you'll make sure she takes care of herself."
"She does a good job of taking care of herself," Kylie assured him. "I provide some friendly reminders."
Blair and Eleanor returned home at 3:00, and the moment Blair walked into the apartment, Kylie nearly leapt upon her. "Why didn't Chapter 3 17 страница you come with us?" she asked. "I got to sit up on the stage and play percussion!" She turned quickly to Eleanor and said, "Forgive my manners, but I'm so excited, I'm faint!"
"Tell me all about it," Blair said, taking her friend's hand and leading her into the living room. "How did it happen, Kylie? Do you know how to play?"
"I do now," she beamed. "I can play the vibraphone and the timpani and even the triangle!" She giggled and added, "I can't play any of them better than a three-year Chapter 3 17 страница-old, but I can say that I stood on stage and looked like I could play `em!"