It was a good thing Alex was out of town for the first two weeks of it because she had been an unbearable, heinous bitch. Ingrid, their housekeeper, told her that a man did not enjoy coming home to a nagging fishwife and if she were to relax, she would give birth to a mellow, healthy baby. Though she felt like screaming in the Swedish woman's face, she refrained from doing so, since Alex seemed fond of the old bag.
She looked over her shoulder at him now, sleeping peacefully, his angelic face in repose. Joseph said he was the best at what he did. Cold, stoic, and always four or five steps ahead of his quarry. His rivals called him The Shark. Alex brokered international trade deals between companies all over the world. He also found investors for emerging markets and made billionaires out of millionaires. The media proclaimed him a Kingmaker. The U.S. Treasury Department hired him as a consultant from time to time.
He had been in South America for the last two weeks, trying to put out little fires: a union dispute in Bogota, a meeting with the governor of San Salvador regarding a program he helped set up to employ Salvadorians; some scheduling mishap in Peru because a company unexpectedly changed shipping entities which caused a delay in delivery for his European partners.
She often wondered why he got so involved with the ins-and-outs of these companies if he were just the broker. He often flies off to one part of the world or another at a moment's notice with his bodyguard Joseph at his side. He'd had to buy a private jet because he traveled so much.
Her only company these days were Ingrid, the housekeeper; Lyudmilla, Joseph's wife, and her mother, Alena. The two other women lived in a house Alex had built for them in the backyard. Since the backyard was half an acre, there was plenty of room. She and Lyudmilla have become good friends since bonding over their mutual pregnancy. Her new friend was pregnant with her second child and Joseph couldn't be more thrilled since she was going to have another boy.
Alex was not initially excited about the baby. They had only been seeing each other for three months when she got pregnant. It had been a casual thing. Alex was technically her boss's boss. One day, as she was preparing to leave the office building for the day, he asked if he could buy her a drink. She'd been shocked because she didn't think she'd be Alex Godman's type. He was often rumored to be dating some model or actress, plus she thought he liked blondes.
The two of them went for a drink, which led to dinner, then a walk around the historic theater district of downtown LA. At the time, Alex lived in a penthouse on Spring Street, which is where they ended their evening. She'd been nervous and self-conscious, but Alex was an attentive and considerate lover who banished all her fears and made her comfort his priority.
If he'd never asked her out again, she would have been happy with that one evening since she, along with every other woman in the office, had a crush on him. But the next day, he asked her out again, then a couple of days after that, until they were going out pretty regularly. It was kept secret from everyone in the office, of course. Alex was, above all, quite British in his sense of propriety and discretion.
He took her to five-star restaurants, premiere hotels, and exclusive hot spots around the city, where she often felt out of place because they were filled with wealthy, gorgeous people like him. But Alex never strayed from her side, no matter how many models and starlets flirted with him. Unless he was on the phone, of course. Alex was always on some kind of business call in a foreign language. He spoke Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, Mandarin, and Hebrew. He was currently learning Japanese, though how he found the time, she couldn't fathom because he was the busiest man she knew.
Right around the time their relationship was winding down, since she was seeing Alex less and less, she found out she was pregnant. She'd meant to keep it to herself, pack up, and move back to San Francisco, but she thought about it, and decided he deserved to know. He'd just gotten back from Tel Aviv, he said when he called her, and would like to see her that evening. He'd invited her to his flat, but she asked him to come over to her one-bedroom apartment in Silverlake, instead, so she would feel more in control of the situation.
As soon as he walked in, he surmised that something was wrong. Alex was very perceptive and clever. It was what made him an effective businessman. He could read people easily. "What's the matter, Selena?"
Selena was sitting on the sofa with her arms wrapped around her stomach, curled into herself. Alex had opened the door with his key because she didn't respond to his knocks. She'd been crying. "I'm sorry, Alex, I'm so sorry," she sobbed.
He'd rushed to her side, sat next to her, and cradled her in his arms. "Hey, it's all right. I'm here. Tell me what happened." He kissed the side of her head. "I know I've been gone a lot, Selena, but I had some issues to take care of in Saint Petersburg, London, and Tel Aviv. You know I have satellite offices there."
She buried her face in his shoulder and cried. He was going to hate her. "I understand all that, Alex..."
"And I know we haven't made any sort of commitment to each other," he continued. "But if you saw someone else while I was away and that's why you're upset..."
"No." She gave him a shove. "I wasn't dating anyone before we started seeing each other, Alex. I didn't magically become a dude-magnet while you were away."
"I'm sorry," he said with a soft chuckle, drawing her back into his arms and nuzzling her neck. "It's just that I find you very desirable, so I'm hard pressed to believe that there isn't a line of men waiting to ask you out."
She smacked his chest. "Well, there isn't."
He ran his hand through her hair and kissed her temple. "Then why are you crying, Selena?"
She pulled away from him and once again hugged her arms to herself, shielding her stomach. "I was two weeks late on my period, so I got a test kit. There are two tests in a kit." She took a peek at his face.
His expression was blank. Her boss called it his poker face. He said he'd never been able to tell how Alex Godman's mind worked because nothing showed on his face. She read an article on Forbes that compared him to Spock from Star Trek. He blinked. "Are you pregnant?"
His voice was measured, controlled. Bereft of emotion. Anxiety made Selena hold her breath. "I confirmed it with an OB-GYN this morning. I'm four weeks along."
Alex just stared at her for a long time and she couldn't tell what was going on in his mind. She was terrified he'd tell her to fuck off. Or that he'd write her a big check and run her out of town. What she didn't expect was, "I suppose we'll have to get married."
Their quickie wedding at the courthouse felt like a lifetime ago now.
Selena made it to the bathroom and eased herself on the toilet. As she emptied her bladder, she thought it was the best feeling in the world. And she'd probably have to do it again in a couple of hours.
She was only six and a half months along, but felt as big as a house. Lyudmilla seemed to be having a fine time, compared to her. She glowed with health, her blond hair was thick and full, and aside from her stomach, hadn't seemed to have gained any weight at all.
She, on the other hand, had gained thirty pounds, developed some kind of psoriasis on her lower back, and was experiencing a resurgence of teen acne. She lost so much hair to brushing in the morning that she often wondered why she didn't have bald spots. She knew because Alena checked for it daily. Alena also made her a tea tree oil paste for her acne and psoriasis, but Alex demanded that she stop using it because he didn't like the smell.
She was about to climb back into bed--and in her current condition, it was a climb--when she heard Alex groan. He usually slept like the dead and didn't really snore or make other noises while deep in slumber. Or maybe he did and because she was a heavy sleeper herself, she never noticed.
Still, it made her stop and go over to his side of the bed so she could take a peek at him. He made the sound again, a little louder this time like he was in physical pain. She put her hand on his bare chest and thought about shaking him awake, but he was so tired from his trip and needed the rest. She felt his forehead with her palm. He was a little warm, but didn't have a fever. In his sleep, he made a sound of protest.
She lifted her hand. She'd been with him for almost ten months and didn't think she'd ever witnessed him dream before. She wondered if he dreamed when he was away from her, sleeping in other beds, thousands of miles away.
She returned to her side of the bed and successfully climbed on. But before she could slide in between the covers, his head began to move from side to side on the pillow as he once again grunted and groaned.
"No! Oh no God, what have I done?"
His hands thrust up and he shoved his fingers in his hair, though he remained asleep. His face was a portrait of torment and desperation.
"No… I didn't...I didn't..."
Selena knew she should wake him up, but for a moment, she could only gawk at him, appalled, with her hand over her mouth.
"I'm so sorry, Rebecca. Forgive me. Oh please, forgive me. I didn't know… God help me, I didn't know!"