“There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”
Mia and I kept our heads down while we walked down the street, our faces obscured by hats and some impressive makeup contouring done by me if I do say so myself. It also helped that Mia let me use one of her wigs, so instead of my regular raven locks, I was a blonde bombshell.
Mia started humming a familiar tune, and it took me a moment to recognize it. “Are you humming Mission Impossible?”
“Yes. We’re on a mission that could very well backfire on us if we don’t get it right, so I’m humming an appropriate song,” Mia said. “Could you not leave this to the detective you hired?”
“Yes, but if I’m the one to break it to Will, then I want to say I saw it with my own two eyes, and that I had a witness to it all if it comes to that. Annalise didn’t want to be a part of it because she’s worried the press will think she’s doing it out of jealousy.”
“So, you asked me?”
“No, I brought up what I was doing in front of you, and you offered to help. I accepted.”
“You brought it up when Annalise wasn’t around because you knew I wanted to get back at the red-headed bitch for manipulating Will into hurting my sister.”
“Maybe. You still asked to join.”
Mia sighed. “What do you expect a chemo patient and a pregnant woman to accomplish that the detective can’t?”
“Nothing except for the fact Will will trust my word over a detective’s, so I want to have proof of my own,” I said. “Now, Lorraine should be leaving her apartment in twenty minutes. Would you go get some coffee while I wait and watch?”
I handed her a twenty-dollar bill, and she entered the coffee shop behind us. I sat on a bench, pretending to be a weary pregnant woman taking a break, which wasn’t far from the truth. My feet were killing me; I seriously needed to consider getting special inserts for my shoes.
Mia joined me a few minutes later with coffee in hand. We sipped it slowly.
“Didn’t you and Lorraine used to be friends?” Mia asked.
“A long, long time ago. We fell out of touch when she went to school and reconnected right before she met Will. When he told Annalise that Lorraine and I were friends, I should’ve clarified how loose the term was. It’s more like we were acquaintances at that point.” I fiddled with my necklace, thinking about everything that had happened between my best friend and cousin. “Anna’s never asked me about it, but I know she’s wondered. Would you tell her for me?”
“I’ll work it into a conversation.”
“Thanks, Mia. And thank you for joining me on this. I didn’t want to do it by myself.
I shrugged. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing it by myself, and I guess having someone come with me confirmed that I might genuinely be onto something here.”
“You’re like a sister to Annalise and me, and we’d do anything for you. Case in point, she gave you the idea for the detective, and I’m helping you stalk Lorraine.”
I made a face. “Uh, I wouldn’t call it stalking. I’d call it revealing a heinous plot by a manipulative bitch.”
“Right. Then are you ready to go?” Mia nodded at the apartment complex across from them. “Because she’s leaving now.”
I nodded, pushing myself up. “Let’s go!”
“Where is she supposed to be going?” Mia asked, looping her arm through mine.
“Ultrasound. I even got the name of the supposed doctor she’s allegedly seeing. If Lorraine doesn’t go see her today, we’re going to pay a visit to Dr.-” I pulled out my phone and checked the name- “Loughty.”
“As in lofty goals or something? Trying to marry a prince?”
The possible connection hit me like a ton of bricks. “I swear, if this is a fake name, I’m going to throw hands with her.”
“You already want to.”
“Yeah, well, I’ll actually do it.”
The two of us fell silent, keeping a conservative distance between us and Lorraine to ensure she didn’t realize she was being trailed. She appeared oblivious to it, walking down street after street, mostly window shopping, but occasionally going into a store or two. I couldn’t help but notice none of the stores had anything for pregnant women, not a single one, not even the ones where she stared at the window display. Speaking from experience, the longer your pregnancy went on, the more you focused on it, and the more it took over your everyday life, including shopping. Even if you didn’t intend to shop for baby things, you somehow always did.
Mia noticed it too, saying, “She looks pregnant, but she sure doesn’t act like it.”
“Surely she needs to pee? Because I’m dying here, and I might pee my pants if she doesn’t stop soon,” I admitted.
“You go use the bathroom, and I’ll continue trailing her. Call me when you’re done, and I’ll tell you where we are.”
“You’re a saint!” Before Mia could say anything else, I dodged into the closest store, making a beeline for the bathroom. I had many people warn me that I’d need the bathroom a lot while pregnant, but I never thought it’d be this bad.
I rushed using the bathroom, quickly washed my hands, and then called Mia, asking for her location. I jogged to her position, grasping my sides when I caught up to her. “I seriously need to consider going to the gym again. I’m out of shape.”
“And also twenty pounds heavier with the baby.”
I glowered at her. “Thanks for that reminder.”
“Any time.” Mia patted my back. “Now, Lorraine entered this house for about five minutes, left, and is now standing outside of it on her phone. I can’t tell who she’s talking to, but she doesn’t look happy.”
“Let’s move closer then,” I suggested. We strolled forward, discussing the most recent episode of Game of Thrones to throw off any possible suspicion from Lorraine. For all she knew, we were just two innocent bypassers chatting, not two people trailing her.
Mia and I sat on a bench, allowing me to rest my aching feet. Lorraine happened to be just behind us. Mia pulled out her phone and discreetly hit the record button, placing the phone up to her ear, and filming Lorraine as she spoke.
“… the appointment went great! The baby is doing just fine,” Lorraine said. Her expression didn’t match her jovial tone, throwing up another red flag for me. “It’s completely healthy and on track development-wise, according to Dr. Loughty… yeah, yeah, I just got out of the appointment, but I’m going to do some shopping for baby clothes before I come home… I’m perfectly safe… yes, I know you are… okay, I love you, Will. See you soon.”
Lorraine hung up, shoving her phone in her pocket and setting back off, head hung low.
“So other than the fact she blatantly lied to Will just now, something else is really off,” Mia remarked as we started following Lorraine again.
“What kind of ultrasound appointment takes five minutes?” I asked in disbelief. “There’s no possible way.”
“Why don’t we go find out?” Mia had already set off to the front door, and I swiftly caught up to her. She knocked three times on the door. A woman in her mid-fifties opened up.
“Hi, may I help you?” she inquired.
“We’re so sorry to bother you,” Mia began, deceptively sweet. “My friend is pregnant, and she desperately needs the bathroom. We wouldn’t go up to a stranger’s house asking this unless it was an emergency. Would you mind if she used it here?”
“No, not at all! Come on in!” The woman moved aside, and we stepped foot inside her cozy home. “Bathroom is the first door on the right.”
“Thank you so much!” I exclaimed sincerely. How Mia realized I needed the bathroom again, I’ll never know. Maybe she didn’t. Perhaps it was a lucky guess or based on my history of needing the bathroom every five minutes while pregnant. Regardless, she’d pulled off something I didn’t think I ever could.
I kept the fan off so I could overhear their conversation in the foyer.
“What’s your name, dear?” the woman inquired.
“Ellen,” Mia lied. “What’s yours?”
“What’s your last name? You look super familiar. I feel like I’ve seen you somewhere before.”
“Henrikson. I’m from Amsterdam, but I moved here a few months ago.”
“Hmm. There must be someone else around here that looks like you then.”
I flushed the toilet and washed my hands before stepping out to join the conversation. I smiled and said, “Thank you so much. You saved this pregnant lady from having a major accident.”
“Happy to help! What’s your name, sweetie?”
“I’m Patty,” I said. “Listen, I don’t know if you’ll know this, but we heard from Everly Ward- she’s a friend of ours- that Lorraine was seeing a Dr. Loughty for her ultrasounds. I need to change my doctor because he’s a dick, and I figure if the future Queen of Verona can trust Dr. Loughty, then I can too.”
Calling Lorraine the ‘future Queen of Verona’ tasted bitter in my mouth, but I had to do this to find out the truth. Maybe I wouldn’t have to refer to her as that ever again if I accomplished my mission.
“You did. She was just checking in on me. I helped raise her when she was little. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of a Dr. Loughty. Lorraine’s never mentioned him either. She’s very stressed about the pregnancy if you ask me. I think having a child out of wedlock with the future King of Verona is weighing on her.”
“I couldn’t imagine the stress,” I replied, forcing down my enthrallment. “We must be going, but thank you for your hospitality!”
“Happy to help! You girls have a good day now!” Norma said, waving goodbye. Mia and I left the premises, trying to mask our excitement. Only when we rounded the corner did we stop and squeal in celebration.
“Oh my god! That was awesome! How did you learn to lie like that?” I asked.
“I figured I should have a fake name if you were contouring my face to look like anyone else’s but mine,” Mia replied. “How did you know to do it? And how on earth did you come up with such a fabulous excuse to discover Dr. Loughty’s identity?”
“I don’t know! It just came to me! We should create our own investigation agency. We’d be boss at it,” I declared.
“Reveal Lorraine’s treachery first, create an agency second.”
“Right. Speaking of which, I’m going to catch her in a few more lies before I present the evidence to her. I know you have class going right now, but whenever you’re free, and you want to help-”
“Count me in. I’ll send you my schedule, so we can work around it.”
We shook hands. “Deal!”