Eric woke up early the next morning. After getting up, he started a pot of coffee before looking in on Anna. She still lay sound asleep, so he let her be.
Back in the kitchen, he poked his head in Anna’s fridge to find something for breakfast. He found eggs, cheese, and ham along with a loaf of bread. Taking the items out, he fixed the two of them an omelet and some toast. Ten minutes or so later, it was finished.
He was headed for the bedroom to wake Anna just as someone knocked on the door. A glance out the window showed it was Minnie, so he let her in.
“Good morning Eric. Is Anna not up yet?” Minnie asked.
“No, I was just about to go and wake her. I know she’ll want to call her boss and I fixed her something to eat to take her meds with.”
“Point the way to the kitchen, I’ll wait in there,” Minnie pronounced.
Eric pointed and as Minnie headed for the kitchen, he headed for the bedroom. He found Anna already sitting up with a pained look on her face. Walking over to the bed he asked, “Still hurting?”
“Yeah, I am, unfortunately.”
“Well, I’ve got some breakfast ready,” he mentioned. “After you eat, I’ll give you some of the pills the doctor prescribed you.”
“Okay, sounds good.”
Then he very carefully picked her up and headed for the kitchen.
“Good morning, Anna. I’m sad that this is the way we had to see you,” Minnie mentioned as they came in.
“Yeah, well, I hate that you had to get out to come over and watch me. I know your due date is getting close,” Anna said as she picked up a fork and began to eat.
“Eh, it’s okay. I was bored at home anyway because I can’t do anything,” Minnie grumbled with a sigh. “Tony’s treating me like I’m going to break ever since we found out…”
Anna looked up, fork half-way to her mouth. “What?”
“That we’re having twins. That’s why I’m already so big.” Minnie exclaimed with a big grin. excitedly.
Anna gasp. “Twins! Oh, Minnie, how exciting. Do you know what they are yet?”
Minnie nodded. “I was far enough along at my last appointment to find out. We’re having a boy and a girl. Tony and I have been looking at names this week. We’ve been looking at two names each though just in case we’re wrong about what we’re having. Oh, Anna, I can hardly wait.”
“As interesting as this is, I need to go,” Eric informed them when Minnie stopped to take a breath.
Both girls turned to look at him, having probably forgotten he was even there. Once Minnie got on a roll about her pregnancy, there was no stopping her, he thought as he shook his head. Leaning down, he gave Anna a gentle kiss on her cheek. “I’ll be back tonight, a little after five.”
She gave a nod even as her face drooped with sadness. “Okay.”
Then with a silent huff, he left while he still could.
After Eric left, Minnie and Anna continued to talk a bit longer. Then, knowing she couldn’t put it off any longer, Anna called her boss.
Mrs. Ramsey took it better than Anna feared when she told her she wouldn’t be at work on Monday and why. Mrs. Ramsey told Anna she had some vacation days, so that would help as far as her loss of a paycheck.
Next, knowing it was her day off, she called Renee.
“Hello, girlfriend!” Renee chirped.
“Hi, Renee. Um… I need to talk to you for a bit.”
“Ooh, you sound serious, so lay it on me.”
“Well, maybe you should come over because it’s a long story,” Anna suggested.
“Oh! Well, I’m dragging a bit this morning, but give me a few and I’ll be there,” Renee replied.
“That’s fine, I’ll be here when you get here,” Anna said.
After ending the call, Anna sat staring out her kitchen window from the table. Oh, how she dreaded seeing her friend and the conversation they were going to have to have.
“Was your boss that upset Anna?”
She turned to find Minnie standing in the doorway rubbing her belly gently. Anna gave her a weak smile, thinking now of how she’d never had any children to love. Then, clearing her throat, she replied, “No, she understood. I’m more concerned about the conversation with Renee I’m going to have when she gets here.”
“Is that the reason behind the long face?”
Anna turned back to the window unable to look at the heavily pregnant woman with hurt welling up in her like it was.
“Maybe a little bit, but mostly not. I was married once, for five years, only to find out my husband had been cheating on me almost our whole marriage. Then after two years of being alone and lonely, I met Mark.” She snorted, glancing out of the corner of her eye at Minnie as she pointed to her face. “You see how that turned out. Now I’ve met Eric and I like him, a lot, and want him to be mine, but there is still this fear in the back of my mind. Is that bad to feel that way?”
Minnie sat down across from her.
“No, fear is normal, it’s what we do with it that matters.” Minnie sighed, a sad look on her face. “My dad didn’t want a girl and he never let me forget that after my mom died. Then I met Tony who had been abused, starved, and mistreated for most of his life. I was only eighteen and he was twenty-one and we were both so scared, but Anna, we knew we were it for each other. I had dreamed my whole life about a soulmate, the one who would be my other half in every way, and I knew he was it.”
Anna smiled dreamily, finally facing Minnie. Propping her chin in her hand she murmured, “Your forever love.”
Minnie laughed. “Yeah, my forever love, that’s my Tony. The thing is, I think if you dig deep you will realize that your ex-husband was never that to you. As to where you go from here. You need to decide if Eric is that for you and if he is, then you need to put your whole heart in it.”
“I know, you’re right. I already feel so much for him and he hasn’t even kissed me yet,” Anna divulged as heat rushed up to her cheeks.
“Well, I’ve seen the way he looks at you Anna,” Minnie whispered. “I believe that he believes that you are his soulmate. If it’s true, then he will cherish your heart like no other.”
“That’s what I want, to be cherished, but…”
Anna swallowed hard. “I can’t give him babies Minnie and a man like him… I fear he’ll want a house full to love and spoil.”
Minnie reached out and took Anna’s hand as she looked her in the eye. “Have you told him this?”
“Did he act upset, like it was something that would keep him out of a relationship with you?”
Anna shook her head no.
“Then listen to me Anna, the fates knew your ex was not the one. They knew how harmful it can be to children and didn’t allow that to happen. If Eric is the one, your soulmate, you will have that house full of babies just as you have always dreamed of.”
“Do you think so?” Anna whispered with longing.
“Yes, I do,” Minnie replied with assurance.
Anna felt tears run down her face. Minnie moved to pull Anna into her embrace as she soothingly rubbed along Anna’s back.
“Thank you so much, Minnie,” Anna finally told her as she sat back and dried her cheeks.
“You’re welcome and I do believe we are going to be the best of friends, Anna.”
“Yeah, I think so too,” Anna said with a smile. “Now, when are these babies of yours due?”
It was almost an hour later when Renee showed up and Minnie led her to the living room where Anna sat with her foot propped up.
Renee gasped as she moved to sit beside Anna. “Oh, Anna! What happened to you?”
Anna gave a slight smile. “Mark happened.”
“Mark? But…” Renee began.
Anna cut her off with a wave of her hand as she laid her head back on the couch. “Yeah, I know, we thought he was gone but he wasn’t.” She took a quick breath, saying, “After we left the club, I had a flat tire…”
Anna finished her story and wiped at a few stray tears.
Renee sat with a stunned look on her face. “Oh Anna, I am so…”
“Don’t, please Renee, don’t. It isn’t your fault because as Eric said, Mark was determined. I believe if it hadn’t been there it would have been somewhere else.”
“Yeah, you’re right, but I still feel bad because I practically forced you to go,” Renee muttered.
“It’s okay. I’m only glad I lived to tell the tale.”
Renee grinned. “Saved by a wolf. Now that is a tale to tell your children and their children.”
“Yeah, it is,” Anna agreed, and all three ladies laughed.