When I wake up it’s because the sun is shining in my face. Groaning, I go to turn away and gasp aloud at the discomfort- borderline pain- in my legs and vagina. I grin and lay my head gently back onto Alex’s chest. Then I open my eyes and get a chance glance at the alarm clock and shoot upright cursing loudly then fall back onto the bed due to the sharp shockwaves the simple movement caused.
“What? What’s wrong?” Alex asks, sitting up alarmed and wide awake suddenly. I throw my head onto my pillow and groan.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to wake you up like that. I’m just very, very late. I have missed Professor Adrian’s class almost completely; there’s only forty minutes left.” I shift my legs and wince again. There is no way in Hell, I’m walking today. I take my arm away from my eyes and pout at Alex, who looks amused. The lucky bastard doesn’t have class until eleven thirty on Mondays.
“Awh, what’s wrong?” He asks, pouting back at me. Fuck. Alex and morning voice and pouting is not a good mix. Especially when I feel like everything beneath our baby is broken.
“No, don’t do that,” I order and look away, clenching my vagina experimentally and groaning yet again.
He lies back down beside me and then I speak. “I can’t move Alex. You’ve broken my legs and my vagina,” I complain. He doesn’t say anything, but when the bed starts to shake ever so slightly I have a feeling he is laughing at me. This proves to be true when sound starts to come out of his mouth. I turn my head to look at him; he’s already facing me.
“You can laugh all you want, but this means no sex for the rest of the day,” I say smugly, smirking, and he raises an eyebrow at me.
“I think that might be harder on you than me,” he retorts and I feel my smile drop and groan one more time.
“Alex, help me,” I plead, fighting a laugh.
“How do you propose I help you?” He asks me, biting his lip. He shouldn’t do that either, damn it.
“Fix me?” I ask hopefully.
“Again, how should I do that?” He repeats, clearly amused. I catch sight of the tent in his pants and shrug.
“I won’t feel anything if I’m numb,” I start and he raises an eyebrow. Grinning at my brilliant idea, I swing my leg over him and sit astride his bulge. He doesn’t object and places his hands on my hips under the shirt and starts rubbing his thumbs on the bare skin. I lean forwards to kiss him and start to rock my hips slowly.
“I thought you were late?” he questions, holding my hips a little tighter as I move them.
“I just got married and I’m pregnant. I’ve got a good excuse not to be in class,” I murmur, holding his gaze. His lips twitch upwards, so does his penis…
“I have class, too,” he reminds me and I grin.
“You just got married and have a pregnant wife,” I inform him and his lips form a full-fledged Alex smile.
“Are you suggesting I skip class to have sex with you?” he asks me, feigning shock.
“No. I’m suggesting you skip class to help your pregnant wife with her needs,” I correct, smiling to myself. I lean forwards and press another kiss to his lips. “What can I do to convince you?” I murmur against his lips and he smiles again as I move my mouth to his neck and start kissing the bare skin there.
“Mmm, I’m sure I’m not going to be too hard to convince. Especially if you keep doing that,” he says and my smile turns into a laugh when he tightens his hold on my hips again and flips us, pressing my body into the bed with his own. I pull my knees up to cradle him between my legs and wrap my arms around his neck.
“I told you I’d wake you up with good morning sex,” I say after, grinning into the crook of his neck where my head is resting. He chuckles and tightens his arms around me.
“You’re too good to me,” he teases and I giggle.
“I think you might be too good to me. I’m completely numb right now and for the first time in a while I feel content and satiated.” Alex gasps dramatically.
“What? You mean you don’t want to try for round six?” He asks me and I giggle again.
“Well, actually…” He groans but I think he knows I’m joking.
Over the next few weeks we fall into a routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, go to class or work, meet up for lunch, go back to our respective schooling or jobs, meet at home, do homework or work stuff, have dinner, spend the rest of the night having sex. Yes, we do more than just have sex, we know so much more about each other now and I’m usually not as embarrassed to talk to him about sex and my body- something he seems to like to do. I can’t tell if it’s a guy thing or an Alex thing.
I’m eleven weeks pregnant now and everything has been good with the baby and with my new marriage. The girls have a new roommate and we meet up for lunch every Saturday. We had Thanksgiving dinner here at the apartment, just the two of us- well, I guess three of us.
I woke up early this morning and Alex and I have been lying in bed in post-coital bliss talking and cuddling for the past twenty minutes. I’m trying and failing to convince him that the apocalypse has come: It’s the middle of December and it hasn’t snowed. We’re in New York for crying out loud!
“Your child and your wife need food, and I’m sure you’re hungry. I promise you, if you go and get me an apple or something to eat, I will have sex with you- after I go pee,” I say seriously and Alex laughs.
“I think that you’re the one who gets what you want in this situation,” He says and I smile into his skin.
“Yeah, but I don’t want to get up. What if I make dinner tonight? Like, actual food that isn’t a salad?” I offer and he shifts so he can look down at me. I’ve given up red meats for the most part and he’s been trying to do it with me but the man loves steak and hamburgers so it’s hard for him. Me? I couldn’t care less, I’ve never really enjoyed red meats, although, I do love a good pasta item. Hmm…
“What kind of food?” He asks me, moving a hand from its place on my thigh to my waist.
“Well, what would you like? I guess we can go to the store after work.”
“I’ve been wanting lasagna for a while now. Can you make lasagna?” I grin.
“I can, actually. I’m really good with pasta items.”
“Pasta items?” He asks and I nod solemnly.
“Pasta items,” I confirm, giggling.
“You’re really happy this morning. It’s a nice change.” He says and I laugh. I’ve been up and down with my moods lately, nothing consistent but recently I’ve had a more negative attitude.
“I got more sleep than usual,” I tell him. He smirks and shakes his head. We went to sleep around midnight and I managed to sleep a full seven hours before needing to pee. It was wonderful.
“I don’t think we have apples, but how do you feel about bananas?”
I must make a face because he laughs.
“What’s wrong with bananas?”
“They’re so gross. It’s like mush in the shape of a crescent moon,” I say informatively and he laughs again.
“You’re going to be the death of me, Woman,” I grin and wrap an arm around his waist, cuddling into him. He puts his arm around me and holds me. I use the hand that’s curved around his torso to trace shapes into his skin and he shifts and catches his breath. I halt my movements and do it again, more this time and notice he’s holding his breath.
“Are you ticklish?” I ask, amused. He presses his head down into his pillow and groans and I laugh delightedly, moving so I’m sitting on top of him again to properly tickle his sides. “How come I’ve never noticed this?” I ask, giggling as he laughs uncontrollably, I go to pin his arms and my stomach starts to churn. He’s still laughing underneath me, but instead of tickling him, I hold onto his chest for support as I move to sit on the edge of the bed.
Nausea eats at my stomach and I stand and rush to the bathroom, barely making it before vomiting into the toilet. When I get to my knees, I vomit again. Ew.
“Here, put this on your forehead,” Alex says, handing me a cold, damp washcloth. I hold the folded towel there, sighing at the cool touch.
“Can you-“ Before I finish he starts to speak.
“I’ve already got the mouth wash ready. And your toothbrush,” He says and I kind of grimace when I try to smile my thanks.
“Are you okay?” He asks, his eyes concerned and I groan.
“Yeah, but I’ll be glad when this morning sickness is done and over with. Oddly, this particular symptom has stayed true to its title and appears mostly in the morning, aside from a few stray incidents. Alex offers me his hand and when I place mine in his he helps me to my feet. I scrunch my face at the sight of my vomit in the toilet and shut the lid before flushing twice. “I’ll clean the bathroom later,” I say and he hands me the cap of mouthwash. After rinsing, I brush my teeth and he fills the cap again.
“Can we go out for breakfast today? I really want pancakes,” I ask when I get out of the shower. Alex is shaving at the bathroom sink, still wrapped in his own towel and I rethink my words. He catches my eye in the mirror and laughs.
“Get that look off of your face. You have a doctor’s appointment in two hours.” I pout and he shakes his head before turning back to his task. “I know how to make pancakes, you know,” he informs me and I laugh.
“I know, but I want the pancakes from that little restaurant two blocks away. You know, the one, um,” I pause to try and think of the name, but for the life of me I can’t remember. Damn. “Shoot, it’s the one with the booths and they sell pastries and cupcakes at the front counter,” I offer up as a description, which I admit, isn’t that great.
“Nat, you just described fifty different restaurants and cafes just in this part of New York,” Alex informs me and rinses the excess shaving cream off of his face before wiping with a towel and turning to me. “And you are dripping water all over the floor. Here,” He says, unfolding my towel and bringing it and himself closer to me.
He’s got a smile on his face as he starts drying my body off with the towel. Once my arms and shoulders are dry he reaches behind me and brings me closer to his body while he dries my back and when he trails his fingers along the skin, I know exactly what he’s doing. And I’m not going to stop him.
Keeping his eyes locked on mine he brings the edges of the towel forwards around my body and gently fondles- I mean dries- my breasts. His eyes are glinting in amusement, but they’re also darker than usual. He’s turned on by this.
“Arms up,” he whispers and I raise them, allowing him to drag the towel down my sides and belly to catch the lingering drops of water. When he gets to my hips, he drops down to his knees and starts to gently drag the towel along my thighs and calves. He’s so close I can feel his breath on my freshly shaved pussy and I see the exact moment he realizes it’s freshly shaved. His eyes widen and he inhales-not sharply like in the movies and books, but just enough that I can hear it. He looks up at me and keeps eye contact as he leans forwards and presses a slightly open mouthed kiss just under my waist line. My eyes fall closed briefly and I bury one hand in his hair to steady myself.
“Alex,” I say, my tone a warning as I open my eyes. He’s grinning up at me and I watch in horror as he stands up and completely dismisses the fact that he’s turned me on to the point of near combustion.
“Arms up,” He orders. I roll my eyes but do as I’m told. He reaches behind me and wraps the soft blue towel around my body, tucking one side under the other and folding the corner into the top. I pout at him.
“Alex, please?” He laughs.
“We have to get you something to eat and then go to the doctor’s office,” He says and I growl at him. Okay, I don’t growl in the animalistic sense, it’s more of a “Grr” type thing.
“I kind of love that I have this effect on you,” He admits, running his hands up and down my arms. My heart clenches. Love? He can’t love me. Not yet. It’s only been three months. But he didn’t say he loves me, he said he loves something about me. There’s a difference. My thoughts are panicked but my expression and words stay neutral.
“It’s definitely new for me. I’ve told you, I’m usually not this sex crazed,” I say, my hand still in his hair, the other on his shoulder.
“I don’t mind. There are worse ways to spend my days than having sex with my wife.” I grin, hopeful now. He shakes his head. “Tonight, we will have all the sex you want to have, but right now, I believe we need to go eat pancakes at Jacks.” He says and I gasp, grinning even more.
“Jacks! That’s the name!”
“Alex, could you give us a moment?” Aunt Emily asks, two and a half hours later at my check up and Alex nods, squeezing my hand before stepping away. Emily just told us that the baby is taking more nutrients than it needs- nutrients that I need- and that it’s a danger to my health. The concern on Alex’s face is apparent, but what can I do? I’m almost three months pregnant and even if it were an option, I’d never get an abortion.
“I’ll be right outside if you need me,” I nod my thanks and he closes the door behind him.
“You guys seem to be getting along well,” Emily comments and I nod.
“Yeah, he’s wonderful.” I say with a small smile.
“As your aunt, I hate that we need to have this conversation, but as your doctor, I know it’s my duty to warn you.” I nod to show I’m listening, sitting up straighter now.
“If you were at your nine month mark right now and you were to go into labor, your heart would be unlikely to make it through the birth. At this point, even a C-Section could be fatal. You’re heart rate is low, you know that. I’m going to work with you and try to get you to a place where you can safely deliver your child, but I can’t make any promises.” She says; her eyes full of regret.
“There isn’t any sign of the cancer coming back? Is there?” I ask, fear gripping my heart.
“No, it’s been thirteen years. You’re in the clear. I just don’t want to put any stress on your heart. Unfortunately, child birth is very stressful on your entire body- not just your heart. This isn’t ideal, but we’re going to work with it.” She smiles sadly.
“What are my chances of surviving the birth?” I dread the answer, but I know I need to know.
“It’s hard to tell. As your aunt, I want to say that your highest possible chance would be at eighty percent, and that’s optimistic. As your doctor, I have to be honest. You’ve got about a sixty percent chance of surviving the delivery. And the problems you’re experiencing now- with the baby taking more than it needs and leaving you depleted- well these are not good signs.” She says and I can see that this conversation is causing her pain.
“What about the baby? Will the baby be okay?” I ask, terrified for the innocent child’s life.
“The baby is healthy and as long as you don’t do anything to endanger the child- it will be fine. It’s you I’m worried about.” She places a hand on my arm. “Natalia, you’re my only niece, I love you. I’m going to do everything in my power to get you through this.” I nod and rub my forehead.
“Have you talked to Alex about any of the problems you’ve been experiencing over the past few weeks?” She asks and I shake my head.
“I had a feeling you were keeping things like this from him. He has a right to know.” I wince. I feel bad enough that I’m withholding the truth without being scolded.
“I’ll talk to him. Soon. I promise.”
Twenty minutes later, Alex and I are in his car on our way home with the heat blasting and the radio off. He’s holding my hand and I’m staring out the passenger window.
“Natalia,” He starts and I look over at him. He takes this as a cue to continue. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?” He squeezes my hand and turns when traffic allows him to.
“I’m scared, Alex,” I answer him, biting my lip.
“I told you, it’s going to be okay. The baby will be fine.” I want to scream at him that that is not what I mean. That I’m scared of giving birth because now there is a very real possibility it could kill me. My thirteen percent chance of dying during my child’s birth just became a forty percent chance. The odds are worse than when I was eight and they discovered the cancerous cells in my heart.
In addition to him not knowing about the old cancer and recent irregularities, I haven’t told him what Aunt Emily said, which means he doesn’t know that I might die giving birth to our daughter or son. I feel bad for lying, but I need to think about this before he knows. Before today, it was just a low chance that wasn’t worth worrying him about, but now he might need to be worrying.
“Our baby is going to be okay, Nat,” He repeats and my anger takes over.
“I know, but that doesn’t make it any less scary,” I snap, he tenses and retracts his hand from mine. I know I’ve crossed a line but I don’t have it in me to talk about it right now. He doesn’t talk until we’re parked outside the apartment complex.
“Do you think you’ll be okay to be home alone for a while? I’d like to go to Trey’s,” I sigh. Most people would just go- even mad at me he still wants to make sure I’m okay. I’m the worst.
“Yeah, you’re fine. Go,” I say, emotionless. I want to call my mom’s best friend. I need to set up a will- just in case. I feel my heart constrict. I’m only twenty one; I’m not ready to die.