The next day dawned bright. Lisa had woke early, her mood dimmed by the idea of sorting and packing her sister’s belongings. She turned circles in the living room as she studied the assorted decorations. She could definitely see the difference between her sister’s idea of homey and her own. While her sister had opted for a traditional family décor Lisa tended toward a comfortably low key modern home. Looking at the various family pictures and collectibles Lisa suddenly wondered if her home was really as welcoming as her sister’s had been.
Pushing the thoughts away she walked to a table and picked up a small angel that had been perched in the middle of various flowers. It was the one Becca had picked up on one of their shopping trips. Lisa smiled as she studied the figure. Becca had loved shopping the little trinket stores and had fallen in love with the angel immediately. Lisa had all but forgotten the tiny figurine in the years that had followed. Looking at it now she brushed a tear from her eye and set the figure back amongst the fragile ceramic flowers on the table. It was one figure she wasn’t ready to pack away.
Lisa sighed. She had planned to begin the task of sorting everything after returning from the diner the night before, but she couldn’t bring herself to focus on such a sad task after having an enjoyable dinner. Now she almost wished she could put off the entire project again. Instead she began to gather anything she wanted to store for later sorting.
Lisa stood looking at the groups of items she had created in the middle of the living room floor. She hadn’t realized how many trinkets Becca had collected over the years. Lisa looked at the small pile of boxes that she had created next to the trinkets and sighed. She was glad the packaging was still usable. But with so many boxes the pile seemed endless. Settling onto the floor Lisa was suddenly very grateful that she had managed to keep her slender physique so far into the pregnancy. She didn’t want to imagine what boxing all the knickknacks would be like with a swollen belly. Lisa pulled her long black hair into a loose pony tail to keep it out of the way then began to tuck mementos into their packaging.
Some time later Lisa realized that the task had been easier than she first expected. Becca had kept everything perfectly organized. Sitting back from her spot on the floor Lisa looked over her progress with disappointment. She had accomplished more than she had first realized, but with every box that had been filled she felt as though she was packing more of her sister away. Lisa turned away from the three boxes still stacked in the middle of the floor and tried to stretch.
A knock at the door surprised Lisa and she frowned. She knew she shouldn’t be surprised, Becca probably had plenty of friends in the town. Still rolling her shoulders she stood and headed for the door, opening it slowly. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but she hadn’t expected to see Mason standing on the doorstep. Lisa opened the door wider and smiled.
“Sorry, but I was passing through and thought you may need some cheering up.” Mason smiled sheepishly and held up a to go box.
Lisa laughed and invited him inside. She briefly wondered if Mason had really been passing though, or if his trip had been specially planned. But when she turned to find Mason unpacking a bag she hadn’t noticed before she decided she really didn’t mind either way, especially when she noticed that the bag contained more desert. She gathered some napkins and dishes from the kitchen before helping to dish up the meal. Lisa hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she took the first bite of food. It was every bit as good as she would have expected. Especially when Mason admitted that it was takeout from the diner.
She chatted easily with Mason as they ate, finding his cheery laughter a welcome relief from her previous task. And she couldn’t help but smile when he handed her a slice of fresh baked apple pie. “I’m going to have to find a gym at this rate.” She giggled at the thought and took another bite of the pie.
“Good luck with that.” Mason chuckled and took a bite of his pie.
Lisa shrugged. She could easily find a place to work out, or hire a trainer. But she kept her thought to herself. She didn’t want to think too much about going back to work. Not yet at least. She loved her job but if she was truly honest with herself, she was could easily see herself living much like her sister had.
“Earth to Lisa...” Mason waved his fork in front of her eyes slowly. Then with a smirk he began to chant in a deep rumbling voice. “You are getting sleepy, sleepy, sleepy...”
Lisa shook herself and laughed. “No way. I spent too much time in bed already.”
Mason grinned and leaned back on his elbow, setting his empty plate on the floor. Lisa chuckled and finished her pie, stacking her plate on his.
“Nothing beats apple pie on a sunny afternoon.”
Lisa nodded and patted her stomach. “I can’t believe I ate so much.” She hoped she wouldn’t pay for that decision later.
Mason patted his own stomach. “At least you have a reason. I just love the food.”
Lisa froze. She knew she wasn’t showing yet, she had barely gained any weight in the first two months. Surely he couldn’t know her secret. Her hand fell too quickly from her stomach and she moved to gather the dishes, looking for any reason to leave the suddenly uncomfortable situation.
“Are you ok?” Mason frowned. “Stupid question I know considering.”
“You don’t seem fine.”
Lisa shook her head as she headed to the kitchen, dismissing the conversation. She didn’t know why the idea of Mason knowing about the baby bothered her so much. She had put the dishes in the sink and turned the water on. She was so lost in thought that she turned and nearly collided with Mason.
“Easy there.” Mason steadied her and stepped back slightly, though not enough to let her past. He was looking at her oddly. “What happened? I know the stress has to be taking a toll. But you seemed ok till...”
“It’s nothing. Just tension.”
Mason studied her but if he didn’t believe her excuse he didn’t say so. Lisa tried to look relaxed but she knew she wasn’t nearly convincing enough. She blamed the hormones. She could have just as easily blamed her emotions, but she knew better. She could feel the changes. Had expected most of them. It had seemed so exciting when she would share them with Becca.
Mason reached behind her and turned the water off, watching her the whole time. Putting an arm around her shoulders he guided her out of the kitchen and into the living room. She tried not to shake under his touch but she couldn’t help it. Under Masons watchful gaze she sank slowly onto the couch, nearly curling into a ball. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, fighting to regain some sense of calm. She couldn’t be sure how long she sat like that but when she opened her eyes she saw Mason walking toward her, phone in hand.
“I called Doc. He’s on his way over.”
Lisa sat up straight. “You what?”
“Just as a precaution. You said yourself you were tense. And it has been a rough couple of days. Maybe something just to help.”
Lisa shook her head. Maybe he didn’t know. He wouldn’t suggest medications if he suspected the truth. But she knew once the doctor showed up her secret would be out. She wasn’t sure she could face that yet. She had been so careful about who she told. And now with Becca gone she couldn’t risk telling the wrong person. What would happen if word got back to Todd. Lisa didn’t want to find out. She stood and began cleaning.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m fine. I have work to do and I don’t have time to worry about going to a doctor.” Lisa didn’t add the fact she needed a doctor for the baby more. She put the left over food away and was about to wash the dishes, hoping to appear totally normal, when the doorbell rang. She took a deep breath as Mason rushed to answer the door, hoping that she appeared totally fine.
Lisa could hear Mason talking to the doctor as she walked out of the kitchen. She fought hard not to cringe as she imagined what he must be telling the doctor. Instead she put on her best hostess face and walked out to join the two in the living room. The talking ended as she drew near.
“I’m ok really. Mason is just a little concerned.”
The doctor smiled. “Nothing wrong with that. I’m Dr. Ron Mills, but everyone just calls me Doc.”
He was an older man, with graying hair and round glasses perched on the end of his nose. He was a plump little man, with an easy smile. Lisa found she liked him instantly. He wasn’t quite the grandfatherly type, but close. He reached for his bag at his feet, a small backpack that had several securely closed pockets, with an ease that almost surprised her.
“She has had a tough few days. I remember what it’s like.”
“Mason my boy you just go sit down and relax. Shoo. Leave the worrying to the old men will you? We know how to do it properly.” The doctor chuckled as he pulled his stethoscope from the bag.
“This really isn’t necessary. I feel perfectly fine.”
The doctor walked toward her. “Why don’t we just sit on the couch shall we?”
Lisa sighed. What else could she do? She sat on a cushion and watched the doctor sit down next to her. He laid the stethoscope across his knees and for a moment Lisa thought she may get out of a checkup.
“Mason is a bit of a nervous Nancy when it comes to people.”
Lisa chuckled and glanced at Mason, who huffed and folded his arms like a pouting child but kept silent.
The doctor smiled, giving him a few more wrinkles than was otherwise apparent. It gave him a wise appearance. “But I can see there is a bit of reason for his concern.”
“What do you mean?” Lisa wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the answer. But she didn’t know what else to say.
“You are sick aren’t you?”
Lisa shook her head. “I’m perfectly healthy.”
The older man took Lisa’s hands. “You know what I mean. Of course Mason wouldn’t know. He was good enough at his job but he was never around it enough.” The doctor leaned in close and lowered his voice as if to share a secret, though he made sure it was loud enough for Mason to hear. “That’s the problem with the poor boy. He never could settle down, too thick to teach.”
Lisa laughed then, feeling suddenly at ease. Then she looked down. “Yes I do know what you mean. It’s only been nine weeks.”
The doctor nodded. “I’ve cared for my share of ladies with the same symptoms. Don’t you worry, you’re in good hands.” The doctor raised the stethoscope, adjusting the earpiece, and placed the chestpiece against her skin.
Lisa breathed calmly, keeping her focus behind the doctor as she followed his orders. She sighed when he dropped the piece from her chest and smiled. She leaned back on the couch and closed her eyes. “How did you know?”
The doctor chuckled. “When you’ve been around as long as I have you learn a few things. Your neck gave it away.”
Lisa opened her eyes and looked at him quizzically, touching her neck as she did. She didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. She opened her mouth to ask more when the doctor gently took her fingers and laid them at the base of her throat. The puzzlement on her face slowly changed to wonder as she felt a small pulse follow her own.
“It is a small wonder, but I’ve seen it enough to know.”
“It is. Do you have a doctor yet?”
Lisa dropped her hand and shook her head, her gaze flicking to Mason before moving back to her hands folded in her lap. “I saw a doctor a few times but with my schedule, well, I swore her to secrecy. My manager would kill me if he found out.”
“What about your partner, has he been of help?”
“I don’t have one.”
Doc tsked and shook his head. “Why don’t you enlighten me? You can’t hide it forever. And I am more than qualified if you would like to stay under my care.”
Lisa bit her lip and glanced at Mason again before taking a deep breath. “Yes, I’m pregnant, but it isn’t my baby. It was supposed to be Becca’s and Jon’s. When I was here last she asked me to consider it. But there was nothing to consider. I agreed. They wanted a child so much. She was pregnant once or twice but she always lost the baby by the end of the first trimester. They kept trying of course, even after I agreed to carry one. They would have loved to have two at once, they wouldn’t have cared.”
Doc smiled sadly. His pale gray eyes looked a bit misty when he spoke. “They were good people. I remember seeing her in my office a few times, hoping to figure out why she was having so much trouble.”
Lisa nodded. “I didn’t know at the time but they had already been working toward using a surrogate. And the last time I was down for a long visit we were able to get into the clinic.”
Mason finally spoke up, a look of slight bewilderment on his face. “Why didn’t you just say so? Are you keeping the baby then?”
Lisa smiled a sad smile. “I plan to keep the baby as my own. But I will have to make some changes to my life. Work being one of them.”
“What do you do now?” Doc looked at Lisa with a serious expression. “You don’t want to do anything that can hurt the baby.”
Lisa almost laughed. “I have the next year off. But even if I work it will be safe. I am a small time model.”
Doc chuckled. “So that is why you look familiar. I seem to recall Becca sharing a few pictures from a shoot. One I believe ended up in a magazine add?”
Lisa smiled then. “Yes. That was my second shoot. I was so excited. It ended up going out as a cereal ad.”
“Wait a minute, you’re that Lisa?” Mason sat with a stunned look on his face, looking between Lisa and Doc.
“Yes boy you have a crush on the next big name in the modeling world. Now close your mouth, you look like a fish.”
Lisa laughed and watched Mason blush as he snapped his mouth shut. She couldn’t explain why but she found it cute to see him suddenly embarrassed. Maybe it was the way Doc so nonchalantly called him out. Or the fact that he was called out in front of her. Watching him flounder for words just made her laugh more, enjoying the change in atmosphere.
Doc stood, still chuckling. “Well I have more patients to see. You think about what I said. You’re gonna need a regular doctor, and soon.”
Lisa composed herself and nodded. “I will, and thank you.”
Doc nodded and grabbed his bag. Looking at Mason he pointed a finger at him. “Now you behave yourself young man. I was your age once, and I know how you younguns think. I’ll give you the sedatives you don’t behave.”
Lisa laughed again, watching Mason mock salute Doc. She stood and walked Doc to the door, feeling suddenly calmer than she had earlier. She watched as Doc walked down the drive to his waiting car then closed the door, suddenly tired. She hadn’t expected so much activity today. But she felt less alone than she had just hours earlier.
Mason’s face showed an odd mix of relief, confusion, and an emotion that Lisa couldn’t place when she walked back to the couch. Deciding to keep quiet she sat on the couch, tucking her legs on the cushion under her. She wasn’t sure what to say now that the truth was out. She couldn’t tell how he had took the information. So she waited.
Finally Mason looked up. “So, umm, what are your plans now?”
Lisa shrugged and gave a little laugh. “Plans? I quit planning anything the day Becca died. I won’t give the baby up. But that means I will be a single mother soon and I have to make some changes.”
Mason nodded and looked away, staring at the wall. Lisa followed his gaze and cringed. A picture hung on display, Jon and Becca on their wedding day. It was hard to think about so soon after their deaths. Lisa looked at Mason again and wondered what he was seeing. Did he see Jon and Becca as they had been in life? Or did he see something he hoped to have?
“Do you plan to stay single?”
The question startled Lisa. She hadn’t really considered the possibility of a relationship. She really didn’t know who she would consider a relationship with. “I will until I meet someone I guess. I just don’t get a chance to date.”
Mason met her emerald green gaze seriously. “Well you have a year to try...”