I stand blinking for a moment, trying to process her rapid-fire change of subject. When my stomach growls, the decision is made. I follow her from the store to her car, where we stow my purchases. We decide to go to the coffee shop near the school since I left my car there. As we make the trip across town, Rose chats breezily as if she hadn’t been close to some kind of freak-out at the mall. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone in my life is well and truly normal.
“I’m waddling, aren’t I?” I freeze as Lia asks me the type of question that no man in his right mind would answer. We are walking up the sidewalk outside Lia’s OB/GYN. Today is our next ultrasound appointment and it’s very possible that we will find out the baby’s sex.
As if sensing I am no longer following her, Lia turns around, giving me a questioning look. “Don’t worry,” she finally huffs out, “I didn’t really expect a reply, so you’re safe.” I attempt to hide the look of relief on my face as she lets me off the hook. As her pregnancy has become more noticeable, Lia began pointing out her rapidly expanding stomach. It might bother her, but I fucking love it. I find it sexy as hell that my child is growing inside her. I have a hard time believing she has any hang-ups about her body considering I can’t keep my hands off her. She cries at the drop of a hat now though, so I always try to be careful about what I say, even when joking. It kills me to see tears glisten in those beautiful eyes. Just a few nights ago, she started crying while we were having dinner at Leo’s because he sent us a surprise dessert to the table. Poor Leo, when he came out a few minutes later to find her sobbing, he’d damn near joined her. I’d silently handed him the extra napkin from the table since Lia was already using both hers and mine.
We’ve barely settled in the waiting room when Lia’s name is called. Once again, it’s the ultrasound technician named Brittany. “How are we doing today?” she asks as we silently follow her into the dimly lit room. “Today, we’ll be doing the abdominal ultrasound since your pregnancy should have advanced enough to give us clear images.”
“Thank fu—” Lia squeezes my hand painfully before I can complete the curse word that has Brittany’s eyes widening. “Ful…we’re really thankful for that, right, baby?” Lia smirks at my quick recovery and even Brittany’s lips twitch.
Lia rolls up her shirt and slides her pants down below her hips as Brittany instructs, then covers her stomach in a clear gel. Brittany uses a handheld wand—that looks nothing like a penis this time—and begins sliding it over Lia’s stomach. I’m completely riveted, when she says, “Okay, there is the baby’s heartbeat.” I see the image on the screen that looks like tiny butterfly wings fluttering before she moves away again and starts taking measurements. “You measure at twenty weeks and four days which puts you about a week ahead of schedule.”
“So my due date was wrong last time?” Lia asks, looking confused.
“Oh no, that probably won’t change. Your baby is just a little ahead on growth. Look at those cheeks; you’ve got a little chunky monkey in there.” Brittany laughs and I feel my balls draw up into my fucking throat. Hasn’t she worked around pregnant women long enough to know that you never call anything even remotely attached to their body chunky? Dear God, Lia is probably going to come up off this bed and kill the twit.
Just as I thought, Lia asks sharply, “Are you calling my baby fat?”
Brittany seems to have caught on to the scent of danger because she gives Lia a wary look before quickly shaking her head. “Oh no, of course not. Your baby is just healthy.” I wince because I don’t see that answer going over much better. Brittany though, is luckily smarter than I’ve given her credit, because she launches into a quick subject change. “Who wants to know the sex of the baby?”
That does the trick; Lia forgets all about her fat baby rage and now resembles an eager puppy. “Can you really tell?” She looks at me with tears in her eyes. “We want to know, right, Luc?”
“We do,” I agree, feeling my throat tighten. This is really happening again and even though I’m not particularly religious, I thank God for giving me another chance to be a father.
Brittany taps a few times on her keyboard, enlarging an area on the screen, then says in a voice like a game show host, “Lia and Lucian, you’re having a girl.”
Lia is full on sobbing now, and I’m staring at the screen in some kind of trance. A girl? I mean, it’s not as if I didn’t know that it had to be one or the other, but I think in my mind, I’d assumed it was a boy. Suddenly, I can easily imagine a mini-version of Lia coming into this world, and I feel moisture gathering in my eyes as well. I rub Lia’s back gently as she leans her head against my shoulder. “Did you hear her, Luc?” she chokes out.
“I heard, baby, and I couldn’t be happier,” I say as I drop a kiss against her temple. “If I could wish for anything, it would be two of you. I never thought that was even possible until now.”
Lia’s tears, which had started to lessen, return with full force at my statement. It was completely true, but maybe I should have kept it to myself until Brittany found another box of tissues.
After what seems like hours, but is much less, we have our pictures and are back in the Range Rover. Lia falls limply against the seat and says, “Whew, that was intense.”