The tears in her eyes started to fall. “You mean it?”
“How can you doubt it? I’m right here, with you. I’ll always be here. I’m the kind of guy who makes everyone pull their weight around here, but with you, I let you take a break.”
“Do you believe me?”
“Yes. I mean, I should know. I’m sorry. I’m just feeling all over the place. Luanna told me I planted some of the seeding potatoes wrong, and I burst into tears. I’m not usually this emotional.” He watched her take a breath. “I think we both know what it means though, don’t we? For me to be this emotional.”
“I’m ready to find out,” he said. “Together.” Locking their fingers together, with his free hand, he grabbed the test again.
“Let’s do this.”
The test confirmed it, and Ashley stared at the stick even after six hours of originally peeing on the test. The doctors hadn’t been wrong about her. This was unprecedented. A child would be born in their crazy new world.
She sat in the library, legs crossed, staring at the test, feeling a little sick, consumed with worry, and with a real craving for chocolate mint ice cream. She could dream.
Biting her lip, she tried to think of everything and anything to keep her mind out of panic mode.
This wasn’t the end of the world. Women had been having babies since the beginning of time. Pioneers had much less than they did now, and they did fine, too.
Draven was excited about it. He announced it for all to hear, and throughout dinner, she had people hugging her, touching her stomach, congratulating her.
“I thought I’d find you here,” Luanna said. “I know you can’t have wine or anything, but I got you some soda to celebrate.”
Ashley smiled. “I wish I could have had the wine.”
Luanna placed a hand on her wrist. “You’re still looking at that thing?”
“I’m waiting to see if it will change back.” She put the test down on the coffee table, beside Luanna.
“Come on, talk to me. What’s going on?” Luanna asked. “This isn’t like you. I can see you’re stressing out, and it’s not good for you or the baby.”
She rolled her eyes; she couldn’t help it.
“You’re worried?” Luanna asked.
“Yes. No. Of course not. What do I have to be worried about? It’s all fine. Of course, it’s all fine.”
Luanna took both of her hands. “I’m not just anyone. I can see you’re stressing. Talk to me.”
Staring down at her friend’s hands, she sighed. “What if I’m not cut out for this?”
“In what way?”
“Being a mother? Half of the world population is gone. Women like me, we’re … different. I don’t know. I never thought I’d get pregnant.”
“You always figured the doctors were lying?”
“Yes.” Ashley pulled away from her friend. “I must sound awful.”
“No. You sound like a woman who is trying not to freak out and failing.”
Ashley groaned. “I should be ready for this. Repopulating the planet and all that. Why am I terrified?”
“Before you, you don’t think women were scared?”
“Absolutely. Of course, they were. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re bringing in another life, and babies have the way of complicating everything. Especially in the old world. Marriages, relationships, quite a few were set up purely because a baby was involved.” Luanna touched her stomach. “You have a gift.”
“I feel so guilty.” She swiped at the tears. “What if I’m a bad mom?”
“I won’t let you. We’re all in this together.”
She let out a sigh. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be talking about this.”
“You should totally be talking about this. I think you need to talk to Draven. It’s his child as well, and you both have to be in this together.” Luanna squeezed her hand. “You will always have me and everyone here. We all love and care for you. We all want to help bring this baby into the world. You’re going to have so much love and support, you’ll be begging for some space.”
Ashley smiled. Her fears hadn’t disappeared.
“I’ve got to head back. You’re going to be okay?”
“Yeah, of course. I’m totally fine. You know me.” She waved her hand in the air in an attempt to ward off her friend’s concern.
Luanna kissed her head, leaving her alone.
Leaning her head back on the sofa, Ashley closed her eyes. What if she was the worst mother in the world?
“You’re going to be the best mother in the world.”
She gasped, turning to see Draven standing near the back of the library. She hadn’t heard him come in.
“Draven,” she said.
He walked around the furniture, moving to sit beside her. Without asking for permission, he pulled her into his arms. “You’re scared?”
It was on the tip of her tongue to lie to him. Staring into his eyes, she knew it would be a mistake.
“I’ve never been so afraid of anything else in my life. I want to have this baby with you so much.” She rested his hands on her stomach, and she closed her eyes, feeling him surround her. Whenever he did this, she felt safe, warm, whole. He was the only one to ever make her feel this way, and she didn’t want to lose it. Not him, not ever again. “What makes you think I’m going to be a good mom?” she asked. “We don’t know what it’s going to be like having a child here?”