It was a devastating blow, and one I hadn’t told Captain about. He knew I went to the doctor, but he didn’t push when I wouldn’t explain. I knew that eventually we’d have to have that talk, but I’ve been putting it off, unable to voice it out loud.

Vivien reaches out and squeezes my shoulder. “Get up and take the test.” Her voice is stern, and I have a glimpse of what it was like for Miles growing up when his mother told him to do something.

There’s no room for argument in her tone, and I get up, taking the box to the bathroom with me. I figure if anything, I’ll indulge her and get it over with. She doesn’t know about my body, or the fact that I can’t get pregnant. But I don’t say any of that.

When I’m finished peeing on the stick and cleaning up afterward. I open the bathroom door to find Vivien on the other side, waiting.

She follows me back to the living room, where I fall back down on the covers and she buzzes around the place, cleaning up. I tell her not to, but she shrugs it off and goes back to clearing up my tissues and the blankets that are scattered about.

It feels good having someone else there to take care of me. Captain does a great job, but he hovers over me like I’m going to break out with a deadly case of malaria any second. His worry only makes me worry, and it does me no good. But it feels like Vivien’s got this under control.

At some point I close my eyes, and a little while later wake to the scent of chicken soup, and my stomach growls.

Vivien walks over with a tray, and I sit up on the couch as she puts it in my lap. There’s a cup of chicken broth on there, with two ginger cookies, and a mug of something that smells hot and sweet.

“Thank you. I think I’m actually hungry now. You must have the magic touch,” I say, reaching for a cookie.

“You’re welcome. When I was pregnant with Miles I was so sick. I thought I had a stomach flu, too. The only things I could keep down were ginger cookies and chicken broth.”

She looks at me sweetly, and I roll my eyes. I let out a sigh and try not to sound like an asshole.

“I can’t get pregnant. The doctor said it would be almost impossible.” I shrug, eating the second cookie. Damn, these things are good.

She nods, but keeps smiling and watches me eat. When I’ve finished, she hands me the hot tea, telling me to sip it. It warms my belly as it goes down, and I feel a thousand times better after the small meal.

I watch as Vivien grabs her bag and sets a small box of cookies in front of me. “You might want to hang on to these,” she says, placing the pregnancy test on top of them. Then she leans forward, presses a kiss on the top of my head and walks out the front door.

Excitement creeps in as I set down my mug of tea and hesitantly glance at the test. Then my nose burns as tears start to pool in my eyes and my vision blurs.

Chapter Thirty-Three


* * *

I WALK THROUGH the lobby of our apartment building, waving at Chuck at the front desk. I left work early even though I know Paige will probably be pissed about me coming to check on her, but I’m worried.

“Hello, Ryan.”

I hear Vivien’s voice and turn my head to see her exit the elevator. Her boyfriend, Tom, gets up from a lobby chair and walks over to join her. She and Tom started dating right after Mallory and Miles got engaged. Mallory likes to tell anyone who will listen that it was all her doing.

I smile at them, walking over and shaking hands with Tom. Vivien gives me a kiss on the cheek. I look out front to see her security waiting. I assumed when I saw them that she was here to see Miles or Mallory. It’s strange she’s coming during the day, though.

“What brings you here?” I ask.

“I had to stop by to drop something off. I heard Paige was sick, so I wanted to check on her.”

It makes me happy that she and Paige have been able to form a bond, and I think it gives them each something they were missing. Peace and comfort.

“We need to hurry if we’re going to make that lesson,” Tom says, placing his hand on Vivien’s lower back.

“Hope you’ve got on your dancing shoes,” she says, winking at him. “Tonight’s class is the samba.” She wiggles her shoulders and leans into him as we say our goodbyes.

I walk over and hit the button for the elevator, waiting to go up and see my wife. I’m glad Vivien was able to check on her, but I need to see her for myself. She’s had this virus for a lot longer than I did, so maybe it’s time to go to the doctor. I’m hoping if I can get to her early enough, we can get her in today before they close. I know that’s what’s been wrong with her the past few days, but I can tell something else is bothering her, too.