Getting up from the floor John glanced at his watch as he walked toward the bedroom stairs. Forty-five minutes had passed and he hoped Evangeline was calmer but these days it was hard to predict her mood. In her professional life it was to Van’s advantage to be perceived as high maintenance, unpredictable and demanding but she really wasn’t—not much, anyway. When they met and started dating she had astonished him with how even tempered and relaxed she could be even as things went wildly awry around them. Many times her quietly sly humor had soothed away the stresses of his job and made him laugh at his own overly serious nature. She was loving in her teasing banter and baiting of him—sweetly loving really, it was the start of his falling hard for her even though he had been sure he stood no possibility of a chance of catching her attention. Now with the baby beginning to make changes to her body John didn’t feel he was on stable ground in guessing her moods and what her reactions might be.
Van wasn’t in the bedroom, bathroom or on the balcony; he went to the sitting room and the library but both were empty. He prayed she wasn’t in the exercise room overdoing it with weights. When she wasn’t there either he grew alarmed thinking she’d left and gone to Asa’s for her favorite stress reliever—horseback riding; John wasn’t that fond of horses and they weren’t friendly towards him, he always fancied himself a sheriff on foot patrol in the wild west days. Rubbing his jaw he considered that she wouldn’t try to worry him like that nor would she leave without telling him.
Heading for the pool he found her in the last laps of a vigorous swim. When she neared the end where he stood he knelt down and grabbed for her wrists to get her attention. As she looked up at him through the water streaming down her face he decided to lift her out of the pool, stiffening Van grasped his elbows, leaned back and pulled him in. In her view he hit the water with a very satisfying splash and came up sputtering and shocked.
“Come on in,” she deadpanned, “the water’s fine! You know wet clothes just weigh you down; you should get out of those before they pull you to the bottom. In my condition I can’t take the risk of trying to save you.”
“I can’t believe you did that.”
“Yup, and you deserved it and so much more. Be happy I’m showing restraint because you are, after all, the reason I’m in this condition.” Getting out of the water, Evangeline walked to a small pile of towels still warm from the dryer, “Soon I’ll be too fat to parade around in my birthday suit, even for you. I won’t even recognize or truly know my own body.” Sitting on the edge of the pool she watched him dogpaddle towards her, “Why didn’t you discuss bringing Alexis and my grans here with me before extending the invitation to them?”
“Because anything remotely baby-related makes you tense and unhappy; no matter how innocent the remark you tighten up. I thought between the three of them, women you like, respect and love they might be able to ease your pain, reassure you that at least some of what you’re feeling is so very normal. Not talked about much, but normal.” Climbing out of the pool John created a large puddle as the water ran freely down his soaked clothing, pooling at his feet.
“And you know ‘normal’ mama/baby feelings because…?” she arched her eyebrows at him as she wrapped a towel completely around her body. John instantly regretted her desire to cover up his favorite and most pleasurable view. “Going to the doctor for our first visit didn’t improve things for you, honey, she told you women have a lot of anxiety about being pregnant, childbearing and raising them, it was very normal whether your first child or your seventh. She addressed several of your issues as part of the normal first baby talk. Weren’t you hearing anything the doctor said to us?”
John sat next to Evangeline and dangled his legs over the edge and slid his hands around her waist to draw her near, “I know Alexis went through a lot of trauma believing she wouldn’t be a good mother; wondering if she could cope with parenthood. Made more insecure because she believed she’d be a single mom doing it all on her own. No help from Sonny since she didn’t want him to know Kristina was his. Don’t you see some parallels there that you can relate to and draw encouragement from the outcome? I do.”
“The doctor said I’m healthy and we should have a healthy normal baby barring any surprises. She doesn’t know my life; she doesn’t know what lack of love has done.”
“I love you; so many people—I’m not just talking about your fans here, love you Evangeline; they know you for who you are and love you for being you. Especially your family, if you’ll just let us help you through this. It’s not a weakness to need some reassurance. And I’m going to see you get it with our without your cooperation. I’m so sorry Dina can’t love you the way you deserve to be loved. But I do, I’m the one who loves you always. Let me help you. They’re coming, I will not take back the invitation so I suggest you own up to what’s disturbing you and have some frank girl talk time.”
“How am I supposed to discuss this? Own up to this deficiency as a woman? My mother didn’t want me; she utterly ignored me and my existence. Is that legacy about to repeat into another generation? My grandmothers are old school, old world they can’t possible understand…”
“I’ve already given them an idea of what’s behind your turmoil. They know you’re uneasy about our first child.”
“Oh that’s just great, John! We just had the doctor’s appointment a few days ago and you’re telling people about the baby? What about Eve? She’ll be hurt my family knew before she did. John, this complicates everything.”
“They’re not shouting it from the rooftops. I said they’d have to hold off on telling anyone else, husbands included, until after they had a chance to speak with us in person.” John turned her body to pull her legs over his thighs and be able to capture her eyes with own, “Lets get the families assembled next week, maybe not here how about someplace warm? Hawaii? Somewhere in the Caribbean? That’ll give us a few days between visits to relax and regroup. Everyone will be thrilled to get out of the last blasts of winter into some beachwear. Then we announce our news.”
“John, this is moving too fast for me. Slow your roll, man. I need to…I don’t know, something.” Evangeline saw the faintest hint of pleading in his eyes, she closed her eyes and when she opened them again the look hadn’t disappeared from John’s, “Ok, Ok, you’re practically jumping through hoops of fire to make this right for me and I’m giving less than minimal help. You offered me an out which I declined so yeah, time to gather our families, warmth would be good—especially while I can still look decent in at least a one-piece bathing suit. I’ll wrestle my demons to the ground before we set foot on the black sands of Hawaii.”