on April 7th 2014
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Everything happens for a reason, they say. And sometimes the reason is you're stupid and make bad decisions. Sleeping with her sister's best friend is one of the dumbest things soon-to-be divorcee Emily Evans has ever done. But she's determined to put it behind her and move on. She's walked away from her cheating husband, managed to make a new friend, and found herself a real job and somewhere to live so she doesn't have to couch-surf any more. Everything should be falling into place but for one problem – there are some mistakes from which you can't move on.
Meanwhile, Ben Cameron is getting on with his life. After all, it's the only thing to do once your heart has been stomped on by the woman of your dreams. Expanding his business and getting cosy with the girl next door are proving welcome distractions. He's even happy to babysit his nephew, as long as he can to hand him back when he's done! And thankfully, Emily Evans, the woman with the heavy boots, is avoiding him like the plague.
But Emily can't avoid him forever, and when she drops a bombshell that turns Ben's world upside-down, suddenly, getting on with his life takes on a whole new meaning.
Nearing the hospital, Emily withdrew the letter from her handbag and checked the directions. Clinic Room B, Floor 6, Mother’s Wing. She found the Mother’s Wing easily enough and caught the lift to the sixth floor. In Clinic Room B, a handful of couples were already seated and making friends.
Emily made her way to an empty table, and sat down to wait. The familiar scent of hospital was there, bringing with it the equally familiar nausea. She scanned the room for a sign to the bathroom and spotted a table laid out with tea and coffee instead.
She contemplated making the journey over to the tea and coffee. A dry biscuit might ease the queasiness. But to get there, she would have to pass a table of new BFFs, the midwives and their strained smiles, and the life-like baby dolls lined up in a row on the table at the front of the room.
While she weighed up whether or not to draw attention to herself, the room filled with happy couples. She tried to look confident and cheerful, but Bridget’s warning was haunting her. Perhaps there was a piece of gum in her bag.
‘Good morning, everyone,’ sang the larger of the two midwives at the front of the room, as the clock slipped to five minutes past ten. Her ‘How are we all this morning?’ was greeted with giggles and beaming smiles. Emily closed her handbag and told herself someone would come in late, and they would simply have to sit at her table because they had no other choice. She swallowed and blinked.
‘My name is Tonya, and this is my colleague, Sam,’ continued the midwife. ‘We are midwives here at the hospital and lucky us, a few weekends a year, we get to run the ante-natal classes. Between us we have about 30 years’ experience in supporting mothers, and fathers,’ she added, which was received with yet another giggle, ‘through the birth of their baby. So you are in good hands.’ She smiled. ‘But today is not about us, it’s about you. And because you will be spending the day together, I think it would be useful if we all knew each other’s names. Sam is going to pass around a sheet of sticky nametags for you to write your name on, but while we are doing that, I’ll just get you to go around the room and introduce yourselves. Can you please just let everyone know your name, and I think we might share how far along we all are with our pregnancy. What do you think?’
Emily blinked again. Tonya started the introductions with a couple at the other end of the room, leaving her the likely last. The lonely, likely last. The lonely, likely last one that everyone else was avoiding looking at, even the freaking midwives. Oh crap. Bridget was right.
Emily was seriously regretting not telling Ben about this. Her fear of looking like a fool in front of him now seemed trivial. She was a fool. A fool for leaving this too late, and for trying to do it on her own.
Perhaps she should just walk out.
No, it wasn’t an option. This was the last class she could get into before the baby was due. It was supposed to give her the answers to all her questions. She couldn’t afford to be indignant today.
The self-assured couples rolled off their names one by one and counted their weeks, and the sheet of sticky labels slowly followed. Emily wondered if she would be able to speak when her turn came. She swallowed, to no avail. There was no moisture in her mouth to soothe the dryness in her throat.
Eventually, the midwife turned her magnificently fake smile on her.
‘Hi,’ Emily croaked, and then cleared her throat with an indelicate ahem. ‘I’m Emily, and I’m 28 weeks,’ she said.
‘And are you here alone today, Emily?’ asked the midwife, going straight for the elephant in the room.
It took Emily a little by surprise. ‘I’m … my …’
‘Her partner is late,’ said Ben, from the door of Clinic Room B. He made his way around the tables, and dropped himself into the chair next to her.