Risking The Nine Days
Katie took a deep breath and popped a piece of chocolate from her purse into her mouth as the doctor stepped into the room with the results of her cancer tests. She’d been exhausted lately, and her Googled symptoms seemed to point in that direction. Juggling her law practice and Costas was difficult, but her exhaustion went beyond that. Things were going well with Costas, but he only had two more weeks in the States before he completed his obligation with the Fulbright Program at the University of Michigan and would be leaving to fulfill a position in Germany. Once he left, she would have time to deal with surgery or chemo or whatever she needed without him knowing.
“I have good news,” the doctor began.
Good news? That meant no cancer. It had to. If she had it, there was no way he would open with that line. She took another deep breath as she stared at him blankly while soothing chocolate melted down her throat.
The doctor continued. “After running the CBC, CMP, SED rate, and CRP tests that you demanded, we’ve determined that you don’t have cancer.” Katie exhaled. “Not that I thought you did.” He looked a little irritated.
Katie was now wondering what she did have. “Then why am I so tired all the time? Seriously, if you told me to lie down and take a nap right now, I could. I’d be out cold in two minutes. That’s not like me.”
The doctor smiled calmly at her. “It’s not because you have cancer, it’s because you’re pregnant.”
Katie let out a snort of dismissal that shot some chocolate into her nose. “I’m not pregnant. I’m on the pill. I’ve been on the pill for twenty years.” She turned her look of dismissal back to the doctor. “My body doesn’t even know how to get pregnant.”
The doctor maintained his calm smile. “Actually, being on the pill simulates being pregnant; so your body thinks it’s been pregnant for twenty years.”
Katie blinked back at him as she took this information in and mulled it over before she responded. “So you’re telling me that my body has been practicing for twenty years, and now it’s ready for the Olympics of pregnancy?”
The doctor chuckled his answer. “Well, something like that.”
Katie was in denial. “I’m not pregnant. I’d be throwing up all the time. I haven’t thrown up at all. And I’d be mixing up batches of pickles and ice cream, and I haven’t eaten a pickle in months. I want a second opinion.”
“Those are all common symptoms, but not everyone experiences them. Needing more rest is a symptom. If you think about it, I’ll bet you’d realize you had other symptoms.”
Katie thought for a moment. Her breast size had been on the upswing lately, but she’d just thought that was a combination of all the attention they’d been getting and God smiling on her.
The attorney in her came out as she argued her point again. “What are the odds that someone over forty that is on the pill would get pregnant? Isn’t that something that just happens in the Bible?”
The doctor seemed to be enjoying this. “First, they didn’t have birth control pills in Biblical days.” Katie rolled her eyes. “Second, did you forget to take your pill on any of the days of your cycle?”
“No,” Katie answered quickly before thinking about it. Then a flashback of panties in her purse popped into her head. Ugh, there had been the day she met Costas at the airport. She’d been so nervous about meeting him and deciding whether to prance around pantiless that she’d forgotten to take her pill that morning. She continued to think, pausing only briefly to revisit the memory of the hot sex in the stairwell. After she’d ended things with John, she’d gone back to Costas’s apartment and stayed with him until late the next afternoon. Crap. She’d missed not only one but two days, and now her body was ready to win the Pregnancy Category of the Olympics.
“But, if I have a baby at this age, isn’t it in danger of Down’s or having an extra arm or leg?” A picture of her giving birth to a baby octopus popped into her mind.
“We’re actually going to set up an ultrasound appointment with an OB-GYN for you in a couple of days where we can determine the health of the baby.” Katie sat looking at him, stunned, the vision of the octopus baby still dancing in her head. “Meanwhile, I want you to fill this prescription for prenatal vitamins and get started on that. Of course you know to stay away from alcohol and,” he glanced at the top of his chart before continuing, “you don’t smoke, so that’s a plus.”
As the doctor rose dismissively to leave the room, Katie asked, “And that’s it? Just some vitamins, and that’s it?”
“That’s it.” Katie didn’t move. This was just too much to take in. The doctor paused at the door and turned back to her. “You’ll be fine. Millions of people have done this before you.”
“Millions of people over forty?”
He smiled again. “Maybe not as many millions, but yes, millions.”
Katie sat on the examination table for a few moments before picking up her cell phone and texting her best friend, Mara. “I’m driving to your office. Meet me in my car…STAT!”
She stood, scooped her hand through the strap handle of her purse, and was about to turn the doorknob to exit when a text jingled back. “Is this about your doctor’s appointment?”
“Yes, so meet me outside in ten minutes.” She dropped the cell phone into the side pocket of her purse and proceeded to the checkout counter. Did everyone in the office know? Would they all be laughing at her? Crap, she wished she had sunglasses to wear out of the office.
Mara slipped into the front seat of Katie’s car as soon as it was put into “park.” “Hey! So did the doctor tell you I was right?”
“Actually, no,” Katie replied, enjoying the idea that Mara was only partially right.
“You have cancer?”
“Er, actually, no.” She was a little embarrassed she had jumped to such a drastic conclusion.
“So I was right, it’s nothing,” Mara gloated.
“No,” Katie sassed back, “you’re not right.”
The gloating look disappeared from Mara’s face and was replaced with a look of concern. “So what’s wrong with you?”
Katie exhaled a jittery breath. “It doesn’t matter because I’m getting a second opinion.”
“It’s that bad?”
“It’s bad.” Mara gestured for Katie to tell her, and Katie took a long, deep breath before responding. “The doctor thinks I’m pregnant.”
Mara paused. “With, like, a baby?”
Katie threw her an irritated look. “Actually, an octopus.”
“A what? What are you talking about?”
Katie leaned forward and tapped her head on the steering wheel twice before sitting upright and answering her friend. “He thinks I’m almost three months pregnant. I’m over forty, I’m likely to have birth defects like three arms or three legs or something, and I’ll be squeezing out a watermelon-sized baby octopus. I can just name it Octo. That sounds Greek, right?”
Mara laughed. “Actually, I think it’s Latin.”
Katie continued her rant. “This isn’t funny. I’ve seen enough Hallmark movies to know that women die in childbirth all the time, especially when they’re over freakin’ forty. Then who will raise Octo?”
Mara watched Katie as her eyes frantically searched the air for answers and then focused on something before her rant continued.
“Ooh, I’ll bet it was that gypsy woman in Athens that sold me the cup and plate!” Her eyes roamed again as she remembered the woman’s prophetic words of fertility to her about the painted rabbits on her purchase. “She put a curse on me! That’s it! That’s what happened!”
“Yeah. Or, like, a spell,” Mara added sarcastically.
Katie’s eyes wandered again as she thought. “That’s it. That’s how this happened!”
“Or you just didn’t use birth control,” Mara responded calmly.
“I’ll just go back to Greece. I’ll go back and find her and make her take it back. Gypsies can do that, right?”
“Wasn’t she a shop owner? Gypsies are, like, homeless people or something.”
Katie threw Mara a sharp look before pausing her tirade and proceeding more quietly. “It could happen.” She shrugged weakly.
“Are you crazy?”
Katie looked down and shrugged again as she mumbled a weak, “Mmmm,” that covered several pitches.
“You’ve totally lost it over this. This is not so bad.”
There was a long pause as the reality set in on Katie and she thought. A tear escaped a corner of her eye as she continued to look down into her lap. She knew she was overreacting and imagining the worst. She knew she should be thankful it wasn’t cancer or something terrible. She knew she was lucky in so many ways, and she didn’t want that to change. Things were so perfect as they were right now. It seemed as though things had finally fallen into place for her. After seconds of silence, she turned to Mara and said in a whisper filled with desperation, “I can’t lose him, Mar. I’ve waited so long to get where I am now with him, I can’t lose him.”
“You won’t lose him.” She rubbed Katie’s arm comfortingly. “He’ll probably be happy.”
Katie shook her head adamantly. “No, he won’t. He doesn’t like kids. He says they’re always screaming.”
“Did he use those exact words?”
Katie nodded as another tear escaped. “Pretty much.”
“How long ago was that?”
Dang it, couldn’t Mara ever just go with it and let her revel in her misery? “Three years ago.”
Mara thought a moment. “Wait. That’s how long you’ve known him. So, what, he said that on your first date?”
“Why would he say that?”
Katie blubbered now. “Because we were going to second base in public and scaring the kids.”
Mara shook her head. “I can’t deal with you like this. Just calm down and be happy about it. I’m sure he’ll be happy. When are you going to tell him?”
Katie looked up sharply. The thought of telling him had not yet occurred to her. “I’m not telling him.”
“You’ve got to tell him.”
Her eyes glanced away in thought before coming back to Mara. “No way.” She thought again. “You tell him.”
“I’m not telling him. Why would I tell him?”
“So then it’s decided, we just won’t tell him. Maybe he won’t notice.”
Mara threw Katie an “oh, come on” look. “You really think he won’t notice you’re nine months pregnant?”
“I’ll just tell him I’m getting fat because I’m a big eater. He’ll believe that. All Europeans know Americans are big eaters. Heck, we invented super-sizing.”
Mara threw her another look. “Tell him. He’s not going to believe you’ve been super-sizing.”
“I’m not telling him.” She paused again before responding more rationally, “I’m not one of those women that traps a man into marrying her. That’s what it would look like I was trying to do, and we’re just not there yet.”
“It’s never come up?”
“Never. And he leaves for Germany in two weeks.”
“But you guys drop the L bomb, right?”
Katie let go of her rant and smiled. “Yes, he says ‘love.’”
“So you’re on the right track. Maybe he’ll want to if he knows you’re pregnant.”
“No, I’m not trapping him!” She was adamant now. “And who wants a guy to marry her for that reason?”
“Maybe he’ll want you to go to Germany with him.”
“I can’t leave my practice.” Katie thought a minute. “He’ll just leave, I won’t see him for five months, I’ll squeeze out the octopus before I see him again, and no one will be the wiser.”
“Okay, first, stop calling it an octopus.” Katie smirked at her friend. “Second, really? ‘No one will be the wiser’? What are you going to do, put the kid in a closet every time he visits? What about if you go over there to visit?”
Katie sadly ran her finger along the edge of the steering wheel. “He’s never said anything about visiting.”
“So bring it up.”
“It would sound like I was inviting myself, and that’s not cool.”
“Okay, he’s dropping the L bomb, so I’m sure you’re going to see him again. He asked you to be with him, so maybe it’s just lost in translation. Maybe that’s how they propose in Greece.”
Katie thought a moment. “I don’t know. It’s all still so steeped in tradition there, and I’m not familiar with how their culture works.”
“Well,” Mara concluded, “you still have two weeks before he leaves. Why don’t you remind him of that and ask what his plan is?”
“We’re going to dinner tonight. I’ll try to feel it out.”
“Okay. So that would be the perfect time to tell him about the baby.”
“And have him storm out and leave me sitting there? No way.” Katie looked at the steering wheel as her finger traced its perimeter. “I’ll cross that bridge when I have to.”
Before the sequel comes out, be sure to check out the first book, Nine Days In Greece.