Ida Wilmington ran her hands along the slight bump in her midsection and cursed softly. She's spent the last few weeks in denial telling herself that this wasn't possible, then she'd just done her best to ignore it as though the whole thing might simply go away, but the truth was this was real and she wouldn't be able to hid it much longer. Soon she would have to tell Rita, and that wasn't something she was looking forward to. It was bad enough when she'd had to return to town and ask Rita for her job back. She didn't want to have to deliver this news as well. With a grunt of frustration she jerked up her dressing grown and hid the bulge once again. How could she have been so stupid as to let this happen?

Ida wasn't new to this life, she been in business since she was seventeen and she'd never had so much as a scare about something like this. Throughout the years she'd always been a little critical of girls who found themselves in the position she was now in. After all, there were ways to keep this from happening, and she'd always prided herself on being careful. She'd always been sure she was the girl who would never find herself carrying an unwanted child and yet her she was. In a little over five months, she would be giving birth and if the situation wasn't terrible enough in and of itself, she would be giving birth to Jack Horton's child.

She knew that, as inconvenient as this was, it was the fact that Jack had done this that she hated the most. Ida wasn't some mooney eyed girl, she been doing this for nearly ten years now and she'd seen all kinds; she should have known what Jack really was. And she had, if she were completely honest with herself, she had known, she had merely ignored what her head told her because...because she loved him. That was the worst part; that was why she hadn't been careful, because just a few short months ago she wouldn't have cared that she was pregnant with Jack's baby. A few short months ago she had foolishly let herself believe the man had changed, that he would stay this time. But now, Jack was gone again and she left with this reminder of how stupid she'd been.

It was nearly a week after Ida admitted her situation to herself that she found herself in Rita's office, ready to tell the madam about her problem. Every day her mistake became more obvious and if she didn't confess now, Rita would likely guess on her own, and Ida didn't want that to happen. For several minutes, she sat quietly, unable the force the words out.

"Ida," Rita prompted. "There was something you wanted to talk about."

Ida took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant," she blurted out bitterly.

The madam looked at her in silence for a moment before nodding. "In this business sometimes things happen." Ida scoffed. "What are you going to do about it?" Rita continued.

Ida paused. Of all the people Ida had worked for over the years, Rita was the best. She was the only one who had ever acted like she cared about the girls working for her, and although Ida had known Rita would accept the news she had taken it better than expected. In fact, she'd accepted it so well Ida wondered if Rita hadn't already suspected her condition. Not that Rita's reaction really mattered, it wouldn't change anything. And Ida didn't know what she was going to do. "I – I don't know. I suppose when the time comes, I'll . . . find someone to take it."

"Then you don't want it?"

Ida's eyes flashed. "No! It's Jack's and . . . " She shook her head. "No! No, I don't."

"I understand."

Ida sighed. "I suppose, well, I suppose I'll be leaving today." She placed a hand on her abdomen, scowling when she felt it rise beneath her hand.

A look of surprise crossed Rita's face at the deceleration. "Leaving? If you don't want to keep it why would you leave?"

Ida snorted with disgust. "I can't work like this," she said motioning to her stomach. "I won't bed someone while I'm swollen with another man's child."

"I understand that as well, but that doesn't mean you have to leave. You can do other work around her until it's time. You won't have to see any of the costumers if you don't wish to and afterward, well, there's no reason for you to not resume taking clients."

Ida stared at the older woman. "You would be willing to do that for me? For me to stay away until this is over?"

Rita reached over and placed her hand over Ida's. "This is a difficult situation, Ida. You shouldn't have to lose your home and friends because of it. Besides, you're one of my best. Maybe it's selfish of me but I don't want to see you go."

Ida looked down and thought seriously about what her employer had said. She didn't particularly want to leave the Palace; outside of Jack, her life had been good here. "It won't be born until the summer. It will still be several months before I can work again."

"Don't worry about it. As I said, we'll work it out. Just think about yourself and get through this."

Ida's hand went back to her stomach. She still couldn't believe how stupid she'd been but maybe this wouldn't be as terrible as she'd first thought.