It was after hundreds of unsuccessful attempts, a few IVF procedures, and a dozen negative pregnancy tests when Cleo and Lewis were in the hospital in their doctor's office, waiting for their results.. again.
Through the years, they had tried many times to conceive a child in many different ways, but unfortunately they didn't succeed.
Cleo reached and wrapped her fingers around Lewis' hand, squeezing it tight. In reality she was afraid of the results, because if sure of anything in this very moment it was she wouldn't be able to bare one more negative result.
Lewis squeezed her hand back, deep in his own thoughts. He didn't know what to feel anymore. They had tried anything to have a baby, lead more by Cleo's wishes than his own, but this whole nightmare was killing him too. To top it all they didn't know what was the problem that was preventing them of having a child; Cleo had refused to be tested and find out, because she was scared the problem might've been in her.
The fourth and last IVF procedure Cleo went through had been the previous week and now they'd come to take their results and find out if it was successful or not.
It actually wasn't easy for them to go through all this hospital procedures because of Cleo's big secret of being a mermaid, but somehow they'd managed it. They were both determined to go through whatever was needed to finally have the baby the wanted so much.
The tension while they were now waiting for the doctor was killing them.
Finally the door opened and their doctor walked in.
"Mr and Mrs McCartney, I've got your results." Dr Huffman said, holding a folder in her hands.
She opened it and her eyes scanned the pages.
"Unfortunately, the last IVF procedure was unsuccessful again. Your results are negative. You're not pregnant. I'm sorry."
Lewis tightened the grip of his hand around Cleo's and turned to look at her; her face was motionless, not a muscle moving, not a tear rolling down. She was in a state of numbness, staring into the empty space.
"Cleo?" Lewis said quietly.
Very slow like in a slow motion, she turned her head to him. He could clearly see the wetness that was beginning to fill her eyes.
"Let's go home." Was the only thing the brunette managed to say before standing up and heading to the door.
Lewis nodded and hurried to follow her.
The drive home was a quiet and extremely tense one. Neither knew what to say to make the other feel better.
When they arrived at their house Cleo jumped out of the car and ran inside then upstairs to their room. Lewis locked the car and followed her in.
He walked into their room, just in time to see Cleo bursting into tears. He sat on the bed and took her in his embrace, placing a kiss on the top of her head. She let her head rest on his chest, and continued crying for a long time, until she didn't have any tears left. Now she was just starting somewhere at the space, tired of crying, tired of everything.
"Maybe we should give up." Her voice sounded quiet and a bit choked, breaking the silence for first time from hours and making Lewis slightly jump on his place. "Maybe we just aren't meant to have a baby."
"Cleo, don't talk like that. We are going to have a baby one way or another. There are still many things we could do like adoption or surrogacy." Lewis said, rubbing her back with his hand.
Cleo looked down to her flat belly and pain spread in her chest.
"But if we decide to adopt or use a surrogate mother it won't be the same if I were carrying it inside me. Then I'd never experience the essence of the pregnancy myself; I won't experience the morning sickness (not that I regret it), I'll never feel the baby growing inside me, I'll never feel the baby kick in my stomach for first time, I won't experience the contractions when it's time for it to be born, I won't experience the pushing, the pain..I won't experience anything."
By the time she'd finished saying that, she had her hands on her belly, rocking slightly. Lewis pulled her in for a hug again, and held her pressed against his chest.
"Maybe you won't be experiencing it personally, but if we use a surrogate mother she can live here with us until the baby is born. That way you can experience it through her, with her."
He felt her nod and then she lifted her head to look at him.
"But how are going to find a surrogate mother? I mean since we're still going to use my eggs, there's a chance for the baby to be a mermaid too. And if it is, when this woman gives birth in the hospital and the staff takes the baby to clean it up, they might get it wet and it'll grow a tail right in front of them."
For a moment Lewis was deep in his thoughts.
"Not if the surrogate mother is a mermaid too. Then she won't be giving birth in the hospital in the first place."
"A mermaid? You don't mean-"
"The girls would probably agree to do this for you."
"You can't be serious! Emma's daughter is four years old, and Bella's son is three. What are they going to say if Cynthia or Rick start asking questions when their bellies begin to grow?!"
Lewis felt like he had reached dead end.
"Look, call me crazy if you want, but..what about Rikki?"
Cleo was on the verge of giving out a loud laugh.
"You do realize Rikki would never agree to do this, right?! She's young and she's enjoying her life and won't be willing to swallow like a balloon only because I can't have a baby."
"You can at least try and ask her."
"I'm not going to get anything out of it, but fine. I guess I could talk to her."
"You know what? You need a distraction, why don't you go out with the girls tonight? Just go somewhere and have fun. Or just go out for a nice, long swim. Me and the guys will take care for Rick and Cynthia and will have a guys' night too."
"I don't know, Lewis."
"Come on, Cleo, it'll be good for you and it'll take your mind off things."
"Fine." Cleo sighed. "I guess you're right."
"Of course I am." Lewis smiled, glad he talked his wife into getting some distraction.
In the evening the girls met at the beach and dove in the water, racing to Mako.
The cold fresh water really helped Cleo relax a bit and when she surfaced at the moon pool she was already feeling a bit better.
"I beat you!" Rikki grinned when their heads crabbed the surface.
"Yeah well, try raising a four-year-old and then come to talk." Emma bit her.
"Same here." Bella nodded and the two exchanged meaningful looks.
Cleo's face darkened and pain pierced her heart. She hadn't expected they'd start to talk about Rick and Cynthia so soon.
"Cleo, how was your visit to the doctor this morning?" Emma asked. "You told us you'd be getting your results today."
Cleo's eyes filled with mist when she shrugged the subject off.
"The results are negative. I'm not pregnant."
"Oh, Cleo." Bella put her hand on the brunette's shoulder and gently rubbed her arm. "Don't lose hope. You're young and have many options."
"Can we please change the topic? I don't want to talk about this." The brunette sounded annoyed.
She had come here with the girls to forget about this for a bit, not to talk about it, after all.
"Sorry." Emma said quietly.
"Forget about it."
And they did. For the rest of the evening no one said a word more about pregnancy or babies or anything else related to the topic.
Cleo however was watching Rikki careful for the curly blond not to catch her stare. The brunette's look went all over her friend's body and Cleo had to admit Rikki was really beautiful. Every curve of her body, every piece of her skin was perfect. Out of all Rikki was in best shape both mentally and physically.
And it didn't take long for Cleo to realize Rikki was the best candidate for being the surrogate mother for her baby.
Lewis had been right; the curly blond was the right choice.
The only thing Cleo had to figure out right now, was how to ask Rikki for such a big favour. The brunette was certain that to convince the curly blond to agree would be a really hard work.
But she had no choice; if her and Lewis wanted to have a baby..Cleo had to try.