Sara knew that she looked slightly ridiculous but she didn't care. A thirty something very pregnant bride didn't exactly turn heads in Vegas though she could tell that the Rev. Robertson, the vibrant, matronly, Episcopalian priest Grissom had managed to dig up also seemed slightly distracted by her condition. Sara was showing but had found the nearly perfect dress for concealment
Finally the woman, nearly a foot shorter than Sara, turned her silver streaked, black head towards Sara and whispered, "I don't mean to be indelicate dear, but are you with child?"
Sara had smiled and laid a warm hand across her belly, "Yes -Reverend."
"I know one should never ask questions but you are so thin and your Mr. Grissom was so nervous about getting it done as soon as possible. I thought it was a safe assumption."
That had been two hours ago when she was Ms. Sara Heartflowe Sidle now she was Sara Heartflowe Sidle Grissom. Or maybe Sara Sidle-Grissom or perhaps just Sara Grissom.
She peered around the elegantly appointed table in her new home with her friends and family and smiled contently.
Raising her voice over the raucous group she spoke easily. "What's this I hear about a bet?"
"Damn girl, you haven't been in the lab in weeks, what do you have the place bugged?"
Sara tipped her head towards Greg. "I have my sources."
"Give it up Sanders. You are forever trying to win the woman over. She's Grissom's girl, always has been always will be." Warrick said easily
"If I am not over Sara, " Greg chimed in. "Then why did I win the entire pool?"
Grissom sauntered into the dining room with two more bottles of wine for the guest and a small bottle of sparkling cider for he and Sara. "What pool?"
Nick hiccupped and gave a lopsided, slightly drunken grin. "Boss if we tell you this you have to promise that it's not going to incriminate us later. This is off the record."
Grissom shook his head and topped off Nick's wine glass. "Well I will have to ask my wife about that. What do you say dear?"
"I say we give them amnesty." Sara replied kissing his ring finger.
Catherine, who had been unusually, quiet looked from Sara to Gil. "For the record they wouldn't let me or Brass bet."
Brass, his arm slung casually around Laura Sidle's chair nibbled a sliver of cheese from his over full plate. "In all fairness I had a wee bit of insider information but not when you guys thought I did. Until two weeks ago I was part of the speculation squad."
Grissom settled himself next to Sara kissing her cheek lightly as he did so. "Tell us."
"Thing was that after that day at the pizza parlor all kinds of rumors and speculation cropped up. After that all variables went into play. They are together but they aren't married. The kid's his. The kid's not Grissoms. No one took that sqaree not even Greg who still remained hopeful. But yeah that day in the pizza parlor upped all the ante." Warrick said as Catherine slapped his hand away from her plate.
"I hear that was some bad business," Brass said.
Sara smiled and stroked her belly. "It was awful."
"I was not that bad ." Grissom tried to defend himself. "Who won."
Warrick tried for Catherine's plate again. This time he succeeded in snagging a strawberry. "Weight and time of birth are part of the equation. Righ now Nick's predictions are actually the favorite but I called my grandmother. She says girl's are born just before full moon."
A slim hipped waiter hired for the occasion entered the surprisingly spacious dining room carrying a tray with slices of the cake that Grissom and Sara had cut earlier.
"Yummy," Catherine said as she put a thick slice of moist looking of chocolate cake in front of her. "Let me see those rings again," she said to Sara. Dutifully Sara held up her left hand for the entire table to see.
"You done good." Brass said grudgingly. "I wouldn't have thought of an emerald but for Cookie it works."
Sara grinned at the large round square emeralds surrounded by small diamonds and set in 24 karat gold. Hours before it had been alone and now it was paired with simple gold band.
Grissom wore a similar band his inlaid with five emeralds made of the same metal.
"Wait before you dig into my wife's favorite desert. We're going to eat my favorite desert."
Catherine clapped. "Chocolate covered fortune cookies."
The waiter now moved from person to person as they all took one dark chocolate cookie from an antique silver bowl. Grissom's mother declined signing to him, "I have all the good fortune any woman could want for a lifetime.
Once everyone had a confection Grissom announced. "Alright. I don't do sentimental but with a new life," he looked at Sara. "And a new life," he touched her rounded stomach. "Comes changes. Now we're going read our fortune out loud."
Cath had her fortune open and was chomping at thee bit. "Okay me-here I go." Grissom noticed that she had given up some of her vanity and now used her glasses to read most of the time. "Mine says, look not ahead but beside."
Warrick took his turn not wanting to ponder Catherine's' too closely. "What you are looking for is often at your side."
Greg cleared his throat and began to read happily. "You still have wild oats to sow." He gave a relieved goofy grin. "At the end of your path true love awaits."
Nick appeared shy as he read the words printed on the sliver of crisp white paper "A prince will always find his princess. Love is but a glimmer away."
Begrudgingly Brass read his, tongue loosened by several glasses of wine. "The time is now."
Laura Sidle could barely be heard. "Mine says the same thing."
22 years later
The thing of it was that she loved him. Loved him enough to know that what they had would not sustain him for the rest of his life. Loved him enough to know that he needed something else. She understood now after spending Hanukkah with his very, very nice family. His nice family that looked slightly stunned to see a blue eyed, Yank sitting next to their Ethiopian-Israeli Micah golden child as he read from the Torah.
Hannah she was sure his family held out so much promise with a name like Hannah. At the very least they expected a European accented, Hebrew schooled doctor or lawyer from a traditional family where aunts and uncles were actually blood relations. What they got was Catholic, poetry writing Hannah who's American twang likely set their cultured ears on end whose familial ties were difficult to explain and even harder to visually digest.
He loved her. Of course he loved her. He'd loved her for ages. Almost since they'd met. In his mind, his rational orderly mind, they had always belonged together. It was just a matter of time. In her less orderly mind, her romantic poets ramblings, she knew that in the end she would not be happy. The differences would be too great. Hannah could bend-some but not enough for it to to matter.
Then why, why had she slept with him-again? She'd intended to break up with him. He rolled onto his back and stared up at her.
"Hey you. We have that conference tomorrow." His thin fingers pressed delicately into a dimple just above her buttocks.
"And why do I have to go again?" she asked resisting the urge to collapse against him.
He rolled his eyes playfully and pinched her lightly. "So everyone can see my hot assistant."
"Ah. Here I thought you were so above that," Hannah said softly.
"All you've got to do is sit next to me and wear you glasses. Write me a poem. Ode to Conference." he sad softly. "I just like having you with me. I know you should be writing. What if I buy you a new laptop? One of those you can write on with a stylus. I know you like putting pen to paper."
"I am always going from my laptop to my notebook," She sighed but then thought better of it. She was going breaking up with him. Fatigue coursed through her body. She hadn't been to the gym in two weeks. Had even skipped one of her brother's major tournaments because she needed to sleep. Only to find that she couldn't seem to fall out. She wanted to talk to her mother but with the Holidays near and her entire family coming it was nearly impossible.
"Junior!" came a disembodied voice on her nightstand.
Hannah reached for the phone and pushed the blue talk button. "Hi Grampy."
"What's this I hear about you father making you pay rent? You tell that cheap SOB that I said that my granddaughter doesn't have to pay for crap. I told him that if he were to ever nickel and dime you or your mother I would kick his ass. He's turned his phone off. I know he's there."
"Grampy it's one in the morning and Daddy was never cheap even when he was single."
Silence from the other line. Finally Jim Brass cleared his throat. "Oh sorry. Did I wake you honey. I'll call back."
"No I was awake."
"Good. Now what's this about rent?"
"I want to pay my own rent. I have a job," Hannah explained.
"How's much is he charging you and what about your poetry. I thought you were going to concentrate on that? I thought your professors said that you need to focus."
"400 Euros about 425 dollars. I still have plenty of time for poetry."
Brass offered a begrudging grunt. "Well that's not too bad I guess."
"Are you kidding me? Prime location. Besides I insisted." She stuck out her tongue at Micah who seemed to be enjoying the exchange.
"Well the January is on me and your grandmother."
"Grampy no. I'm fine. I eat with Mom and Dad half the time." She didn't add that she ate with Micah the rest of the time. Her family had been so busy that no one had noticed her long absences-yet.
"Alright then we'll just give you a four hundred and twenty five dollar Christmas present. I'll Paypal you."
"Grampy, what's this about you not coming for Christmas?"
"That? I'm sure your mother and your grandmother put you up to this. I'm not coming to England. They won't let me take my gun on the plane."
"Why do you need a gun?"
"Cause." he answered petulantly.
She heard her grandmother say something in the background. "Grampy, I won't take the money unless you give to me in person. This is the first time everyone is going to be here at the same time. Don't you want to see Aunt Cath's face work? Jamal say's its primo, that you can hardly tell. No wind blown tunnel stuff. Still it's a excellent opportunity to harass her."
He grunted something that she could only take as consent. " You make a good point. With them living in Vegas and us in Florida, I don't have much face to face needling opportunities. Your grandmother says I have to go. People are coming over for bridge. She says she'll call you back after."
"Love you too." The transatlantic connection ended.
Micah pulled her down to him inhaling the musk of sex and the smell of gardenias that clung to her skin. "Why does your grandfather call you Junior?"
"He calls my mother Cookie. I'm Cookie Junior."
"Ah" He kissed the top of her head. "I thought my family was nuts. I can't wait to meet yours."
The mention of his family pulled Hannah out of her safe cocoon and back to the business at hand. She pulled away from him and shifted herself onto one elbow. There was never going to be a good time. They would never be enough of a fight, a long enough silence, a time when sensuality and love did not hang between them.
"Why haven't I met your family?" He asked as if reading her thoughts.
"I-" She lifted herself completely away from him pulling most of the sheet with her. If she looked in a mirror she knew she would see sadness in her eyes and color leaving her face.
"Oh," he breathed pulling to the other side of her bed leaving her the rest of the sheet to cover herself while he sat exposed.
"I'm not going to meet them am I?"
Slow head shake from her as she struggled to keep saline at bay. After several long, desperate moments on his part and several anxious sad ones on her part he finally spoke.
"So what's wrong with me? Too old? Too brown? Too Jewish." He cast a glance at the burgundy silk yamaka that rested on the nightstand. Not really waiting for an answer he walked towards her kitchen and returned with a tumbler full of wine.
He took two deep swallows, said something in Hebrew and stared at her cleavage then back at her face. "Hopefully I am good enough to drink your family's wine."
Hannah adjusted to the sheet. "It's not you. It's me."
He snorted and nearly choked on another gulp of wine. "Really..."
"Babe-" This was a terrible idea. She should have waited until the morning. Suddenly she only wanted to sleep.
"Babe is it now." Another gulp.
"You need to slow down." Suddenly she felt really warm, beads of sweat started to coat her arms and neck. Maybe she was coming down with something. Perhaps it was more than just the stress of having to break up with Micah.
"So do you." He stared at her again this time with a more serious look like when he was close to solving an equation but couldn't quite finish it.
"You don't need someone like me." she tried again. "You need someone that will fit in better with your family. Did you look around the table last week? I looked like an alien from another planet. Your family is all about family and tradition and religion. I mean you have three cousins that basically have arranged marriages. Right now it's perfect but the minute we have the first fight about confirmation or Hebrew school or what to check on the race form for school it won't be so perfect anymore."
"You think we can't overcome that? You sound like my..."
He took another burgundy hued swallow.
"I think it will be nearly impossible and I don't want you to resent me."
"So you think that not trying at all is going to be better than trying and failing. Besides-" he gestured towards her. "We'll have the argument about religion whether we are together or not."
Irritation jangled her nerves as she struggled to keep her eyes open. Now she wanted to sleep? What the hell was wrong with her? "What are you talking about?" She yawned.
Putting the cup down he leaned towards her. "Hannah-" His tone hovered somewhere between warning and incredulity.
"What are you talking about, M?"
"You aren't," his voice was low and slightly desperate. "You can't sleep then you sleep for hours. You can't stand the smell of coffee and barely eat before noon. This from a girl who ate a full breakfast every morning that I have known her. You have eaten more chocolate this week than you have in the last year. Hannah-"
"I'm got premenstrual stuff going on."
"Hannah the last time you had a period was two months ago. I thought you were afraid to tell me but now-I see-sweetheart you're pregnant."