It had been a long day, starting before the sun had even begun to rise. First there was the call about a skip that had drug me out of bed, and then the take down had gone wrong. Of course. It should have tipped me off about what kind of a day it was going to be. Nothing that had been scheduled for today had gone quite right. As a result, I was dirty, sweaty, achy, and tired. All I wanted was a long, hot shower and Stephanie. Maybe together. Yeah, I thought as I felt myself respond to the thought, together would be nice. She'd been especially randy lately. She couldn't get enough. Man, was it nice.
Parking the Bronco in the garage, I walked into the house and reset the security system. I found Stephanie in the kitchen. Crying. It was incredibly selfish and unsupportive, but a part of me wanted to sneak back out before she noticed I'd come in. It wasn't that I didn't love her, but it was the smallest thing that tipped her off lately. Somebody eating the last brownie, or not fitting into a pair of jeans, or hair that was a little too frizzy. But we'd get through it. I just had to figure out what the real problem was. Preferably before I drowned in her tears.
"Hey, babe," I said as I went to stand next to her. Rubbing her back I asked what was wrong.
"Don't touch me," she said. I froze. Well that was a new one. Usually I had to do something particularly dastardly to elicit that response. Delving through my memory, I couldn't find anything that I thought would set her off like this. Of course, that didn't mean I hadn't done anything, just that it would probably be worse because I couldn't remember what I'd done. Great.
I removed my hand and went to the fridge. I knew that I should be doing something to make her feel better, but honestly, I was too tired right now to do anything other than make it worse. She just kept crying.
"Do you want some tea?" I asked.
"I don't want anything from you," she replied.
"Steph, it's tea. Do you want some or not." Ok, so it probably wasn't the best answer in the world, but I really was tired. She started to cry harder, and ran upstairs to our room. I heard the door slam. Hell, I practically felt the door slam from all the force she put into it.
Sighing, I fixed my dinner and sat down to eat. Alone. I figured that the shower thing was a no go for now. I cleaned up and made the tea anyway, bringing it up and setting it on the night table by Steph.
"I brought you some tea, babe, if you want it. I'm gonna take a shower now." There was no answer, only the muffled tears. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before I moved the tissues from the bathroom to the night table for her.
Then I took a long, hot shower, just letting the hot water and steam soak into my muscles and take the tension out of my body. Clean and fed, I was faced with the dilemma of where to sleep. Which would make her more upset, I asked myself. Sleeping with her when she had made it clear that I was persona non grata or going to a guest room and leaving her alone? It was a no-win situation that I couldn't see my way out of, especially when my vision was blurring.
But then the most amazing thing happened. Steph sat up and looked at me, and I saw that all traces of her tears were gone, as were any signs of anger or sadness or whatever had caused her to be so upset. In its place was one of the most lustful looks I had ever seen. She got up and came over to where I was standing, and kissed me with such passion that I forgot how tired and sore I was, that all thoughts about anything other than the woman in front of me were completely erased. Then she took me to bed.
The next morning I woke up refreshed and ready for the day. I looked over at Steph, admiring her nude form where the sheets had slid off. I particularly noticed her breasts; I always noticed her breasts, so I thought that she must have been doing something with them because they were even fuller and lusher than normal. In fact, they looked bigger and the nipples were darker. And they had been especially sensitive last night. Then Steph woke up. She looked at me like she does sometimes, like I hung the stars and the moon, and smiled.
"I'm sorry about last night," she said.
"Me, too," I replied cautiously.
"Thanks for the tea. That was really sweet of you." When she said that, I was pretty sure that I was out of the danger zone.
"You're welcome." Then she got up to use the bathroom. I'd noticed her excusing herself to the bathroom with increasing frequency lately. A few days ago we were on a stakeout together, and she had to go three times in a four hour period. And she came back rubbing her chest like she had heartburn.
"Something wrong, babe?" I asked with no little apprehension.
"No, no. Just tired."
"I'll make you some breakfast and bring it up," I suggested. She smiled and thanked me, and I went down to start breakfast. It was when I was bringing it up that a thought occurred to me, and I almost dropped the tray. I had been thinking about Steph's behavior now, and suddenly it came to me that she was acting just like my ex had when she was pregnant. And then it hit me.
Dear God, she was pregnant. It all made sense; the mood swings, the bathroom breaks, the breasts, the heartburn, the always with the sex thing. It was just like my ex-wife. I had to sit down on the steps or risk falling over. Steph was pregnant. Holy shit.
Why hadn't she told me? Why hadn't she told me she was pregnant? Didn't I have a right to know as soon as she did? What if she was planning on getting rid of it? Our baby. Oh, God. What if she didn't know?
I must have been sitting for too long because Stephanie came down the stairs.
"What's wrong honey?" she asked.
I jumped up and grabbed the tray.
"Nothing, nothing," I said. "Let's go back upstairs." She looked at me oddly, but turned and went back to the bedroom. I took a deep breath and followed. In bed, I laid the whole breakfast out for her and watched her eat.
"Stephanie," I started when I thought she was comfortable and relaxed. "We need to talk about something." She stopped eating and looked at me.
"Ok," she answered with a quizzical look on her face.
"How do you feel about children? Having them," I asked. That was a party stopper, that one.
"What?" she asked. "Children? Well, I…why?"
"Well, it's, you know. I like kids. I think we should have them. We should have a lot of them." I was rambling, but I was still so shocked and dazed, I didn't really have a clear grasp about what I was saying. Not the smartest move. "Lots of kids. Like, you know, a dozen, or something. Kids are good, right? And I think we should start now. Or maybe make an appointment with a doctor. Yeah, that would be good. A doctor."
"What? What are you talking about?" she asked. "Ranger, twelve children? What's going on?"
"Well, see, the thing…you know," I started fumbling. It's a lot harder than you think to tell your wife you think she's pregnant when you don't even know if she wants kids. I got a phonebook and looked through the yellow pages for the doctors. I know doctors of all sorts in the city. You never know when you're going to need to be patched up or come down with a virus. But I'd never had a need to know an ob/gyn.
"What are you doing?" she asked. "Is that the phonebook?"
I looked up at her and started mumbling something.
"A dozen. Or maybe fifteen. Right away. We should start now. Or maybe just one, so she could be spoiled relentlessly."
"Ranger? Ranger, stop," she said, laying a hand on my wrist. "What's going on?"
I stopped immediately and turned my head to look right into her eyes.
"I need an answer, babe," I told her. "I need an answer right now. Yes or no, do you want kids with me."
She blinked and I could see that she still looked confused and a little dazed.
"Well, of course I do. I was thinking that we could start in maybe a year or two. I was going to broach the subject in a few days, a week or so maybe to see how you felt about the whole idea. And I would have done it with much more grace. I was going to kind of ease you into the whole thing so you wouldn't flip. It's not like we're in any sort of hurry. It's not like I'm…" she trailed off, and I could see the understanding dawn in her eyes.
"You're…" I started to say pregnant, but she cut my off with a finger to my lips. She turned away so that I could see her only by her profile. And I saw a tear fall down her cheek. Oh, god, I thought as my heart fell. She didn't want it. She wasn't ready. What were we going to do?
Then she turned back to me and lifted her hands to my shoulders and I automatically drew mine around her waist. When she looked up at me, she had the most beatific smile on her face.
"I'm pregnant," she said almost reverently. "What a marvelous surprise."