Chapter ten – x

"What do you think?"

"Why are you wearing a tent?" Tactful, I know. Annabeth was currently showing off the best Bloomies' maternity section had to offer. Needless to say, I've seen more flattering prints on vintage tapestries. Annabeth groaned and flopped backwards onto the bed.

"Well, I suppose there's no way of hiding it any longer. I am officially showing."

"You're eight months pregnant! If you weren't showing I'd be worried! You've just chosen to accept it now because you can't hide the bulge any longer; and shouldn't you be on maternity leave by now anyway?"

"You know, what with my raging hormones and all, you should be more careful about what you say to me. My thighs are so giant by now they could crack your invincible skull. And maternity leave is for losers who think sitting on their preggo behinds all day and knitting impossibly tiny socks is more exciting than the Walker contract I have a meeting for in, oh, twelve hours." Annabeth struggled into sitting position and grabbed her belly for moral support. "Do we have any soy sauce?" she asked, twirling her hair and looking like a heavily weighted angel. I sighed. Her cravings had been getting progressively weirder. What had started off as an abnormal fondness for pickles had now bloomed into its full peculiarity.

"Might I ask why?"

"I would so like to pour some over a huge piece of chocolate cake right now. Yum... and maybe top it with a couple slices of orange? Oh, and some pine nuts!" You see?

"We're out of pine nuts. You used them all up in that weird broccoli and salmon thing Nico deemed 'an insult to several innocent foods'."

"Shame. How is Nico?" she asked, inking the blueprint for a skyscraper on her ankle.

"Alright, I think. Last I heard he and Aura were getting cosy."

"What kind of cosy?"

"You don't want to know." Annabeth nodded, whether in agreement or satisfaction at the artwork spanning her foot I couldn't say, but she subsequently rolled with a grunt off the bed.

"Right, help me out of this tent. I have to be well rested for tomorrow. When's the baby due again?" This is the girl, sorry woman, who can remember the exact dates to every historical event basically ever and she has no idea when her baby is going to be born. There was, of course, the chance that she was only feigning lack of knowledge to punish me for calling her dress a tent.

"The twenty-second of May. Exactly fifty-four years and six months after JFK got shot." The best thing about having known Annabeth this long is that now I know if I link the date with one of historical importance it will be ingrained in her memory forevermore; and she'll be instantly impressed by my historical knowledge so everyone's a winner!

Annabeth did seem rather impressed as she slipped (or rather squeezed) on her pyjamas and balanced herself on two pillows. It was something to do with feet and oxygen but to be honest it didn't bother me. All I knew was that the most gorgeous woman in the universe was squiggled up beside me and she smelt like buttercream and she was carrying my child and, frankly, it doesn't get much better than that.

"I love you. You know that, right?"

"Seaweed Brain," she replied smiling, kissed me and fell asleep.

~*~

The next afternoon I sat at my desk, not really concentrating on the applications I was assessing, when my phone started pulsating violently. Some may have been overwhelmed by this irregular display of undulation but, being the incredible academic that I am, it only took me about seven minutes to work out that I had received a text message.

In labour. In meeting. Can you pick me up at four? Beth x

I groaned and slammed my head down on the desk (ow), cursing the Walker estate contractors in my very best Ancient Greek. Four was three hours away. People have babies in less than three hours; and I was just supposed to go about my life, assessing applications and eating food and writing stuff about dolphins, while Annabeth sat in a meeting and our baby slowly squirmed into the world? I grabbed my coat and car keys and ran to the office door.

"And just where do you think you're going?" asked my irate colleague Harris. I tried to say something but it appeared as though I had forgotten how to speak in full sentences.

"I... Annabeth... baby... Walker... blurg?" Harris sighed.

"Go on then."

"Thank you!" I shouted as I practically flew out the door and into the car. I revved the engine and zoomed at Annabeth-worthy speeds to Annabeth's swanky office building, parking haphazardly in a Monday-Friday bay. What day of the week was it? Aw, screw it. From my vantage point across the street, I could see right into the window of the board room. Annabeth was standing over the desk marking a blueprint with an orange pen and explaining something clever to the contractors who nodded like those dolls you get of presidents and baseball players and stuff. She has pretty hair... no, snap out of it! I grabbed my phone (lucky I was within one hundred yards of her and Percy Junior) and sent an urgent message.

I'm outside your office. Leave now or suffer the consequences of a freak anxiety earthquake. And for gods' sakes HURRY! SB x

I watched from the window as she picked up her phone, frowned, shook her head and replaced the phone in her pocket. Excuse me?! Did she think I was bluffing about the whole earthquake thing? I was partially serious! I started to wonder if she'd ever leave when suddenly Annabeth stopped mid-sentence, grabbed her stomach and bit down on her lip.

Idiot genius girl! She was obviously in pain she just wouldn't leave her stupid meeting, work-orientated perfectionist that she is. Annabeth swiftly recovered and continued her train of thought. She paused, thinking for a bit. Then, as if set on fast-forward, she finished marking up the blueprint, talking all the while, shoved a stack of papers in a rather shocked gentleman's lap, shook hands with another and raced out the room. My phone vibrated.

Here I come! x


A.N. - Dear lovely readers, I am so sorry I have been so long away. School is the bane of my existance. Incidently, my English teacher told me recently that bane means poison in Middle English so maybe not everything in school is bad. Physics is awful. My sister Darcy who is dribbling on me right now would also like to say hello. But anyway, what I meant to say was thank you for reading and reviewing and subscribing and favouriting and all the wonderful things you wonderful people do. If you do have something to say, please review. I want to get as much feedback as possible (but don't feel pressured or anything). I am sorry to report that this is the second-to-last chapter of this story. Don't worry though, I have amazing ideas for the future. With love,
KrakenGirl xxx