He tried again. "Alexia?"

He ran into his room, wondering where she was. In her current condition, it would be difficult to go anywhere-unless she absolutely had to. And what about Renee? The housekeeper was Alexia's helper throughout the day. So both of them were missing?


His eye caught a note on the bed-Jason, gone to Mrs. Howard's house for lunch.

He let out a sigh of relief as he let himself sink onto the bed. He needed to stop panicking like that-it was the third time that week. His wife was fine, she was safe, she was with friends...maybe it was because he had had to deal with death so much in his life that his greatest fear was losing Alexia and their baby. He hated life being out of his hands-he hated not being able to protect the ones he loved from death. But of course, he would never admit that to anyone.

There was a knock at the door a short while later, and Alexia waddled into the living room, followed by Mrs. Howard.

"She invited me over for lunch," Alexia told her husband, giving Mrs. Howard a smile.

"Oh yes, it was no problem picking her up," Mrs. Howard said quickly. "We had such a delightful time!"

"Thank you," Jason told her, putting his arm around his wife. "I appreciate it."

When Mrs. Howard left, Alexia glanced at Jason, who was pulling snacks out of the cupboard. "Not that I mind, but what are you doing home in the middle of the day?"

"Pete called the lawyers who are handling the paperwork, and they said they'd come tomorrow, given the circumstances. And here's a question for you-where's Renee?"

"She called this morning after you left and said she felt sick. I told her to not worry about coming-and after I got off the phone with her, Mrs. Howard called and invited me over for lunch." She looked at her stomach.

"Are you feeling alright?"

She nodded, taking a deep breath. "I'm fine. Just a little hungry."

"What do you feel like eating?"

"A salad," she answered, heading for the fridge.

Jason removed his phone from the tangle of cords in his pocket. "I was thinking, maybe we could invite Miss Hastings over for dinner."

"That would be nice," Alexia replied, squirting dressing all over the mass of cucumbers in her bowl. "We have some leftover chicken from last night, I could put them in the oven with some barbecue sauce."

Jason licked his lips. "Sounds great."

He called Miss Hastings and left a message on her phone, inviting her over for supper. She's probably still with Mr. Hamilton, he thought to himself. It would be strange, not seeing Mr. Hamilton every day at work. The man had helped Jason to discover what happiness really was. Jason thought about the stories he'd have to tell his children. The only regret he had was that Mr. Hamilton would not be there to share those stories.

Miss Hastings arrived at the house around five o'clock. She looked exhausted, but she had made an effort to clean herself up, to look at least slightly presentable.

Alexia finished cooking the barbecue chicken as Jason offered Miss Hastings a seat at the kitchen table. "Thank you so much, Jason, Alexia. It was very kind of you to invite me here tonight."

"It was nothing," Alexia said quietly, pursing her lips and giving Jason a knowing look. They both believed that Miss Hastings and Mr. Hamilton had been in love, and Miss Hastings' grief seemed to be proof of this.

Miss Hastings dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief. "Are you prepared for the opening of Emily's Home tomorrow?" she asked slowly, gazing at the platter in the center of the table.

"I am," Jason answered, eager to distract her. "You'll be there, right?"

Miss Hastings smiled. "I wouldn't miss it." She spooned some vegetables onto her plate and sighed. "It looks delicious, Alexia," she said quietly, smiling again. But her eyes were clouded over.

"One of my good friends expressed his interest in having his daughter transferred to Emily's Home immediately," Miss Hastings told the couple. "She has a rare but severe form of diabetes."

Jason nodded. He had known it would be difficult, having children like Emily tended in the hospital. But he would be giving the children a new chance at life-a new chance that Emily never had.

Alexia shifted uncomfortably in her chair. She gripped the table and closed her eyes.

"Alexia? Are you alright?" Jason looked at his wife in concern.

"I think so," she said after a moment. "I thought-well, I was wrong, in any case." She smiled and looked at Miss Hastings. "Will you come for dinner tomorrow night? We can celebrate the opening of Emily's Home."

"That would be wonderful," Miss Hastings agreed, wiping her mouth with a napkin. "And Jason, when I said immediately, I did mean immediately." She gave him a sharp look, and his eyes widened. The young girl of whom Miss Hastings spoke didn't have much longer to live.

Alexia stood up abruptly and grabbed her chair this time, but the panic on her face was unmistakable. "Jason!" she whispered, beginning to sweat. She touched her stomach. "It's time!"