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Chapter 3

They had a couple of days to spare before they were due to go on their honeymoon. Martin planned to spend the time organising things at the surgery to ensure that Pauline knew exactly what was expected of her when he was away. He had arranged for a locum doctor to cover his appointments so he wanted to ensure that there were no outstanding issues that required his attention.

They were only going to be away for a week because that was the longest that Martin dared to leave the villagers without fear that on his return they would all have cross-contaminated each other with some rare bacterial or viral illness.

Pauline was being suspiciously efficient, probably as a consequence of her behaviour at their reception. Louisa had already told Martin in no uncertain terms that he was not to discipline Pauline. After all, it was only a bit of light-hearted fun as far as Louisa was concerned and she'd actually found it rather funny.

Pauline was so organised that she had managed to arrange it that he got a proper lunch break, and she informed him that he should go and spend some time with his wife, as Louisa wasn't due back into school until after their honeymoon.

As he marched down the hill towards Louisa's cottage, he made a mental note that they would have to discuss their permanent living arrangements at some point when they returned from their honeymoon. He had been happy to agree to stay at Louisa's cottage immediately after the wedding. It was pleasant to be able to forget the surgery for a short while. However, for practical reasons, Martin felt that it would be far better if Louisa moved into the surgery with him. There was more room and he wouldn't forever have to bend down as he went in and out of the front door.

Arriving at the cottage, Louisa met him at the door. Pauline had phoned her to let her know that he was on the way and to apologise about her dreadful behaviour. She'd also hoped that Louisa might fill her in with any juicy information about their wedding night. She was sure that what Joan had said about Martin's "attributes" couldn't possibly be true, but Louisa declined to answer, much to Pauline's disgust.

Martin kissed Louisa on the cheek and ducked as he walked through the door. Louisa had started to prepare some sandwiches for their lunch.

"Do you want any help?" he asked.

"Actually Martin, do you mind finishing them off? I'm not feeling too well again today."

Martin had set off for the surgery very early that morning and had left Louisa still sleeping in bed, so he had no idea that she had once again been violently sick that morning.

"I think that maybe I should run some tests, just to see what it is that is causing your nausea. Although, I'm sure it must have been Bert and his bacteria-infested buffet."

"Martin, I didn't want to say anything to you yesterday, but I'm quite a few days late now for my period… do you think that maybe I could be pregnant?" asked Louisa rather tentatively.

Martin stared rather blankly at Louisa. "But you take a contraceptive pill to help with your heavy periods; I don't really see how you could be pregnant. You aren't overweight, so there's no chance the medication would be less effective," he replied, rather puzzled as to why she could possibly think that she was expecting a baby.

"No, but a few weeks ago, just before we… you know for the first time, I had a tummy bug and maybe that's had some sort of effect on it," she suggested.

Martin remembered now that he'd had to give Louisa some rehydration powders. That was the only explanation. He was kicking himself that he hadn't advised her about the possibility of becoming pregnant, but then of course, at the time he didn't expect that she would be having sex with anyone, since their relationship hadn't progressed to that level and he was sure she hadn't been seeing anyone else.

"Why don't you come back to the surgery with me after lunch and I'll do a pregnancy test."

Martin couldn't quite believe that there was a definite possibility that Louisa could be pregnant, but he managed to avoid saying anything hurtful to her, as he could tell that she was genuinely anxious about the situation. Neither of them ate a great deal for lunch and they both decided that it would be better to just get the test over and done with, so they hurried back to the surgery.

~ x ~

Pauline had also returned early from lunch to look something up on the Internet without the Doc being there, so she was rather surprised and a little bit irritated when they appeared through the door.

"I thought you'd be a bit longer than this, Doc, if you know what I mean," she said, winking at Louisa.

"I'm not feeling too well, so Martin's just going to get me something that should help," Louisa replied, pushing Martin firmly towards the consulting room door.

As it slammed behind them, Pauline looked over quizzically.

"Um, I just need you to provide me with a urine sample, in here please," asked Martin.

"I don't really want Pauline to see me with this," said Louisa, shaking the sample bottle in the air.

"You can go upstairs and use the bathroom there," Martin suggested.

"Alright then, I won't be long." Louisa opened the consulting room door and Pauline's eyes were instantly upon her.

"I'm just popping upstairs, to, erm, you know, sort some things out for Martin," Louisa lied, unconvincingly, whilst hiding the bottle behind her back. And as soon as she got to the stairs, she dashed up them as fast as she could.

Pauline immediately took out her phone and started texting Al. She was convinced that there was something going on.

As Martin paced the floor in his consulting room waiting for Louisa to return, there was a knock on his door, "Come."

Pauline bobbed her head around. "Do you want me to go and see if Mrs Ellingham needs any help? I don't mind I'm up to date with all the surgery stuff."

"No."

"I'm only tryin' to help," she mumbled under her breath, as she returned to her desk and flopped down on her chair like a petulant child.

The next time his door opened, it was Louisa, with sample in hand.

"Right, well, just need to put a couple of drops on here," he explained. "And we should know in a few minutes. If you are pregnant, then a dark blue line will appear here."

Martin walked towards his chair and gestured for Louisa to sit down; he then placed the test on his desk, so that they could both see it clearly.

Louisa played with her bag anxiously as Martin kept looking back and forth from the test to Louisa. He was struggling with his own feelings about the possibility of becoming a father, but he couldn't tell if Louisa was excited or just petrified that it might be happening.

Finally Martin picked up the test and looked at it in disbelief.

"I'm pregnant, aren't I?" whispered Louisa.

"Yes, Louisa, you are definitely pregnant." Martin stood up to dispose of the test. As he turned, he saw that Louisa was gently shaking and tears had begun to trickle down her cheeks.

He strode over to her and crouched down beside her, placing his arms on her thighs for balance.

"I'm sorry, Louisa, you obviously didn't want this. There are options we can discuss, when you feel up to it."

"No, it's not that, Martin, it's just that I never thought I'd be in a position to have a baby. I mean, I never thought that I'd find anyone that I would want to have one with. But now that we're together, I can't think of anything more perfect than having your baby."

She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his neck. Martin didn't know what to say because he didn't truly know how he felt himself about her pregnancy, so he kept quiet and gently hugged Louisa until her tears of joy had subsided.

After Louisa had composed herself, she left to return to the cottage.

Pauline had made sure that he didn't have too many appointments in the afternoon and after a couple of late cancellations, he decided to leave for the day.

Martin got into his car, but instead of driving off, he sat there for several minutes contemplating the events of the day. He hadn't had that much time to think about Louisa being pregnant during the afternoon, but now the realisation that in a few months time he would be a father hit him, with a sickening thump.

Pauline had locked up the surgery and had just started to walk down the hill when she noticed him sitting in the silver Lexus. She walked over and tapped on the driver's window.

"You alright, Doc? It's just, you're acting a bit odd… well, odder than usual," asked a concerned Pauline.

"Hmm, yes. Now, go home Pauline." And with that he started up the engine and pulled away from the parking place, leaving Pauline gawping after him. She was certain now that he must have gone and insulted Louisa again and she wanted a divorce. Trust the doc to have the shortest marriage on record, she thought.

~ x ~

It didn't take Martin long to reach Aunty Joan's farm. She was out feeding the chickens and as he walked over to her, she waved and pulled the door to the pen shut.

"Martin, what are you doing here? I didn't think I'd see you and Louisa until after your honeymoon. Did Louisa like the rose?"

"Err, yes, she did, she said she'd say thank you to you when she… Aunty Joan…"

"Yes, Martin."

"I need to talk to you."

"Oh, Martin, what have you done now?" replied an exasperated Joan.

"I've got Louisa pregnant," was his subdued reply. And as Joan looked at the fear in her nephew's eyes, she could tell that he was deeply troubled.

"Come on, Martin, come into the house and let's have a talk."

~ x ~

Louisa looked at her watch and was a little concerned that Martin hadn't yet returned home. She'd rung the surgery and had only managed to get the out-of-hour's message so she knew that he'd left. She'd tried his mobile but that had been uncharacteristically switched off.

When Louisa had left the surgery that afternoon, she really had no idea how Martin felt about their news. He had seemed very supportive, well for him at least, so she had hoped that he was as happy as she was about the situation. She decided to take a walk to see if she could see him in the village anywhere. Maybe he had stopped off to buy some fish or popped in to Mrs Tishell for some supplies.

~ x ~

Back at Aunty Joan's, Martin was just getting into the car. She leaned down to speak to him and said, "Remember, Martin, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be a wonderful father. Just because your own parents are cold-hearted imbeciles, it has no bearing on your own nurturing abilities."

"Thank you, Aunty Joan. I didn't know who else to turn to."

"Well, Martin, you could have tried your wife, who will no doubt be thinking that you've fled the country after finding out that you've got her up the duff."

Martin looked at his watch and declared, "Oh, God, you're right."

As he roared away, Joan shouted after him excitedly, "Bye, Marty, and congratulations."

~ x ~

He made it back into Portwenn in record time. He had to park the car back up at the surgery as there was no room to park it at Louisa's cottage. His chat with his aunt had lifted his spirits, and he was sure now that Louisa's pregnancy was the best thing that could have happened to them. After all, although he hadn't given it a great deal of thought, he felt sure that she would want children at some point in the future, and as neither of them were getting any younger, then the sooner the better really.

As he sprinted through the village and neared the cottage, he saw that Louisa was about to step through the front door.

"Louisa!" he shouted.

"Oh, God, Martin, I've been worried sick about you," said Louisa, throwing her arms around him and pulling him close to her.

"Hmm, do you mind if we go inside?" he replied, gasping for air and rather embarrassed by their public show of affection, as you could never be certain which moronic villager might be watching.

They went inside and sat down. Martin took Louisa's hand in his and after a short pause, he said,

"When we got married, I vowed to always be honest with you. So I need to tell you something… I've been to see Aunty Joan."

"Oh," said Louisa, a little puzzled.

"Apart from you, she's the only person that understands me." Louisa squeezed his hand gently by way of encouragement, so he continued,

"I could tell that you were so very happy at lunchtime with your news and I felt empty because I didn't share the same excitement. I've spoken to Aunty Joan and I realise now that the only reason that I am uncertain about this pregnancy, is because I doubted that I could ever be a good father." As he finished he dropped his head in order to disguise the tears that had started to fill his eyes.

Louisa lifted his chin and wiped away the moisture that was gently trickling down his cheek.

"Oh, Martin. I know that most of the people here in the village think I've gone a bit bodmin for marrying you…"

"Do they?" he asked, a little taken aback.

"Yes, they do Martin. But I have absolutely no regrets. The one thing I do know about you is that you are an honest, dependable and well-meaning man, an extremely accomplished doctor… and the man that I love, so very dearly. I know that you will be the best father that you can and I know that this baby will want for nothing, especially not love."

"Louisa, I love you so very, very much," he said as he took her in his arms and rocked her gently back and forth.

"There is one thing, though," Louisa said, looking him very seriously in the eye.

"If the baby is a boy, there is no way he is being an Archibald!"

~ x ~

I hope you've enjoyed it! :)