Penelope listened to him pour his soul out to her. His latest relationship was volatile, to say the least, and now his girlfriend had just told him he was going to be a father. Morgan hadn't said it yet, but she knew that he would do the honorable thing and marry her. While he talked, she picked up a pillow and squeezed it tightly to her chest, feelings she didn't dare express bubbling up inside her.
Morgan sighed. "Thanks for listening, Baby Girl. I suppose I'd better go ring shopping soon."
"Anytime, Morgan. Don't pick up anything too expensive – you have a child to provide for now, too." She hung up and hurled her pillow across the room. Hot tears prickled her eyelids and she struggled not to cry or scream, though she desperately wanted to do both. Instead, Penelope got up and went over to the couch, pulling her laptop off the table and booting it up.
It was easy for Penelope to fall back into her previous habits, hacking into various databases to find out more about this woman. The more she dug, the less she liked Beth. And there wasn't one thing to justify the growing rage, until she found the bills from Planned Parenthood. She knew she was breaking so many laws, buy she cracked open Beth's medical records and discovered that the little gold digger had had four abortions in the course of four years. Each had coincided with the breakup of a just-announced engagement, she found out as she looked at Beth's social networking profile. It wasn't a crime, but it was an awful thing to do to anyone. Penelope felt dirty just thinking about it.
And then, it hit her. She would have to do everything in her power to keep them together so that Derek's child would have a chance at life. She felt sick to her stomach, knowing that Derek would be forever out of her life. Then the bitter tears began to fall, her heart shattering. Penelope's rational side tried to reason that Derek would never look at her that way, she wasn't his type. But hearts are never rational, especially broken ones.
Blindly, she made her way over to her bed and crawled, fully clothed, beneath the covers. She fell into a fitful sleep, her dreams filled with Morgan, Beth, and the unborn children Beth had so callously discarded. In the morning, she felt exhausted and all the makeup she owned couldn't make her look better than death warmed over. Sighing, she gave up and pulled on the first thing her hand touched in her closet, and swept her hair back into a quick ponytail.
Penelope made her way to work on autopilot, still trying to figure out how she was going to interact with Morgan. She felt on the verge of tears every time she thought of him. She pulled into a parking spot and trudged up to the bullpen, disappearing onto her office without greeting anyone.
It wasn't long before Emily came in, sitting down on the couch. "So, what's wrong?"
"Why does something have to be wrong, Em?"
"Because you look devastated and didn't even look at any of us before coming in here. So, spill."
"You know, I hate working with you people sometimes. Beth is pregnant and Morgan's going to ask her to marry him."
"I hate her, Em, I really do. She's abhorrent. Do you know what I found out about her last night? She's done this to at least four other guys. Every time the pregnancy to a certain point, she aborts the baby and moves on to the next guy. I can't let that happen to him, Emily. It would devastate him." She looked down at her trembling hands. "So, I have to pretend that I'm overjoyed by this. I don't want to do anything that might endanger this child's life. I just didn't realize it would hurt so darn much."
As she tried to wipe away futile tears, she felt Emily place a gently hand under her chin and lift her head. "You really love him, don't you?" Penelope nodded, not taking her eyes off Emily's face. "Oh, Penny, come here." Emily opened her arms and Penelope fell into them, sobbing. Emily gently stroked her hair, not rushing her through her sorrow.
Finally, the sobbing passed and she sat back in the couch, trying to catch her breath. "Thank you, Emily," she murmured as she took off her glasses and dried them. "I've just been in this frenzy of despair since he told me about the baby. I guess I always felt like there was a chance for me if things never got serious with any of his girlfriends. What hope do I have now?"
"The hope of finding the perfect person just for you." Penelope looked at Emily, a questioning look in her eyes. "Morgan's your best friend, but can you really see yourself in a relationship with him?"
Penelope thought for a moment, and then her shoulders slumped. "No," she replied as she shook her head. "I could never be perfect enough for him. And I really like being curvy, I wouldn't want to change that."
"Wonderful. Now, you and I are going out tonight, and we're not going home until we've flirted with at least five guys each." Penelope smiled slightly, and was taken aback when Emily leaned over and gently kissed her cheek. "Shared sorrow is halved sorrow, my dear. Just remember, my ear is always open."
As Emily left the room, Penelope did start to feel better, her heart lifting slightly from the pit of despair it had fallen into. She was now ready to face the day, no matter what came. She turned back to her monitors and began to work on the searches the overnight analyst had left her, wondering what bar Emily was planning on taking her to as she worked.