Lou watched Mary from across their bedroom. Now at almost six months pregnant her new body was absolutely undeniable. She had fretted about not showing her pregnancy sooner, and he had assured her that it would happen all in good time. And it did.
He marveled at her. At the way she had embraced pregnancy so fully, the way she was so completely comfortable in her own skin. The times that Edie had been pregnant it had been about oversized clothing and hiding her growing body. But not Mary. She was accepting and gracious. Enjoying every moment of pregnancy.
"Come here." he outstretched his hand to her from his position in the overstuffed chair.
Mary closed the dresser drawer and made her way over to him. "What's so important?" her hand slid into his.
He pulled her down into his lap. "Have I told you lately how absolutely stunning you are?"
God, he was the perfect man. Why had she not noticed earlier? "Mmm." she paused. "Not since dinner."
"Then entirely too much time has passed."
Mary leaned in and kissed him. "You should be careful." she playfully advised. "I could get used to all this attention."
His hand traveled over the curve of her abdomen, over smooth, firm flesh where her tank top could no longer meet her pyjama bottoms. "I want you to."
With a tilt of her head she studied him carefully. "Hmm." she sighed after several long moments.
"Oh, no nothing's wrong." she assured him. "I just never took you for a hopeless romantic, that's all."
"You think I'm a hopeless romantic?"
"Yes." she replied. "You're loving and caring and so devoted. Kind of like the men from those black and white romance movies."
"Oh, I am not." he protested. "I've just learnt to be more open and honest about my feelings."
"And you're doing a wonderful job." she smiled. "I think it's very sweet."
Lou arched an eyebrow. "Sweet?" he shook his head. "I don't do sweet."
Mary laughed. "Okay." she said. "It's sexy and romantic then. Is that better?"
"Yes." he decided. "Sexy and romantic I can live with."
It was the ringing of the doorbell that brought Mary out of the kitchen and into the livingroom. And to her surprise she found Lou's father, Sam, on the other side.
"Mary." he outstretched his arms. "How's my favorite daughter in law?" Sam was lovable and cuddly. Kind of like a real life teddy bear.
"Well." she allowed him to pull her into an all consuming bear like hug. "Although I'm not sure what Donna would think of that." she joked of her sister in law.
"Donna could never compare to you dear." Sam pulled back at look at her, not letting go of her hands. "Let me get a good look at you." he said. "Mmm hmm." he sighed. "Married life seems to be treating you very well. You're even more beautiful than the last time I saw you."
"Oh, how you flatter me." she beamed. "Come on in."
Sam followed Mary into the house, shutting the door behind them. "It's true."
"It's not been a week, Sam."
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder." he sat down on the sofa. "Lou around?"
Mary had a seat in the adjacent chair. "No, he took the grandkids home." she told him. "Abby and Amy stayed over last night."
"Getting some practice in, I see."
"I hear every little bit helps." she replied. "But the girls sleep through the night and I have a feeling the baby won't."
"Oh, I don't know about that." he sighed. "Lou and Van both slept through the night."
"They slept through the night?" she questioned. "Or you slept through the night?"
Sam laughed. "It's true Betty did most of the work , but both of our boys slept at least six hours. Maybe you'll be just as lucky. Right now you should be enjoying your rest though. That baby will be here before you know it."
"Hopefully we can decide on a name between now and then."
Sam smiled. This was a golden opportunity. "You know I have the perfect name that works for either a boy or a girl."
Mary arched an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah?"
"Sam." he said proudly. "Samuel for a boy and Samantha for a girl."
"Lou was wondering when you were going to suggest that."
Sam sighed. "I have seven grandchildren, this will be number eight, and I haven't been able to talk anyone into Sam." he laughed. "Even with great-grandchildren I haven't gotten anywhere."
"Eric's middle name is Samuel."
Sam sighed. "But it's not a first name." he replied. "But you know what a really nice name is? Hayden. That was Betty's maiden name. Elizabeth Hayden. Her father's name was Nathaniel." he told her. "You think you'll go with a family name?"
"I think there's a pretty good chance of that."
"You shouldn't let anyone influence your decisions, Mary." he said quite seriously. "Betty and I didn't let anyone influence ours. Her mother wanted us to name Vance, Pierre but we stood our ground. And in the end they respected us for it. So don't worry about the others once they see the baby they'll be in love."
Mary sighed. She certainly hoped so. She hoped that her mother would come around. "Would you like to stay for dinner, Sam?"
"Thank you, but I'll have to decline." he said. "I'm taking a lady friend out to dinner tonight."
"Oh." she breathed out. "Seeing someone new?"
"I guess you could call it that." he replied. "Nothing serious."
"We'll why not come here instead of going out?" she suggested. Her parents were coming to dinner and she could really use another person on her side. On Lou's side. "Mom and dad are coming and I'm making lamb chops."
Sam quickly thought it over. "If you're sure you don't mind."
"No." she smiled. "We'd love to have you."
Mary rearranged a few thing on the counter top so that the large salad bowl could be placed in front of her. She didn't hear the backdoor open but wasn't at all startled when she felt his arms slip around her growing waistline. "Need any help?"
She took a moment to relax into him. "Oh, you have no idea."
"Bit off more than you can chew?" he referred to his father and her parents in the same room for a long duration.
She sighed. "It's not Sam and Irene I'm worried about. It's my parents." she said. "My mother. I thought that things would settle down by now."
Lou placed a kiss against the side of her neck. "Once Dottie see's how happy you are, how happy we are, she'll come around. It just may take some time. Just like rebuilding our relationship took some time."
Mary turned around to face him. "But you and I were building a relationship on top of a friendship." she leaned back against the counter. "My mother is suppose to support me and my decisions no matter what."
"I seem to recall us rebuilding a friendship too." he said. "Things were tense after we found out you were pregnant. It changed our relationship but with a little work look where we are now."
"I understand what you're saying and it makes sense, it does. It's just that mom isn't always the most rational person. Especially when it comes to expressing feelings."
"Give her time, Mary." he advised. "I'll all work out. For right now let's just focus on us."
She nodded. "You're right." she leaned in to kiss him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." he kissed her back. Perhaps a little more passionately than he should have but he couldn't help it. Once she made his way into his arms he was helpless.
A resounding "Ahem." interrupted.
Mary looked past her husband to see her mother standing in the doorway. "Mom." she forced a smile.
"I didn't mean to interrupt."
"It's alright." she assured her.
"Yeah, it's fine." Lou offered. "I was distracting her too much anyway."
Dottie smiled politely at her son-in-law as he passed by her and made his way out the door. Leaving the two women alone. Dottie sat her homemade pie down on the kitchen counter. And Mary waited for it. Because she knew it was coming. That snide little remark. The one she knew her mother couldn't resist.
"So." Dottie exhaled. "I take it thing between the two of you are going rather well. I mean given that display."
Mary busied herself by checking on her lamb chops. "Thing are going fine, mother." she closed the oven door. "Thanks for asking."
She looked disapprovingly at her daughter. "You're only complicating things further, Mary." she said. "I hope you know that."
She tossed the oven mitt on the nearby counter. "Complicating things?"
"Yes, dear." she replied. "By allowing yourself to fall into an intimate relationship just because of your...situation. It's not healthy for anyone involved."
"Lou is my husband."
"Of convenience." she reminded her. "Once the baby is born you'll find that you feel very different about everything."
"I doubt I will, mom."
Dottie took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "And what is that suppose to mean, Mary?"
"It means that I love Lou and I have no plans to leave him." she told her. "Not now and not after our baby is born."