Cruella whips her head around to face Lynn, glaring as the young woman laughs. Mr. Johnson cocks his head, unsure of what he's witnessing.
"No," Lynn continues after she's gotten her breath back. "Cruella's only insisting I have because she can't cuddle anymore." She looks thoughtful for a second before adding to her statement. "Actually, she can, she just can't be the little spoon anymore."
Mr. Johnson, having just taken a sip of water, nearly spits it back out as he hears her admit to their sleeping positions. Instead, he swallows and proceeds to convince the young woman to elaborate.
"She feels safe when she's the little spoon. And, after all, I am taller. I remember an incident not too long ago. I was seven months pregnant, and was starting to get really big..."
Cruella had come in, as expected, after a nightmare. It was like clockwork. Most every night, the older woman would come in at three a.m. Lynn was no longer startled awake by her presence, rather she woke on her own in time to see her enter. This particular night was the same as any other, though when Cruella tried to take her position as the little spoon, she discovered that she no longer fit.
Her back was pressed against Lynn's baby bump, causing her stomach to be pushed out at an uncomfortable angle. She shifted, hoping that it had something to do with her position, but no such luck. After several minutes of this, Lynn propped herself up, albeit with some difficulty, on one elbow and looked down at the older woman.
"What's the matter?" she asked with a yawn.
"I can't get settled."
"I know that. I meant why."
Muddled with sleep, Lynn was slow to grasp her friend's meaning.
Cruella sighed in an annoyed way.
"Your stomach. It's too big. We don't fit together anymore," she said in a manner that suggested she was sulking.
It was then that the expectant mother understood what Cruella meant. They normally fit together like puzzle pieces, but the bigger she got, the harder it was to make those pieces fit. And she was quite big now. And though she knew the older woman hadn't meant anything by it, she couldn't help but take offense to the reference to her size. That was something she had been battling lately; her opinion on her size. 'Damn hormones,' she thought as she shifted her weight, disregarding Cruella's comment because she knew there was no intended insult.
She had wondered when this moment would come. Taking a deep breath, she prepared to quell the woman's temper.
"Cruella, I can't help it. The baby is growing. That means she's healthy."
To her surprise, the older woman didn't lash out, didn't even seem to acknowledge her statement. Instead, she flipped over and fixed her gaze on Lynn's enormous belly. Her eyes narrowed, and Lynn held her breath as she waited for the unknown. Whatever it was, she knew it wasn't going to be good.
"Stop growing!" Cruella yelled at the baby. "Can't you see I want to cuddle?!"
Lynn stared at her for a moment before laughing. It was ludicrous to see a fully grown woman demand an unborn baby to stop growing. This fact was made even more hilarious because the woman in question was Cruella De Vil. The older woman looked irritated for a moment before glaring at Lynn as well.
"I'm sorry, darling," Lynn gasped as she caught her breath. "The baby can't stop growing. Now that she's here, she's here." She slid a hand over her swollen stomach. "Though I do wish she'd hurry up and get here."
Cruella turned her eyes back to the bump.
"You heard your mummy, hurry up and be born."
She sounded so serious that Lynn couldn't help chuckling again. She then pulled Cruella into a somewhat awkward hug.
"I love you, you know that right?" Cruella nodded. "Good. 'Cuz you're my best friend and I don't know what I would do without you."
"I love you, too. But darling, there's still a problem—how am I supposed to cuddle with the baby in the way?"
"You could be the big spoon," Lynn suggested, knowing by the look on Cruella's face that her suggestion had been rejected as soon as it had been voiced.
A light bulb seemed to go off over Cruella's head, and she grinned at the young woman. Then, like a baby monkey, she wrapped her arms around Lynn's neck, pulled herself close, and snuggled down. Her head rested in the crook of Lynn's neck, and her stomach pressed against the swell of the young woman's stomach, causing her back to curve out. It was overall a more comfortable position for both women. She sighed, her world righted again, and prepared to go to sleep.
Lynn recognized this as the default position Cruella used on rare nights when she felt the need to hide her face as a way to get away from the nightmares. And before she thought, or could stop herself, she sighed in pleasure. There was less pressure on her belly this way, so she could breathe easier, and furthermore, since she had become pregnant, her body temperature had elevated just a bit. Not too much, only enough to make her uncomfortable, though the doctor assured her this was normal. But the natural iciness of Cruella's skin pressed against hers cooled her down so that she was comfortable.
The older woman lifted her head.
"Darling, are you okay?"
"Yes. More than okay. I feel wonderful."
She flashed a smile in Cruella's direction, and received one in return. With that, they snuggled down and went back to sleep.
"I do wish you hadn't told that, Lynn darling."
"I'm sorry, Cruella, but that's the only problem I've had with the pregnancy. I haven't even had morning sickness, you know that."
Cruella smiles at Lynn before turning her head and glaring at the journalist. Her face seems to say "We're through here, you might as well accept that." Mr. Johnson, who is a fan of life, gets the hint and clears his throat.
"Well, I think that concludes this interview. Thank you for your time, Ms. Smith."
"Lynn darling, he's not going to print anything personal that could ruin my reputation is he?"
"No, Cruella." She smiles at the woman before turning to face the young man, a glint in her eye. "I've bought his magazine and publishing house." Mr. Johnson turns a deathly shade of pale. "Anything he prints has to go through me first."
"You truly are amazing, darling!"
Cruella helps the heavily pregnant woman up and into her coat. Mr. Johnson sits there, stunned, until their absence makes itself known. Quickly, before they exit the building, he calls out one final question.
"Ms. Smith, how did you know she would change and become kind?"
The young woman stops and glances over her shoulder before answering.
"I told you, she just needed a little love."