“Uh . . . okay,” I mumbled, hanging up the phone as she was saying good-bye.

Why does she have a doctor appointment?

Why didn’t she tell me?

She would tell me if something was wrong, right?

Thoughts started pounding against my brain like punches to a punching bag, making my head hurt instantly. I got up and started to pace the kitchen, but that made my knee throb and I needed to sit again. Maybe she had told me in my sleepy drug haze and I just didn’t remember?

Thankfully, I heard her key in the front door a few minutes later, so I didn’t have to wait long to find out what was going on.

She walked into the room with Maura on her hip and dropped the bag from the pharmacy on the counter. “Hey! Surprised to see you down here. I forgot my phone. Did you need something?”

“No.” I shook my head. “But it did ring.”

“Oh, okay,” she said, setting Maura on the island to take her jacket off. She hung the jacket on the back of the chair and put Maura down, laughing as she sprinted off like a rocket to find her toys. Looking back at me, she shivered. “It’s actually a little chilly out there this morning.”

“I answered your phone.”

“Okay. Who was it?” She pulled the paper bag open and set my pills on the counter, reading through the paperwork that was attached.

“It was your OBGYN’s office. They said you have an appointment tomorrow.”

Her body froze and her eyes slid to mine. “Oh.”

I turned in my chair to face her. “Why do you have an appointment? Is something wrong?”

“No, I’m fine.” She set the paperwork down and walked to the table to pick up her phone.

“If you’re fine, then why the appointment?”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, sitting down in the chair next to me. Her eyes danced around the table for a minute, avoiding mine, but finally she looked up at me with a strange look on her face. “I’m going for the OB part, not the GYN part.”

“I have no idea what that means.” I tossed my hands up in the air and let them land with a thud on the kitchen table.

She chewed on the inside of her cheek and stared up at me with big eyes. “An OB is an obstetrician, a doctor who delivers babies . . .”

“But why do you need to go see a—” Her words registered with my brain like a semi crashing into a gas pump. “Wait. You’re pregnant?”

Her eyes softened and her lips spread into a tiny smile. She nodded.

“What? How? When?” I asked all at once.

“Well, the when part would probably be when we had sex. That pretty much covers the what and how, too.” She giggled.

“But you’re on the pill.”

“Yeah, and remember a couple months back when I caught Maura’s horrible chest cold and went on antibiotics, and I told you that we needed to be more careful while I was on meds? Well, apparently we weren’t careful enough.”

“I don’t understand—how long have you known?” I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on the table.

“A couple weeks. I didn’t want to tell you until I was sure, and I for sure didn’t want to tell you like this, but . . . surprise!” She lifted her shoulders and gave me a big grin, her eyes sparkling.

I tilted my head to the side and raised one eyebrow. “Until you were sure? So there’s still a chance that you’re not?”

“Well . . . no. I have my eight-week appointment tomorrow, but I’ve took like seven tests and they were all positive, so I’m pretty certain.”

My head fell in my hands and I didn’t say any more.

“I was going to tell you as soon as I took the first one,” she continued, “then everything happened with Gam and your knee, and there just wasn’t a good time. I didn’t mean to keep it from you. Please talk to me.” Her hand reached out and tugged at my fingers. “What are you thinking?”

“What am I thinking?” I dropped my hands against the table again, louder this time. “I think this is horrible! I think this is the worst timing ever!”

“What? Why?” Her voice rose in shock.

“I don’t know if I want kids period, let alone right now!” I stood and started limping around the kitchen, ignoring the pain. “And now I don’t have a choice. You’re pregnant, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Tears filled Michelle’s eyes as she jumped up from her chair and spun around to face me. “I can’t believe you’re saying all this. You didn’t know if you wanted kids? What do you think Matthew and Maura are? You think we’re just playing house for fun?”

“No, but they’re your kids, not mine! I don’t know if I wanted to father children of my own, but it’s too fucking late now. The decision has been made for me!” I roared, trying to catch my breath as I set my hands on the island and tensed my arms.

“How do you think I feel, Viper?” Michelle blurted out as tears ran down her cheeks. “I find out I’m pregnant, but because of the timing of everything else, I can’t even talk to you about it because all you do is hide out up in the bedroom! Even when you do finally come down here you’re grumpy and barely talk to me.”

“Yeah, I know exactly how you feel. Brody told me. Thanks for that, by the way,” I snapped.

“Thanks for what?” she glared at me. “Talking to your best friend and telling him I was worried about you? If you think I’m going to apologize for that, you’re dead wrong. I am worried about you. You don’t eat, you don’t talk to anyone, you barely get out of bed. I didn’t know what else to do!” Her voice trailed off as more tears fell from her eyes.

“Well, this sure adds another layer of topping to the situation, doesn’t it?” I hissed. “Did you tell Brody about this, too? Who else knows? Gam? Kacie? Jodi?”

“No one else knows,” she said softly, dabbing her eyes again. “I wanted to tell you before anyone else.”

“Well, now I know, so you might as well sing it from the rooftops.” I stood up straight and threw my hands in the air. “Viper is getting screwed again!”

Michelle narrowed her eyes at me and took a couple steps closer, shaking her head. “I can’t believe you’re acting like this. I seriously can’t. Ya know, if you don’t want to stick around, don’t. I can handle being a single mom. I’ve done it before.”

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