Anxiously she rubbed her hand over her belly.
What was she going to do?!
"Is he hungry?" Maritza asked.
Haley shook her head. "I don't think so. Rachel said she just fed him."
"Maybe he needs his diaper changed?" Maritza suggested.
Maritza sent her friend a telling glance. "Well, my friend, you'd better take a crash course. You're due any day.
Haley sighed, "Don't remind me!" She hated the fact that she was having Gage's baby, forever tied to him. Although, she kinda hadn't told him. She figured he wouldn't want to know and she for sure didn't want him in her life! The only thing that made her feel a little guilty was that she would be denying her baby his, or her, half-siblings. Just thinking about it made her feel sick to the stomach!
"Good job!" Rachel said as she hurried downstairs. "Mom says I need to get him to eat slower so that he's not so gassy."
Maritza smiled at her two roomies. "Right! We make a great team!"
Rachel gave Maritza a thumbs up. "Well guys, I've got to get going or I'm going to be late for work."
Maritza glanced at her watch. "I'm going to take Mittens for a hike. I think I've finally trained him not to pounce on wildlife!"
Haley waved goodbye as her friends hurried out the door.
"Hey, mom! Thanks for watching Rio!" Rachel said, passing over her sleeping baby to Sonja.
Sonja hurried to the door after her daughter, "Rachel! You forgot the diaper bag!" Sighing, she snuggled her grandson. "She forgot your diaper bag again. Looks like we're going to be making a trip to the store! Tsk! Tsk!"
Leanna gestured towards the employee-only area, "Go clock in. You're 15 minutes late."
"Sorry," Rachel grimaced.
I never thought it would be this hard! she thought, slightly irritated.
"Mittens! No!" Maritza snapped, running after him. Just what she needed, Mittens to get scratched or bitten by an unknown animal.
Mittens immediately stopped fighting and trotted over to Maritza, dropping an unharmed snake at her feet.
Haley filled the trough with food.
The chickens just squawked in reply.
After work, Rachel hurried back over to her mom's house. "How was he today?" she asked anxiously. It was so hard to be away from him for such long periods of time.
"Oh Rachel, I love taking care of him! I always wanted a little boy, you know," her mom admitted. "Don't get me wrong. I loved all you girls, but I'd always hoped to give your father the little boy he wanted."
Rachel cocked an eyebrow, "Um, Mom, Dad had Johnny."
Sonja waved her hand. "Oh, I know. I love Johnny and have been so proud of him, despite the trouble he's gotten into. But, a man wants sons to carry on his name."
"Wow, good to know we're chopped liver," Rachel teased.
Sonja smacked her impertinent daughter's shoulder. "Oh go on, go get your son!" She waved Rachel away impatiently while Rachel chuckled under her breath. Her mom was so easy to rile!
She stepped into her mom's room and lifted Rio from his crib. "Hey there, little man," she softly crooned. "Did you miss me?"
On her way out of the house, Rachel ran into Rose. "How's school going?" she asked.
Rose pushed her glasses up her nose. "Good," she replied. "I'm making all A's & I'm doing the school newspaper."
"Good for you!" Rachel told her sister. "I was never any good at school," she admitted.
"Well, at least you're not as bad as Keely," Rose said dryly.
Rachel rolled her eyes, "I don't think that's possible!" she said snarkily.
She'd just finished eating when the doorbell rang.
She shook her head and admonished herself as she swung the door open. There was nothing to be scared of!
Really the only thing she'd painted recently was the picture of Gage. He'd called her recently when he'd remembered it's existence and threatened her with bodily harm if it ever saw the light of day.
She'd reassured him that it was safely buried away in the attic, unless he wanted to pay her $1000 for it. He'd ranted about blackmail and calling in "his boys" to get the painting for him.
She'd been pretty surprised she'd been as calm as she'd been when she'd assured him it wasn't blackmail to sell an artistic piece of that merit for $1000 and that if he called in "his boys" to get the painting, they would all see him all but buck-naked in his birthday suit.
He'd quickly slammed the phone down, the sound ringing in her ear.
Rachel scowled. "Ew! He was always following you around in high school. Johnny had to tell him to stay away from you or he'd beat him up."
"Really?" Haley asked with surprise.
Rachel nodded. "Yeah, he was really annoyed with him."
Haley blinked as she sank to the couch, thinking back to her high school years. "I never knew..." she said thoughtfully.
"Rachel, you're being too hard on him!" Haley said, feeling sorry for the poor guy. He was just socially awkward, which was something she understood ALOT about! She grabbed a plate and followed Rachel to the table.
Mysterious sounds in the attic became the last thing on her mind when she felt her contractions quicken. "Rachel!" she called out.
"Way to state the obvious!" Haley snapped, clutching her stomach as the next contraction passed.
"Thanks Maritza!" Rachel said as she hustled Haley off to the waiting cab.
Haley laughed tiredly.
Haley's gaze shot to Rachel's. "I wasn't in the attic," she said as her pulse began to race.
"Then who was?" Rachel asked, her eyes widening with worry.
*AN: This update is dedicated to my daughter's chickens: Ruby, Chickpea, Belle, Meredith, Eve, Ebony, Goldielocks, & Lady! Chickens do make awesome pets!