She'd missed so much of her pregnancy, she thought, running her hand over her stomach to feel the kick. She'd been so lost in her grieving in the early months, Rachel and Haley had encouraged her to take her prenatal vitamins, dragged her to prenatal appointments and had generally forced her to live again.
"I'd be lost without them," she said aloud, reaching down to rub Mittens head.
Mittens sighed heavily and stretched out, rubbing herself against Maritza's leg.
"Do it again, Rio! Do it again!" Jason urged, giggling as he clung to Rio's back.
"Are you ready?" Rio asked teasingly as he bounced up and down on Jason's bottom bunk. "Heeeeere we go!"
Holding tight to Jason, he hopped off the bed and landed on the floor with a solid thunk.
Shrieking with laughter, the boys ran around the room wildly.
"Er HERM..." Rachel cleared her throat noisily as she stood at the top of the stairs with her arms crossed.
"Uh oh, we're in trouble!" Jason said, glancing up at his Auntie Rachel.
Rio glanced down at Jason. Boy, were they ever...
Glancing up, she realized that Haley and Rachel had changed the subject and were chatting about Jason's birthday party scheduled for later that evening. She was glad they hadn't waited for her to answer. Some days she still got lost in her thoughts...
"Maritza! Let me grab the dishes!" Haley said.
"No, no, I'm fine! I can do the dishes for goodness sakes!" Maritza said, determined to be more helpful. She hated feeling so helpless all the time.
Maritza nodded and headed to her room.
Haley glanced over her shoulder towards her friend. "What is it? What's wrong?" she asked.
Haley dropped her watering can and hurried to Maritza's side. "You can, Maritza. You have me! You have Rachel! It's all going to be okay," she said soothingly.
She set out a tray of drinks.
Rachel shook her head. "No," she glanced towards the window. "Haley should've called by now. Something's wrong. She never would've missed Jason's birthday!"
Rachel was all but wringing her hangs. "I hope so," she said, turning to fidget with the birthday cake. She hated not knowing what was going on!
Rachel sighed with relief. "Oh great! Dr. Wyman is the best! He'll take great care of them!"
Haley smiled at her son and held her arms out for a hug. "Of course it is!"
"Alright!" Jason and Rio cheered, eager for cake and ice cream.
Rachel smiled proudly, "Of course! And it's going to be delicious! Your very own Rachel Vasquez Confection!"
"I thought it was a cake," Jason said, giving his Auntie Rachel a weird look.
Rio nudged his arm. "Is is. Confection's just a fancy word," he told him knowledgeably.
Jason nodded. "Race you up there!"
"I'm faster than you!" Jason crowed unapologetically.
"No fair! You have shorter legs!" Rio complained as he pushed himself to try to speed past Jason. Boy, that kid was fast!