His Expectant Ex(9)

By: Catherine Mann

Eight months ago, she would have given anything to share comfort with him while they grieved over Sophie being taken away without warning. But he’d shut down, shut her out, left her basically alone to deal with the most emotionally-crippling event in her life.

She’d learned to stand on her own and she couldn’t sacrifice that hard-won ground now. “Oh, that’s right, we can’t talk about Sophie.” Her voice cracked but she plowed ahead. “We have to pretend the child we both loved for four months doesn’t even exist.”

“Fighting over the past doesn’t change the present.” He neatly dodged mentioning Sophie’s name yet again.

Marianna bit her lip until she tasted blood. Her chest heaved with emotion and the need to cry out her frustration. Was her well of tears bottomless after all? “Fine, you win on that one. I can’t take any more stress today.”

“I agree you need to stay calm. We have another more pressing issue anyway.”

“What now?” She didn’t have any reserves left to combat his doctor of jurisprudence skills at winning.

He reached for the doorknob, his other hand clamping gently but surely around her arm. “We’re going to find Dr. Cohen.”

She started to argue that she could find her own damn doctor when something he’d said earlier tickled through the anger to taunt her. She unpacked their conversation and realized, hey wait—He’d said he didn’t carry condoms because they didn’t need them, which led her to a heart-stuttering conclusion.

He didn’t carry them because even with their divorce in the works, he hadn’t been seeing anyone else.

“There’s your baby.” Dr. Cohen pointed to the ultrasound machine. “And that’s a healthy heartbeat.”Sebastian stared at the screen, unable to take his eyes off the tiny bean shape wriggling around. His child. In no universe had he predicted his day would turn out this way. At best, he’d expected his brothers to pour vintage bourbon down his throat until he could pass out and sleep away his first night of renewed bachelorhood.

Not in his wildest dreams had he imagined chasing down an ob-gyn at the courthouse and requesting she take a surprise drop-in client. And in the times he’d let himself consider the possibility of Marianna becoming pregnant, he definitely hadn’t thought they would both work to avoid touching and looking at each other.

Dr. Cohen typed commands on the keyboard, the image on the screen freezing as she readjusted Marianna’s gown and sheet. “And that’s all for today.” She patted Marianna’s arm. “Once you get dressed, stop by my office on your way out.”

Marianna’s hands fisted in the crackly paper covering on the exam table. “Is something wrong?”

“Nothing that I can see.” Dr. Cohen slid on her glittery red glasses and jotted notations on the chart before slapping it closed. “I need to give you your prescription for prenatal vitamins. And if you opt to stay with me as your ob-gyn, we need to set up your next appointment.”

The ob-gyn reached beneath the monitor and came back with two black-and-white glossy photos. “A picture of the baby for both of you. Congratulations, Mom and Dad.”

Marianna reached to grasp the doctor’s hand. “Thank you for all your help and patience this afternoon. You’ve really gone above and beyond for us.”

“I imagine this has been a roller-coaster day. I’m glad to be of help.” Dr. Cohen pulled the privacy curtain aside, then in place again a second before the door clicked open and closed.

Marianna inched up, tucking the sheet around her. “Sebastian, could you please step outside?”

He tore his eyes from the photo to Marianna. The paper “blouse” and sheet strategically covered everything. But now that she mentioned it, he couldn’t help but think of her bare beneath those flimsy barriers.

Her breasts seemed fuller—from the pregnancy?—tempting him to test their weight with his hands, explore the swell brought on from carrying his child. No matter how long they stayed apart, he would never forget the exact feel and shape of her.

He’d been her lover since they were eighteen years old. He’d become her husband when they found out she was pregnant. Interesting how life had a way of repeating itself.

“Sebastian—” Her indignant voice pulled him back into the sterile reality of the exam room.

“Relax, Marianna. I’ve seen you naked, and undoubtedly I’m going to see you that way again at future doctor visits. Then there’s the delivery—”

“Stop. You may have rights when it comes to your baby—” she shoved her tousled curls out of her face “—but we’re not married anymore, and that means no more naked fashion shows after I go shoe shopping.”