Forever, Plus One
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#1 bestselling author Sophie Love is author of the romantic comedy series THE INN AT SUNSET HARBOR, which includes seven books (and counting), and which begins with FOR NOW AND FOREVER (THE INN AT SUNSET HARBOR – BOOK 1).
Sophie Love is also the author of the debut romantic comedy series, THE ROMANCE CHRONICLES, which begins with LOVE LIKE THIS (THE ROMANCE CHRONICLES – BOOK 1).
Sophie would love to hear from you, so please visit www.sophieloveauthor.com to email her, to join the mailing list, to receive free ebooks, to hear the latest news, and to stay in touch!
Copyright © 2017 by Sophie Love. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Jacket image Copyright Phase4Studios, used under license from Shutterstock.com.
BOOKS BY SOPHIE LOVE
THE INN AT SUNSET HARBOR
FOR NOW AND FOREVER (Book #1)
FOREVER AND FOR ALWAYS (Book #2)
FOREVER, WITH YOU (Book #3)
IF ONLY FOREVER (Book #4)
FOREVER AND A DAY (Book #5)
FOREVER, PLUS ONE (Book #6)
FOR YOU, FOREVER (Book #7)
THE ROMANCE CHRONICLES
LOVE LIKE THIS (Book #1)
LOVE LIKE THAT (Book #2)
The noises of the bustling yacht club seemed to fade into silence as Emily heard her own voice repeating the words she’d just spoken.
Opposite her, Daniel and Chantelle wore twin expressions of surprise. Neither uttered a word. Emily herself felt too stunned to say anything else. It had only been a minute or so since the pregnancy test she’d taken in the yacht club restroom had revealed her new reality. It hadn’t properly sunk in yet.
It was Chantelle who finally broke the silence. Not with words, but with a squeal of delight.Her joyful exclamation seemed to shake Daniel from his trance. He reached across the table and grabbed Emily’s hand tightly. Tears sparkled in his eyes.
Eyes locked on Daniel, Emily nodded. A wave of emotions rushed at her. It wasn’t just shock now, but excitement, delight, joy. There was a baby growing inside of her! She was having her own child! She and Daniel had created a new life together. Their love and commitment had brought them this moment of blissful wonder.
Chantelle started bouncing up and down in her seat. “I’m going to be a big sister!” she cried.
Emily and Daniel’s intense moment dissipated as they were brought back to the here and now by Chantelle’s exuberance. They both laughed and Emily nodded in affirmation of her statement.
“When will the baby be born?” Chantelle asked eagerly.
Emily shrugged, still struggling to accept her new reality. “I don’t know yet.”
She counted back in her head, trying to work out when she could have conceived. The baby, though wanted, was not planned. A happy accident had happened somewhere along the line.
Emily thought about the funny turns she’d been having recently, the ones she’d put down to stress, and the numerous moments of nausea that she’d assumed were anxiety. Could they have actually been the first signs of pregnancy? She’d been so rushed off her feet recently – what with the wedding, the adoption, her father, and Roman Westbrook – that she hadn’t even realized her period was late. As she thought about it now she realized that she’d last had one the week before they married. Weeks ago. If she’d conceived on their honeymoon, she may already be halfway through her first trimester!
“We’ll have to speak to the doctor,” Emily explained to Chantelle. “They’ll be able to work out how long I’ve been pregnant and tell me the due date.”
“It will still be lots of months,” Daniel added. “So you’ll have to be patient.”
Patient looked like the last thing Chantelle would be able to be.
“Can we make a calendar?” she asked, her eyes wide and sparkling. “So we can count down the days?”
Emily beamed, touched by Chantelle’s enthusiasm. “That sounds lovely,” she said.
“Can we make it really big?” Chantelle continued. “As big as a whole wall?” She stretched her arms out as far as they could go.
Emily nodded. “Okay!”
“With rainbow colors?”
“If you want!”
Emily laughed. “That sounds wonderful.”
It was such a relief for her to know that Chantelle was happy for her. Sheila’s pregnancy had caused a whole host of emotions to erupt in Chantelle, compounded by the fact that her friend from school, Toby, was also soon to become a big brother. Emily had been slightly concerned that Chantelle may act out as a result of the news. But so far she seemed nothing but excited. Emily reminded herself to let her teacher, Miss Glass, and Gail, the school counselor, know about the situation in case Chantelle had a delayed negative reaction to the news.
Daniel’s expression turned serious for a moment. “Chantelle, will you be able not to tell anyone about this yet?” he asked.
She looked at him and frowned, visibly deflating like a popped balloon. “Why not?”
Emily knew why Daniel wanted to keep it hush for now. She wasn’t yet past the critical first trimester. This was her first pregnancy and she was an older mother. At thirty-six it fell into the horribly titled bracket of a “geriatric pregnancy.” The chances of her miscarrying were higher than average. The thought caused a jolt of alarm to shock her.
“So we can keep it our special Morey family secret,” Emily said, tapping her nose. “It will make it more fun.”
Daniel looked up, his expression relaxing somewhat, presumably at the way Emily was handling the slightly delicate situation.
Chantelle’s frown turned to suspicion. Then it disappeared as quickly as it had come.
“Okay!” she said, raising her eyebrows, suddenly on board. “But then, what about Papa Roy? He’s family but he’s a Mitchell, not a Morey.”
Emily considered her question for a moment. What about her father? Should she tell him before the first trimester was over? Should she tell anyone? She’d need emotional support, that was for sure. She just didn’t know who would be best placed to give it to her. Her father had only just come back into her life, after all. She didn’t know how well he’d handle adjusting to being a father, father-in-law, and grandfather in one fell swoop!
“Maybe a bit later,” she told Chantelle. “For now, let’s just have it be between us three. Okay?”
Chantelle mimed zipping her lips. Everyone laughed.
Across the table, Daniel reached for Emily’s hand again. He squeezed it tight, his eyes gazing at her adoringly, and mouthed the words, “I love you.”
Emily smiled to herself and mouthed them back. This moment was so perfect, so beautiful. She felt blessed that her life had finally aligned so perfectly.
* * *
That night, Emily and Daniel lay together in bed.
“I can’t sleep,” Emily confessed, rolling onto her side to gaze at him.
Beneath the covers she felt Daniel’s hand move protectively over her stomach.
“I wonder why,” he said with a chuckle.
Emily rested her own hand on top of his. “I know, I can’t quite believe it’s real. Maybe once I’ve seen a doctor, had an ultrasound, I’ll believe it.”
“An ultrasound,” Daniel repeated with awe. “I never got a chance to do any of that stuff with Chantelle.”
Emily felt sorry for him. Daniel had missed out on so much of Chantelle’s early life, including her birth. Things were going to be so different this time around. He’d get to experience every moment of their baby’s life, all the firsts; first smile, first sneeze, first step. The thought warmed her.
“So when will we get to see our baby?” Daniel asked. “When’s the first ultrasound?”
“Twelve weeks, I think,” Emily said, realizing that she herself didn’t know a huge amount about what was going on. Her pregnancy was something they would have to learn about together. “I’ll know how far along I am once I see the doctor.”
“Do you think you conceived on our honeymoon?” Daniel asked.
“I hope so,” Emily replied with a grin, remembering their lovemaking in vivid detail, knowing that the time they’d spent together on their honeymoon would never be forgotten.
Daniel fell quiet then. “What shall we do about telling people? Friends. Staff.” Then more quietly, he added, “Moms.”
Emily sighed. She’d been ruminating on it also. Neither of their mothers were in their lives in any real capacity. Both were difficult personalities, both had failed their children in the past. They would likely fail at being grandmothers, too. If they couldn’t put their issues aside in order to witness their children’s marriage, what hope was there for them playing any kind of active role in their grandchildren’s lives?
“Let’s not think about them just yet,” Emily said. “I want to stay happy for at least a few weeks. Can we do that?”
Daniel nodded and turned his face toward the ceiling. Emily thought he seemed a little subdued, reserved. She hoped it was just over the mother issue and nothing more. But she couldn’t help worrying that there may be something else. Perhaps the news of the pregnancy wasn’t entirely welcome for Daniel. He’d wanted to plan their child together, after all. Maybe he was disappointed that it had just been sprung on them?
Emily decided against prodding him for an explanation. Daniel, she hoped, would come to her in his own time to share whatever concerns he had. It wasn’t like she herself wasn’t filled with anxiety over her ability to parent, or over the child’s health, the future, even the state of the world it was soon to be born into! There were a million things to worry about now. It would take some time for them both to process it.
She snuggled down beneath the covers, her mind still running on overdrive, imagining what the future might hold. A son or daughter? Blond hair like Chantelle, or dark like her own? What would they call it? What room should they use as the nursery? There were so many things to think about.
She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. Best to take things one step at a time. The first thing to do was get an appointment with the ob-gyn.
Emily felt as nervous as a child on her first day at school as she sat on the bed in the obstetrician’s office, swinging her legs beneath her. Daniel looked just as much out of his depth as he sat in the hard plastic seat beside her. There were framed medical certificates on the mint green walls, colorful posters showing the different phases of pregnancy, and the unpleasant smell of antiseptic lingering in the air. Emily realized she was going to have to get used to this environment. Over the next few months, she’d be smelling a whole lot of antiseptic!
The door swung open and in walked the doctor, Rose Arkwright. On first impressions, Emily thought she was dressed very smartly, more like an attorney than a doctor. It was really only the comfortably flat shoes, the white doctor coat, and the stethoscope around her neck that gave her away.
She smiled at them both as she placed her clipboard down beside her computer and took a seat at the desk.
“Mr. and Mrs. Morey?” she asked, addressing them both. “Firstly, may I say congratulations.”
She had a warm smile, Emily noted, and she shook each of their hands with a firm, confident grip. Emily got the distinct impression that Doctor Arkwright was an intelligent, no-nonsense kind of person. She felt like she was in very safe hands.
“Thank you,” Daniel said, smiling shyly. “We’re over the moon.”
Emily was glad to hear him say as such. She wasn’t entirely sure how he felt since he’d seemed a mixture of shocked and stressed yesterday.
“Shall we get right to it?” Doctor Arkwright said. She flipped over the first piece of paper and looked at Emily. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to take a lot of detailed notes to begin with. Forms, forms, and more forms.”
“No problem,” Emily said. “Fire away.”
“The first thing we need to determine of course is how far along you are. Are your periods usually regular?”
Emily nodded. “My last one was just before our wedding. So it’s been about eight weeks.”
“So this might be a honeymoon baby?” Doctor Arkwright said with a smile. “How romantic.”
Doctor Arkwright continued. “The way we work out the due date is to initially take it to be thirty-eighty to forty-two weeks after the end of the last period. So currently we’re looking at December eleventh.”
Emily and Daniel looked at each other, their eyes wide. So close to Christmas!
“Then when you have your first sonogram and the baby is measured that can be adjusted slightly,” the doctor added. “Can you tell me what symptoms of pregnancy you’ve been having and how long for?”
“She was feeling nauseous and faint,” Daniel explained. “From right after the wedding really, wasn’t it?” He looked over at Emily for confirmation.
“I thought it was stress,” she said. “There was a lot going on in our lives at that point of time.”
Doctor Arkwright nodded. “They’re the two most common symptoms to have early on. And often confused with stress. No fainting, though? Just feeling woozy?”
“Yes,” Emily said.
Doctor Arkwright took notes as she spoke. “Good. It’s not dangerous to the baby if you do faint because it’s too small at the moment and in a protective sac of fluid. But for you it can obviously be a bit distressing, particularly if you hit something on the way down. Keep an eye on that going forward. It’s likely to resolve over the next few weeks but for some women the symptoms do persist. If you’re naturally prone to low blood pressure it could continue into the second trimester. So make sure you take it easy. Stand up slowly. Eat regularly. Best to keep a banana in your purse. And a bag of nuts.”
“Sure thing,” Emily said, nodding, already starting to feel a little overwhelmed. She wished she was taking notes and hoped Daniel was committing to memory all the things she was too overwhelmed to absorb.
“Right, shall we take a look at you?” Doctor Arkwright said, standing.
Emily swung her legs round so she was lying flat on the bed. Daniel stood and hovered beside her. Doctor Arkwright put on some latex gloves.
“I feel like I’ve been abducted by aliens,” Emily said, peering up at her audience.
“Yes, you’ll be prodded and poked more in the next few months than ever before in your life,” Doctor Arkwright said. “By the end you’ll have no qualms about stripping off in front of people. Body hang-ups go completely out the window.”
“I look forward to that time,” Emily said, feeling her cheeks warming with a blush.
Doctor Arkwright checked Emily’s pelvis and abdomen, her hip rotations, and general joint flexibility. She moved her fingers deftly, checking almost every inch of Emily’s body. Emily felt she was a lump of dough being kneaded.
“I’ll order some blood tests,” the doctor explained as she worked. “So we know your type and Rh status. We’ll also check for anemia, certain antibodies, and make sure you’re immune to all the big viruses like chickenpox, rubella, hepatitis.”
Blood tests weren’t exactly Emily’s favorite things in the world. The thought of having so many tests made her feel increasingly anxious.
“This is your first pregnancy, isn’t it, Mrs. Morey?” the doctor asked as she placed a cold stethoscope against Emily’s chest.
Emily nodded. “Yes.”
“Any prior gynecological problems? Abnormal pap results? Sexually transmitted infections? Anything like that?”
Emily shook her head and wondered whether it would have been better for Daniel not to have come along to this particular appointment. She’d naively thought such delicate questions wouldn’t be asked immediately. She was going to have to get used to revealing everything about her body now. Nothing would be off limits!
Doctor Arkwright removed her stethoscope and slung it back around her neck again.
“Now, because of your advanced maternal age,” she explained, her attention drawn back to Emily’s abdomen, “it’s a little more important for you to take the right vitamins, sleep enough, reduce your stress levels to the absolute minimum. They’re all things we would recommend to expectant mothers whatever their age, but for you it’s that extra bit important.”
“Should we be worried?” Daniel asked. “About Emily’s age?”
Emily frowned up at him. With her stomach on display and the both of them looking down at her like a specimen it made her feel vulnerable and somewhat at their mercy. She could cope with the doctor referring to her age, but not Daniel!
Doctor Arkwright looked at Daniel briefly and shook her head. “It’s far more common for women to leave starting a family until their late thirties these days and the medical world is catching up. It’s not as much an issue as it used to be. Really the main hurdle is fertility, which clearly isn’t a problem in this case. There is a marginally higher risk of gestational diabetes, blood pressure problems, premature birth. But you’re in safe hands.”
Emily certainly felt like she was in safe hands. She just wished there wasn’t so much testing to be done. It all felt a bit impersonal. Clinical. She didn’t like just feeling like a baby-making vessel and would be very glad when this initial assessment was over and done with.
Doctor Arkwright peeled off her gloves. “All done. You’re in good shape, so nothing of concern there. Please, take a seat and we’ll have a quick look at your medical history.”
Emily sat up and gave Daniel a weak smile, not quite ready to forgive him for his comments on her advanced age. She rearranged her clothes and slid her shoes back on, then took a seat. Doctor Arkwright washed her hands and then came and sat in her chair, spinning toward her computer. She took a moment to read the screen.
“You have a good clean bill of health,” she said, looking through the data. “Scarlet fever in childhood with no lingering aftereffects. Non-smoker, which pleases me greatly. No particular health conditions. Nothing chronic. No ongoing medication use. A slightly higher alcohol rate than I’d like to see, but you’ll be completely quitting that for the next few months anyhoo.” She spun back around and looked at Emily.
“We’re both quitting,” Emily said.
“I didn’t think it would be fair otherwise,” Daniel said. “Especially since we own a bar with a cocktail waiter who’s second to none!”
Doctor Arkwright smiled. Then she laid her forearms against the table and looked across at Emily, her expression serious.
“Now, this might be a little bit of a delicate thing to discuss, but I couldn’t help noticing that on your registration forms you ticked the box of family history of mental health problems. If you’re comfortable to do so, I’d like you to tell me a little bit more about that history. It’s entirely for your benefit, no one’s judging here, it’s just to make sure we’re keeping an eye on the right sort of things while your hormones are changing throughout the pregnancy.”
Emily clasped her hands in her lap, feeling instantly uncomfortable. Talking about her chaotic upbringing was her least favorite thing to do, especially to a stranger, even if that stranger was a doctor who’d probably heard it all before and just wanted to help.
Daniel reached over and touched Emily’s hand for reassurance. Buoyed by his presence, Emily took a deep breath.
“My father went through a long, long period of depression,” Emily said finally, her voice sounding thin. “For dozens of years. It was following my sister’s death.”
Doctor Arkwright nodded and kept her face neutral as she wrote the information onto her form. “And your mother?”
“My mother?” Emily shook her head. “I don’t even know what’s wrong with her to be honest with you. It could be something psychiatric. But then again she might just be a difficult person.”
“She’s not been assessed or diagnosed with anything?”
Emily shook her head. She was feeling very uncomfortable now. Talking about this stuff always made her feel a bit panicky. But Doctor Arkwright added the information to her forms, acting in no way as if Emily’s admission was anything to worry about.
“And what about yourself?” she said, gently. “Did you ever experience any problems growing up?”
Emily shrugged. “I don’t think so. I mean, I was devastated after Charlotte died. And after my dad…” She stopped speaking to collect her thoughts. After a breath, she started again. “There have been some really trying times in my life. I don’t know how well I dealt with them at the time. It took me years to even deal with it all. Then when I started, it came back to me in sort of scary flashbacks.”
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