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The paper sheet crinkled when Virginia leaned back against the wall next to the examination table. After four weeks of on-again-off-again nausea, she'd finally given in and made an appointment with her doctor. Throughout the examination, the guy had babbled on and on about some weird flu bug going around. Then there had been the tests, which in her opinion could have used some redesigning. After the somewhat messy task of peeing into the tiniest of cups being followed up by a giant cue tip being shoved to the back of her throat, all she could do now was sit and wait.

Hopefully, he'd be able to give her something for the queasiness.

There was a quick knock. The door opened and Doctor Phillips reappeared, laptop in hand. Something was wrong. He was way too quiet.

He sat down on his stool and rolled it all the way over to her before announcing, "You're pregnant."

The room seemed to shrink around her, a rush of heat throwing off her stability and blurring her vision. Good thing she was sitting down. Giving it some thought, she realized it had been a while since her last period. "No," she whispered.

"I take it this is not good news."

"I used protection"—she paused, thinking about the few times they hadn't—"most of the time."

"I'm afraid if it's not used all the time, it does raise the chances of pregnancy." His finger drifted over the laptop's touchpad as he studied the screen. "It says here it's been five years since you were fitted for your diaphragm. Is that what you were using?"

"Yes . . . mostly."

"You should be replacing it every two."

"Well, it wasn't used much in the first four and a half." She chuckled, surprised by how it sounded on the fringes of insanity.

The doctor didn't seem to notice. Or get the joke. "The latex still deteriorates," he said, peering over the top of his glasses. Her face must have registered the panic she was feeling, causing him to reach out and pat her arm. "There are options out there, you know."

"Thanks, Doctor." She tried not to take the whole roll of paper with her as she butt-shuffled her way off the table. She stood, taking a moment to make sure her legs were steady enough to get her out of there. "I'll be in touch." With that, she walked out.

She knew exactly when it had happened—his birthday—the afternoon she had surprised him in his bedroom, wearing the gift she had bought for him. He had arrived before she had put in her diaphragm. They'd been too caught up in each other to care.

Once in her car, she reached for her cell, going straight to the calendar and . . . yup, it had been right in the middle of her cycle.

What was she going to do?

Wanting to give herself some time for the news to sink in before making any major decisions, she refused to let her imagination go anywhere near picturing a baby for the moment.

"Happy birthday, Mark," she gritted before starting the car and driving away from the medical center.

)l(

Gerry hesitated with his fist in the air, knuckles just inches from the wood, his cap held tight in his other hand. The door was half-open, giving him a direct line of sight across the room to the broad back of the man he had come to see. Mr. Spinelli's dark head was angled down, his hands shifting things around, searching for something in the open filing cabinet in front of him.

Taking a deep breath, Gerry knocked.

"Yes, Lisa?"

"It's not Lisa—"

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