The Near Future

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"My boyfriend knows Rafael

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"My boyfriend knows Rafael. He talked about meeting him in Miami at the state development summit a few months back."

I smile at the short woman in front of me. Her name's Emma Price, and we've just been introduced. She's a bookstore owner, and we've spent the last half-hour talking about the dismal state of book publishing and newspapers. She's a lovely, smart woman with the most incredible mane of dark, curly hair.

"Oh?" I frown a little, wondering who her boyfriend is. Ever since the situation with Christina five years ago, I'm skeptical of everyone. Emma seems nice and all, but when you're married to a man as wealthy as my husband, I've learned to be on guard. Which isn't my nature.

"Yes, Caleb King. Didn't Laura mention that Caleb and I..."

Ah, Laura. I'd met her at a Leadership Florida workshop some years back. A smart businesswoman. I rub my stomach. "No, she didn't. And I didn't realize you and Caleb were together. I just saw him in Miami last month at a dinner party."

I quickly shut up because Emma looks troubled by my words. Clearly either she and Caleb have a rocky relationship or they've just started dating. I liked Caleb when I met him. His brother, Colin, who is here at this networking party? Not so much. He's a bit too smooth and arrogant for my liking.

"Amor." Rafael's at my side with a glass of cranberry juice. Lord, I'm thirsty. And just like when I was pregnant with Alex, I have an insatiable craving for juice. All kinds of juice. Cranberry, apple, pineapple. Rafael says there's too much sugar, but I insist on drinking it anyway.

"How far along are you?" Emma asks, glancing at my huge stomach.

"Eight months. I feel and look like a manatee. This is my third."

Rafael rolls his eyes. "Obviously, you don't look like a manatee. You're stunning." His gaze rakes down my body, and I grin bashfully. We've been married a little over five years, and yet the way he looks at me still makes me feel as alive and as sexy and as desired as when I first saw him in that University of Miami classroom when we were just kids.

I shoot him a quick glance, my cheeks feeling hot. Rafael sometimes has a difficult time hiding his attraction to me when I'm pregnant. "Honey bun," I say, using my adorable new pet name for him, "not here and not now. Later."

He grins and sips his beer.

Emma and I chat for a while longer. My feet are starting to hurt in my heels. I shift my weight from foot to foot.

Rafa presses his lips to my cheek.  "You tired?"

"Mmhmm. And we need to get back to the family."

Rafael and I say goodbye to everyone, and by the time we're outside, our driver has pulled up. It's taken a bit of getting used to, having a driver whenever I want. I usually prefer driving ourselves, but Rafa wanted a larger, safer car in this rain, and he knew he'd drink a couple of beers.

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