One Year Later

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One year later

Dr. Close tapped the piece of paper she was holding on her desk and turned to Laura. "I have the results here," she said, her voice serious. "It's positive." She gave the younger woman a moment to absorb the news. "How will you manage? Do you have someone...?" Her voice trailed away as Laura beamed at her.

"Oh yes! I have someone. In fact, I—" No, better not tell the doctor she had two someones. Dr. Close didn't look as if she'd be cool with that idea.

Dr. Close glanced at her ringless hand.

"Don't worry," Laura assured her firmly, "I'll be fine." She paused and smiled again. "We'll be fine!" She almost danced out of the doctor's office. A baby! She was having a baby! They were having a baby! She could hardly wait to give Richard the news. She was already ten weeks along. She wished she could have used one of those home test kits she had read about that were now available in America, but she had had to wait for the doctor and then for the results to come back from the lab.

Richard would be thrilled, she was sure; he had often told her how he would love to have a family. True, this one wasn't exactly planned, but hey! Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Her smile dimmed as she realized all the things she now wanted to change. She didn't want to bring the baby up by herself in a small flat. She wanted Richard to be there, and she wanted a house with a garden or, at the very least, a large apartment near a park. And Bill, how would he take this; how would he react? She started to chew the inside of her lip. One step at a time, that's how they'd take it, one step at a time.

Bill let himself into Richard's apartment. He could see Richard at his desk, bent over in concentration as his fingers flew over the keys of his typewriter. It was hot in the flat and he had a small desktop fan blowing air on him. He had taken his shirt off to make the most of the artificial breeze. Bill didn't think he'd heard him come in. He stood there a minute admiring the muscles in Richard's shoulders, the smooth skin of his back. He walked softly up behind him and slid both hands down his chest to rest on his nipples, rubbing his thumbs over them. "Hi," he said, "Want to have some hot sex? I've got half an hour."

Richard jumped like a scalded cat. "Jesus, Bill, you nearly gave me a heart attack! You wait, I'm going to get you for this, sometime when you least expect it." He pulled Bill's head down to his and kissed him on the mouth. "Half an hour, you said? Hmm, we can do a lot in half an hour." He stood up, already unfastening his jeans.

Bill was in the shower when the phone rang. Richard took the call, then came and poked his head around the shower curtain. "That was Laura. She wants to come 'round, now." Bill looked at him in surprise. "She says it's important or she wouldn't ask."

"Does she know I'm here?"

"Yes, I told her. She said she'd like you to hear as well. Can you stay a bit longer?"

Bill nodded, starting to feel worried. He hoped everything was all right. Laura knew it was his week with Richard; she wouldn't intrude unless it was something important. Their unconventional relationship had been successful for a year now, after its rocky start.

Bill hoped there wasn't going to be a problem; he didn't want anything to change. He dressed hurriedly.

Laura knocked at the door about five minutes later. Richard let her in and gave her a hug. "Is everything all right? Nothing wrong?"

She shook her head, smiling. "Everything's fine." Bill was standing rather awkwardly behind Richard. Laura must have seen the worry on his face because she stepped forward and gave him a hug, too.

"We're going to have a baby!" The words jumped out as if she couldn't contain them any longer.

Richard's face lit up like a Christmas tree. There was absolutely no doubt he was just as thrilled as she was. "That's wonderful! Are you sure? Of course you're sure! When?" The words tumbled out over one another.

Bill swallowed. This was great news, it was. Richard and Laura were so happy. But things were going to change. Richard and Laura would move in together, buy a house; they might even get married. Whatever happened, he knew their comfortable arrangement was over.

He might as well start now. He plastered a smile on his face. "Congratulations, that's wonderful news! I'd love to stay and hear more, but I really have to get back to work. Besides, I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about. I'll give you a ring later," he said to Richard on his way out.

All the way home, his mind went round and round, trying to convince himself he was making the right, indeed the only, decision. He was going to have to start drawing back, let Richard and Laura have their own space, get ready to be the family friend instead of Richard's lover. He wondered, if they got married, whether Richard would ask him to be best man.

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