Cleo nodded, allowing her future sister-in-law to boss her into the bathroom and into a warm shower. She was waiting when Cleo stepped out of the bathroom fifteen minutes—and a good cry—later, with warm, fuzzy pajamas that were too large for Cleo.

“I told Luc you’re staying because you aren’t feeling too well and that you were headed straight to bed, so you don’t have to face him again tonight.” Cleo hugged the other woman tightly, overwhelmed with love and gratitude.


“I love you, sis,” she said. “I wish my brother would hurry up and marry you already.”

Blue planted a kiss on Cleo’s head.

“It’ll happen,” she said with a sweet smile. “Now off to bed with you.”

Cleo had difficulty sleeping that night. Her mind was racing with a million and one different scenarios. There was absolutely no doubt in her mind that she was pregnant, and like Blue said, she had options: she could give the baby up for adoption or she could terminate the pregnancy or she could work throughout her pregnancy and save enough money to help her during the first few months of motherhood until she was ready to go back to work. She could move in with Blue and Luc, who would undoubtedly welcome her with open arms. Then there was that other possibility . . .

She could tell Dante.

She would rather eat worms than tell Dante Damaso.

But since this baby was half his, surely he had a right to know about it? And it wasn’t her fault his stupid condoms had failed and he happened to have champion swimmers, was it? Why should she be the only one worrying about this? Why should she give up her baby? Or get rid of her baby or beg her brother for help when its father was more than capable of supporting it?

But seriously . . . she would rather eat worms than tell Dante.

It was on that troubled note that she finally fell into a fitful sleep.

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Cleo called in sick the following day and drifted listlessly around the empty house for part of the morning, battling the familiar nausea she now dreaded. Once she’d managed to get the vomiting under control, she climbed into her battered old Volkswagen hatchback and headed home for a shower and change of clothes. She would be meeting Blue in Three Anchor Bay—close to where the other woman worked—later in the afternoon, where they would be going to an OB/GYN.

When she stepped into the tiny flat she shared with Cal in Newlands, her slender shoulders drooped beneath the crushing weight of depression. A quick glance around was enough to nearly send her to her knees in despair. How could she bring a baby into this place? It was a tiny one-bedroom flat with an open-plan kitchen and living room. Cal slept in the living room, but he never bothered to put away the bedding, and the sleeper couch was strewn with his clothing. There were empty takeout cartons scattered about; the half-eaten bowl of popcorn she’d made for a movie three nights ago still stood on the coffee table where she’d left it. The sink was piled high with dishes, and the place smelled stale and a little damp.

Cal wasn’t home and she hoped he was out job hunting if he wasn’t auditioning somewhere. She knew an audition was probably highly unlikely because, knowing Cal, he would have been talking about it for days before it actually happened. But Cal had developed a reputation within their small dancing community of being problematic. It was getting harder and harder for him to dance with independent groups because word had gotten around about him. He’d once had a position with a contemporary dance troupe and blew it when, after one lead, he started making impossible demands. Cleo wished that he would stop sabotaging himself, but it was difficult to talk to him about the situation. He got ridiculously defensive and would storm off in a sulk for hours—sometimes days—on end.

Cleo sighed, not in the mood to further speculate about her roommate’s possible whereabouts, and wearily made her way into her tiny bedroom. It was a total wreck. The bed was unmade and buried beneath a mound of clothing; her wardrobe was open, with even more clothes spilling out of it. At least there were no weeks-old cartons of food in here; Cleo never ate in her bedroom.

She pushed some of the clothing aside and sank down into the space she’d just created, buried her face in her hands, and cried for what seemed like the hundredth time in the past twenty-four hours. After getting it out of her system, she trudged to the bathroom for her shower, determined to be a little less mopey. She probably wasn’t pregnant and her period was just late, due any day now, which would explain the mood swings and the weird bouts of crying.

Just PMS, that was all.

“You’re definitely pregnant.” Cleo stared at the OB/GYN in dismay, her hand gripping Blue’s so tightly it actually hurt. “Early days yet, just heading into the eighth week, I’d say. That would place the delivery date somewhere in March. Sound about right to you?”

She nodded dumbly, her eyes blurring, and Dr. Klein’s gaze sharpened.

“I take it this news is . . . unexpected?” When Cleo nodded again, the doctor reached into her desk drawer, removed a few colorful pamphlets, and handed them over to Cleo. “Then you undoubtedly have a great deal to consider. You have options ranging from adoption to termination. Should you decide to keep the baby, there are single-mother support groups, which would help you feel less alone. In the meantime, until you decide what to do, you have to take care of yourself. Prenatal vitamins are essential, and so is the correct diet. You’re quite small and definitely underweight. I want you to start eating three meals a day.”

“I would if I didn’t keep throwing up at random times,” Cleo muttered bitterly, and the doctor smiled.

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