Barbara gives Tommy news that should please him. Instead it terrifies him.
An established relationship story.
Written: September 2010. Word count: 1,500.
Barbara rushed from the bed to the bathroom for the third morning in succession. Settling on the floor near to the loo she leaned her head against the wall and began to count back. She'd never been completely regular, and more than once she'd missed a period, so the lack of one hadn't bothered her. However, now the morning sickness, together with other changes, made her fairly sure there would be an addition to the family in the spring.
Tommy had been away for four days on some course the Met had felt compelled to send him on. It was a waste of time and money, in her opinion, courses couldn't teach you how to be a good detective. Besides, Tommy was a good one, a very good one; not that she told him that, well his ego was big enough.
The thought of Tommy made her smile, even though the sickness was creeping up on her again. Before Tommy had courted her, wooed her, badgered her, driven her mad with his attention and affection, she'd never thought she'd be the kind of woman who'd end up smiling just thinking about a bloke.
But somehow Thomas 'Tommy' Lynley, the 8th Earl of Asherton, had broken through all her barriers, and now she was the kind of woman who smiled when she thought about her bloke. She groaned softly, part in self-mockery, part because she was sick again.
Ten minutes later she stood up, stripped off her pyjamas and showered. Already she felt fully well again, alive, healthy - pregnant. She hadn't told Tommy about her sickness when he'd called each evening to complain about the course, about all the paperwork that'd be building up in his absence and, almost as an after thought, about being away from her. She'd told herself she hadn't wanted to worry him. Even now, certain as she was that she was pregnant, she knew she wouldn't say anything when he rang that evening. It wasn't something she wanted to tell him over the phone. But it wasn't just because of that.
As she dressed and dragged a brush through her still damp hair, she thought about her life with Tommy, about their marriage, about the expectations - unspoken expectations, but nonetheless clear ones - that came with the marriage. That they would have children was a given; that she would provide the family with the 9th Earl of Asherton was an expectation. "Are you a boy?" she said to her stomach and then shook her head. What was she doing now? Talking to something she didn't even know was there!
For the first time in her marriage to Tommy she allowed herself to feel fear. What if she couldn't deliver a boy? What if there wasn't a 9th Earl of Asherton? What if she was a lousy mother? What if - she slammed her hairbrush down, grabbed her bag and headed out of the bedroom.
She left for work earlier than was needed; she had an errand she knew she had to run. She left her car in the multi-storey car-park and headed down to the shopping centre and the large, impersonal Boots where she brought a pregnancy kit. She shoved it into her coat pocket and headed for the Ladies. She didn't want to do the test at home and had no intention of doing it at work.
Forty minutes later she was at her desk. For the first time ever, no part of her mind was on work.
THE FOLLOWING EVENING
Tommy shut the door behind him and dropped his bags onto the floor, before striding towards the sitting room and Barbara. Finally, he was home, free from the endless chatter of his fellow detectives, their moans, their whinging, their bitterness. Not for the first time he gave serious thought to suggesting to Barbara they quit and move to Asherton. He'd help run the Estate and she could - what would she do?
He pushed open the door and smiled as she leapt to her feet and hurried across the room to him. "Barbara," he said, pulling her into his arms and kissing her. Now, he was home. He held her for several minutes, feeling her heart beat against his body, enjoying the scent of her hair as he rested his head on hers, wallowing in the sense of contentment, peace and joy she brought to him.
Finally he moved back and held her at arms' length. He frowned. "You look tired, have you been doing too much? Has the Commissioner -" She stood up on her toes and lightly kissed him again.
"Tommy," she said, taking his hand and leading him to the sofa.
"I've got something to tell you." He'd been about to sit down, but something in her tone stopped him. He felt hot and cold simultaneously; he felt his heart skip a beat; his mouth was dry and his mind began to race with thoughts he couldn't stop. He couldn't lose her, he couldn't and she'd sounded so serious. She -
"Tommy," she took his hand. "It's all right. At least I hope it will be. You see," she paused; he held his breath. "I'm pregnant. It's due in the spring." She fell silent.
"Pregnant?" She nodded. "Are you sure? Have you seen a doctor? How long have you known? Why didn't you tell me? Have you -"
"Tommy! Breathe," she ordered and smiled. But he could see the smile was partly forced. He knew what she was thinking, and even though he didn't want to think the same thing, he couldn't stop himself.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Tommy leant against the pillows and watched Barbara sleep. Despite her insistence that she was fine, she was only pregnant, something that happened to women all over the world every minute of every day, she was clearly tired and had almost fallen asleep after they'd eaten.
Throughout the evening he'd talked happily about the news, about the fact that in eight, or it could be seven, months he'd be a father and how pleased he was and how he'd be there at the birth and at all the pre-natal things. And he was happy; he was more than happy; a baby, him a father? Maybe that would be enough to suggest they resign and move to his family home.
But now alone in the dark, just watching and listening to Barbara sleep, he allowed the fear and dread he'd felt when she'd told him the news to surface. What if she lost it, as Helen had? What if it was something in his genes that had caused Helen to miscarry? What would he do? What would she do? What would they do? And worse, what if she died? Women did, even today, with the advances in medicine some women died during pregnancy or birth. He loved Barbara so much it sometimes scared him; he couldn't lose her; he couldn't.
But he couldn't tell her his fears. Instead he'd just make sure she had the best care available, the best doctors, the best midwife, the best hospital, the best anything that money could buy. He pushed away the little voice that told him Helen had had all those things. Barbara wouldn't lose the baby and he wouldn't lose Barbara.
With that mantra in his head, he settled down next to her and put one arm over her. She murmured in her sleep and moved towards him. She always told him she hated cuddling when asleep, but she always went into his arms.
SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS LATER
Heavy blossom bent the branches of the trees, the birds sang, the wind had a hint of warmth to it, soft white clouds darted across the sky, the dogs barked and his Estate Manager called out to them. But Tommy neither heard, saw nor felt any of those things.
Instead he was captivated by Barbara sitting in their bed holding their son. The best hospital, the best room, the best doctors, nurses and midwife had all been arranged, were all ready and waiting for Mrs. Lynley.
However, in true fashion, Barbara Lynley née Havers, had other ideas - or rather their son had. He'd been downstairs when he'd heard her call out his name; he'd raced to the bathroom to see her bent over and panting. There hadn't been time for ambulances, doctors, midwifes, there hadn't even been time to get her to bed.
Simon Thomas Harold Lynley, the 9th Earl of Asherton made his way into the world with only his mother and father present there in the bathroom. Tommy's yells had brought the Estate Manager running and it had been Harry who'd relayed instructions from the local retired midwife to Tommy.
He looked at her over the head of their nursing son and smiled. He was still afraid, but it was only the fear any parent feels. "I love you, Barbara," he said, crossing the room, gently sitting on the edge of the bed and cupping her cheek.
Her smile and the way she held his son was the only answer he needed.
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