Holiday treat time! I thought I’d experiment with something that Charles Dickens and Stephen King have done: publish a story in installment form, a chapter at a time. Well, I’ll be blog-publishing it, but you get the idea. A chapter per post! Over a course of– I have no idea. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here. This is a story that I’ve had rolling around in my head for a while, featuring the main character of Bulletproof Werewolf.
I put down my glass and watched her belly clear a path to my table. It took a minute–one exact minute, I timed her–to lower herself into the chair. She huffed and puffed and exhaled a great deal while she did so, and I guess I could’ve gotten up and helped in some way, but I was pissed. After the waiter took her drink order–mineral water–and nodded at my request for another whiskey sour, I smiled at her and said, “Bullshit.”
She had been reaching into her purse, which was almost as huge as her stomach. She paused and looked at me. “Sorry?”
“Yesterday on the phone, you said you were a month along. Now it looks like the kid’s ready to pop out and hand me a breadstick.” I reached across the table and grabbed one. I pointed it at her. “So. Bullshit. Unless you’re not Jennifer Malone.”
“I am Jennifer Malone, and I am only a month along.”
“Bullshit.” I tore off a piece of breadstick and tossed it into my mouth, not caring if the lighting wasn’t dim enough to hide my sharp canines.
The waiter brought the drinks. He vanished once he learned we didn’t want to order any food. Jennifer Malone took a breadstick and plucked little pieces from it, dropping the pieces onto a small salad plate. I sipped my whiskey sour.
Five minutes passed before she finally finished torturing the breadstick. She stared at the bits on her plate and said, “A month ago, I met a man in a hotel bar. We went up to his room. The next thing I knew, it was morning, and he’d checked out. Two weeks after that, my stomach started getting big. I took a pregnancy test. It came out positive.”
“Maybe it’s a tumor.”
“It’s not a tumor. It did occur to me that it could be a tumor, but only after I took the pregnancy test. I just, I just knew . . . I can’t explain it. I just knew I was pregnant. Just like I know it’s not a tumor.”
“And your doctor confirms this diagnosis?”
She glanced up at me, her eyes a bit wide.
“Ah.” I swirled my drink. Ice cubes clinked against the glass. “You haven’t been to the doctor. So it could be a tumor–”
“It’s not a tumor!”
Yes, people stared at us. I raised my glass and looked around. “Congratulations, right?” I asked our audience. There were a few chuckles. A smattering of what I considered rather sarcastic applause. When all eyes were averted, I leaned across the table and said, “Fine. You said you don’t remember what happened that night, between meeting this guy, who apparently owns some very large sperm, and waking up alone?”
She shook her head. I noticed her brunette hair was looking a bit thin on top. I could see her scalp.
“Jennifer, do you think you were drugged?”
Another head shake. “He never brought me a drink or anything. This wasn’t . . .” She closed her eyes for a moment. “This wasn’t my first one-night stand. I never take drinks from strange men. Or familiar ones. When I woke up, I didn’t feel drugged. I would have, right? I would have felt drugged?”
“Having never been drugged, I can’t say.”
“Have you ever been pregnant?”
“No. Not even a close call.”
She picked up her glass. Her hand was shaking. “Ms. Anderson, I swear to you, until I met this man, I hadn’t had sex in nearly a year. I’m scared. I know I’m huge, and I don’t know why. I want you to find this man. Find out what he did to me.”
Pretty obvious what he did to you, I thought. I also thought her timeline was a bit skewed. There was no way she’d be showing like that after only a month. Maybe not even after nine months. She looked ready to explode.
But I let it go, because I needed the money she would be paying me to find her Romeo. Also because I was a werewolf, which meant I should have a more open mind about weird stuff.