Tamara felt a lump rise in her throat. Could she be pregnant? Tamara repeated the question to herself. She struggled even harder to recall that date that was at the moment the most important date in her life.
" We could do a quick blood test dear. I mean if you want." Jill said, breaking Tamara's thoughts.
" Umm might as well since I'm here," Tamara winced at the poke of the needle. She hated them. It was amazing how much pain one of those little things could cause.
" It'll take a moment. Just wait here." Tamara laid back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. She was looking at the fluorescent lights when the door opened.
" Wow, that was quick. Peeing on a strip takes longer than that" Tamara joked nervously.
" Why would I need to pee on a strip? " Tamara propped herself on her elbows and stared at Anthony. " The nurse said that it was okay for to come in."
" Well, shut the door."
" Are you okay? Officer Zocola called and said that you a had been attacked." Tamara detected the uneasiness in his voice.
" I'm okay. I'm just a little bruised that's all. There is nothing that time won't heal. You can come all the way into the room if you want. I don't bite."
" Sorry. I didn't know if you wanted me here or not."
" Why wouldn't I? You're my ride home. I'm okay. Really. I wasn't raped or anything." She shuddered at the thought and Anthony seemed to relax a little.
" So, what were you saying about peeing on a strip?" Anthony sat on the bed beside her.
" Oh nothing. Just a joke between me and the nurse."
" Okay whatever you say. Umm, well. I left a note for Tommy. He was out looking for you when the call came in. I'll bet he's still out there wondering the streets. You know he really does care a lot for you, Tamara. He just got caught up in the moment with Lynn. What man wouldn't? You've seen the pictures. Who could resist all that?"
" Shut up, Anthony! You're not helping."
" Well, you know what I was trying to say." Anthony began to try to explain himself. she didn't listen to him. Tamara began to think about what news Jill would bring when she walked through the door.
" I may be pregnant." Tamara cut in on Anthony's rambling. He stopped talking and stared at her.
" What did you say?"
" When the nurse comes back in here, she going to tell me whether or not I'm pregnant." Tamara could feel the tears beginning to form. She forced them back.
" That's great," Anthony said and then added, " I think."
" You think?"
" Well, is it mine?"
" Anthony! That is not funny," Tammy punched him.
" Sorry, I've always wanted to say that."
" Well, this is no time for joking. I'm supposed to start school in a couple of months. I'm supposed to be married and settled down before I have kids."
" Shouldn't you have thought about that before partaking in the pleasures known as Tommy Turner?"
Tamara ignored him " I'm not supposed to be living with some guy that I consider my brother and another one who I don't know how I feel about anymore. After all I'm just the dog sitting maid remember?"
" Whoa. Calm down. It will be okay. And besides whose to say that you are pregnant anyway? Did you think that you were pregnant before tonight? It would explain some things."
" No! I didn't. I had to fill out one of those stupid forms and couldn't remember the last time I had a period. Explain what things?"
Anthony laughed, " Well, you've been exceptionally moody these last few weeks. I know the Lynn thing happened, but that just sent you over the edge."
" Oh my God Anthony. Stop that!" Tamara plopped back down on the bed. She wanted to cry more than ever now. She raised herself up again and got off the bed. Tamara paced the room while Anthony watched her. When Jill walked into the room Anthony stood beside her and Tamara grabbed his hand. Jill looked at Anthony and the then to Tamara.
" It's okay. He's my brother"
" Well, all right. Here goes, " she looked at the chart she had in her hand, " Judging by your progesterone levels you'll be a new mother in about eight months. Congratulations."
" Thank you," Tamara tightened her grip, " Does this mean I'm free to go now?"
" Yes. Take care of yourself dear." Jill glanced at Anthony, smiled and left the room.
" I don't think she believed that I'm your brother."
Tamara walked out of the room without commenting. She didn't know how she felt about what the nurse told her. She wanted a retest. There must have been some mistake.
Although the drive home was a silent one, Tamara could hear Jill's voice telling her that she would be a mom in 8 months. She wasn't ready. When Anthony pulled the Explorer into the driveway, she closed her eyes and hoped that when she opened them she would be in her own bed.
" Is this a dream?" she asked.
" Don't tell him."
" I wasn't. That's your job."
" What if I don't ever tell him?"
" Well, I'm sure he'd figure it out after a while. There are some things that I'm sure he is bound to notice."
Tamara smiled, but it didn't last long. " You know what I'm talking about."
" Well, that's your choice, " Anthony's voice was strained.
" I'm scared."
" Well, whatever you decide to do. I'll be here for you. And so will Tommy."
Tamara got out of the truck and went to the house. She looked back for Anthony, but he was pulling out of the driveway. She went into the house. Tommy was sitting on the couch staring at a piece of paper. He jumped up when he heard her enter. For a moment they stared at each other.
" I got Anthony's note. He said that you were at the hospital, but didn't say anything else. Are you okay." His brown eyes were filled with worry.
" Yea. I'm fine. Just a little confrontation while running. But I'm okay now. Nothing exciting." Tamara was still upset at him, even more so now. She had resumed her pre-argument mode of communicating with him. She knew that he would want to have a conversation, so said told him that she was really tired and that the doctor told her to get some rest. It wasn't entirely a lie. She moved away from him, afraid that he was going to touch her. As she headed for her door, Tommy called her name.
" I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say or do. You won't talk to me so how am I supposed to know what you are thinking? How many times can I apologize?"
" Look Tommy, I'm not in the mood for this right now. All I want to do is go to my room, lie down, and hide under the covers so that the world can not find me. I don't want to talk to you or care what you have to say," she turned from him and went downstairs into the darkness that was her bedroom.
She undressed without turning on the light and quickly got into bed. She snuggled under the covers and tried to forget about the world outside and the night’s events. The blackness laid on her closed eyes like a heavy sheet. She could feel it pressing down on her. Suddenly Tamara was aware of how dark it was and thought of all the things that could be lurking where she could not see them. Tommy called her name form above. She almost cried out at the unexpected disturbance, but managed to keep quiet. She did not answer him, hoping that he would think that she had fallen asleep already. It didn't work. She listened at the sound of his footsteps as he made his way down the stairs. He got into the bed beside her. Tamara was aware of the how careful he was about trying not to touch her. Tamara was annoyed that he had come down there, but also thankful. With him there, some of her newly developed fear of the dark was taken away.
" I should have gone after you as soon as you hit the door, but I didn't want to make you even madder at me. I've never seen you that mad before. It actually scared me. I don't know what to do now. This is all my fault isn't it?"
Tamara wanted to tell him that it was his fault, but she knew that would not have been fair. She wanted to blame him for everything. It would have been so easy. Instead of answering, she just let him talk. She didn't care much for what he was saying. It was nice just to have someone there. Laying there beside him filled Tamara with confusion. She wanted so much for him to hold her and tell her that everything would be all right. She needed him to make her feel safe. On the other hand, she wished that he would go away and leave her alone. She didn't want his apologies. She had given herself to him and he had turned it into something trivial by almost sleeping with Lynn. As if he knew what she was thinking, Tommy wrapped his arm around her and said " Well, at least let me protect you from the dark." Tamara did not protest this time. When she opened her eyes the room didn't seem so dark.
The following week was tough one for Tamara. She had made the decision to move out. She wanted some time to herself to think. She discussed this with the boys, but managed to let Anthony convince her that she needed to stay. They would give her as much space as she needed. Tamara spent most of the days in her room thinking about what she should do. The days were not only hard on her, but Anthony as well. He was having a hard time keeping Tamara's secret from Tommy. He had never kept anything from his brother. The air in the house was thick with tension. Tamara was sure there had never been that much discomfort between them ever. It was obvious to Tommy that Anthony was hiding something and he didn't like it at all. One morning Tamara overheard them arguing. Tommy was very upset and Anthony's attempt to calm him down only made things worse. Tamara could not stand coming between the two brothers. She made up her mind to tell Tommy about the baby. After all he had a right to know. The sooner the better.
Tamara took deep breath and walked into Tommy' room. He was sitting at his desk with his back to the door, so he did not notice she was there. Tamara cleared her throat.
" Tommy, we need to talk," she whispered half hoping that he didn't hear her.
" What? Right now?" Tamara could tell that he was still upset at the events of the morning.
" Can't this wait. I really need to finish this layout for the newsletter. You know it takes us forever to get them sent out and we are already behind."
" No, this can wait. We need to talk now." He could hear the urgency in her voice and stopped writing. He turned to face her. Tamara felt like crying. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling.
" What is it?" He was worried now.
" There is something I've been needing to tell you, " she paused trying to build up her courage .
" Are you all right? You haven't changed your mind about leaving have you? I know we can still work this out, " he was speaking fast, " All we need is time."
" No, Tommy, no that's not it."
Tommy let out a sigh of relief, " Well, what is it?"
" Well, umm, Tommy I ........"
" Tommy! Tamara!" Anthony's panicked voice made its way to Tommy' room. He appeared in the doorway shortly after. " Have either of you seen WC? She's missing."
" Missing? Are you sure?" Tommy asked.
" Well, I've been looking for her everywhere to give her meds."
" Did you look outback," Tamara asked.
" No, I called for her. It's raining. You know she hates being out in the rain."
" Maybe we should check out there anyway. Something might be wrong," Tommy was already making his way downstairs when he made that statement. Anthony was right behind him. Tamara followed glad for the interruption, but also worried for WC. They called out for WC but she did not answer. She watched Tommy and Anthony grow more worried as they searched. Tamara was about to turn and go back into the house when Tommy called out. Tamara and Anthony rushed a spot in the back of the yard. Tommy was sitting on the ground beside WC who was laying between a bush and the fence. She was on her side and breathing heavy. Tommy pulled her out into the middle of the yard. Anthony dropped down on his knees beside her.
" I'm gonna call Dr. Hanna." Tamara said and headed for the house. Neither of the guys responded. She quickly dialed the doctor's number. Even though it was her day off , Dr. Hanna agreed to come over immediately. Tamara waited by front door. It didn't take long for Hanna to get there. She only lived a couple of blocks away. Tamara ushered the woman to the back yard. They found Anthony and Tommy leaning over WC. Tamara wasn't sure if it was the rain or tears streaking down their faces. It didn't take a doctor to tell her that WC was no longer breathing. The boys held her lifeless body as Dr. Hanna confirmed what they already knew. She whispered that she was sorry and hugged each brother, holding on to Anthony a little longer. Before leaving she told Tamara that she would call later and discussing burial arrangements.
Tamara stood on the back porch and watched the boys. She wanted to go out and be apart of their grieving, but knew it would be better if she stayed put. They didn't need her for comfort. They had each other. She watched as they held each other and cried. Tamara was touched to see the boys show so much emotion. They weren't trying to be manly and keep it in or trying to pretend that it didn't hurt. Watching them she knew that she was looking at two rare men. She no longer had any doubts about how Tommy would react when she tells him that he was going to be a
father. She knew that he would make a perfect father and friend to their child. Tamara wanted to rush out and hold him and have him hold her. The boys covered the dog with their shirts and sat in the rain talking to each other.
They boys had decided to bury WC in the backyard. They had a small ceremony for her. They had to wait a couple of days for the ground to dry. In those days the mood had changed between the brothers and they no longer seemed to be at odds. What ever they had argued about didn't seem to matter anymore. There was lots of talk and memory sharing. The sadness soon lifted and the guys were almost themselves. They knew that WC was no longer suffering and had lived a good long life.
" Hey, sit down and eat something."
" I'm not angry."
" Well, you need to eat, " Anthony said and placed a plate on the table, " Eat. If not for you then someone else."
" Who’s doing something for someone else?" Tommy walked into the kitchen.
" Nothing. We were just making conversation. Sit and eat," Anthony put another plate on the table.
Tommy' hair was ruffled and she could tell that he was just waking up. He was wearing only his boxers. He yawned and stretched. It was as if he was showing off that great body of his just for her. It had been a while since Tamara had seen him without any clothes on. She found herself staring at his well-toned body. She thought of how nice it was to rub her hands across his chest and to kiss those chiseled abs. He saw that she was looking at him and smiled. Tamara quickly looked away as he sat down.
" I was just telling Tamara that she needs to eat."
" Yea, you haven't been eating much lately, " Tommy observed before taking a bite out of his toast.
" I haven't been hungry. "
"Are you sick?" Tommy asked. Anthony covered her forehead with his hand.
" Wow, you're warm. How long have you been sick?"
" I'm not sick, " she pushed his hand away, " Would you please stop that. I'm okay Momma Anthony."
" Well, you never know. You were out in the rain for a long time. I can't help it. I worry." Anthony was doing his best mother imitation. They laughed at him.
" Don't you have somewhere to be this morning?" Tamara asked.
" Yes, I'm on my way. Why? Are you in a hurry to get rid of me?" He eyed her suspiciously.
" Maybe." Tamara smiled at Anthony. She could see that Tommy was staring at her, but she did not look his way.
" Well, fine. I'm leaving." Anthony left the room.
" What's going on here?" Tommy asked, " Where would Anthony be going in his underwear?" Tamara laughed. I don't know. I'm sure he'll be back. He hasn't eaten all of his breakfast." Right on cue Anthony walked into the room.
" Sorry to interrupt, but I realized that the food was still on the plate and not in my stomach." He sat at the table and began to eat. Tamara watched him as Tommy watched her.
" Well, I'm gonna go do something productive in my room, " Tamara attempted to get up from her chair, but a sharp pain made her sit back down. She hoped that the guys didn't hear he wince. No such luck.
"Are you okay?" Tommy asked. He'd been looking at her the entire time. There was no way he could have missed it.
" Yea, I'm fine. Just a cramp. That's all, " she lied. The pain was worse than any cramp she'd ever had. She sat as still as possible and waited for it to pass. When she felt she could stand up again, she excused herself from the table and headed for the bathroom. She felt moisture in her panties and thought that her bladder was leaking or something. There were small spots of blood in her underwear. Tamara knew some bleeding during the first couple of months could be normal, but she was sure that the pain was abnormal. She decided to wear a pad just in case she had any more dripping. Tamara looked at herself in the mirror and decided that she looked like crap. " No wonder Anthony is worried. You look like death girl." she told herself, and went back to the kitchen.
Tommy was sitting at the table alone.
" Hey where did Anthony go?"
" Running. I think. "
" Cool." Tamara looked at the food that had not been touched on her plate.
" Are you okay? I'm really worried about you."
" Well, don't be. There is nothing wrong with me." Tamara's body let her know that it did not appreciate that last lie. The pain in her abdomen caused her to cry out.. The second ache came seconds behind the first and caused her to double over. Tommy was out of his chair and at her side before the third wave hit her. Tamara started to cry. She had never felt that kind of pain before.
" I'm gonna go call a doctor." Tamara grabbed his arm before he could move away from her.
" Don't leave me," Tamara was no longer crying from the pain, but from the realization that she was losing her baby.
The sky was filled with dark clouds that threatened to release their contents at any moment. Tamara stood at the kitchen window and watched Tommy. He was sitting under the tree where WC was buried. She could tell that he was saying something, but could not read his lips. He must have been having a conversation with his lost companion. She hoped that WC was putting in a good word for her. Tamara certainly did not know how to do it for herself. Standing at the window, she tried to get up enough courage to go out and sit beside him.
" Tamara? What are you doing here?" She turned to face a surprised Anthony. He rushed to her and gave her a hug. " I'm glad you're back. I mean are you back?"
" It's good to see you too Anthony. Yea, I'm back. That's if you are willing to take me back."
Tamara turned back to the window, her comment directed toward the man who could not hear her.
" Well, I've been dying without you. Running alone just isn't fun. And I know that Tommy really misses you. Why don't you go out there? He doesn't bite. And I'm sure he'd love to talk to someone besides WC."
Tamara let out a sigh," You're right . I can't hide from him forever." She slowly walked to the door.
Tamara had decided that she needed some time alone. When Anthony offered her the keys to their cabin in Frederville, she gladly accepted and spent a month there. Tamara spent the time by herself in the Turners cabin only ten miles out of town. Her moods changed from worrying about what Tommy was thinking to being depressed about losing the baby.
Now as she walked toward him, she was again worried about what he was thinking. She was actually terrified about talking to him. They hadn't spoken to each other since Tommy had brought her home from the hospital. He made sure that she got into bed and that she took the antibiotics that was prescribed to her. They did not speak to each other, but he didn't have to. She could read the hurt and disappointment in his eyes. When she made her announcement that she wanted to leave, he told her that he hoped she could sort things out, gave her a hug and walked out of the room. That was the last she saw of Tommy for the month. Tamara sat beside Tommy. They sat in silence listening to the wind blow. After a while Tommy spoke.
" Did you like the cabin? We used to go up there all the time."
" It was nice. There is a great view of the lake."
" Yea, sunsets are beautiful there. So, are you back?"
" If you'll take me," Tamara was afraid of what Tommy was going to say. He had not looked at her when she sat down and he stilled faced the other direction.
" I missed you. A lot, " his voice was shaky, " How are you?"
" I'm okay. What about you?"
" Oh. I could be better. You know these last few months haven't been exactly good for me."
" I guess it's my time to start apologizing." Tamara wanted him to face her instead of talking to the open space in front of him.
" You could have told me. I would have been there," his voice was a combination of anger and sadness. She wasn't sure which one was the dominant emotion.
" I was just so angry. And I know that that's no excuse, but, I was confused too. I didn't know what to do. So much had happened in such a short period of time."
" You told Anthony. My brother knew that you were carrying my baby. " There was no guessing now. Tommy was clearly upset. " If I hadn't been there that morning, would you have told me? Or would that have been another secret between you and Anthony?"
" I don't know what I would have done. I won't even try to guess at it. Tommy, I was gonna tell you about the baby. Remember when I came to your room and you were working on the newsletters?"
" Well, I was going to tell you then, but you know about WC. After that I never got the courage to mention it again. "
" Oh, so what were you going to do? Wait until I noticed how much you had grown?"
" No, of course not. And besides Anthony wouldn't have let me keep it from you." Tommy visibly tensed at the mention of his brother's name." You aren't mad at him are you? I didn't mean to come between the two of you."
" I'm not mad at him. I would have done the same thing. I just wish I would have been there instead of him. I don't even know how I'm supposed to be felling right now. It's not every day that you learn that you are going to be a father and then you're not at the same time. It's a hard pill to swallow. I wanted to hold you and never let you go and tell you that everything will be all right. You didn't want me to. You chose to be alone. You know, that really hurt. That was the second time I should have been there and you wouldn't let me. Twice. You shut me out twice, Tamara. "
" I made a mistake. I'm sorry. I should have told you, but I needed to go away. I needed that time Tommy. I had to sort out my feelings. I hope you can understand that."
" Yea, I guess so." He picked up a leaf and started playing with it.
" So, where do we go from her?" Tamara put her hand on his shoulder, hoping that he would turn and face her, but his attention was focused on the leaf. " Tommy, are you gonna answer me?"
" Did Anthony tell you about our meeting with the network?"
" No, what about it?" Tommy finally turned to face her. He told her how great their meeting had gone. They were offered a contract for the new show they were working on and they would start filming next summer. Tamara listened with a mixture of dread and excitement as he told her the specifics.
" And, so the first ten shows will be filmed in Australia."
" Australia?" Tamara spoke to herself in disbelief." I'm happy for you. I really am. You've been working on getting a network to pick you up for a while now."
" Yep. We're really excited. So, are you gonna start school on time?"
" Umm, yea, a month or so to go until then. "
" Well, we still need someone to watch over the house when we go, but that's several months away. We'd love it if you stayed here. I mean, I'd love to have you here."
" Does this mean that we can still be friends?"
" We've got to start over somewhere don't we?" Tommy leaned over and hugged her." I'll always love you, " he whispered.
By the end of the month Tamara had settled back into her old routine and the guys had gotten a puppy. It was instant love for the boys. It wasn't hard for them to fall for her. They named their new Labrador retriever Naika. Tamara got a kick out of watching Tommy and Anthony housetrain her.
Tamara had spent most of the day sorting through fan mail and addressing postcards so the boys could write messages and sign them. She took Anthony his stack of cards.
" Here ya go. I need your John Hancock. And on these too. But give this stack to Tommy when you are done so that he can sign them too." Tamara put the cards on Anthony's desk. " Hey, why are you dressing up? Where are you going? What's with the tie?"
" I'm meeting with someone from the network."
" And you have to dress up for that?" Tamara gave Anthony a sly smile , " Must be a woman. A pretty woman since you are wearing a tie."
" Cassandra and I are just going over some specifics of the contract."
" Without Tommy?"
" He trusts my judgment," Anthony smiled at her," It's strictly business."
" Speaking of your brother. I noticed that he is not in his room. Where is he?"
" Don't know. The last time I saw him was before I got into the shower."
" Oh, okay. Well, enjoy your strictly business date." Tamara laughed at Anthony and went to Tommy's room. She placed his stack of cards on his desk. She figured she'd run into him downstairs and she would tell him to sign them. Anthony's mention of the shower reminded Tamara that she needed to take one. She was going out later with Tommy to buy Naika a new collar and a lease. She could hear water running when she reached the bottom of her stairs. Tamara stepped into a steam filled bathroom.
" Hey! Why are you in my shower?"
" Anthony was in ours and yours was free. So, here I am." Tommy answered her through the curtain.
" Well, don't use all of the hot water. I'd like to get in there before we go.
" We could save time and water if you'd get in here now." Before she could think of a comeback, Tommy pulled Tamara under the water.
" Tommy!" she yelled, " I still have my clothes on. "
" I can fix that," he said and pulled on her shirt. Tamara did not resist as he took of her tank top exposing her back to the hot water. As he removed her bra, Tamara let her hands caress the muscles that made the ripples of his washboard stomach. Tommy pulled her to him and thrust his tongue into her mouth. The kiss made her forget the water streaming down on her. Instead she focused on the heat and the wave of excitement that was coursing through her. It was something that she hadn't felt in a while and she enjoyed it. Tamara welcomed the lust that filled her. She welcomed the taste of him on her lips. Tommy gently pushed her away, his soft brown eyes questioning her. She answered by whispering, " I want you, " and pulling him back to her. She pressed her lips to his and let her hands re-explore his body. With the water falling on and around them, Tamara and Tommy held on to each other as if it was their last day together. Neither of them knew where this would take them, but at the moment where they stood the future looked promising.