Disclaimer is on the Introduction page.
Italics denotes thoughts.
June 1st, 1943
Betty Sherwood wasn't feeling well at all. Her stomach was churning, she was tired, and just the thought of going to the Buttery with her husband Scott made her ill. However, she promised him that she would, and he'd been so depressed lately that she didn't want to deny him anything. He'd been depressed ever since a bullet shattered his left leg and left him with a limp. He seemed to be a bit better since they returned from her cousin Elaine's wedding in Indiana, but Betty wasn't about to take chances.
She gathered her purse as Eugenia and Mr. Foley came into radio station WENN. The normally cheerful Eugenia was loudly sobbing and Mr. Foley was patting her back and trying to console her. "What's wrong, Eugenia?" Betty asked in concern.
Mr. Foley opened his mouth to answer, but Eugenia beat him to the punch. "Oh, Betty, I was just at the hospital, and I found out that neither Mr. Foley nor I can have children! We did so want a little one of our own!" She threw herself into her husband's arms and nearly knocked him into the front desk.
Gertie, the caustic receptionist, looked up from her copy of Look with understanding in her eyes. "I know how you feel, Eugenia. I was married twice but neither of my husbands stuck around long enough for us to have kids. I thought I was lucky at the time, but then I see other women my age doting over their children and grandchildren and I wonder if I missed something."
Scott, Betty's beloved husband, strode into the lobby. He was in a great mood. Betty could tell. His limp didn't show at all, and he seemed more like his old self. "I was on the phone with Victor in Washington," he said with a smile. "He's coming home tomorrow. He's now in charge of the W.E.N.N in addition to doing that weekly show of his for us and for WCNN in Washington. Betty and I are in charge of WENN."
Betty frowned. "What about your government connections? The only reason you're here at all is because the War Department wanted you to decode Nazi messages."
"Oh, they still want me to do that, just not as much." He gave his watch a quick look and grinned at his wife. "Oh, would you look at the time? Betty, we should get going before our lunch hour is over."
Betty wanly smiled. "I'll join you in a minute, Scott," she said as Hilary Booth entered. "I just need to go to the bathroom." She rushed off to the ladies' room as Hilary raised her eyebrows.
"Gee, Betty's been doing that a lot lately," Eugenia observed as Mr. Foley handed her his handkerchief. "She's in the bathroom every other minute."
Gertie sadly sighed. "She was in there crying the other day. We got a telegram from Doug Thompson's law firm. He apparently died in a prisoner of war camp in the Philippines after Guadacanal. They didn't find out until a few months ago themselves." Scott snorted but said nothing.
"That reminds me," Hilary said and leaned over Gertie's desk as Scott sat and waited for Betty and Eugenia and Mr. Foley walked into the green room, "have you received any word at all from Jeff? Anything?"
Gertie shook her head. "Not a peep, Hilary. No letters, either. We're all worried about him, but it must be really bad for you." She nodded at Hilary's bulging belly. "What does the little Singer think?"
Hilary rubbed her stomach. "The little Singer thinks that he or she misses his or her father something terrible." She made a strange face. "And he or she also wants to eat, and now."
Scott stopped Hilary before she went into Studio A. "Hilary, I know we haven't always gotten along well, but if you or Jeff's mom Margurite need any help with anything, you know, around the house or getting something from O'Malley's or something like that, I want you to know that Betty and I are more than willing to help you until Jeff gets back."
Hilary nodded. "Thank you very much, Scotty, and the little Singer and Margurite thank you, too, but we're fine. Marguerite runs errands for me when I'm at home and the boys in the Green Room run errands for me when I'm at work. It was sweet of you to offer, though." She went into the studio as Betty emerged from the bathroom. She looked decidedly green and Scott immediately grew concerned.
She tried to smile, but she only managed to appear weary. "I'm ready to go now, Scott."
"Betty, the only place we're going is to the hospital to get you checked out. You've had the flu for almost two weeks now. Everyone else who got the virus managed to shake it, including me."
Betty shook her head. "Scotty, it's nothing. I just need to lie down for a minute..." Her head drooped and she fainted into her husband's arms.
Giselle was worried about Scott and Betty. They'd been at the hospital for almost three hours. There must be something seriously wrong with Betty, Giselle thought. She tried to concentrate on Josh Manley's chatter about him and Chris being assigned to one of the Army divisions involved in the war in Italy. Josh was excited, but Giselle didn't share his enthusiasm. She was really beginning to like Josh, despite her maman's admonishments about falling in love with a man who could be dead within a matter of weeks.
They were in the Green Room. Maple was doing her "Health and Welfare" show with a man who ran a popular family practice in Pittsburgh, John Drake. Giselle somehow recalled Betty mentioning that the man was she and Scott's doctor and a good friend of theirs. Maybe I'll ask him about them when he gets off the air.
"Hello, Giselle, are you in there?" asked a slightly annoyed voice. Giselle shook her head to clear it and giggled as she watched Josh wave his hand in front of her face.
"I'm all right, Josh," she said. "I was just thinking about Monsieur and Madame Sherwood. They have been gone for a long time. I hope she is not too sick."
Josh smiled and poured Giselle another glass of Venetto Carbonated Wine. "Betty will be fine, Gis. She has nerves of steel. Scott won't let anyone suspicious get within five miles of her, especially after the little incident with the two Nazi spies who tried to turn the writer's room into a gas chamber." Giselle flinched and Josh blushed. "I'm sorry, Giselle, I forgot about what happened to your dad in Poland."
Giselle sighed. "That is all right, Josh. It is past now. Papa is gone and I have to accept that."
Josh took Giselle's hand. "Gee, Gis, you're one of the bravest girls I've ever met. I guess," he gulped, "what I want to say is..."
Whatever it was that Josh wanted to say, he never got to say it. Betty and Scott entered the green room at that moment. Scott had a big goofy grin on his face and Betty's expression was dreamy. "Giselle," he exclaimed, "could you go round up the rest of the staff and the volunteers? Maple should be done with 'Health and Welfare' in about two minutes. WENN is broadcasting the Pittsburgh Pirates/Philadelphia Athletics game after that and the W.E.N.N will be running 'Music for Victory' for the next hour."
Giselle wasn't sure how she and Josh managed to get everyone from both stations in the green room, but when she did, the place looked like a family reunion. Mackie and Maple were trying the sugarless and butterless cookies that Maple made for the war effort. Mackie took one bite, smiled at Maple, and discreetly turned from her view and spit it out. Hilary was lying on the couch, knitting something that bore a resemblance to a fish net, though she claimed that it was a baby bonnet. Mr. Eldridge passed around coffee. Gertie gossiped with Cheri and Sandy, two of the giggly WACs who volunteered to work at the W.E.N.N. Eugenia and Mr. Foley sat together at the table and whispered to each other. They both looked deadly serious. Giselle sat between Josh and Chris on the end of the couch.
Scott, Betty, and Dr. Drake stood in front of the crowd. Scott was still beaming, but Betty looked tired now. "Betty and I have something extremely important to announce. We talked to the doctors at Pittsburgh General Hospital and to Dr. Drake and we found out that Betty's not really sick."
Dr. Drake stroked his brown beard and explained. He was a tall, middle-aged man with a kindly look and manner. "What Betty, Scott, and all of you believed to be a severe case of influenza was actually the first stages of the creation of a new life."
"In other words," said Betty with delight, "Scott and I are going to have a baby!"
Gertie was the first to leap out of her seat. "I knew it! Hilary did the same thing when she got pregnant! Besides, my second husband was a doctor and he told me a little about some of the symptoms." She wrapped the happy parents-to-be in a huge hug. "Congratulations! When is it due?"
"Probably around February," Scott explained. "It takes nine months, right, Doc?"
Dr. Drake nodded. "I want Betty to get as much rest as possible, however. She's been working herself to exhaustion. That's not good for her or for the baby."
Eugenia and Mr. Foley stood up as everyone crowded around Scott and Betty. "We have an announcement to make, too. Should I tell them or you?" Her husband shrugged. "I'll tell them. Well, my Mr. Foley called the Winthrop School this afternoon and asked about adopting a child, since we can't have children of our own. Mr. Winthrop the elder, that poor nervous fellow who's so protective of his students, seemed a little wary of us at first. This station and the Winthrop School haven't always been on the best of terms. Well, anyway, the point is that Mr. Foley and I have decided to adopt a child, a girl. We'll decide which one tomorrow and sign the papers next week."
The phone rang as everyone offered his or her assistance to the two couples. Gertie went to get it and Hilary followed her. She needed air. The green room suddenly felt so hot. Oh, Jeffrey, where are you? She would never admit it in public, but she envied Betty and Eugenia, and not just because they were suddenly receiving all the attention, although that was a small part of it. The other two women would have their husbands by their side when they had their children. Would her little Singer have his or her father next to it when it was born?
"Hilary," Gertie exclaimed in excitement as she went back to the green room, "Jeff finally got through from that naval base in Hawaii!"
Hilary jumped a mile and lost a shoe in her mad scramble for the phone. "Oh, Jeffrey, it's me, darling! How are you? Where are you? Can you tell me?"
Jeff's voice was staticy, but she could just make out his words. "I'm all right, love. How's the little one doing? Is it growing well?"
The baby gave a major kick. Hilary shot it a look. "Your child misses you. It just let me know in no uncertain terms. I wouldn't be surprised if it gave me an internal bruise."
Jeff laughed heartily. "It's a Singer, all right." He paused. "How's Mom?"
"She's fine. Why didn't you tell me that she was so bossy? If she asks me one more time if I need something, I will send her back to Allentown!"
"Why do you think I moved out of the house?" The static began to get worse. "Hilary, is Victor there? I need to talk to him, too."
"He's in Washington," Hilary replied in confusion.
"Mittens, I love you," were the last words that Hilary heard before the connection was completely engulfed by static. Gertie tried to get it back, but it was no use.
"I wonder what that was about?" Hilary asked. "He wanted to talk to Victor, too." She set her jaw. "If he's gone and married another woman again..."
"Victor's not in danger this time," Gertie reminded Hilary. "He's safe and sound in America." She picked up her copy of Look again.
"But Jeff isn't," Hilary added. Oh, Jeff, please come home, she silently prayed. If you get married behind my back again, I'll go to Japan and kill you myself before the Axis do!
This war won't last forever...
How will Betty react to her pregnancy? What will Eugenia and Mr. Foley's adopted child be like? What is Jeff up to in Japan, and how does Victor come in?
On the Edge of the Precipice Series
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