I had made it through a quarter of my cheesecake when Michelangelo gets a call from work. I lean back on my stool and quietly set my fork down against the plastic pan, trying to listen. All it sounds like is a bunch of yelling and cursing. I raise an eyebrow as Michelangelo gives terse responses before hanging up.
“All quiet on the work front?” I ask, leaning forward and drumming my fingers on the black granite countertop.
He sighs and shoves his phone back into his pocket. “One of the privates decided to do something really stupid and ended up in the hospital missing a leg.”
“And this involves you getting smoked because…” I ask, watching him carefully.
He runs his hand over his face and shakes his head. “Someone gave the idiot’s mother my phone number. That was her. She blames me for it because I haven’t been there recently to train them properly.”
“She does realize that your fiancée just got pregnant, right?”
He smiles grimly. “I don’t feel right leaving you home alone in your condition.”
I roll my eyes. “Michelangelo, I’m about one month pregnant. What part of my ‘condition’ do you not feel comfortable about? I’ll be fine. You can worry about me when I’m really pregnant and fat and sick all the time.”
“Yeah, that’ll be the fun part,” he says wryly.
“You should go back to work,” I tell him, poking him with my fork. “You’ll feel better.”
“How would that make me feel better when you’re illegally pregnant?”
I flash my engagement ring as answer. “We’re engaged, remember? So it’s legal.”
He snorts derisively. “Right. Because surrogacy is completely legal.”
“You’re the one who asked me to do it,” I retort.
“You could’ve said ‘no,’” he reminds me.
I roll my eyes again and shake my head. “You knew I wouldn’t. That’s why you asked.”
His sigh is all the affirmation I need.
“So are you going to go back to work?” I ask. “Because you’re really starting to smother me. Get out of the house for a few hours and go do something.”
“And what are you going to do while I’m gone?”
“Probably something else illegal,” I reply, thinking of my unfinished koi bathroom.
“What if someone else stops by while I’m gone?” he asks.
“Then I quickly hide the evidence, and keep them in the lowest level of my house,” I say. “You know, the usual thing I do when I’m painting. Why are you so nervous about it, anyway?”
“Because illegal paintings are one thing. But this whole cover-up, I don’t feel right about pushing our luck with too many crazy things right now.”
“Which is why you need to go to work,” I say, standing up and handing him his keys. “Now go, comfort the idiot’s mother, and tell her that it’s her fault that her son now only has one leg.”
“Why is it her fault?” he asks, amused.
“Because I know you don’t train idiots. It’s obviously her fault. Now leave!” I point toward the elevator.
He smiles and brushes a kiss across my cheek. “Fine. I’ll call you in a few hours to see how you’re doing, okay?”
“Whatever it takes to get you out of here,” I agree.
He shakes his head and walks out. I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear the elevator start to descend.
“I thought he’d never leave,” I say softly to myself. I rest one hand on my stomach and start heading back to my bathroom to paint.