Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Growing Together
Book Six of the Dawnwalker Cycle
Wes Boyd
2008, 2011

Chapter 14

Jon sat on the bed while Tanisha went to the bathroom, but when he heard the toilet flush he got up and went to stand in the door, watching as she followed the instructions to run the test. Her back was to him, and he didn't know if she knew he was watching.

A few minutes went by -- he wasn't exactly watching the clock. Finally, he heard her say in a small voice, "Jon?"


"You were right."

"Positive, huh?"

"Yeah," she replied. "I mean, unless the test is wrong, but I suppose that's just denying the truth, right?

"There's a chance, I suppose," he sighed. "But it answers a lot of questions, and it means that you're going to be seeing a doctor tomorrow."

"Jon, I don't know that I'm ready for this."

"I don't know that I am, either," he sighed. "But it's ready for us, like it or not."

"Shit," she said, turning to face him. "This is going to change things. I mean, it really is going to change things. I guess we'd better get serious about looking for that house, huh?"

"Yeah," he nodded, taking her in his arms. "The sooner, the better, I guess."

Jon and Tanisha being who they were, soon took the discussion to bed for one of the tenderest, sweetest sessions they could recall. New things may have been coming to their world, but some things didn't change, either.

While Jon and Tanisha had an official office in the front, unclassified building at Lambdatron, their real office was back in one of the classified buildings. The official office was small, but there were times that things needed to be done there. Monday morning was one of those times, and even then, they weren't there much -- just long enough to set up an appointment at the HMO for a little later in the morning, after which they headed over to see Molly in the human resources division. That took long enough that when it was over with it was time to head for the HMO.

Although the clinic tended to be a little busier than normal on Monday mornings, they were able to get Tanisha in to see a doctor pretty quickly, and Jon went with her. After a relatively brief examination, the doctor announced, "Well, there's no question that you're pregnant."

"I was wondering if maybe the home test was wrong," Tanisha said.

"No, it hit it pretty well," the doctor said. "You're not just a little pregnant, either. I'd say you're about halfway along, give or take a few weeks. You ought to have been suspicious before this."

"I guess there's no underestimating the power of human denial," Tanisha said. "I mean, I was just so damn sure I couldn't be pregnant that I denied the possibility I could be, but I'm still surprised I could have missed it for this long. Are you sure it's that much?"

"We'll need to do an ultrasound to be sure, and we can have one done in a few minutes. At this stage we can tell the sex of the baby with an ultrasound. Some parents like to know that, others like to be surprised. Which way would you like to go?"

"I think I'd like to know," Tanisha said. "It's not like we've got nine months to make preparations, now."

"No, it could be as little as four," the doctor agreed. "It does cut down some of the fun of the anticipation."

In a few minutes, it wasn't speculation any longer -- in about four months, maybe a little more, Jon and Tanisha would be the parents of a little girl. After a brief lecture, and a handful of "having a healthy baby" material, the two of them headed back out to the Chevy, a new world opening in front of them.

"Jon," Tanisha said as they got into the car, "You seem less than totally happy about this."

"Well, I have to admit that I'm not as ecstatic as I would be if we'd been trying to get you pregnant for months," he admitted. "That doesn't mean I'm not happy about it. It's just that this is a big surprise and I'm trying to get my mind around it. I have to say you're not exactly jumping up and down in pure joy yourself."

"Well, no, and pretty much for the same reason," she sighed. "Yes, I've been looking forward to this, but it's come out of nowhere at a time that's less than perfect. I'm sure that the issue with Kwame has a lot to do with my reservations. But we have to accept this for what it is and move ahead from here, no matter what the timing is. Are you sorry it's not a boy?"

"No, no way," he smiled, a little relieved at her reply -- this was supposed to be a happy time, after all. He got the car started as he told her, "A little girl is fine with me. I just want us to do the best job we can about raising her."

"I'll settle for that," she smiled. "I'm of the opinion that my parents did a lot wrong in raising Kwame and me, but I think they did a few things right, too. But, I think you and I can do better, since we're not going to be grinding axes while we're doing it."

"What kind of mistakes do you think your parents made?" he asked as he backed out of the parking space. "I mean, just so we can watch out for them and avoid them."

"Oh, the whole ethnocentric thing, for a starter," she replied. "You've heard me rant about it before. My father's ranting about the equality of the races, how the black man and the white man should work together, and still being as separatist as he could be. I'll bet he's turning over in his grave right now. I mean, he gave both Kwame and me these pseudo-African names to remind us of the fact that we're black, before we're American. I've gotten used to the name of Tanisha, but I still sort of resent it for that reason. I'll tell you what, Jon, I haven't thought about what I'd want to name a little girl at all, other than the fact that I want her to have a culturally neutral American name, something common, something like, oh, Barbara or Susan or Kathryn."

"Sounds good to me," he said. "She's going to be stuck with one hard-to-pronounce name for a last name, one that no one ever gets the spelling right the first time. There's no point in sticking her with a tough first one, too."

"That's true," she smiled. "I mean, when I was a little girl, I never dreamed I'd wind up with a last name like 'Chladek.' But you know, Jon, I can't think of a better one for me."

"I'm sorry I'm driving babe, or I'd kiss you for saying that," he grinned. "Look, I know this has taken us by surprise and we're going to have some catching up to do, but I think we're going to just have to knuckle down and get busy about getting ready for this to happen. I don't have the slightest idea of what all we're going to have to do to get ready."

"I don't, either. Well, I have more than an inkling of some of the things that Shantel went through when she was pregnant," she said, speaking of her sister-in-law. "But Shantel was more involved with her mother in that, and I wasn't really part of the program."

"And, Shantel is about the last person you'd want to ask about it," he grinned.

"Boy, have you got that right," she laughed. "Well, I guess we're not at a total loss. There are baby books, there are some women at the office we can ask for input, and we'll have to get your mother involved."

"Yeah, I guess," he smiled. "You know, I've never gotten any hint out of her that she'd like to be a grandmother."

"You hear stories of mothers leaning on their kids pretty hard about it, but I've never gotten anything like that out of her," Tanisha agreed.

"Talk about denial," Jon snorted. "She's in real severe denial that she's not, oh, about Crystal's age."

"I think you're right," Tanisha laughed. "This might bring her to her senses. I suppose we'd better call her tonight. I'll admit, I'm kind of curious to see what happens when she hears the news."

"Yeah, I am, too," Jon said then changed the subject. "I don't know what all we're going to have to do to get ready for little Barbara or Susan or whoever, but I'll tell you what, I'm glad Joy and Ben have already started the spade work. I think that getting a house just got moved way up in the priorities. In fact, if it's at all possible, I think we want to be moved in before the kid can complicate the move too much, and that means before she's born as much as it does after."

"You're right on that. I don't like the thought of being huge and having to be involved in moving very much. And, we're going to have to either do it ourselves or hire someone to get it done. With rafting season starting in a couple months, I can't see Crystal or Preach or Nanci being much help in a move."

"If we catch them at the right time, with this new schedule we might be able to get a day or two out of them," Jon said after thinking about it for a moment. "Oh, well, it's not like we have a hell of a lot to move. That's one advantage of living in as small a place as we do."

"If we're going to be living in a nice house, there's no point in our having our cheap crap furniture anymore," she said. "The bed, yeah, maybe we want to keep that, but if we're going to spend the money on a house, I think we need to spend some money on some decent furniture, too."

"You know what? I'm glad we have four months, because I think we're going to need every bit of it."

By the time they turned into the parking lot at Lambdatron, the surprise had turned to reality for them and they were a lot more comfortable with it. Tanisha's pregnancy was no longer a problem to be dealt with, but now a new adventure and a challenge to be conquered, which was something very different.

There was still work to be done in their official office in the unclassified area, so they headed to it. They'd barely gotten settled in when there was a rap on the door frame. Both of them looked up to see Stan looking at them. "Boy, you two are hard to catch up with this morning," he said.

It wasn't surprising to have Stan come and see them. His office was such a mess, not to mention a biohazard zone, that he tended to corner people in their own offices rather than have people come to his. Stan was organized and efficient in many ways, but keeping a neat office was not one of them.

"We've been busy," Jon grinned. "You yank us out of here without notice for a week and there's bound to be loose ends to tie up when we get back."

"Yeah, well, it couldn't be helped," Stan replied. "And I'm glad you two were able to do such a good job of it. Angela got back Saturday, and she said you two did a terrific job, and there may be some new work coming our way."

"A couple people we talked to sounded real interested," Jon said. "Whether it turns into anything real, well, hard to say."

"We've had one call already this morning that sounded pretty much like it had to be generated out of the show, and there could be more coming. If we get one or two good jobs out of it then it's a plus for us."

"It seems like kind of a waste of time in one sense of the word," Tanisha admitted, "But I can see that time spent developing one contact can turn it into something else."

"Yeah, and you never know," Stan said. "It's good to know that the two of you can be called on to help out with stuff like that. I'm just afraid that with Jennlynn's notoriety, we may have to call on the two of you more than I would like."

"Stan," Tanisha said, "Don't get too crazy about doing it. You might as well know now, things just got a little more complicated for us, and we're not going to be as available as we have been."

"I hope this isn't bad news," Stan said, waiting for the other shoe to fall.

"We don't think it is," Tanisha grinned. "You might as well be the first to know that I'm pregnant."

"I'm sure you both were aware that there was the chance of that happening," Stan grinned, hinting if not saying that it was obvious what the two of them spent a lot of time and effort doing.

"Well, yeah," Jon said, hopefully in such a way that it took a little heat off the fact that they really hadn't taken it into consideration.

"Tanisha," Stan sighed, "I hope you're not telling me that you have plans of being a stay-at-home mom."

"Oh, I do," she said. "I think it would be fun to be around the house all the time, watching daytime TV and wiping the noses of a whole herd of kids. I plan to stay gone as long as I can stand it." There was an unhappy look on Stan's face, and she smiled as she went on, "Maybe, if I get lucky, as much as a month. I can probably work from home for at least part of that. After that, well, we're sure glad we've got the company day care center here."

"That's what it's here for," Stan said, the relief obvious on his face. "Having people worried or messing around with child-care issues cuts into their productivity."

"We appreciate that," Jon said. "It would be a hell of a lot harder otherwise."

"So, when's the happy day?"

"Around July first," Tanisha told him. "It could go either way, and that's about as close as it can be pinned down."

"Just so you know," Jon added, "We've got a lot to do between now and then, which includes looking for a new house, so we may not be able to be as free with our time as we might like to be."

"Yeah, getting ready for a new baby and doing it right isn't something that can always be done overnight," Stan nodded. "But these things eating at your time, do they include why you're approaching Halloran for doing an independent investigation?"

"Well, yeah," Jon said. "How'd you find out about that? We asked Molly not to say anything!"

"I know all, I see all," Stan grinned. "Molly didn't say anything. Part of our contract with Halloran is that I'm to be informed of any independent work they're asked to do for some company employee. It's to avoid conflicts of interest. What's this all about, anyway?"

"We haven't actually talked to the Halloran rep," Jon said defensively. "Molly said she'd have him get back with us. Stan, to make a long story short, you know the hassles we had with my father and Tanisha's brother. After things got straightened out with my dad last week, we've, well, we've been exploring the idea of seeing what the situation with her brother really is, as the threat level there has always been a totally different thing."

"Especially since the last contact you had with him was a kidnapping threat," Stan nodded. He'd been aware of the problem since the first day Jon and Tanisha had worked at Lambdatron.

"I don't know if I would call it that," Tanisha protested.

"When he threatens to physically drag you back to your family and your church where you belong, I'd call it that," Stan said. "And, given a threat like that, you were wise to take precautions and get out of the danger zone. It was the conservative thing to do. But believe me, it sounded like a valid threat to me, so not long after you two went to work here full time I had Halloran do an evaluation of the threat."

"Stan!" Tanisha said in surprise. "We had no idea of that!"

"I'd have been foolish if I hadn't had someone look into a threat like that," Stan told them. "I will say that you've mostly done the right thing, avoiding contact and taking protective measures. Those are good things for people with your security value to the company to be doing, anyway. I'll admit, I haven't looked at the file recently, but as I recall they judged the actual threat to you here to be relatively low. We can't know if that's right or wrong because there's no way we can look inside his head. I will say that if we thought the threat level was higher we'd be looking at more active security measures."

"Stan," Jon shook his head, "Once again, you're so far ahead of us it's not funny. What we were looking at doing was getting some kind of threat evaluation, and then maybe thinking about making contact with him just to be sure he wasn't going to be a problem in the future. Now, with Tanisha pregnant, it's a bigger issue in our minds."

"Then aren't you glad it's an issue in my mind?" Stan grinned. "That way we can look into this out of the company pocket, rather than out of your own. Halloran doesn't come cheap, but they do good work, and you're worth it to me. Let me review that file, and then maybe we can get with Jim Bucklin, the Halloran rep, to see about updating it."

"Stan," Tanisha piped up, "Is there any chance we could have a look at that file, too?"

"Sure," he smiled. "It's not in my office, so Molly ought to be able to find it."

In spite of everything else -- and there was a lot of "else" -- Jon and Tanisha had a fairly productive day, most of it spent in their office in the unclassified front building. Along in the afternoon they had a call from Joy. "Hey," she said, "Any chance you guys could get off an hour or so early? I was talking to my real estate agent, and she's got some places she'd like to show us while it's still daylight."

"You mean tonight?" Tanisha replied, "Well, I think so. Let me ask Jon."

"Boy, she wants to get on it, doesn't she?" Jon smiled after Tanisha explained the call. "I don't see any reason we can't get out of here an hour or so early."

"He says fine," Tanisha replied. "We can be at your place a quarter after four, unless I get back with you. Maybe after we're done we can have dinner out or something."

"OK, see you then," Joy replied.

"You're right, she is anxious," Tanisha agreed as soon as she had the phone hung up. "I don't blame her. The more I think about it, I'm anxious, too. They've got a little over three months until their lease expires and they have to be out of there, and I think I want us out of where we are by about then, too. From what I've heard, the banks and stuff really drag their butts on a house transfer, and it could take us every bit of three months to get everything settled out."

"I suppose you're right," he said. "We've got plenty of money in the bank for a good down payment, but we're still going to need a mortgage, and there's lots of details. I think that if she has a live one on the wire and it's going to be acceptable, especially if they find another one nearby that's also acceptable, it would be pointless to look for perfect when good enough will be a hell of a lot better than we have now."

"I'll admit, other than what we talked about last night, I really haven't given what we want in a house a lot of thought, so I guess it doesn't matter. Like I said, three or four bedrooms, a couple baths, maybe a pool, a quiet suburban street, a decent neighborhood, good shape, and no farther from here than we are now about defines what I think I'm looking for. Under the circumstances, I don't think we're in the mood to be picky."

"I'd add a two-car garage and a small yard for minimal yard work," he added. "Yard work was a pain in the butt in Chicago, and if it's a place with grass it would be considerably more of a pain in the butt here. I don't think I'd mind mowing a small lawn occasionally but I will be damned if I want to be a slave to one."

"I don't see why so many people around here make such a big deal out of grass, anyway."

"Because it reminds them of where they came from," he snorted. "I'm probably missing fourteen dozen critical things we really ought to be looking for, but the only thing I can think of that's an absolute gotta is being in it by June first, and I'm sure Ben and Joy have the same thing in mind. Given everything, I don't think I mind surfing in their wake. Now that I've got my mind on this, I'd like to get it nailed down so we can concern ourselves with more important things."

"Tell you what," she said, "Why don't we just call it a day now? I wouldn't mind running a couple errands before we head over to see them."

"Don't see any reason why not; this day is going to be shot in the butt anyway. You have something in mind?"

"Darn right," she snorted. "I want to go by K-Mart or something, look at maternity clothes, get a couple pair of jeans a size or two larger, and try to find a bra or two that shows signs of fitting. I swear, I must have gained a full cup size in the last week."

"Hey, you don't hear me complaining about that, do you?"

"You wouldn't," she snorted. "It makes me wonder who exactly is the baby here, anyway. I just hope they don't keep growing like that."

"Might be interesting," he snickered, helpless to resist the temptation.

"I repeat, who's the baby here?"

In a few minutes they were headed out of the office, down the road to a nearby shopping center. "The one reason I wouldn't have minded hanging around is I would like to have seen that file on your brother," Jon said. "I have to say that I find it interesting that Halloran doesn't seem to think of him as being much of a threat."

"Well, me either," she replied. "Either they know something we don't, or we know something they don't. Now that I'm thinking about it I guess I'm not surprised that Stan had him investigated a long time ago."

"Yeah, we should have thought of that," he nodded. "Too bad we didn't think to ask back then. We might have saved ourselves a lot of paranoia over the last few years."

"And we might not have, either. An investigator might not be able to read Kwame's mind, or tell what he's thinking about from the outside. I sure wish Stan had thought to ask us about it way back then, because we might have been able to give an investigator some leads they might not otherwise have had. I mean, I probably know some things from the inside that might not be real evident from the outside."

"All I can say is that Stan must have had a reason for doing it the way he did," Jon shook his head, "Or maybe the Halloran guy must have, or something. Ours is not to reason why. Stan does things his own way. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes not."

"And sometimes they make sense to him when they don't to us," she agreed. "But it usually seems to work out."

"Yeah, I trust his gut calls on stuff pretty well," Jon said. "He seems to get them right pretty often. I sure hope he's right on this one."

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To be continued . . .

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