with rida allen
The Legacy Tree: Chapter 7
Robyn sighed and waited for a car to pull out of its parking space. She loved shopping for presents and Christmas was no exception. Even on a Saturday, with the huge crowds, the lousy salespeople and the crummy parking. She enjoyed finding just the right gift for her parents, and in the past, Erik.
The shopping center was busy, but Robyn just headed right for the department store. She could always find good deals on clothes for her father there. The store was crowded but she made a beeline for the second floor where the men’s clothes were. As she walked toward the escalator, her feet slowed. Just beyond the moving stairs was the children’s department. And behind that, the baby section.
Touching her middle, Robyn moved automatically toward the racks of baby clothes. They were so tiny! And so adorable! She nearly cooed out loud when she spotted the little white jumper with the blue stripes. Next to that was a sleeper adorned with tiny blue bunnies.
She could just picture it, her little darling dressed in one of those yellow tee shirts and a pair of light green pants. Oh! Look there…receiving blankets! They were stacked in every color and pattern. Picking one up, she rubbed the soft nap against her cheek.
“May I help you?”
Robyn jumped and clutched the blanket against her chest. “Oh! I was just looking.”
“Can I help you find something in particular? A gift perhaps?” the saleswoman smiled pleasantly.
“No, I was, uh, looking for me.”
The woman’s smile softened. “Your first?”
“Well, don’t buy too much yet. All of your friends and family are going to want to shower you with gifts!” she sang cheerfully. “In fact, I’d be happy to get you started on a registry.”
“And what does that entail?”
“Well, you take this scanner gun and run it over the bar code on each item you want. If you want more than one of a particular item, you can punch in the desired quantity or just scan the tag a second or third time. When you’re done, you have a whole wish-list that people can buy from. We keep your list in a central database so family all over the country can access it in our stores.”
“Wow.” Robyn chewed her lip, thinking it sounded like fun. “If I start it today, could I come back and add to it?”
“Oh, absolutely! And it’s free for you.”
She inspected the blanket again, then looked up with a smile. “I’ll do it.”
“Great! Lets go fill out a little paperwork before you start scanning.”
Following the saleswoman, Robyn felt a mix of excitement and trepidation. Was she leaping too fast too soon? She filled out the required paperwork and then took the scanner gun.
“Happy shopping!” the saleswoman called with a grin.
“Thank you.” Robyn carried her gun back to the stack of receiving blankets. She immediately scanned the one with big green and yellow blocks. With a giggle, she moved over to the tiny infant clothing.
There were tee shirts and jumpers and unbelievably small sleepers. She scanned them all, then moved on to the accessories. She fell in love with the diaper bag covered in primary colored alphabet blocks. Once she scanned it, she moved on to add bottles and bibs. As she came to a halt at the end of the accessory aisle, her eyes widened. The store had whole nursery setups in the back. There was no way she would ask someone else to buy the big furniture, but there was an adorable alphabet block lamp in the corner that was modestly priced. She wandered past the cribs, eyeing the mobiles hanging above them. When she spotted the mobile to match the lamp, she clapped her hands and scanned it. Further along she found matching crib sheets and baby bumpers. It was that easy to decide that her nursery would be painted in bright primary colors with alphabet blocks scattered around the room. After that it was a snap to find a matching room border and stuffed blocks. She wondered if her mother would paint big alphabet blocks on the walls of the nursery for her.
As she stopped to survey the baby section, she realized she was tired! Just a few steps away was a whole area filled with rocking chairs. She looking longingly at them, but was distracted by more baby equipment. Oh, she needed a snuggly to carry the baby close to her heart! And there were the cloth diapers she could use to cover her shoulder when burping the baby. There was no way she could forget the sink bath seat…that was a must.
How could there be so many things for such a tiny life? Her head was spinning as she clutched the scanner gun in her hands.What had she missed? As she considered that, she wandered back through the furniture, running her hands over the sturdy pieces. They had cribs made of fancy woods as well as neutral white plastic. She loved the look of the woods but could better picture an active baby banging on the plastic rails of the white crib.
With a start, she realized that she would be caring for that baby alone. Could she really handle this? She had other options… As those thoughts drifted through her mind, she saw a woman stroll into the baby section holding a very small infant. The love on that woman’s face curled up inside Robyn, making her want to weep out loud. She followed the woman with her eyes, watching her absently stroke the baby’s cheek and play with her little fist.
There were no other options…there was only her and this brand new life. She could raise this baby alone and do it well. Turning back to the furniture area, Robyn spied the rocking chairs again. She wondered if her mother had one she could use. That would be the perfect question to ask her to announce her pregnancy. And she would do it soon, she promised herself.
With a sigh of satisfaction, Robyn returned the scanner gun to the saleswoman and left the department. Now she still had to find gifts for her parents. At the top of the escalator, she was sidetracked yet again, this time by the maternity section. As she stepped in between two racks of clothing, she wondered how her larger-than-average body would change its shape throughout her pregnancy. For once she could be pleased to move up from her normal dress size.
“Hi, can I help you?”
Oh no, not again. Robyn turned to the woman with a small smile. “I was just looking.”
“Are you shopping for gifts or for yourself today?”
“Is this your first?” the woman asked politely.
“Well, I see you looking at these clothes with a hint of hysteria in your eyes.” the woman smiled and took Robyn’s arm. “I can help you with part of that.”
“Which part?” Robyn asked curiously.
“I can’t help you from fitting into the clothes in a couple of months.” she laughed. “But I can certainly help you pick out clothes for each stage of your pregnancy. You see, we have this lovely suit in the dressing room which simulates the body shape of each trimester. That way you can buy clothes ahead of time and have them to fit you when you’re ready.”
“Really?” Eyes wide, Robyn wondered if she could really go through with this.
“If you’re game to see yourself bursting out, I’m more than happy to help you.”
Robyn couldn’t help but want to see what she’d look like a few months down the road. “Sure, I’ll give it a shot. But if I burst into tears, just ignore me.”
Laughing, the woman patted her arm. “Don’t worry, we have tissues in the back for just that occasion. I’m Joann, by the way.”
“Hi Joann, I’m Robyn. So, what kind of sizes do I look for?”
“Lets start with styles. Once I get a feel for what kind of clothes you like, I’ll help you find the right sizes.”
“Great.” Robyn walked with Joann, pointing out different outfits that caught her eye. When they had several picked out, they went back into the dressing room.
“Okie dokie, lets get started. For the first few months you’ll be able to get away with oversized shirts, stretch pants and elastic waists jeans or trousers. But for most women, right around the fifth month, their tummies seem to burst out. Put your arms through here…” She held up a vest-like outfit with breasts and a pouch where the stomach was. “We’ll get you zipped up and then add on your tummy.”
Robyn looked at herself in the mirror. “Oh my…and I thought I already had large breasts.”
“They’ll get bigger.” Joann laughed. “Which is both a blessing and a curse, hon.” With a grunt, she dropped a shaped mound into the vest’s stomach pouch. “Here’s five months. Lets try that blue outfit on first.”
Robyn pulled on the dark blue pants and the oversized buttondown blouse. It had short sleeves and tiny white flowers on the lapels. Running her hands over the fake stomach, she flattened the blouse to show off her pretend tummy. “Doesn’t seem too bad yet.”
Joann chuckled. “Give me a few minutes.”
Groaning, Robyn pulled off the blue outfit and let Joann exchange one shaped mound for another. This time she put on a lavender tee shirt with a darker purple jumper dress. The jumper definitely showed off her baby shape much more. “What month is this?”
“This is between the seventh and eighth month.” Joann answered her tremulous question. “Getting the idea yet?”
“Oh yeah.” She turned sideways and caught her profile. She looked very pregnant. “Is this pretty accurate for first time mothers?”
“It’s pretty close, although everyone is different.” Joann eyed her intently. “Are you ready for the nine-month tummy?”
Robyn bit her lip. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that today.”
“No problem. I know it’s a lot to take in. But you’ll be beautiful through the whole pregnancy.” Joann assured her.
Tears pressed against her eyes as she cradled her hands under the false stomach. She would be alone. There would be no one there to tell her she was beautiful or anything otherwise. Sniffling, she took off the pretty jumper and shirt. “Thank you for your help.”
Joann handed her a tissue then unzipped the pregnancy vest. “It was my pleasure. Any time you want to come back, the suit is always here.”
With a nod, Robyn wiped her nose and left quickly. She still hadn’t bought gifts for her parents but she wasn’t really in the mood to shop anymore. On the way out of the store, she detoured back through the baby section and bought the receiving blanket. With that purchase clutched in her hands, she left the mall.
Robyn dropped her mail onto the kitchen table and pressed the play button on her answering machine. The first message was from her mother, reminding her to call to talk about Christmas dinner next Friday. The second message was from Erik.
“Hey, it’s me…uh, Erik. It’s Wednesday afternoon…I was just calling to say hi and see how you are. I’ll be home tonight so you can call me back when you get a chance.”
She shuddered at the sound of his warm, deep voice. Her baby would be so lucky to have that voice…that man, tuck her into bed at night. It was sad to think that her baby would grow up without having him there to care for her…
When the answering machine beeped to signal the end of the messages, she wandered from the kitchen area and up the stairs. She was drawn into the spare room across from hers, where she’d left the receiving blanket on the twin bed. This, she had decided, would become the nursery. The room was square in shape and there were two windows to brighten the space. Settling onto the corner of the bed, she pulled the receiving blanket onto her lap. As she stroked the soft fabric, she pictured the walls painted in a sunny yellow with the alphabet block border running around the walls at the ceiling. The big white crib would be perfect in the corner next to a window. Close enough for the fresh air to come in but not close enough for the sunlight to bother the baby. Across from the crib she could put the dresser and changing table combination. It too would be white, with bright colored handles.
Closing her eyes, she pictured a whole mountain of stuffed animals piled next to the crib. The colorful curtains appeared around the windows and blocks spelling out the baby’s name were painted on the wall over the crib. With a jerk, her eyes popped open…the baby’s name. She rose from the bed and went to touch the wall next to the windows. She could see the baby’s name painted right here by her mother’s artistic hand…Matthew. That was Erik’s middle name. Matthew Anthony, after both the baby’s father and her father. How did she know it would be a boy, she wondered.
Pressing a hand against her stomach, she felt a giggle bubble up from her throat. The baby boy would be the spitting image of his father…she would get to see his beautiful face every day for the rest of her life. She could almost feel his sturdy body in her arms…could almost hear him gurgling at her as she tickled his fat little stomach. He would be a good baby, happy and willing to be held by his doting grandparents.
His grandparents…she was going to have to tell them soon. Should she wait until after she told Erik? No, she might need their moral support when she confronted Erik with the truth.
Turning in a slow circle, she surveyed the room as it was. She would no longer be alone. This room would belong to her child…someone who would be a part of her forever. She would make sure his future would be bright and joyous, with or without his father’s presence.
It seemed like Erik’s habit now, to call Robyn on Wednesdays. Recently, though, he had to leave a message, so this time he called on Tuesday…hoping to catch her by surprise. His heart almost left his chest when she did answer the phone.
“Hi.” he croaked.
“Hi, Erik.” her voice was soft.
Shuddering at the images passing in front of his eyes, he asked, “Did I wake you?”
“No, I was just relaxing and watching some television.” She responded. “Are you in San Diego?”
“I’m home. Getting geared up for Christmas with the family.”
“When do you go back to California again?”
He paused. “Are you trying to get rid of me, Robyn?”
“Of course not! I was just asking about your schedule around the holidays.”
Closing his eyes, he made a quick wish and asked, “Did you change your mind about celebrating New Years on the west coast with me?”
“Thank you for the offer, Erik, but no thank you.” she said gently.
“You probably have big plans, huh?” he sighed loudly and tried to sound teasing. “I know what a party animal you are.”
“Oh yeah, I’ll be out all night…drinking, dancing, living the high life.” She turned the tables on him. “What will you do for New Year’s eve?”
“I’ll probably be in bed before eleven.” he said wryly. “I’m on an early flight home the next morning.”
“You’re not planning to stay out there the whole holiday weekend?”
“No…I just want to be home…unless you want to get together that weekend.” he offered hopefully. He heard her make a little sound at the other end of the phone. Clutching the receiver closer to his ear, he waited.
“I’m spending New Year’s with Mom and Dad.” she finally said.
Frowning, he wanted to press her…he wanted to beg her to meet with him. He didn’t know how to tell her, but he really missed her. He ached to hold her again, just for a few minutes. But he did none of those things. “I’m sorry I won’t see you. But we’ll get together soon, right?”
He plucked at a string on his jeans. “Everything else going okay in your world?”
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“Oh sure. Considering doing some redecorating for the new year.” she said vaguely.
“Yeah? What are you going to do?”
“Probably a little painting…maybe rearrange some furniture.”
“Well, if you want help, I wield a mean paintbrush.” he joked lamely.
“I’ll be sure to let you know if I need help.”
Shaking his head silently, he had the feeling that she would never ask him for help with anything anymore. “Did you find good gifts for your parents?”
She was silent again for a minute. “I got them a few things. Did you have trouble shopping for your family?”
He hated this awkwardness between them…hated the strain he heard in her voice when she spoke to him. He wanted to make it all go away. “It’s always hard to find gifts for Mom and Dad.” he answered.
“I, uh, guess I should go.” she said tentatively.
“Oh, okay.” he was disappointed. Even though they were walking on eggshells, at least he got to listen to her voice. “I’ll call you again soon.”
“Wish your family a Merry Christmas.”
“Good night, Erik.”
“Good night, Robyn.” he whispered before hanging up. How happy would he be if he could say that simple phrase to her face? He would be filled with joy to be able to lay next to her, listening to her sweet breathing as she slept.
He had blown it in the past, but he would not let that continue. There had to be a way to be with her again. There had to be a way to be a part of her heart permanently.
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about rida allen
Rida Allen wrote the Venus Diva online serial romance titled, My Brother’s Wife and is the author of several romance novels that feature full-figured heroines including Great Love, The Legacy Tree, Truth and Lies, and her latest novel, You Have Been Disconnected. She is co-owner of Draumr Publishing, a small publishing company, where she helps other romance novel authors get their BBW books out into the world.