“Normal?” Marisol pushed her oversized sunglasses on top of her head. “Have you ever seen a baby being born?”
“Well, no.” Suddenly I felt embarrassed. Should I have? Where could I get a hold of a video of something like that? I made a mental note to check YouTube later on. “You have?”
“Yes. It was horrifying.” Her nostrils flared and she smoothed down her glossy hair. “We had to watch a video of a real birth in high school. It was their form of birth control.” She stopped petting her ponytail and held her fingers up to form a circle big enough for a basketball to pass through. “Worked wonders on my class. No pregnancies that year.”
“I’m sure it did.” We looked at each other awkwardly for a beat. “So why did you tag along today?” I asked.
Marisol shifted so her back was to the plaster uterus. The light coming through the small window reflected off of her deep brown hair, and I touched my own short hair self-consciously. I’d taken extra care in picking my outfit for work that morning, knowing that I was going to be seeing Fletcher during my lunch break. I put on a dark pair of boot cut jeans, instead of my Levi’s with a tear on the knee. I topped it off with silver shirt with beading around the neckline, instead of the usual novelty tee I sported. Marisol and I were doing some baking for a bridal shower we were catering this weekend, which meant getting covered in flour and frosting splatters. But today, I was careful to keep myself as tidy as possible.
Marisol brushed a fleck of lavender frosting off her sleeve. Oddly enough, even though we’d been working on the same cupcakes all morning, she’d effortlessly remained almost pristine. That was typical. She was couture, I was hand-me-down. She was put together perfectly, I was a hot mess.
“I’m here because Candace said your doctor is a hottie,” she said in a bored voice.
I looked down at Marisol from my perch on the table. She’d come to check out Fletcher? Nervousness plopped in my stomach and fizzled like Alka-Seltzer. Men were rarely immune to the beauty and blatant sexuality Marisol oozed. And I wanted to keep Fletcher to myself.
Not that I had a chance with him. He really was good-looking. Besides, he was my obstetrician. I was pretty sure he viewed our connection as nothing more than a doctor/patient relationship, despite that I was drawn to him like a moth to a porch light.
“You didn’t come here to provide me with love and support?” I laughed nervously.
Marisol snorted. “Hardly.” When she caught my frown, she quickly added, “I’m kidding. Of course I’m here to support you. But I’m also here to check out this baby doctor who apparently looks like a movie star.”
The churning in my stomach sped up. “Oh. Well, he’s all right. I guess.”
Maybe if I feigned nonchalance, Marisol would lose interest, too. She was like a puppy, enamored until something newer and shinier came along to play with. The only distraction she’d ever focused on for an extended period of time was our business, and I was pretty sure that was only because there were no men involved.
“All right?” She pulled a compact out of her Fendi bag and began reapplying her lipstick. “Candace said you were falling all over yourself when he examined you.”
My cheeks scalded. Curse Candace and her big mouth. “I was not. It’s impossible to fall all over yourself when your feet are in stirrups.”
“You know what I mean.” She glanced at me, then went back to her lipstick. “You’re attracted to him.”
“No, I’m not. I mean, he’s cute, I guess. But I’m not really into him.” I looked away, pretending to be fascinated with the black and white photography framed on the walls.
Oh, look at that tree. That’s a nice tree.
She blotted her lips together with a pop. “Why not?”
Not going after a hot, available man was a foreign concept to Marisol.
I let one of my shoulders rise and drop casually. “I’ve got enough on my plate, I suppose. I mean, in about six and a half months, I’m going to be a single mom.”
Marisol dropped her lipstick back into the bag. “I know. Can you believe it? Like, everything will be on your shoulders. Food, shelter, clothes, diapers. All of it.” She laughed and shook her head. “I mean, holy shit, Lex.”
The jealousy in my stomach dissipated and was replaced by a rock of nervousness. Most of my thoughts over the past few weeks had been occupied by the reality that I was embarking on the world’s most difficult task completely alone. I’d lost count of how many times Candace has proclaimed her gratitude that Brian was a helpful, hands-on father.
This baby’s father wasn’t going to be helping with the midnight feedings. Or anything else, for that matter.
“Of course, if anybody can handle it, it’s you.” Marisol pulled her perfume from her purse, dabbed it on her pulse points, then offered it to me. I shook my head. “You’re very independent. I mean, look at you. When Nate left, you could’ve totally fallen apart. Cried in your bed for a year. And nobody would have blamed you.”
I looked at the small window, and wished it opened. Talking about my debunked marriage made me sweat, especially in a room the size of an espresso shack with a plaster uterus taking up half the space.
“But you didn’t do that at all,” she went on, snapping her purse shut. “You got back up, changed your name back to Baump, which I still think was silly, considering the name Smith is so much less annoying than Baump. No offense.”
I rolled my eyes. “None taken.”
“You started a successful business with your gorgeous, amazing friend.” Marisol gestured at herself. “And you’ve never looked back. Never taken him back for a pity hump, never—”
“Yes. A pity hump. Come on, we’ve all had them.” She waved her hand casually. “After the breakup. Too much wine. Maybe some made-for-television movies about couples finding love in concentration camps, or some such nonsense, and whammo! You wake up the next morning with no underwear on, a drunken striptease video on your cell phone, and your ex passed out on the other side of the bed.”
“Good Lord, Marisol!” I slapped my hand over my mouth. “I take it that happened to you?” I asked from behind my fingers.
“Once or twice.” She shook her head. “You’re missing the point. The point is, if anybody can do this, it’s you.”