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Audrey prayed to wake a half-hour earlier, needing extended makeup time before leaving for work.  She passed on the radio alarm, since Eric hated sound rousting him from sleep.

If she overslept the earlier time, if she failed to prepare, if she tried to leave the house without covering, the possibilities wrenched her stomach into a nauseous upset.  She couldn’t endure it again.

She managed the early rise, the easing into and wearing of a turtleneck despite the overheat, its painful constrict on sensitive areas, and the liberal use of MAC foundation.

A child, they agreed.  We try for a second.  Another child brings us back together, closer.  Eight months later, Audrey carried her bargain, the only success.

She needed to cancel scheduled dinner with her mom, no easy task.  Audrey knew the powers of her obstetrician mother, keen perception combined with uncanny emotion-sussing radar.  The evaluative peril left Audrey in the nether land between oppositional forces.

Her mom refused the cancel.  Her daughter needed a visit, so near the due date.  She planned a return for the birth, and lamented Audrey not journeying to Boston so her mother could oversee care and birthing.  Doctor Jacqueline Peaslee chafed over the notion of a peer guiding her progeny through delivery.

Audrey told Eric of dinner by phone.  When first arranged, Audrey dared not broach the instigative subject, what with his current volatility and looming menace.  Whether she procrastinated or revealed, Audrey faced a similar outcome.

A loving hug teamed with heavy scrutiny.  An inquisitive probe challenged the makeup.  A hand touched face, the wince noticed.  Her daughter stripped of her strength, a daughter so confident, once.  This would change and now, because he never would.

“Who watches Diana?”  Jacqui Peaslee, mobile in hand, called in the extensive resources of her personal network.