“Not really. He’s worried about money of course, but we’re looking into the possibility of me moving in with him before the baby comes. He lives above the shop where he works, and he has been brought on as a full time mechanic.” Tasha doesn’t sound as if she’s sure that’s what she wants, to live with all that noise, but her love for him is stronger than her uncertainty. “I think we’re going to drive out to Vegas and elope,” she admits.

Stunned, I lean back in my papasan until it almost flips. “You-you-you-bitch! You would just abandon me here to go get married without me? I thought I was your best friend!” I’m mostly teasing, but the sting of her admission pains me. “I am so unloved!” I pout, sulking until she backpedals.

“Okay. Okay, Lia. If we go to elope, you can come too. Just don’t tell my dad. I know he’s privy to like all your secrets now that you’re his secretary—not those secrets, I hope. Oh, God! I need the brain bleach. Lia, no playing naughty secretary and powerful CEO with my dad. I don’t even want to think about him doing anything. He’s so old! Yuck!”

She doesn’t see him the way I do: his passion and intelligence, the muscular strength that gives him the physical power to do all that he dreams, the way he moves… My whole body tightens when I think about how Beck moves.

The two of us begin giddily planning her wedding, even if it’s nothing more than an Elvis impersonator and the three of us on a road trip. I’ll be there for her throughout the entire pregnancy, and with luck, she’ll return the favor. “Have you been sick often?” I ask. I long to tell her that we’re sharing this experience, but I can’t do that yet. Over the phone is not the way to spring that kind of knowledge.

My door flies open, bounces off the wall, and hits Jean on the arm as she steps into my room. “I’ve gotta go.” I end the call without explanation to Tasha. “How much did you hear?” If Jean goes to Beck, Tasha would be devastated for him to learn about her pregnancy that way.

She grins at me, lips twisted into a vicious facsimile of a smile. “Enough. It’s not why I was listening, but it’s definitely bonus information.” Jean closes my bedroom door and leans back against it, voice so soft it’s hard to hear her. “I’m not stupid, Lia. I’ve been paying attention, and I know something is up with you and Beck. You’re too lazy to keep a full time job this long without screwing the boss.” Venom drips from her words, and I can’t help but flinch at the insinuations she makes.

Jean reaches for the box of tissues beside my bed and throws it at me. “I saw you leave with tears in your eyes today. Poor little rich girl can’t cut it in the real world again and has to make some moves on the boss to try and keep her job? Is that it?”

She slips to the floor and kneels in front of me, one pointed, manicured fingernail directed at me. “Beck has been acting as if some slut was distracting him.” She spits out the word slut as if she prefers it to my name.

Anger stuns me; I just don’t know how to answer the accusations. She’s right, I mean, about Beck and me being together, but not for the reasons she suspects. “Jean, no; it’s not like that,” I start to say. I get up and try to defend myself, wiping away tears of frustration as I get berated anytime I pause to catch my breath.

“And I bet you were going to make a move on Beck, Jean, and you’re married to my dad!” I hear myself yelling, but I can’t stop. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, or the jealousy burning in the pit of my stomach that she would get that close to Beck, but I hate everything about Jean. That she would even contemplate cheating on my father is near the bottom of my list.

Her hand raises as if she’ll slap me, and I dodge the blow. “I overheard everything, Lia. Tasha is pregnant, probably by that good for nothing mechanic downtown. You’d think that she would have found someone decent given their money and connections.” Jean sneers at me as she climbs to her feet. “I bet she doesn’t want dear ol’ Daddy to know about her being knocked up, does she?” Jean’s voice goes sickeningly sweet. “If you want to be a good friend to Tasha, you’ll stay far away from Beck, or else.”

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