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It was Granddaddy’s idea. He thought Lauren needed cheering up. Lauren didn’t think so. Lauren thought she was fine. Sure, the all-day, low-grade nausea and exhaustion of her first trimester hadn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs, and now that she was seven months pregnant, it felt like not a single item of clothing she owned still fit, including her shoes. And hats.
But she felt okay physically, and if Granddaddy believed Lauren was still missing Garrett, well, how did you miss something you never had in the first place? And most likely hadn’t ever wanted.
Which was how Lauren found herself, dressed in a floor-length, strapless, royal purple maternity ball-gown purchased especially for the occasion, at a 25th birthday party Granddaddy had insisted on throwing her at the house. He’d invited a few dozen family friends. And pretty much everyone they’d ever done business with since the inception of Briggs’ Construction. Hell, even the Harrisons were there, Calista with her husband, and Harry with some girl wearing a skirt so short it might have originally been sold as a belt.
As Granddaddy had insisted, Lauren was having a good time. If he wasn’t embarrassed to be publicly celebrating his unmarried, pregnant granddaughter after she’d been played for a fool then unceremoniously dumped, Lauren had no reason to be, either.
Of course, she couldn’t drink the champagne and wine that kept circulating the room on a solar system of silver trays held aloft by tuxedoed waiters or the hard liquor at the open bar. The soft cheeses were off-limits, too, according to her doctor.
Luckily, Granddaddy was incapable of throwing a shin-dig that didn’t include enough meat to make a small sub-species go extinct, so neither she nor the baby was starving. Lauren figured the rest of the guest-list could make do with pasta and vegetables and all the other frippery their caterer had insisted on, that it wasn’t worth Granddaddy’s time to reject.
Everything was going swimmingly – until she saw Polly and Junior sweep into the living room and, after a quick, though enthusiastic, stop-over at the aforementioned open bar, make a beeline for Lauren.
It had been at least several years since she had last laid eyes on her mother. Polly hadn’t seen fit to make an appearance at Lauren’s high-school graduation or her college one. For which Lauren would feel eternally grateful. As far as she was concerned, Granddaddy was her family. Polly could only potentially rock the boat and ruin everything.
Still, she looked good. Lauren made a mental note to send kudos to Polly’s plastic surgeon. There was barely any trace of the passing decades or the alcohol Polly must have downed in order to keep up with Junior. Like the portrait in Dorian Grey’s attic, Lauren’s stepfather showed every minute of his high-life with Polly via the bags under his eyes, the broken capillaries along his nose, and the sagging paunch of his gut. Even his perennially crispy tan couldn’t cover up all that.
“So what’s this announcement Jeremiah is promising to spring on us?” Polly got right to the point following a quick brush of her cheek against Lauren’s and a kiss somewhere in the vicinity of her daughter’s French-braided hair. “What’s the Goddamn surprise?”
About the Author
Alina Adams wrote the “As the World Turns” tie-ins, “Oakdale Confidential” and “The Man From Oakdale,” and co-wrote “Guiding Light’s” “Jonathan’s Story.” She was the Creative Content Producer for “Another World Today,” and worked on the 2013 relaunches of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live.” Her books include romance novels, figure skating murder mysteries, and the historical family saga, “The Nesting Dolls,” from HarperCollins. Read more at: AlinaAdams.com