Before

 

“Penelope?”

    I jerked awake, my eyes snapping open too fast. I hissed as daylight burnt them. Jesus. Why hadn’t we shut the bloody curtains? And I was cold. I glanced down and saw that the covers only partially covered my naked body.

    Naked?

    And why couldn’t I remember getting naked?

    I snapped back to the reason I’d been woken up. Oh my God, was that my mother? In the house?

    “Penelope?”

   I closed my eyes for a second in disbelief. Yes. It was her. It hadn’t been a dream. She was actually here, and the voice was getting closer to the bedroom. So, she’d taken it upon herself to just walk up the stairs. And how the hell had she got into the house in the first place? Did she have a key?

    I lifted my head as thunder boomed in the base of my skull and looked to the side of me. No husband. I felt around and found the space he’d usually occupy, cold. Where the hell was he? I frowned, thinking back to last night.

    Why was it so difficult when I’d only had one glass of wine…? It might have something to do with feeling unwell…What was wrong with my head, and why did I have the most horrendous headache? I was hungover after one drink? I wasn’t that much of a lightweight.  

    I remembered that Mark had got in from work, late, and we’d had dinner, otherwise known as takeaway, and wine. We’d discussed business, my latest book I was ghost writing and the horse he’d sold…We’d had amazing sex, on the table. Because when the urge took hold, any place would do. Our clothes would be strewn around the room.  Shit. Had my mother seen the clothes in the dining room? She had to walk past it to get up the stairs…

    Why was I worried?  I was an adult. I could have sex with my husband if I wanted to.

    I just didn’t want my mother to see the remnants of it.

    “Mark?” I hissed.

    No answer.

    “Mark!”

    There was a grunt from the floor. I tentatively moved towards the edge of the bed, following the sound of the grunt. I found my very naked husband on the floor, and he sported excellent morning wood.

    And then our bedroom door opened, and my mother walked in.

    Oh shit. “Mother!” I grabbed a pillow and threw it at his morning glory. He jerked awake.

    “Arrrggggh! My dick!” he yelped, cupping himself.

    A pillow couldn’t hurt that much, surely? I tried not to roll my eyes as I pulled the cover over myself. I cared less that my mother saw my tits, but she wasn’t going to see Mark’s cock.

    My mother stood in the doorway, her green eyes surveyed the room. Yes, it was a mess in here. Sue me. I no longer lived at home. I worked freelance, so my time was my own, and I was busy actually working. Mark rolled in from work at different times during the evening, so I wasn’t going to waste time cleaning when I wanted to spend it with him.

    I also hated the thought of having a cleaner. Mum had three. I didn’t want someone poking through my cupboards… and my knicker drawer. It creeped me out. A bit of dust and mess never hurt anyone.

    “Get out!” I snapped. “You can’t just walk into my bloody bedroom anymore. I’m not a teenager!”

    “The room looks like it did when you were a teenager.”

    I groaned. Sometimes it was too damn difficult to argue with her. “Leave the room.”

    She remained where she was. My mother would do no such thing. Eleanor Tudor didn’t listen to, or follow instructions.

    “We have an engagement today.”

    I didn’t actually care, but she clearly did. What day was it? Friday? I remembered the writing I’d done yesterday, the cellar scene… I’d sent the email back to the author so yes, it was Friday, because Thursday had been my deadline.

    Mark made an effort to crawl back onto the bed, keeping the pillow over his cock as he made a hasty grab for the covers. He’d finally realised the monster-in-law was in the house. Not just the house, our bedroom.  

    “How did you get in?” I snapped, pushing my free hand through my nest hair. Wisps of blonde fell down around my face, the rest was contained in the bobble I’d dragged through it before flopping down on the bed and dropping into a sleep coma.

    “My key, darling.”

    She placed her perfectly manicured hands on her hips. The rose gold dress she wore hugged her small frame. Her auburn hair was curled around her face, highlighting cheekbones to die for. She was dressed to impress. Who the hell were we supposed to be meeting today?  I mean my mother always dressed like she was meeting royalty, but today she’d made more of an effort.

    “I didn’t give you a key.”

    “I know.” A knowing smirk played on lips that had been touched by a rich shade of red.

    I swear, if I didn’t have the herd of rhinos in my head I would scream at her. She really didn’t understand privacy at all. “You can’t just barge into our bedroom, Mum.”

    Or our house for that matter.

    “You didn’t answer your phone.” She sniffed in that way she did when she was put out. How could she be put out when I’d been the one rudely woken from my sleep?

    I growled in frustration and looked for my phone, I found it on the floor next to my purse and picked it up. Was she serious? It was seven in the morning, who the hell had an engagement this early? “You called me twice, that’s hardly a reason to come barging into our house like this, and no one in their right mind would be awake at this time.”

    “We could have been having sex,” Mark groaned.

     I paled and looked at him. Really? I know that Mark liked to annoy her with inappropriate sex conversations, but considering we were both naked in the bed right now, it was too close to the bone. And my mother had brought up my reproductive system far too often recently. I didn’t really want to discuss vaginas and cocks at the moment.

    “Yes, well, you weren’t having sexual relations.” She gave Mark the beady eye as I snorted and coughed, trying to cover it. “How much did you drink last night?” She looked at Mark, ignoring me.

    Mark laughed, unperturbed by my mother’s death stare. Mark and Daniel were very alike in that way. They didn’t care about the response from her and spoke their mind, more often than not to say something that made her react.

    I wasn’t even sure if I cared about her reaction, but something inside of me held back the many remarks I had when it came to her ways. I guess half the time I was shocked by her actions, and the other half I hoped she would change her personality and actually think before she opened her mouth for once. I wanted to believe she cared about her rude comments. But she still spoke as if others didn’t have feelings.

    I believed each of us had little moments of verbal diarrhoea, but her moments occurred all the time, and they were brutal and ugly. The friends I’d surrounded myself with were open and honest, but they cared. Sometimes I wasn’t sure Mum cared…

    “I drunk enough that some of last night is blurry, not enough that I can accept this intrusion in our home so early in the chuffing morning. Now ladies, if you don’t mind, now that I’m awake, and I’m clearly not going back to sleep, I’m going for a shower.”

    He kept the pillow against his manhood but allowed a perfectly fine view of his arse as he walked into the ensuite.

    Look! He had no shame.

    My mother averted her eyes to the pile of clothes on the floor, and I saw the look of disgust. I sighed. Not everyone could live in a house that always looked like a show home.  

    I sighed. “Can you at least leave so I can get dressed, I think you’ve seen enough naked skin today.”

    “Coffee?” she asked, like nothing had happened and she hadn’t just seen my husband’s naked arse.

    Honestly, being around my mother was an education sometimes.  “Yes, that would be great.” I might as well put her to work whilst she was here.

    I flopped back onto the bed as soon as she shut the door. None of my other friends had this problem with their parents. Why was I the one with a mother who didn’t understand boundaries? Dad was good at keeping his distance, so why couldn’t she take a leaf out of his book? And didn’t he see it? Didn’t he think that she was too overbearing? He probably hadn’t said anything because it was hard to actually tell her anything.

    And it didn’t matter how I reacted to her intrusions. It was like water off a duck’s back. She just carried on regardless. I sounded like a broken record whenever I said anything, now I’d just given up.

    I stood up, still naked, and walked towards the sound of running water.

    “We need to change the locks,” Mark said as I entered. Eyes the colour of cinnamon looked at me through the shower glass. “And you broke my dick.”

    “You want me to kiss it better?” I teased as I made my way towards him.

    My man looked good all wet and soapy. His hair, a dark mochaccino, was darker when wet. He had a little stubble which moved heat through my belly. Right underneath his lip was a scar from when he was younger when he’d flown from his bike straight through his parent’s oak room window. I loved the scar. It added a dangerous sexiness. I’d been fascinated with it from our very first date. It always made me want to bite his lip and tease it with my tongue.  

    “Your mother is downstairs,” he chuckled. “It’s a bit of a mood killer.”

    “You didn’t have that problem this morning.”

    He shrugged and winked at me. “I was dreaming about you.”

    I laughed. I highly doubted that. He was probably fantasising about Margot Robbie. Like every man to ever walk the earth.  

    “What was the engagement today?”

    I watched as his large hands rubbed soap along his torso and admired the way the water rolled over the ripples of muscle. I bit my lip. Jesus. That was distracting. “I don’t even remember an engagement. Mum probably made it up to come and hound us. I knew we should have bought a house further away from theirs. And I feel ill.”

    “Still?” Concern flashed in his eyes. “Maybe you should see a doctor? And we bought a house that is miles away from them, it doesn’t stop her from dropping by whenever she wants to, it’s like we actually live next door.”

    “Yeah, I still feel ill.” I groaned as I sat on the toilet. He shut off the water as I tapped my foot as I peed. It was then that I saw the tampon box.

    My foot stopped tapping.

    My heart dropped from my chest into my stomach as my head calculated my last witch week. I ran through the dates as I nibbled on my lip nervously. “Babe…”

    “Yeah.” He grabbed a towel and looked down at me. “You have a problem wiping or something? Because I love you, but I’m not doing that.”

    I ignored his comment. Any other time I would have laughed. Not this time. “I need a test.”

    “What test?”

    I took a deep breath. “A pregnancy test.”

    “Oh…” His eyes popped wide as his hand stilled from wrapping the towel around his midriff.

    We looked at each other for a moment and then he seemed to shake himself out the same shock I felt. “I’ll go. I’ll be five minutes.”

    “What about my mother? She will ask where you’re going.”

This was my mother after all. She always had to know what was happening.

    “I’ll tell her I’m buying porn.”

    I snorted.  Yeah, and Mum wouldn’t question him either. He had that luxury. Plus, Mum wasn’t comfortable discussing anything porn related, I mean, no one really talked about porn, but if it came up in conversation, she would stick her nose in the air and make a disgusted noise. Hence why she hadn’t given Hope much of a chance.

    I smiled as he dashed around the room, trying to find clothes. He stumbled over the pile and cursed. I laughed now. He always had a way when I was stressed. It was one of the things I loved about him.

    Was I stressed?

    I think I was in shock because this wasn’t expected at all. We hadn’t been married very long either, but that didn’t make a difference. We’d spoken about babies, of course, but we’d assumed they would come later, but we hadn’t stated when we would start a family. Mum had other ideas of course, and she’d interfered as much as Eleanor possible.

    It would seem the fates, something I believed in, had other ideas.

 

*

 

     He returned in under twenty minutes, a little out of breath. “Here, and I thought you might need some water to drink, to help with the pee…”

    “Did you speed to the shop?” I asked, taking the water.

    He smirked. “Maybe.”

    “And my mother?”

    “Was rather shocked to see me running around… but she was sat on our sofa drinking her coffee watching something on the TV.”

    It was just like her to make herself at home.

    And why was he so calm? Other than being out of breath from the mad dash, he didn’t look like he was freaking out. I took the water and drank it quickly. My fingers shook as I opened the test. I was nervous. I hadn’t thought about babies, but now that it was a possibility, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Was I happy? Excited? Shitting my pants?

    We waited in silence for the water to do its job. The two of us lost in our own thoughts.

    What did he think about all of this? I knew he wanted a family, but did he want it this soon? A baby would completely change our lives. Were we ready for that?

    Jesus. My head was all over the place.

    I sat for a while, but nothing was happening down there. No one could pee when they had to. It was like a watched kettle.

    “Babe, I don’t think I can pee when you’re watching me.”

    “Sorry.” He grinned sheepishly and left me alone. Not before his hand squeezed mine reassuringly.

    After sitting for another five minutes, I finally felt the urge to pee and held the stick under the flow.

    Errrrmmm.

    Jesus. I had to admit that men had it easy because they could direct the flow. How the hell was I supposed to keep the stick under my pee when the pee always moved? No one mentioned that this one small thing was hard to do. I moved the stick as the pee moved direction, at this rate, I was going to pee on my hands. Once I’d finished, I put the stick on the side, washed my hands and walked into the bedroom.

    “I know your mother has been going on and on about this… and contacting a specialist to come and see us, but if we’re not, then it doesn’t matter. We weren’t trying and there’s nothing wrong with my sperm or your ovaries. We can just enjoy the practising until it happens.”

    “Okay,” I sighed, as his arms wrapped around me. I really did enjoy the practising.

    “We have a comfortable life, we have the money, so if this happens, we can handle this. I can change my business hours, get some of my staff to take different duties, and you work from home anyway…”

    I nodded. It wasn’t the money I was worried about. Would I even be a good mother? I didn’t know how to look after a baby. I didn’t have nieces or nephews that I’d practised on. My friends didn’t have babies. I wasn’t used to it. How did you even hold a baby anyway?

    Plus, they cried all the time and they shit all the time. And my example of parenting came from Mum. I didn’t want the uncomfortable relationship we seemed to have because she couldn’t shake her pretentious ways. I wanted an open, fun relationship with them.

    I took a deep breath and walked back into the ensuite as Mark followed me. We both looked down at the stick and then looked at each other.

    Oh.

    Shit.

© 2017 Keeley Holmes.