HOLLY looked in the mirror. The early June day wasn’t quite warm enough for the blue cotton trousers but, with their drawstring waist, they were the only garment that didn’t feel tight on her. A loose white top covered the incipient baby bulge.
There were still six months to go before the baby was due. She hadn’t expected to grow out of her wardrobe quite so soon.
“Ready to go, sweetheart?” Corin stood at the bedroom door, car keys in hand.
“I could go on my own. I know you have a million things to do with all the bookings for tonight.”
“There is nowhere I want to be except with you and Bump.” Corin held out his hand. “Of course I’m coming.”
In the car he buckled the seat belt for her and planted a kiss on her cheek. “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine.”
“But I’m so useless,” Holly said. “I feel I’ve no energy at all. We were supposed to be a team, the four of us, and I’m not fit for anything except writing out menus and answering the phone.”
Corin started the car.
“We need someone to do both these things and you’re very good at them.”
It’s what you would say if you were placating a child. Holly turned her head away from him. Had she sounded like one?
Verity was still keen for Holly to go and stay with them in Edinburgh until she felt better. They’d almost had an argument the night of the party when Holly refused even to think about it. Apart from her role in the hotel, she certainly didn’t want to be apart from Corin and how long would it be before she felt better? After four months? Five? When the baby was born?
Her mother-in-law meant well, Holly knew. Her suggestion was made out of affection and out of genuine concern, not just for Holly herself, of course, but for the baby. The Grainger son and heir, as Philip referred to his future grandchild.
All that pressure and expectation from your parents on you . . . and on your partner. However awful she felt now, Holly decided that this baby would not be an only child like Corin.
She only had to wait another hour to find out that her wish had come true.
The technician pointed to the undulating shapes on the screen.
“You’ve got two babies in there,” she said. “Congratulations, you’re having twins.”
Holly put her hand on her tummy and looked at the screen. It all became very real, and very wonderful. Two babies!
Corin grabbed her other hand and held it in both of his. Holly glanced at him. His eyes, suspiciously shiny, were riveted on the screen.
“Are they all right? Will Holly be all right?” Holly had never heard him burble like that before.
“Everything is tickety-boo, absolutely normal,” the technician said briskly. “We’ll see you again in a few months.”
* * * *
“Granmar says she can’t think of any twins on her side of the family,” Judy said next day, over elevenses.
“Verity says the same, and about Philip’s, too.”
“You really have to look after yourself,” Judy said. “Do you think,” she went on, hesitantly, “that you should go and stay with them for a while? I heard Verity suggesting it to you.”
“No!” Holly said vehemently. “The second three months will be better. I’ve been reading up about it. I should feel less tired any day now.”
“Well, take it easy today. I can hear the guests coming downstairs to check out. I’ll go and see to them. Here’s a stool. You put your feet up, darling.”
When Judy left the room Holly got up and put their mugs in the dishwasher. Her eye fell on the ancient, dusty, gilded soup tureen Judy had found in the back of the hall cupboard and planned to fill with flowers on the reception desk, to replace the broken glass vase. It fitted nicely into the remaining space in the dishwasher. She switched it on. No, she wasn’t going to sit with her feet up and do nothing all day. She could still make a contribution.