Almost immediately after Darren left their house that evening, Clara was sick again. Her pregnancy had been extremely difficult and Joshua was beyond worried about her. As he helped her clean up the bathroom, he explained, “I really want to arrange for you to give birth on the space station. They have the very best doctors up there.”
“I’m sure that isn’t necessary,” Clara argued politely. “It’s just morning sickness, and I might’ve pushed myself too hard playing BlicBlock.”
“Or maybe there’s a complication,” Joshua suggested, “and I want to at least rule that out.” Just then, baby Maribeth began crying and Joshua rushed to take care of her.
“Such a hungry girl,” Joshua cooed to his daughter as Clara came in.
“I could’ve nursed her,” Clara pointed out, trying not to complain about the inconvenience he just caused her.
“It’s all right, just relax and take it easy. I’ve got everything under control, honey.”
“What, I don’t even get to change her nappy?” Clara questioned.
She looked upset with him and Joshua pleaded, “I will take care of everything for you, Clara, you don’t need to worry about a thing.”
“I don’t want you to take care of everything,” Clara told him. “I’m not weak or inferior in any way!”
“Of course you aren’t!” Joshua agreed fervently. “I never meant to imply that!”
Clara relaxed a little and explained, “I wasn’t sure what to think. I mean, you’re helping Darren get a divorce, and… I am not expendable!”
“No, My Watcher, no! Of course not! No, I wouldn’t even want to imagine my life without you or our babies in it,” Joshua nearly cried. “I am just scared out of my mind, Clara. You’ve been so sick…”
“Okay!” Clara surrendered and smiled sweetly at her husband. “I am fine though, and the baby is doing great–here, feel!”
Joshua felt his new baby kicking furiously inside her womb, and he whispered, “Settle down in there, please!”
Clara giggled and said, “I love you so much, Joshua!”
“I love you too, Clara. I just want the best for you, so please let me take you to the best medical experts, okay?” he pleaded.
“All right, if you really think it’s necessary,” she agreed. “But Joshua, don’t rob me of the chance to take care of Maribeth while she’s still a baby. She’s growing up so fast!”
“Don’t remind me,” he sighed. “I didn’t realize I was doing that–I just wanted to help you, but you’re right. We’ll share child care duties, but I’ll take care of everything else, okay?”
“That’s a deal!”
Since Clara reminded him how time was flying by, Joshua decided they better take a “selfie” of their second pregnancy.
“You’re so cute,” Clara pointed at Joshua in the photo.
They said goodnight to their little girl and went upstairs to get ready for bed themselves. After he brushed his teeth, Joshua noticed Clara looking unhappy, so he sat down with her.
“I know you were troubled by the situation with Darren. If it would help, I could tell you more about… everything,” he offered.
“Oh, I would love to hear more about everything, seriously!” she assured him. “But it’s my back, it hurts so bad.”
“Okay, then allow me to make a more relaxing environment for you, and I’ll give you a massage,” Joshua proposed.
He got up and dimmed all the lights, then sat down and gazed into his wife’s opalescent grey blue eyes.
At last, Clara swooned and told him, “I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Joshua said before he began to rub her shoulders and tell her about things that happened long ago. “I met Darren at college,” he explained. “We were all in the same fraternity: Darren and I, my brother, and also Ricky and some other guys.”
“And we were friends with the sorority girls,” Joshua continued, “and that included Skylar, Indra, Persephone and Darren’s sister, Grace.”
He was quiet for a moment, just massaging his wife and thinking about the past. She finally had to ask, “Please continue.”
“I’m sorry… So anyways, when Spring Break came, we had a cool holiday planned. Darren and Grace’s parents were on vacation with their younger brother, and me and Justice had this place to ourselves because our parents were on a cruise. So we had the fraternity guys stay here while the girls stayed with Darren’s sister at their family home in Willow Creek. The plan was to party all week long.”
“I take it that didn’t happen?”
“No… That’s when the war started. We were far enough from Lucky Palms, but still very close to the front lines…”
“You don’t have to talk about this,” Clara sympathized with him.
“I just want you to understand. Darren is my best friend, and then overnight he was a soldier. I think Skylar and Darren bonded in some very difficult circumstances, but it’s possible that was not love. I mean, not like how he loves Daria. Do you understand?”
“I understand. Thanks for explaining that to me,” Clara replied.
Joshua began talking about how much he truly loves Clara in every way, and the moment was about to become very romantic and intimate, but Clara felt sick suddenly.
“It’s nothing personal!” she tried to explain between uncomfortable groans, then she had to excuse herself.
Joshua decided to lay down and wait for her to come to bed. When she returned, he asked, “Are you feeling all right now?”
“Yes, thank you. Just don’t you make yourself sick worrying about me, okay?” Clara warned.
“I’ll try.” He kissed her on the cheek and laid down.
Clara snuggled close to him after shutting off the lamp. She kissed him and whispered, “I think you’re right about the Watcher.”