The law is a lady, p.23
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       The Law is a Lady, p.23

           Nora Roberts
 
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  girl. Ballet shoes and hair ribbons!”

  Clare shook her head. “I appear to specialize in boys. Make that baseball gloves and action figures.”

  “A boy?” Hope leaned over, touched Avery hand. “Are you disappointed?”

  “Not even the tiniest bit.” She opened her purse. “Want to see?”

  “Are you kidding?” Avery made a grab, but Clare snatched the envelope out of reach. “Does he look like you? Like Beck? Like a fish? No offense, but they always look like fish to me.”

  “Which one?”

  “Which one what?”

  “There are two.”

  “Two?” Hope nearly bobbled the water. “Twins? You’re having twins?”

  “Two?” Avery echoed. “You have two fish?”

  “Two boys. Look at my beautiful boys.” Clare pulled out the sonogram print out, then burst into tears. “Good tears,” she managed. “Hormones, but good ones. Oh God. Look at my babies!”

  “They’re gorgeous!”

  Clare swiped at tears as she grinned at Avery. “You don’t see them.”

  “No, but they’re gorgeous. Twins. That’s five. You did the math, right? You’re going to have five boys.”

  “We did the math, but it’s still sinking in. We didn’t expect—We never thought—Maybe I should have. I’m bigger than I’ve ever been this early. But when the doctor told us . . . Beckett went white.”

  She laughed, even as tears poured. “Sheet white. I thought he was going to pass out. Then we just stared at each other. And then we started to laugh. We laughed like lunatics. I think maybe we were both a little hysterical. Five. Oh, sweet Jesus. Five boys.”

  “You’ll be great. All of you,” Hope told her.

  “We will. I know it. I’m so dazzled, so happy, so stunned. I don’t know how Beckett drove home. I couldn’t tell you if we drove back from Hagerstown or from California. I was in some sort of shock, I think. Twins.”

  She laid her hands on her belly. “Do you know how there are moments in your life when you think, this is it. I’ll never be happier or more excited. I’ll never feel more than I do right now. Just exactly now. This is one of those moments for me.”

  Hope folded her into a hug, and Avery folded them both.

  “I’m so happy for you,” Hope murmured. “Happy, dazzled, and excited right along with you.”

  “The kids are going to get such a kick out of this.” Avery drew back. “Right?”

  “Yeah. And since Liam already made it clear if I had a girl he wouldn’t stoop so low as to play with her, I think he’ll be especially pleased.”

  “What about your due date?” Hope asked. “Earlier with twins?”

  “A little. They told me November 21. So, Thanksgiving babies instead of Christmas/New Year’s.”

  “Gobble, gobble,” Avery said, and made Clare laugh again.

  “You have to let us help set up the nursery,” Hope began. Planning was in her blood.

  “I’m counting on it. I don’t have a thing. I gave away all the baby things after Murphy. I never thought I’d fall in love again, or marry again, or have more children.”

  “Can we say baby shower? A double-the-fun theme,” Hope decided. “Or what comes in pairs, sets of two. Something like that. I’ll work on it. We should schedule it in early October, just to be safe.”

  “Baby shower.” Clare sighed. “More and more real. I need to call my parents, and I need to tell the girls,” she added, referring to her bookstore staff. She levered herself up. “November babies,” she said again. “I should be able to shed the baby weight by May and the wedding.”

  “Oh yeah, I’m getting married.” Avery held out her hand, admired the diamond that had replaced the bubble gum ring Owen had put on her finger. Twice.

  “Getting married and opening a second restaurant, and helping plan a baby shower, and redecorating the current single guy’s master suite into a couple’s master suite.” Hope poked Avery in the arm. “We have a lot of planning to do.”

  “I can take some time tomorrow.”

  “Good.” Hope took a moment to flip through her mental list, rearrange tasks, gauge the timing. “One o’clock. I can clear the time. Can you make that?” she asked Clare. “I can fix us a little lunch and we can get some of the planning worked out before I have check-ins.”

  “One o’clock tomorrow.” Clare patted her belly. “We’ll be there.”

  “I’ll be over,” Avery promised. “If I’m a little later, we had a good lunch rush. But I’ll get over.”

  Hope walked out with Clare, grabbed another hug before separating. And imagined Clare telling her parents the happy news. Imagined, too, Avery texting Owen. And Beckett slipping off to check on Clare during the day, or just stealing a few minutes to bask with her.

  For a moment she wished she had someone to call or text or slip away to, someone to share the lovely news with.

  Instead she went around the back of the inn, up the outside stairs. She let herself in on the third floor, listening as she walked down to her apartment.

  Yes, she thought, she could just hear Carolee’s voice and the excitement in it. No doubt Justine Montgomery had already called her sister to share the news about the twins.

  Hope closed herself into her apartment. She’d spend a couple hours in the quiet, she decided, researching their resident ghost, and the man named Billy she waited for.

  ***

 
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