Over the next few days, some of the other women in the pack approached Tareth to talk about the baby and the upcoming wedding. Tareth was bemused by the attention. While most of these women had been friendly to her, none had made an effort to actually be her friend until now. They seemed fascinated by her pregnancy and her upcoming wedding to Justin, which wasn’t even planned yet. Tareth had mentioned it to Justin at one point, and he’d asked to put off the topic until after Christmas.
Christmas morning, Tareth woke to find that Justin had already left the bed. She was a little disappointed. She’d hoped he would let her unwrap him before they started on their presents. “Maybe later,” she said out loud to herself as she got out of bed.
The smells of bacon and hot chocolate filtered down the hall from the kitchen when she left the bedroom. She followed them to find Justin standing at the stove, frying eggs and the bacon she’d smelled. He wore only the boxer briefs he’d slept in, and Tareth’s mouth watered from the sight of her mate more than the smell of the food.
Her stomach rolled, reminding her that eating early in the morning hadn’t been a good idea lately anyway.
“Thanks for cooking.” She smiled when Justin looked at her. “I don’t know if I can eat right now.”
“I can probably eat enough for both of us, but isn’t it bad for the baby if you skip meals?” He paused. “That’s why you haven’t been eating breakfast. Morning sickness?”
“Yeah. Though weirdly, sometimes hot chocolate helps.” She sat at the table beside a cup filled with the beverage. Her stomach rolled again. “Maybe not this time. I do eat enough, Justin. I just can’t eat until about ten or eleven in the morning. That’s when the nausea starts to let up. I think for most women, morning sickness goes away after the first trimester, which means I should be almost done with it.”
“You can ask the doctor.” He turned back to the stove. “You called the doctor, right?”
“On Thursday. My primary care wants to see me first, and then there’s an OB-GYN in the same practice who’ll see me. Not till after New Year’s Day, though.”
“That’ll be soon enough.” He put some eggs and bacon on a plate he’d set on the counter and turned toward her. “I’ll eat over here if the smell bothers you. I need to eat something before we open our presents.”
Tareth nodded. “I can wait. I think. I have to admit I’m a little excited, though. There’s this big box under the tree with my name on it. I noticed it last night. I want to find out what that is.”
“There are three other presents with your name on them, and the big box has to be the last one you open.” Justin put a piece of bacon in his mouth. Tareth’s stomach churned again, and she ran into the bathroom.
A few minutes later, cursing her stomach but satisfied that the worst was over for the day, she brushed her teeth before returning to the kitchen. Justin had finished his meal and was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in front of him. He stood when she entered the room. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. That’s been happening every day. Sadly, I’m used to it.” She returned to her seat and took a cautious sip of now-lukewarm hot chocolate. “Are we ready for presents?”
“I am. I can’t wait to see the look on your face.” He grinned and reached for her hand. “Come with me.”
She took his hand and let him help her up. “Are you one of my presents?”
He laughed. “Later.”