I sighed and stared out the little window above the sink. A lot of things to say went through my head, none of them helpful. I finally settled for, "Well, it isn't you and Louie having this particular problem. It's me, and..."
"And who?" she said. "Who got you knocked up?"
"Thanks for putting it that way."
"I could ask, who's the father, but that's just creepy. If you are, then it's this little tiny, microscopic lump of cells. It's not a baby. It's not a person, not yet."
I shook my head. "We'll agree to disagree on that one."
"You're pro-choice," she said.
I nodded. "Yep, I am, but I also believe that abortion is taking a life. I agree women have the right to choose, but I also think that it's still taking a life."
"That's like saying you're pro-choice and pro-life. You can't be both."
"I'm pro-choice because I've never been a fourteen-year-old incest victim pregnant by her father, or a woman who's going to die if the pregnancy continues, or a rape victim, or even a teenager who made a mistake. I want women to have choices, but I also believe that it's a life, especially once it's big enough to live outside the womb."
"Once a Catholic, always a Catholic," she said.
"Maybe, but you'd think being excommunicated would've cured me." The Pope had declared that all animators--zombie raisers--were excommunicated until they repented their evil ways and stopped doing it. What His Holiness didn't seem to grasp is that raising the dead was a psychic ability, and if we didn't raise zombies for money on a regular basis, we'd eventually raise the dead by accident. I had accidentally raised a deceased pet as a child, and a suicidal teacher in college. I'd always wondered if there had been others that never found me. Maybe some of the accidental zombies that occasionally show up are the result of someone's psychic abilities gone wrong, or untrained. All I knew was that if the Pope had ever woken up as a child with his dead dog curled up in bed with him, he'd want the power controlled. Or maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he'd believe that it was evil and he'd pray it into submission. My prayers just didn't have that kind of punch to them.
"You can't mean you'd actually have this... thing, baby, whatever."
I sighed. "I don't know, but I do know that I could never just go away, get an abortion, and never tell my boyfriends. Never tell them that one of them might have made a child with me. I just couldn't do it."
She was shaking her head so hard that her hair fell around her face, covered the upper half of it. She ran her hands through it sharply, like she was pulling on it. "I've tried to understand that you're happy living with not one, but two men. I've tried to understand that you love that vampire son of a bitch, somehow. I've tried, but if you actually breed... actually have a baby, I just don't get that. I won't be able to understand that."
"Then don't, then go. If you can't deal, then go."
"I didn't mean that. I just meant that I can't understand why you would complicate your life this way."
"Complicate, yeah, I guess that's one way of putting it."
She crossed her arms tight over her chest. She was tall, slender and leggy, and blond. Everything I'd wanted to be as a child. She was small-chested enough that she could fold her arms over her br**sts instead of under them, something I couldn't have done. But her legs went on forever in a skirt, and mine did not. Oh, well.
"Okay, then if you're going to tell them, tell Micah and Nathaniel and get a test and test yourself."
"I told you, I don't want anyone to know until I know for sure."
She looked up at the ceiling, closed her eyes, and sighed. "Anita, you live with two of them. You sleep over with two more of them. You are never alone. When are you going to have time to run in and get a test, let alone have the privacy to use it?"
"I can pick one up at work on Monday."
She stared at me. "Monday! It's Thursday. I'd go f**king crazy if I had to wait that long. You'll go crazy. You can't wait nearly four days."
"Maybe my period will start. Maybe by Monday I won't need it."
"Anita, you wouldn't have told me if you weren't pretty sure you needed a pregnancy test."
"When Nathaniel and Micah get back, they'll jump in the shower, we'll get dressed up, and go straight to Jean-Claude's. There won't be time tonight."
"Friday, promise me that Friday you'll get one."
"I'll try, but..."
"Besides, when you start asking your lovers to use condoms, won't they figure something out?"
"Jesus," I said.
"Yeah, I heard you say if you'd used condoms you'd be safe. Don't tell me that you're not going to want to use them for a while. Could you really have unprotected sex right now, and enjoy it?"
I shook my head. "No."
"Then what are you going to tell the boys about this sudden need for condoms? Hell, Micah had a vasectomy before you even met him. He's like super-safe."
I sighed again. "You're right, damn it, but you are."
"So pick up the test on the way to the thing tonight."
"No. I'm not going to rain all over Jean-Claude's meeting. He's planned this for months."
"You didn't mention it to me."
"I didn't plan it, he did. The ballet isn't really my thing." Truthfully, he hadn't mentioned it to me until they were coming to St. Louis, but I kept that part to myself. It would just give Ronnie another reason to say that Jean-Claude was keeping secrets from me. He'd finally admitted that the Masters of the City all coming here had been something he hadn't planned, at least not from the beginning. He'd just negotiated it so the vampire dancers could cross many different vamp territories without problems. Jean-Claude agreed the meet was a good idea, but he was also nervous about it. It would be the largest gathering of Masters of the City in American history.
And you don't bring that many big fish together without worrying about shark attacks.
"And how will Mr. Fang-Face feel about being a father?"
"Don't call him that."
"Sorry, how will Jean-Claude feel about being a daddy?"
"It's probably not his."
She looked at me. "You're ha**ng s*x with him, a lot. Why isn't it his?"
"Because he's more than four hundred years old and when vampires get that old, they aren't very fertile. That goes for Asher and Damian, too."
"Oh, God," she said. "I'd forgotten that you had sex with Damian."
"Yeah," I said.
She covered her eyes with her hands. "I'm sorry, Anita. I'm sorry that it's weirding me out that my uptight monogamous friend is suddenly sleeping with not one, but three vampires."
"I didn't plan it that way."
"I know that." She hugged me, and I stayed stiff against her. She wasn't being comforting enough for me to relax in her arms. She hugged me tighter. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm being a jerk. But if it's not the vampires then who else but your houseboys."
I pulled away from her. "Don't call them my houseboys. They have names, and just because I like living with someone, and you don't, don't make that my problem."
"Fine, that leaves Micah and Nathaniel."
"Micah is fixed, remember? So it can't be him."
Her eyes went wide. "That leaves Nathaniel. Jesus, Anita, Nathaniel as the father-to-be."
A moment ago I might have agreed with her, but now it pissed me off. It wasn't her place to disparage my boyfriends. "What's wrong with Nathaniel?" I said, and my voice was not entirely happy.
She put her hands on her h*ps and gave me a look. "He's twenty and a stripper. Twenty-year-old strippers are the entertainment at your bachelorette party. You don't have babies with them."
I let the anger seep into my eyes. "Nathaniel told me you didn't see him as real, as a person. I told him he was wrong. I told him you were my friend, and you wouldn't disrespect him like that. I guess I was wrong."
She didn't back down or apologize. She was angry and staying that way. "Last time I checked, Nathaniel was supposed to be food, just food, not the love of your life."
"I didn't say he was the love of my life, and yeah, he started out as my pomme de sang, but that doesn't..."
But she interrupted me. "Your apple of blood, right, that's what pomme de sang means?"
"If you were a vampire you'd be taking blood from your little stripper, but thanks to that bloodsucking son of a bitch you have to feed off sex. Sex, for God's sake! First that bastard made you his blood whore, and now you're just a--" She stopped abruptly, a startled, almost-frightened look on her face, as if she knew she'd gone too far.