Anna learns what is troubling Claire.
“What?” Gerard asked looking puzzled.
“That is the fifth time you have yawned since we walked in. Gee, you are exhausted. Lie down and take a nap. I know the others are going to walk into town for lunch but I really believe you should sleep.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m dead on my feet.”
“So am I.” Anna answered then waited to see how long it would take him to catch what she’d said. When several beats passed and he remained silent Anna started laughing. He looked over at her a moment then it hit him.
“Fuck, I am tired. That totally went right over my head.”
Anna walked over and hugged him. “I know. Now go lay down.”
“Are you gonna go with the others?” He asked as he kicked off his shoes.
“No, I believe I will sit out on our little front porch and relax.”
“Don’t wanna lay down with me?” He asked.
Anna shook her head, “If I do we both know you will not sleep.” She gave him a playful shove toward the small bedroom. “Now, go nap. I will tell the others we will meet up with them later.”
“Okay.” He yawned again. “But I still think you should lay down with me.”
“Gee.” Anna said smiling, “Sleep.”
Anna was sitting outside on the porch enjoying the soft breeze when she saw Bob approaching.
“Hello.” She greeted him.
“Hey.” He came up the steps, “Uh, Claire and I decided yet to hang here instead of going into town.”
“Gerard is taking a nap.” Anna said assuming he waned to talk to his friend.
Bob nodded, “Actually I came over hoping to talk to you.”
Anna smiled, “What do you wish to talk about?” She scooted over on the glider so Bob could take a seat next to her.
Bob sighed, “Look I’ll level with you. I don’t understand the relationship between you and my wife but I get that it’s very important to her.”
“As it is to me.” Anna said softly.
“Yeah, I know.” Bob said looking down. “And because I love her so much I accept a lot of things I don’t really understand.”
Anna remained silent.
Bob looked up, “See the thing is I was wondering if you could go over to our cabin and talk to her.”
“Is something wrong?” Anna asked.
“No” Bob answered but then quickly changed his answer, “Yes.”
Anna reached over and gently touched his arm. “Bob you are a very understanding man. I am so happy that you and Claire are together. Please never doubt that.”
Bob looked into her eyes, “I do believe that.”
Anna stood, “I will go talk to her. I do not believe Gee will wake up while I am gone but if he does will you please tell him a will be back soon?”
“I’ll just sit right here until you get back.” Bob answered with a nod.
Anna knocked gently on Bob and Claire’s cabin door then went inside when she heard Claire yell out a welcome.
“Oh it is you.” Claire said looking flustered. “I thought it was Bob. He told me he was going back to the van and would be right back.”
“Bob asked me to come and talk to you.” Anna said trying to look into Claire’s eyes but was unable to do so because Claire turned her back.
“Claire.” Anna’s voice was soft. “Please tell me what is wrong.”
For a moment Claire stood still then she slowly turned. Anna was surprised to see she was crying. “Nothing is wrong.”
Anna walked over and took her arm to lead her to the sofa. Once they were seated she asked again. “Please tell me.”
Claire looked down at her hands, which were folded, in her lap. “He should not have asked you to come here.”
“He asked me because he loves you and knows something is amiss.”
“This is all so hard.” Claire said without raising her eyes. “I know it is so hard for him to understand things.”
Anna reached over and using her finger tilted Claire’s face so that she could look into her eyes. For a moment shock registered on Anna’s face and then she smiled, “Oh, my.”
Claire began to cry in earnest so Anna wrapped her arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Why are you upset? Is he not happy?”
“He is very happy.” Claire answered.
Anna moved away slightly and using her fingertips wiped away Claire’s tears. “Then why the tears?”
“Because I am afraid.” Claire admitted. “This was not supposed to happen. What if you need me?”
Anna was shocked, “You are upset because of me?”
“What if you need…”
Anna cut her off, “Stop that right now. You should be feeling nothing but happiness.”
“I am happy about the baby.” Claire said, “Even though this was not planned Bob and I are both thrilled. But everything has happened so quickly I feel like my life is out of control. I came on this tour to help you, to be at your side.”
“And you have been.” Anna said with a smile, “But a wonderful totally unplanned event happened. You fell in love and because of that love you are now married and you are going to be a mother.”
“But Anna, what about you?”
Anna smiled, “We always knew one day this would happen. I have always wanted you to have your own life. It was never my intent that you should spend your whole life caring for me. I will be fine. Gerard and I are in love which was what I desired.”
“But now you can not count on me if you need blood.” Claire said in a worried tone. She knew it was strictly forbidden for a Healer to feed from a pregnant woman.
“If that need would arise I have Gee.” Anna said with a smile, “And Christa but I do not anticipate that happening. Claire a most wonderful thing occurred in Cripple Creek. I finally let go of the guilt I had carried for so long. I feel like a new woman. Both of our lives have turned out wonderful. I am so happy for you. Please do not let any worries you have concerning me ruin this.”
“I just do not want you to think that I have deserted you.” Claire said softly.
“I would never think that.” Anna answered. “Never. So do you know how far along you are?”
Claire smiled slightly, “Yes. I know exactly when I became pregnant.” She shook her head, “At first I was terrified Bob would be angry. I had assured him that protection was not necessary and I truly had believed that. My cycle had always been extremely predictable. I still do not know what happened.”
Anna laughed, “Your life has been turned upside down. I understand it is not unusual for this to chance one’s cycle. So he was not upset when you told him?”
“At first I just blurted it out when we first arrived in Cripple Creek that I thought I might be pregnant. I started crying and he just stared at me. I believe he was in shock but he took control of the situation and said the first thing we needed to do was to make sure so he went into town and bought a pregnancy test.”
“And when he saw that it was positive?”
Claire’s smile was beautiful, “He said that it was the best surprise he had ever had in his life.”
“Good.” Anna said, “The two of you will be wonderful parents.”
“But Anna, I do not know the first thing about babies. And Bob’s family does not even know we are married. How will this look to them? And what about the tour? The band will be in Europe when it is time for the baby to be born…and…” She stopped speaking and tears filled her eyes again.
Anna pulled her into her arms again. “Claire it will all be fine. You have a man at your side who loves you. Nothing else matters.”
“I know.” Claire whispered, “But I am afraid.”
“You are afraid of change.” Anna said knowingly. “But I promise you it will all work out.” She released Claire and smiled, “Are you and Bob going to tell everyone or keep it a secret for now?”
“Bob wants to tell everyone because he is so happy.” She said but there was something in her words that sounded wrong.
Anna looked at her closely, “He is happy about the baby but unsettled about your reaction?”
“He knows I am confused.” Claire admitted.
“And part of your confusion is because of me and he can sense that.” Anna said knowing it was the truth.
Claire nodded, “He tries very hard to be understanding but I know it is difficult for him.”
“He does try very hard. That is why he asked me to come and speak with you alone. He knew we needed to talk. You have a very understanding man, Claire. You are very lucky. Now dry your eyes and be happy. This is a wonderful event.”
“It is.” Claire nodded. “Anna, thank you.”
“Why would you thank me?”
“Because if not for you I would not even be here. I would not have Bob or this baby.”
“I believe this was your destiny.”
“Just as you and Gerard falling in love was destiny.” Claire said softly.
Anna smiled but did not respond.
Bob was leaning back in the glider when he saw Anna approaching. She looked very somber and he stomach dropped. Had the news of the baby upset her? He stood up as she neared.
Anna walked up on to the porch and before Bob could react she threw her arms around him and hugged him so tightly that for a moment he couldn’t breath. “I am so happy.” She said laughing.
Bob returned the hug. When she released him he smiled, “Man, for such a little thing you hug tight.”
Anna grinned, “Sorry.”
“Hey, I’m not complain’ at all. So you and Claire had a good talk?”
“Yes. You do realize she was just worried how I would respond because she was afraid I would look at this as her deserting me. I assured her that is not the case at all. I think this is wonderful.”
“Uh, so what’s all the hugging about?” Gerard asked as he pushed open the screen door. He’d awoken a few minutes earlier being pulled from sleep by a strong sense that Anna was gone.
Bob and Anna looked at each other. She was not sure if Bob wanted to share the news without Claire at his side.
“Uh..” Bob hedged. “Well, uh, I’m gonna be a dad.”
“What?” Gerard said in shock, ‘A dad?”
Bob grinned, “Yeah.”
“Wow” Gerard said moving over to Anna and placing his arm around her shoulder. “Just wow.”
“Yeah well it wasn’t planned but we’re both really happy.” Bob said.
“I was just over talking to Claire.” Anna said to Gerard, “Why are you already awake? I thought you would sleep for at least an hour.”
He couldn’t explain how he felt in front of Bob so he simply shrugged.
“Hey, I’ll catch you guys later. Better get back to the wife.” Bob said moving down the stairs.
They both said goodbye and watched as he disappeared through the pine trees in the direction of his cabin.
“Wow.” Gerard said again as he led Anna over to the glider and they sat down. “You didn’t know until now?”
“I had sensed something was going on with Claire but she had been avoiding me.” Anna answered. “She was worried the news would upset me.”
Gerard understood, “Cause she still thinks of herself as the one who sorta takes care of things for you.”
Anna nodded then leaned over to place her head on Gerard’s shoulder.
“Bob a dad” Gerard said shaking his head, “Man, this really is a surprise.”
“It is.” Anna agreed, “But a wonderful one.”
For several minutes the only sound was the glider creaking as he moved back and forth. Finally Gerard asked softly, “How do you really feel? I mean I can tell you are happy for them and all but..”
Anna sighed, “ I am very happy for them. Claire will be a wonderful mother.”
He wondered if she’d share any other feelings with him but didn’t want to push her.
“And yes I am a bit sad. Change is hard for me at times and now everything is different.” She admitted.
Gerard hugged her, “Yeah, well you have me to take care of you now.”
Anna smiled, “You make me sound as if I am an invalid at times.”
“Not at all Sugar.” Gerard said looking into her eyes, “When you love someone you want to take care of them. Don’t you want to take care of me, too?”
“Always.” Anna responded.
Gerard grinned, “And I do need a lot of taking care of.”
Over dinner that night while enjoying Mexican food Bob and Claire shared their news with the rest of their friends. Everyone congratulated them but Frank had to tease Bob just a bit. But it was of course expected and the dinner was a warm, friendly event.
Afterwards they all decided to walk to the outdoor arcade. Mikey and Alicia along with Frank and Jamia went to the large old school area to play video games from the past. Mikey was especially excited when he saw a vintage Dig Dug game.
The others all walked around playing various games while enjoying the cool night air. As Ray was challenging Gerard and Bob to a game of skee ball with Anna cheering Christa noticed that Claire had found a small bench overlooking the stream that ran under the arcade. She decided to take the opportunity to talk to her.
“Hey.” She said sitting down next to her. “It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”
Claire smiled, “Oh yes.” She offered Christa a piece of salt-water taffy from the bag Bob had bought for her.
“Thanks’ Christa said selecting an orange candy. While she was unwrapping it she said softly, “I know you are happy about the baby but you still seem a little sad.”
Claire looked over at her, “A little.”
“Because of Anna?” Christa guessed.
“I worry.” Claire admitted, “For so long I have handled things for Anna. Actually I am the only one other than Jacob who has done this.”
Christa thought a moment, “You mean like supplying things she needs?”
Claire looked around to make sure no one was listening to their conversation. “Yes, it is my job to supply Anna with the synthetic.”
“I had assumed that.” Christa said, “Is that something she can’t do for herself?”
For a moment Claire grew angry but she quickly reminded herself that Christa didn’t understand so many things. “She could but it is not considered proper. She is the child of a Pure and as so it is expected that her needs are looked after by one she has bound to her.”
“Oh” Christa said starting to understand. “And you’re worried that you won’t be able to do this anymore?”
“I worry.” Claire said pulling out another piece of candy as she spoke, “Because I am not sure I will always be at her side.”
“Because of the baby.” Christa said softly.
Claire nodded. “It is my hope I will be able to travel on the next leg of the tour to Europe but if I can not I am not sure what will happen.”
“Well I’m gonna be going for sure.” Christa said, “Could you just teach me how to do it?”
Claire thought a moment, “I am not sure that is a good idea.”
“Why? I’m bound to her and I’d be happy to handle things for her if you can’t.”
While the idea did relieve some of Claire’s concerns she still was not sure. “The bond you share is not very strong. It is important that the bond be strong so you can anticipate her needs. Also a stronger bond would provide you with the ability to easily recognize those like her which you need to be able to do when securing her synthetic.”
“I recognized Hudson was different.” Christa reminded her, “Even before I was bound to Anna.”
Claire nodded, “Yes you do have an unexplained ability to sense things. Perhaps I should ask Anna if she would be agreeable to the idea.”
“So, I’m curious now and I’m sorry if I’m asking things I shouldn’t but is it easy to get the stuff?”
Claire smiled, “It is not difficult. Anna and I have never traveled anywhere that I have not been able to supply what she needs. The Healers have a very large and well run network in place.”
“You know it is still so hard for me to comprehend all of this.” Christa said glancing around the crowded walkways. “That they walk among us.”
“There are so many that walk among us.” Claire said softly. She paused then nodded her head, “Do you see that small jewelry shop?”
Christa followed her gaze and saw the small shop with the brightly lit windows, “Yes.”
“If you look closely at the display you might see something that at first glance would never catch your attention but it is there. It is a marking that denotes they cater to the Healers needs. It is just one mark there are several. But to those of us who handle such things we recognize the mark.”
“Really?’ Christa squinted, “How can you even see that far?”
Claire laughed, “I can not from here. I walked by earlier and saw it.”
Christa stood up. “I’m going to walk over and pretend to be looking at the jewelry. I want to see if I can figure it out.”
When she saw Claire nod she slowly walked across the small bridge to the other side and went directly to the window of the store. Her eyes were first attracted to the beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry but she forced herself to look beyond those items. For several minutes she continued to look at the actual display props.
“Hey, you pickin’ out something for me to buy you?’ Ray asked as she put his arm around her.
“Oh” Christa jumped, “You scared me.’ She’d been so intent of discovering the mark that she hadn’t heard him walk up.
“I was wondering where you’d wandered off to.” Ray said giving her a quick kiss.
“I was just talking to Claire then I decided to check out the jewelry.”
“This place is great but I’m parched. Wanna cherry limeade? Alicia said that place over there has the best ones in the world.”
“In the world?” Christa laughed, “Well yeah, I better try one then.” She glanced over and saw that Claire was still sitting alone. “I’m gonna go back over and sit with Claire. Can you bring it to me?”
He laughed, “Sure thing Babe but lets ask her if she wants one too.”
They both walked back across the bridge and Ray asked Claire if she’d like a drink too. She told him she’d love one so he went off promising to be back soon.
Christa sat back down, “Okay, so I looked really closely and there were several different things I thought it might be but one stood out. It’s on the small blue box in the corner. A kinda funny mark that looks like a flaming heart but instead of flames it looks more like beams of light.”
“Very good.” Claire smiled, “That is one of the marks the Healers use.”
Christa was pleased, “I don’t know but when I looked at it I just got a strange feeling.”
Claire saw Bob walking towards them. “Perhaps it would be best if you speak to Anna about what we’ve discussed.” She looked directly at Christa, “But it is important that your bond with her is strengthened. I fear she may not want that to happen. She may feel like she will be burdening you with something you might not want to accept.”
Christa saw Bob getting nearer also. “I will make her understand this is something I want to do. Not just for her but for you so that you don’t worry.”
“Thank you.” Claire whispered as Bob reached them. Knowing that Christa would be there to help Anna lessened her worries. As Bob leaned down to kiss her gently she smiled feeling much better than she had earlier.