Warnings: Netiquette violations: language and adult situations
Further warnings: If you are a Rachel Quest fan read no further - delete now.
Disclaimer: (See Prologue)
The following morning Race walks outside to begin stretching before our daily run. I'm already there waiting for him. Race asks if there is anything that I would like to talk about with him. My response is a simple "No."
I enter the kitchen first after Race and I finish our run. I stop short at the sight that greets me. Benton is doing his best shy little boy routine, which has always managed to get to me. I reach out a hand, caressing the wood and the engravings on the baby cradle. My hand trails along on the wood as I walk around it and I give it an experimental little push. I go to my knees beside it overwhelmed by emotions. Benton drops down beside me. "Rag Doll, don't cry! If you think it's hideous and don't want to use it, I understand."
I shake my head violently no. "It's wonderful; it's beautiful; it's....." I bury my face in Benton's shoulder.
Race Bannon walks in, takes one look at the cradle, and asks "This doesn't mean what I think it means, does it?"
Benton beams up at him. "We're pregnant."
I laugh through my tears. "Remind me to remind him of that when I'm in labor."
From the kitchen you can hear the sound of the three teenagers coming downstairs. Jessie calls Jonny a geek for some reason that is unknown at this moment, but she will be sure to tell everyone before the day is out why she did.
"The boys, you should tell them in private. It's going to be a shock to both of them, and I don't think Jonny is going to be happy about this," I tell Benton, my joy eclipsed by the thought of Jonny's reaction. With a quick kiss on my cheek Benton stands.
"Yes, you are right about that. Hadji, Jonny, my office please," he calls to the teens before they can enter the kitchen.
Hadji softly tells Jonny. "Did I not tell you that he would not approve of your Quest World modifications?"
Jonny gives a brief yelp of pain. "Hey, Jess, you didn't have to pinch me. I'll fix it."
Hadji and Jessie both speak at the same time. "You better."
Benton shakes his head. "Please don't let this one be like the last one."
Race laughs and says, "No, with Will for a mother this one will be worse." Both men shake hands and to Mrs. Evans' and my surprise hug each other.
I laugh, "Now that was a Kodak moment." I'm still sitting on the floor caressing the Quest family cradle as Benton exits the room.
Jessie enters the room all sunshine and light. "Good Morning Mrs. E, Will, and the best Daddy in the whole wide world."
"Yeah, we heard the remarks about Jonny being a geek and modifications to Quest World. So, whatever you are selling this morning Miss Priss I ain't buying." Race gently scolds her as he hugs her.
She turns around and notices the cradle. "WOW, like, what is that? It's a very old baby cradle, isn't it? Why do we need a baby cradle?" Jessie gives Race one of those looks.
"Hey don't look at me, I don't need it." Race protests.
"Well then who does? Mrs. Evans, are you going to have a new grand-baby?" Jessie asks, totally ignoring me.
Before anyone can reply, Jonny storms back into the kitchen. He stops and glares at me: his face flushed, breathing ragged, and indignant tears welling in his eyes betraying his fury. "I hate you."
My heart sinks. Even when you expect the coming blow, it still hurts when it hits. I instinctively reach out to him, "Jonny...."
He slaps away my hand. "I hate you."
"Jonny, listen...." I try again.
"IHATEYOU!IHATEYOU!IHATEYOU!!!!" he screams childishly at me as he covers his ears refusing to hear anything I try to say to him. He turns on his heels and runs from the house.
Benton enters the kitchen followed closely by Hadji in time to see Jonny's final outburst. Benton's body language is giving off mixed signals. The clinched jaw and the way he has his right hand balled into a fist indicates anger. Yet, in the slump of his shoulders and in his periwinkle blue eyes, I see pained sadness. Hadji is totally unreadable. I seem to be on a winning streak with the Quest males here.
With a formality that I have never seen before, Hadji bows at the waist. "Congratulations." It looks as if it is painful for him to say. With his back held ramrod straight he exits the kitchen. This reaction is more baffling to Benton than Jonny's. With Jonny, Benton expected the fireworks but he would have thought Hadji would have been more accepting. Periwinkle blue eyes look at me; those eyes speak volumes. My heart breaks at the hurt I see in them. My beloved Benton drops his head and walks away, retreating to the safety of the known, his lab.
Race, Mrs. Evans, and Jessie watch this little drama. Mrs. Evans is wringing a dishtowel in her hands. She looks as if she is ready to cry. If she does I'll start crying myself. Race is frowning; he is fighting his indecision over who needs him more. He looks out the kitchen window towards the cliff---everyone knows that is where Jonny has gone. Race Bannon looks at the door that leads into the formal dining room. That is the route that Hadji had taken when he left the kitchen. Then Race looks at the other kitchen door: this one leads towards the lab. He sighs and drops his head.
Jessie is just standing there. The poor child looks confused. I don't blame her. She is the only one that doesn't know. No one has bothered to tell her. I'll do this when I get back. I have someone I have got to talk to right now. DAMN THESE QUEST MEN!!!!!
I don't have to be an I-1 agent to know where to find Jonny. He is where I know he will be, sitting on a precipice on the cliff. I stand for what seems like an eternity staring at his broadening back. He appears lost in thought so deeply that he doesn't hear me walk up the path. Either that or he is ignoring me. Well, there is only one way to find out if he heard me. I cough politely; he turns around and sees that it's me. He stands up and starts to walk by me with that icy disdain that I have seen Benton use to snub people. I grab his upper arm. I might be, as Benton likes to call me, "five feet nothing," but I am a very strong "five feet nothing," who, at the moment, is really not in the best of moods.
"Jonny, what do you want me to say?" I ask him. "Do you want to say this is all a horrible joke? Do you think I planned this? It was a shock to me and to your father." He does not respond. "Even I was in denial for two months. I keep telling myself that I was wrong, and that this couldn't be happening. Intelligence One agents don't get pregnant. How easy do you think it's going to be for me to tell Phil Corven I'm pregnant? No, I didn't do this to ruin your life. I didn't do it to change the Quest Team. Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way we think it should and things happen. This is one of those things." Still no response, just him looking somewhere over my shoulder into the distance. I'm beginning to get just a little ticked off at my youngest stepson. "I will tell you one thing, if you have a problem with this: get over it. Like it or not I am pregnant and I am having this baby." Now having said my piece to young Master Jonathan I let go of his arm to leave him to stew in his own juices.
As I said, this is his problem and he is going to have to learn to deal with it. I have enough to worry about on my own. Like the cramps that the doctor keep telling me not to worry about; how does one not worry about something that hurts so badly it takes your breath away and makes you sick? Then there is the fact that as far as the world is concerned Doctor Benton C. Quest is still a widower. Intelligence-One has made it very clear that they want our marital status kept a secret. Publicly I am---a) an electronics expert helping Doctor Quest with one of his projects, b) an electronics expert helping Race Bannon develop security systems for Quest Enterprises, or c) a tutor for his sons. I'm dreading the raised eyebrows; disapproving looks and snide comments I know will be heading my way. I shouldn't have become upset with Benton when he questioned the baby's parentage. After all, he is only the first of many who will ask that question. "Who is the father?" DAMN!!
I am brought from my mind's wanderings by an eerie duplication of Benton's controlled fury. The body language, the haughty, impervious tone of voice, all mimics his father's.
"Finished?" Is this a question, or an accusation? "May I go now?"
Is this it? I expected more. Well, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. I am too stunned to stop him from walking away. I'm going to research the Quest family tree. There has to be French aristocracy in the family somewhere. I walk back to the house muttering all sorts of things under my breath, most unrepeatable in polite company.
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