Home > The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #3)(9)

The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop #3)(9)
Jenny Colgan

Rosie had swallowed hard.

‘It’s just our first shot,’ she had said, bravely echoing words she’d heard other people use over the years. ‘We weren’t even trying for a baby, were we? It’s just one of those things.’

The radiographer had politely retreated from the room to find a doctor.

‘Stop it, love,’ said Stephen, his throat tight, holding her close.

‘What?’

‘Stop doing that Rosie thing and trying to make everything all right. Okay?’

Rosie swallowed.

‘I … I don’t know how. I mean, we have to just pick ourselves up and … It happens all the time and …’

‘Ssssh,’ said Stephen, gathering her fully up in his arms. There was blue gel all over his jumper, but he didn’t notice. ‘Ssssh.’

‘But we can try again … Some things just aren’t meant to …’

‘Ssssh,’ he said, again, burying her dark curly head in his shoulder.

‘It was so little,’ she said, her voice choking up. ‘Just a—’

‘It was our baby,’ said Stephen fiercely. ‘And don’t you dare say it happens all the time. I don’t give a toss about how often it happens. It happened to us. To us, Rosie. And you can’t pretend otherwise.’

‘I don’t want to …’

Rosie tried to speak through the lump in her throat, but found she couldn’t get it out, not at all. Stephen stroked her hair, gently.

‘Oh Lord,’ she said. Then it poured out in a flood, and she cried and cried and cried all down his back.

The hospital staff led them kindly to another room. Walking out, barely able to stand, covered in tears and red of nose, both of them limping, Rosie barely noticed the horrified looks of the women with their bumps proudly displayed in the waiting room. Stephen did, but ignored them.

They were counselled up and sent home and told simply to wait for the worst. And when it came, it was just as bad as they had been promised.

Rosie couldn’t look at another woman’s bump for a long time.

Rosie’s mother Angie was sensible and pragmatic; she mentioned how many more times they could try, what a good chap Stephen was, how many pregnancies ended this way just because something wasn’t right (and never, ever mentioned – and Rosie would have been astonished to learn of them – her own nights of sobbing for the pain of her only daughter, who was far too far away). Lilian simply nodded as if, as ever, she expected life’s disappointments to fall into her lap, and merely stroked her niece’s hand and came up with the most meaningless platitudes she could manage, in case she accidentally burst into floods of tears. And Rosie knew: she KNEW. One in four, Moray said. One in four. One in four tiny little specks of life weren’t meant to be, couldn’t hang on. One in four women had been through this; laughed, lived, carried on, made other babies, lots of babies.

But as Stephen pointed out, it wasn’t one in four for them, it was one in one.

Later, as she had quietened down, and Stephen was in the process of dozing off, they managed to make it up the narrow staircase to bed, holding each other up.

‘At least we don’t need to move to Peak House yet,’ said Stephen, as Mr Dog snuffled down in front of the dying embers of the downstairs fire, after making his usual unsuccessful assault on the upstairs bedroom.

Rosie gave her best shot at a smile.

‘And we don’t have to buy all that plastic crap,’ she said.

‘There we go,’ said Stephen, climbing into bed.

They paused and looked at one another.

‘But one day we will,’ he promised. ‘One day we will.’

Another month passed, and Rosie was back in that damned Carningford Hospital trying not to glance at the ugly shopping centre, visible through the window, where she’d done that test so many weeks before. It had been such a long spring, she thought. The weather felt like it was going to stay with her mood for ever; that she was a new, low Rosie who would never unfurl again. She was keeping her head down, working hard, but she couldn’t help feeling that something was wrong. She couldn’t explain it any better than that, but she knew as a nurse that these feelings should get checked out sooner rather than later.

So here she was, visiting the specialist. Meeting with Moray to fix it up (Hye would have been unsympathetic and quite possibly unhelpful) had been unbearable. Moray had been kind, telling her it hadn’t been long, and not to worry, whilst, she knew, sharing her pain.

‘Don’t get all panicky,’ he’d warned. ‘Nothing worse for getting pregnant. You’re only thirty-four.’

‘I know,’ said Rosie. ‘I know, I know. But I don’t think it is that. When I …’

She didn’t want to talk about what had happened after the scan, that awful time she wanted scoured from her memory for ever. She tried again.

‘There was definitely … I definitely have pain … more on one side than the other, it’s definitely …’

‘Ssh,’ said Moray. ‘Not to worry. I’ll send you to get checked out, okay?’

There was a pause.

‘Or I could do it.’

He winked at her, and despite herself she found herself smiling.

‘Oh Moray, you hate fannies.’

‘I’m not crazy about old men’s ears either, but I seem to spend enough time peering into those.’

‘Oh GOD, and you’d have to get Maeve in to supervise. No no no no no no.’

‘It’s a waste of resources,’ said Moray.

‘No it’s not,’ said Rosie. ‘I count as a family member, practically. You’re not allowed to look up my fanny.’

‘But I so want to,’ said Moray.

‘Shut up.’

It was exactly the right way to cheer her up, and she stood up gratefully.

‘Any time.’

‘I’m going to report you to the GMC.’

Moray rolled his eyes and handed over the referral letter he’d printed out.

‘That’s right – I want to complain about that doctor who, instead of assaulting me, sent me off to some woman to check out my bits.’

He reflected.

‘They might be pleased to get something to balance up all my fan mail.’

It was true, Moray was beloved for miles around for his good looks, good doctoring, and being just about the last doctor on earth to actually do house calls.

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