Angelica Amante Perez looked at her watch again. Thirty seconds had passed. The next two and a half minutes could change her life forever.
She walked to the living room, staring at the plastic stick from the pregnancy test kit, her heart racing. One minute had passed. No line. No red line to stamp across their lives, canceling everything they'd worked toward.
She laid the plastic stick on the coffee table and walked to the large window that faced the street of the little subdivision. The roses her husband had planted to climb the archway framing the small entry to their home in Valle de Lagrimas were in full bloom. She could see the pruning shears half hidden at the base of the arch. Since the day the bush had first bloomed, Antonio had never failed to rise before she awoke, cut a rose, and put it on the little table next to her side of the bed. It was often the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes. He loved her with a purity and devotion the first year of marriage had only deepened. She thanked God every day for the man He had brought into her life. Angelica walked back to the couch.
The sound of the phone ringing jarred her. Mother. She hadn't returned either of the calls that her mother had left at her work the day before. She put her hands over her ears. If only she'd turned the answering machine on before she'd started the test.
She counted the rings. If she didn't answer, and the machine didn't pick up, her mother would show up on her doorstep in twenty minutes. . . . She ran to the kitchen.
Mixed emotions surged through her. "Hi, Mom."
Her parents didn't understand why she'd chosen to marry Antonio instead of the bright, young attorney who'd pursued her. Even now, after almost a year and a half, they still didn't accept him. Thankfully, they kept their thoughts to themselves when he was present, but she'd heard the rude comments of others who moved in their circle --- how the Mexican was lucky to marry the only daughter of the wealthy heart surgeon Benito Amante. Angelica knew the truth. She was the lucky one. What Antonio gave her, money couldn't buy. A rock solid partner. A man of honesty and honor. A man who understood her . . . a man who loved her. He didn't deserve their ignorant judgments, but the arrival of a baby would surely lead some to whisper how Antonio had trapped her and managed to tie himself to her family forever.
"Angelica, I was getting worried. Didn't you get my messages?"
"Just a second, Buddy's barking to get in." Angelica stepped to the glass slider and pulled it open. The tricolored sheltie looked at her, waiting for permission. "Hurry up." She nearly caught his tail in the door as she slammed it shut. Taking a deep breath, she returned to the phone.
"Sorry. I should've returned your call. But I haven't had a free moment since we got back from Mexico." Angelica turned, leaning her back against the counter, her eyes taking in the big kitchen. The down payment on the house had been a wedding gift. At least that's the way her parents had presented it. It was really their way of reminding her she was still a white, upper-class Amante, even though she'd married a Mexican. Reminding her appearances mattered. Reminding her that somehow their love for her was tied to her meeting their expectations for her life. She was their only child --- born years after they'd been told her mother couldn't have children. It was almost as if, after waiting all those years, they wanted what was due them.
Antonio had recognized the gift for what it was and refused to accept it. He was determined they would make their own way. Angelica agreed with her husband. His wisdom and integrity were the very things that had drawn her to him, but she also loved her parents and knew it had hurt them when she'd married. Finally, to keep peace, Antonio had agreed to accept the money, not as a gift, but as a loan. The difficult compromise between her proud husband and her demanding parents had left both parties dissatisfied. It had also left her to figure out how to make the payments until Antonio's business created income. She clenched her jaw.
And now this. A possible pregnancy. She hadn't breathed a word of her fears to her mother. It would only upset her. Instead of seeing it as the early arrival of the most precious gift a married couple could receive, her mother would see this as interfering with her daughter's promising career. She would see it as an unplanned and unnecessary financial obligation the young couple was in no position to take on. Her mother would see the red lines as pointing the way to a downward spiral.
Angelica rubbed her forehead. "I've got twenty cases stacked up on my desk, and I'm trying to finish fixing up the guest room for Maclovia. She arrives tomorrow. I was going to try to get to the office for at least an hour today and review some depositions."
"If you'd accepted one of those offers you got from the big San Francisco firms, instead of taking that job at the public defender's office, you'd have an assistant." Her mother let a few seconds pass before continuing. "And there's no reason for you to be bothered with that guest room. If you would've let me send Maria down there to help you, you could've taken a nap this afternoon and been rested for our dinner tonight." Angelica waited through another carefully placed pause. "Why isn't your husband helping you? He doesn't have anything else to do, and it's his grandmother."
Angelica could hear the disapproval in her mother's voice. Her stomach knotted. Why couldn't her parents be happy for her and accept Antonio as the man she'd chosen to spend the rest of her life with? "He went to the community center to his English class." Her grip tightened on the phone. "He's studying hard to learn enough English to find work." She looked at her watch. Three minutes and fifteen seconds. "Mom, I've got to run. Anything you want me to bring tonight?"
"No, honey. Just yourself."
"Love you, Mom. We'll see you in a little while."
Angelica put the phone in the cradle, then turned and walked to the living room. As she reached for the plastic stick, her hand was shaking. She felt like she was observing her own life from some distant place.
One in the control window, one in the result window.
"A baby. I'm going to have a baby."