Wrapped in Marsh's arms, the rain falling faster on the tent top, Tracy forgot everything else and let him take her to a place where there were no more questions.
Afterward, he pulled her close and rested his head against her hair. "I'm not sure which was better. That, or fishing you out of the water this morning without tipping the canoe."
She tried to laugh, was willing to, but suddenly the tent whirled and undulated, and since they'd just indulged themselves, she knew the sensation was not pent-up passion. Tracy tried to sit up, but for a moment she was so disoriented, she wasn't sure which direction to try.
"Marsh..." She swallowed hard and managed to claw her way out of the sleeping bag and his arms.
"What's wrong? Need a bathroom trip?"
She was very afraid that what was wrong wasn't going to wait for the hike to the Porta Potty. She pitched forward and began to crawl toward the flap --- at least she hoped that was where she was headed.
"Trace?" He sat up, too. "What's the problem?"
She couldn't speak. Wildly, she felt along the tent flap, praying she could find the zipper pull. Just as she was about to despair, she found it and managed to inch it up until air poured in, along with cool splashes of rain. She continued crawling until she was out and up on her feet. Then, bent over and clutching her abdomen, she stumbled toward the water.
She made it just in time. The entire night's meal vanished into the waves.
She was still heaving and gulping air when Marsh joined her. "Here." He held out a towel, although it wasn't much help. Rain was falling steadily, and she was soaked.
"I'm...sorry," she gasped. "That oyster!"
"You think it was the oysters?" He sounded incredulous.
"That raw one tasted...awful. Maybe I got a bad one."
"I feel fine."
"Maybe you got all the good ones." She held the towel to her face anyway. "Or maybe I'm coming down with something. There's been some kind of virus going through the center. A...lot of kids have been sick. I..." She buried her face again. She was shivering now, after a whole day of steaming in the heat.
"Are you okay? Do you need to stay here a little longer?"
She could hardly think. She no longer felt nauseous, but that might not last. "You go back. I'll join you in a minute. I'm okay. Really. I just want to wait here by myself to be sure. Go."
He hesitated, but she reached out and pushed his shoulder. "Go, please."
He shook his head and left her. She waited until the darkness swallowed him. Then she buried her face in the towel and bent over, rain sluicing down her back. But the rain was nothing compared to the revelation.
There was no mysterious virus making the rec-center rounds, and even if there had been, she would not have succumbed. She was known for her cast-iron stomach.
She was not going through the change of life, although her life was certainly about to change forever. The problem was hormones, all right, but not their absence. In fact, if she was right, she was suffering from an overabundance. All the evidence had finally fallen into place and revealed an answer so ludicrous, it was no wonder it had eluded her.
She hadn't been poisoned by oysters, raw or roasted, but she did have something in common with the bivalves. She, too, could harbor something infinitely precious and priceless inside her.
Not a pearl, but a baby.
Tracy was almost certain she was pregnant.
Excerpted from SUNSET BRIDGE © Copyright 2011 by Emilie Richards. Reprinted with permission by Mira. All rights reserved.