Three months have gone by and Devon was still away on business with Uncle Herald in South Devon. For all that time I have felt hurt, lied to as Devon had promised me he'd never leave me again. I was love sick. Every night when I was alone I'd cry myself to sleep. I felt angry with myself for letting him get to me. I decided to move on with my life.
But one summer's morning I couldn't help looking at the note Cousin Devon had left me with the bundle of red rose petals on the pillow beside me three months ago. I smiled to myself when I heard a loud knock on my bedroom door that made me jump. "Who's there?" I asked.
"Zoe, it's me, Cynthia, may I come in?" asked Cousin Cynthia behind the door.
"Come in, Cynthia," I said. I quickly hid the note under my pillow just as she walked in wearing a blue summer dress that embraced her new young woman body. Her red hair was long and flowing. She was now sixteen years old and beautiful. Cynthia sat down on the edge of my bed and fiddled with her fingers.
"I'd like to talk to you about boys. There's a guy I like at school but I don't know how to talk to him," she said.
I thought for a moment and then said, "I think you should just go up to the boy you like at school and compliment him on his hair or shoes. Boys love compliments as much as women it boosts their self- egos."
"Thanks, Zoe," Cynthia smiled. We embraced. "Want to go shopping with me?"
"I'd love to," I said, grinning. I got out of bed and changed into a yellow dress and then we walked out of my room and told Aunt Isabel we were off into town.
Ten minutes later Cynthia and I were walking along down the sandy coloured road towards town. We held hands. We saw a few shops so we knew we were very close to the main town. Once we were in the centre of the crowded town I turned to her and asked, "where do you want to go?"
"How about that shop over there called, 'GIOVANNI'S CLOTHES STORE'?" she asked motioning towards clothes in front of us.
"Sure," I replied and we walked into the store.
A short, plump Italian man aged fifty with a bald head stood behind the counter and gave us a warm, welcoming smile. "Hello, ladies, and welcome. What can I do for you today?" he asked.
"We're looking for some clothes in my cousin's size. She's sixteen years old," I explained and he nodded, understanding.
"Yes, I have lots of clothes for her size," he said with enthusiasm. He showed us racks upon racks of trousers, skirts, jackets, dresses and shoes to underwear.
I turned to Cynthia who was already looking through the racks of clothes. She picked up a very pretty, dark pink blouse and a matching mini skirt, "I like this," she said.
I nodded with agreement "it looks beautiful," I turned back to the owner and smiled. "We'll take them."
The Italian store manager took them and went back behind the counter to put the prices into the till. I went over and pulled out some money from my red purse and paid the bill. I watched as he folded the items carefully and neatly and wrapped them up in blue paper and put them in a black paper bag.
"Thank you," I said, as Cynthia took the bag and we left the store and started walking around the town.
We were just walking past an ice cream parlour when a group of young men started whistling at me and Cynthia and began to walk with us; one of them draped a strong arm around my shoulder.
"Hey babe, what's your name? I'm Max."
I stopped walking and shoved his arm off me, "excuse me," I said firmly.
The young man named Max had curly black hair and tanned skin apologised. "I'm sorry if I offended you. I was way out of line. I'm an idiot when it comes to meeting beautiful women like you."
I turned to him and smiled slightly and accepted his apology. "I'm Zoe, and this is my Cousin Cynthia," I said.
The tall young man with short ginger hair standing next to Max said, "Max, come on, man, we have to go."
Max gazed deeply into my eyes and held that gaze for a long moment until he said in a low voice, "I'll see you around, Zoe." Then he was being dragged away by his friends.
I stared after him for a moment and then glanced at Cousin Cynthia who was grinning at me. "Don't get any ideas, you hear?" I told her firmly. She nodded and followed me down the old road towards the local primary school.
"What are we doing here, Zoe?" asked Cynthia, curiously.
I peered in through the window at the white furniture, blackboard, bookshelves filled with children's books. I was just about to turn back round when something big in red ink caught the corner of my left eye. I turned my whole head round to look and read.
PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER
IF YOU WOULD LIKE THE POSITION PLEASE CONTACT
MISS HIGGS ON: 01345 211245
Without anyone looking I tore down the vacancy advertisement from the window and tucked it into my bag. I glanced nervously around then pulled Cynthia by the hand and we headed back to the farmhouse.
Once we got back to the house, I quickly dialled the number for the English teacher job.
"Hello, is this Miss Higgs?" I asked calmly with a professional tone of voice. "It is? Great. My name is Zoe Smith and I've just seen your advertisement down at the school for a English teacher position and I was hoping you might consider me for an interview." I listened very carefully and nodded my head. My blue eyes widened, "that's fantastic! Thank you so much. So I've got an interview with you tomorrow at one pm? See you then, and thank you, bye." I hung up the phone and skipped into the kitchen where Aunt Isabel was sitting at the kitchen table on the sewing machine.
"Who was that you were on the phone to, Zoe?" she asked with interest.
I picked up a red apple from the fruit bowl and took a big bite out of it and then chewed and swallowed. "I was on the phone to my future employer, Miss Higgs, from the primary school. I might be an English teacher there. I have an interview with her tomorrow afternoon at one, isn't that great?"
Aunt Isabel stopped sewing and stood up to embrace me "oh, Zoe, that's brilliant news," she said happily. "You'll impress her I'm sure of it."
I smiled with confidence. "Well, I might just go and get an early night now and then decide what to wear in the morning for the interview."
She agreed, "good idea, honey, get enough beauty sleep and you'll feel right as rain tomorrow, I promise you."
I kissed her on the cheek and then walked up to my room and lay down upon my bed and rested my head against the pillow. My eyes grew droopy and soon I was fast asleep.
It was two o' clock the next morning and all of a sudden a wave of nausea came over me so I had to rush to the bathroom and vomit down the toilet. I just didn't get it; I was fine the day before. Maybe I had eaten something that my stomach didn't like. That's got to be it there was no other explanation. So I climbed back into bed and closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.
As soon as I opened my eyes again some hours later that morning I felt very sick again and had to rush back to the bathroom and vomited loudly. I went back to my room slowly and took out my sophisticated, black tailored style black suit and wore my hair up in a twist and put some red lipstick on my lips and a touch of mascara. I gazed at my reflection in the mirror and thought I looked pretty good. Satisfied I looked smart enough for the job interview, I slowly walked down the stairs to the kitchen where everyone sat around the table having breakfast, which was bacon and eggs, orange juice and coffee.
Aunt Isabel rose from her seat and clapped her hands together with delight. "Oh, Zoe, honey," she cried, shaking her head.
"What?" I replied with panic in my voice. "What is it? This is alright, isn't it, Aunt?"
"Honey, you look absolutely beautiful," she said. "I'm so proud of you."
I blushed as I sat down at the table and had two pieces of toast with strawberry jam and a glass of orange juice.
Once everyone had left the kitchen and Aunt Isabel and I were alone, Aunt Isabel began to speak with concern. "Zoe, I heard you being sick in the bathroom early this morning and a few other times as well. I think that after the interview this afternoon with Miss Higgs we should take you to the doctors."
My eyes widened at what I was hearing, "why?" I asked. "Aunt Isabel, there's nothing wrong with me now. I think I may of just eaten something that my didn't agree with."
"Please, Zoe," she begged, clasping my hands on the table with her own.
"Alright, alright, I'll go and see the doctor," I said, sighing heavily. Suddenly, I had to make a quick dash to the downstairs toilet as I felt myself going to be sick again.
Aunt Isabel appeared in the doorway with a very worried and concerned look on her face. "Zoe, we have to go and see the doctor immediately," she said.
I turned and looked up at her and then nodded slowly knowing she was right.
"I'll make an appointment now for eleven thirty with Dr Ryan, my doctor, she's ever so good." Aunt Isabel went through back to the kitchen and dialled the doctor's surgery. "Hello, this is Isabel Smith from the farmhouse; I'd like to make an appointment for my niece to see Dr Ryan. Her name is Zoe Smith," she listened carefully to the surgery's receptionist. She smiled, "wonderful, half eleven it is, thank you," Aunt Isabel placed the receiver back down on its hook and then went back to me. "I've made the appointment for half eleven. So in half an hour. We'd better make a move on."
I followed her out to the car and we stepped in and Aunt Isabel started up the engine then reversed backwards. We drove away down the road towards town when Devon and Uncle Herald came back in the opposite direction from their business trip in South Devon.
Once we arrived at the local doctor's surgery we had to tell the receptionist my name and who I was having an appointment with. Aunt Isabel and I took a seat on the white, squeaky clean soft chairs and waited patiently to be called by the doctor.
The patients' waiting room was so neat and tidy that you could roll over it. It had shiny black and white furniture, a glass table in the centre of the room with a vase of pretty flowers and a pile of fashion magazines while patients waited.
Fourty minutes later my name was called by the doctor and I went into Dr Ryan's medical room and sat down in the black leather chair in front of the doctor.
"Hello, I'm Dr Ryan," the doctor said with a smile introducing herself. "Now what seems to be the problem?"
I shovelled about the chair before I answered "I have been sick all morning and for the past two days as well."
Dr Ryan was an attractive, thirty something woman with curly, red hair and blue eyes. She threw her pen down onto the desk and smiled. "When was your last period?"
I bit my lower lip nervously as I couldn't remember when I last had a period. I remembered I didn't have one last month or the month before. Oh god. The dreaded realisation hit me. What if I was pregnant with Cousin Devon's baby!
"I can't remember, a month or two ago," I said, trying to sound calm as possible.
"I think you could be pregnant," Dr Ryan said.
"What?" Aunt Isabel said, shocked.
"Just to rule it out," Dr Ryan told us. She returned her attention back to me. "Zoe, I'd like you to lie over there on the examining table." I did so after taking off my trousers and knickers and covered myself over with a blue towel behind the curtain from the view of the doctor and Aunt Isabel.
Dr Ryan came round the curtain with white plastic gloves on "now, Zoe, this will be slightly uncomfortable but I just want to see if you're pregnant or not, is that OK?"
I nodded. My heart raced and flinched as I felt her hand examine me. After two minutes it was over.
"Put your clothes back on and I'll speak to you when you're done," she smiled and pulled off the gloves and threw them away in the bin.
I quickly pulled my knickers and trousers back on and joined my aunt and the doctor.
Dr Ryan smiled, "you are pregnant, congratulations," she said. Her smile wilted when she saw the not so look of happiness on my face. "You are not happy?"
"How a long am I?" I asked, I felt tears welling up my eyes but I held them back.
"Your three months a long," she told me. "You'll have to come back here every other month of your pregnancy so I can see how you and your baby are doing. I know this may come as a shock to you."
I was having a baby? I couldn't believe it. I was carrying my first child inside me and it was my cousin's baby. I didn't know whether to be happy or sad.
"Thank you ever so much, Dr Ryan," Aunt Isabel said, quickly standing up and walking towards the door. I followed.
"My pleasure. Don't worry, it will take a while for the news to sink in, Zoe," the doctor told me.
I thanked her and followed my aunt out of the doctor's surgery and back into the car.
All the way back to the house both Aunt Isabel and I was silent. My eyes began to well up and silently rolled down my cheeks as my world had been turned upside down.
I was going to be a mother.