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Karen's pregnancy was not an easy one; her nausea
continued unabated and, instead of disappearing as the day progressed,
lasted all day. She lost weight and the circles that had appeared under
her eyes deepened daily.
One morning, she crawled back into bed after a
particularly violent session only to hear Shane enter the room behind
her. He stood angrily over her bed and spoke.
'I'll send Taffy up to help you dress, then I'm taking you
back to San Francisco to see Dr. Pandigital scanner software download free. Laird.' She started to protest but he
paid no attention. 'I'm not stupid, Karen, and I know most women don't
suffer the way you are. Now don't argue. I'll be ready to go as soon as
you are dressed.'
Shane must have called ahead because they were ushered
into Dr. Laird's private office as soon as they arrived. Karl came in a
few minutes later, looking worried, and said, 'What's the problem?
Shane says you're having a rough time with nausea. You should have
contacted me sooner; I can give you shots to relieve that.'
Shane looked straight at the doctor and said, 'Karl, I
want this pregnancy terminated.'
Karl frowned. 'Karen said you wanted a baby.'
Shane stood and began to pace. 'I did, but not at the
expense of her health. She's too young. We can have a baby later, when
Karen stared. What was the matter with Karl? Why wasn't he
laughing, joking, reminding Shane that it was a little late to change
his mind? But he didn't. He was serious as he said, 'I'll examine Karen
again, of course, but she was in excellent health when I saw her three
weeks ago. The decision to abort has to be Karen's, Shane. You can't
force her into it.'
Abort! Oh, no, Shane wanted her to have an abortion! It
hadn't even occurred to her that
was what he
was talking about. She jumped up and a wave of dizziness swept over her
as she screamed, '
! Shane, how could you!'
The dizziness increased and she sank back into the chair.
Shane squatted down on his heels beside her and took her hand in his.
The lines around his mouth deepened as he said, 'Karen, I'm worried
about you. You don't just suffer from morning sickness—it
never lets up. You can't keep anything down and you've lost nearly ten
Karen shook her head, still weak with shock. 'It's only
temporary, Shane, and you heard Karl—there are shots that
The desperation in Shane's eyes deepened. 'Damn it, honey,
if you won't think of yourself, think of the baby! If you can't eat you
can't nourish it. It may be born with brain damage, or worse.'
Karen's eyes widened. It wasn't shock she was feeling now,
it was horror! He wasn't concerned about her—it was the baby
he was worried about. The baby might be damaged and that would be
totally unacceptable to him! His son, the heir to his precious
business, could never be less than perfect! She tore her hand from his
and cringed against the side of the chair.
'I hate you!' she spat. 'You can't stand the thought that
your child might be flawed! Rather than face that you want to throw it
away and start over with a woman who has the good sense to have an easy
He stared at her, his face gray. 'Karen, it's not like
Suddenly, all the fight went out of her. How could she
ever hope to win against a man like Shane? Numbly, she allowed herself
to be led into Dr. Laird's immaculate examining room. She hardly
noticed as the doctor sternly told Shane to leave before he made things
any worse, but she
surprised to see Shane
obey. She had never been able to tell him anything, and she was his
wife! She supposed that this was just one more item that proved that
she should never have entered his life in the first place.
An hour later, Karen had been examined. Dr. Laird gave her
a shot to calm the nausea and a bottle of capsules to keep it under
control, then took Shane into his office for a private conversation.
Karen lay on the table feeling numb and lethargic.
Probably a result of the tranquilizer, she thought, but she didn't like
the feeling of detachment. She wanted to be in control of her emotions,
not floating off somewhere on a cloud. Besides,
it didn't do a thing to relieve the anguish that was tearing her apart.
How could she have been so wrong about Shane? She'd been attracted to
him right from the beginning in spite of his overbearing manner and his
tendency to control everyone around him. She'd been so sure that under
that brusque, businesslike exterior there was a sensitive,
compassionate man who was capable of love in spite of his determination
not to feel it. Love! He didn't know the meaning of the word! He didn't
have a heart, he had a computer, and there was no place in either his
life or his business for a son who might have a weakness—who
might just be human!
The nurse came in to help Karen dress and a few minutes
later Shane and the doctor came back. Shane put his arm around her
waist, but she moved away and walked out of the office. On the way back
to the condominium Shane tried to talk to her, but she sat, quiet and
unmoving, on her own side of the car until he gave up. When they got
back to the apartment he carried her small travel case into the master
bedroom. Two hours ago she would have been wildly happy, but now she
merely paused in the doorway and said, 'I'll be using the guest room,
Shane; take my case in there.'
They stayed in San Francisco for five days until they were
sure the pills would keep the nausea under control. They did. Karen was
no longer sick, but she ate only because Shane insisted. Her appetite
was nonexistent. So was her enthusiasm for life. She spoke only when
spoken to, slept when she was told to go to bed, and the rest of the
time she curled up in front of the television set with a book in her
lap but looked at neither of them. She felt disembodied, detached from
herself, like a spectator aware of what was going on but taking no part
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Shane looked pale and drawn. He talked to her, trying
vainly to interest her in something, anything, but although she
listened carefully she made no effort to keep up her end of the
conversation. Finally he asked her if she'd like to go home to Carmel.
The idea appealed to her. She loved the house on the side of the cliff
overlooking the wide, cool Pacific.
They went home and Karen was happier. She had Taffy, who
didn't know the meaning of depression. Shane had apparently asked Taffy
for help because she coaxed Karen to eat, took her for walks, and
insisted they go shopping in Carmel. Gradually Karen began to emerge
from the shocklike state that had kept her prisoner. She could talk
with Taffy about everything but her problems with Shane.
Then Mark arrived.
Mark was the only person who knew the truth about Shane
and Karen's marriage and he was the only one she could discuss it with,
but she'd had no time alone with Mark since her wedding day. She
suspected that he was avoiding her, not so much because of his
disapproval of their arrangement as because he knew how possessive
Shane was toward her and didn't want to incur his wrath.
One day, two weeks after the scene in the doctor's office,
Mark arrived at the house with a briefcase full of important business
papers and spent the day closeted with Shane in the office. At dinner
that evening his conversation was directed mainly at Karen and was put
in such a way that she would have been rude if she hadn't responded.
The talk centered around general topics and she began to forget her
depression as her interest was captured. After desert, however, she
excused herself and went into the library.
The library was her favorite room and she'd spent a lot of
time there lately. It was the room that had brought her to Shane's
magnificent home on the Monterey Peninsula and for a while she'd been
happy there. She didn't have the energy or the interest to continue her
cataloguing, but she loved to sit on the red velour sofa and look at
the row upon row of handsomely bound books. She didn't feel quite so
She'd been sitting there only a few minutes when the door
opened and Mark entered and shut it behind him. He was alone and didn't
wait to be asked before sitting down on the couch beside her. He had a
tall drink in each hand and offered her one as he took a sip of the
other. She took hers and sank back against the cushions but said
nothing. Mark spoke first.
'Karen, I want to know what's going on here. You've lost
all your sparkle. You only go through the motions of being alive and
Shane looks like he's been dragged through the desert.'
Karen shrugged. 'I'm sorry Shane has to suffer. He's
afraid the baby will be damaged because of my illness and he wants no
part of an imperfect child.'
Mark stared at her then exploded. 'Where on earth did you
get an idea like that?'
She answered with another question. 'Do you know he wanted
me to have an abortion?' She didn't dare add what she thought to
herself: And still does.
Mark nodded. 'I know he suggested it—' Karen
started to interrupt and he hurried on, 'All right, I suppose he
it, but you know Shane, honey. He's used to issuing orders and having
them obeyed and he was desperately concerned for you!'
She set her glass on the coffee table. 'Has he been
discussing this with you?'
'Yes, he has,' Mark confessed. 'He'll do anything to pull
you out of this lethargy you're mired in—even confide in
me—and that was quite a concession because he knows how I
feel about you.'
She shifted uncomfortably. 'Please, Mark—'
He held up a hand for silence. 'Don't worry, I'm not here
on my own behalf. Karen, you know I did everything I could to keep you
from marrying Shane. I told you it would take someone tougher and more
mature than you to weather a marriage based on Shane's idiotic
proposal, and you've proved me right. At the first sign of trouble you
fall completely apart.'
Karen drew a sharp breath of protest but Mark continued.
'I'll admit Shane needs to be taken down a peg once in a while but,
honey, do you have to torture him?'
It had been weeks since Karen had felt any emotion but now
it was pure outrage that coursed through her. The nerve of him
suggesting that she was at fault when it was Shane who wanted to get
rid of the baby! She drew herself up and exploded in righteous
I should have known you wouldn't understand! Do you want me to have an
abortion just so he can have peace of mind?'
The brief outburst over, she slumped against the cushions.
'If Shane loved me I could understand and even be flattered that he
preferred me to the baby, but he doesn't care about me. All he cares
about is providing a fine healthy specimen of manhood to carry on his
Mark snorted with frustration. 'Karen, how can you be so
obtuse? Of course Shane loves you! Oh, he won't admit it, even to
himself, but no woman can torment a man the way you're tormenting Shane
if he doesn't love her, want her, need her. Grow up, little girl, and
stop giving Shane good reason to be afraid to love you!'
He slammed his glass down on the coffee table as he turned
and stalked out of the room.
Karen didn't join Shane and Mark in the den but went
upstairs to bed. Mark's taunts had cut through the fog of bitterness
that had enveloped her lately and hit their mark. Why did she go on
loving Shane when she knew what a monster he was? But was he really as
bad as she pictured him? He'd always been concerned about
her—in fact, it was his concern for her after her house
burned down that had caused him to agree to marry her, so why did she
find it impossible to believe it was his concern for her that made him
want her to have an abortion?
She rolled to the other side of the bed and punched the
pillow, trying to get comfortable. A door opened and closed and she
knew it was Shane coming into the bedroom next door. She pictured him
as he had been at dinner, dressed in gray slacks and a navy blue
blazer. For the first time she realized that his shoulders had slumped
wearily and he had only picked at his food. He was losing weight and
she could see what she hadn't noticed before: his face was drawn and
haggard and there were deep circles under his eyes.
She heard him in the bathroom running water, brushing his
teeth. Was he really suffering as Mark said? She'd been so sunk in her
own misery she hadn't even noticed how he was feeling.
She sat up and turned on the bedside light. The hands on
the clock radio pointed to midnight. She'd been wrestling with her
feelings for Shane for over two hours. They couldn't go on like this;
they had to get things straightened out before they both came unglued.
She slid out of bed and walked, barefoot and wearing only a sleeveless,
low-cut nightgown, through the bathroom and into Shane's room.
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The room was dark but the light from her room provided
enough illumination for her to find her way around without stumbling.
There was a movement on the bed and Shane's voice called, 'Is that you,
She walked to the bed and stood looking down at him. 'Yes,
Shane, can we talk?'
It was too dark to see his expression, but he propped
himself up on his elbow and said, 'That's all I've wanted the past two
weeks—just a chance to sit down with you and talk.'
She sat on the side of the bed. 'Why do you want to get
rid of our baby?'
She heard his sharp intake of breath but he didn't move.
'I don't, now that you're no longer sick, but it tore me apart to stand
by while you lost weight you didn't have to spare. I had no intention
of standing by and letting you ruin your health just to give me a
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Karen shivered and realized that she was cold as she
rubbed her bare arms with her hands. Shane threw back the covers and
said, 'You'd better get under the blanket—you mustn't catch