“Holy shit, did you swallow a beach ball?”
Oh no he did not.
I might be rounder and my belly might be a very noticeably pregnant, but I am not that big!
He’s looking at me with the strangest look on his face. As if he’s mad about me being pregnant.
“What did you—” I stop talking when I hear a crash in the front and turn my head to see what happened. Mark is bent over to help the cameraman who looks to have tripped and dropped his equipment up.
“Son of a bitch, Troy! Do you have any idea how expensive those cameras are?” Don yells and walks away from me.
“God, what’s up his ass today?” Maddi says, sidling up to my side. She drops a makeup brush and bends over to get it before giving me her attention. Her hand, as usual—it’s always her first reaction when she’s near me—goes to my belly for a small rub. “Maybe he’s worried about the camera adding ten pounds and you looking like a whale,” she smarts, and I give her a shove.
“Shut up. Stop using my paranoia to mess with me.”
“Incoming,” she says oddly and moves back to her station.
I give Mrs. Cartwright a look before glancing up in my mirror and seeing Mark walking over.
“Hey, Mark,” I say with a smile.
“Dani. Uh, you’re pregnant?” He’s looking at my stomach like it’s about to jump off my body and smother him.
“It would appear so, Mark,” I laugh. “I didn’t get a chance to share the news with you before you left.”
He clears his throat, looking pained.
So weird. “Everything okay?”
“What?” He shakes his head. “Oh, sorry. Just a lot on my mind. Things back home were crazy. That girl I was telling you about? Yeah, not sure if it’s going to work out. She wanted . . . well . . .” He points to my stomach, and it hits me. She wanted kids and he must not have.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Mark. Don’t worry. There’s tons of fish in the sea. Hey, how about we grab lunch today? Catch up and all that?”
The whole time I am talking, his eyes keep wandering back to my stomach. Damn, the guy must really have an issue with kids.
“Probably not today. Lots of stuff we need to catch up since we were gone for a while. Hey, did Don talk to you about the story lines we want to try and hit with this round of filming? They would probably jack up the drama, good for ratings and all that.”
What the hell? He knows how I feel about that crap.
When I don’t answer, he looks down at my stomach again before sharing a look with Don and walking away without another word.
So. Freaking. Weird.
I look over at Maddi, and she looks just as confused as I am. She shrugs one shoulder and then turns back to the young girl she’s giving makeup tips to.
I return my attention to my job. It isn’t long before I realize the day is wasting away and I still haven’t eaten a thing.
“Hey, Maddi? I’m going to order some Chinese. You want in?”
I walk around and get orders from a few more people before placing the call. If I don’t eat soon, I’ll most likely take off my arm between clients. I would rather just go out and get it myself, but Dad was clear that I’m not to leave the salon alone—for anything.
I am in the middle of cleaning out my brushes and wiping down the area in front of my mirror when I hear the door ding and I look up to see the blessed food delivery.
“I could give you a kiss. I’m so hungry,” I tell the young Chinese man.
He doesn’t say anything, just roughly shoves the heavy bag in my hand and thrusts the receipt in my hands. I sign it, add the tip, and shove it back. Maybe a little harder than I intended, but damn. What’s it take to get a little friendliness?
“Have a nice day,” I mumble.
Of course I’m ignored and he’s right out the door a second later.
I look around, thinking that maybe I have some sort of “don’t talk to me” vibe since there isn’t anyone near me except for our receptionist, Kat.
“I’ll be in the breakroom if anyone needs me. I think I have about forty-five minutes before my next client gets here.”
“Sure thing, Dani.”
I drop the bag down in the middle of the breakroom and make quick work of pulling off the staples and opening the large, brown bag. Expecting to find our lunch order, I’m momentarily shocked by what I see inside. Then, when what I’m looking at sinks in, I jerk my hands back towards my body.
I feel like I’m drowning. The sound of my blood pumping ferociously through my body is making my ears cloud. My eyes tear up and my vision gets foggy. I must be screaming something fierce, because the next thing I know, the door is slamming open and Sway, along with half of the other stylists, come barreling in.