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Chapter One


"Tara, I feel a bit off."

Tara Mansfield replaced the phone in its cradle and swung her chair around. Leslie Schultz, her boss, pressed her palm against her back, forcing her growing belly to strain against her tailored maternity shirt. She had given up trying to button her suit jacket over her baby bump a month before. Leaning against the door to her office, she said, "Something at lunch didn't agree with me."

"You should lie down. Your next appointment isn't for another twenty minutes." Tara double-checked the schedule for the accounting office. At the height of tax season, it was almost unheard of to have a twenty minute break. Luckily, they'd had a cancellation this morning. Leslie could use a rest.

Leslie nodded slowly, rubbing her fingertips along the bottom of her stomach. "If I didn't know better I'd think I was having menstrual cramps." She winced and hunched forward, clutching the door jamb with white knuckles. Tara dashed toward her, heels sliding on the tiled floor. She grabbed Leslie's arm and steered her toward the break room where there was a futon. Leslie's steps wavered until she sank onto the cushion. "At least it comes and goes. Maybe I will lie down for a few minutes."

Color slowly infused Leslie's cheeks and Tara breathed a sigh of relief. Leslie couldn't be going into labor yet. She had more than a month to go, not to mention the three busiest weeks of tax season. They didn't have a contingency plan for the baby arriving this early. Leslie had to be having those fake contractions. What had Leslie's husband, Mark, called them? Braxton-Hicks? "Rest for a bit. I'll get you some water. It will pass."

Tara opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water. Leslie nodded and pulled her cell phone out of the pocket of her jacket. "I'll catch up on some emails while I'm resting."

"Uh-uh. Hand it over." Tara offered the water with one hand and held the other out for the device. "It doesn't count as resting if your eyes are open."

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