On Second Thought(4)

By: Kristan Higgins


Me, I’d lived in Brooklyn since I was twenty, about a year before it became the capital of hipsters and microbreweries. Yet here I was, in a town where the nannies had degrees from Harvard, where my mother-in-law invited me for lunch at her beloved country club each week, where my sister took hot yoga classes.

Speaking of my sister, there was a text. Can’t wait to see you and Nathan tonight! <3

Her not-so-subtle way of reminding us to come. And the emojis... I sighed. All her life, Ainsley had been not-so-subtle. She was a people-pleaser and, I had to admit, it grated. I understood why, but I just wanted to take her aside and tell her to turn it down a few notches.

And then I’d remember how she used to crawl into my bed when she was four. I texted back. We can’t wait either! Should be so much fun! Sure, it was a lie, but it was the good kind. I couldn’t bring myself to emoji back, though. I was thirty-nine, after all.

There was a message on my phone from Eloise, left ten minutes before, when I was in the bathroom.

“Kate, it’s Eloise Coburn. I’m wondering if we could schedule—” she said shedule, like a Brit “—a portrait of Nathan’s father and myself for our anniversary. Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.”

It always felt like my mother-in-law was about to catch me committing a petty crime. She was never rude; that would be to disobey the cardinal rule of Miss Porter’s, of which she was an honor’s grad and active alumna. But she was a long cry from warm and fuzzy.

Ainsley, who’d been with Eric since college, considered her own de facto mother-in-law as her best friend. She and Eric’s mom went away for shopping weekends together and met for drinks at least once a month, laughing and giggling like...well, like sisters.

That would never be Eloise and me. I took a deep breath and hit Call Back. “Hi, Eloise, it’s Kate.”

“What can I do for you, deah?” She had an upper-crust Boston accent, rather sounding like Katharine Hepburn—that clenched jaw, the slight slur.

“You wanted to schedule a portrait?”

“Oh, yes, of course. Unfortunately, I’m terribly busy today. Would you mind ringing later? I’m afraid I must run.”

“No, no, that’s fine!” My voice was chirpy. Trying too hard. “Have a great day!”

“Well, I’m off to visit children in the burn unit at the hospital, so I probably won’t, but thank you for your good wishes. Goodbye, deah.” She hung up.

“Shit,” I muttered.

I was determined that if Mrs. Coburn—Eloise—would never really warm up to me, I would never hate her. Nathan was close with his family—Brooke, his older sister, was married and had two sons, Miles and Atticus, who were in elementary school. Once a month or so, Nathan went out for a drink with Brooke’s husband, Chase. (I know. The names came right out of the WASP directory.) Nathan played golf with his father and sent his mother flowers on the first of every month. I wasn’t going to mess that up.

I thought of that pregnancy test, buried in the trash upstairs. Two lines would’ve made a lot of people happy. Two lines, and we could tell the elder Coburns that they’d have a Coburn grandchild. We could announce it just before their anniversary party, and by then, we might know if the baby was a boy or girl.

My parents, too, would be glad; Mom had thought Nathan and I were rushing (she had a point), and a baby would reassure her. My father adored kids in the “Let’s see how high I can throw this little fella!” way. Ainsley would be a very fun aunt, I knew. My brother, Sean, had two teenagers, Esther and Matthias, and three years ago, he and his wife, Kiara, had a surprise pregnancy, resulting in the delicious and adorable Sadie.

A cousin, another baby in the family, would be very welcome.

Maybe next month.

But of course, Nathan would be dead by eight o’clock tonight.

I just didn’t know it yet.





Chapter Two

Ainsley

There, tucked beneath Eric’s blue-and-red yacht flag boxer shorts, was a small turquoise box, the words Tiffany & Co. written across the top.

Thank the baby Christ child.

Not that I was looking, of course. No. I was searching. I was a bloodhound on the trail of a missing child who’d stuffed his pockets full of raw meat. I was Heathcliff looking for Cathy. I was Navy SEAL Team 6.

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