"Oh yes. We definitely need those," Stacy said with a smirk.
"Claire, do you agree?", Lexi asked me.
"Of course. You know Charlotte and her love for the hot male species."
Hannah stifled a laugh and added "male strippers" to our ongoing list of ideas for Charlotte's bachelorette party. She had decided to leave most of the planning to us since she'd wanted everything to be a huge surprise at the end. The wedding wouldn't be until April though, so we had plenty of time.
It was a Saturday evening in February, and the girls had been at my house for the past three hours. We were all sprawled on the couch, getting fat off of the red velvet cupcakes we'd baked earlier. Charlotte was out of town visiting her fiancé's parents, but she was coming back tomorrow.
"Seriously, Claire, how can you eat so much and not gain a single pound?", Hannah asked, licking the frosting from her fingers.
"Well, unlike you who just sits around watching Netflix all day, she actually exercises," Stacy said matter-of-factly.
Hannah tossed a pillow at her, and I laughed. It ended up landing on Buttercup, who was peacefully napping on the floor along with Buster. Luckily, she didn't wake up.
"Actually, I haven't been able to exercise as much as I used to. Normally, I try to go for a run every day, but my extended hours at the office make it hard to do that," I stated.
"Aww, that sucks," Lexi remarked.
"It does. I usually go to the gym with Derek on the weekends, though, if I'm not too busy."
"Where is Derek, anyways?", Stacy asked.
"Of course you'd ask about him," Lexi rolled her eyes.
"It's not my fault he's a freaking sex god."
I choked on my water, laughing hysterically, and Lexi slapped my back. We all knew Stacy was horrible at hiding her crush on Derek from us. If Charlotte were here, she would've scolded her, but I thought the whole thing was innocent. Stacy was the last girl I could imagine to be a home wrecker. She was just too harmless and sweet.
Unlike that vindictive skank, Ashley.
"He had to work today, but he should be home very soon," I said.
"I see." Stacy reached for her sixth cupcake.
How did she not have diabetes...
"So, back to those male strippers we mentioned earlier," Hannah spoke, sounding professional.
"Can you just imagine Derek as a male stripper? I'd pay a million bucks to see that," Stacy quipped.
"Stace, you seriously need-,"
"Sorry ladies, but the only woman I strip for is my wife," a deep, all-too familiar voice spoke, interrupting Hannah.
We all turned around and there stood Derek by the front door with his arms crossed, looking utterly amused. He gave me a wink, and my cheeks grew redder than a tomato as I got up to go greet him.
"Hey, babe." He smiled, swooping me into his arms for a kiss.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Stacy sigh dreamily, and I hoped that one day, she'd find a Prince Charming of her own to fall head over heels in love with.
"So, what's all this talk about male strippers?", Derek asked, resting his chin on my shoulder from behind as his arms wrapped around my waist.
"We're planning Charlotte's bachelorette party."
"But her wedding isn't until another two months."
"I know. It's better than trying to cram everything last minute, though."
Derek kissed the top of my head then directed his attention towards my friends.
"What's up, ladies?"
"Just sitting around eating cupcakes. Want one?", Hannah asked. Derek's eyes immediately lit up.
"Yes ma'am," he said eagerly, releasing me to go grab a cupcake.
Stacy and Lexi scooted over to make room for him on the couch, and he propped his legs up on the table, reaching for the entire plate of cupcakes.
"Please don't tell me you're actually gonna eat them all," I spoke.
"I'm not. I'm gonna share them with these lovely ladies."
He gave Stacy a grin, and I swear she nearly fainted.
Later, we asked my friends if they wanted to stay for dinner, but they declined, saying they didn't want to intrude on me and Derek's 'alone time.'
I decided to make grilled salmon with green beans, and the entire time we ate, Derek kept alternating his gaze between me and my plate to the point where I felt uncomfortable.
As I cut myself a third serving of salmon, he cleared his throat.
"Is something wrong?", I asked.
"Did you eat lunch today?"
"Yeah. And I also had five cupcakes. Why do you ask?"
"You're eating like a starved woman right now, so I thought you must've skipped lunch. Holy shit, Claire, five cupcakes?"
"Shut up. They were good," I retorted, growing defensive.
Derek held up his hands in mock surrender.
"Easy, Claire. I'm just surprised because you normally never eat this much."
I threw my napkin down on the table.
"Are you calling me fat?"
Derek's eyes grew wide, and he shook his head.
"No, not at all. Why on earth would you think that?"
I quickly stood up from the table to go put my plate in the sink then sauntered out of the kitchen. It was obvious Derek didn't like how I looked anymore hence he suddenly brought up my eating habits.
The last thing he wanted was for the public to see him with his fat wife. Just last week, Derek and I attended another charity gala downtown, and I couldn't help but feel self-conscious seeing all the beautiful, slim women there. I didn't want to admit it to my friends, but I indeed had gained a few pounds ever since I left Sydney last month.
I tried so hard to control my eating, unfortunately, it proved to be a difficult task. Every time I saw something edible, my mouth would water. Even brussel sprouts- which I never liked in the past- tasted fine to me now.
As I sat on the living room couch brooding, I heard Derek washing the dishes, and when he finished, he went to sit down beside me.
"Why did you just leave like that?", he asked.
"You were right. I have been eating a lot. I don't know why, but I hate what it's doing to my body."
I was on the verge of tears, and Derek pulled me onto his lap, stroking my hair as he pressed a long, tender kiss to my forehead.
"Every time I look at you, all I see is perfection. Nothing lights up my life the way your smile or laugh does. And as for your beautiful body, it was made by God to be loved by me," he murmured, cupping my chin so I was gazing directly into his blue eyes.
"Darling, I don't want you to ever feel like you have to look a certain way for me. Hell, you could be eighty and wrinkly and still be the sexiest woman in my eyes," he said with sincerity.
"Ok, don't ever use the words 'wrinkly', 'eighty', and 'sexy' in the same sentence," I said, flicking his chest. He chuckled, bringing my hand up to his lips as he delicately kissed my knuckles, warming me from head to toe.
"You get my point. And I'm sorry if I said anything to hurt you earlier."
"It's fine. I was just being overly dramatic."
Derek removed me from his lap after we shared a long, heated kiss and then he walked back to the kitchen. I followed him, admiring the ripple of his muscles underneath his tshirt as he rummaged through the cabinets. It was unfair how he always managed to stay in such good shape.
"What are you looking for?", I asked.
"Leftover frosting," he replied simply.
"It's in the drawer by the sink."
"And what do you intend to do with the frosting?"
His eyes gleamed with mischief, and he flashed me a panty-dropping smile.
"I'm gonna show you just how much I love that sexy body of yours."
"Derek James Weston, we do not use frosting for purposes other than baking."
I pretended to sound like a scolding mother but in reality, Derek's words had left me aching with raw need.
"God, you're so fucking cute."
Giggling, I began to run upstairs to our bedroom, but before I could reach the final step, Derek grabbed my legs and threw me over his shoulder.
"I'm capable of using my own two feet, you know."
He spanked my butt in response, and I immediately shut up. By the time we got to our room, we were like two sexually deprived teenagers. Our clothes were removed in record speed, flying all over the place. Together, we collapsed onto the bed, and the rest of that night was history. And sweet...literally.
"Whoa, you look like death," Charlotte remarked as I walked into her office at work on Monday.
"I know. And I feel like it, too," I grumbled.
This morning, my stomach had felt unusually queasy, and I ended up vomiting the contents of last night's dinner into the toilet. Derek suspected that I might have caught food poisoning, and he insisted I take the day off from work, but I told him I was fine.
"So, what happened?", Charlotte asked worriedly.
"I threw up this morning."
Her eyes scanned over my entire figure, and she gave me a weird look, biting her fingernails. It was a habit of hers whenever she was deep in thought.
"Was Derek home when you did?"
"Yeah. We both think that I have food poisoning."
Charlotte slapped her forehead then to my utter surprise burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?", I demanded.
"I swear to god, you and your husband live under a rock. You don't have food poisoning, Claire. You're pregnant!", she said excitedly, grabbing my shoulders.
I quickly began to count how many days had passed since I had my period and realized I had no idea because it'd been so long.
"Congratulations girl, you've just experienced morning sickness for the very first time!" Charlotte was beaming with happiness.
I laughed and pulled my best friend into a hug. Tears of relief and joy spilled down my cheeks. It turned out there was a reason behind my ridiculous increase in appetite after all.
At that moment, I had no mixed feelings about possibly being pregnant with Derek's child. A few months ago, I would've been unsure and scared, but now, I believed more than ever that this was what we both wanted most.
"I don't wanna ruin your hopes or anything since I was just speculating, so to be sure, you should get a pregnancy check or even see a doctor," Charlotte spoke.
"Definitely. I'll schedule an appointment today after work."
I decided that I wouldn't say anything to Derek until I was certain that I was pregnant. Charlotte also agreed with my approach.
A few days later, I took the day off from work to see my doctor, Simone Gillis, and she had me do a urine test. As I waited for the results, I crossed my fingers that they'd turn out positive.
The moment she came back, I could tell that my prayers had been answered because she wore the biggest smile on her face.
"Congratulations, Mrs. Weston! You're three weeks pregnant!", she announced happily.
I immediately burst into tears and threw my arms around Dr. Gillis, giving her a bear hug.
We scheduled a date for my next appointment and then I rushed towards downtown, hoping to catch Derek before his lunch break. The moment I stepped out of my car, a slightly chilly breeze hit me, and I wrapped my peacoat tight around my body.
When I passed by the building next to Weston Hotel Group, I spotted Derek clad in a black suit, looking devastatingly handsome as he stood by the traffic light waiting to cross the street.
"Derek!", I exclaimed, running towards him as fast as my boots allowed me to.
At the sound of my voice, he spun around and quickly caught me in his arms just as I collided against his hard chest, nearly knocking him off-balance.
"Claire? What are you doing here?", he asked breathlessly, brushing away a stray piece of hair from my face.
"I have some wonderful news!"
"What news, baby?" He chuckled in amusement.
"You finally knocked me up!"
Derek's eyes bulged out of their sockets as his hand reached out to firmly grip the street light. A few people around us looked at me like I was crazy, but I ignored them. In that moment, it was just me, my husband, and our baby that was growing inside of me.
"Y-you're pregnant?", he sputtered.
"I have been for the past three weeks now, according to my doctor. We're going to be parents, Derek!"
His face split into a huge grin, and I squealed as he effortlessly picked me up in his arms, spinning me around.
When he set me back down, I wrapped my arms around his neck and stood on my tippy toes to give him a passionate kiss.
"I can't believe this is actually happening," he mumbled against my lips, hugging me tight.
"Me neither. I'm so happy," I whispered as tears began to spill down my cheeks. I looked up into Derek's eyes and saw that he was crying as well.
He placed one last kiss between my eyebrows then rested his forehead against mine.
"I love you so much, Claire."
"I love you, too."
When we finally pulled away from each other, people came up to congratulate us and then Derek looped his arm around mine as we walked towards our favorite French café down the street for a celebratory lunch.
For the very first time, I didn't just see him as my loving husband, but also as the father of my child. And somehow, that made me love him even more.
A/N- Well, this is definitely a first for me, updating on a school night (: I'm gonna be extremely busy this weekend, so I decided to just post this now so you guys don't have to wait too long. Anyways, our beloved Claire is finally having a baby! The story may seem all happy dappy right now, but believe me, there's still tons of plot twists in store. Lastly, remember to like and comment!