Rensa was looking after Mirren for once, not the other way around. Bannoc was away giving his lecture to another set of new military recruits and Mirren was within three weeks of her due date. Her baby could decide to be born at any time and everyone knew it, so they were making sure that help was near to hand. Tonight it was Rensa’s turn to keep an eye on her. Rensa’s pregnancy wasn’t as advanced as her friend’s but if they called for help to get to the medical section of the palace, she wasn’t sure which of them would be whisked away more quickly. At the moment though, they were two pregnant ladies, positioned to watch the moons rise, in comfortable chairs they could get out of, with their feet up on footstools of just the right height and an array of suitable snacks carefully positioned between them. Despite that, Mirren was eating fruit and nut ice-cream.
“Shouldn’t you be having something healthier?” queried Rensa.
“I used to get a lot of my calcium from soft cheese,” said Mirren gesturing with her spoon, “which neither of us are allowed to eat at the moment due to our interesting conditions, so I picked this ice-cream as my favourite substitute.” She ate another spoonful and then licked the spoon. “I have a very indulgent husband,” she sighed happily.
“You do,” agreed Rensa. “In the best possible way.”
“Speaking of which,” said Mirren, waving her spoon around in punctuation, “you should let your husband be more indulgent.” The light from the first rising moon made her spoon glitter.
“What do you mean?” Rensa turned to her friend and companion/keeper. “Yannic does a lot for me.”
“He gives you things you need,” replied Mirren, “but you don’t let him give you things you’d like to have just because you’d like to have them. You get enthusiastic about something, he asks if you’d like it, and then you’re all sort of ‘No, thank you,’ and withdrawing.”
“I don’t want to be greedy,” said Rensa quietly. “I already have so much.”
The second moon came up over the horizon as Mirren pointed out, “Not that much that’s yours, and you lost more, which may be unkind of me to point out, but it is true. I know Yannic feels guilty about his part in that,” there was another gesture with the spoon, “and you can make him drown in that guilt or let him come to think it’s not important, but I don’t think you should do either of those things.” She ate another spoonful of ice cream. “It wouldn’t be good for either of you in the long run. Besides,” she went on practically, “very soon you’re going to need all the help you can get because babies take a lot of work to look after properly.”
“I know,” agrees Rensa. “Another reason not to ask for too much now.”
Mirren looked at her oddly and asked, “Are you budgeting that?”
“Um?” Rensa stopped for a moment and thought before saying, “I might be.”
“I’m fairly sure that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
“I don’t know any other way.”
Mirren sighed. “You could just let him give you love gifts because he wants to.”
“Why would he want to give me love gifts? I’m not Kiriel.” Rensa began to look pensive.
“He might want to give you love gifts because you’re Rensa,” replied Mirren tartly. “He was a widower. He’s allowed to move on and what he feels for you may not be what he felt for Kiriel, but that doesn’t mean it’s not love.”
“My therapist says that too,” admitted Rensa.
“So do you listen to her?”
“I’m trying to. Can we change the subject?”
“Of course,” Mirren conceded.
“Good,” Rensa smiled, “because between you and me, while none of the men are around, I think I know someone who’d be good with Kolloc.”
“Oh?” After Mirren spoke both women took a moment to appreciate the rising of the third moon.
“She’s one of the leaders in my support group. She survived a nasty accident that killed her first husband and she’s just had a son, so she’s probably nowhere near interested in new relationships of that sort yet…” Rensa trailed off, and then began again, “She has scars and the prettiest red hair.”
“Kolloc has been partial to red heads and brunettes in the past,” admitted Mirren.
This is now followed by Sometimes Paying Attention Isn't As Easy As You Might Think.