Chapter 11: New Start

"I don't have to give it up, do I?" Bryce asked the next morning. She'd had time to think about the baby in the new light. The more she thought of it has her baby, the more attached she had grown. It kicked and shifted a little inside her, putting pressure on her bladder and making her scurry to the bathroom.

"No, you don't," Theora told her. "We can call the adoption agency and tell them you've changed your mind. But I have to ask, are you sure? You can't change it back afterward."

"Yes, I'm sure," Bryce told her as she emerged from the bathroom. "Though I'll have to move. I don't the baby furniture is going to fit here."

"We'll move together," Theora told her.

"I can't ask you to do that," Bryce said. "It's very nice of you, but I can't uproot you from your home. I make a decent number of credits."

"Don't forget you have to pay for baby care," Theora told her. "Formula if you bottle-feed, clothes, diapers, maybe a nanny to keep the baby occupied during work hours. Plus if you have your own apartment there will be utility bills. Its not like living in your lab. I think it will be better if we share an apartment. Why don't we see if we can find one with three bedrooms?"

"I didn't think about the costs," Bryce admitted, frowning slightly. Then she smiled again. "But I still want to keep the baby."

Bryce went to Network 23 on Monday. It was the first time she'd been at the Network since the night of her abduction. She got into the lift, ignoring the stares she was getting, and made her way to the executive level.

"May I help you, miss…?" the receptionist asked politely.

Bryce wrote down her old door code and handed it to her. "Give this to Cheviot."

The receptionist raised an eyebrow.

"Do I look like someone who wants to stand around waiting?" Bryce asked, glancing at her swollen abdomen. She was about six months along now, the baby very active inside her.

"Hold on," the receptionist told her as she brought the paper into the Boardroom.

"Bryce," Cheviot said as he came back out. "I… what on earth?"

"So the rumors haven't reached the Board," Bryce remarked, seeing her boss's startled expression. "I'll be blunt, I need a raise to help with child care expenses."

"What about the father? Won't he help?"

"I was raped, sir," Bryce said, her expression darkening at the memory. "I'd rather not talk about it."

"I'm sorry," Cheviot asked. "Why would you keep the baby if…?"

"I wasn't going to be in the beginning," Bryce admitted. "But when I felt the baby move inside me… I just felt a connection. It's hard to explain."

"No," Cheviot smiled. "I understand perfectly. I have children of my own. I think we can manage a raise for you. Say fifteen percent?"

"That would be great," Bryce agreed.

She turned to leave just as the door flew open and a boy of about eighteen or nineteen entered the room.

"Hey, Gramps," the boy said to Cheviot. "I know you don't like to be disturbed at work, but I was on my way to the store for Mum and she wanted to know if you wanted to come to dinner tonight, so I figured I'd ask in person."

"Good morning, Jake," Cheviot replied. "I'm going to be far too busy tonight. But perhaps you'd like to invite Bryce here?"

Jake looked at Bryce. "Gramps, she's pregnant."

"The is precisely my point," Cheviot said. "Network 23 is a respectable family channel. I won't have one of my best employees in a morally compromising position. And since she has decided to keep her baby, even though it was not conceived in happy circumstances, I want you to begin courtship with her immediately."

Bryce stared at him. After having been raped once already, she really wasn't that fond of guys in general. But if Cheviot wanted this, she doubted she would be able to talk him out of it. And Jake was at least good looking. She decided not to argue.

"Fine," Jake said after a few minutes. "I'm not sure how happy Mum will be, but…" he turned to Bryce and bowed. "Would you do me the honour of coming to dinner tonight?"

Bryce laughed aloud at the boy's deliberately sarcastic over-the-top politeness. "I would be most delighted to accept your kind invitation." she replied in kind.

Both teenagers laughed, Bryce smiling and touching her tum as the baby inside her moved, seeming to join in.

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