Chapter 12 – I cannot love the way that others do—I must love the whole more than the parts.

~~**~~**~~

You see, I was born in the humblest of circumstances, and yet in a position of great power.

But I know that to bring my family honor I must remain invisible.

I cannot love the way that others do—I must love the whole more than the parts.

I must love them more than myself. It has not always been easy.

~~**~~**~~

The little seed was more like a cantaloupe these days. Ella couldn’t decide how she felt about having a bump protruding so obviously from her belly, especially when she had to try and squeeze into her clothes. Third trimester felt great—no more nausea, no more weird cravings—but nothing fit. And she was starting to feel tired all the time. It didn’t help that the little seed was so active at night. It was hard to sleep anymore with the baby playing and moving in there like she was some kind of all-hours jungle gym. She couldn’t wait for the final trimester to be over.

She decided she would punch the next person who told her that the insomnia was just another way of “getting ready for baby.” One thing she could say for Chandler’s opulent lifestyle—someone else would be waking up at 3 a.m. with the baby. That was for sure.

This particular morning, Chandler was watching her dress. Meaning he was watching her add to the pile of pants that wouldn’t fit around her belly.

“Sweatpants it is, then,” she sighed, pulling them out of the drawer and feeling a lump well up in her throat.

Chandler came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her burgeoning stomach.

“Baby, maybe we should go shopping and get you some new clothes. And didn’t you want something for the baby’s room, too—I don’t know, another mobile?” He was grinning.

She slapped him on the chest. “Oh, shut up. You’ll be thanking me when your baby has a genius IQ because of all that stimulation”—

“I think you read too many baby books.”

She sighed. “Probably. Besides, don’t you have work to do and an office to go to?”

He grinned sheepishly and gestured to the living room. “My office is right here. I own the companies so I can do whatever I want.”

It was true. Chandler had been working out of the apartment. Ella knew Mr. Butler wasn’t particularly happy with the arrangement, but at least he was doing something. Ella was pretty sure Chandler worked no more than 20 hours a week, though. Another perk of being the Chinese version of an East-Coast-old-money-trust-fund-baby-type, she guessed.

But she appreciated how seriously Chandler took her pregnancy. He wanted to be there for Ella, for everything. Even buying mobiles.

Mr. Butler, though! He freaked her out every time he came around. Ella could feel his dislike for her, even though the walls. He was silent and old and like a walking funeral. And creepy. She didn’t know why Chandler liked him so much.

For now, she didn’t care. Shopping took the top spot on Ella and Chandler’s to-do list.

Grand Gateway 66 was certainly a big shopping mall, and it lived up to its name. The place was a giant, domed coliseum flanked by two enormous skyscrapers. Chandler insisted this was the perfect place for a very pregnant woman to shop. The best shopping all in one place, lots of comfortable places to sit, and food around every corner.

In fact, Chandler seemed to enjoy shopping more than Ella did. Even when she felt like an oversized soccer ball, he picked out sparkly shirts and slinky dresses and told her he loved to “dress up his lady.”

Walking through the aisles in a baby store and trying to find gender neutral clothes, Ella started to feel the seed kicking like crazy. Either someone was having a party in there, or something was wrong. She looked around for Chandler, who was trying out rocking chairs a few aisles down.

She caught his eye and he came over quickly.

“Everything okay?”

“It’s just…”

She paused. The baby’s moving was so intense, it hurt so badly that she had to lean on him.

“Chandler, oh my god, I need to sit down.”

“Can you make it to the escalator? We can find somewhere to sit downstairs.”

“I think so. I hope so. I don’t know.”

Ella grimaced as he helped her down. She tried to keep her expression calm and smooth, but she could feel the tension all over her face.  Every muscle in her body reacted as the baby kicked harder and harder. When they finally found a spot to sit, Ella broke out in tears.

“Chandler, I can’t—can’t move anymore.”

“What’s wrong? This isn’t normal. How can a baby kicking hurt this much?”

“I don’t know, Chandler. Do something.”

He held her hand tightly and she could feel his whole arm shaking. People started crowding around them. She heard whispers in Chinese.

“Oh, shut up!” she yelled to no one in particular.

She heard Chandler say something apologetically to the people around them, and the crowd dispersed.

“Let me call Mr. Butler,” he whispered in her ear.

“I’ll strangle him,” she said.

He smiled. “Sounds good.”

He reached for his phone and she heard him talking quickly.

“Mr. Butler, it’s Ella. She’s in pain. She’s hurting very bad.” Pause. “We’re at the Gateway.” Another pause. Hurry up, Mr. Butler. You talk too slow. “Okay, okay. Yeah, I will.”

He hung up and looked at Ella.

“It’s gonna be okay,” he said. “Mr. Butler has us taken care of.”

“I highly doubt”—

But she was interrupted by another painful jerk in her abdomen.

“Security… somebody find the security. Get me a taxi….” Chandler was panicking now, but Ella could barely see straight, much less pay attention to what he was doing. “SECURITY…. GET ME A TAXI!”

He practically carried Ella out to where a taxi had pulled up in front of the mall. Ella looked at Chandler as another wave hit her.

“Chandler, I think the baby might be coming now.”

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