One late afternoon a few days after her wedding, Tosha excitedly called her neighbor, Calista. "Guess what!" she cried.
"I threw up this morning before work!!"
"Well, I didn't think morning sickness was that enjoyable," replied Calista, "but, hey, if it makes you happy...." She promised to drop by her friend's apartment with Christopher that evening.
'Hi, little man!" Tosha gushed at Christopher, when Calista came by and handed the baby to her.
George heard Calista arrive and padded out from the bedroom in his robe and slippers, rubbing his eyes. He was working nights, at an entertainment job, and had just gotten up. "Hey, Cal," he said, yawning.
"This is for you, and Tosh, and your future baby, from Randy, Granddad, Christopher, and me," Calista said, handing George a gift-wrapped box.
The gift was of baby toys--a jumpy chair and a mat with dangling toys. "Granddad got the same stuff for Christopher, and he just loves it," Calista reported.
George had to leave for his job almost immediately, but Tosha quickly rearranged her furniture and set up the toys. "Oh, how cute!" she exclaimed.
"Come on, sweet thing," Calista murmured to her son as she laid him on the mat. "Let's show Auntie Tosh how to use these."
Christopher immediately set about grabbing enthusiastically for the dangling toys.
Calista settled onto the sofa next to her friend. "How are things going at home," Tosha inquired, "with the baby and with your grandfather moved in?"
"Oh, it couldn't be better," Calista assured her. "Granddad is so devoted to Christopher--"
"he does everything for the baby--feeds him, plays with him, bathes him. I really think Granddad's been rejuvenated by having a baby to take care of."
"That's so wonderful," said Tosha. "I wish George or I had an older family member to be involved in our baby's life."
Calista laughed. "Granddad would probably be happy to take care of both your baby and Christopher every day."
"Thanks," said Tosha, "but we won't be staying in this building--George and I have already started looking for a new place. I just can't stand living near Maria."
George came home from work hours after Tosha had gone to sleep. He climbed into bed, eased his arm under her neck, and snuggled up to her while trying not to wake her. She roused briefly. "Did you see I set the baby toys up?" she asked him, sleepily.
"Yes," George answered. "I also noticed that they were pink. I guess that means Calista thinks we're having a girl."
"If Calista thinks we're having a girl, then we're probably having a girl," Tosha murmured before falling back asleep.
Tosha was soon pregnant enough that she wasn't allowed to work, but she still went to the Dance/Fitness venue every day. She was enjoying her pregnancy, and had had morning sickness only once. Teaching hula classes wasn't very tiring,
and, while George was at work, she liked the opportunity to socialize.
Rebecka Louie came into the venue frequently, both to exercise and to schmooze potential clients. (Rebecka had recently started her own real estate practice.)
Rebecka usually staked out a place right by the front door, so that she could see everyone who came in,
and rush right over to greet them.
"Hey, Rebecka," Tosha greeted her one afternoon. "You should let me know when you're here--I'll let you in for free."
"Thanks, but not necessary," replied Rebecka, puffing away on the treadmill. "This is a cost of doing business--you and George have got a very convenient location and, until I get my own space for my realty company, it's easy enough for me to work out of here. Besides," she added, "when I find you and George a house, I'll make it all back in a real estate commission."
"How're you doing with your search?" Tosha asked.
"Actually," said Rebecka, confidently, getting off the machine, "I've found the perfect place for you two. Come see it with me this afternoon, and promise me you'll keep an open mind."
"Okaaaaay," Tosha agreed, but she wondered why, if the house was "perfect" for her and George, she had to keep an open mind.
On the way over to see the house, Tosha asked, "Is it a fixer-upper?", since she and George had told Rebecka they'd be perfectly happy with a house that needed some work, as George was so handy.
"Nope," replied Rebecka. "It's in mint condition." Tosha was even more confused by the time they reached the address.
"This is ... unusual," Tosha observed.
"It was built in the 1930s," Rebecka enthused, "and it's in perfect shape, and it's an absolute steal. It's owned by friends of the Count's who moved back to Europe. The owners will sell it only to someone artistic--that dishy conductor Carlo almost bought it, but then he got a gig in Brazil. Come on inside."
Tosha followed Rebecka out of the early summer heat into a cavernous, dark, cool space.
"Wow," was all Tosha could say.
The first floor was almost entirely open--there were seemingly acres of gleaming terrazzo flooring. "You could play kickball in here," Tosha remarked.
The first floor comprised a dining area, a formal fireplace area,
a kitchen, a powder room,
and a large area behind the staircase with a door that led out to the backyard. "What would one do with this part of the space?" Tosha mused.
"Throw lots of splashy parties that will make your name?" Rebecka suggested. "I know you don't think much of Maria Ivanova, but I have to say she's pretty darn good at raising her profile." Tosha snorted in derision, and Rebecka continued. "Obviously, George isn't going to behave the way Maria does, but he's got to do something--besides just being a good dancer, that is, because there are lots of good dancers--to make his mark. And this is just the kind of house that will help you two raise your social profile and get him noticed and help his career."
Tosha was stunned. This behemoth of an artsy house was certainly not what she had had in mind. "So why is this place an 'absolute steal', as you said?" she inquired.
"Because," Rebecka sighed, "(1) the owners will sell only to an artistic type, as I told you; (2) the place is immense, and so it's difficult to light, and it will cost a lot to furnish it; and (3) the owners have been gone so long that all the landscaping went to pot and had to be ripped out, and the 1950s-era swimming pool had to be filled in. So you'd be starting from scratch in the yard."
"Well, that was honest," Tosha admitted.
"Come on upstairs," urged Rebecka. The sweeping central staircase was magnificent, and opened up into another polished expanse of terrazzo.
The second floor had two suites--a master bedroom with an elegant bathroom that even had a separate room for the toilet ('Classssy!' thought Tosha),
and a second spacious suite with a slightly smaller bathroom.
"This doesn't exactly say 'nursery' to me," Tosha commented.
"It's a nursery only for a very special child," Rebecka insisted.
Rebecka had to leave for another appointment, but wisely let Tosha stay in the house to walk around and get a feel for the place. Tosha took out her cellphone.
"Chloe? Could you spare a few minutes?" she asked her friend. "I'm out looking at a house, and the kitchen seems pretty nice to me, but I'd like your opinion."
Chloe arrived a few minutes later. "Geez, Louise," she whistled, after she'd walked through the house and ended up in the kitchen with Tosha.
"Great light, gorgeous marble countertops, custom period cabinetry,"
" top-flight appliances, a double stove, two copper sinks...." Her voice trailed off.
"You know what?" Chloe announced. "Just buy the place and hire me as your cook. I could be really happy here."
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week, as Rebecka establishes an office for her realty company, Tosha invites the girls over to her new house for the evening, and two households move.