Regina was curled up on Alice's sofa, and groaning.
Alice brought her a cup of tea.
"Ohhhhh," Regina moaned, sitting up with some difficulty. "I'm SOOOO huge!"
"Yup, you are!" Alice agreed. "But you've got another great little kid on the way -- or maybe a great HUGE kid -- and it'll all be over soon!"
"Hi, guys!" Ophelia sang out as she entered. "Anyone want to go clothes shopping with Aunt Andromeda and me?"
"Oh, HELL, no," Regina said, screwing up her face in agony. "The only reason I made it over here today is that Bill threatened to divorce me if I didn't leave the house!"
"This would be the same Bill who painted your toenails yesterday? Hmmm???" Alice teased her, with a chuckle.
Regina didn't answer this. "I gotta pee again," she announced instead, exasperated.
"Well, you LOOK wonderful, even if you FEEL like crap!" Ophelia assured her.
"I guess I should have realized that shopping with Auntie is about the last thing Regina would want to do," observed Ophelia. "I DID mean well, but I probably just pissed her off."
"Don't worry about it," Alice told her. "She'll drop this baby in a day or so, and then she'll be back to her sweet self again. You'll find out what it's like when you get pregnant."
"Oh, I can't have a baby," Ophelia said matter-of-factly. "I mean, I suppose I could conceive, but my doctor says I don't have enough body fat, or wide enough hips, to have a problem-free pregnancy."
Alice felt a sudden need to change the subject. "Soooooo, how did you convince Andromeda to go clothes shopping? Did she suddenly decide that 10 identical dresses and 10 identical cardigans--except for color--weren't enough?"
"Well," Ophelia explained, "Auntie was SO over the moon about the vintage dress I wore to D3's birthday party that she wanted to go to the store where I got it."
("D3" was how Ophelia had started referring to Daedelus III, and everyone else had picked it up.)
"And, you're right -- she could REALLY use some new things. All she brought with her are the type of clothes she wears around their farm."
"I just love Zoe's Boutique," Ophelia went on. "I stopped in last week just to look around. Oh, and I saw your former neighbor Lou there."
"Did you talk to her?" Alice wondered.
"Are you KIDDING? -- NO!" Ophelia shreiked. "After my LAST -- and FIRST -- encounter with her?? Which was unpleasant enough for any one person's lifetime??? Jeebus, for the life of me I don't understand how she's a doctor -- her 'bedside manner' must be awful!
"Besides," Ophelia continued, "she was with another woman, so I just slunk out of the store before she noticed me."
"Just out of curiosity," Alice asked, "what did the other woman look like?"
"Well, not like Lou, that's for sure," Ophelia responded. "The woman was kind of ... heavy. I'd be surprised if there was anything at Zoe's that would have fit her."
Regina returned from the bathroom, looking much happier.
"Hey, what's this cute thing?" she asked, indicating a small crafts table where the bassinet had been.
"Oh, that's a birthday present for D3 from -- wait for it -- RAFAEL," Alice explained, trying not to laugh.
"What--, uhh--, WHY?" sputtered Regina.
"I suspect he's trying to make amends for his past behavior to me," Alice said. "But--since we're talking Rafael here--he and his chauffeur just showed up with it, with no advance warning. But it IS a very nice present."
"It sure IS," Ophelia remarked. "In fact, it's the exact same present that Uncle and Auntie bought for D3 to play with at THEIR house. So--please try to act surprised when you see it at their housewarming!"