by Jessica Raymond
Sophie checked the clock on her dashboard and pulled out on to the main road. It was two o’clock. Her appointment wasn’t until half past and the journey only took fifteen minutes, so she had plenty of time.
She circled a roundabout and glanced at her rearview mirror. A sleek sports car merged into the flow of traffic behind her; its shiny grillwork and clean lines stood out from the other vehicles. When Sophie slowed to a stop at the traffic lights she checked her mirror again, just as she had been taught when she’d been a learner driver. The sports car was right behind her.
Her fingernails drummed the top of the steering wheel as she watched two women use the pedestrian crossing in front, but her gaze was quickly drawn back to the rearview mirror.
Sophie took a closer look at the male driver of the sports car, and at his shoulders, which were clad in a royal-blue shirt. The man moved his hand on the steering wheel, and Sophie noted that his sleeves were rolled up, exposing strong tanned arms. Her heart began to thud rather noticeably and a wave-like tingle swept down her neck and over her shoulders as she drank in the sight of him.
The warning beep of the pedestrian crossing died into silence and the amber light began to flash, notifying the cars that they could prepare to move. Sophie returned her concentration to the road and, after the green light had glowed into life, she drove on.
Another glance at the clock told her that five more minutes had passed. Her anticipation grew as she neared her destination; her hands felt a little shaky and her knees tingled. The warm, bouncy feeling in her stomach intensified when she took another furtive look in her mirror to see the man in the sports car still following her.
Their eyes met, and her breath caught slightly in her throat. He smiled at her. She returned the gesture automatically then looked back at the road, knowing she should pay more attention to her driving.
An approaching sign informed Sophie that her turn-off was mere seconds away. She switched on the indicator and slowed down. Her eyes travelled briefly to the rearview mirror again—only to comply with basic mirror–signal–manoeuvre rules, she told herself—and Sophie saw the indicator light on the sports car begin to flash. Another frisson of excitement raced over her skin. Forcing herself to concentrate on the task at hand, she gripped the steering wheel and turned into the side road.
Almost there. It was now a quarter past two—just fifteen minutes to go until her appointment.
She didn’t need to look in her mirror to know that the sports car was still behind her, because every now and then a shiny wink of light would reflect off its pristine bodywork and into her vision. Knowing it was still there made Sophie feel nervous in an unusually exhilarating way. She caught his eye again; this time he raised his hand from the steering wheel and waved at her with that lazy smile still on his face. Sophie’s heart skipped a beat. There was no denying it—he was incredibly handsome.
A sign for the entrance suddenly loomed into view on her left. Her heart practically raced in her chest and there was a funny, fuzzy sort of sensation in her stomach.
Down went the indicator branch as Sophie reached her turn-off. The rearview mirror told her that sports-car man had signalled left as well.
She scanned the directions on the road sign. “Bear right and look for the large red M,” she read out loud, thinking she could really do with a cheeseburger and fries. A minute later, Sophie pulled into a space in the leafy car park. An engine grumbled behind her and she watched the sports car park two spaces away.
She locked eyes with the handsome driver. He smiled at her. Sophie took a cleansing, calming breath. Was it even possible for nerves to feel this good?
She opened the door and stepped out.
“Hi,” the man said, shutting his door at the same time as her.
“Hi,” she replied in a shaky voice.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d noticed me following you.”
“I did.” Sophie smiled and watched him walk around his car towards her. “It was a nice surprise. I wasn’t sure you would make it.”
He kissed her on the cheek. “I got one of the other guys to take my two o’clock test drive. There’s no way I was going to miss this. The boss even let me take the new convertible and he hasn’t allowed it off the forecourt before today.”
His hand closed over hers. Sophie could feel the comforting coolness of his wedding ring against her palm. Her heart grew several sizes in her chest. “I love you, Tom. You know that, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, Soph.” He kissed the top of her head. “And you know I love you too.”
Hand-in-hand, they walked over a small lawn area to the entrance of the maternity unit. Sophie took the appointment card from her pocket and read once more the printed words she already knew off by heart:
Sophie Finnigan — 12-week ultrasound — 2.30pm
She slipped the card back into her pocket while avoiding a patch of daisies on the lawn.
Since the moment she’d found out about the tiny life growing inside her, she had come to look at the world in a different way.
Daisies had changed. They were no longer insignificant wildflowers, but possibly one of the most beautiful yet simple pieces of nature Sophie had ever seen.
Driving anywhere, no matter how near or far, was different. Every turn, brake, and acceleration was a potential risk.
Cheeseburgers and fries were different. They were no longer banned from her vegetarian menu, but had become the most delicious meal she’d ever eaten.
But most of all, her husband was different. She had fallen in love with him all over again. Rather than being the Tom she had known since high school and married two years ago, he had become the father of her unborn child. A man she now looked at through new eyes, seeing all that was good and kind about him—all the things she’d somehow forgotten to notice any more because she’d been so used to them.
It was as though impending motherhood had given her new eyes with which to look out on the world. New senses to feel it, hear it, touch it, and taste it. Her life, through being put on a path of phenomenal change, had been renewed.
And she had never felt happier.