Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hope Deferred by Elizabeth Maddrey

Hope Deferred
HopeSprings Books (July 1, 2014)
Elizabeth Maddrey

Chapter 1

“I’ve done all I can.” Dr. Strong tented her fingers.

June swallowed the lump in her throat. It wasn’t a surprise, not really. But the verdict still left her breathless. “So now what?”

“You’ll want to find a reproductive endocrinologist. I’ll make a copy of your file for you, hopefully that’ll keep you from having to re-do three cycles of Clomid before moving on to something more likely to work.”

June nodded. If only it was really that easy. She couldn’t just go to an RE. Even with a referral from Dr. Strong, her insurance was going to fight it. And if they didn’t pay…would Toby even consider it?

“Do you have someone you recommend?”

Dr. Strong shook her head. “Not really. It’s not my specialty—and different insurance companies cover different medical groups. You tell me who your policy is most likely to work with and I’ll write the referral to them.”

“That’s easy. No one.” June huffed out a breath. “Sorry. I’ll have to read through everything again, but I’m fairly sure they’re not going to cover anything.”

“Then I’d recommend choosing someone whose office is easy to get to first thing in the morning. You’ll be making daily, or at least every other day, visits for ultrasounds during treatment.” The doctor tapped a pen against her desk. “Tell you what, I’m going to fill out the form but leave the practice name blank. That way, once you decide where you’re going, you can just fill it in. Saves you another office visit with me.”

“Thanks.” June watched as Dr. Strong scribbled on a pad of paper. How was she going to convince Toby?


June’s head fell back against the top of her desk chair. Why couldn’t insurance companies just write in plain English? Her pulse throbbed in her temples and words continued to swim in front of her eyes, despite the fact that she was no longer looking at her computer screen. Her eyelids drifted shut. At least…at least what? Her mind went blank. Surely there were blessings to count somewhere?

“There she is, my beautiful bride.” Toby’s lips brushed across her forehead.

“Hi, sweetie. How was your day?” June flicked her eyes to the computer screen—it had gone blank. Thank goodness for screen savers. The conversation about medical treatment to start a family could wait for a little while. At least until she got her thoughts together.

“Eh.” He shrugged. “You know how it is. How was your day off?”

Or maybe it couldn’t wait. “Fine…I had a consultation with Dr. Strong.”

Toby ran a hand through his hair. “Oh?”

“Yeah. I should have mentioned it—meant to, in fact—I just never figured out how. Then I thought it’d just be easier to tell you once I knew what she had to say. I’m sorry.”

He sank into his chair and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “Okay. I guess. So what did she say?”

June sighed. It was better to rip the band-aid off, right? “She can’t do anything else for us. It’s time to see a specialist if we’re going to keep trying.”

Toby nodded but said nothing.

June watched him. What was he thinking? The wheels were spinning behind his eyes, but his expression stayed blank. “We don’t have to talk about it now. Or even do anything about it right away.”

“How are you doing?”

June drew her eyebrows together. He wasn’t mad that she’d forgotten to mention the appointment? Or that they were going to have to pay for this out of pocket? “Um…okay, I guess. Disappointed. But I’m honestly starting to get used to that. This last year has left a layer of discouragement over most of my life that’s thicker than the dust on the bookshelves.”

The corner of Toby’s mouth quirked up. “Is that a hint that I need to dust more?”

“You know what I mean.”

“So, just disappointed?”

What was he getting at? “Not just, no. But I haven’t sorted through everything yet—processed it, I guess. I…honestly, I was more worried that you were going to be angry.”

He rolled his chair closer to hers and took her hand. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing for you to be sorry about. As far as we know, all our problems are my fault. If anyone needs to be sorry, it’s me. I know you didn’t sign on for a broken wife.”

He squeezed her hand. “That’s not what I meant—and you’re not broken. But we’ll come back to that.” He cleared his throat and waited until their eyes met. “I’m sorry that I’ve made you feel like you can’t—or shouldn’t—talk to me about this. I don’t want you to only worry that I’m going to be angry when you’re hurting.”

“Oh.” June offered a slight smile. “Thanks.”

“I love you. Kids or no kids. When I asked you to marry me, I signed on to be your husband and spend the rest of my life with you. Anything else is gravy.” He stood and kissed her forehead. “Why don’t I see what I can scrounge for dinner? Then afterward, we can tackle the nightmare of the insurance website and see what we can figure out.”

June’s mouth dropped open as he left the room. He was taking this so well…had her impressions from the last four months been that far off? After their first failed cycle on Clomid in April, he’d been so insistent that they wait until June to try again. Then when that cycle failed, he’d pushed for another break before a third try. She’d assumed he was going to want an even longer break now that he was going to have to be more actively involved in the process. Maybe he didn’t understand how much more he was going to have to do? Even if he didn’t, she was going to savor having him back on her side for as long as it lasted.


June eased out from under the covers. Toby’s breathing continued its even rhythm, punctuated by quiet whuffles every fourth breath. He was so cute. He probably wouldn’t appreciate the term, but it was what fit. Especially when he was asleep. Careful to avoid the squeaky floorboards, she made her way downstairs to the office and wiggled her computer mouse.

The time they’d spent looking at insurance and various fertility doctors after dinner hadn’t been particularly productive. Insurance wasn’t going to cover anything after testing. That was clear. The tests themselves were likely to be covered, at least the way they were reading the coverage descriptions. But it wasn’t clear if a specialist could do the testing or if she had to convince Dr. Strong to do it.

Sighing, June clicked on Solitaire. The cards darted across the screen into neat piles. Why couldn’t life be that easy? Click a button, get a nice, manageable stack of things to deal with and tick through them one at a time. She dragged a few cards around before closing the unfinished game and opening a browser. Automatically, she clicked the Facebook button. Maybe someone had posted something funny that would penetrate the hazy funk that had settled over her as she got ready for bed and was responsible for this bout of insomnia.

Or not. The first item in her newsfeed was a baby picture from Ginger and Martin. She quickly scrolled past. It wasn’t that their daughter was ugly—she was beautiful—but she was also one more kick in the gut. At least she wasn’t Facebook friends with everyone in the small group. The August baby-boom had made the class almost unbearable. Having it thrust in her face every time she ventured online would’ve simply capped off the misery.

She was about to close the browser when her chat box popped up and the computer dinged.

What are you doing up?

June glanced at the time and shook her head.

I could ask you the same thing, Lydia. Couldn’t sleep. U?

She reopened solitaire as she waited for Lydia to respond.

Same here. Thinking too much, mostly. You free for coffee anytime soon?

Her head fell back and she stared at the ceiling. Was she free for coffee? The easy answer was yes. Her social calendar wasn’t bustling and never had been. But her relationship with Lydia had been weird since April. Relationships with a lot of people had been weird since April. On the other hand, Toby had a guy’s night planned for Friday, and July and Gareth were going away for the weekend. Coffee with Lydia would be better than hanging around the house moping.

Friday night?

It’s a date! Guess I should run and try to sleep. You should too.

She closed the browser and stared at the photo of her and Toby grinning from the desktop. Sleep. Sure. Like that was going to happen.

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