The grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…
Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.
Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.
Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.
“We have a new dog.”
Lexi blinked at her. “There’s a non sequitur. You have a dog?”
Stacey explained about Becca and the inherited dogs. “We took Bay. She’s beautiful and so well trained. With all the confusion, it didn’t seem like a good time to tell my mother about the baby.”
“Uh-huh. I’m sure someone believes that, but it wouldn’t be me. You are lucky you’re tall enough that your pregnancy doesn’t show or she would have guessed by now anyway. You’re going to be one of those annoying women who doesn’t look pregnant until the last three days.” She folded her arms across her chest. “Stacey, you know it’s only going to get harder to tell her the longer you wait, right?”
Stacey nodded, although she couldn’t imagine it being any more difficult than it was right now.
“You also have to let Karl know,” Lexi added.
“I’ve told HR,” Stacey said defensively.
She’d already filled out all the required paperwork and requested her leave. The chain of command had been alerted. Which was not, she admitted to herself, the same as telling the head of her department.
Karl wasn’t exactly her boss—Stacey had autonomy in her department. As long as her team produced results, she was left to her own devices. Still, Karl was the closest thing to a manager she had, and at some point he needed to know. Just not right now.
“Did I mention Bay is pregnant?”
Lexi’s eyes widened. “Your new dog is pregnant?”
“Yes. Significantly so. I’m going to make an appointment to take her to the vet to get her checked out.” She frowned. “Thor’s been neutered, so he can’t be the father. I wonder who it was. Regardless, we’ll have puppies soon.”
“You’re pregnant. You haven’t told your mom or Karl, but you now have a dog who’s going to have puppies?”
Lexi’s voice was filled with incredulity and shock, which didn’t make any sense.
“Why are you saying it like that? What does one have to do with the other?”
“You’re going to have a baby,” Lexi said forcefully. “Your life is going to change in ways you can’t begin to understand. The last thing you need is puppies in the house.”
Stacey disagreed. Puppies were exactly what she needed. Being around Bay would allow her to observe motherhood in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. She planned to learn from the dog and use those lessons to help herself feel more connected to her own child.
“I think Bay and her puppies will be good for me,” she said.
“You’re the boss.” Lexi stood. “I’m going to finish proofing your article, then email it back to you. In the meantime, if you have any questions, remember I’ve had three. I know it all.”
Stacey planned to call on her assistant when the time came. It would be good to have an extra resource for those questions she couldn’t ask her mother or sister.
Too much of the literature she’d read mentioned hormones and instinct kicking in when the baby was born. While Stacey appreciated the power of innate intelligence, she was concerned she was somehow lacking vital pieces—especially when it came to being a mother. She’d never been normal before—why would that change now?
Becca walked slowly up the front steps to Mischief Bay High School when what she wanted to do was run or skip or even dance. Spring Break was over. Finally! She glanced around, wondering if anyone else was thinking the same thing, then sighed. Of course they weren’t. Everyone else had gone away for Spring Break or had fun with their friends. Everyone else had plans. She’d been the only one counting the days until she could get back to something close to a life.
She sat on the stone bench to the side of the huge open double doors and faked looking for something in her backpack. She needed a second to remember how to pretend all the things she was supposed to pretend. That she didn’t miss Kaylee every second of every day. Her best friend had moved to Boston at the end of last summer. After swearing she would never have another friend as amazing as Becca, after crying for weeks about how she would never fit in, Kaylee had settled into life in Boston easily and happily.
Between Instagram and Snapchat, Becca had a clear idea of exactly how perfect Kaylee’s new life was. She even had a boyfriend. Just like Jordan, Becca’s second-best friend. Becca, on the other hand, hadn’t even been kissed, not unless you counted a couple of stupid birthday parties with kissing games, which she didn’t.
She knew it was wrong to be jealous of Kaylee learning to sail and dating the younger brother of a naval cadet, and in a way, she wasn’t. She wanted Kaylee to be happy—it was just she also wanted to be missed as much as she was missing her friend. But the texts were getting less frequent and less personal. These days it seemed as if Kaylee was texting her grandmother rather than her friend.
As for Jordan… Becca shook her head. She had no idea what to do there. Jordan and her family had gone to Mexico for Spring Break. Back in November, Jordan had begged Becca to go with her. If she didn’t have her best friend along, she would die. Then, over Christmas, Jordan and Nathan had started dating and in the end, Jordan had taken Nathan instead.
There were other friends—she was part of a group, just like pretty much every other girl in high school. But those were just regular friends. Becca had never been good at being close with a crowd. She preferred one or two people in her life, which made her weird and left her sitting alone on this stupid bench, freakishly excited about school starting in twenty minutes.
She looked around at everyone talking about their vacations, listened to the laughing and teasing and felt…sad. No, she thought. Not sad, exactly. Small. She was so small and everyone else was big and sometimes she felt as if she were getting smaller and smaller and one day she would just disappear.
Her phone chirped.
Where RU? omg I need to cu now
Becca smiled as Jordan’s drama played out in text, even as she heard her friend’s voice in her head.
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