Separate Beds

Free Separate Beds by Lavyrle Spencer

Book: Separate Beds by Lavyrle Spencer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lavyrle Spencer
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance
Tollefson was a most unstylish woman, but what she lacked in fashion, she made up in cordiality.
    “No, not all of them,” she answered now. “Some of them call me Tolly. Some call me 'Hey-you,' and some avoid calling me anything. Others don't stay long enough to learn my name. But they are few and far between. Some think of me as a warden, but most of them consider me a friend. I hope you will too.”
    Catherine nodded, unsure of what to say.
    “I sense that you're self-conscious, Catherine, but there is no need to feel that way here. Here you will deal with keeping yourself and your baby as healthy as possible. You'll deal with making decisions about what to do with your life after the baby is born. You will meet young women who have all come here for the same reason as you have: to have a baby that is being born out of wedlock. We do not force you into roles here, Catherine, nor do we place labels on you or on the decisions you will make. But we do hope you'll spend time considering your future and where to pick up after you leave Horizons. We will need a little intake information for our records. Anything you answer will, of course, remain completely confidential. Your privacy will be strictly protected. Do you understand that, Catherine?”
    “Yes, but I may as well tell you immediately that I don't want my parents to know where I am.”
    “They don't have to. That's entirely up to you.”
    “The rest of the information . . .” Catherine paused, looking down at the manila card, looking for a blank that said “Father's name” or “Baby's father” or something like that. She found no such thing.
    “There is no coercion here of any kind. Fill out only what you want to for now. If, as time goes by, you wish to add additional information—well, the card will be here. These first few days we want you to concentrate chiefly on gaining your equilibrium, so to speak. Decisions about the future can be made in due time. You'll find that talking with all the girls will help very much. Each of them has a different outlook. There may be some fresh ideas that will help you immensely. My best advice is to remain open to the support that they may want to give. Don't shut them out, because they may be asking for your support when it appears they are giving you theirs. It won't take you long to find out what I mean.”
    “Are they all as friendly as the ones I've met so far?”
    “Certainly not. We have those who are bitter and withdrawn. With those we try all the harder. We have—as you'll soon see—one girl whose rebellion at her situation has taken on the form of kleptomania. There is no punishment here of any kind, not even for stealing fountain pens. You'll meet Francie soon, I'm sure. If she steals something of yours please let me know. I'm sure she will, right off the bat, just to test your reaction. The best thing to do is to offer her some compliment or suggest doing something for her or ask her advice about something. It always makes her return whatever it is she's stolen.”
    “I'll remember that when I meet her.”
    “Good. Well, Catherine, as I said before, during the first few days we want you to relax, gain your composure again and get to know the others. I think I hear the girls coming in now. They'll find some lunch for you and show you your room.”
    Marie appeared in the doorway just then.
    “All set?”
    “All set,” Mrs. Tollefson replied. “Feed this girl if she's hungry, then introduce her around.”
    “Aye-aye!” Marie saluted. “C'mon, Catherine. This way to the kitchen.”

    Some thirty minutes later Catherine walked out to the car with Bobbi. They stopped, and Bobbi turned to look back at the house.
    “I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't anything like this.”
    “Anything's better than home,” Catherine said with a definite chill in her voice. Bobbi saw the defensive veneer which always seemed to glaze Catherine's eyes when she made comments such as this. A mixture of pity

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