The front door jingled its happy tune, but the sight of the newcomer didn’t bring any cheer. Charlotte did her best to suppress a groan as Agent Lassiter marched into their quiet alcove and straight to their table. “You need to reconsider.”

Charlotte shot up, arms crossed over her chest. “First of all, you’re interrupting a private meeting. And secondly, I already gave you my answer. I’ll run any story I want.”

“Oooohhhh!” Anna cried and bent over.

Kate shot to her daughter’s side. “You two, take this outside.”

Helen cowered away from Agent Lassiter, but stooped on one knee at Anna’s side. “You okay, dear?”

Lassiter stumbled back. “Anna? Should I call Liam?” It was the first time Charlotte had seen him as anything less than put together.

“Take three short breaths followed by a long cleansing one,” Helen said, her voice strangely calm.

Kate stood by her daughter’s side, her face white and eyes wide. “Hon, you doing okay?”

Anna inhaled three short breaths then a long one. “Yes, I’m okay now. I just had this massive cramp. It happened this morning, too.”

Kate grabbed her phone from her purse and dialed. “We should get you to the hospital. I’ll call Liam.”

“Mother, I’m okay. It’s probably false labor. You already took me to the doctor this morning and I wasn’t dilated at all. He said it could be days or even another week, remember?” Anna reached for her glass of water on the table, but midway to her mouth she dropped it to the floor with a crash. She doubled over and screamed again.

Helen stroked her hair while taking funny breaths and making eye contact with Anna’s wild gaze. “You’re going to be okay. Just follow my breathing.”

Charlotte stood and shoved Lassiter. “If all you’re going to do is stand there, get out of the way.” She sat in the chair at Helen’s side. “Don’t worry, hon. Your mom’s calling Liam, and we’ll get you to the hospital.”

Anna nodded until she managed to catch her breath then she frowned and looked down at her soiled dress.

Helen didn’t miss a beat. “That’s good, honey. Real great. Your water broke. Now, we know for sure that your baby’s on the way. Hey mister, call an ambulance please. Kate, did you reach her husband?”

“Oh, here comes another one. Oh, oh, ooooooh!” Anna’s face turned bright red. Charlotte thought she would faint at the sight of the woman’s torture. She looked up at the agent for help, but the coward had disappeared.