Thousands of people went about their daily lives as the morning sun arose, peeking between the skyscrapers. She passed along the crowded sidewalk, sipping her cappuccino on the way to work. She reached into her purse, checking for her ID badge. Waiting for a crosswalk light to change, she adjusted her bra strap and tucked her gray blouse into her black and white skirt. She continued on, mentally planning her itinerary for the day.
Something caught her eye, and she paused mid stride. A low, pained noise came from behind some garbage cans. She entered the alleyway, approaching cautiously, raising her head high to find the source of the hurt animal. She jumped as the creature scampered back into a corner. The strange pink creature’s body trembled as it let out another low cry. She felt an odd compulsion to approach, and when she was within reaching distance the creature bolted beneath her legs.
She dropped her beverage, standing silently horrified as the soft creature rubbed feelers gently along her ankles. Its skin was cool and malleable, touching carefully along her legs as she stood, planning what to do. She was about to run when she felt a sense of calm wash over her. Companion. The thought formed in her mind somehow. Her fear lessened as the alien creature crawled up her toned legs. It moved higher, making her gasp as it passed over her underwear.
Another sense of calm came before it continued upward. “What are you doing?” She asked aloud. The creature was on her lower back, beneath her waistband as more thoughts came. Mate. Love? It wasn’t speaking, but she knew what it meant. The creature grew longer, stretching feelers up along her spine and two others around her hips and into her panties. The upper tendrils went below her arms, beneath her bra, and up to her nipples. The lower two curved upward, slipping into her vagina from both sides.
Lastly, she felt another tendril move down and into her ass. This one was larger and wet, opening her easily with its tapered tip. It parted her firmly, making her lean against a wall as it pushed deeper and deeper into her bowels. She grimaced as it snaked a path all the way up to her stomach. Finally it stopped. She felt violated, but it didn’t bother her as much as expected. She adjusted her clothing and continued on her way.
I have a monster attached to me! She thought with increasing unease. Why am I okay with this?
It responded to her thoughts. No pain. I will help you. Must eat first. The thoughts coalesced in her mind, easing her panic. She diverted into a restaurant, buying three smaller breakfast sandwiches. She devoured them, enjoying the flavor more than any food she could recall. Each bite tastes fantastic! She savored the last piece, sad that it was gone. I enhance thoughts. I can adapt. Eat more.
She didn’t have too much extra time, but she found another fast-food establishment and bought an assortment of cheaper foods. She adored every moment of that feast, hurriedly wolfing it down as she sat at a corner table. She was so enthralled that she lost track of time. She ate the last few items on the go, shoving the food in her mouth as she trotted to her workplace. People gave some disgusted glances, but she didn’t care. She wiped her hands and face, composing herself before she took the elevator. She checked in and quietly found her cubicle.
“13 minutes late. I could fire you right now, Hilary.” Her supervisor leered.
“But you won’t.”
The man sighed. “Of course not. Just be ready to speak in 17 minutes. The investors are already showing up.”
“I thought that was at 2!”
“Didn’t you see the e-mail? They rescheduled a week ago. Just get your shit together, Hilary. We need someone to invest or I don’t know how much longer I can let your… liberal work ethic slide.”
Her boss scoffed as she turned away. I’m screwed! I don’t even have the paperwork together! She scrambled to find the binder on the pills she was trying to speak about. She felt a sudden calmness come over her. I can assist. She opened her bottom desk drawer and pulled the nondescript binder from the bottom of the stack. She knew very little about the drug she was going to speak about, but she was pretty good with last minute prep work.
She skimmed through the pitch, making note of how this newer diabetes drug was supposed to be easier on your system than most of the common alternatives. She found most of the important information before hunger pulled her away. She only had about 5 minutes left, so she trotted to the empty break room and pilfered a few co-worker’s lunches from the refrigerator. She hastily downed a couple of sandwiches and large bowl of cold soup. It tasted wonderful and she was sad to see she only had a minute left. She wiped her mouth and trotted to the meeting room.
Inside, there were six people awaiting her arrival. The dour businessmen and women watched her quietly as she entered and began the pitch. She recalled the details more easily than before, surely with the assistance of the attached alien.
“It was recently approved by the FDA and is slated for release in two years. It is a milder diabetes medication with side effects of weight gain, upset stomach, and bloating. It is effective in spite of the minimal risks and…” Words left her as she felt a bulge pressing between her legs. She tried to hide her urgency as she opened her stance, allowing an ovipositor to wriggle inside her open vagina. A large egg slipped inside, opening her painfully wide before snaking up her vagina. She leaned against the desk as another moved into place.
The people stared with subtle confusion as she took more eggs, one after the other. Hilary stumbled through her presentation, finally able to continue with her pitch. “This drug can work wonders for people who were unable to tolerate the current medications and it… shows… promise on reducing reliance on the drug after a few years of use.” She groaned, feeling numerous eggs jostling inside of her belly. She was horrified as she glanced down, seeing her shirt had come untucked due to her now rounded potbelly. A bulge formed as another egg moved inside, but only a tiny portion of her midriff was visible above her waistband. The others said nothing, clearly waiting for someone else to acknowledge it.
“How much will it cost?” One woman asked, clearly oblivious to the strange growth in Hilary’s belly.
“Uh, it hasn’t been determined, but they aim for competitive pricing.”
“Do they have a distributor?”
“They have a few options lined up, b-but…” The eggs continued, distracting her entirely. She couldn’t resist grabbing her filling belly as she gave a pained groan. Her stomach moved as the eggs forced their way higher. She felt tightness as she leaned down upon the large table with something building inside her. Gritting her teeth, she felt a sharp pain as the objects fought to move deeper. She gasped as an egg slipped into her womb, feeling a sudden disconnect as others rolled in behind it.
“Okay, what is happening?” Another man gestured to her exposed tummy. “Are you okay?”
“Oh-of… Of course.” Hilary stuttered. “I just… I must…” She looked down with obvious concern as she lifted her shirt. People gasped as she showed her bulging, bumpy belly. It was bigger than she realized and it moved as they watched, continuing to fill with the creature’s eggs. She appeared to be in the middle of a pregnancy, but thankfully the creature attached to her was hidden from their view.
“Wait, did you take the drug? Is that why… this is happening?” One of them asked.
“Are those the side effects you mentioned?” The man looked appalled. “Those are pretty severe!”
“Ugh, uh… Yeah, I used them because I am… diabetic.” She lied. “This hasn’t happened before.”
“Jesus! How is this drug mild?”
“I swear, this is a fluke.” She tried to save face. “Don’t let this factor into your decision…”
“You should go to a doctor!”
A sudden thought came to mind. Unable to hide her belly, she held up a finger and waddled out of the conference room. She found another binder in her desk and brought it back to the confused men and women. She flipped it open, grimacing as she spoke. “This is Glucocynil: a drug being developed alongside the one I’m taking. It is further along and will be produced this year. It’s more expensive, but the side effects are nothing like this…” She grunted and buckled, feeling more and more eggs pushing inside her womb. Her belly was almost entirely full, jutting ahead with notable bumps throughout.
“I…” She shook her head, breathing laboriously. “I am going to the doctor.” She left the investors as she pushed through the door, shuffling down the hallway. She took the elevator, feeling the ovipositor withdraw as she waited. She squeezed her legs together, attempting to retain the large amount of eggs in her vagina.
Hilary rushed into the single person bathroom and immediately felt her panties fill with baseball sized eggs. She moved her garment aside, forcefully ejected eggs onto the ground. They came out quickly and she couldn’t hold back, pushing countless alien eggs onto the tile floor. They piled up, rolling aside as more and more came. None of them broke, she noticed, and she felt sudden guilt as she stared at the wet pile of unborn offspring. They require warmth to survive. She tried to think of a solution.
Back inside? She responded to the alien mentally.
No. Need space for more.
She felt the ovipositor slip back into place in her sore vagina. She still retained some eggs, but her stomach had flattened almost back to normal. She stepped to the mirror to freshen up. She wiped away some smudged mascara, adjusting her bra to keep the minor bulges from the feelers hidden. “You can fix this. You just have to say it was something you ate… They’re more likely to believe that then the truth!” She spoke to herself as she glanced back to the piled eggs. She brushed her platinum blonde hair back, scrutinizing her face in the mirror. Her high-peaked eyebrows drew attention from her prominent nose to her radiant eyes. Her dimpled smile showed as she built her confidence. Care for them.
She turned back to the eggs with a fresh idea in her mind. She emptied the garbage bag by the sink, glad it was only filled with used paper towels. She shoveled the eggs into the sack, carrying it past the front desk. She walked with purpose, avoiding eye contact as she got back into the elevator and chose the highest floor. She had to use the stairs to get roof access, knowing no one would bother the eggs as they warmed in the sun. She spread them out before returning to her office. Moving past the clear conference room window, she cautiously moved to her desk.
Her supervisor appeared atop her cubicle wall. “I don’t know what you did, Hilary, but they all signed for Glucocynil.” The man laughed. “I mean, no one bought the new drug, but this stuff will make us twice as much. Don’t know how you sold it, but nice job!” The man slapped the flimsy wall before stepping away. The familiar hunger returned and she ignored it for a time, focusing on paperwork and client calls for an hour or so.
We need food. “You have to wait!” She whispered with urgency. “I have my own life to live!” We need to eat. Our time together is limited. Hilary felt relief that the creature would be gone soon. She conceded, telling her supervisor she was going to an early lunch.
She decided to try a different approach. The buffet opened recently and the customers were just starting to flow in. She found a secluded seat and told the waitress her a drink order. Hilary grabbed two plates, stacking a large amount of various foods upon each. Returning, she quickly cleaned the generous helpings before heading back for more. She learned to pack the food together, making dense piles of pastas, vegetables, and fried foods. No one seemed to pay attention as she ate hastily, demolishing the platefuls easily.
She was on the eighth plate when people started to take notice. Quick glances came as the restaurant filled. She also noticed a tightness in her midsection. She raised her untucked blouse to see a large belly had formed. A server brought her yet another beverage, saying nothing as she took the stack of empty dishes. “I’m huge! Why don’t I feel full?” She asked the attached creature once the woman was gone.
More energy is needed for the next spawn. Keep eating. She sighed, venturing to the buffet yet again. She took six large patties of boneless fried chicken, eight crisscrossed egg rolls, half a plate of piled macaroni and cheese, and a heaping bowl of chili. She carried the stack of plates carefully past the gawking patrons, arranging them upon the table. Having emptied her drink again, the waitress had quietly placed a pitcher of soda upon the table for her.
Hilary gulped down the entire pitcher within a minute. She set to work, munching down the bulk foods. She was sweating as she pushed the remainder of the egg rolls into her mouth, chewing it minimally before swallowing. Her clothes pulled tight upon her massive belly. She was far bigger than before, but she still felt hungry.
Again she went to gather more food, but this time lines had formed. The staff was struggling to keep up and she decided to hit up the dessert table. She took a nearly full pan of chocolate cake, seeing no one nearby to oppose her. She brought it to the ice cream machine and covered the baked dish in soft serve. The vanilla ice cream was wound high and she added piles of sprinkles and chocolate chips on top. Some people scowled, while others saw her full belly and accepted that she was eating for two.
At the table, she noticed her waitress talking to two other women, pointing at her subtly before smiling. Hilary ignored them, taking hefty spoonfuls of the sugary concoction. The entire meal was euphoric, and every bite tasted like the best thing she had ever eaten. By the end she didn’t feel full, but she knew she had to stop. An audience was watching her now and her belly was hanging heavily over her thighs. She got up, attempting to cover her exposed belly, but her clothing was far too tight. Even her chest was pulling her blouse to the limit, but her nipples were hidden under the creature’s feelers.
She waddled to the door, walking with slow, lumbering steps. She had a reasonably long walk ahead and she was in no state to continue. She raised an arm to summon a taxi, feeling a breeze upon her warm, uncovered belly. In less than a minute she had a ride. She clumsily crawled into the back seat, her expanded stomach rubbing against the seat in front of her. She gave the driver her home address as she called in to work. The receptionist directed her call to her supervisor.
“Hilary, Mr. Mazzeo wants to meet with you!”
“I-I’m sorry, but I can’t make it back… I’m not feeling well.”
“No, you can’t stand him up. He’s my boss’ boss, Hilary. You have to meet with him before he flies out of the state tomorrow.”
“I don’t… want to get him sick or something.”
“Then don’t cough on him! He asked for you specifically and if you don’t meet with him then I’ll give you form duty for the next two months.”
She paused, knowing how tedious it would be to check and correct minor errors on insurance forms. “Okay, okay, I’ll go.” She got the address and redirected the cab driver. I can’t go in looking like this and I won’t have any place to lay the eggs – help me! She shouted mentally. It cannot be rushed. You must explain somehow. This will be our last brood. She felt calmer, but still nervous about how to explain her predicament to the man who ran their entire building.
She paid her fare and started the long trek up the winding driveway. Her belly swayed, shifting her skirt side to side. Sweat showed through her blouse and hair stuck to her neck in the afternoon sun. She huffed as her shaky legs carried her to the elegant household. Hitting the doorbell, she was greeted by a voice. After getting her name, the older man directed her inside.
The man with peppered hair maintained eye contact, avoiding her girth. “Glad to meet you Ms. Weber, you can call me Evan.”
She blushed, winded from the walk. “Good to meet you too.”
The house was very clean and well furnished. He had numerous closed files sitting upon the coffee table as they came into the living room. He directed her to sit upon the spacious sectional sofa as he sat on the opposite end. She had to sit with her legs apart, but thankfully her stomach covered her privates.
“So, straight to business. I heard you found a great number of investors for one of our superfluous drugs. It was so overpriced that it was just there to drive up the sales of cheaper products, but you sold it en masse. Can I ask how you did it?”
“Uh, I just gave the pitch for another drug and then told them the side effects. They decided for that one instead.”
His eyes drifted downward along her enlarged body. “I was told you puffed up like a balloon. Are you okay? Was this a side effect of that drug?” He showed care.
“No, no, I’ll be fine. It was an unrelated allergy, but I’ll be fine.” She wiped the sweat from her forehead. “It’s a very… unique allergy, but it’s not dangerous, only inconvenient.”
“Well, I don’t want you to have any problems, so please let me know if I can help your situation somehow.” He nodded, accepting her silence. “Well, you used your problem creatively and I’d like to offer you a training position. Once a month I’d like you to coach our other sales reps.”
Hilary was stunned. “I don’t know if I really should.”
“You are being modest. It isn’t only this case I’m looking at. You have a solid track record and you could boss your boss around.” He smiled. “I didn’t choose you on a whim, today was simply a push in the right direction.”
“Yes… yes!” She nodded excitedly. A sudden cramp stole her glee. The man noticed, leaning forward to offer aide. “I’ll be okay, it’s just my allergy. May I use the bathroom?”
Mr. Mazzeo directed her down the hall and helped her to stand. She set out alone, supporting herself along the wall as she held her stomach, feeling a building tightness. More eggs are coming! Gathering her willpower, she shuffled into the bathroom and locked the door. The pain built, growing almost unbearable as she bent down with her hands upon her knees. She let out short, quick breaths as she pushed hard, trying to force the blockage lower. Her pussy was dripping wet as she tried again and again, feeling it shift slightly lower each time.
The largest section of the object was passing. She grit her teeth as she watched herself in the mirror. Her stomach was massive, dominating her smaller frame. She tried to shift her skirt lower to accommodate her growth, but it was pulled so tight that it snapped. The garment launched to the floor, exposing the growing creature upon her back. She was shocked to see it swelling up, pulling her blouse and panties tight.
Finally the egg pushed past her opening, but to her horror she hadn’t noticed it was going upward. The eggs aren’t coming out – they’re going in! She balled her fists as she grunted quietly, taking another oversized egg into her vagina. The discomfort passed momentarily before another pushed it against her sore opening. Again she spread for the object, feeling excruciating agony as the first egg forced its way into her womb.
Hilary squatted, whimpering as the unbearable tightness built. She was in tears as it finally slipped past the widest section. One of the giant eggs was now nestled inside her womb and another was pushing in to join it. More followed as well, as the unhindered creature puffed out behind her. It was ingesting all of the food she had in her stomach and giving eggs in return. She was on her knees now, unable to move as egg after egg rammed inside her. Her stomach bulged unevenly as she endured the punishment. She felt seven or eight pomegranate sized eggs inside her when the insertions stopped. Her vagina was packed full and she felt a warmth just inside her entrance.
Aching, she finally took a moment to open her eyes. Her stomach was slightly smaller, but her attention was drawn by the immensely swollen creature upon her back. In her ordeal she didn’t notice that the alien had collected the food, preparing to create more offspring.
“No more can fit, please stop!” In response, the feelers in her pussy slipped out and worked their way into her ass, opening it wide. The larger limb pulled out as an ovipositor moved to replace it. Without warning she felt something spreading her ass. She got to her feet, pacing as she fought to endure the insertion. The pressure built until it popped inside. To her amazement she felt others follow it in. She took three eggs right after the other and another four in rapid succession.
She felt her ass close as the creature soothed her mind. Her soreness faded and her shock disappeared as a warm goo pushed just inside her backdoor. She stroked her full belly, as it was even larger than before. She smiled as she felt the bumps beneath her velvety skin. She felt happiness wash over her as she looked at her reflection with a broad smile. Her blouse was sitting atop her belly as she turned to marvel at her body’s resilience. Her panties were pushed low, dampened with her own juices.
Oh no! Her concern returned in an instant. How can I explain my way out of this? She found her skirt, seeing that it was ripped apart. I’m screwed! She put a hand on her forehead. And why aren’t they coming out? They need to incubate. Not for long. Its words frustrated her. You don’t understand, I can’t let him see me like this! She slipped her wet panties to the floor, attempting to slip a finger into her lower entrance. A thick, sticky substance was holding the eggs in for now and no matter how hard she tried the eggs stayed in place.
A knock came. “Are you okay? Should I call for help?”
“I’m fine!” She thought for a moment. “This is embarrassing, but do you have some sweatpants I could borrow?”
“Sure, let me grab you something!” The man spoke through the door. A knock came a few minutes later. She peeked through the door to accept the garment. “Sorry, but the best thing I could find is what my ex-wife left here.”
Hilary thanked him as she closed the door and put on the tight-fitting yoga pants. They would have been comfortable normally, but now they sat well beneath her rounded stomach. She used the mirror to hide the alien’s attached body, thankful that her ample midsection covered her camel toe. Her ass was quite defined through the stretched black pants, but it was better than being fully nude. She discarded her broken skirt and soiled underwear before heading out to face her boss.
“Oh, I’m sorry they don’t fit more loosely, can I get you something else for your trip home? Could I get you a ride?”
“No, thank you, I will be okay like this. I appreciate the help.”
His concern was visible as she walked clumsily to the front door. “What kind of allergy do you have? Are you sure you’ll be okay like this?”
He’s a perfect gentleman. “Seriously, I’ll be okay. This only happens when I get a spider bite.” She lied. “I’ll be normal again in the next few days.”
Mr. Mazzeo finally seemed to relax. He said his goodbye and gave her his personal number to discuss her promotion in the upcoming days. She managed her added weight, walking almost normally down the curving driveway. At the entrance, she waved another cab. She wanted to head home, but the creature’s thoughts directed her back to work. Return to the spawning site. Collect our offspring.
The driver glanced back, asking her about her supposed pregnancy. She wove a tale as she rubbed her partially exposed belly, noticing the aches and pains were almost gone completely. She could feel the eggs move as they hit bumps and her size made it awkward to sit comfortably, but the trip didn’t take long. She tipped the driver, realizing she was completely out of cash.
Entering the building, the receptionist’s eyes doubled in size as she paused her phone call. Her mouth hung as Hilary lumbered past with a carefree wave. She made her way to the elevator and up to the roof access. The eggs were hatched and hundreds of slimy pink creatures writhed in a mass.
Suddenly Hilary felt a tendril push against her ass and then her pussy, opening the blockage in both paths. She felt sick for a moment before the enormous eggs inside her started sliding out. One by one, she felt the warm eggs collecting in her leggings. She felt some moving down against her legs while others bulged straight behind her. She pushed again and again, but her leggings were too tight and too full. She peeled the pants off, relieved as the last few eggs slid out of her sore openings. They slapped upon the tarred rooftop, collecting in a pile beneath her. The creature finally detached from her and jumped beside the egg pile.
Tired, she sat bare bottomed upon the cooling rooftop. With her pants around her ankles and her stomach almost normal again, she thought the ordeal was finally over. Then she noticed the mass of tiny, spider-like creatures moving her way. No longer in direct sunlight, the creatures gravitated towards her body heat. She held her breath and went still as the small aliens moved between her legs and passed into her pussy. They tickled her, causing excitement to build as they gathered inside.
Against her better judgement, Hilary spread herself, allowing them to enter more quickly. She moaned as she felt them invading her innermost regions. She was trembling as they pushed in, watching her belly vibrating. Breathing quickly, she took no longer than a minute to find orgasm. They continued to enter and she noticed the larger eggs were beginning to twitch. A bright pink tendril broke through the shell, as another did soon after. The remaining smaller creatures crawled into her lower opening as she watched her bulging belly move and shift, appearing to hold a mid-term pregnancy.
The eggs were hatching now, revealing larger creatures that shared the appearance of her mate. The aliens moved to her slowly, crawling up her body and resting upon her legs and shoulders. Two opened her blouse, causing buttons to pop free before they attached to her breasts, sucking on them roughly. It felt like a hands working her tits, trying to draw milk from them. She sat for a long while, content with the animals nestling in and upon her. The two released and moved aside, allowing two others to latch on. She noticed a trickle of milk, realizing they were feeding. It must have been working my breasts that whole time – I barely felt it.
The roof access door creaked open. The receptionist peeked out, gasping with surprise at the scene. Hilary was sitting against a wall, sweating as she gave a tired smile. With her blouse open and her pants pulled low, her stomach writhed as the occupants moved. While alien creatures waited their turn to feed from her swollen chest she leaned back, accepting her situation.
The small-framed teenaged girl froze in fear as the eldest alien shot at her. It skittered along the ground and slithered up her back, disappearing beneath her clothes. The girl’s worried expression calmed. Her tight fitting blouse bulged slightly as the feelers moved beneath her bra. The woman’s eyes darted around before she stepped back inside.
Hilary waited for all of her offspring to feed before she got up. She thought for a moment, pondering how to get home without incident. She bent forward and spread her ass. “Hide in here.” Uncertain if they understood, Hilary pointed at one. The creature jumped to her leg and scampered up onto her rump, pushing its slimy body into her ass. She huffed as it parted her, glad that she was already loose from the eggs.
The others didn’t wait for a signal, clambering up her legs and into her butt, one after the other. She enjoyed the feeling, moaning as the last few worked their way in. The final creature barely fit, having to shift around inside her, pulling her asshole wide as the others pushed farther ahead. Her stomach was slightly smaller than before, but she was still very pregnant with ill-fitting clothing. She pulled her leggings up and used the remaining buttons on her blouse. She went inside and made her way downstairs, hearing some clanking dishes in the building’s cafeteria.
Everyone else was gone for the night except the receptionist. She found the petite girl devouring heaping spoonfuls of cold mashed potatoes. The girl was startled by her presence, but she quickly resumed her consumption. The leggy brunette skirt was tightening and her cream-colored shirt was rolled up above her growing belly. Her dusky eyes and broad smile showed she was loving every second of her improvised meal.
“Jodie?” Hailey read her name tag. “I’ve been through this.”
“What will I do when they see the tapes?” She spoke nervously as she swallowed, pointing to the security cameras.
“Do you have any money on you?”
She scraped the bottom of the disposable platter. “Yeah, I have sixty dollars.”
“Just leave that when we finish.” She opened a cooler door and retrieved a large bowl of vanilla pudding. “That should be plenty to cover what you’re eating and they only check the tapes when required.
Jodie trotted to the front desk and came back with cash, setting it visibly beneath a salt shaker on the counter. She came back with excitement in her eyes as she licked her lips. Directing her to lie upon the dining table, Hilary inserted a wide-stemmed funnel into her mouth, directing her to hold it.
She tipped the giant bowl of pudding, watching the thick substance roll into the collection area. Jodie gulped it down hungrily, sucking it down within a minute. She asked for more, so Hilary found some chili to feed her. The girl’s belly was expanding, growing full and tight on her slim frame. The girl moaned as she drank the copious amount of food, swallowing it as quickly as possible.
Once finished, she finally removed the funnel, knowing her body was at its limit. Her exposed belly appeared much grander as she sat up, squishing against her thighs. Her tight clothing gripped her frame as she slid off the table.
She held her stomach, shaking it as she grinned. “I’m huge!” Her eyes went to Hilary’s stomach. “What’s happening to us?”
“We’re being used by some sort of… alien thing.” Hilary rubbed the girl’s firm belly.
“My parents are going to kill me!” She spoke with sudden concern. “How do I explain this?”
“Stay at my place tonight. Tell them you’re with a friend.” She took the girl’s hand calmly. “We’re parents now.”