Elspeth was dusting the furniture in the living room one evening when Zoya came home from the salon and went straight to her bedroom. She still hadn't emerged when Elspeth was bringing food to the table a couple of hours later.
Yuri came to the table wearing a wide grin, which changed to a look of puzzlement when his younger daughter still hadn't appeared.
"I'll see what's wrong," Elspeth volunteered. She went to her stepdaughter's bedroom and knocked on the door.
"What is it?" asked a sleepy voice from inside the room.
"It's dinnertime!" said Elspeth. "Aren't you hungry?" She waited a few seconds and was just about to go back to the table when Zoya appeared, her hair rumpled.
"Do you feel unwell?" asked Yuri as she sat down.
Zoya sighed. "I'm just tired, Papa."
Elspeth served the food, and she and Yuri dug in. Zoya put some vegetables on her plate.
"Your mother's meatloaf is delicious," said Yuri.
Zoya wrinkled her nose. "The smell of it makes me feel sick, Papa."
Yuri and Elspeth exchanged worried glances. Zoya ate a few beans and a small serving of mashed potatoes and then went back to her room.
The scenario was repeated for the next several days. Finally Elspeth went to Zoya's room and asked if she could come in.
"We have to talk," she said as she entered the room.
"What about?" asked Zoya.
"You," said Elspeth. "You spend a lot more time sleeping than you used to, you hardly eat anything at all, and you look pale. I'm afraid you might be coming down with something."
Zoya smiled. "Please do not worry about me. I am all right. It is simply the change of the season, an adjustment I must make."
"But you've been fine every time the seasons changed in the past," Elspeth pointed out.
"Perhaps it is only that I am getting older."
"You're only twenty-one!" Elspeth thought of something. "How are your monthly cycles?"
"It is a little late this month, but that is not a big deal. It has been late before."
Elspeth left the room.
"Did you talk to her?" Yuri asked, later.
Elspeth nodded. "She said everything's all right." She debated telling him about Zoya's period being late and decided against it. She didn't want to worry him needlessly, in case it turned out to be a false alarm.
Several weeks passed. Zoya's symptoms seemed to abate to a certain degree - unless she was pretending to feel better than she really did, thought Elspeth. One evening, she was walking down the hall when she heard muffled sobs coming from behind Zoya's door.
"Zoya?" she asked, knocking lightly. A moment later, Zoya opened the door. Elspeth saw her eyes were red and swollen.
"Honey, what's wrong?" she asked.
Zoya sighed. "I am pregnant."
"Are you sure?"
Zoya nodded. "I just took the test. It is positive."
All was silent for a few minutes. "When do you plan to tell Gabe?" Elspeth asked at last.
Zoya looked down. "I am afraid to tell him. He might be angry."
"He might be, but he still needs to know."
"He might be so angry he abandons me to raise the baby alone. What will I do if that happens?"
Elspeth reached for her stepdaughter and pulled her into an embrace. "You won't be alone, sweetheart. Your father and I will always be here for you."
Yuri was waiting when she stepped back into the hallway.
"Is everything all right?" he asked.
"She just found out she's pregnant."
Yuri's face flushed deep red, and he balled both hands into fists.
"I will kill him!"
"That won't make the problem go away," Elspeth pointed out. "And I'd rather not have to spend the rest of my life visiting you in prison."
"But he has brought disgrace upon my daughter!"
"Well, nothing can be done about it now, and she needs all the love and support we can give her."
Yuri sighed, defeated. "You are right, of course, but you and I, we are old. How can we start all over again with a little baby?"
"Zoya's smart, and tough. No matter what Gabe does, I know she'll manage just fine. There's court ordered child support these days, you know."
"That is right. We will make him pay dearly for what he has done."
The situation in the Rozanov household was tense for a few days. On Friday, Gabe came to pick Zoya up to take her to dinner. He didn't bring her home until close to midnight, but on Saturday, she was all smiles.
"I told Gabe about the baby," she said. "At first he was upset, and we got into a fight, but then he said he was sorry. He said he will marry me at the courthouse, but then I must start taking classes to become Catholic in the fall, and we can have our real wedding in the Catholic church after next Easter. The baby will be a few months old by then."
"So I will have one Jewish daughter and one Catholic Daughter?" Yuri burst out laughing, and Elspeth and Zoya joined in.
"I'm so glad he's doing the right thing," said Elspeth.