Grace inhaled deeply before opening her eyes.
Her heart skipped a beat. 10 weeks. A tear rolled down her cheek.
She had skipped her second cycle and showed no signs of starting, plus she was nauseous. She shouldn’t have been surprised. But how could this be? she thought as she continued to stare at the words on the test. Ben had always used a condom even though she was on the pill. Except for the last time at the Bluffs. Then she remembered. Antibiotics – damn.
That night was seared in her memory. They had taken their time with each other. Ben was gentle and tender, caring and loving. Loving. That was what struck her the most. He had most certainly made love to her that night. Just thinking of it sent goose bumps down her spine.
She remembered how it felt when they both finished together and another tear ran down her cheek. They were clinging to each other. Somehow they both knew that this was going to be their last time together. Come morning their fairy tale would end.
Her hand automatically went to her belly. At least their baby was conceived in love and not some drunken one night stand. She loved her baby already. How?
Grace had been miserable since Ben broke it off. She had desperately wanted to beg him to give them a chance. Somehow she knew he wouldn’t so she let him break it off without a fight.
She should have fought for them. Instead, she had gone home and cried herself to sleep…every night for weeks. When she told Naomi she had decided to call Ben, she took her phone away and she dragged her to the bar. Where she saw Ben. And her…
It had been a month since that awful day. Her friends just said, ‘See – We tried to tell you!’ They didn’t understand what she had with Ben was real. They constantly berated her for falling so hard for him.
She couldn’t listen to them or watch his display any longer. She got up and ran into the bathroom. Naomi followed her. Instead of comforting her she chastised her for wasting her energy on Ben. ‘Go out there with your head held high. Show him you don’t need him,’ she said.
She did. And that’s when she saw him stumble out of the closet, buttoning his fly. She knew he had moved on and her friends had been right.
Grace knew she couldn’t talk to Naomi about her situation. She would just tell her to get rid of ‘it’. That wasn’t an option. But who then? Emma. She could talk to Emma. Emma knew Ben better than anyone else. And besides, she and Emma had become friends before – the end.
Still sitting in the bathroom, Grace pulled herself together. She picked up her phone touched Emma’s number in her contacts. “Please answer, please answer, please answer,” she repeated over and over.
She breathed a sigh of relief when Emma’s sweet voice came over the speaker. “Grace?”
“Hi Em. Yes, it’s Grace. I’m so glad you answered. I have missed hanging out with you and I really need someone to talk to. Can you meet me at the coffee shop – in an hour?”
“Sure Grace. Is everything okay? I haven’t heard from you since…well, I mean, Rachael told me what happened last month.”
“I’m fine,” she lied, “see you in an hour?”
Relieved, Grace hung her head and let the tears come.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Emma arrived at the coffee shop before Grace. She was curious about what she wanted. She knew Grace was lying when she said she was fine. Damn Ben. She knew it was probably about him. He hurt Grace bad. And himself too in the process. She had never seen Ben so miserable. He was even worse after the nightclub fiasco.
Emma wanted to shake some sense into Ben. Maybe lock him and Grace in a room together. Eventually he would realize Grace adored him and would never hurt him. Ben had to have been hurt pretty bad to go to such lengths to avoid love. So, when he fell in love with Grace, it must have scared him. And Emma was pretty sure Ben had fallen in love with Grace even if he didn’t know it.
Emma spied Grace and motioned her over. She hugged her friend when she walked up and noticed she looked really bad – bad for Grace that is. Just like Ben.
“Oh God,” said Grace breathing fast, “this wasn’t a good idea.” Covering her mouth and nose with her hand, she shoved Emma out of the way and bolted for the bathroom. Worried, Emma ran in with her.
“Grace, honey, you okay?” she said as she helped her friend when she got sick. “We should get you home if you’re not feeling well.”
Grace finally stood up and leaned over the sink to rinse her mouth and wash her face. “I’m okay now,” she said, “but I need to get out of here. The smells are making me sick.”
“Bad hangover?” asked Emma as she walked Grace out of the cafe.Grace shook her head. “No. Let’s just get outside before I get sick again.”
Once outside, they sat down at a table. “Can I get you something sweetie?”
“Maybe a soda? And crackers,” said Grace with a weak smile.
Holy shit, thought Emma as what was really wrong with Grace hit her. “Bless your heart, you aren’t sick at all, are you honey?”
Grace looked down as she shook her head slowly back and forth.
Emma sighed, “Okay hon, I’ll be right back.”
Emma returned and sat down with crackers and a lime soda. “How far along are you sweetie?”
Grace smiled at the way Emma could cut to the chase and make you feel good about it, “About 10 weeks. Spring break.”
Emma’s eyebrow shot up. 10 weeks…and she is only just now telling someone? “Have you been to the doctor yet?”
“No. That’s why I wanted to see you. Would you go with me? Emma, I’m sorry I’ve stayed away. You really are a good friend.”
Emma wanted to kick Ben’s ass from here to hell and back. He should be going with her. “Hon, I understand why you stayed away, and of course I’ll go. But why me? Why not Ben?”
“Because, I really like you, Emma. And my other friends, well, they would judge me. You never do. As for Ben, he doesn’t do relationships – or kids.”
Emma smiled, “It sounds like you are keeping the baby. I approve.”
Grace sighed and looked sad. “I love – loved Ben. I could never get rid of his child. But I don’t know how to tell him. It’s going to destroy him. He’s already moved on.”
Emma narrowed her eyes at Grace. “You know you have to tell him Grace. It’s his baby too. He has the right to decide if he wants to be a part of it’s life.”
Grace sighed. “I know.”
“And for your information, he hasn’t moved on. Far from it. If it’s any consolation, he is miserable without you. He may have tried to numb his pain in his stupid dick-hay-ud way with Closet Chick, but he has not moved on. Ben was drunk off his ass. Not that that’s an excuse.” Emma laughed before continuing. “Rachael said you missed the best part. She said Closet Chick slapped the crap out of Ben after he tried to go after you. I would have paid good money to have seen that.”
Grace tried not to laugh. “She did?”
“A priceless moment. But honestly, there hasn’t been anyone else since you. Closet Chick doesn’t count.”
“You really care about him don’t you Emma?”
Emma couldn’t help but snort and softened her tone a little. “Ben? He’s one of those friends you love to hate. If he ever gets his shit together, he will be a good catch.” Emma winced. “Sorry Grace. But I think you and I both know there is way more to Ben than meets the eye. He makes a big show of being a ladies man and I think he has convinced himself that’s who he is.”
“Yes,” agreed Grace, “He keeps a part of himself locked away. I don’t know why.”
“Well honey, when you tell him he’s gonna to be a daddy, maybe you should ask him.”
“I can’t tell him, not yet. Maybe after I go to the doctor and they tell me everything is okay.”
“You make the appointment. Let me know when and I’ll go with you. Grace, you are gonna be a wonderful mother. I can totally see you with a baby.”Emma giggled a little before going on, “And when I picture Ben changin’ a diaper, it cracks me up. He will be one of those guys with a close pin on his nose and dressed in protective gear like he was gonna birth a calf instead of change a poopy diaper. But, he would totally be in there doin’ it!”
Both girls laughed until they cried at the picture Emma painted of Ben.When they recovered, Grace smiled at Emma. “Oh my God, Emma. Thank you. I knew I made the right choice calling you. I already feel better.”