WARNING: Possible trigger warning regarding Abortion
Ben couldn’t sleep. He kept thinking about Emma and why she hadn’t told them about the baby yet. He had tried to talk to her and she cut him off. She said she was fine, but she had seemed nervous. It had been two weeks since she was at the doctor. He didn’t think she had done anything stupid because she hadn’t been ‘sick’.
He couldn’t get Grace out of his head either. Seeing her two weeks ago hurt really bad. All of the feelings he had for her came rushing back like a tidal wave. He finally decided to get out of bed. He his neck was getting stiff and he couldn’t keep laying there any longer.
Ben walked into the kitchen and made coffee. He was going to need it to get through the day since he didn’t sleep. He was careful not to wake up Nick. Nick would just start in on what Emma may have said and Ben didn’t want to get into with him.
After he finished his coffee, he decided to go for a run to help clear his head.
He had been laying around indoors too much, so instead of the treadmill he opted for fresh air. It was early so it wasn’t too hot yet and the streets weren’t crowded.
After 45 minutes he made his way back and stopped short. Grace was walking towards his apartment building. Damn.
Squatting down to catch is breath, he watched her climb the steps to his building. He tried to figure out why she was here. Maybe Emma had another appointment. He hoped she wasn’t getting rid of the baby. It would scar her forever.
He thought about Reese and his oldest son, Sam while he waited. Sam’s Mother was only 16 and had wanted to abort their baby. Reese refused. Sam was a good kid and Ben’s stomach clenched at the thought of his nephew never being born. Of being disposed of like yesterday’s garbage. He was lucky Reese was his father. Maybe Reese wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe he should call him and congratulate him on his new baby girl.
Ben’s thoughts drifted back to Emma and her baby. He had to get her to confide in him. It was making him crazy with worry that she felt she couldn’t talk to any of them. Didn’t she know they all had her back?
Ben figured he had given Grace enough time to get inside Emma’s apartment and headed inside himself.
When he opened the door to his apartment, Grace was sitting there talking to Nick. Shit.
“Hi,” stammered Ben trying to smile, not knowing what else to say. They hadn’t spoken since he broke things off with her 3 months ago to the day.
Grace gave Nick a knowing look before turning to Ben. “Hi Ben. I need to talk to you. Do you have a minute?”
Nick looked at Ben sheepishly. “I’m going across the hall if you need anything.”
Ben looked back and forth between the two of them. “O-kay,” he said, not understanding why Nick was leaving.
He hoped Grace was going to tell him about Emma. “Um, do you mind if I take a quick shower first, I probably stink.”
“Go ahead,” said Grace, “I’m in no hurry.”
“Help yourself to coffee or anything in the fridge,” he said and took off for the shower.
Grace got up and quickly poured the coffee down the sink. She found some juice in the refrigerator. She poured a glass for herself and sat it on the table. Then she walked over to the sink. Grace was splashing water on her face when Ben emerged from the bathroom.
“Grace, are you okay?” asked Ben, now more concerned than nervous.
Grace jumped. “I’m fine,” she said quickly and sat down at the table with Ben.
Ben eyed what she was drinking. “I’m sorry, I thought there was coffee made. I can make some more if you would rather…”
“No! Please don’t make any. I just needed something to settle my stomach. The coffee smell was making it worse so I poured it out. Sorry,” she said unable to look him in the eye.
Ben was confused. Simply being near Grace confused him and her being ill made it worse. All he wanted to do was comfort her – take care of her. But he still didn’t understand why she needed to talk to him alone about Emma. “Are you sick? Do you need me to take you home?”
Grace took a drink. “No. I’m not sick. Oh God, this is so hard,” she said, then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Remember the night at the Bluffs?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Grace looked like she was about to cry. Why is she so emotional? He would never forget that night. It was the best and worst night of his entire life. But why was she bringing it up? “Yes,” he said as gently as he could, “of course I do.”
“We didn’t use protection…”
This was supposed to be about Emma. Was she trying to draw a parallel with Emma? “I remember. But you are on the pill so it didn’t matter.”
“I was taking antibiotics for a sinus infection,” she said quietly and looked at him with fear or maybe hope in her beautiful blue eyes, made even bluer by the tears swimming in them.
That’s when he put the pieces together. Holy fuck! he thought as what she was trying to say hit him. “NO! No, no, no….” he blurted out, “It’s not you, it’s Emma! Emma’s pregnant, not you. It can’t be you!”
Grace started to cry more and yelled at Ben through her tears, “I don’t know why I let Emma talk me into this! I knew this was exactly how you would react! Yes Ben, I’m pregnant! With your baby. Have a nice life! Alone!”
“Oh God Grace,” said Ben as she walked out the door slamming it behind her.
Ben sat there in stunned silence for a few minutes before tears started falling. “I’m sorry Grace. I can’t….I don’t know….” he said to the empty room.
Nick and Rachael came storming in and Ben jumped up.
“Ben! What did you say to her? She’s a mess,” said Rachael glaring at him.
Ben just stared at them, “She’s the one…not Em…” was all he could manage.
Rachael walked up and slapped him. “Get over yourself Casanova. It’s time to grow the hell up!”
Ben put his hand on his face as he stared at Rachael. “You knew didn’t you…why didn’t you tell me?”
Then he looked at Nick who looked guilty. He grabbed Nick by the collar, “NICK! Why didn’t you tell me?!? Answer me!” he said shaking him.
Rachael screamed, “Ben – STOP IT! Let him go!”
Ben looked at Rachael, then looked at Nick’s frightened face. Then finally down at his hands holding onto Nick’s shirt. He dropped him like he was poison and sat down in the chair, tears rolling down his face.
“Rachael, go check on the girls,” said Nick quietly, “I will stay here with Ben. I’ve never seen him like this before. He just needs time to absorb the news.”
After Rachael left, Nick sat down with Ben.
“I’m not supposed to be a father Nick. What if I wind up like my old man and hurt someone? I don’t want to hurt Grace or her baby. What if I do, I couldn’t live with myself. I almost punched you Nick. What if….”
“Ben, you are talking crazy. Why would you hurt Grace or your baby? Your baby Ben, not just hers, yours too?”
“I will pay child support and her medical bills. But I can’t be a part of their life.”
“Ben, do you love, no care, do you care about Grace and the baby?”
“Of course I do. I care so much it hurts. I only want what’s best for them. Why would you think I don’t?”
“Grace told Emma that she loves you Ben.”
“NO! It doesn’t matter! She can’t love me. Don’t you get it? My mom loved my dad and he cared about my mom, but he…”
“What do your parents have to do with this? Just because they divorced” asked Nick, confused.
“Nothing – never mind!” he said quickly, “Is Grace still with Emma and Rachael? I need to talk to her. She thinks I am a monster. Maybe I am, but I have to tell her that I’m sorry and I will take care of the expenses.”