Two weeks after Jesse had attacked Sofia, Ben went with her to the clinic for the pregnancy test. She had refused to do one at home. If she were pregnant, she wanted to be where she could ask questions. He wondered if she really just wanted to put it off.
He was worried about her state of mind. When the officer took her statement, Sofia asked if she could file a restraining order. She told her she would need to contact an attorney. Leroy gave her the name of the one they had used in Kaitlin’s divorce. She needed one anyway since she was filing charges against Jesse.
They walked hand-in-hand into the clinic. Even though Sofia had pulled herself together, Ben could tell that underneath that beautiful, calm exterior, she was still a mess. The way she gripped his hand, he knew she was terrified of the outcome of the test. Ben suddenly shuddered, as a feeling of deja vu washed over him.
His discomfort didn’t go unnoticed by Sofia. “Are you okay Ben? You didn’t have to come with me.” Then she gasped when it hit her. “Oh Ben, is this where Grace…? You should have told me.”
His heart broke. She read him so well. Sweet, sweet Sofia. In the midst of what she was going through, she worried about him. He had been here lots of times with Cole. He figured maybe the feeling of dread was because Sofia might be pregnant.
“It’s okay. I’m fine,” he said, doing his best to reassure her. “I just had a weird feeling. It’s over now. Besides, there is no way I would let you go through this alone.”
When they sat down to wait their turn, Sofia relaxed into the crook of Ben’s arm. “You are so good to me,” she whispered, “Thank you.”
He wished he could tell her how he felt. But he knew she wasn’t ready to hear it. As as long as she continued to let him comfort her, for now, that would be enough.
When they called her name, she turned and asked if he would come in with her. He hadn’t expected that, but was relieved she had asked. He would have gone crazy imagining what she might be going through alone.
“Sure,” he said with a smile. When they stood up to follow the receptionist, Ben grabbed her hand again. The physical contact soothed them both. Sofia smiled gratefully and gave his hand a squeeze. He knew then, she would be okay, no matter the outcome.
The doctor came in and asked her to provide a urine sample. “This way, if it’s positive we can quickly do some additional tests. The test will only take a few minutes. I will see you back in here as soon as we have the results. Do you have any questions?” Sofia shook her head and followed her out.
When Sofia came back in, she sat down next to Ben and they waited together in silence. Ben could tell she was on the verge of tears so he took both of her hands in his and gently rubbed them. It seemed to calm them both. “No matter what, I will be here for you,” said Ben to try and ease her fears. She said nothing in reply and his heart sunk. Maybe she was more broken than he thought.
The doctor walked back in. “Ms. Hamlin, I’m so sorry. The test was negative.”
Sofia let out a big breath and said, “Oh God,” at the same time as she threw herself into Ben’s arms crying. Ben held her tight. “Shhh, it’s okay now,” he said softly even though he knew her tears were tears of relief, not sadness.
The doctor looked at them with empathy. “It’s okay, Miss Hamlin,” she said, “You are both young and healthy. How long have you been trying?”
The doctor obviously had no idea she had given them good news and Ben wasn’t about to explain. “No. It’s okay,” he said quickly, “Thank you. Can we just go now?”
“Sure,” she said looking bewildered, “would you like to make an appointment for a consult?”
“No thank you,” replied Ben. He whispered to Sofia, “Come on Sweetheart. Let’s get you out of here.” He put his arm around Sofia and led her out.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
They walked across the street to the ice cream parlor. Once seated, Ben ordered for them.
“I’m sorry I lost it in there,” said Sofia softly, “Thank you for being there. It meant a lot.”
Why was she apologizing? wondered Ben. “Hey, it’s understandable. I’m just glad I could be there for you.”
“Me too,” she said, her words barely audible.
Once they got their ice cream, Sofia pushed it around in the bowl. She was lost in thought, as evidenced by her bottom lip pulled between her teeth. She was looking everywhere, except at Ben.
Ben would give anything to know what was going through her head. He was hoping she would have been better after the positive news. Her silence was killing him. Finally, he couldn’t take it any longer. “Hey,” he said gently, “what’s going on in that pretty head of yours?”
Sofia looked at him, still chewing on her bottom lip. Ben held his breath waiting for her answer. “Ben…I think I’m going to drop the charges.”
Ben almost choked on his ice cream. He slowly shook his head. “No, Sofia…”
Sofia held up her hand to stop his objection. “Please, hear me out. Knowing that I’m not pregnant was a huge relief. Not that I don’t want children, I do. I love kids. I adore Cole. But, don’t you see? Now I can just put this behind me and get Jesse out of my life. I feel like I can move forward. Don’t get me wrong, if I were pregnant, I would have kept the baby. But then Jesse would always be a part of my life. I would forever be bound to him. Now, we can go our separate ways and I can try to forget that I wasted three years on him. But if I go through a trial, it will just drag out the inevitable. And it will be years before it’s over, if ever.”
Ben’s heart was breaking for her. He wanted to see Jesse behind bars for what he put her through. It was all Ben could do to remain calm. He knew getting upset wouldn’t help her. “What about Justice. You’re going to let him just walk away, after what he did?”
Sofia laughed. A real laugh, confusing Ben. She gave him a tender smile when he looked at her like she was crazy. “Jesse got his due, Ben. You gave him a black eye.” She stopped and giggled. “And Leroy knocked him out cold and broke his nose. I feel vindicated and I think he learned a lesson.”
Her smile faded a little. “But seriously, I think we can bargain with him. We will tell him we will drop the charges as long as I never see his face again. We still have the restraining order. That could stay in place. I talked to your Mom. She said, as part of the bargain he should be required to get therapy. It helped your Dad. Besides, he has a lot to lose if this goes to trail. And honestly Ben, I would go through that and he would likely be let off anyway. They would spin it as a lover’s quarrel. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of winning. I’m ready to move on. I want my life back, to go back to work, if Leroy will still have me.”
Ben loved her more than he thought possible. She was strong and resilient. “You’re amazing. I – uh.” Ben stopped short. He almost blurted out his feelings. He recovered quickly and smiled at Sofia. “Of course he will have you back. I need you. We are a team. I have to get back to the office anyway. Why don’t you go with me and you can talk to Leroy?”
Sofia smiled a big happy smile. “Okay!” she said with more life and enthusiasm than he thought possible. “Let’s do this!”
Then she started laughing, almost hysterically. Ben was bewildered. “What’s so funny?”
Sofia held her side. “Did you see the look on the Doctor’s face. Oh my god, she was devastated for me. She had no idea. Thank you for not setting her straight. You’re a mind reader.”
Ben thought about it and she did have a horrified look on her face when Sofia began to cry. He began to laugh as well. It felt good to laugh amidst all this sadness of the last two weeks. Sofia hadn’t shared her story about Jesse with him yet. But maybe one day she would. When she was ready. And then she would only hurt half as much. Or maybe not at all.
When they got up to leave, Sofia put her arms around Ben. “Thank you. Thank you for everything.”
Ben would have loved nothing more than to gather her in his arms and kiss her senseless right then and there, but instead he just said, “Anytime.”
Sofia turned and walked out of the ice cream parlor, arm in arm with Ben, and took the first step back into her life, her head held high.