Life After You

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Chapter 18

“Choo Choo train!” Riley yelled as he darted around Tori and I, heading straight for the train. He maneuvered around the other little kids until he was first in line, waiting to be seated.

“All aboard!” Riley shouted, causing the little kids to laugh.

“Um, Sir, that’s my line.” The fake conductor deadpanned as he stepped aside for the other kids to climb onto the small train.

“Fine, but I’m the caboose!” Riley smiled proudly, crossing his arms as he took the very last seat in the back of the train.

“Why me...?” I heard the fake conductor mumbled as he took his position at the head of the train.

“Is he serious right now?” Tori sighed, while picking up the shopping bags Riley dropped just to go ride the small train.

All three of us are spending the day at the mall, shopping for the baby.

The mall has a small train that goes all the way around the mall, passing by each shop and food cart.

This train is supposed to be for little kids only, so you could imagine the stares and laughs from the adults as they watch Riley sit in the back of the train, just as excited as the little kids if not more.

“Let’s go Chuck! I’m not getting any younger!” Riley yelled towards the conductor.

Chuck glared into the distance as he started the train, and began to take off.

“So yeah, let’s just go about our day and pretend we don’t know him, okay?” Tori smiled, looping her arm into mine and pulling me away from the train.

“Babe! Look at me! I’m the caboose!” Riley yelled, looking directly at Tori. Her cheeks went red as she glared at him, trying to pull me further away.

“Yep Tor, you picked a real winner there.” I teased, laughing while following an embarrassed Tori towards a baby clothes store.

“Sometimes, I really question myself.” She mumbled as I laughed some more.

I have been really happy these past few weeks. Focusing on school, hanging out with Noah, shopping for the baby and setting up my apartment.

Yes, you heard me right, hanging out with Noah. Don’t worry, we are only friends, nothing more. I can’t handle anything more right now. My heart is still heavy.

I am now officially five months along, and my belly is definitely nice and round. I can’t fit that well into some of my clothes anymore, so while shopping, I’ve also bought some new maternity clothes. I still have four months to go before my baby boy makes his presence in the world, but I know it will fly by, so I am making sure to get everything done and ready.

Living in a studio apartment, the baby won’t have his own room, but I will make a spot just for him. I put up a nice sleek, black crib in the far corner of the apartment, with some elephant wallpaper up around the crib.

There’s a small wooden changing table sitting next to the crib, stocked full of diapers and wipes.

I already have a swing for the baby, the box is sitting on the floor along with a few other items that the baby won’t need right away.

I’ve been trying not to buy a lot of stuff, because in a few weeks I will be having my baby shower and I know I will get a lot of stuff then.

“Oh my gosh, Liv. Look at this rocking chair! It’s perfect! You need to get it! Better yet, I’ll get it for you!” Tori smiled, pulling me towards the old wooden rocking chair.

“Tori, I don’t need a rocking chair. The baby has a swing.” I sighed.

“But Liv, what if you have to feed or hold him, you need to be able to rock him. It’ll be a life saver trust me!” She smiled wide, telling the store clerk to ring it up.

“If you insist.” I shrugged, smiling at my best friend.

“Guys, that train is awesome! It stopped for soft pretzels. I got five.” Riley smiled proudly, handing Tori and myself a pretzel.

“There is seriously something wrong with you.” Tori sighed, still happily taking the pretzel and stuffing it inside her mouth.

“Says the girl eating my pretzel.” Riley wiggled his eyebrows.

“Alright, Anywho... about this rocking chair.” I quickly changed the subject.

“I love it!” Riley smiled. “Let me get it for you sissy.”

“Already done!” Tori smiled, handing her credit card to the store clerk.

“Um, babe... that’s my credit card.” Riley sighed.

“Well, I mean... is it really?” Tori shrugged.

“Touché. Just don’t buy her anything else for a while. There is still a baby shower to think about.” Riley smiled, not at all caring about Tori forcing him to buy me the rocking chair.

“You got it babe.” Tori smiled, pulling Riley in for a kiss.

“Guys, children are present.” I cleared my throat.

“Um, where?” Riley looked around at the store filled with potential mothers-to-be.

“Right here.” I pointed to my round belly and smirked.

“Sheesh, sorry little guy.” Riley spoke towards my belly, softly patting it.

“Oh, Rie. He kicked when you did that!” I said with a huge smile.

“Oh my gosh! He hasn’t met me yet, and he already loves me!” Riley smiled proudly.

“Well obvi, you are his uncle.” Tori deadpanned with a grin.

“I can’t wait to teach him things. Like how to eat five apple pies in seven minutes at the fair, or how to be smooth with the ladies, or how to fish... you know, cool guy stuff.” Riley shrugged.

“Um, since when are you smooth with the ladies?” Tori asked with a knowing smirk.

“I’ve got you, don’t I?” He smirked back, pulling Tori into his side.

I wanted to hate their flirty behavior. I wanted to ask them to stop, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop them from being happy, just because I missed Landon. It still hurts every single day, but I am learning to cope and live without him, slowly but surely.

I know I will be okay.

“I think I’ve had enough shopping for one day, guys. My feet are starting to hurt.” I sighed, struggling to carry six different shopping bags in my hands.

“Aw okay, we can cut this short. The rocking chair will be sent to your apartment in two days Liv.” Tori smiled, grabbing some of my bags for me and walking with me towards the mall exit.

“Can I ride the train one more time?” Riley asked from behind us.

“No!” Both Tori and I yelled in unison.

“What a buzzkill.”

“He seriously rode the kids train?” Noah chuckled, pouring sugar into his coffee.

“Yes, and he was very happy about it.” I laughed, adding creamer to mine.

“Man, he has not changed at all.” Noah shook his head, waiting for me to finish preparing my coffee before heading over to the picnic tables.

“Nope, same old Riley.” I shrugged, following Noah to the table.

We sat down and began eating our breakfast.

Noah and I have been hanging out a bit these last few weeks. He helps me carry my bag and books to my classes and usually eats breakfast with me. He knows we are just friends and I want it to stay that way. I can’t jump into a relationship right now, especially while pregnant and still grieving over Landon. It wouldn’t be fair to him at all.

Besides, I no longer have those romantic feelings for Noah anymore. They went away the second I fell for Landon. Noah has just become a really good friend to me, and I am happy he doesn’t hate me over everything that happened in our past.

“You aren’t though.” Noah suddenly spoke.

“Aren’t what?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“The same.” Noah said, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Well, no, obviously I’m not... I’m pregnant and basically a widow.” I shrugged, even though Landon and I were never legally married. Still, it felt as though we already were. I still wear the engagement ring he got for me around my neck on my necklace I took from home before Landon’s funeral. I haven’t taken it off once since that day.

“I didn’t mean it in a bad way. You grew up to be a pretty cool woman.” Noah smiled, causing me to roll my eyes at his lame attempt at a compliment.

“Why thank you, Noah. You’re a pretty cool dude yourself.” I chuckled, taking a bite of my blueberry bagel. These things are like heaven.

“Here, I can’t finish this... do you want it?” Noah asked, pushing his half-eaten cinnamon raisin bagel towards me just as I popped the last of my own in my mouth.

“Man, how’d you know? I’m starving.” I immediately grabbed his bagel and began eating it.

“Makes sense, since you’re eating for two.” He laughed, amused at my hungriness.

“Can’t help it, this little guy loves bagels. Or maybe it’s the cream cheese? Who knows.” I shrugged, taking the last bite of Noah’s bagel.

“Man that was amazing. Thank you.” I smiled.

“Anytime.” He smiled back at me, looking straight into my eyes.

Starting to feel weird, I discreetly brought my attention to my phone.

“Class starts soon, let’s go.” I got up from the picnic table, pulling my long shirt over my now big belly and went to pick up my bag.

“Um, I don’t think so.” Noah smiled, taking my bag from me and slinging it over his shoulder, his own bag slung over the other.

“You don’t have to carry my bag every day.” I smirked, watching him carry both bags as we walked towards class.

“I know.” He smiled at me.

Upon reaching the classroom door, we both stopped.

“I can handle my bag from here. Shall we?” I smiled, since Noah and I have this class together.

“Wait.” He looked nervous about something, and I couldn’t tell why.

“I need to try something.” He suddenly said, placing his bag on the ground next to his feet.

“Try what?” I rose an eyebrow, taking a step back without him noticing.

“Just stay still.” He demanded, stepping towards me.

“Noah, what are you-“, he instantly cut me off with a kiss.

It felt wrong. It felt so wrong. It felt as if I were betraying Landon. It took me a couple seconds to register what was happening, and when I did, I immediately pushed Noah away.

“What the hell!” I yelled, feeling my face heat up. “Why would you do that?”

“I’m sorry, Liv. Please don’t be mad!” Noah begged, trying to place his hands on my shoulders.

“No. Don’t.” I shrugged his hands off my shoulders and walked directly inside the classroom. I didn’t take my normal seat next to Noah’s, I took a seat far in the back by myself.

A few moments later, Noah walked inside with a frown on his face. He took one look at me and when I instantly looked away from him, he took his normal seat at the front of the classroom.

I crossed my arms over my chest and glared in his direction. What would give him the idea to kiss me? I told him from the beginning we were only friends, nothing more. I don’t understand why he would want to complicate things, and ruin our friendship. I don’t have those same feelings for Noah as I once did before, and I certainly don’t see myself feeling the same for him, as I did for Landon. There is absolutely no way on this entire earth that I would feel the same way for anyone, as I did with Landon.

Once class was about halfway over, I sighed still thinking about the kiss.

Maybe I overreacted. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones. Maybe he just thought since we were getting along so well, we could try again. I have to talk to him about this. I don’t want to lose our friendship. It is new and refreshing, and I enjoy spending time with him.

I decided to try talking to him once class was over.

“Thank you everyone, see you next week.” The professor said, and that is when everyone started getting up.

I watched Noah move slowly. He placed his notebook in his bag and stood up, clearly having no rush to leave.

“Noah.” I said softly, walking up to his seat. “Can we talk about this?”

“No.” He simply said.

“What do you mean?” I asked, feeling sad.

“Exactly what I said, no. Let’s just not see each other anymore, okay? I mean who are we trying to kid. We can’t be friends, at least I can’t.” He sighed, pulling his bag over his shoulder.

“I’ll see you around.” He mumbled, before turning away from me and leaving me standing in the quiet classroom, with no one else inside other than the professor.

“What the heck just happened?” I said aloud.

“The boy has feelings for you, obviously.” The professor suddenly said, making me aware that I was in fact, not alone.

My cheeks turned red at his announcement and I wanted to crawl into a hole.

“Um yeah, I’ve got to go. See you.” I said kindly to the professor, who only chuckled at my response with a wave.

Stupid professors with their stupid assumption’s. You are supposed to be a professor at a college, not a wanna-be Dr. Phil.

I huffed while carrying my heavy bag towards my car.

“Dammit Liv, let me help you.” Riley said, running up to me and grabbing my bag from my shoulder.

“I’m fine.”

“Clearly you’re not. Where’s Noah?” Riley asked, knowing about Noah helping me out with my bags from time to time.

“Don’t mention that name to me.” I glared, pulling my keys from my pocket to unlock my car.

“What did he do?” Riley sighed.

“He kissed me! In broad day light! What if someone saw it? What will people think of me? I just lost Landon and now they see me kissing another guy! He actually had the nerve to kiss me, after everything that I have been through. I am pregnant for crying out loud! Does that have no effect on him? What did he think would happen, that I would just kiss him back and everything would be sunshine and daisies? Well, he’s got another thing coming!” I ranted, not even aware that I had already sat down inside my car.

“Damn, you need to chill woman. Those hormones are no joke!” Riley laughed, but then immediately frowned at his own words. “I didn’t mean that Liv, I just um... oh look at the time!” We began to run away, but my words stopped him.

“I’m a mess aren’t I?” I sobbed, tears filling my eyes.

“Oh no, don’t start crying... please don’t start crying!” Riley cursed himself, trying anything to cheer me back up.

“Hey Liv, want to go get some ice cream?” He asked with a hopeful smile.

“I don’t deserve ice cream!” I sobbed, putting my head down against my steering wheel.

Riley deeply sighed while throwing his head back. “Dammit Riley, you say one thing and bam, end of the world.”

“I know, I’m just horrible! Please go, I don’t deserve your company!” I sniffled, wiping the tears falling from my eyes.

“How about ice cream... with sprinkle!” Riley smiled again.

“Sprinkles?” I smiled up at him.

“Yes! All the sprinkles you want!” He smiled wide.

“You’re the best big brother ever Rie!” I smiled happily, getting out of the car and pulling him in for a hug.

“Yeah, I know.” He smirked. “I’ll drive.”

I gave Riley the keys to the car and happily strolled over to the passenger side of the car, sitting inside.

“I’m so happy! I love ice cream.” I smiled.

“Yes, trust me. I know. Ice cream is going to be my new best friend when it comes to you.” He laughed, starting the ignition.

All For You by Sister Hazel began playing on the radio and I instantly had a flashback to the time Landon and I danced to this song in the shower. I immediately began to cry and Riley freaked out.

“Liv, what is it!” Riley demanded, looking over at me quickly and then putting his eyes back on the road.

“This song Rie... this song.” I mumbled quietly to myself while looking out of the window.

“Don’t you fucking scare me like that again Olivia!” Riley yelled at me. I peered over to him and saw that he was gripping the steering wheel hard, his knuckles turning white.

I didn’t say anything. I just stared back out of the window the rest of the ride.

When we finally got to the local ice cream shop, Riley and I got out of the car, still completely silent.

I went and sat down at one of the tables located outside of the shop, as Riley went up to the window to order our ice cream. I knew he would get me cookie dough.

Riley came to the table and placed my ice cream in front of me. Double scoop of cookie dough ice cream with a chocolate drizzle and sprinkles.

We sat in silence for about ten minutes, quietly eating our ice cream.

“You’ve never yelled at me like that before...” I suddenly said.

“I know.” He simply said.

I looked down at my ice cream again with a slight frown, and Riley deeply sighed.

“I’m sorry, okay? When you started crying I panicked and the first reaction I had was to look over at you. It just brought me back to that place, Liv.” Riley frowned, pushing his ice cream around with his spoon.

“Riley, how many times do I have to tell you... it isn’t your fault. Accidents just happen.” I reached over and placed my hand over his.

“I know, but it still feels like it is. If I didn’t turn to look at Landon, I would’ve stopped in time for the light and...” He couldn’t even finish his sentence.

“Riley, stop. Please.” My eyes began to water.

“Just... you can’t do that when I’m driving Liv. You can’t. It was traumatizing enough to lose my best friend... I don’t even want to think about losing my sister or my unborn nephew.”

“I promise, I won’t do that again Rie.” I smiled sweetly at him.

“So, what was so special about that song?” Riley asked, eating more of his ice cream now that he felt better.

“Landon and I danced to it once in the shower, no biggie.” I shrugged.

“Um, ew. Thanks for the mental image.” He gave me a grossed out expression and then shook his head, returning his full attention to his almost finished ice cream.

“Now you know how I feel when I have to listen to Tori go on and on about you.” I smirked, finally feeling better.

“Well if you girly girls didn’t have to talk about every single experience you have with each other... you wouldn’t be in that kind of predicament. Guys are smarter, we don’t talk about personal stuff because then we don’t have to hear anything we don’t want to.” Riley smiled, tossing his empty plastic bowl into the garbage can beside the table.

“Yes, but when girls talk... we get ammo.” I smirked.

“What do you mean ammo?” Riley rose his eyebrow.

“For example... I know you sleep in your pink boxers with sprinkles on them while hugging the stuff teddy bear Tori bought you last week.” My smirk grew.

“I. Am going. To kill her.” Riley glared, crossing his arms and pouting all the way back to the car.

“Oh Rie-Rie... why didn’t you tell me you liked pink sprinkle boxers? I could have gotten you a bunch of different underwear’s from Victoria’s Secret!” I yelled, while following him to the car after throwing away my plastic bowl.

“Shut up, Olivia.” Riley yelled back towards me as he stood beside the car.

“You know... I think they just came out with a new thong collection. All of them have little cupcakes on them!” I smiled, pulling the passenger door open and sitting inside.

“Ooooooh, Tori is so going to get it.” Riley glared as he drove off into the cool evening air.

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