One Way Or Another

Chapter 4

08/21/2005 Same Day

Chapter Four

Nick's face completely fell as he felt the floor open up beneath him. He sank down in the nearest chair and looked at her. This was the last think Nick had expected to hear from Reilly.

"Wha…" He tried to find his voice as he stared blankly at her. Reilly crossed her arms and returned his stare. "You're what?" He asked, in a breathless whisper.

"I'm pregnant." Reilly repeated, quietly, unsure of how Nick was going to take this. The only reason she was so afraid was because she was worried about his reaction. How would he take this news? So far he had reacted as she thought he might; shocked. But when it sank in, then what? Reilly could deal with the Lauren situation later, right now; she needed to know how he felt about the baby.

"And…I'm the father." He said, not asking. He knew better than to think anyone else would be. They'd been pretty much inseparable the last few months. He was suddenly sweating and he felt like a vice was squeezing his chest. He felt a panic attack coming on. He reached a shaky hand up and smoothed his hair as he pulled his gaze from hers and focused again on the floor under his feet. Breath Stokes, he thought. Slow even breathes, concentrate.

"Yes." Reilly replied, sitting on the couch near his chair and pulling a throw pillow in her lap and hugging it to her. She looked up and saw Nick smoothing his hair again, nervously.

"God…" Nick breathed as he moved from the chair to sit next to her on the couch. He ran his hands through his hair again. He knew he was the father and that thought, while it did send a tiny shiver of excitement through him, it also brought trepidation. Reilly was older than him with a grown daughter and maybe she didn't want to have another baby at her age.

He looked at her. Was that the reason she was afraid? Because of being older now? "Reilly…" He began, but he didn't know how to voice that question to her. He knew she had always held their age difference in the back of her mind. Nick had no problem with it, but he knew how Reilly felt about it.

To Nick, Reilly didn't look forty-three. She was beautiful, he thought as he took in her shining chestnut brown shoulder length hair and her deep green eyes. Yes, she was beautiful. He was still in awe that she was with him.

"Why… why did you know to come here… to my room?" She asked searching for the words. She so didn't want to push him away, but she wanted to know how he knew something was up with herself and with Lauren to come to her room instead of calling her like she'd told Greg to have him do. This situation was tense, but it was also fragile, and she was worried the tension in either of them would break it.

"Sam…" Nick said, touching the bruise on the side of his face. "She came by the lab late last night and kind of gave me a head's up that something was wrong." He smiled weakly.

"She hit you?" Reilly asked, shocked at her daughter. She knew that Sam had been angry when Lauren had told them things, but Reilly thought she had gotten through to her that she believed in Nick, not Lauren. She thought Sam had gone back to her own room afterwards to sleep. Reilly had no idea that Sam had gone to see Nick at the lab. "I'm sorry… I didn't know."

"I figured you didn't. I also got a call a little bit ago from Lauren saying she heard that we had broken up and was wanting me to stop by and see her." Nick replied. He didn't like holding anything back from Reilly. "I basically told her she was nuts and that her and I were over a long time ago."

Reilly didn't know what to say to that. She hadn't like Lauren the one time she had met her, when they had run into her by accident while out to dinner. Reilly knew the woman still longed for Nick. She could see it in her eyes. She'd tried to tell Nick the woman wasn't right, but he had brushed it off saying not to worry and because nothing else had come of it, Reilly had let it go. That is until last night when the woman had invited herself to sit at their table and then proceeded to tell them all kinds of things that she and Nick had been up to for the last couple of months, supposedly behind Reilly's back.

"How far along are you?" Nick asked, leaning forward on his hands and looking at Reilly's stomach. Looking for any clues to her condition.

"Um… almost three months." She said as she watched Nick's eyes go wide.

He realized that would be the first time they'd slept together after… After his kidnapping, right before he had gone back to work. He felt his throat go dry, and his stomach lurched. He hadn't meant for anything to happen, it just had. He had missed her so much during his ordeal, but afterwards she had stayed at arms length due to his injuries, because she hadn't wanted being intimate to worsen them. They had only known each other a short time before, but Nick knew then how important she was to him; when he had thought of her while he had been buried in that box.

But he'd wanted her so badly; that he hadn't even given a thought to protection. He had needed to hold her and feel her as a part of him so that he would know he was alive and not back in that box buried in the ground. This was his fault, he thought. He should have been more careful. No wonder she was upset. He had brought all this on himself.

"Oh, my God." Nick said, looking at Reilly's stomach again. He ran his hands through his hair again wanting nothing more than to pull it out. This was his fault and she was paying the price.

Reilly moved closer to him and put her hand on his knee, because she thought he was about to fall apart. He looked like a nervous wreck.

"I'm sorry, Reilly." He said, standing up causing her hand to fall away. Reilly tried to reach out and grab his hand to stop him from moving away, but he side-stepped her reach. "I'm sorry."

"Nick…" Reilly started, standing up too. She didn't want him to leave her. Not now. She needed him. However Nick was moving for the door. He was running. She could practically see his mind racing. She had been with Nick long enough to know when he was about to have a panic attack. He was getting ready to bolt.

"Do… do you.. do you need anything?" He asked, clearing his throat and turning to look at her. She looked so sad and he knew it was because he was pulling away, but he didn't know what else to do right now. He had to get out… he had to breath. He wasn't able to pull enough air into his lungs right now and he felt like he was suffocating. He felt like he was back in that box. He was responsible for this… all of this… and it was all his fault. Everything he touched went bad. He ruined everything.

"No." She whispered, softly, sadly. She could see the fear in his eyes and she knew how his mind worked. He was scared and he needed to get some air. She had to let him go for now, because she knew he wouldn't be functional until he could get his head cleared and wrapped around this new situation.

"I'll call you." He said, fearing that he would be swept away and forgotten by Reilly and her family. Even though Nick was as scared as a teenager would be just finding out he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant, he knew he was still obligated and he would do the right thing. There was no way he wouldn't. It wasn't in his upbringing to totally cut and run. He was a good Texas boy and he would do the right thing by Reilly. "Let me know if you need anything." He had to at least for now, get out of here until he could clear his head. He had to find a way to make things right. "I'll call – I promise." He had to fix this.

"Yeah, Nick." She said feeling herself getting emotional and she just wanted to hold him and cry on his shoulder. He was not only her love, but her best friend and he was pulling away. She didn't want to be alone right now, but she could see he needed to come to terms with this on his own. "I'll be staying in town for a few more days." She longed for him to turn around and take her in his arms and hold her close and tell her everything would be all right. That this was something great. She needed him to tell her they'd get through this one way or another.

Nick smiled weakly at her and then he turned and walked out the door. He looked up and saw Sam coming out of her room and into the hallway. She gave Nick a hard look as she was once again engulfed with the anger she had felt earlier towards him. But as she watched him, she realized he was barely holding himself together. He was shaking and he was pale. He looked like… she gasped as she realized he looked like he had when he was recovering from his kidnapping.

Nick's mind was racing and he had so many thoughts going in and out that the last thing he needed was another confrontation with Sam. He clinched his jaw shut and looked at Sam. Nick slowly nodded towards her, but continued on down the hallway to the elevator. He didn't look back to see Sam go to her mother's room.

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