Dancefloor Dust

Chapter 10

"No, Owen, I don't want to eat anything." I call out after I hear a knock on the door.

I regret coming here after I packed the necessary stuff from mine and Will's apartment. But I had no idea where else to go and staying wasn't an option after what I saw on those pictures I found on my desk. Just thinking about it brings fresh tears to my eyes and I wipe them away quickly as I see the door open.

"Hey Alicia." I sigh deeply as I realize it's not my brother but our mother entering the room.

"Hi Mom." I curse my brother for his inability to once do what he's told. All I asked him was not to let Will near me and not to call our mother. But here she is looking at me in that familiar mix of disapproval and pity I'm used from her nearly my entire life.

"So, I guess Owen told you." I give into the inevitable as I know she won't leave before I told her what happened though I know that Owen already took care of that.

"Bits and pieces." she nods and sits down on the edge of the bed next to me, putting her purse down on the floor. "But in his defense he didn't call me. I called him..."

"And the topic of me leaving my husband again just came up?" I interrupt her pulling up my knees and trying not to sound too judgmental. But I can see from the look she gives me I failed miserably.

"No, I asked him how you were doing and you know your brother. He can't lie. At least not to me." I roll my eyes at her last remark and slide my arms around my feet, resting my chin on my knees.

"So, what happened, Alicia?"

Instead of an answer I reach for the nightstand and retrieve the envelope with the pictures from the drawer. I hand it to my mother who watches me puzzled.

She opens it slowly after I nod at her. I don't feel like talking about what is exactly on the pictures so I guess it's better if she sees it for herself.

She slowly looks through the few pictures but I can't really read her face. Once she's done she puts the pictures back into the envelope and places it on the bed between us.

"Do you know who the woman is?" she asks me in a low voice.

I just nod, fighting back the tears as the images from the pictures appear in front of my inner eye again.

"Who is it?"

"My, boss. Diane Lockhart." I swallow hard but all my struggles are wasted as I feel the first tear escape and roll down my cheek. I wipe it away in a futile attempt to hide it from my mother when I feel her grab my other hand and pull me in an embrace.

It feels awkward at first as this is just not what I'm used from my mother. I can't remember the last time she hugged me.

"It's okay to cry, Alicia." she whispers and I feel myself relaxing, finally returning the hug and burying my face at her shoulder to let the tears run freely.

She holds me until the last tear has dried and I feel strangely better when I lean back to break the embrace.

"What will you do now?"

"Look for a new apartment. Again. And get the divorce going. Again." I lean back against the pillows sighing deeply and closing my eyes in defeat.

"Are you sure?" my eyes fly open at my mother's words, watching her in disbelief.

"What do you mean, Mom? You can't think I'll go back to Will after I saw the pictures." I shake my head at her.

"Don't you want to talk..."

"No, Mom." I interrupt her. "All I need to know is on these pictures. He cheated on me. With my boss. What else could he tell me?" I feel anger rising in me. Anger at Will but also at my mother. And at myself for thinking she finally just wanted to be there for me, supporting me for a change, instead of criticizing me.

"She wasn't your boss when it happened. I guess you saw the date stamp on the pictures? They are three years old. Where did you get them from anyhow?"

"Whose side are you on, Mom? I was cheated on and you seem to defend Will. Why?"

"All I'm saying is you shouldn't jump to decisions before you know all the facts. Once the divorce is through there is seldom a way back. I sometimes wish..." she stops herself and stands from the bed.

"Sometimes you wish what?" I scoot to the edge of the bed and grab her hand to make her look at me.

"That I hadn't left your father as quickly as I did and made going back impossible. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did." she squeezes my hand lightly and I feel she means it.

"Trying not to become like you was one reason why I went back to him a month ago, Mom. But this is different. How will I ever be able to trust him again?"

"If you still love him you'll find a way if you want to." she sits down next to me and puts an arm around my shoulder. "I know that now, Alicia. But it's too late for me. Let it rest for a while. Process what happened but don't make any decisions while you are still angry, please."

"I'll think about it." I nod and once more I feel tears fill my eyes.

"Good, but there is something else I wanted to talk about, Alicia."

"Okay." I nod at her while her gaze lingers on the floor.

"Please don't be angry at Owen." she is still not looking at me and I wonder what this will be about.

"What else did he tell you?"

"That you're not eating properly and have been throwing up repeatedly." she finally looks at me and I have no idea where she's going with this.

"So? I haven't been feeling good and I think that's allowed in my situation." I snap at her and make a mental note to talk to my brother once our Mom has finally left.

"Yes, you are. But have you thought about the possibility that you could be pregnant?"

I gasp at her words that keep on lingering between us. Especially the last one. I slowly shake my head. Not at my mother to tell her she is wrong. I shake it at myself. This can't be. Not now. But the logical part of me has to admit my mother has a point. The symptoms I have sound typical, at least from what I've heard. And another fact fuels my mother's suspicion. My period is overdue. I had pushed it away, accounted it to stress. I didn't want to deal with it, especially not during the last few days. But now that my mother spoke the word 'pregnant' out loud I feel like I have no other choice than to do something about it.

"And what if I am?"

"Well, wouldn't that change everything?" she looks me straight in the eyes and I know she's back on the former topic. Getting me to forgive Will and go back to him despite his infidelity.

"Maybe." I admit with a shrug. "But I won't be thinking about this until I am sure."

She just nods reaching down for her purse. She retrieves a carton from it I recognize as a pregnancy test.

"You want to find out now?"

I sigh heavily as I open the door to Will's and my apartment. I chose to come at a time I can be sure Will is not home yet. I slowly walk through all the rooms before I stay in the second bedroom that is still scarcely furnished. I had planned to use it as office but aside from a desk and the couch from my former apartment, it's empty. When we moved in here I already pictured this room as the nursery but never voiced this to Will. Though he said he had changed his mind about kids I knew our relationship was still on shaky grounds regarding that topic. So I had planned to wait until we both had found a way back to each other. And I believed we were on a good path to that goal. Up until the moment these pictures that shattered my whole world were given to me. And now I question everything again. Nothing is different from when I left Baltimore half a year ago. Well, in fact it's worse. I still crash at my brother's and I might have to quit my job because of all the women out there Will chose my boss to cheat on me with. My mother keeps on saying that she wasn't my boss then but I can't help but think that she maybe knew who I was when she hired me and that thought hurts.

I sit down on the couch and look around the room. I still know how I imagined the nursery would look like, where I would place the crib, what wall-color to use. Suddenly I realize that I placed one of my hands over my stomach and I need to remind myself that not all is the same as it was six months before. I am pregnant. And as my mother predicted it changed everything. I would've never believed it but since I know for a fact I am having a baby my needs and wants have taken a backseat to what I think will be the best for my child and that's what brought me here in the first place. I plan on waiting for Will and talk to him, finally giving him a chance to explain himself. Something he tried repeatedly during the last days but Owen never let him. I have no idea where this talk will lead me or us but I can't ignore Will's attempts to talk to me any longer. It wouldn't be fair to him and his unborn child.

The sound of the key in the front door startles me and I get up from the couch. I watch Will enter the apartment, hanging his coat and proceeding to the kitchen. He seems tense and I'm glad he has not seen me standing in the doorway as I contemplate leaving again for a split moment. But what sense would it make? Is there ever the right moment to tell him about my pregnancy or hear more details about his infidelity? So I take a deep breath before I slowly walk through the hallway to the kitchen where I find Will in front of the open fridge, his back towards me.

"Hello Will." he slightly jumps at my words.

"Alicia?! You scared me." he closes the refrigerator but remains in his spot not attempting to come any closer.

"Can we talk?" suddenly I have no desire to delay this any longer and just want to get it over with. I don't wait for his answer and head over to the living room.

"Sure. I am so glad you're here. I tried to call you a thousand times but your brother..."

"I told Owen to not let you near me and I also gave him my cell. I needed time, Will." I cut him off as I sit down on the couch watching him take the place opposite me.

"I understand. But all I wanted to do was to say how sorry I am and explain myself to you." he peers down on the floor seemingly not able to look me in the eyes.

"I know. You made that pretty clear to Owen. You cheated on me, Will. I saw the pictures. I don't think there is much left to explain." my voice gets lower with every word as I recall the images of Diane and Will kissing each other.

"I know you saw some photos. Owen told me that's why you left me. Have you ever wondered who gave them to you?" he looks up at me and I get the feeling he cares more about the fact someone took pictures of his infidelity than about the betrayal he committed.

"No, I haven't. I don't care who took them. Or would this make their content any less true?" I snap at him and his expression changes.

"No, it won't." he admits.

"And it won't take the pain away they caused. So I couldn't care less about who gave them to me." I feel tears well up though I swore to myself not to cry. But the hurt is still too palpable to hold them back.

"I'm sorry, Alicia. I really don't know what else to tell you."

"Why, Will? I thought we were happy when this happened. At least I was." I look straight at him only to see his gaze wander to the floor again.

"I don't know. I was at this conference here in Chicago. And somehow Diane and I ended up in the bar after a dinner. It just happened... I am not proud of what I did." he peers up at me, his eyes full with regret I hope is real.

"I knew I shouldn't have asked." I exhale deeply and wipe the tears from my face.

"Then why did you?"

"I didn't plan to talk to you. All I wanted was to get the divorce going again and hopefully get on with my life. But life can be cruel, Will. And I learnt something a few days ago that changed everything and left me with no choice than to talk to you."

"What did you learn?" his tone is a mix of trepidation and curiousness. I still don't know how I want him to react to my news. I'm sure it is the right decision to tell him though I have no idea how we'll go on from here. I can't see myself going back to how it was before I knew of his unfaithfulness. I am sure about wanting this baby but the thought I might have to raise it alone scares me and I prepare myself to say goodbye to my dream of a perfect little family.

"There is no right way of saying this in the situation we're in, Will. So, I'm just going to say it." I pause and see him nod at my words.

"I'm pregnant." I lean back and feel somehow relieved I finally said it. I hear Will gasp at my words, his eyes widen in shock.

"Wow." he also leans back in his armchair seemingly taken aback by what I just told him.

"Will you keep it?" his words cut the silence that has fallen between us for a couple of moments and they hit me like a slap.

"I'm sorry, Alicia. I didn't mean it." he quickly apologizes rushing over to sit next to me as the first tears roll down my cheeks once more.

"So, you'd rather want me to have an abortion." I manage to ask him through silent sobs.

"No, please forget what I said. I'm in shock. Please believe me. I don't want you to have an abortion." he carefully places his arm around my shoulders. My first impulse is to stand, get away from him but my defenses are down and part of me yearns to be held by him. So I just give in, leaning against him letting him comfort me though I am aware of the irony that we are in this situation because of what he did. But it just feels too good to be in his arms again.

We sit in silence for a few minutes, his hand drawing soothing circles on my back as my tears die down.

"Just tell me what you want, Alicia." he whispers, shifting in his seat to look at me, a small smile playing on his lips.

"I want everything going back to normal, Will. Forgetting the last year happened. And just be happy again." I know it's a childish wish, but it's what I want more than anything.

"We can't make the last year disappear, but we can work on being happy again. If you can forgive me once more, I promise you I'll try to get us back to normal. I love you, Alicia. Please don't leave me." this time he looks me straight in the eyes and in my heart I already know what my decision will be.

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