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Loose Ends

By MaxCale

Romance

First Love

Ricky arrived at the butcher shop and was met by an antsy, nervous Ben. It's too early for this Ricky thought but decided to see what Ben wanted to talk about and get it over with. He had enough on his mind without wondering about Ben's problems today.

"What, Ben?"

"Did Amy seem upset or unhappy when you saw her last night?"

"No. Why?"

"Just trying to figure out how mad she is at me before we talk this afternoon." Ricky rolled his eyes.

"Ben, you knew she was upset with you when she stopped taking your calls a couple weeks ago. She'll tell you how she feels about everything when you talk to her. Until then, you might as well not worry about it." Ben nodded, but Ricky could tell he was still worrying. He simply sighed and got to work. The day passed quickly for Ben simply because he knew at the end of it he would finally get to see Amy again. It had been a long four weeks. Ben practically ran out of the butcher shop at the end of his shift and jumped in his car, eager to get home. Amy was already there when he arrived. He found her in the living room.

"Hi, Amy!" he greeted her cheerfully.

"Hi, Ben." She didn't waste any time on small talk. "Go ahead and get changed and then we'll talk." He nodded and dashed upstairs for a quick shower and wardrobe change. He was back downstairs in just under twenty-five minutes. Amy couldn't help but chuckle a little at his eagerness.

"So do you wanna talk in here or we could go up to my bedroom?"

"Your bedroom would be fine." They made their way upstairs and Amy sat on his bed as he closed the door behind them before joining her. He reached to give her a kiss but she pulled away.

"We need to talk Ben and I need you to be completely open and honest with me, no matter what." He pulled back and sighed. She's still mad at me. He decided to jump right in with an apology.

"Amy, I'm sorry I didn't tell you Adrian was pregnant sooner. It's just that…"

"We'll get to that Ben," Amy interrupted him, "but that's not what I wanna talk about first." She'd gotten Ben's attention and he quit talking. "Ben, why did you decide to ask me out?" Where's that coming from?

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that out of all the girls in our school, why did you notice and ask out me?" Ben thought back and realized Amy wasn't going to like the answer, but maybe he could soften the blow if he explained himself as well.

"Alice pointed you out to me at first, but during our date we talked and I became smitten with you…" Amy didn't give him a chance to finish; his answer made her wonder about something.

"Why'd Alice point me out to you?" Ben looked at the ceiling and groaned.

"You're not gonna like the answer, Amy." She waited for him to continue.

"You know how Alice knows a lot of facts about sex?" Amy nodded. "Well, I told her I didn't want to spend my entire high school experience as a virgin and asked her who she thought would be willing to sleep with me."

"Why didn't you pick out some girl yourself?"

"Um," he began, swallowing past the lump in his throat as he remembered that fateful morning in the hallway. "Because I was interested in Grace but Alice told me I had no chance since she was a Christian with a boyfriend back then."

"So why'd Alice pick me?" Ben sighed, remembering Alice's logic for picking Amy. Be still couldn't bring himself to look Amy in the eye as he told her the truth.

"She told me she knew that you were nice, a band geek, and a little shy and so you might just be desperate enough to sleep with me. But after I got to know you a little on our date I wasn't even thinking about having sex with you anymore; I wanted you to be my girlfriend." Amy was shocked and hurt. So I was supposedly just a 'sure thing' and not his first choice? I went out with another Ricky!? She closed her eyes to get her emotions and thoughts in check. Flying off the handle won't do any good. We need to get to the bottom of what happened to us. I think it's time for me to make a few confessions of my own. Ben watched her apprehensively. How mad is she about this? Amy opened her eyes and looked straight at Ben.

"Do you know why I agreed to go out with you?"

"No." He had sometimes wondered that himself.

"I was looking for a temporary distraction." At Ben's questioning look she explained. "I had gone to see my doctor that afternoon, without my parents' knowledge, to confirm my suspicions and she told me I was pregnant. I had spent the rest of that day trying to wrap my head around the fact I was having a baby and figure out how to tell my parents when you called me. I figured distracting myself for one night might give me a little more time to figure it out." Ben was surprised to find out they had both gone on their first date under false pretenses but he knew how scared she'd been back then and he could understand why she'd done it, but he was curious about something.

"Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant after our first date?"

"Because I still wanted to be distracted, at first, and didn't believe our relationship would last long."

"What do you mean 'at first'?" Amy sighed. She felt kind of weird telling this to Ben before Ricky but since both guys had been affected by her decision they both had a right to understand why she'd done it.

"Ben, I had sex with a guy who I honestly believed when he said he was interested in me and wanted me to be his girlfriend. When he acted like I didn't exist after our night together at band camp, it was a HUGE blow to my self-esteem. You remember that I told you after you proposed that I felt like such a slut for having sex with Ricky?"

"Yeah…"

"I didn't understand why a guy who seemed so nice, who'd said he liked me and thought I was attractive, would treat me like that. When you decided you wanted to date me, I honestly believed it wouldn't last. I figured we'd go on a few dates and once you found out I was pregnant you'd walk away from me too, so what was the harm in putting off reality for a little while. It wasn't until you told me you loved me and promised to stay by my side no matter what that I started to fall in love with you too." Ben couldn't help but smile at Amy's last admission. So she's still in love with me?

"So there's still hope for us."

"What do you mean?"

"You just said you fell in love with me. And since you didn't say you've fallen out of love with me, then there's still hope that you'll forgive me for getting Adrian pregnant, one day." Amy looked at Ben sadly. After that first morning of putting Ben's name in the enemy column, she'd been carefully dissecting her and Ben's relationship. She'd come to the conclusion she couldn't be in a relationship with him anymore but they would get to that by the end of this discussion.

"Ben, there's a lot more we need to talk about and some things I need to confess before we talk about Adrian's pregnancy." Ben looked worried now. What kind of things?

"Do you know why I was in such a rush to marry you illegally?"

"Because you loved me and wanted us to be a family before John was born." Amy shook her head. "Then why did you want to marry me? It was your idea to do it without our parents' consent, remember?"

"I was scared and in love." She could tell she had lost Ben with that answer.

"Ricky had been sweet to me at band camp. We talked easily and he seemed genuinely interested in me and my life. But when he blew me off, I began to doubt that I really was a nice, pretty girl that any guy would wanna go out with. And then you came along. You stood by me, had my back, defended my honor, listened to me, encouraged me, made me feel like everything was gonna work out and be okay, and you made me feel special. With the way you treated me and cared about me, I thought to myself 'so this is what it feels like to be loved by a guy.' You were so wonderful to me I couldn't help but fall in love with you and love the person that you were. When it seemed like adoption wasn't going to work out, I was terrified. I didn't know how to be a good mother at fifteen and I certainly didn't believe I could take care of my baby by myself since I didn't have a job, and honestly didn't want one. I was scared that I would end up being a bad mother if I didn't have someone by my side to take care of me while I took care of my baby. On a less selfish note, I also wanted to give my baby a stable home complete with two loving parents. You loved me and I loved you, or so I believed at the time, and I didn't wanna raise my baby alone." Ben was trying very hard to hide his surprise and smile at Amy's declaration of love, but something she'd just said caught his attention.

"What do you mean 'or so you believed at the time'?"

"I later came to see that while we were in love with each other while we were dating, we didn't love each other as deeply as we should've."

"Amy! I married you! I was there by your side during your entire pregnancy. After everything we've been through together how can you say that we didn't love each other!?"

"Maria and Jimmy."

"Maria and Jimmy?" Amy nodded and Ben sighed. "Amy, the whole Maria escapade was a colossal mistake and I swear I'll spend the rest of our lives making it up to you." Amy shook her head again and spoke just as Ben opened his mouth to continue apologizing.

"Ben, do you know why I didn't want you to go to Bolgna?" Ben swallowed, his throat suddenly dry.

"Yes."

"And what was the reason?"

"You thought I'd cheat on you." Amy shook her head, causing Ben to look at her in disbelief.

"It had nothing to do with the possibility of you cheating on me; that was just the reason I gave to hide my real fears." Fears? What fears?

"What fears, Amy?"

"Do you remember what my family life was like back then?" Ben thought back to all the drama that had been going on with her parents and nodded.

"I felt alone at home, Ben. My mom had to go back to work to support me, John and herself since she and my dad got divorced and he and Ashley moved out, so she was working long hours and tired at the end of the day. She and my dad were still bickering, trying to figure out how to raise two teenagers even though our family was now split between two houses. I was too tired from caring for John, going to school and working to have a lot of free time to spend with my best friends or my boyfriend. And on top of that the one person I really didn't want anything to do with was constantly around so he could spend time with his son. The only bright spots in my life were you and John. If you left for the summer there would be no one around for me. My parents and friends were busy living their own lives, my sister and I hadn't gotten along for some time and Ricky was a constant reminder of one big reason my life was so stressful. I know it was selfish; I just wanted someone to be there for me and you were the only one who was. When you stopped calling me from Bolgna it really hurt me, Ben. I felt even more alone." Ben hung his head in shame and regret.

"Amy, I didn't realize how much you depended on me back then. And now I feel even worse because I was excited to be going away for the summer. I wanted a break from the awkward little love… well, relationship triangle you and I were in with Ricky. I wasn't trying to hurt you. Although, I was hurt too when you didn't tell me about Ricky sleeping over and I was too angry with you to call you those last couple of weeks."

"If you knew about Ricky staying over sometimes, why didn't you just tell me how you felt about it?"

"Why didn't you tell me about it yourself?" If we're being honest here than I want some answers too. He expected Amy to look ashamed for keeping that information from him but she didn't.

"It was an embarrassing fact that I saw no reason to bring up since nothing inappropriate had happened."

"What do you mean embarrassing?"

"Ben, how did John come into this world?" That's kind of a stupid question he thought but answered it anyway.

"You gave birth to him."

"Exactly. I carried him inside me and gave birth to him. But you know what? Ricky was better at calming him down and getting my baby to fall asleep than I was and it hurt, both my feelings and my pride. A child's mother should know how to soothe that child and I was horrible at it. It took me hours whereas John would calm down the minute Ricky held him. Some nights that summer John was just fussy and he and I would have to work together, taking turns rocking him, to get him to go to sleep so Ricky would crash on the living room couch. And since John wasn't sleeping through the night yet, it was helpful to have another person there who could help me take care of John. After all, my dad and Ashley had taken off on a cross country trip, you were in Europe, my best friends couldn't be out that late, and my mom was busy taking care of herself since she was then a pregnant working woman. I told you that night at Geoffe's after you got back that I'd asked Ricky not to say anything and I did that because, like I said, I was embarrassed about what a terrible mother I seemed to be."

"Oh, Amy. I overreacted. I should've just asked you about it instead of letting my jealously get the best of me and just not talking to you."

"We'll come back to that jealousy comment. What I'd like to know is why you were talking to Adrian about me instead of just talking to me yourself. You told me at Geoffe's that she was the one who told you about Ricky sleeping over."

"Well, at the time I didn't see a problem with talking to Adrian since she and I were kinda the third wheels and it was nice to talk to someone who understood how I was feeling."

"What do you mean?"

"Think about it, Amy. I was dating you and she was dating Ricky but the two of you spent time together and had private conversations about John because you had to, for John's sake. I had no right to interfere with that and neither did she because you and Ricky are John's parents. And honestly that made me a little jealous."

"Ben, here's what I don't understand about your jealousy of Ricky. You knew I was having another guy's baby. In fact, it's why we took a break shortly after we started going out, remember? You said you needed to think about whether or not you really wanted to be in a relationship with me with Ricky in the picture too." Ben thought back and remembered the day he saw Amy and Ricky hugging in the hallway. "If you still couldn't handle that reality, why did you decide to stay with me?"

"Because I still loved you and thought I could handle our complicated relationship."

"And what about your jealousy towards Ricky? How did you plan to deal with that?" Ben thought back to his and Ricky's conversations about Amy during her pregnancy.

"Well, at first I tried to get him out of the picture but when that didn't work, he and I came to a truce." Amy raised an eyebrow.

"Why did you think it was best for my baby to completely remove his biological father from the picture and how exactly did you try to get him out of the picture?" she asked, slightly irritated at this new revelation.

"Well, he was going to try and steal you away from me for some reason I couldn't figure out yet and I knew it wasn't because he was in love with you. So, I told him he didn't have the money to provide a good life for you or John so he should back off."

"First of all, I'm not some piece of property that can be stolen. Second, neither one of us had the money to provide a good life for John, which is why I was looking for adoptive couple. Third, what made you so sure Ricky was trying to 'steal me' in the first place?"

"Before you had John I asked Ricky, point blank, if he was stepping up because he was after you or just the baby. He told me he was after both of you," Ben gave a mirthless chuckle before adding, "and he even said he planned to win my dad to his side too after we started working together. As long as Ricky was around, he was a threat to our relationship. There wasn't much I could really do though because no matter how much I loved John and thought of him as my own son, even if you and I became husband and wife in the future, Ricky would always be part of the picture because he's John's biological father. Loving John like my son didn't make him mine, no matter how bad I wanted him to be."

"So if you were still upset about our situation and secretly wanted Ricky out of the picture, why did you come to a truce with him in the first place?"

"At first it was because we both wanted you to keep the baby and we knew you probably wouldn't if we couldn't find a way to get along. At the hospital we realized that we had a difficult situation to deal with. He wanted to be there for his son, I loved you, you loved me, and you were willing to let Ricky be a father to his son. The best thing for the three of us to do for John was to get along as best we could."

"How do you know he wanted me to keep John?" Ben thought back to that conversation in the butcher shop their first day of work.

"Our first day of work Ricky told me we needed to get along better because he wanted you to keep John and I told him that I did too. Remember? We came to your house that night Grace offered you a job we told you we were going to try to be friends." Amy remembered that night vividly. So if Ben was no longer jealous of Ricky, what changed Ben's mind about us over that summer?

"If you no longer saw Ricky as a threat to our relationship, how'd you go from being in love with me to cheating on me with Maria?" And we're back to her. She could tell from the look in his eyes he was weighing whether or not to come clean because he was afraid of her reaction. She decided to throw him a bone. "Just tell me, Ben. We're never gonna completely clear the air between us if we don't get everything out in the open."

"I wanted to feel normal." Now it was Amy's turn to look puzzled. Ben sighed, knowing she probably wasn't going to understand how he'd felt back then.

"Amy, I was a sixteen year old step-father, so to speak, dating a girl who couldn't go out and do typical teenage activities very often because she was tied down with a baby. A perfect little boy I loved dearly mind you," he quickly added, "it was just that I wanted to feel like any other teenager, without any serious responsibilities and the freedom to just cut loose and have some fun. I just wanted to have some fun." Ben looked at her face, searching desperately for an ounce of understanding. He found it when she gave a small, albeit sad, smile.

"Ben, I know what that feels like, both from your point of view and in reverse. There have been plenty of times I've just wanted to go hang out with my girlfriends and do all the stupid, pointless activities we enjoy so much but I knew I couldn't because my son came first, and will for the rest of my life. I've also experienced feeling left behind because I'm a teenaged mother." Ben didn't hide his look of surprise and Amy chuckled.

"You remember that perpetual bad mood I was in after John was born?" Ben nodded. "Part of it was because I could see my friends and acquaintances moving on with their lives, doing whatever they wanted to do and all I could do was watch from the sidelines, unnoticed by the rest of the world because my main concern was my son. My entire world changed when I made the decision to keep my baby and it wasn't an easy adjustment." Ben suddenly felt a sour taste in his mouth. Maybe if he'd simply spent a little more time talking to Amy and listening to what she'd said, and also what she wasn't saying, he could've done more to ease her stress.

"When I found out you'd cheated on me with Maria, it made me realize that you didn't love me as much as I loved you." Ben turned to face her and opened his mouth to protest but Amy continued. "Ben, if you had loved me as much as I did you, you would've chosen to spare my feelings and break up with me instead of cheating on me because while breaking up might've hurt me for a little while, finding out after the fact that someone I loved had chosen to both cheat on me and then lie about it hurt even worse." Ben began to tear up at her words but then he remembered something.

"Wait, what about that Jimmy guy?"

"What about him?"

"After you found out about Maria you told me you'd met somebody else too. Didn't you consider that cheating on me?"

"No, that was different."

"Oh, really? How so," Ben asked a little defensively.

"Ben, were we still dating when you left for Bologna?"

"Yes."

"Did you call or email me and break up with me while you were there?"

"No."

"Did you ever plan to?"

"No."

"So you were in a relationship you had no intention of ending when you chose to fool around with another girl, correct?" Ben had the decency to look ashamed.

"Yes, but…"

"The difference between Maria and Jimmy is that I lied about Jimmy." Shock filled Ben's face.

"WHAT!?" No, I saw Jimmy.

"I had met Jimmy exactly once and it was the last night my mom and I were in Palm Springs. We were grocery shopping when he came up to me and started flirting with me. I gave him a fake name and flirted back just a little and as we talked he made me laugh. My mom came down the aisle and blew my cover by calling me by name but Jimmy didn't seem to mind. He said he'd see me around and then we left. End of story." Ben was suddenly filled with shame again but Amy hadn't finished her little story yet. "I knew I had a boyfriend back home and I had no intentions of breaking up with or cheating on you. It was just nice to know that there was another guy out there who thought I was attractive and it was nice to laugh, something I hadn't done much of lately. When I found out you had cheated on me, it hurt, Ben, a lot. I lashed out and tried to hurt you by making you think I'd found someone else to be involved with too."

"Amy, you had every right to lie to me…"

"No, Ben, I didn't." Her comment made Ben shut his mouth. "It's never okay to purposefully hurt someone you love. I never should've told you that lie or forced you to break up with me so publically. I acted out of hurt and anger when I should've waited until I'd calmed down and then talked to you in private. I'm sorry for that. That's not how you treat someone you love." Ben was stunned. Did she actually just apologize for lying about hurting me after I'd actually hurt her? She was totally justified after what I'd done. Doubly so since I lied to her about it.

"Amy, there's nothing to apologize for. I was the one totally in the wrong." Amy gave him a small smile.

"Ben, relationships aren't all about who's right and who's wrong. When one person realizes they messed up or hurt the other, they need to own up to it and deal with the consequences. I was wrong for trying to hurt you by lying to you and you deserve my apology, so I've apologized for that. I also owe you an apology for not being clear about how I viewed our relationship and for not pulling my weight." She looked up at Ben and saw confusion in his eyes. "I leaned on you very heavily both physically and emotionally during our relationship without making sure you were okay with it or prepared to handle that. I needed you to be there for me but I wasn't there for you just as much. I know we talked and spent time together, but after you found out about my pregnancy we spent most of our time together talking about me and my drama and I was so busy worrying that I forgot to check-in with you, so to speak, to see what your thoughts and feelings were about things as they came up. I was so focused on trying to get along with Ricky that you got pushed aside sometimes. And for that, I'm truly sorry. You deserved better from your girlfriend so part of me actually understands how you were able to cheat on me with Maria." Ben was floored. He had felt pushed aside from time to time but brushed it off as part of being in a relationship with a girl who had to deal with her child's father.

"It's no wonder you started dating Grace." Ben quickly swiveled his head in her direction.

"Huh?"

"After everything I put you through it's no wonder you wanted a drama free girlfriend," she told him with a genuine smile on her face. "And I'm glad you took a shot with your dream girl." Ben suddenly felt a desperate need to explain his actions so Amy wouldn't feel hurt by his actions any more than she already had been.

"Amy, it wasn't like that. I mean, sure I had a crush on Grace in the beginning but after our first date I was totally smitten with you. I didn't swap you for my dream girl or anything like just. It just happened that a girl I'd had a crush on in the past was available at the same time I was and I went for it."

"I know that now, Ben." His curious expression at that admission made her chuckle. "When I found out you'd gone out with Grace I was hurt because you had moved on while I, once again, was stuck on the sidelines busy being a teenage mother. You deserved a break after everything you'd done for me and John." Ben looked down, feeling a little embarrassed that Amy had basically just retroactively given him her blessing to move on. "I am curious about something though."

"Oh? What's that?"

"Where you and Grace officially dating when you had sex with Adrian?" So we're finally to Adrian.

"No, why?"

"I'm trying to understand why you had sex with Arian and then tried to get back together with me if you and Grace had started seeing each other." Ben sighed. How do I explain this without sounding like an idiot? Realizing there wasn't a nice way to explain the whole situation, Ben decided on the truth, mentally trying to prepare himself for Amy's rage.

"Even though I liked spending time with Grace, at the end of the day I wanted to be in a relationship with you because I still loved you. You dad encouraged me to try to get back together with you and that's why I brought over the pizza the night of the mother-daughter dance. When you told me you weren't interested in getting back together and that you'd kissed Ricky I was angry, about the kiss, not the other part."

"Why angry?"

"Because if you willingly kissed Ricky that meant he was making his move on you and with his charm you'd have no interest in getting back together with me."

"So you were still comparing yourself to Ricky." She said it as a statement and Ben nodded.

"I was angry that he was able to get close enough to kiss you again because you had had his baby and angry at you for falling for his tricks. If you hadn't slept with him at band camp then he wouldn't even be in the picture and we still would've been together. Sleeping with Adrian was a way to get back at both of you because she was his girlfriend and you didn't like her." Ben refused to look at Amy while making that last admission, knowing he had hurt her and knowing there was no way to take it back. "I know this won't make you feel better, I just want you to know that I felt insanely guilty about it and felt like I'd ruined my life because I saw no way that you would ever forgive me." He turned his body to face her. "I was over the moon when you said we could try going out again before you left for New York." They stared at each other for several minutes, lost in their own thoughts. Ben broke the silence.

"That's also why I had a hard time understanding your reaction when I came to see you. You already knew I'd slept with Adrian and had forgiven me for it and you knew that, while it's not easy, you can still make a relationship work with someone even though you're having a baby with someone else. So why did you stop taking my calls the last couple of weeks you were in New York?"

"I was angry that you had kept it from me and I needed time to think about the situation."

"But I came to New York to tell you about it…"

"Not right away Ben. My family and friends shut me out, waiting for you to tell me first."

"What do you mean they shut you out?"

"I mean that none of them would take my calls or talk to me. That's how I knew something was going on. I was angry when I found out that they had all known and let me be blindsided by the news when you told me. I quit taking your calls so I could figure out what I was gonna do about this new development in our relationship."

"So is our relationship over or not?" Amy sighed before answering.

"Yes, Ben, it is."

"But we made it work, for the most part, when you were having a baby with Ricky. Why can't we make it work now that I'm having a baby with Adrian!?"

"Do you remember how much Adrian and I didn't get along during my pregnancy and after John was born?"

"Yeah."

"Do you recall why that was?"

"She was jealous that Ricky was spending so much time with you even though she was his girlfriend."

"Bingo. And you just admitted to me that you were jealous of Ricky being at my house." Ben nodded, not sure where this was going exactly. "You and Adrian both know how frustrating it is to make a relationship work when your significant other is bound by a child to someone else they're not in love with. I'm not willing to do the same thing to Adrian that she did to me."

"Wait, what do you mean 'the same thing she did to you'?"

"Ben, Adrian doesn't like me, never has. I've been the baby mamma who had to endure the presence of her baby daddy's girlfriend and I know how much I hated it, especially since she and Ricky knew we didn't get along. I know Adrian doesn't like me and never has so I can't bring myself to be the baby daddy's girlfriend that she can't stand."

"But…"

"No, Ben. Let me finish. I don't know what your feelings for Adrian are and frankly, that's between the two of you. What I do know is that raising a child as a teenaged mother is hard and you really do need help. The person who should be helping you is your child's father and I don't feel right about taking up time that you should be spending taking care of your child and helping your child's mother just so I can have a romantic relationship with you." Ben could finally see where this was going and he didn't like it one bit.

"Amy, I don't wanna lose you. I'm not in love with Adrian. I'm gonna be there for my child, without question, that doesn't mean I wanna be romantically involved with Adrian. I hardly know her!"

"Ben, Adrian and your child need you right now. Even though I'll miss talking to you and spending time with you, I honestly feel that our relationship has run its course. I'll always be grateful to you for everything you've done for me and John and I can honestly say that I'll always love you. I can also honestly say that I'm no longer in love with you and I can only be there for you as a friend to talk to from time to time."

"What if that's not enough for me, Amy?" Ben asked, his voice wavering with sadness and regret. Amy placed her hand over his and Ben looked down at it.

"The decisions we make can change our lives and send us down a path we didn't intend to take, and teach us some hard life lessons in the process. I think we both thought we loved each other but didn't really understand what it means to love someone. I think neither one of us were prepared to make a relationship work as fifteen year olds with a baby and the baby's father in the mix. Sometimes I feel so conflicted about our relationship though. On one hand I shouldn't have gone on that first date with you and spared you all the drama that is, or was, my life. On the other, you were a good friend and wonderful boyfriend who helped me get through a very challenging time of my life and I'm truly grateful to you for that. I feel that at the end of the day, we should both view our relationship as a learning experience and move forward in our lives. We'll always have our memories of the good times in our relationship and that's okay. What we have to remember is to keep moving forward and do better the next time around." Ben looked up hopefully.

"So there could be a next time around for us someday?" Amy smiled. Oh, Ben. Ever the optimist.

"Honestly? I don't know. For now let's just say 'I'll see you around' and leave it at that." They shared a smile and then stood and embraced each other for several minutes, processing everything they had talked about and revealed and saying goodbye to what they had shared as a couple. Ben walked her to the door and they shared one last hug before Amy headed towards her car. She started the engine and looked back to the doorway at Ben. He waved and she waved back before driving off. Ben watched Amy until he couldn't see her SUV anymore and then dejectedly went back inside to figure out what to do with his life next.

Unbeknown to Ben, Leo had heard their entire conversation. He had seen Ben walking upstairs and followed him, intending to finally talk to him about his conversation with Amy, having thought about it for a couple of days. When he heard Ben begin speaking to Amy, he couldn't help himself. He shamelessly eavesdropped on their conversation, only heading towards his bedroom when he heard them get up from Ben's bed and he believed they would be opening the door any minute. He watched Amy drive away from his bedroom window. She's one intelligent, forgiving, kind hearted young woman. Even after everything she and Ben have been through together, I'm glad she was a part of his life for a little while. Leo laid on his bed, processing everything he's just learned about Ben and Amy's relationship and wondered what he could've done differently. I thought giving Ricky a job at the butcher shop was helping the situation. I figured giving the boys the means to help Amy take care of her baby would allow her to consider keeping John. Was that a mistake? Both boys have become more responsible because of their job but did I do more harm than good? In the end Leo only came to one definite conclusion: he no longer felt the need to talk to Ben about his conversation with Amy. Ben had enough to think about at the moment.

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