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Loose Ends

By MaxCale

Romance

Finding A New Dream

Adrian was still pondering her conversation with Ricky from two days ago and wanted to talk to Grace about it. She called her friend but her phone went to voicemail. Guess she's busy at camp. She left a message instead.

"Hey, Grace. So Ricky and I sat down and talked Wednesday night and I wanna run some things by you. Call me back when you've got some time to talk." Adrian went downstairs to make herself some breakfast and found her dad at the table eating his.

"Morning, Adrian. How'd you sleep?"

"Okay." She knew he'd heard parts of her conversation with Ricky but he hadn't brought it up so she wasn't going to.

"What are your plans for today?"

"I need to run to the store for some things and then I'll probably just hang around the house and watch TV or something."

"Drive safely." Adrian rolled her eyes but nodded anyway to appease her father. He kissed the top of her head before heading out the door. Adrian made herself a ham and cheese omelet and poured herself a glass of orange juice for breakfast, making sure to take her prenatal vitamins before eating her meal. When she finished she didn't feel like going to the store just yet so she watched TV until her stomach told her it was lunch time. She felt tired after finishing her salad and BLT sandwich so she set her cellphone alarm and took a nap for a couple of hours. As she slept she dreamed that she and Ricky were living in a cute little two-story house with their son and they were all happy. Adrian slept through her alarm and woke up shortly after 5:00. She quickly got herself ready to go to the store and grabbed an apple on her way out the door. She arrived at Safeway within a few minutes and grabbed a small basket, intending to be in and out in a few minutes. Little did she know that her intentions were about to be sidetracked by a toddler and a kind older woman.

Amy had gotten off work earlier than usual because she needed to go to the store and pick up some things for John and herself. She pulled into Safeway minutes after Adrian and parked but didn't see her. She put John into the seat of a basket and began her shopping. As fate would have it, Ricky and Ben both also had things to pick up at Safeway that evening. Ben, like Adrian, was only there for a few items while Ricky, like Amy, had a few more items to pick up. Amy had turned up the juice aisle and stopped to check her list at the same moment that John looked up and saw Ricky walking behind Amy, his eyes focused on his own shopping list.

"Dada!" John cried out, causing Amy to look at her son and then turn around to see who he was calling out to just as Ricky's head swiveled in the direction of his son's voice. He and Amy locked eyes and smiled. Unbeknown to them, Adrian was halfway up juice aisle, having come down it from the other end of the aisle and was frozen in her tracks at the sight of Ricky smiling at Amy. Ben had just turned down the aisle as well and was likewise frozen in place.

"Dada!" John said again with a smile. Ricky walked up to his son and placed a kiss on his head.

"Hey, buddy. Are you being a good boy for mommy?" John nodded, still smiling. Amy just smiled at her happy little boy interacting with his father. Ricky turned to face Amy.

"Hey, Amy."

"Hey."

"You need any help?" he asked, motioning to her list.

"I think I got it. Besides, you've obviously got your own shopping to do and I don't wanna keep you."

"I don't mind helping, Amy" he said with a genuine smile. "Besides, I know it's challenging juggling groceries and a toddler."

"Okay, thanks," Amy replied with a genuine smile of her own. She handed him her list just as an older woman came up the aisle. She turned in their direction when she heard John giggle.

"You have a beautiful little boy," she said, smiling at them.

"Thank you," Ricky said.

"You be a good boy for your mommy and daddy okay cutie pie?"

"Kay!" John squealed. Adrian's heart broke at the sight of the three of them together and the woman's words. She turned around to head out of the aisle and that's when she saw Ben. Their eyes locked and they both headed down the adjacent aisle, hoping Amy and Ricky wouldn't be heading their way. They finished shopping together in silence and quickly went through the self-checkout line. Unfortunately for them, Ricky and Amy finished at the exact same time and they crossed paths as they were all about to leave the store. There were several moments of awkward silence before John broke the ice. He saw a man walking his dog and chose that moment to point it out.

"Doggie!" he said gleefully, pointing at the dog. "Mommy, daddy, doggie!" They looked in the direction he was pointing.

"Yep, that's a doggie buddy," Ricky said. Everyone chuckled nervously.

"Well, we should get going," Ricky said.

"Yeah, us too," Ben replied. Ricky let Amy lead the way to her car and smirked when he saw that he had parked only three spaces away from her. He began loading her groceries while she buckled John into his seat. He had finished by the time she was done.

"So we'll see you at the house in a little bit?"

"Yeah. Drive carefully," he told her before turning to ruffle John's hair from the trunk. "See you in a little bit, buddy."

"Bye daddy!" Ricky smiled, closed the trunk and walked to his car. Ben walked Adrian to her car, surprised to see that he's parked right next to her.

"So you wanna talk about it?" he asked her. Adrian sat on the bumper of her car and let the tears fall from her eyes. Ben sat next to her and put an arm around her.

"It's not fair."

"I know."

"You still love her don't you?" Ben just nodded

"But she's not in love with me anymore. That's why we broke up." Adrian stilled for a moment.

"So it's really over between you two?" Again Ben just nodded.

"It's over for me and Ricky too. I thought we could work it out but he came over to talk to me Wednesday night and said we'd never get back together." She started crying harder and Ben hugged her a little tighter. "It's just not fair. We fell in love with them but they always find their way back to each other because of John. Even perfect strangers see them and know they're a family. Before today I still hoped he and I would work things out." Ben chuckled.

"Before watching them in there today I sorta hoped Amy would still consider being with me. With John in the picture we never had a chance, Adrian, but I get it." She looked up at him confused. "Think about it, Adrian. You're gonna have our baby. Even though we agreed to remain friends and raise our baby as friends, we're always gonna be in each other's lives because we share a child and when two people raise a kid together they can't help but get closer to each other." Ben sighed. "I don't know if they'll become a couple but they'll always care about each other just like I'll always care about you because you're the mother of my baby."

Adrian nodded sadly, accepting for the first time that whatever she had with Ricky in the past was most definitely in the past. She wiped her face and put her grocery bag in her trunk. She and Ben shared a hug and then got into their cars and went their separate ways. Adrian went straight to her room with her grocery bag upon arriving back at home and sat on her bed. The image of Ricky smiling at Amy, genuinely happy to see her, and that woman telling the two of them they had a beautiful baby replayed in her mind on a loop for several minutes. Slowly the pain of realizing she would never be with Ricky began to subside as a thought occurred to her. She placed a hand on her belly absently as she imagined that same woman walking up to her and saying she had a beautiful baby and Adrian smiled.

"I'm gonna be a good mother to you sweet pea," she said in the direction of her stomach. "I know momma messed up but your daddy's a good guy and we both love you so everything's gonna be okay." She chuckled. "Momma doesn't know how but we'll figure it out," she said with a smile. I wonder if Amy ever felt like this Adrian wondered. She'd been worried on and off about how everything was going to work out but suddenly thinking about having her baby with her and being able to interact with her son or daughter made Adrian smile and gave her a sense of peace. I have a baby coming. All I'm gonna worry about from now on is making sure you arrive safe and healthy she silently promised her child. With that happy thought and a sense of peace, Adrian went downstairs to fix herself something for dinner.

Ben was lying on his bed also thinking about his impending fatherhood. I know it's gonna take some time to get over Amy but at least taking care of a baby will help keep me busy. I wonder if we'll have a boy or a girl. I wonder if our baby will take after me or Adrian. Either way we'll have a cute kid; I'm sure of it. Ben smiled. I can't wait to meet my son or daughter. I'll be a good dad, I just know it.

Amy was busy feeding John so she could give him a bath and he was more interested in playing with his food than letting his mother feed him his beef stew. Amy tried her hardest to keep a stern face to let John know it wasn't play time but he was having so much fun sticking his fingers in his stew and drawing squiggles on his high chair tray that she was failing miserably. She managed to feed him almost three quarters of his stew before he simply refused to eat anymore.

"Alright, but if your little tummy rumbles tonight daddy might not be too happy."

"Too happy about what?" Ricky asked, materializing from the living room.

"John decided he'd rather play with the rest of his dinner than eat it," Amy informed him. She placed his bowl on the kitchen table and went to wet a paper towel to wipe his face and fingers.

"Are we being difficult tonight?" Ricky asked his son. John had no idea what his father was asking him but by Ricky's playful tone he knew we wasn't in trouble so John smiled; Ricky just laughed. He stepped aside so Amy could clean up their son and then remove him from his high chair.

"I'll finish cleaning up in here if you wanna get him ready for bed," Ricky offered.

"Thanks," Amy told him before heading upstairs to give John his bath. George walked in moments later and found Ricky wiping down John's high chair tray.

"Hey. Long time no see. Aren't you here kinda early?"

"Yeah," Ricky replied, replacing John's high chair tray. "I was just ready to come over." George helped him straighten up the kitchen and then looked around to see if Amy was nearby before turning back to Ricky.

"I wanna ask you somethin'."

"Okay."

"How'd your talk with Amy go on Monday?"

"I think it went well. Why?"

"Just wanted to see if you two were getting along better, that's all." Ricky nodded.

"We're working on it. We're taking John to the zoo on Saturday so the three of us can spend some quality time together." George nodded, signaling he thought that was a good idea.

"I just wanted to let you know that my little girl's been through a lot, emotionally, so be nice, okay?" Ricky smirked, recognizing the protective father coming out of George.

"I will. Promise." Robbie came toddling into the kitchen with Anne not far behind.

"Hey, buddy!"

"Dada! Doose peas!" George chuckled.

"One cup of juice coming right up!" he said. Robbie clapped his approval and Anne just smiled at her boys. Amy came downstairs carrying a pajama clad John and his overnight bag.

"Party in the kitchen?" Amy asked. Her parents chuckled.

"Apparently," Anne said. Amy just smiled and handed first John and then his bag to Ricky. Anne walked over and gave her grandson a goodnight kiss.

"Have fun sweet pea," she said while gently ruffling his hair. He smiled and curled into Ricky's side.

"So we'll see you tomorrow around 2:30, right?" Ricky asked Amy.

"Yep." She gave John a kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you boys tomorrow." Ricky quickly buckled John into his car seat and then got into the driver's seat. He looked back at the house and saw Amy standing in the doorway. He waved and she waved back. We're gonna be okay he thought as he backed out of the driveway. As Ricky tucked his son into his crib for the night he was still thinking about Amy. As he climbed into bed that night he fell asleep with a single thought: I still don't know what romantic gesture to make for her to apologize, but maybe I'll find out tomorrow.

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