Part Twenty One
A/N - Sorry at the delay. Hectic weekend! And a belated thank you to Kaisha for yet another amazing cover!!
Hope you enjoy!
Saturday in Rio was usually quieter in some ways than the week. But today, it was sunny, hotter than it had been, and there was a concert planned for the beach that evening. The clunking of barriers being erected on the seafront woke Lex early. And she lay in bed reliving her conversation with Peter the previous evening. It was so nice to talk to him, to share things. Though she wasn’t happy to hear about another woman in his life. That bit had been hard.
But friends confided, friends shared things, and friends talked until two am on the phone. THAT was what she’d wanted back in Stockholm, and Peter was right, if this was all she had of him, then it was better than never seeing him or talking to him again.
Smiling she dressed into her favourite denim shorts and a strappy vest and headed out into the sunshine. From behind her shades the City was beautiful, and she stopped to buy some breakfast, before eating as she strolled, pausing only to watch a group of shirtless men practicing their capoiera. Further along the beach a gang of young barefooted kids were playing football, the ball rolled to her and she kicked it back to them, then they followed her for a bit. The homeless children in this part of the world devastated her, she had no idea where they went at night, or who looked after them...and she hated to think any deeper on the issue.
The promenade was dotted with several kiosks selling food and drink right the way along the beach, so at the next one she passed, she bought a couple of fresh coconuts, watching as the tops were hacked off and straws inserted into the cavity, paying for them, she then handed them to the kids, who snatched them with a shout of “Obrigado”, they rushed off to devour the refreshing water and scoop out the young soft flesh greedily, before running off to play football once again. She couldn’t avoid them, but she also knew she couldn’t help every one of them either. This was her compromise.
The stage for the concert was set, and there were light and sound checks going on, the whole area was buzzing, and for Alexis is was nice to switch off and just wander aimlessly.
Later that afternoon she swam in the roof top pool, then relaxed on a lounger to read her kindle. Hours passed, and it wasn’t until the phone rang late that evening that she realised that THAT was what she’d been waiting for.
“Hey!” Peter’s voice was such a welcome sound. She kicked back on the sofa and smiled,
“Hey yourself! How did today go?”
Peter groaned, “I moved...whilst she was training. Haven’t really brought much, so it didn’t take long. I left a note saying I was hating the commute and I was offered something closer to campus. Is that really shit?”
Lex laughed, “it’s cowardly I suppose, but then it’s done. That’s the main thing. So where are you living now?”
“Well!” He laughed, “funny you should ask that, but I’ve got a student room on campus! Literally a bed a wardrobe and a chair! I’ve regressed back to my teens!”
She laughed, “so you’ve left the lap of Geneva luxury to live like a student? I like your style Mr Marlow! Obviously you’re not as materialistic as some!”
He groaned, “don’t know about that. I’ve got no TV; no music...fortunately my laptop and iPad work and the building has wifi! That’s the saving grace!”
Alexis almost felt sorry for him, “could be worse!”
Groaning he mumbled, “it almost was! Enough about me. What have you been up to?”
Lex then proceeded to tell him about her day, the beach, the pool; there wasn’t a lot to report.
"What about Luiz?" he asked. “Didn’t he help you feel entertained?”
She sighed, "that’s over a long time ago, he could barely get past you! Then we went out of town one weekend, backpackers’ paradise and bumped into Steve...the guy I was seeing prior to Stockholm. THE wildest of coincidences! It sent him over the edge!"
“Fool! Does he realise...” His voice fell away and Lex knew what he was thinking.
“What that I’d only ever slept with you? No. He seemed to think I was some sort of loose woman, and I wasn’t about to change that opinion. It wasn’t worth it!”
They talked a little longer, about everything and nothing, conversation was natural and easy, and it wasn’t until they reluctantly hung up half an hour later that Lex appreciated how nice that was.
He phoned every night, which was morning to him, and they caught up on each other’s day. For Peter it was the highlight of each twenty four hours. As the days passed he began to wonder how he’d functioned without her quick wit and clear vision on all his dilemmas, and he equally lived to hear her stories of another day in the favelas of Rio. He hated that she sounded lonely, that her friends had abandoned her, but on the flipside he was glad that Luiz was no longer on the scene.
That was why he was concerned a week later when there was no answer to his usual phone call, so he called later, and the next morning before work. No answer.
It was approaching end of term, and it was busy in college, he was committed to so many tutorials and revision sessions that he had no time in the day to try her number, but the lack of commute meant that he was home a lot earlier than he could have been, but again, there was no answer.
He struggled feeling bereft of her company, but he was also worried. She was alone in a huge City, and then there was the danger she courted every day. Anything could have happened to her, and that was his real fear. He knew no one in Rio who he could call on to go see her, and he even tried to call Henrietta, before her realised that the time difference would have seen him waking her household.
He went to the gym, hoping that would help, but he was too distracted, it was only as he was re-crossing the campus heading to his digs that he noticed Megan relaxed against the wall of the accommodation block. He’d not seen her since he’d moved out.
“Hey!” he offered a little nervously, “You ok?”
She shrugged, “you didn’t say goodbye, just disappeared. I thought I meant more to you!”
Peter hated this confrontation, but he had to end this for Alexis’ sake, so he sighed, “sorry, that was rude of me, but this room came up, and I had to act straight away...I’m doing such long days, and to be honest I want to see as much of the city as I can, whilst I’m here.”
She stared at him for a moment, then he spotted her change to what she presumably thought was a sex kitten mood, “but we were having fun!”
He’d been nice about this really, and she obviously had no idea he had overheard that conversation, “I don’t do affairs Megan, and after hearing you on the phone, I realised there was someone significant in your life...and I have no intention of breaking that up!” Her face was a picture, so much shock and disbelief, he’d really wrong footed her here, and he knew Alexis would be so proud at him for fronting it out! He couldn’t wait to tell her.
Megan made to protest, but even if he didn’t have Alexis, he’d not want Megan, she was fun, but she had a sinister side that worried him. So he added, “It’s for the best Megan, I mean imagine if you got pregnant or something! That would be a disaster!” He smiled sweetly at her, then made for the door, “thanks for everything!” He gave his best most genial smile ignoring the look of anger that the shock had morphed into across her face, and entered the apartment block.
The next morning he still hadn’t had an answer from Alexis. He’d phoned her SO many times, and resorted to emails, if he didn’t speak to her soon, then he’d have to call her sister. He couldn’t cope with this not knowing.
On the third morning, she finally answered, and Peter could barely hide his relief at the sound of her voice.
“Where the hell have you been? You’ve had me worried sick!” Peter gasped.
That was met with silence.
“Alexis? What’s wrong? Are you ok? Are you hurt?”
“Peter, I can’t...” her voice was quiet, weak, not the woman he knew.
He started to pace the room, “you’re scaring me Lex, what the hell is it?”
“I can’t say,” she repeated in a quiet voice.
“You can tell me anything!” He insisted, though his mind was conjuring up some terrible images, or illness, death, or crime, he couldn’t imagine anything being beyond what he could understand, “you know that! For God’s sake!”
When she spoke he realised he had no idea what he expected her to say really, but that quiet voice said four words, “I think I’m pregnant!”
And he felt a buzzing in his head, a pain in his heart.
“I don’t expect you to stick around...this isn’t what I wanted...”
It was then Peter realised she was pushing him away.
“Alexis! Don’t be stupid!”
She laughed, “look it’s my screw up, not yours!”
With that she hung up.
Lex spent the rest of the night lying in bed, as she had for the last three nights, staring at her alarm clock ticking through the hours of the night. As with the previous nights she turned off her phone and rued her bad luck and misfortune.
It was a random thought that made her check her diary to work out what weekend she’d gone away with Luiz, as she remembered seeing a poster that there was a music festival in Paraty ten weeks after they’d been there, she could vividly recall the conversation with Luiz over dinner, but she couldn’t remember when it was, and Google was not throwing up any suggestions. If she knew the date she might strike lucky. It was as she glanced through the small pink diary that Henrietta had bought her for Christmas that she realised that there had been a missed event since that weekend. Her period!
The thought that she might be pregnant made her feel sick, she’d spent the last three days walking on wobbly legs, she didn’t have butterflies of anxiety, if felt as though there were golden eagles flapping around her insides. She could barely function, and all the time she kept imagining a baby, Luiz’s baby with dark skin and black hair. Would she have felt this devastated if she suspected she was having Peter’s baby? She doubted it. She had no idea how Luiz would react to this, but she had to tell him - once she’d plucked up the courage to actually take the test!
She was a doctor! She chastised herself. Why was it so difficult to sit in the bathroom and take the test?
Because if it was positive, then her life would change...dramatically! She hated to be negative; if she was pregnant she’d love this baby. Alexis wasn’t against abortion, but it wasn’t something she’d consider personally, if she was pregnant, then this baby would be born, and loved...and she hated that she felt so down about that. Luiz could protest, make her stay in Rio, when in all honesty the only place she wanted to live as a single parent was at home back in London. She didn’t have to tell Luiz, but then it wouldn’t be fair to not give him a chance to do the right thing.
Do the test!
Shaking her head, she rolled over, hoping that sleep would help her cope with the turmoil.
The weekend couldn’t come soon enough; Alexis had lived in a self imposed isolation for most of the week. She promised herself that come Friday night she’d have a single glass of wine, then take the test. She’d have two days to get over the result, and then deal with the aftermath when she had to.
There was a large pharmacy a few blocks away from the apartment, so she headed there on her way home from work on Friday night. She bought two - whilst Alexis didn’t doubt the success of the test, she had to double check for her own piece of mind.
She was paying at the checkout when she heard a voice behind her talking loudly. Glancing back she recognised Ana Julia, the woman who was now dating Thiago. The last thing she wanted or needed was for her to see the tests, so she bundled them into her bag and rushed out of the shop avoiding all eye contact.
Glass of red wine poured, Alexis opened the test, it took four minutes...how she’d survive those minutes she didn’t know. But she sat and performed the test, then placed the stick on the bathroom windowsill and made for the safety of her wine.
Less than two minutes had passed, according to the stop watch on her phone, when the doorbell rang, not the intercom, but her actual doorbell. She felt like crying, he knew! Luiz knew!
With a heavy heart she made for the door and pulled it open like a man facing the firing squad.
“Bloody hell Lex, it’s not THAT bad you know, you’ve always got me!”
Lifting her eyes it took her minutes to process the fact that he’d come, Peter had come for her.