Pieces of Me (A Pieces Novel)

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Chapter 37 - Danica

I watch both Danny and Charlie pace back and forth in the hall of the waiting room, in opposite directions. Each time they pass each other, they slap each other’s shoulders and shake hands before pacing again. Pace, turn. Pace, slap. Repeat. It’s beginning to get on my nerves.

“Would you two sit down, please?” I finally say, exasperated. “I highly doubt either of them would want you flipping out like this.”

“Right, like you’d ever experienced this before,” Charlie sputters a nervous laugh and Danny follows suit.

“I did this with Katie,” I whisper, wrapping my arms around myself.

“What?” Danny stops pacing and stands in front of me. “Katie? As in Katie, the girl Brian cheated on you with, that Katie?”

“Would you expect any less from me?”

His expression softens and he shakes his head. Charlie probably doesn’t know or remember half the story. But Danny certainly remembers. Junior year, high school. That year was terrible. Brian and I had just become exclusive. I was in pure bliss, but he didn’t like that I wanted to wait before we did . . . that. I went to his house for his birthday, thinking I would surprise him, and I walked in on him and Katie. Danny was the one I ran to for comfort. And then, five months later, Katie was found pregnant. Brian didn’t believe the baby was his, not until after the little boy was born. Looked too much like Brain not to be his baby. I don’t know anything passed high school, but Katie and Brian had decided to raise the baby together.

“You’ve got a seriously forgiving heart, pumpkin,” Danny says with a soft smile. “I admire that.”

I smile back at him and we bump fists. Charlie is still pacing, and it is apparent that he has barely heard the conversation that passed between me and Danny. I can see his anxiety elevating, and his brow is furrowed.

“What the heck were you two thinking when you decided to get them pregnant on the same night?” I ask in one breath.

Danny just chuckles and shakes his head. Charlie, however, glares at me. Well, hello Mr. Grumpy Pants!

“You’re a grown ass man! Chill out!”

My outburst is meant to make him laugh, which Danny does. But Charlie remains serious. I sigh and rise from my chair, marching up to block his path. He stops dead in front of me, looking down at me with an anxious, nervous expression.

“Are you that worried about being a dad?” I ask softly, placing both my hands on my brother’s shoulders.

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he whispers back, shaking his head as his expression contorts from worried to exasperated. “What if . . . what if something goes wrong along the way?”

“What makes you think something would go wrong? Besides, Amber’s a health nut. They’ll be fine.”

Charlie sighs, his shoulder grow slack, but his expression stays the same. Worried. Anxious. Nervous. Behind Charlie, I catch a glimpse of Aldrich walking up the hall towards us. I smile at him briefly, but turn back to my brother.

“Put on a smile, big bro,” I say, flashing a goofy smile in hopes that it catches. “If Amber comes out here and sees that Sad Sam face, she’s gonna wonder if you’re actually happy about this or not. You are happy about the baby, right?”

Charlie’s smile finally breaks through and his cheeks are pink. My brother is blushing. History has been made today. I purse my lips and point at my brother’s face, wagging my finger at his cheeks.

“So you know,” I add, joining Charlie’s chuckle. “I’m gonna be the favorite aunt. I don’t care what Amethyst says. Your kid is gonna be spoiled by me. Same goes for Danny’s kid. Remember that, pumpkin! I’m the favorite aunt.”

“Over my dead body.”

Charlie and I look up the hall behind me. Amethyst and Amber are coming towards up. I can tell by Amethyst’s crossed arms and narrowed eyes, she’s the one who just spoke.

“You are not the favorite aunt yet,” she says, shaking her head as she stands next to me. “Don’t go claiming titles before the kid has had time to assess who will be the favorite. Beside, I’m going to be the favorite.”

“Same goes for me and Ame’s kid,” Amber adds as Charlie pulls her into his arms. “You can’t claim a title without the kid choosing . . . unless it’s me.”

I roll my eyes and walk over to greet Aldrich, whom I haven’t seen since last night. I smile and slide my arms around his neck, while his arms wrap around my waist.

“Hello my darling,” Aldrich says with a soft smile. “I hope you didn’t miss me too much.”

“Sorry to say, but I did,” I reply, sighing as I peck his lips. “Far too much, moj slatki.”

Aldrich’s smile spreads and reaches his eyes. He glances behind me a moment and nods.

“Let’s get out of here,” he whispers, tugging me in the direction of the exit.

“Where are you taking me?” I ask, watching the unfamiliar surroundings as we drive up a country road. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this way before.”

“Because you haven’t,” Aldrich replies, giving my hand a squeeze. “You told me that you weren’t sure if you wanted to move too far away from your family, correct?”

“Yeah . . . what about that?”

“I found an advertisement for a little house just outside of town. We’re going to meet with the owner and take a look at it.”

My head snaps around to look at Aldrich. He’s smiling, but his gaze remains on the road. My heart pounds in my chest. Aldrich and I have been discussing where we will live when we get married. With Danny and Amethyst’s wedding planned for the late winter, early spring, and now with their baby on the way, Aldrich and I won’t be planning our wedding for a while. Having a house before we start planning is the top of our list.

“I have to return home in order to apply for my citizenship,” Aldrich goes on and I see his smile turn upside down. “I spoke with my father about it.”

“Aldrich,” I say softly, giving his hand a squeeze. “I told you I would be fine with going back and forth. You don’t need to go through all of that. If anything, I can get passed the ‘being away from my family’ thing and just move in with you.”

“And I’m happier to move here so you don’t have to leave the life you’ve created. Don’t start getting worried . . . you should let me do this for you.”

Aldrich releases my hand briefly to reach into his shirt pocket. He pulls out a little blue velvet bag, holding it out for me.

“Another little piece of me,” he says, placing it into my hand with such care.

I smile and carefully open the pouch. I pour out the contents and gasp. In my hand is a delicate silver chain with a heart locket attached to it. I smile softly and gently open the heart. Inside is a picture of Aldrich. But not just any picture. It’s the picture I took of him at last week’s baseball game. Charlie and Danny convinced Aldrich to play a few innings with the team and he looked so cute getting ready to bat that I had to take a picture. I don’t have that many of pictures just Aldrich. We mostly take pictures together, and Aldrich likes to take loads of pictures of me.

“Aww,” I say as I unhook the clasp and bring it around my neck. “Aldrich, I love it. Thank you!”

Aldrich grins, “You’re welcome, moj slatki,” he says with such tenderness that I can’t help sighing. I reach for his hand, bringing it to my lips. I kiss his knuckles and clutch it to my chest. He tells me that we’ve nearly reached our destination. I can’t wait to see the house.

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