Ch. 1: I of the Storm - Of Monsters and Men
They say if a relationship lasts for seven years, it will last a lifetime. We had five under our belts. It was no easy feat to keep in touch. The nine of us spanned the globe. We had jobs and other families. We had friends and coworkers. We had new lives that were not visibly intertwined. Despite Milo’s mother’s gift, we still had plenty of opportunities to fall apart. There were misunderstandings because of limited communication and squabbles that could not be immediately rectified. Luckily, we were committed enough to come together and sort out each mess before it tore us apart. We also made a point to still be there for each other when it mattered. Bad days, birthdays, promotions and more, we were there virtually or in person. We fought to stay together, defying the odds by maintaining our level of closeness.
As for my life specifically, I had begun to make a name for myself in Listonenia. I worked my way from a part of the chorus to the regular recipient of principle roles. I was an active contributor to Milo’s mental health campaign, becoming its face alongside him. My website was still up and running. I took time out of my busy schedule to personally maintain it. It was still my project, one I needed to preserve for Eliza. Milo and I were still together and happy. We remained faithful to each other, though living hours away and his collegiate environment. I moved out of my shared dance company apartment after two years and got my own apartment. I was a close friend of my roommate Jillian, but I wanted to experience living on my own before I got married. Milo visited when he could. We always had fun playing house the weekends he was able to get away from school and stay with Matilda and me.
Our wedding date was set for the Saturday a week after his graduation. It was rough planning while being so busy and regularly apart. We had a godsend on our side. Elle quickly declared that our wedding was also hers and took it upon herself to make sure our big day was just right, even though she has just as much free time as we did, if not less. Her acting career was the stuff of legends. She went from just a newbie on a teen drama to a full-fledged movie star. She was a headliner on both her television show and the films in which she starred. In the midst of becoming Hollywood’s golden girl, she found the time to organize one of the most important days of my life. She said it was because she knew I would do the same for her in a minute. She was absolutely right. She was still my sister, the one I’d ride or die with and for until the end.
Some of the wedding details we had no control over. We were to wed in the church all of his family members were married and coronated. The guest list was not completely ours to decide. Certain diplomats and nobility we had never met were invited. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen were ours for the choosing. Elle was named as my maid of honor, as promised. Morgan, Sami, and Audrey rounded out the rest of my side. Milo nominated Ryan to be his best man though he regularly threatened to take the position away from him. Nick, Finn, and Adam were his other groomsmen. Bosworth accepted the duties as the father of the bride, walking me down the aisle. Mom was of course the mother of the bride. She couldn’t have been more excited to be included in my big day. Milo’s sister Marina was to serve as flower girl alongside Sophia and Emilia. Milo’s brothers, Valentino and Benito, were to be the ring bearers. The advisors were very worried about their ability to refrain from getting distracted. They regularly wandered off during appearances in pursuit of butterflies and other things that attracted their attention. I was a fan of their wandering; I found it to be adorable. As long as I got my ring in the end, I didn’t care what they did along the way. My main desire was to marry my best friend. I was willing to put on a show in order to do so. He felt the same way.
The weeks leading up to the wedding, all I could do was wait for time to pass. Dedicating myself to my work became the easiest means of doing so, but it turned out to be more exhausting than it once had been. I had fallen asleep during phone calls on several occasions. I slept for long stints of time whenever I had the ability. I didn’t have the energy to socialize as much as I used to. Each person I talked to chalked it up to stress; I was under a lot of pressure. The media hounded me more than usual for wedding details. I had just landed a pivotal role in an upcoming show and I was to be someone’s wife soon. That’s enough to wear out anyone.
I stretched before rehearsal started, leaning into the leg I had placed on the barre. I then leaned back as far as I could, successfully removing all tension in my back. Doing an exercise I did on daily basis made me queasy. I swallowed hard and worked through it as best I could. I fled to the nearest bathroom when I gagged. I couldn’t make it into a stall, instead expelling vomit into the sink. It kept happening until all of my breakfast was down the drain. I turned on the faucet to rinse the remnants down. I splashed water on my face to combat the sweat it was producing. I felt completely fine after a few minutes. I blotted my face dry. I returned to the studio as though nothing had happened. I could not afford to take the day off mere days before leaving for my honeymoon. I had a principle role to dance shortly after I returned. I more than survived morning rehearsal, I thrived, but I was exhausted afterwards.
“Are you feeling alright?” Jillian studied me across the table at lunch.
“A little off, but I am managing. Do I look bad?”
“No, just tired. Your boobs look great though. New bra?”
I looked down at the cleavage peeking out of my leotard.
“No. It is a typical built-in.” I cupped my breasts without thought. “Do they really look bigger?” One thing was for sure, they were sore.
“A little. That’s the one good thing about periods, am I right? The girls look good for a week.”
My stomach churned.
“I’ve got to go to the bathroom.” I stood up from our table.
I had enough time to dispose of the trash my meal produced and make it into a stall the second time around. I grabbed my phone and keys from the dressing room and went to my car.
“Hi, Babydoll. How are you?”
“I’m late.” Speakerphone allowed me to hold onto my steering wheel.
“Late late.” I wrung the leather.
“What do I do?”
“How can you be pregnant? You haven’t seen him in forever.”
“He surprised me at the studio a few weeks ago.”
“Have you missed any doses of birth control?”
“Once or twice.”
“Have you gotten sick?”
“You need to take a test.”
“I promised Milo he’d be there if I ever took a pregnancy test, that we’d find out together.”
“Sort it out and grab him. We need to know.”
“He has finals this week. It’d distract him.”
“Regardless of how he does on those tests, he’s going to have the same occupation. You need him.”
“I don’t even know what to say to him.”
“I might be pregnant; let’s find out’, or something to that affect. ”
I looked down at my stomach. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”
“Accidents happen. You’re getting married next Saturday. No one will even know it happened before you said ‘I do’.”
“I haven’t seen him in over a month. I don’t know where his head’s at.” I covered my eyes with my hand. “The last time we talked about kids, he said he wasn’t ready.” Tears escaped.
“Babydoll, don’t cry. We’ll figure it out together.”
I was unable to listen to her and continued to do it.
“Go to Brimmington right now. I will call him and tell him to meet you at home if you don’t.”
“I’m so scared.” I whispered as I sniffled.
“You will be the best mom. He is great with kids too. Any kid would be lucky to have you.”
“I have rehearsal for a few more hours. I’ll drive up afterward.”
“Are you going to call him and tell him you’re coming?”
“No. I still have no idea what I going to say. I need the drive to think.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.” I dried my eyes.
“Call me later.”
“One last thing.”
“Yes?” I dried my eyes.
“How was it?”
“How was what?”
“His surprise. I’m upset you didn’t dish as soon as it happened.”
“Special. In the moment, it honestly did feel different. He was only supposed to stay for the weekend. He ended up staying for a week. He made me breakfast every morning and we cooked dinner together after I got off work. We made love every night. I was able to sleep in his arms and wake up to him each morning. It made me all the more anxious to marry him.”
“Two seconds. That’s all it would’ve taken to call me and fill me in. That is freaking adorable. That would’ve made my week too!”
I looked down at my stomach. “It looks like it ruined our plans, so at least I got to have that perfect week.” A sob escaped my chest.
“Relax. He loves you -- LOVES you. Nothing is at risk.”
I took a deep breath. “I need to get back to work.”
“I’ll be calling him tomorrow morning. If you have not spoken to him, I will fly to Listonenia and drag you to him myself.”
“I’m going as soon as work’s over.”
“I love you, Babydoll.”
“I love you too.”
I kissed her and hung up the phone.
My focus was nonexistent for the remainder of the day. I showered, changed, and was on the road as soon as we were dismissed. There was only one thing on which I could focus.
“Honey, --“ I attempted to rehearse a second time.
“Milo, --“ That sounded the most appropriate. “I think – I think—“ I needed to take a deep breath. “I know we had a plan and –“ I teared up again.
I slammed my hand on my steering wheel, translating my fear into frustration.
“You can do this. You should be able to say this to him with ease. You’re marrying him next week. He loves you.” I tried to reason with myself.
“Milo, I think I’m pregnant. If I am, I want to remain it. I know you don’t think we’re ready, but I think we have it in us to be a family. We have already been it six years. We’re just adding to it earlier than expected. I love you and I want to love our baby too.”
Jitters were still present when I arrived at his apartment four hours later. My car was taken away by valet as I walked into the front lobby.
“Hello, is Milo in?” My sunglasses hid my eyes from the desk clerk.
“Prince Milo is,--" They clicked through their computer. “in his apartment.” They confirmed.
“Is he alone?”
“Yes. Would you like me to notify him of your arrival, Isabella?”
“No, um, I want to surprise him. He’s in the middle of finals and I thought I’d show up and make him dinner or something.” It was a struggle to keep my voice even and upbeat sounding. I was on the verge of tears the entire time.
“I am sure he will be pleased to see you.”
“I hope so. Thank you for your assistance.” I forced a smile for them.
“It is always a pleasure.”
I didn’t remove my sunglasses until I was in front of Milo’s door. I did not know if I would run into anyone. The front desk clerk did not perceive their presence as rudeness, assuming they were a disguise to minimize approaches. There were some perks of always running from the press.
I dropped my glasses into my purse. I wiped my sweaty palms on my sweatpants before knocking on the door.
“Hey, Beautiful, this is a pleasant surprise.” He answered the door with a smile. It fell from his face the moment he noticed my puffy red eyes and tear stained cheeks.
“Did someone do something to you?” He looked into my eyes. Though speaking low, his voice was riddled with fury and urgency.
I shook my head.
He took my hand and led me inside, shutting and locking the door behind him. “What happened?”
“I need to sit down.” I was on the verge of hyperventilating.
He took me to the living room. He cleared away the textbooks he had on the couch to make space for me to sit. “May I have some water?” I jiggled my foot as I shook out my hands.
“Sure. I will be right back.”
I buried my face in my hands and focused on breathing. That is what I was doing when he returned.
“Thank you.” My voice was shaky as I accepted the glass he was offering me. I drank water in hopes of curing it.
He sat down and put his arm around me. I scooted closer, needing comfort.
“Are you having second thoughts about getting married? It is normal to --”
As he articulated his support, bile began to creep up my throat. I fought it off, not wanting to interrupt him. I sneezed and ended up spitting up on myself.
I covered my mouth with my hand and fled the room. I went to the bathroom and adequately allowed myself to get sick. There was a knock on the door as I was doing it.
“I’ll be out in a second.” I spit into the toilet to get the foul taste out of my mouth.
He opened it despite my request.
“Stay there. It’s not pretty over here.”
He joined me on the floor instead of listening. He held my hair as I proceeded to get sick again.
It was very intense vomiting. It made me feel as though my stomach was trying to expel from my body and plop of my mouth. He held my hair and rubbed my back the entire time. I flushed the toilet and rested my head on his shoulder once it was all over, exhausted.
He put his arm around me. “You’re pregnant.” He stated simply, emotions absent.
“I haven’t taken a test.”
“But you think you are.”
“For how long?”
“Today. You know I’ve been tired. I didn’t think much of it until I started to get sick. I’m late.”
“We cannot get caught buying a test.”
“I can call Adam and ask him to buy and bring one over.” His voice remained clinical.
“I’m sorry.” Tears flooded my eyes.
“We did everything together.” He held me put his other arm around me and hugged me close. “First things first, I love you more than life itself. Children have always been in the equation for us.”
I closed my eyes to regroup. Doing so proved to be a poor idea. I ended up dozing off.
“Let me put you to bed.” He gently shook me awake. I stood up with his assistance.
I loaded the toothbrush I left at his place with paste and brushed my teeth. I drank handfuls of water after rinsing out my mouth. He took me to his room. He stripped off my soiled shirt and tossed it into his dirty clothes bin. I pushed off my sweatpants, feeling hot. He gave me one of his t-shirts to wear, pulling it down over my head. He fetched my water and I drank it before crawling into bed.
“What about the test?” I lied on my side as he tucked me in.
“It does not have to be taken this second. Get some rest.” He smoothed down my hair, seated on the edge of the bed.
“Don’t forget to call Adam.” My eyes drifted shut, feeling as though they weighed hundreds of pounds.
“There is no way I could forget.”
“Why do I need to call her?”
“I needed someone to vent to. She needs an update.”
“Please do it.”
“I will. I love you.” He kissed my forehead.
“I love you too.”
He switched off the overhead light on his way out the door.